Gigantic

Ah, Gigantic. One of those colourful, approachable, charismatic "hero shooters" tasked with the unenviable struggle of competing with Overwatch. It will commence doing so officially come July 20, because that's when the game will officially launch on Steam.

Developed by Motiga, the 5v5 game is currently in Open Beta on the Arc platform, so you can go play it right now. But even when it releases it'll be a free-to-play title, much like fellow colourful hero shooter Paladins and, more recently, Gearbox's abortive Battleborn.

For those who have been playing Gigantic already, the move to open beta ushers in a few additions, including bot matches, voice chat and better tutorials for newcomers. There's a trailer embedded below to celebrate the open beta, so check it out.

Arma 3

Malden, the original map from Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis, has been reimagined in Arma 3 as part of a wave of new, free content released today. Off the back of the $10 Arma 3 Jets DLC last month, this is the biggest update to the military sim since last year's Apex expansion.

Available as DLC on Steam (if you own Arma 3, it's already been automatically added to your library), the 62 km2 map "re-uses many vanilla Arma 3 structures, vegetation, and similar assets," but "also includes additions such as colored buildings, vineyards, and barns." 

Indeed, as you can tell from old footage, Arma 3's "Malden 2035" isn't a 1:1 recreation that puts each tree and shrub in the same spot. It's more like Arma 3's skin, and the assets of its existing islands, superimposed onto the bones and geometry of the old slab of land. "In comparison to the original Malden, the number and names of the towns and villages, and all locations of hills, crossroads, gas stations, have remained the same," says Bohemia. Malden, like other Arma locations, is based on Lefkada, a Greek island.

Malden is bundled with a new, 10-player multiplayer mode called Combat Patrol that emphasizes "heavily randomized" combat against AI across different kinds of objectives. The mode is also available for all other existing Arma 3 maps.

Malden is also the play space for Argo, a standalone game that Bohemia describes as an "Arma-based hardcore tactical multiplayer first-person shooter in which players fight as mercenaries over the remnants of a crashed space station." Previously known as Project Argo, the game features three different competitive modes focused on territory control or objective capture.

Argo is "completely" free, but interestingly, a $10 "Supporter's Pack" is available for purchase on Steam, which grants the following bonuses:

  • Set of 13 exclusive animations for the MVP screen
  • Bundle of 23 unique apparel items, including facewear and headwear, and backpacks (these items are purely cosmetic and do not offer any gameplay benefits)
  • Highlighted name in the leaderboards
  • Access to premium servers that will be exclusively available for Argo Supporters
  • Controllable vehicles in Argo's Scenario Editor

The new stuff coincides with Operation Flashpoint's 16-year anniversary. Though Codemasters retains the rights to Operation Flashpoint, Bohemia carried its spirit forward with Arma: Armed Assault in 2007. 

Rising Storm 2: Vietnam

A lot of games try to emulate suppression, to approximate what it’s like to be fired upon, but Rising Storm 2: Vietnam does it more effectively than any of them. It's not through fidelity—the particle effects are unimpressive—or even the heavily applied post-processing that blurs your vision. The panic is kicked up by the contradiction of being utterly fragile and needing to throw your body at the enemy anyway. Stay still and lose, move and die. Rising Storm 2 forces us into chaos with enough authenticity to let us be consumed by it more often than not.

The latest from Tripwire and Antimatter Games is a lateral move: the same 64-player, tactics heavy battles of the World War II-based Red Orchestra series, now in Vietnam, with assault rifles and helicopters and tunnels. Where the Battlefield games provide military playgrounds with activities for everyone, Rising Storm 2 generates military anarchy that must be coaxed toward victory by able commanders and squad leaders. On an individual level, it’s about performing unlikely feats of marksmanship despite a hundred sounds and two million jungle pixels distracting you from the little clump of color that counts: a helmet in the distance, just peeking over a rock. 

Rising Storm 2’s maps are more naturalistic than Battlefield maps. Cover is scattered about in the form of concrete half-walls, crumbling buildings, crawl spaces, jungle foliage and the crispy remains of tanks. The angles are more erratic, and the frontline less fixed. I love the moments where I've gotten turned around, and accidentally found myself behind the enemy's advance. It’s a hunt for clarity amid chaos—knowing where to aim is the first step in aiming. 

As a result, Rising Storm 2 isn’t as routine as Battlefield 1, where I know that on Fao Fortress, for instance, capturing the Ottoman stronghold is a useless grind for prime sniping spots, and it’s nearly always better to hold Delta and use it to stage attacks on the lowground. Rising Storm 2’s new Supremacy mode, which is similar to Battlefield’s Conquest mode in that each team can capture any point on the map at any time, isn’t so obvious. Without a communicative commander (one player on each team who monitors the map, calls in spotting planes, and initiates artillery and napalm strikes and other wide area attacks), a loss is almost guaranteed, because if everyone is doing their own thing they’re likely to accomplish nothing. 

Positioning is everything

One well-positioned soldier can pin an entire squad in place.

Replacing the bolt-action rifles of the series’ World War 2 games is the far deadlier technology of the '60s: the AK-47, the M16A1, the M14. Having 64 automatic or semi-automatic weapons on the field makes any dash out of cover near futile without covering fire, and means one well-positioned soldier can pin an entire squad in place. No longer can players dance around each other, swinging the long barrels of Springfields and Karabiner 98ks, firing, missing, and firing again as if playing Unreal Tournament instagib. Close-quarters meetings are resolved near-instantly as both players spray each other down with bullets. I miss that test of reflexive, single-shot marksmanship, though in its place Rising Storm 2 increases the importance of positioning, smoke grenades, awareness, and speed, demanding that you spot enemies rapidly and decide to shoot with no hesitation.

Playing a round of Territories, the series’ core mode in which one team defends a series of strongholds while the other attempts to capture each of them in sequence, is reminiscent of the 2014 Tom Cruise flick Edge of Tomorrow. On my first life I was shot by a sniper I never saw, and won’t see for three more lives. Next my whole squad was hit by a grenadier. A few more lives later, I’ve killed the sniper, dodged the grenadier, and have now run head first into the long, flicking tongue of a flamethrower.

The most exciting moments of Rising Storm 2 are when you wiggle your way into a blind spot, and I prefer playing defense for this reason. Individual power is muted on the attack, where simply getting your body on the point is the most important task, but as a defender there’s more time to seek out a dominant position. When I load into the game fast enough to claim one of the limited specialty classes, I prefer machinegunner. The most fun I have is when battlefield intelligence and my own intuition align to give me clear view of an enemy lane, where I can singlehandedly suppress an assault with bursts of fire and save a flank while I reroute my team to come help.

I love those brief acts of individual heroism, though they are a small part of the team-focused roleplay. The bulk of any match is going to be spent laying down suppressive fire, calling out enemy locations, and edging into good positions. Communication is vital. Recently, I enjoyed having a little chat with a friendly sniper who was concerned my machinegun fire would draw attention to him, and of course, I relocated as a result. What Red Orchestra and Rising Storm remain great at is getting players to approach battles in physical terms. Excepting the cries of “get on the point,” we don’t talk much about gun balance or game systems, but of hillsides and LZs and flanks.

Aim and fire

Tripwire’s Killing Floor 2 is all about close-range marksmanship: dual wielding Desert Eagles, each pointed inward, and intuiting the path from each barrel to the heads of mutants. As in the Rising Storm series, there's no reticle—just your sights. In Battlefield, meanwhile, guns lob glowing paintballs, and a headshot from any distance is like hitting a three-pointer, using your mental TI graphing calculator to draw a parabola that intersects with your target. In contrast to these games, Rising Storm 2 ups the bullet velocity and obscures your vision with bulky sights, muzzle flashes and smoke. I’m less focused on the physics of my projectiles—point at head, hit head—and more concerned with how quickly and accurately I can slide my mouse into position and keep it on a moving target, even when I can't see the target and have to guess their velocity.

The guns are plain and unembellished, though each is distinct in its firing behavior. The M16A1 can be tapped for a single shot with little recoil, while holding down the trigger traces a vertical line that sometimes zig-zags or tends toward the right or left. The SKS-45 Carbine fires single shots with a big kick, the barrel making a roughly circular motion as it tilts upwards on multiple shots. The M3A1 Grease Gun is a bulky metal tube that is pinpoint accurate on close-range single shots, but nearly rams into your nose with each discharge, obscuring your peripheral vision and giving you a wider view through the rear sight. My favored LMGs are best tapped gently, unless you want to shoot at birds.

There isn’t a gun that I don’t like using, and I’m never disappointed to be stuck as a grunt if I don't snag a special class fast enough. AK-47s are powerful, unwieldy bastards that require me to flick my mouse downward harder than I usually expect to keep them on target—not my favorite weapon, but an interesting challenge. 

Details beyond the firing animations themselves also bring character to each encounter: the sway when I’m catching my breath from a long run; the way strafing left causes my arms to briefly shift right when I’m out of sights, pointing the barrel off center; the big puffs of dirt that indicate the effect of my suppressive fire. I love lighting up a rock I think someone might be behind, throwing debris everywhere, and then waiting a beat, as if I’m reloading, for a head to pop out of one of the sides.

AK vs M16

I want the sides to play differently, but in this case, one is simply more enjoyable than the other.

As in previous Red Orchestra series games, the teams are asymmetrical, pitting armies with different equipment and different tactics against each other. The rivalry between the AK-47 and M16 is probably the most famous in history, and they absolutely fire differently in Rising Storm 2. The M16’s design and smaller caliber gives it less recoil, for instance, while the AK is more lethal. But this distinction means less than the distinction between bolt-action and semi-auto rifles we saw in Rising Storm 2. To play up the asymmetry further, Rising Storm 2 somewhat unsuccessfully applies it to how players spawn.

American forces can spawn on their squad leaders, and in Supremacy mode—the one I mentioned is like Battlefield—can also spawn in helicopters which must be landed safely by player pilots to ferry troops around the map. The Vietnamese forces are more limited: they can’t spawn on their squad leaders, but on ‘squad tunnels’ dug by their leaders, which can be spotted and destroyed by Americans. It is more fun to spawn on my squad leader than it is to pop out of a tunnel at some secluded corner of the map, and it adds the subgoal of protecting my leader at all costs. Americans also get another goal: find and destroy squad tunnels, or find them and take up a defensive position near them to suppress them. While in theory tunnels allow the People's Army to appear anywhere on the map in numbers, they often become obsolete. If my leader dropped a tunnel near Alpha and I need to be attacking Delta, it’s no good to me. I want the sides to play differently, but in this case, one is simply more enjoyable than the other. 

There are also tunnels built into the maps—not squad tunnels, but actual underground tunnels players can move through—which feature Rising Storm 2’s oddest attempt at asymmetry. Americans can’t use their primary weapons in certain tunnels. They’re marked with a warning, and entering automatically switches you to your sidearm. It doesn’t make sense, especially for pointmen who carry SMGs for the purpose of being agile, and applies a hard rule rather than letting asymmetry manifest through the available weapons and tools, such as the People’s Army’s traps versus American flamethrowers.

And even with all the ways to enter the battle, and all the tunnels to crouch-walk through, Supremacy can be a slog for either side. A minute of running might end with a sniper shot, and it’s back to waiting at the spawn screen. Or I might participate in the capture of a point, set up my tripod to defend, and a minute later find that no one is coming to take it from me.

Supremacy is won by earning points from held bases, which must be connected to your home base by other occupied territories. That’s a clever twist on the Battlefield formula and changes the purpose of backcapping (you can’t gain points from an isolated capture, but you can deny them), but the consequence hasn’t been excitement and tension. Rather than pushing up a football field and scoring the winning touchdown with seconds to go, as in Territories, I often find myself capturing mostly-empty points, or chasing off single intruders, or making futile attempt after futile attempt to rush up a contested hill with my squad.

A proper PC game

I've had fun rounds of Supremacy, but I avoid it in favor of Territories. Fortunately, Tripwire and Antimatter are among the few left making proper PC multiplayer games. You join matches through a server browser, not a matchmaking system. Servers have their own cultures, sometimes with custom game rules and Discord invites in their welcome text. There are already player-made maps circulating in a few servers, and they auto-download when you join. If you want a Territories-only server, you can find it. I’ve never had trouble finding a full or near-full server running the mode I want.

The trick is finding a pleasant community which follows through on bans. I’ve never been griefed by a teammate, but one or two assholes on voice chat can put me off communicating with my team entirely—which is the most important thing to do in Rising Storm 2. The server I’ve most enjoyed is, unlikely as it sounds, the Xtremeidiots.com server, which declares “NO racist remarks” and “NO personal attacks” upon joining. So far, that’s been true.

There are no standout details, and no lighting effects that put much tactical importance on shadow and sunlight.

Though it won’t come as a surprise for players of the previous games, it’s worth running down the somewhat lackluster technical properties of Rising Storm 2. The whole of it is impressive—64 players dodging artillery shells and scattering giant maps with bullets—but movement can be finicky, whether I’m jamming space to vault over a barrier I know I can vault over, or struggling to position my tripod while prone without having my character leap into a crouch. 

The thickness of the foliage is impressive, and RS2 runs well for me, but the lighting and textures create a flatness that doesn’t say, ‘it’s hot, it’s humid, the air is heavy and dusty and soaked with fuel.’ There are no standout details, and no lighting effects that put much tactical importance on shadow and sunlight. The tech shows its age especially in the ugly dirt textures, the tiling of which is easily noticeable as patterns repeat into the distance.

While Antimatter Games doesn’t take sides in the war, portraying the armies with a fascination for the equipment more than the people, the period music and generic chatter about Charlies suggests war movie rather than reenactment, and the small towers and stilt houses feel like props rather than abandoned homes. It is authentic only to a point. But between the weapon design and the laborious helicopter flying, Rising Storm 2 represents the most thoroughly constructed multiplayer rendition of the war I’ve played.

And like its predecessors, RS2 is still one of the rare shooters that emphasizes fragility over power. It puts more destructive capability in each player’s hands than the series ever has—good communication and good reflexes can make a single AK-47 an absolute monster—but it can also smack your screen to blackness the second you step out of cover. It portrays how fragile individuals can be directed at large scales to produce different outcomes, winning or losing through the accumulation of small victories among countless losses.

PLAYERUNKNOWN'S BATTLEGROUNDS

The juggernaut known as Playerunknown's Battlegrounds shows no sign of slowing down. After selling one million copies in April, only a few weeks after its March 23 release on Early Access, it doubled that number to two million just a month later. And now, less than two months after that, the number has doubled again

That's an astonishing figure, and especially so for a game that's only 13 weeks into Early Access—and that's all before the arrival of the vaulting, climbing, and diving maneuvers that were announced during the PC Gaming Show at E3, and the upcoming zombies mode that developer Bluehole Inc. revealed last week.

If you want to know how they made Battlegrounds—and made it such a smashing success—check out our feature on its origins and development.

Bluehole also rolled out a new update today that stabilizes server and client performance, and makes a number of bug fixes. Full patch notes are below. 

Server Performance 

  • Resolved an issue with server performance dropping drastically in certain circumstances.

Client Performance

  • Improved rendering performance of other characters.
  • Improved client performance during ranged combat.
  • Improved rendering performance of vehicles, motorbikes, and boats at a distance.
  • Improved the rendering performance of weapon effects at a distance.

Bug Fix 

  • Fixed a client crash that occurred when changing character appearance.
  • Prevented users from removing shadows by changing Steam launch options.
  • Fixed a bug that caused players to fire more ammo than the amount loaded.
  • Fixed a bug that caused lung icon to be displayed as full while taking damage due to lack of oxygen underwater.
  • Fixed an issue with indoor walls and objects overlapping each other.
  • Fixed a bug that caused the wooden doors inside houses to have a metallic gloss.
  • Fixed a bug that caused some parts of the clothing to be shown when firing a weapon while aiming down sights, using 4x or higher scopes.
  • Fixed a bug that caused players to enter the DBNO state after drowning. You will now die immediately after taking fatal damage from lack of oxygen.
  • Fixed a bug that prevented the use of healing items after firing full auto mode.
  • Fixed a bug that caused flower beds to be shown incorrectly at a distance.
  • Partially fixed a bug that caused a character to be stuck in terrain.
  • Partially fixed a bug that caused the camera to pass through some objects.
PC Gamer

The big sale news today is obviously the launch of the Steam Summer Sale, but the good folks at the Humble Store are having one, too. The Humble FPS Sale isn't quite the same scale as Steam's, but there are some good deals up for grabs, and until Saturday morning you can pick up a full copy of the original Killing Floor absolutely free. 

A few prime Humble choices: 

And the big one, Killing Floor, which is exactly $0—that's 100% off—until 10 am PT on June 24. The sale itself runs until 10 am PT on June 26. 

Some online stores give us a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Read our affiliate policy for more info

Homeworld Remastered Collection

Homeworld: Cataclysm, the standalone expansion to the magnificent trans-galactic RTS Homeworld, was not included with the Homeworld Remastered Collection released by Gearbox in 2015. The reasons still aren't entirely clear, although Fists of Heaven does a good job of summarizing the confusion and conflict over ownership rights, missing source code, and whether or not the code was really needed in the first place. The bottom line, though, was that Cataclysm was not coming back. 

But now it has come back, though not remastered and with a slightly different name—Homeworld: Emergence—but playable out of the box (in the digital sense) and exactly as it was when it was new. Set 15 years after the story told in Homeworld, Emergence follows a minor mining clan called Kiith Somtaaw, which stumbles upon a deadly nanobot infestation that threatens to overwhelm the galaxy. It features the same basic gameplay as its predecessor, expanded with new ship and technologies, and "enhanced fleet management" that makes corralling your forces in real-time 3D space a little bit easier. 

"The source code is in fact lost, but we didn’t need it to work on the game and make it compatible with modern OSes," a GOG rep explained. "We worked closely with Gearbox Software and used the builds we had in-house." As for the new title, that's a precautionary move. "'Cataclysm' is now a registered trademark of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc., and the game has been renamed to avoid confusion," GOG said.   

Homeworld: Emergence is available now for ten percent off its regular $10 price until June 29. GOG has also picked up the newer, ground-based prequel RTS Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak, which is 66 percent off ($17) until June 29, and has the Homeworld Remastered Collection on sale too for $12. 

Grand Theft Auto V

"A lot of machinima creators have gone disenfranchised now and they've just thrown their hands up in the air and have said: fuck this, I give up."

Duggy is a well known Grand Theft Auto 5 machinima maker who, by way of the game's Rockstar Editor, creates everything from comedy skits, to GTA-inspired Carl Sagan videos. His latest project, GTA Z, is an ongoing zombie apocalypse miniseries that launched its sixth episode earlier this year. Mods are a vital part of Duggy's productions—the majority of which are powered by the now defunct OpenIV modding tool, which Take-Two shuttered last week for reasons Rockstar outlined here. Now, much of Duggy's work hangs in the balance. 

Having spent the last few days chatting with Duggy and a few of his peers, it's clear the above sentiment is shared throughout the GTA machinima community. 

"If we had to go back to a vanilla state GTA, most people would stop making machinimas at that point," Duggy tells me. "People who've been making machinimas since it came out on PC have already done all they could do with the vanilla version of the game, and now that, for so long, we've been able to create all kinds of works, people expect a certain standard. OpenIV has taught a lot of us the inner workings of a game. It taught me a lot about programming and modelling and how to apply things in terms of creating cinematics."

Take-Two's actions were not specifically targeting single player mods. Unfortunately OpenIV enables recent malicious mods that allow harassment of players and interfere with the GTA Online experience for everybody. We are working to figure out how we can continue to support the creative community without negatively impacting our players.

Rockstar's statement.

As a game primarily designed for robbing banks, stealing cars and generally encouraging unscrupulous behaviour, it's surprising just how popular GTA 5's creative subculture has become since its console launch in 2013 and arrival on PC two years later. Los Santos, the game's satirically-swiping slant on real life LA, is now brimming with talent and a cursory YouTube search throws up myriads of films, faux advertisements and music videos wherein artists showcase their impressive skills in spades. 

Above and beyond individual artistry, though, these productions act as perfect advertisements for Rockstar's game by way of showing off what's possible within their near limitless playground—something which the developer has until now actively encouraged via its website Newswire.   

To this end, the closure of OpenIV—the preeminent tool for facilitating all of the above, that's incidentally been around for close to a decade—feels like a strange move. To reiterate part of Rockstar's somewhat vague response last week: "Take-Two's actions were not specifically targeting single player mods", but instead went after those which were said to compromise the game's interlinked GTA Online multiplayer portion. 

Rockstar has been very clear since the introduction of GTA Online that mods are not allowed, and the developer has been notoriously hard on anyone caught attempting to do so. Furthermore, the game automatically shuts itself down should someone tries to bypass its mandatory pre-game warning. That is, unless you're able to cheat the system.

"That's the thing, as much as we dislike these griefers and hackers, they'll always find a way because they're smart," says Eanan Patterson (EP), creator and president of the Banished Breed MC, a group who creates Sons of Anarchy-inspired machinima. "They're very intelligent people and you can see the quality of intelligence in the mods they make. This kind of cease and desist - is that really going to stop them, by ruining it for everyone else? I don't think so, they'll always find a way."

Despite it being a complicated process, both Duggy and EP have since rolled back their games to previous updates in order to continue their work, however this idea isn't one the creative community is willing to adopt as a whole. Since targeting OpenIV, Take-Two has also closed down other programs such as the online segment of Menyoo, and more malicious applications such as Force Hax. The latter move appears to be welcomed by creators, but has also served to underscore their frustration with the former.  

"They've shut down a lot of paid menus. Fair enough, shutting those down, but why not just try that first?" asks Muz whose YouTube channel boasts dozens of GTA videos. "Why not have tried that months ago instead of just going straight for OpenIV? It just seems so ridiculous. Sure, this will pull the scale back but there are smaller ones out there. I know people who do money drops all the time—shutting down, like, four of them isn't going to solve the problem". 

Sonny, an ex-member of 8-Bit Bastard and now solo machinima creator, echoes the above, but also considers the wider impact the removal of OpenIV is having and continues to have on the GTA creative community across the board. 

"The machinima community is one thing, we're being hurt by this, but there's so many more people out there who're being affected," he says. "The modders themselves, who've put hours into their work. I know a guy who makes skins in GTA. He's autistic and doesn't have a whole lot else going on his life and that's what he did. He loved it, he loved when people posted comments on his stuff and that's his way of interacting with the GTA community. That's gone now as well, no one can download his stuff anymore."

Ash Sky Queen, whose coinciding stunt work we've covered in the past, uses GTA machinima as therapy. After suffering a prolapsed disk in 2013, she found herself almost entirely immobile and unable to work. She describes video creation as "something that gets [her] through the day", but that in the wake of OpenIV's closure would seriously consider "shifting to another game". 

Going elsewhere is something Muz is considering too, while Sonny suggests there's nowhere else for machinima creators to go. Nothing else compares to Los Santos, he reckons, and in a way they've been spoiled by what he describes as a "dynamic and actual living city." 

"It's a very short and curt response to a huge outcry from the community. Will anything really be done? Do they really, honestly, care at the end of the day? Or are they just playing ball with their parent company? It's a hard thing. I think we deserved more than a paragraph."

Eanan Patterson, AKA EP

And for those creators who are willing to stick around, how they adapt and maintain the standards they've set themselves up to this point is absolutely crucial. Viewers too have been spoiled by the sophistication and finesse video makers are now capable of—and going backwards just isn't feasible, particularly considering the time and effort that goes into each production. 

Looking to the future, it seems unlikely Rockstar and Take-Two will go back on their OpenIV cease and desist order. The idea that a future patch and/or kill switch could be implemented, thus rendering older versions of the modding tool obsolete, is a daunting prospect, and it's improbable they'll come forth with official modding tools themselves. 

"GTA 5 is probably towards the end of its life. RDR2 is coming out soon with an online portion that'll have a big team working on it. God knows when GTA 6 will come out. In terms of them releasing a modding tool? I'd be surprised, I don't think they will," admits Duggy. "If they were to release a modding tool, what's to say someone cracks open that modding tool and basically reverse engineering it and turning it into another OpenIV. 

"And then I suppose that'd put Rockstar down a particular line of condoning these mods. Normally, they're in a bit of a grey area where they condone some mods and not others. This could put them in a box if they were to release their own modding tool."

Nevertheless, the future is still vague. Is this about money? Is it because the OpenIV team was working on a Liberty City GTA 5 map—and if so, why was the modding tool targeted over the map itself? Rockstar's response, given its prior active promotion of the game's machinima and modding communities, is ambiguous when it says "we are working to figure out how we can continue to support the creative community without negatively impacting our players."

Beyond that, a sizeable number of GTA creators' livelihoods have become uncertain overnight, many of whom feel Rockstars owes them more than what it's offered so far.  

"It's not hypocritical, I'm trying to think of the right word for it," says EP. "The response was what? About a paragraph? I think that's somewhat insulting towards the size of a community that was consistently showcased on the Newswire over the past few years. Ever since the Rockstar Editor was launched there was some kind of video fan showcase from Rockstar directly with all kinds of different creators using their software and the game itself. 

"I dunno, it's a very short and curt response to a very huge outcry from the community. That I find slightly worrying which also makes me allude to the fact that: will anything really be done? Do they really, honestly, care at the end of the day? Or are they just playing ball with their parent company? It's a hard thing. I think we deserved more than a paragraph."     

"OpenIV is the main thing that confuses everyone, a lot of us have been using it and the online manipulation that they claim, that's not something that a lot of us are familiar with," adds Duggy. "We would like them to be a bit clearer on that." 

Since OpenIV's closure, a Change.org petition lobbying to have the tool reinstalled has, at the time of writing, almost reached 75,000 signatures. What's more, a deluge of negative Steam reviews has seen the game sink to 'Mixed' for the first time ever. Recent reviews are now marked 'Overwhelming Negative'.    

Sonny, however, reiterates his wider picture outlook and asks that we consider those who're hurting most: the OpenIV team itself.

"Like I said, it's not just the machinima community that's hurting, you've got the mod creators—heck, the guys from OpenIV, they're hurting the most in this scenario. Ten years of work just shut down like that, it's crazy. I feel like it's all because of money. It's always about money, it's just so sad."

Special thanks to GTA 5 machinima creator Ebony who, while not quoted above, contributed views to this article. 

Team Fortress 2

Videogames that are a decade old tend to be pretty well locked-down, which is a nice way of saying that their developers stopped paying attention to them years ago. Not so with Team Fortress 2, however. Valve announced in a TF2 blog post that new balance changes are coming to the game in a "major update," and this time around it's actually telling people about the update before it goes live. 

"In the past, we've made blog posts about changes we've already shipped or stuff we've tossed onto the smoldering scrap-heap of failed ideas," Valve wrote. "This time—based on your feedback—we're going talk about changes while we’re still working on them." 

The list of changes, "based on online community discussions, emails, playtime data, conversations with players of all skill ranges, and play testing," is not complete, but is instead a "sneak peek" at what Valve is moving toward. Some changes, to both items and classes, are still being worked on and aren't "ready for review," and some that are listed may be changed prior to the update's release.  

Valve is also "going deeper" with some classes than others. The Scout, for instance, will see a number of changes: The triple-jump enabled by the "Atomizer" bat, for instance, "is just too strong" because opponents don't see the bat and thus can't anticipate the Scout's enhanced jumping ability until it's too late. Because of that, the update will require that the bat be deployed, rather than simply carried, in order for the triple-jump ability to be used. It will also suffer a 50 percent "deploy time penalty" in order to prevent a "quick-switch by-pass." 

The Engineer, on the other hand, is getting far less attention: The only listed change for that class is that the "Rescue Ranger" weapon will consume metal (at a 4:1 metal-to-health ratio) when used to make ranged repairs to buildings. Previously, ranged repairs with the weapon required no metal, which made it a little too powerful.   

Ahead of the update, Valve is inviting player feedback as it tunes and finalizes these and other changes. "Hearing from you helps us prioritize our work and influences the direction the game moves in." 

A rollout date for the latest TF2 update hasn't been set. 

TEKKEN 7

Given that Tekken 7 was the first instalment to hit PC, many expected it to launch in a less-than-perfect state. But it turned out the PC version was actually very good, helped along by the fact, no doubt, that it was developed on PC using Unreal Engine 4. There were a few lingering issues though, which a new patch will hopefully iron out.

Released today, the new patch doesn't address anything game-breaking – because by all reports, there are no game-breaking bugs – but they'll come welcome to some. Players can now view past the 97th rank on leaderboards, for example, while minimizing the game's window will no longer prevent it from being re-maximised.

Elsewhere, hackers will now be matched with other hackers, thus sheltering those who wish to play the game properly. Here are the full patch notes:

  • Fixes an issue where the leaderboard only shows until the 97th rank and players can't jump to their own ranking.
  • Fixes an issue where players can't resume the game after minimizing the app's Window.
  • Updates the matching version to ensure hackers will not be matched with legit users anymore.
  • Fixes Nina's Ivory Cutter, Eddy's rage arts and Miguel's power crash move.
  • Fixes an issue where sometimes both controls are assigned to 1P in VERSUS battle.
  • Fixes an issue where the keyboard becomes unresponsive after reconnecting USB devices.
  • Fixes issues where customized Kazuya's 3D model partially disappears.

The full post can be perused over the Steam Community page. If you've yet to play the game, maybe our review will help you make the leap.

Skull & Bones™

Ubisoft said when it announced the high-seas swashbuckling sim Skull and Bones that the game will support both solo and co-op play—"Raid the Hunting Grounds alone or group with other players to hunt larger prey," to be precise—but the focus was clearly on the multiplayer side of things. For those of you who don't like to share the booty, or get ganked by tricked-out frigates, there will be a proper single-player campaign included as well. 

"[Skull and Bones] will offer a narrative campaign which will be integrated into the game and will not be something aside of the multiplayer experience. In this campaign, players will encounter iconic characters and memorable rival pirates. More details will be shared at a later date," a rep said. 

As for the E3 demo, "We only showed Loot Hunt, one of our PvP modes in Disputed Waters," the rep continued. "We like to say that this is just the tip of the iceberg of what we have to show for Skull & Bones." 

Skull and Bones sounds like it could be a lot of fun: Tim described that demo as "charging around the sea, swinging your ship about to deliver spectacular volleys of cannon fire, and using your ram like an enraged narwhal" in his E3 preview, and that absolutely sounds like my kind of nautical videogame. But gamers cannot live on multiplayer alone, and since Sid Meier doesn't seem likely to return to this particular sub-genre anytime soon, I'm glad that Ubisoft is picking up the slack. Skull and Bones is due to set sail in the fall of 2018. 

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