The Elder Scrolls®: Legends™

Pictured: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

We enjoy ourselves some The Elder Scrolls: Legends around these parts, with Tim calling it a "viable [Hearthstone] competitor with better deck diversity" in his review earlier this year.  The first major expansion, Heroes of Skyrim, is due out on 29 June, and adds more than 150 cards. As you'll have guessed from the title of both the set, and this story, the theme is heavily dragon-flavored—and not all the fans are happy about the lore.

Reddit user ShiaLePork has collected community complaints into a thread on the Legends subreddit, singling out three cards that are "problematic... lore-wise." The hot-button issue pertains to dragons and their legs. The Wildfire Dragon card has four legs, and Shia points out that dragons in the Elder Scrolls only have two—with wings serving as its front appendages. However, he does note that the Daedra Peryite will at times appear "as a four-legged dragon, but that is just to mock them." Either way, it's definitely not a dragon you'd find in the land of Tamriel.

Additionally, Shia holds issue with the World Eater Alduin card. It also shows a dragon with four legs, but as Shia mentions, it "looks nothing like" Skyrim's big bad boss boy.

The concerned Redditor also brings up the Dova of the Voice card. This issue is fairly simple: Shia says that it should either be spelled "Dovah" or "Dov" (the latter being plural). You can see all three cards below.

Shia finishes his post by adding that they have "nothing but respect" for developer Dire Wolf Digital, but they're not the only one that has taken issue with this four-legged problem. In a different Reddit thread, more fans have taken issue with Alduin's legs and appearance, while another thread is devoted entirely to letting Bethesda know what the World Eater actually looks like.

As Tim noted in his review, Dire Wolf Digital has been responsive to feedback, and has also updated card art that had issues in the past, such as Loyal Housecarl, so it wouldn't be surprising if something changes. I've contacted Bethesda for comment and will keep you updated as this situation develops.

Secret World Legends

Funcom's innovative, real-world-ish MMO The Secret World relaunches as the free-to-play Secret World Legends on Monday June 26, at least officially. A 'head start' weekend is taking place right now, a weekend that was originally just going to be open to beta testers and owners of the original game, but that is now open to all (yes, including you, Steve). What I'm saying is that The Secret World Legends has launched a little early, and you can sign up here.

The game client can be downloaded from here (direct link), and if you're waiting for it to come to Steam, that's going to happen in around a month's time, on July 31. You'll be able to import certain things from the previous version of The Secret World, including cosmetics and unlocked weapons, though it seems your characters won't be carried across.

Of the relaunch, executive producer Scott Junior had this to say: "One of our biggest goals in relaunching the game has been to reimagine the core gameplay experience in a way befitting a modern-day action RPG. Secret World Legends features combat that feels more natural, deep systems that are more intuitive, better structuring of the early game for new players, and improved mission flow to strengthen the pace of progression for players."

Scanner Sombre

Scanner Sombre, as it turns out, hasn't sold very well, at least compared to Introversion's previous game: the 2-million-copies-sold-and-counting Prison Architect. By comparison, the developer's first-person cave-mapping game Scanner Sombre has only rustled up around 6,000, or in the words of Introversion's Chris Delay, "It's bombed".

Delay, and Introversion co-founder Mark Morris, chatted about the game, and its sales, in a frank new YouTube video, while also finding the time to show off Scanner's previously teased VR mode, which is now live in beta form, and playable on HTC Vice or Oculus Rift. Click here to learn how to opt in to that beta on Steam.

Here's Delay speaking about Scanner Sombre's sales, via Gamasutra: "It's bombed. I didn't think that was possible. It's not that I arrogantly believe we're the best people in the world or anything, it's that our last game sold over 2 million. So I kind of wrongly assumed that would just give us a minimum number of people looking at our game. So that numbers like [6k] would be impossible."

Scanner Sombre is currently 50% off in the Steam Summer sale. You can read Tom Marks' review here.

Grand Theft Auto V

GTA modding tool OpenIV released a small update today, from build 906 to build 907 of version 2.9. The update contains "bug fixes and small improvements", which during any other week wouldn't necessarily be cause for celebration. However, considering the recent announcement that OpenIV was ceasing development and updates in the wake of the takedown notice from Take-Two Interactive, even a minor update is a huge deal.

This morning, along with a new statement about its stance on singleplayer modding, Rockstar told PC Gamer that it was talking to the lead developer of OpenIV. It certainly sounds like that conversation went well and it appears that OpenIV will be continuing development, which also suggests Take-Two has dropped its legal challenge against OpenIV.

Another easy dot to connect: this turnaround is due to the massive protest by fans and modders, which included a swarm of negative Steam reviews and a petition with thousands of signatures. The players talked, and Rockstar and Take-Two listened. Good job, everyone!

As of right now, OpenIV's website hasn't been changed to reflect the good news—it still displays the original post about the takedown—but we expect a statement from OpenIV's developer soon.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2018

Konami has earned abundant—and much-merited—praise over the last 24 months for its attempts to reinvent Pro Evolution Soccer. It truly is a revolution that’s been televised; and that, in very literal terms, is the issue for PC players. Rather than receive the Fox Engine-powered version that’s delighted current-gen console owners, they—they, being you—have had to endure lackluster PS3 and Xbox 360 ports throughout that time frame. Finally, for PES 2018, this oversight is corrected. Steam receives a version of Pro Evo that easily matches its PS4 and Xbox One counterparts, and may yet surpass them once the modding community sets to work.

That’s a big deal from a visual perspective, inevitably. I got the chance to play with four club teams (Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool) on a machine running an Inter Core i7-6700 and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080, and in 4K everything looks Champions League quality. Player faces, Barca’s especially, impressively match their real-life counterparts, crowds look like a collection of individuals as opposed to a swampy mess, and—most importantly—the on-pitch action unfolds in a manner which accurately represents the real thing. Sometimes too closely, given the Rottweiler-esque vigour with which Luis Suarez celebrates every goal.

Yet PC already has one cosmetically pleasing football game in FIFA, so it’s the feel of new PES which makes this long overdue upgrade so critical, and which will define its ongoing success. Konami’s focus in recent years has been on fundamentals over back-of-box gimmicks, and sure enough it’s the almost-natural feel of passing, shooting and dribbling here which make it—at least for these first few hours—unputdownable. Variation is plentiful and there’s no magical path to goal; even with a passing side such as Liverpool, I’m able to work chances and score goals with angled passes behind a full back, and/or direct crosses into the penalty area. 

Midfield play—for the longest time a congested, if just-about-manageable, mess in both big-name football games—is especially transformative. Here the pitch is noticeably bigger than in last year's PS4 and Xbox One versions; the players slightly smaller; and the dribbling system tighter. Receive the ball in the centre circle and precious split-seconds can be spent assessing options before picking out a team-mate or carrying possession forward, while chains of passes can be strung together without the need for Olympian reaction times and Russell Grant powers of foresight.

That one design decision alone moves human matches from basketball-style, I-attack-then-you-attack sprint-fests towards footballing chess, in which possession is pivotal and final ball placement (and timing) critical. Whether that filters down to cruder sides at, say, French Ligue 2 level is another question entirely, but for now PES’s ability to offer genuine tactical variety among AI teams on the recent console editions earns Konami the benefit of the doubt. 

I’m already convinced that this will be proclaimed the purists’ football game out on the pitch, but in the annual face-off with FIFA that’s only part of the equation. Licensing remains an area where Konami openly admits it can’t match EA’s cash reserves, so it’s taking unconventional routes to players’ hearts. One is offering champion sprinter Usain Bolt as a pre-order incentive, for use in MyClub, the PES answer to Ultimate Team. Brand manager Adam Bhatti tells me Bolt will be the fastest player in the game, and with pace deadlier than ever this year—Liverpool’s Sadio Mane is a joy to steer down the right flank—few will complain about a lack of realism once Bolt is charging past opposition defenders on their behalf.

Additional MyClub information isn’t readily available, but ‘unconventional’ is a term that’s always gone hand-in-glove with Master League, PES’ other long-term mode. This is one area I don’t get to experience during my hands-on, but Bhatti enthuses about it with confidence and zeal, promising a new transfer system—including the ability to buy any player by triggering their ‘release fee’, as occasionally happens with elite stars in real life—pre-season matches, and changing-room cut-scenes in the hope of providing a more involved world. 

While I have his ear, however, I can’t resist launching a studs-up challenge on the elephant in the room. Why did it take this long to bring the PC version of PES up to scratch? To Bhatti’s credit, it’s not a question he looks to duck.

“This was always something we wanted to do,” he says. “But being honest, the resource management internally wasn’t there. People imagine our team to be hundreds of people, and think upgrading to another format is simple, but [that’s incorrect]. Using Fox Engine on a football game took 2-3 years to get right on PS4 and Xbox One, which are our biggest markets. PC is super important to us, but until this year we didn’t have the resource. Now, we’ve learned from the Metal Gear team in terms of using Fox Engine on PC. It’s the same quality as the console version, and then some.”

And the modding community mentioned at the outset of this piece? An absolutely vital element of PES’s potential PC success, says the man in charge: “We’re not going to give them free rein… but they always find a way. In-game editing features are the same as on console, but they have been for the last 20 years on PC, and the community still manages to do some great stuff. And I don’t mean in terms of licensing: we’re talking weather settings, players faces, and so on. It’s great to see, and inspires us.”

Football fans are known to be overly positive during the summer months, as an unblemished fixture list and influx of new players deliver false hope ahead of a new campaign. With that in mind, it would be dangerous to proclaim this the title favourite prior to next season without having yet tested its online capabilities—something of an Achilles heel even through its recent successes.

But there is plenty to encourage, ahead of the fresh season. Not least Bhatti’s final thought on being properly optimised for PC: “It’s the best version, and we’re so happy."

Machinarium

Machinarium, the point-and-click adventure about a bug-eyed robot named Josef and his girlfriend Berta, was originally released in 2009 and is very good—in fact, it was the game that hooked me on Amanita Design's later work, including Botanicula and Samorost 3. But it hasn't aged particularly well, mainly because it was built using Adobe Flash. So Amanita has updated it with a completely redone "Definitive Version" that's now available on Steam

"We’ve reprogrammed Machinarium from the scratch. The game is now using a custom made DirectX engine instead of Flash which has become quite old-fashioned in recent years," Amanita wrote. "Therefore you can finally enjoy Machinarium even on modern high resolution screens. And thanks to added gamepad support, the game works perfectly in Steam Big Picture." 

The updated version also features 12 Steam achievements, Steam Cloud saves, and even leaderboards for "Quickest Win" and "Explorer," which measures total distance traveled. It's also been localized with 14 different languages, and the studio said that Steam trading cards are also planned, hopefully in the summer. 

The Definitive Version update is free for existing owners of Machinarium, and it makes a tremendous difference: It looks fantastic at high resolution, and runs like butter. Machinarium is also currently on sale for $2.50/£2/€2.50 as part of the Steam Summer Sale, which runs until July 5. 

Grand Theft Auto V

The drama between modders, Rockstar Games, and Take-Two Interactive continues to unfold. Rockstar has issued another statement, this time on singleplayer mods in general. And, there's some potentially hopeful news as to the fate of singleplayer modding tool OpenIV.

First, Rockstar Games has added a topic to its support page in regards to singleplayer mods for the PC versions of its games. This is obviously in response to the controversial decision of GTA publisher Take-Two Interactive shutting down OpenIV. Take-Two declined our invitation for further comment, and Rockstar initially only issued a brief statement, but it seems it has a little bit more to say today.

Under the question "Are Single-Player mods Allowed?" the answer is as follows:

"Rockstar Games believes in reasonable fan creativity, and, in particular, wants creators to showcase their passion for our games. After discussions with Take-Two, Take-Two has agreed that it generally will not take legal action against third-party projects involving Rockstar’s PC games that are single-player, non-commercial, and respect the intellectual property (IP) rights of third parties. This does not apply to (i) multiplayer or online services; (ii) tools, files, libraries, or functions that could be used to impact multiplayer or online services, or (iii) use or importation of other IP (including other Rockstar IP) in the project. This is not a license, and it does not constitute endorsement, approval, or authorization of any third-party project. Take-Two reserves the right to object to any third-party project, or to revise, revoke and/or withdraw this statement at any time in their own discretion. This statement does not constitute a waiver of any rights that Take-Two may have with respect to third-party projects."

I imagine this is supposed to be reassuring—here are the rules, so everyone is clear on what you can do and what you can't—but I still think it's problematic, as the statement is more than a bit vague. Take-Two "generally" won't take legal action against singleplayer mod projects that don't infringe on third-party IP rights and don't impact online play. But they still might take legal action, plus they reserve the right to modify or completely withdraw this statement in the future.

For modders embarking on singleplayer mod projects that may take them years to complete, even those that completely play by the rules described here, this isn't reassuring. What this really says is that you can do everything right, you can color within the lines, and you still might get a cease and desist order. Modders will be risking countless hours of work on a "reasonable" creative project, but could still lose it all.

On the more hopeful side of things, Rockstar has told PC Gamer that it is now in contact with the developer of OpenIV. That's certainly a positive step forward, and will hopefully lead to a more constructive resolution than a complete shutdown of the modding suite. When we have more details on this, we'll update our story.

It's worth noting that the reference to "tools, files, libraries, or functions that could be used to impact multiplayer or online services" is more or less the reason Rockstar gave in its initial statement about the shutdown of OpenIV. I'm not sure what resolution can be reached under those guidelines, but if both sides are talking, at least there's some hope.

Assassin's Creed™: Director's Cut Edition

The best sidequests in PC gaming have historically, for me at least, been few and far between. That is to say: while I've thoroughly enjoyed certain quests in certain games, far too many side ventures eschew narrative reward, often serve as filler, and are ultimately plain boring. This is particularly true in open world games—The Witcher 3 is perhaps the exception—however the Assassin's Creed series is looking to improve its side quest design into the future.   

Officially revealed at this year's E3, Origins will reduce its icon clutter by introducing a new "quest system". 

Speaking to our Samuel on the show floor, the game's creative director Jean Guesdon said: "That's one of the three main things that we reworked a lot. Traditionally in past Assassin's Creed [games], we had what was called a mission system. So, it was really about missions, but missions are really good to tell a little bit, a chapter, of a big story. So we had a main story and side activities, basically, which were not really supportive of narrative. 

"This time we're embracing a quest system, much more [like an] RPG, where you have dozens of them in the world, meeting different people, and each quest this time is a different story. We wanted that first to give a lot of meat to the world, to have the player really understand the world, and it's really allowing us to depict the setting well, because Ancient Egypt is incredible. It's a long lost world—we did a lot of research, and through the quests, we have a [chance] to help you experience that."

Assassin's Creed: Origins is due October 27, 2017. Here's its latest trailer:

One Finger Death Punch

As you might've spied last month, we recently launched the PC Gamer Club which offers members a digital subscription to PC Gamer magazine, ad-free-browsing on this very site, and monthly game keys, among other neat perks. Speaking to the latter this month's game, courtesy of our partners at Bundle Stars, is Silver Dollar's One Finger Death Punch—a fast-firing martial arts-infused rhythm game that boasts an 'Overwhelmingly Positive' review badge on Steam

As part of our weekly Why I Love column, Tom once wrote about his fondness of One Finger Death Punch's brutal simplicity, where speed and lightning-sharp reflexes are the name of the game. Snap up a PC Gamer Club membership today for your chance to fall for it yourself.   

Of course One Finger Death Punch is also coming to those already signed up—and if you're still on the fence, let us point you towards our handy Club FAQ

If you fancy that, registration details can be found this-a-way.    

Thimbleweed Park™

Thimbleweed Park—the Ron Gilbert-crafted, retro-inspired point-and-clicker than Andy billed as a "quality adventure game with challenging puzzles, oddball characters, and an intriguing, mystery-laden plot"—has been updated. Alongside "several" minor additions, as told by Mr Gilbert himself, the update brings with it two "major" ones by way of a new hint system and player character dialogues. 

Taking to the above-linked and fairly thorough blog post, Gilbert notes that player character interactions were in fact something he'd planned to have in the game's final release, but that he wound up scrapping during development.    

"This was something I attempted during initial production but abandoned due to me being unable to think about it as anything more than an a overly complex hint system," says Gilbert. "It always felt to me that all you'd want to do was talk to the other characters and get hints, and the early iterations of the system really showed that, so I abandoned it. Time was also getting short and there was a lot of work to be done, so it wasn't a matter of me writing player dialogs or hanging out at the beach.

"This turned out to be a mistake. I should have pressed forward and implemented this."

As for Thimbleweed's new hint system, it's designed to replicate a hints hotline—similar to what players of adventures games Way Back When would've relied upon. Judging by his words, it seems Gilbert succumbed to the need for a hints system at all through gritted teeth. 

"I know this will cause the hardcore adventure gamer's blood to boil (as it does mine), but the lack of hints was widely criticized by some of the more casual press," he says. "As we move to new and more casual platforms like iOS and Android, this becomes increasingly important. I guess it's a sad fact about not only modern gamers, but older gamers that just don't have 18 hours to spend on a game.

"Thimbleweed Park already has a working phone, so it seem natural to just have a hint line number you could call and get a hint."

Read Gilbert's update post in full over here. Thimbleweed Park's latest update is live now.

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