PC Gamer

Drive Any Track is a fluorescent futuristic racing game where the tracks are generated by music. Any audio file on your computer can be imported and transformed into a track, as long as it s an MP3, OGG, or AAC. Don t worry, lossless fans: FLAC support is being added in a future build. I ve just spent an hour testing a variety of music, and the results are mixed. As you might expect, some tracks work really well, while others don t at all—even when it seems like they should. I don t know what s going on behind the scenes in the game s so-called MEGA engine, but when it works, it does a decent job of translating a song into a drivable track.

There s no need to accelerate: you speed along automatically, racing the track itself. To keep up and stay in sync, you have to avoid obstacles and collect tokens to deploy a speed boost. Make too many mistakes and you ll fall behind and have to re-sync, losing points in the process. It s like an endless runner crossed with Sony racer WipEout. Tracks are laden with boost pads, loops, and ramps, and the difficulty level—rated out of five stars—is determined by the song itself.

I started by trying to break it. I imported Squarepusher s Anstromm-Feck 4, a ludicrous rapid-fire blast of sped-up Amen break and distorted synths. I expected this to earn an easy 5/5 difficulty rating, but it was, disappointingly, only 2/5. And it wasn t very much fun to play either. I think the sheer amount of stuff going on sonically in your average Squarepusher track is probably too much for the engine to handle. I tried some similarly hyperactive Venetian Snares too—my favourite track, Gentleman—but the results were just as disappointing.

The tracks look great: a sea of twisting, pulsing neon, dwarfed by urban skyboxes that look like the opening scenes of Blade Runner. I try another track, The Sweat Descends by Les Savy Fav, and it works much better. The ratatat drums and scratchy guitars seem to fuse with what s happening on-screen in a much more noticeable way. I see the track morphing to mirror changes in the song. As the drums speed up at 1:07, for example, it transitions into a loop. I actually feel connected to the music. It seems songs with clear changes in their waveforms make for the best tracks.

But I still haven t managed to find a song with a 5/5 difficulty rating. I try Slayer s blistering Angel of Death, expecting that to work, but no luck. I must have imported 15 songs and none were rated higher than 3/5. But, even so, the game still presents a stiff challenge. Getting through an entire track without hitting any barriers and collecting every token is a real test of focus and reaction times. But it s a pretty simplistic, arcade-like game, so there isn t much depth to uncover. It s all about chasing high scores and topping the online leaderboards.

I test a few other tracks. Guitar music is the worst at generating interesting tracks. This Charming Man by The Smiths and Post Acid by Wavves are two songs I love, but that make for dull, repetitive Drive Any Track courses. Oh well. It makes sense, though. The MEGA engine seems to respond best to music with exaggerated sonic spikes, quiet moments, and sudden drops: dubstep, dance, and so on. But the developers say they ll be increasing the musicality of the game in future updates, so hopefully that will mean the engine caters for a wider variety of genres.

Drive Any Track is an enjoyable score-attack racer with a lot of potential, but the fun you ll have with it depends entirely on the music on your hard drive. When it works, and the sound in your headphones syncs perfectly with the music, it can be strangely hypnotising. I love the way the lights on the track pound and pulse in time with the drums. But then you ll import another song and feel nothing. Dig through your music library and you re bound to find a track that translates well, and if you re the first to do so, your name will be etched forever on its online leaderboard.

PC Gamer

Infinite Crisis, the DC Comics-themed MOBA, is not long for this world. Despite only officially releasing in late-March, developer Turbine has today announced that it will shut down on August 14.

"After much deliberation, we regret to announce the official shutdown of Infinite Crisis," explains a brief statement. "We will end development efforts today and will close the service on August 14, 2015." The game will be entirely free between now and the closure date.

"This was an extremely difficult decision to make," Turbine write. "On behalf of the entire Infinite Crisis team we want to thank all of you for your feedback, support and for joining together to create one of the best communities in gaming."

While the developer doesn't give an exact reason for the closure, the game had reportedly struggled to maintain an active player base.

PC Gamer

ESL One Frankfurt is one of the last major Dota 2 LAN events before The International 2015. It's running from Saturday the 20th of June to Sunday the 21st, and will feature a roster of the best Dota 2 teams in the world competing for a prize pool in excess of $250,000.

It takes place in the Commerzbank Arena in Frankfurt - a massive Olympic football stadium with space to house a bunch of activities in addition to the main event. I attended in 2014 and had a really good time: it makes for a great primer for The International, there's lots to do and the standard of the production is high.

Wanna go? You're in luck! We have two pairs of Premium tickets to give away, worth 200 each. These give you access to VIP seating plus free drinks and food for the entire weekend, a goodie bag, signing sessions, your very own Secret Shop and a to-be-revealed in-game item. Premium seats are currently sold out for the event - if you didn't get them before, this might be your last chance.

We're going to be giving these tickets away via a raffle. To enter, stick your e-mail address in the field below. We'll open it up for 24 hours, from 5pm GMT on the 2nd of June to 5pm GMT on the 3rd. At that point, two lucky winners will receive their tickets via e-mail.

This giveaway is available to everybody, but winners will need to arrange their own transport and accommodation for the event.

If you miss out on a ticket this time around, keep an eye out for PC Gamer's daily match coverage. Until then, the ESL Dota 2 Twitter account is posting updates in the run-up to the event.

Good luck, and have fun!

PC Gamer
Fallout 4 is probably being revealed tomorrow. But before then, we only have our imaginations to work with. What will a new generation of Fallout look and feel like? Will there still be Deathclaws? As we wait to learn more, these are our speculations and hopes for the next return to the wasteland.
Livelier roads, cities, and towns.

There's a reason these things pop up time and time again on the Fallout mod sites. It's a basic incompatibility at the heart of Bethesda's game: most games are a bit more fun with a livelier world, but the world of Fallout follows on from the razing of the human race. Bethesda tend to err on the side of caution with this, though tech issues are probably to blame for the rather empty casinos of New Vegas, but creating a world means populating it, and the mods that add new travelers and people still do that without impacting the overall feeling of loneliness. As it is,the roads of the Wasteland are a bit too quiet for the game they're part of.

Make it about survival.

In Bethesda's hands, the Wasteland is fun. By the middle of a run through you're clobbering Deathclaws with concrete capped rebars and sipping irradiated water without a care in the world. Possibly with a pinkie out. The point being is that the notion of survival becomes obsolete in a world dripped in caps to find, traders to sell to, and junk to collect. New Vegas has hardcore mode, forcing you to think about food, water, and rest, as well as altering the way meds and stimpaks work, but it's still a world that can easily and comfortably be lived in. It needn't be the main difficulty level, but the option to make the world a harsh place to live, to make the players think about every move, not just their weapon and perk choices, would give the ashy flavour of survival.

Bethesda's Design, Obsidian's Characters.

There I was, wandering beneath a line-up of broken satellite dishes, looking for things to do when I spied a door. What could be behind it? A gang of gangers? A terrified NPC? A few steps towards it, a glance around to make sure there was nothing sneaking up. I popped the door. Behind it was a wall with Fuck You written on it. Bethesda's worlds tend to be packed with detail, big and small. They're places to live in and enjoy, and just brilliant places to explore. Their characters, however, are a lot less engaging. Obsidian's take on New Vegas was packed with morally dubious Wastelanders with dark stories. Acquiring Boone as a follower, for example, meant leading a person out into a field for the deranged sniper to shoot. That's dark enough, but as a player you could happily lead an innocent into Boone's sights. Somewhere in the middle of Fallout 3 and New Vegas is the sweet spot they should be aiming for: dark, compelling characters in a curated world.

Treat us like PC gamers.

I've never loaded up a Bethesda game and felt the studio really understood what PC gamers want from them. We have screen space and we have a pointing device that just seems to baffle them. I understand there's a fictional reason for the Pipboy's clunkiness, but all too often Bethesda will choose that over usability. Fallout 3 and New Vegas are remarkable examples of how to not lead a player through a game's menus. I *have* to install a UI mod to deal with the endless scrolling of the inventories. When it comes to pure usability, divorce the theme from the menus

The same is true for FOV: the first thing I have to do in any Bethesda game is to hunt for an FOV hack. That I can do it is evidence that the engine is capable, and I'm still baffled that it's not a native selection. Give me a damn slider.

Meaningful Character Creation.

There are a fair number of perks, abilities and skills to begin with in Fallout. But there's nothing to set allegiances or race. Bethesda's Fallouts give you plenty of opportunity to interact with factions, and alliances will be built from your actions, but what if you don't want to put the work in, or want to roleplay from the opening bell? It needn't allow you to select playing as a Ghoul, but predisposing you towards the NPR would make an interesting challenge to overcome.

Think about the Karma system.

I nuked Megaton. I actually destroyed a town full of people. I can't imagine any game allowing me to claw my way back from that, but Fallout 3 let me. Through good deeds I managed to reclaim my karma and end-up with a reasonably decent character sheet. I wouldn't mind my deeds being somewhat recognised, but I blew up a town. There are no meaningful consequences that you can't undo. Make it harder to turn myself around, and make some choices indelible. By the same token, if I'm stealing things from bad people, don't make that a hit on my karma. By all means make the faction hate me, but the world should recognise the good I just did.

More than one city.

Bethesda's games just don't have the scope of the original series, because building all that content and the space in between in the sort of game that they make would take a decade. But the DLC that they've added to the game has shown a willingness to allow the player to simply hop to another area without worrying about the space in between. Or just choose a reasonably close cluster of cities that the fiction hasn't totaled.

Make it it hurt.

My violent streak has never been well-served by Fallout 3 or NV (I like Skyrim's bows, though). VATs is nice touch, and certainly enhances the basic combat, but whether it's swinging a concrete caked rebar, or zapping with the Wasteland's most advanced lasergundeath tech, there's weediness to it. There's little heft to the melee weapons, and the report of the guns doesn't match what they do to enemies. Please, Bethesda, play Dark Messiah and Red Orchestra, two games where the combat feels utterly perfect. That's the level of combat excellence that an action Fallout needs.

A use for everything.

Speaking of that, Fallout New Vegas allowed you to mod your guns a little, augmenting them with scopes and such. That's a good start. This is a world where invention is a necessary part of survival, and where scavenging should be part of a crafting system that allows you build everything and anything, and to mod things on top of that. I'd even lobby for individual components to be brought in from the Steam Workshop. Oh yeah...

Use The Steam Workshop.

This is kind of a lock: the Skyrim Workshop is the third busiest of the modder's distribution platforms. But what I would urge is for Bethesda to make the tools available on launch day. It will help with content, and if none of the above in the list makes it, it'll give the modders a jump on fiddling with and fixing everything on the list above.
PC Gamer

Woe to all you European Kings and Queens, stuck faffing about with Crusades and casus belli and trying to get your idiot brother assassinated. Turns out, it could be all in vain. The Horse Lords are coming.

Yes, Paradox has announced yet another expansion for Crusader Kings 2. This one is all about the nomadic tribes of the Eurasian Steppes, and specifically the time they all united under a single Khan and pretty much rolled through the entirety of two continents.

Here's the feature list:

  • Nomadic rule: Distinct from the tribal governments already in game, nomads need lots of space and resist the trappings of settlement
  • Clan politics: Rule a clan within a nomadic tribe, split clans that get too large, fight for dominance, and proclaim feuds and blood oaths
  • Muster Hordes: Raise vast armies of horsemen and archers, mobilizing your entire population to ride forth and conquer
  • Silk Road: This rich trade network can bring great wealth to whomever controls the cities along the route but it s especially ripe for pillaging.
  • Larger Map: The Central Asian plains have been expanded
  • Tributaries: New diplomatic relationship for nomad states forces defeated enemies to keep the Khan s coffers filled.
  • Forts: build temporary fortifications to hold a province under your sway for just long enough for you to finish the war.

At this point, Crusader Kings 2 has an almost comical amount of DLC. Still, this is a fascinating part of the world at a fascinating point in time.

Horse Lords is due out "very soon".

PC Gamer

Fallout.bethsoft.com? A countdown clock that expires tomorrow, at 3pm BST?

Looks like the rumours were true.

PC Gamer

InXile is back for another Kickstarter. With Wasteland 2 released and Torment: Tides of Numenera in development, it's now the turn of classic dungeon crawling series The Bard's Tale.

To be honest, I'm not sure this Kickstarter pitch video was the best way to get people excited about the project. Here it is anyway, just in case you're interested.

Remember the time, before Kickstarter pitch videos realised the need to be short, informative and to the point, when studios instead attempted to over-exaggerate modern trends in order to gently stoke the nostalgia of their target audience through extended skits? Yeah, that. Also, I'm not wild about the phrase, "help revive the dungeon crawl." Because, y'know, this.

That aside, what about the game? Note that the video does, at no point, mention the 2004 The Bard's Tale ARPG. I'm pretty sure that's deliberate. Instead, this is a return to the classic The Bard's Tales of old—party-based dungeon crawlers with plenty of puzzles, traps, monsters and secrets. It'll play similarly to Legend of Grimrock or Might & Magic, basically.

InXile is hoping to raise $1.25 million to make all of this happen, and say they'll co-fund at least $1.25 million of their own money to double the initial budget. If you pledge at least $20 in this, the first day of funding, you'll also get a free copy of Wasteland 2, The Witcher or The Witcher 2. Which is nice.

For more information, head over to The Bard's Tale IV's Kickstarter page.

PC Gamer

What are tanks for, if not domination? Actually, wait, there's probably a legitimate answer to that question—something to do with supporting infantry, or as a replacement to cavalry; horses having become increasingly obsolete with the advent of mechanised warfare.

Okay, tanks have lots of uses, and one of those uses is domination. Case in point: World of Tanks is full of tanks, and it's dedicating this entire month to a special Domination event.

Three special vehicles are available for the event—the AMX 50 B (D), the Object 140 (D) and the 110 5 (D)—all of which are Tier 10 monstrosities.

Unlike other WoT modes, Domination allows players to respawn into a new vehicle after death. Hence: Victory Points, earned by capturing flags and destroying enemy players. No, it's not exactly the most original idea in multiplayer gaming, but it might make for a nice change from World of Tanks' usual modes.

For more details, head over to the official World of Tanks website.

PC Gamer

Intel held a press conference at Computex on Tuesday to talk about processors, things that processors go inside, and the newer, faster things those processors can do. There was some jabber about the Internet of Things and servers and low-power mobile Atom chips that don t have much to do with gaming, but there was also a long-overdue announcement about its delayed 5th generation Core series, Broadwell. Broadwell processors are finally here for the desktop. Well, almost here: Intel says they should be available in the next 30 to 60 days.

And when they are available, you shouldn t buy one.

To be more precise, the desktop processors you ll hear most about, but definitely shouldn t buy, are the Core i5-5675C and the Core i7-5775C. With Broadwell, Intel has replaced its K designation with C to indicate unlocked, overclockable chips. These two processors are the Broadwell equivalents of the high-end processors that have been our go-tos for gaming over the past several years, like the i5-2500k, i5-3770k, i7-4790k, etc. But you shouldn t buy them.

Why? First, because Skylake will be here in a matter of months. Skylake is Intel s next processor release, and it represents the bigger tock in Intel s tick tock release cycle. That means we ll likely see a bit more of a performance improvement out of Skylake. But far more importantly than a few percentage points of increased speed, Skylake will be launching with a new chipset, the Intel 100 series. That chipset will bring with it DDR4 support, more PCIe lanes, and greater bandwidth between processor and chipset. Buying Broadwell now means locking yourself into a soon-to-be-abandoned socket.

That s the forward-looking reason not to buy a Broadwell processor. But the here-and-now answer is even simpler: these aren t high performance CPUs. The i5 and i7 are clocked at 3.1 GHz and 3.3 GHz with 65 watt TDPs. Our current recommended gaming CPUs, the i5-4690k and i7-4790k, are clocked at 3.5 GHz and 4GHz. They re faster out of the box—and with TDPs of 88 watts, they re far more overclockable.

The new Broadwell i5-5675C and i7-577C are unlocked, but they re not build for that overclocking. These aren t going to be great gaming CPUs. Their real noteworthy improvement comes in Intel s integrated Iris graphics, but no desktop gaming rig is ever going to run off those graphics when a dedicated graphics card is vastly more powerful. Broadwell is a much more important CPU release on the mobile side; Intel always needs to up its integrated graphics game for laptops. But on the desktop, Skylake will be a far better buy.

For now, if you re building a new rig, stick with Intel s current Devil s Canyon processors (the 4690k and 4790k). But if you can wait a few months, Skylake is coming, and even if performance is only slightly better than the existing CPUs, the move to DDR4 and more PCIe lanes will be worth the wait.

For the full list of new Broadwell desktop CPUs you shouldn t buy, you can read Intel s press release from Computex.

PC Gamer

I have a suspicion that Zachtronics may be a machine. Let's look at the evidence: Spacechem and the excellent Infinifactory are both complex logic puzzles about efficiency; very appealing to a machine mind, no doubt. Then there's the new game, TIS-100. It's not just the fact that it's an "open-ended programming game", but that it's being released into Early Access just months after Infinifactory's own Early Access release.

To be fair, the scope seems to be less broad than with Infinifactory. Firstly, there's the price, which comes in at a lean 5/$7. And then there's the fact that it looks like this:

"It s the assembly language programming game you never asked for," writes Zachtronics, correctly predicting that no, I have never asked for an assembly language programming game.

In TIS-100, you're presented with corrupted lines of code that must be rewritten to repair the system and unlock its secrets. It's a puzzle-based hacking sandbox, with an '80s style reference manual that you can print out and use.

As with Infinifactory, TIS-100 is coming to Early Access in a near-finished state. The Early Access period is expected to last for one to two months, and could result in "new puzzles, new sandboxes, new assembly instructions, and even features as big as Steam Workshop integration if there is sufficient demand."

...

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