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PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Battleborn gameplay video shows colourful cooperative campaign and lots of shooting">battleborn-game-2

Battleborn might have appeared unclassifiable when it was unveiled back in July, but with the arrival of this lengthy gameplay video it's pretty clearly a shooter. It's not a conventional shooter though, as MOBAs, RPGs and RTSs are all said to be influences. Creative director Randy Varnell and writer Aaron Linde offer commentary for the cooperative playthrough below, which showcases four distinct classes and, most strikingly, the game's hybrid art style.

Regarding the latter, there's definitely a Borderlands flavour to both the character design and world theme, which may relieve some of the tension associated with Gearbox's reluctance to talk Borderlands 3 (though there is The Pre-Sequel). Based on the evidence below Battleborn will be a much leaner and more strategic proposition compared to Borderlands' blissfully mindless shooting and looting.

Check out the video:

PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Oculus Rift Crescent Bay prototype hands-on: experiencing true VR presence for the first time">oculusconnect-wescrescentbay-teaser

Wow. I thought I had experienced virtual reality before I put on Oculus VR s new prototype Crescent Bay headset. I put on the original Rift when it was still a duct-taped prototype. I ve played game demos on the higher resolution Crystal Cove prototype, which added positional tracking, and the polished version that is now shipping as DK2. Every one was amazing: an experience with a technology that was clearly on the cusp of changing gaming as we know it. Putting on Oculus VR s Crescent Bay is a different experience altogether. Those previous headsets were just shadows of virtual reality, simulacra that asked you to fool your brain into believing in the magic. In some of the Crystal Cove demos, I found myself having to remind my brain that this wasn t real, because all my senses were telling me otherwise.

In their keynotes at Oculus Connect, the brains behind Oculus kept talking about presence what it takes to create total immersion in virtual reality. It sounded like a buzzword to me, until I strapped Crescent Bay onto my face, placed its integrated earpieces over my ears, and stood on the ledge of a skyscraper looking out over a virtual steampunk cityscape. I looked down, tried to step off the ledge, and my body recoiled. I was there.


As soon as I put on Crescent Bay to experience a series of about 10 one-minute demos, I bought into Oculus talk about presence. It s a difficult sensation to describe, but if you ve used an earlier version of the Rift you may be able to imagine it.

When you wear DK2, it s rare for you to feel like you re really there. Mostly, it feels like playing a video game in a really, really cool way, but you remember you re sitting in a chair, holding a controller, and you can see the edges of the screen projected in front of you. The screen door effect in DK2 is much improved over DK1, but it s still there, since only 960x1080 pixels are projected in front of each eye. Your head movements are tracked, but you can t turn all the way around or stray too far from looking straight ahead. At the best moments, like when you re jamming on the thrusters in Elite Dangerous and locked onto an enemy fighter s tail, you may experience that rare slip into feeling complete immersion.

Crescent Bay is like that immediately, but better. You re there.

Oculus demonstration ran through a number of software demos designed in-house, with a sci-fi military demo from Epic Games closing things out. Most of them were built in Unreal Engine 4. In one, I stood in the pulsating engine room of a submarine and looked around at dials and pipes and listened to the hum of the engine. In another, a gigantic T-Rex lumbered down a hallway towards me, roared in my face, and stepped over and past me. I turned around to watch it go.

The biggest experiential difference with this demo was standing; I stood in the middle of a room and could actually look and walk in three dimensional space, and as I did so I walked around in the environment. Taking a single step forward or to the side immediately kicked in the presence Oculus talked about. My brain just utterly, completely bought it. I had a big, stupid grin on my face during the first three or four demos, and I couldn t make myself stop grinning for the first few minutes. I actively tried, but it was like an uncontrollable response my face s way of saying this is unbelievable.

A closer look at the prototype headset with integrated audio.

I turned around 180 degrees to see what was behind me. I crouched down and loomed in close to a tiny model city with cartoony trains running through it and a UFO hovering above it. The new audio plays a big role in selling the sense of presence Oculus designed these demos to take advantage of positional audio, and proximity and directionality of sound is a key ingredient in Crescent Bay s immersion. The integrated earpieces sounded fine, but are nothing special, technically it was the way they were used that made a huge difference.

I completely understood what Oculus meant by presence when I stood on that ledge and felt instinctively scared of looking over the edge. I felt it in another demo, which felt like the video game Rez, or a simulation of traveling through a computer network in cyberspace. Neon blue lights lanced through concentric geometric shapes which rotated and slid through space as I coasted forward. I d step sideways to get out of their way, and when a block too large to dodge came towards me, it was physically uncomfortable to watch feel it pass through me.

When something like that happens, it breaks that feeling of presence. When I stood on that skyscraper ledge, I tried to step off, and hesitated. But then I made myself step forward, and I was standing on nothingness. When I was looking down and could see that, it broke presence. Similarly, holding my hand up in the air and not seeing a modeled version of my hand, or looking down and not seeing legs, broke the illusion.

The demos Oculus used to show off Crescent Bay were all simple, and wisely used their simplicity to very quickly convey that sense of presence. None of them were controllable, and they mostly encouraged standing still and gaping, or taking a couple steps in any direction. A rubber mat in the center of the cubicle helped assure me that I wasn t about to smack into a wall.

These white dots let the positional camera track headset movements in 360 degrees.

Limiting what was possible in the Crescent Bay demos made them more effective. The best parallel I can draw is to the Omni treadmill, which I tried out while wearing an older Oculus Rift headset. In the Omni, your steps translate into game movements, but this requires some special shoes and awkwardly sliding your feet along this concave plastic surface. It can be immersive, but it doesn t feel real. It s a tricky distinction, but when you re able to walk and look around and feel the ground under your feet, it truly feels real. There were moments where Crescent Bay really and truly tricked my brain.

Oculus says that Crescent Bay is as big a jump from DK2 as DK2 was from DK1. I say it s bigger. This is some next level shit. Hyperbolic enthusiasm is the only way I can convey the sense of wonder and excitement I felt for the 10 minutes or so I was wearing it.

Hardware and limitations

I ve gushed long enough, and now it s time to manage expectations. Crescent Bay hasn t just magically solved all of VR s tricky problems. I still felt the telltale hints of motion sickness after a few minutes, and I m not sure exactly what caused it. I m sensitive to motion sickness, in general, and easily get nauseous on planes or when I read in a car. I felt fine after the demo, but I probably would ve felt a little bit queasy if I used it for another 10 minutes. Maybe that s from latency, or from the refresh rate, which is higher than DK2 at 90Hz. Still, I think vertigo issues are reduced from DK2, and Crescent Bay may not bother the strong-stomached at all.

I suspect that the sense of presence I felt would have dissipated more quickly or more easily if I had a controller in my hand or if I was playing a more traditional game. Oculus wasn t showing off anything like that. This is already a see-it-to-believe-it experience, and I think that goes double for games with actual complexity to them.

Thinking about more traditional games in this form worries me. Oculus wasn t talking about them much. They talk much more about experiences. I like experiences just fine. But I also like video games, and I m not sure how those will work while standing and walking around with a cord tethering me to my PC.

When I talked to Oculus Nate Mitchell and Palmer Luckey, both hammered home the statement that Oculus is a seated experience...while simultaneously grinning in a way that seemed to say but we re totally developing this incredible technology dedicated to letting you stand and walk around, so do the math. The new camera for tracking positional data has a very wide field of view, according to Luckey. White locator dots on the back of the headset allow for a full 360 degrees of movement. The ability to walk is so immediately compelling, I don t want to have to go back to using a joystick to move a character. Doing that is going to take some of the magic out of the experience of Crescent Bay, but the technology is, at least, still a major advancement from DK2.

The brains behind Oculus VR.

Oculus isn t talking specifics about the hardware in the new prototype, but here s what I can say for sure: the screen is higher resolution, the optics you snuggle up against your eyes are clearer and more comfortable, and the entire headset is noticeably, significantly lighter. The screen door effect is almost entirely gone. The display still isn t near the pixel density that Oculus eventually wants it to be Michael Abrash says you d need about 8Kx8K per eye to achieve the density of your average desktop monitor, given how close the Rift screen sits to your eye but this screen is absolutely good enough to ship in a consumer version. According to Mitchell, the quality of the visual experience isn t just about the raw resolution of the display it s also due to how they design the optics to show you that screen.

Mitchell confirmed the demos were running at 90Hz on high-end systems using the new Nvidia Maxwell graphics cards. That s another worry about the hardware s eventually usability. Oculus keeps making it better, but properly running a game in stereoscope, at a high resolution, at 90Hz, is going to demand a hell of a PC.

Oculus doesn t have plans to demo Crescent Bay again anytime soon, so I feel cruel saying that you should experience it as soon as you can. I know that s going to be a wait. Mitchell told me Oculus has no plans to sell Crescent Bay, which doesn't really mean much. It could be a DK3 release next year, or eventually morph into a more polished consumer version. When you do use it, in some form, it s going to be something special. This is the one we ve been waiting for.

There are still huge challenges ahead developers have to make games that work well in VR, PCs are going to have to be very powerful to run VR games, and motion sickness still isn t a completely solved problem. I think Oculus and game developers can figure all those out.

When I was standing up on that ledge, I took in the zeppelin in the sky, the steampunk architecture, and the imposing skyscraper that dominated the nighttime skyline. The top of the tower was fitted with Oculus VR s logo, with Oculus HQ emblazoned underneath. That seems about right. If the consumer Rift lives up to Crescent Bay, this thing is going to rule the world.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Hyper Light Drifter backers getting three-day “preview build” next weekend">HyperLightGifter

Hyper Light Drifter is a game about capes and lovely pixel art, and it looks a little something like this. Pink, purple, blue, green I remember all of those! Gears of War's brown buildings and caves and everything are but a distant memory now. So yes, Hyper Light Drifter has me pretty intrigued, and if I had backed the game on Kickstarter, I'd probably be muttering "hooray" now under my breath. Developers Heart Machine have announced that a "preview build" (basically, a beta with stuff locked off) is going live next weekend, for three of our Earth days only. To get in, you'll need to have stumped up $25 during the Kickstarter or pre-ordered via the game's site, but even if you didn't, I'm sure there will be plenty of footage floating around next weekend. So everybody wins.

If you qualify, expect a Steam key to arrive via email sometime before the preview launches next weekend. You'll be drifting the light hyper on the 26th of September at 12:01 am EST, and you'll be brought to an abrupt halt at midnight on the 28th. A Mac version of the preview is possible, but Heart Machine aren't promising anything at the moment.

Here's a recent video featuring all the colours:

PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Ultra Street Fighter IV’s free Omega mode focuses on fun over balance">Ultra Street Fighter 4 thumb

The PC version of Ultra Street Fighter IV should really be the one to get, but persistent connection issues related to the switchover from Games for Windows Live to Steamworks have put a rather large spanner in the works. Thankfully, the game appears to be on the mend. Capcom have announced a new patch aiming to fix these issues, but that will also add a brand new mode to the game. Omega mode focuses on fun over finely tuned balance, returning moves that might previously have been nixed in the name of balance, and giving the game's 44 characters "new normal and special attacks".

Here's Capcom talking about patch 1.04 over on the Capcom Unity blog. I've played a little Street Fighter IV over the years, but not enough to know whether Ken's Shinppu Jinrai Kyaku is anything to write home about. Omega mode sounds fun though I think balance can be a little overrated.

"And lastly, for our PC players, we ve heard the concerns you have voiced and have some fixes coming your way that should definitely improve your online experiences. For example, we noticed that when players were in the middle of matches, they were still getting pinged by those outside of the match, thereby creating slowdown. We ve fixed it so that this will be no longer the case. Additionally, a few other connection fixes are going in as well, all of which should reduce the connectivity issues experienced by players.

"We re not stopping there however! In our ongoing effort to make sure that Ultra SFIV is the greatest version of SFIV yet, we plan to bring you a completely new, completely free and most importantly completely fun version of your favorite 44 characters in Omega Mode later this year!

"For those wondering, Omega mode is a completely new mode in which every character has been modified and outfitted with new normal and special attacks, resulting in a refreshing take on the characters you ve come to know and love over the last six years. As the primary goal for this mode was fun, we placed more emphasis on making the characters feel new, than on their balance. This means that strong, fan favorite attacks such as Ken s Shinppu Jinrai Kyaku and Sagat s Tiger Raid make their return while other characters such as Zangief gain new abilities, like being able to combo into his command throws."

Patch 1.04 is arriving sometime in October. Here's a video detailing Omega mode. (Thanks, Blue's.)

PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Mod of the Week: Doom Reborn, for Doom 3">drhead

There are a number of ongoing efforts to mod older games into newer engines. Black Mesa, for instance, rebuilt much of the original Half-Life in the Source Engine, and the modders behind Skywind are painstakingly crafting Morrowind in Skyrim's Creation Engine. With Doom Reborn, modders have been working diligently to recreate Doom and Doom II in Doom 3's idTech4 engine. They recently released a pre-beta version, so I thought it was a good time to see how the first FPS I ever played looked with a facelift.

Memmories... like a goon-filled poison piiiiit...

Doom II represented a number of firsts for me. It was the first FPS game I ever played (I played Doom II before I played the original Doom). It was the first game I needed to create a boot disk for, just so I could run it on whatever toaster I was using as a PC back then. It was the first multiplayer game I ever played, and I recall an evening spent talking to my friend Mark on the phone, then taking the line from the phone and plugging it into my modem, then dialing up Mark, not getting a response from his modem, then replugging the line into the phone to call him again to troubleshoot (we eventually got it working, had a complete blast, then plugged our lines back into the phones so we could talk about it afterwards).

The Marine needs no colored keys for these doors.

It may seem a bit dubious to rebuild a classic FPS -- the classic FPS -- in an engine that doesn't look particularly pretty these days (I think Source has aged much better than idTech4, probably because Source has been continually refined over the years), but I'm impressed at how comfortable and familiar the mod feels. The levels are immediately recognizable as the layouts are identical: I enter Doom II, immediately turn around, run around the corner to the right, and collect the chainsaw without even thinking about it, even though it's probably been fifteen years since I've actually done that.

Back in the day, we liked our buttons big. Really big.

In fact, while running and gunning through the rebuilt levels, I found all sorts of ancient muscle-memories kicking in. I'd stop and stare at a wall, or hesitate in front of an alcove, or gaze across a bridge, knowing there was something to be done but not quite remembering exactly what. I think it's a pretty good indicator that the levels have been rebuilt faithfully if, even in a different game engine, long-dormant triggers are still firing in my brain.

Huh. I am strangely compelled to stand in this alcove. But WHY?

As for the gameplay itself, I expected it to feel slow and sluggish when compared with the original. And it definitely is a bit slower: guns seem to take too long to reload, enemies seem to take a while to react. After a couple levels, though, it starts feeling more natural, more slick, more in keeping with the breakneck pace and corridor-gliding action of the original game. It's not as fast or smooth as it was back then, no, but on the other hand, neither am I.

No AI misfires here. They seem quite aware of me.

You may have seen the gameplay video which shows the enemy AI, in some cases, completely absent, but in this pre-beta a lot of that seems to have been fixed. I didn't really encounter any brain-dead enemies. Sure, most of them weren't exactly brilliant, but no one just stood there helplessly watching while I killed them. And, nicely, one of the most entertaining bits of the original Doom games is still there: enemies accidentally hitting each other and then fighting each other to the death while you watch. I don't know if that happened in Doom 3 (probably) or if the modders had to code it themselves, but who cares? Monsters killing each other means I can save a little ammo here and there.

You two let me know when you've sorted this out.

The mod is still in progress, so not all the levels from the original games are present, though I was happy to find the secret Doom II Wolfenstein level in there. What can I say, it's fun killing monsters in front of Hitler portraits for some reason.

Sorry to break up your shotgun shell organizing party.

I'm sure this mod isn't for everybody, but I think that can be said for any mod of this nature. People who love Doom from the old days will probably still prefer to play the original games. That's how I felt about Black Mesa: while I enjoyed it and was impressed at all the work involved, it never quite clicked for me. When I want a nostalgia trip, I'd prefer full-fare. Doom Reborn is still worth checking out, though, and I enjoyed it (more than I actually enjoyed Doom 3, even).

All these years later, that's still a good indication of a button you shouldn't press.

Installation: What's the best kind of installation? Self-installation! Just download the pre-beta (what is a pre-beta, anyway, if not an alpha?). When prompted, just point it at your Doom 3 folder. Piece of cake.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Oculus Rift ‘Crescent Bay’ prototype unveiled, a “massive leap” over DK2">Crescent Bay Front

This isn't the consumer version of the Oculus Rift VR headset, but according to Oculus, it's another big step closer. This morning at Oculus Connect, company CEO Brendan Iribe revealed the Crescent Bay prototype, which he says is "a massive leap" over the currently available Oculus Rift DK2.

Crescent Bay includes 360-degree head tracking (which was "not easy"), higher resolution, a lighter body, integrated audio (using RealSpace 3D tech), and more which all leads to a much better sense of "presence," as Iribe puts it.

The Crescent Bay units on display at Oculus Connect were handmade (we presume that's why the headphones look like they could pair well with an '80s Walkman), and there's no news on if or when they'll be sold to developers. Wes is on the scene, and will be trying the new model out later today. We'll update this story as news comes in.

PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Watch Oculus Connect livestreams here all Saturday">oculus-vr-teaser

Oculus Connect is Oculus VR's first developer event, and it has some major headliners: techno-wizards John Carmack and Michael Abrash are both delivering keynotes on the science and technology of virtual reality. All of Oculus Connect's talks will be livestreams on Twitch, and we've got a handy embed below if you want to watch along. We're also at the event to cover the news, talk to developers and go hands-on with the latest Oculus Rift demos.

PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to The Best Free Games of the Week">OneiricGardensfree

Chambers. Adventure. Perfectly timed jumping. A demon-run video shop. A bunny girl fighting robots. These are some of the things that lie in store in this week's FREEGAMESAPALOOZA, which as ever is brought to you by our good friends at Soylent Green. Soylent Green Live Life Your Way. Soylent Green Turns Out It's Made Out Of People. Enjoy!

Boson X by Ian Maclarty Download it here

I'm not sure how I missed this, but missed this I did: Boson X is a deliciously compelling arcade melange, and please congratulate me on using my Word of the Day. Melange. I'll give you the elevator pitch, because I'm actually in an elevator, typing this in the small of some guy's back. Boson X is basically an endless runner, but it's also a rotatey puzzler like Super Hexagon. It's mechanically about as tight as those 32-inch waist jeans you optimistically bought last week, and I am absolutely terrible at it, which means it's brilliant. Ian Maclarty made the similarly great Gonubie Hotel and Action Painting Pro, both of which I've featured here before, and he's just fleshed Boson X out into a more fulsome game on Steam. It's 1.99, AKA mega cheap, so consider buying it if you enjoyed this free sampler.

Red Entity by Danbo, Woof, Comic-Z, Qygen, Wyrm Download it here

As the developers put it, Red Entity is "a game about a bunny girl, her giant mech, the connection between them and a couple thousand fearsome enemies against them". I quote them because after squinting at the pixel art I assumed the main character was some sort of doggy superhero; either way it hardly matters, as this is a fun wave-based shooter set on the horizontal plane. I suspect I would like it a lot more if targeting was done via the mouse rather than with directional keys, but once I settled into the rhythm and after I discovered the buttons for dashing and transforming into a mech the game started to make a ton more sense. Sometimes, after a hard day, you need to dash around and shoot and smash your way through hordes of robots, and Red Entity is very accomplished at all those things. The level of difficulty is maybe a bit shallow, but then it was made in just 72 hours.

Elysis by Fervir Download it here

An open-ended Zelda-like with a terrific atmosphere and weapon-set, Elysis is a game that doesn't hold your hand. I was also reminded of the original Risen, oddly enough, and as I explored this island's harsh rainy exterior, and battled monsters in its sprawling caves, I found myself daydreaming of a top-down, sprite-based Piranha Bytes RPG and wishing someone would make one. You may daydream something different: memories of Link's Awakening, perhaps, to which Elysis acts like an older, tougher brother. Developer Fervir describes this as a "tech demo", but there's a huge slice of dungeoneering, monster-swatting and loot-collection to enjoy, in a cold, unforgiving island I can't wait to explore again once the full game is done.

Oneiric Gardens by Lilith Download it here

The fabulously named, and annoyingly tough to spell, Oneiric Gardens is a "series of chambers drawing from half-remembered spaces, feelings" and, yep, this is a Lilith game alright. And thank everything for that. (I implore you, once again, to play Crypt Worlds if you haven't already, because holy hell, it's Crypt Worlds.) Oneiric Gardens is a smaller, more exploration-focused thing: a number of rooms connected by doors, each of which brings you to a small, beautiful, chunky-pixel pocket dimension with its own thing going on. Oneiric evokes 70s horror films, 90s game worlds, throbbing sci-fi and subterranean horror, or those are the words that came to me anyway. Your brain may evoke somethings different.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Metal Gear Solid V features a wolf wearing an eyepatch">MGSV wolf

It's been a great Tokyo Game Show, even if some of the games featured like Final Fantasy XV and Bloodborne are a little out of our purview, so I haven't had a chance to make fun of the Final Fantasy guys' extraordinary hair. Sadface. But happyface: Metal Gear Solid V got a big blowout of footage, revealing a junglier setting and showing how bikini-clad (hmm) sniper Quiet can assist Snake during the game. I didn't think I could be any more excited for MGSV, but now a new trailer has released showing an adorable wickle wolf cub named DD. Like Snake, he wears an eyepatch. See a wolf wearing an eyepatch after the break.

If you find him, DD it stands for Diamond Dogs, the name of Snake's military organisation is taken to Mother Base as an adorable wolf cub, growing into a ferocious adult as the game progresses. Like Snake, he's missing one eye; like Snake, he'll come to wear an eyepatch, because why not. DD can accompany Snake on missions, though it's not clear what role he'll perform yet maybe he'll act a bit like the dog in Call of Duty: Ghosts?

There are a bunch of different videos of wolfy floating around, but the following one shows how Snake will acquire the cub in the first place, so maybe skip to 1 minutes and 22 seconds in if you'd rather not be spoiled about that. A reminder: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is coming to PC, along with its prologue Ground Zeroes. Metal Gear Collection 2014 isn't, because it's some clothes.

PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to StarCraft 2 tournament Red Bull Battlegrounds gets its grand final today">Red Bull tourney

StarCraft 2 tourney Red Bull Battlegrounds has been ongoing for five months now, thankfully spread out across six separate events rather than being some kind of exhausting endurance event. The grand final takes place today in Washington DC, but you don't need to hop on a plane, a boat, or give your homemade teleporter a try in order to watch it it's also being streamed on the internet, because 2014. The eSportsy shindig kicks off at 11AM EST, both today and tomorrow, which equates to 4PM in UK time. We've embedded a link to the stream below.

Here's the skinny on the tournament: eight StarCraft 2 pros will be battling each other today and tomorrow to win "the lion's share" of a sizeable $50,000 prize pool. At the start of the event they'll be split into two groups of four, in a "best of three round double elimination format. The first player to two wins will move on to the finals on Sunday". Players include Won Lee Sak (aka 'PartinG'), winner of last year's event, and casters/commentators include Day (aka 'Sean Plott'). The event was preceded on Thursday by a panel entitled 'The Business of eSports', which might be worth a watch while you wait for the final to kick off. That, too, was streamed on Twitch, and it's available to watch here.

Here's the Twitch.tv embed link. Reminder: the final starts at 11AM EST.

Watch live video from redbullesports on www.twitch.tv

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