PC Gamer

Yet again, PC Gamer has organised 100 of our favourite PC games into a list. This week on the podcast we look through that list now available to read online and pick out some of the most notable, surprising and infuriating choices.

You can get Episode 22: The Top 100 here. You can also subscribe on iTunes or keep up with new releases using our RSS feed.

Discussed: The games of the PC Gamer Top 100, including Dragon Age II.

This week: Samuel Roberts, Tom Senior, Phil Savage, Andy Kelly

The PC Gamer UK Podcast is a weekly podcast about PC gaming. Thoughts? Feedback? Requests? Get in touch at pcgamer@futurenet.comand use the subject line Podcast , or tweet us with #pcgpodcast.

This week s music is from The Witcher 3.

PC Gamer
Need to Know

What is it? A modern update of the formative 4X game Master of Orion drawing elements from the first two games.Expect to pay: $30/ 23Developer: NGD StudiosPublisher: WargamingReviewed on: Windows 10, 16GB RAM, GeForce GTX 980Multiplayer: Yes, with up to 6 players. It's pretty dead, though.Link: Official site

The subtitle for Wargaming's new Master of Orion reboot is "Conquer the Stars," but "Hire the Stars" would have worked just as well. Michael Dorn, the Worf of old, intones the interplanetary histories of alien races as nebulae and starships fly past. Mark Hamill snags another entry for his gaming resume, Alan Tudyk (Wash from Firefly) voices a grey alien emperor, and John de Lancie (Star Trek's "Q") and Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger) give different spins on human emperors. And so forth. Any constellation these guys made together would probably look like a VHS cassette.

If you haven t heard of these folks, there's a good chance you haven't heard of Master of Orion itself. It's the first 4X game that really mattered, even to the point of granting the genre its name after journalist Alan Emrich wrote about its core emphasis on Exploring, Expanding, Exploiting, and Exterminating. It's as old as The X-Files now, and for the most part the Civs and GalCivs have pushed it off the throne once confidently held by Master of Orion 2. The new Master Of Orion, oddly, does nothing to improve on their legacies. Its planets turn heads almost as well as Elite: Dangerous, its diplomacy screens animate alien leaders beautifully, but nevertheless this is a release that's stubbornly dedicated to recreating the 4X experiences of yesteryear.

In singleplayer and multiplayer modes, these experiences usually involve founding a colonies, managing those colonies industrial and research output, all while sending scout ships out to nearby stars to find what may be hiding there. Sometimes you'll find untouched planets to colonize for yourself, but on other occasions you'll find aliens whom you can either befriend or crush.

There's a lot of extra stuff sandwiched in menus between all that, such as raising taxes, following a lengthy tech tree, designing custom ships, or figuring out how to juggle a planet's population for maximum production efficiency. But one good thing about the new Master of Orion is that it never really gets out of hand. In fact, if anything, it's far more accessible and streamlined than the games it's based on, and that needn't be a bad thing. Part of Wargaming's reason for reviving Master of Orion was to introduce a new generation for 4X gaming, and it succeeds admirably through the help of an optional adviser and a user interface that conveniently draws attention to different elements as the turns roll on.

The design of Master of Orion 1 and 2 might have been revolutionary in the days when Britney Spears was still singing about Mickey Mouse...

In the process, though, it plays things a little too by-the-book. The design of Master of Orion 1 and 2 might have been revolutionary in the days when Britney Spears was still singing about Mickey Mouse, but the reboot is so devoted to old, first-generation ideas that a sad sense of sameyness sets in as the map expands and empires amass more planets. Most newer games shake it up a little. Back in May, for instance, Stellaris took the 4X model and overlaid the grand strategy of a game like Paradox's own Europa Universalis 4, scrapped the turn basis for real-time, and peppered its gameplay with complex diplomacy and fun quirks like inviting you to deal with races who still haven't reached the space age.

There's little of that here. Strangely, Master of Orion s main annoyances usually spring from the few additions to the original template, such as the tendency for planets to need cleaning after getting too polluted, which gets tiresome when multiple planets come into play. In theory, it's a cool idea that speaks to the concerns of our time, but in practice it merely introduces needless micromanagement. Elsewhere, "star lanes" keep ships on straight paths between star systems, occasionally shattering the image of a sprawling, open galaxy with effective traffic jams.

Mission to wars

The additions aren't always bad. I'm particularly fond of the shift from turn-based to real-time combat in the battles that pop up when you fight alien civilizations or pirates. This shift, to put it lightly, has been a point of contention in the community during the game s time in Early Access, but I've learned to admire the comparative speed of the approach and the way the right combination of timing and skill can let me use my smaller ships to outmaneuver the enemy's larger ones. (You can always auto-resolve them, too.)

Master of Orion s greatest triumphs, though, are those of personality. Generally all those bucks spent hiring Hamill and friends went to good use, as it's always fun to watch the animated leaders bicker and cheer in the diplomacy screen and the minions of your chosen race give you advice in the research screens. From the Geth to the Krogan, these were the races that largely inspired Mass Effect, and the team's awareness of that legacy shows. There's even a little news show that sometimes pops up with two robotic newscasters recounting the big events happening between turns, which serves as a form of comic relief. (Sadly, they do threaten to wear out their welcome late into a match. It s easily toggled off, though.)

It's a shame, then, that the civilizations' differences usually amount to mere imagery and voicework. This may be a galaxy packed with 11 advanced races including warrior lizards and sexy cats and cruel robots, but venture deep down their technology trees and you'll find they all effectively amount to the same in practice. And while I wouldn't call the AI a failure, it's prone to puzzling actions like twiddling its thumbs after diplomacy negotiations led allies to declare war on your enemies.

A master of the 4X universe this is not. But neither is it unenjoyable, as its lively presentation, personality, and occasional humor do much to shore up its weak points, and its comparative accessibility make it a decent option for anyone wading into the genre for the first time. But for depth? There are many worlds other than these.

PC Gamer

Update: Dark_Nexis emailed to say that he was able to correct the problem by reinstalling and reloading the game and waiting. "I don't know what happened but all the discoveries re-appeared on my starting planet," he wrote in an update to his original post. "It seems like a server bugs, like it takes a while for your old discoveries to re-download... It seems a little bugged where you get further and further away from your starting point [and] you can't see your old discoveries even when you find your way back. It's like the server lags behind big time and takes a while to find the old information. "

In the email, he said the problem may have been exacerbated by the fact that he was really far from home when he decided to turn around.

"It seems like the server just lags behind and maybe hides older discoveries to help with loading in the star systems/discoveries menu," he wrote. "I was only about 40k away from the center when I decided to turn around and go back. I jumped 92 times and went through a lot of black holes so it took me a long time to get back so the server probably just had to find that old data and reload it in my game."

Other players haven't reported similar resolutions yet, but hopefully Dark_Nexis is right and this was a simple server glitch, although that does lead to the obvious question of what happens when those servers go away for good. I'm still waiting to hear from Hello Games, and I'll update again when I do.

Original story:

No Man's Sky is all about exploration and discovery. So you can imagine how frustrating it would be to learn that all the effort you put into cataloging the flora and fauna you've run across on your intergalactic journey was for naught. Yet that seems to be what's happening, according to this Reddit thread, where multiple users are claiming that the names they'd given to plants and animals have been wiped, and their discoveries reset.

One redditor, by the name of Dark_Nexis, said that when he returned to his home planet after approaching the center of the galaxy, he found that the system and planet names were still in place, but everything else was wiped. The names I gave them are gone and reset like I never discovered them, they're still there just not discovered when I did discover them before I left my starting system, he wrote. Only thing still named is the planet and system names.

Another user, Ultrasilvanus, claimed a similar experience. Yesterday I browsed my list of discoveries, and went all the way to my starting planet. The system and all the planets I've ever been to are clearly marked as being discovered by me, the planets list 100% completion for animal scans but I can't see any animal or plant in the gallery and all of them appear as ???????. he wrote. He found a world that was starting to be 'corrupted', made a note of the checkpoints and animals he'd discovered, then went about his usual spacefaring business.

The next day, browsed the list again. The planet was wiped clean and so were a couple more, he wrote. Just to be clear enough, discoveries are being erased in chronological order. First system, second system and so on. It's not random. It's a pattern, starting from your very first discoveries.

A third redditor, Homesickalienz, said essentially the same thing, writing, Found about 15 different save points and named them all. Only 6 show up in the list. When I find a new one the last one gets booted.

Several users have said that the disappearing discoveries could be the result of trouble uploading data to the remote servers, which seems entirely plausible. But keeping track of an endless stream of discovered plant and wildlife across literally multiple quintillions of digital worlds would be a huge task, and so naturally there are also suggestions that Hello Games may have taken a shortcut or two, and invalidated the efforts of its players in the process.

I've reached out to Hello Games to ask whether these problems are the reuslt of server glitches, an intentional design choice, or something else entirely, and will update if and when I receive a reply. In the meantime, if you've run into anything like this yourself, let us know about it in the comments.

PC Gamer

BioShock isn't the only game that's about to be remastered for a new generation of hardware. The Chinese Room is updating its lovely, slightly spooky exploration-adventure game Dear Esther for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. It's being badged as the Dear Esther: Landmark Edition, and will also be released to owners of the 2012 PC original as a free update.

The Dear Esther Landmark Edition is a faithful port of the Source engine original onto Unity 5, the studio said, with remastered audio, a new developer commentary track, additional accessibility options including large subtitles and a crosshair, multi-language menus and subtitles, and trophies and achievements.

The promise of achievements is bound to elicit a few snide giggles, as Dear Esther is widely considered to be the game that birthed the walking simulator genre a supposedly pejorative description of first-person games that lack interactivity. And it's true to a point: Dear Esther is, if you look at it that way, about nothing more than wandering around a rocky, windswept island while some guy blubbers in your ear. But it's a beautiful journey, filled with questions and ambiguity, the sort of experience you really take in, rather than simply finish. I wouldn't go so far as to say it's a great game, but it was absolutely groundbreaking in the way it challenged widely-held perceptions of what videogames are, and could be.

(Yes, I liked it very much.)

The Dear Esther: Landmark Edition update will be released in a few months. The console version comes out on September 20.

PC Gamer

The original BioShock was a fantastic game, and it began with one of the most visually spectacular and unforgettable intros of any game: The descent to Rapture. That sequence features in the first of three Let's Play videos released today by 2K that showcase how the games have been upgraded for the BioShock Collection.

2K released a side-by-side comparison video a couple of weeks ago that makes the differences between the original BioShock and the remastered edition more obvious, but it's nice to see the whole thing in all its overhauled glory, isn't it? I played BioShock on not-quite-cutting-edge hardware, so while it looked good, it sure didn't look like this. I'm not generally one for new paint jobs slapped onto old games, but I'm definitely going to want to take this for a spin.

The BioShock Collection is set to come out on September 13. More info is up at 2k.com.

PC Gamer

Ghost Recon Phantoms, the free-to-play online shooter that debuted in 2012 as Ghost Recon Online, is closing for good on December 1. The decision was made following a slow but steady decline in users over the past couple of years that left its average concurrent player count for the last 30 days at just a little over 800.

After more than four years of battles, fights, deaths and a lot of fun, we have made the difficult decision to close Ghost Recon Phantoms. It s a tough day for our studio and indeed the team, some of whom have been working on this project since its inception some 7 years ago, Ubisoft wrote in the closure announcement.

GR Phantoms has been a tremendous undertaking and we really relished the opportunity to bring to you a different take on the GR franchise. We are proud of what we have achieved but of course, a game like this would be nothing without its community. We d like to sincerely thank you for your support, enthusiasm, patience and above all, your loyalty. For the hours played, the fun in your company, the never ending deaths at Balaklava Sub-Pen, the fights to control Tomsk-9, the sounds of shotguns and the fear of the P90 SD WAR, we are grateful.

The message doesn't mention why the plug is being pulled, but Ubisoft said in the shutdown FAQ that Ghost Recon Phantoms was not as successful as we had hoped for.

A game always has different factors that influence its success, internally as well as externally. We can't pinpoint one or more reasons that easily, it says. In the end the game reached the last cycle of its development. As for a possible follow-up, Ubisoft said that Phantoms has been developed as far as we could take it, and a sequel or successor of any sort is unlikely to happen.

Ghost Recon Phantoms, and the in-game shop, will remain online until December 1, but Ghost Coins will no longer be available for purchase. There will also be no refunds offered on leftover virtual currency, or conversion of that currency to a different game, so if you've got it, you might as well spend it.

PC Gamer

Photo credit: Riot Games.

League of Legends takes the spotlight this weekend for its EU and NA Summer Finals (which just might draw the spotlight away from the recent controversies rocking the scene.) That s not your only option, however: there s plenty of fighting game tournaments taking place all over the world, Dota 2, CS:GO, and the return of PC pro Smite. Have fun!

League of Legends: 2016 NA and EU LCS Summer Finals

There's a lot of high-stakes LoL taking place over a short period of time over the next few days. On Saturday, the third place matches in both the NA and EU LCS Summer Finals will take place, with Unicorns of Love vs. H2K taking place in Europe at 08:00 PDT/17:00 CEST and Immortals vs. CounterLogic Gaming taking place in the US at 12:00 PDT/21:00 CEST. The timing for the grand finals on Sunday are the same. Find more information, and the livestream, at LoLesports.

Dota 2: World Cyber Arena EU Qualifier

You'll forgive me for not having too many precise schedule details for this one, as... well, beyond the matches that have already been played, they seem a little hard to come by. Nonetheless, there is some top-tier Dota happening this weekend even as the majority of the scene wrestles with the inevitable but still-spectacular roster drama that follows the International. This is the EU qualifier for the next WCA. The previous one was, by all accounts, a gigantic shambles that people only forgot about because the Shanghai Major was a higher profile shambles. But at least there's Dota to watch. Check Gosugamers for up to date stream and schedule info.

CSGO: ESEA Season 22, Power-LAN 2016, CyberPowerPC Summer 2016 Pro Series

There's a lot of mid-tier CS:GO taking place across the world this weekend, from North America to Denmark to Poland. On Saturday, check out the playoffs for Power-LAN 2016 starting at 02:00 PDT/11:00 CEST here's the official site for more info (it's in Danish, mind.) CyberPowerPC Summer 2016 will be running throughout the weekend, starting at 09:00 PDT/18:00 CEST on Saturday and 11:30 PDT/20:30 CEST on Sunday (more info here). Finally, ESEA Season 22 concludes on Sunday with $50,000 on the line. Tune to the livestream from 01:00 PDT/10:00 CEST.

Smite Pro League: Fall Split

PC Smite is back for another season and this weekend is your chance to get in on the ground floor. Matches began yesterday and continue through to Sunday, starting at 11:00 PDT/19:00 CEST each day in both North America and Europe. You can find out more information on the teams on the official Smite Pro League site and find the livestream here.

Capcom Pro Tour: Lots of Ranking tournaments

Look, we've got limited header space here, alright? Ranking Capcom Pro Tour tournaments this weekend range from Absolute Battle in Dallas, USA to Argentina Pro Gaming Series in Argentina to an Online Ranking Event in Europe to OzHadou Nationals 14 in Sydney to Fight in Rio: Olympia in Rio de Janeiro. As such, you can expect a decent standard of fighting game play regardless of when you tune in: check each official site, listed above, for further details. Keep an eye on Twitch s Street Fighter V section if that s the game you re after.

PC Gamer

Where winter was the focus of Endless Legend s last add-on, developer Amplitude has revealed the seven seas will play host to its next. Tempest marks the 4x fantasy strategy s fourth expansion, bringing with it naval battles, new mechanics and the Morgawr an aquatic-based Major Faction specialising in naval warfare and the manipulation of other creatures.

What that means exactly remains to be seen, however we do know that factions will be able to fight for dominance of the oceans through the control of sea fortresses, so says a post on the Amplitude blog. Although they will have to wrestle these from the grasp of the Fomorians, a new Minor Faction.

A new weather system is tied to seismic activity beneath the waves, where Endless relics provide strategic and luxury resources as well as other bonuses to the empire able to control them. This can only be done by besting their assigned guardians, but, in a bid to thwart your occupation, will ravage the surrounding area with some pretty brutal weather conditions. You've been warned.

The update post continues: New generated ocean regions, including a Sea Fortress, offer strategic locations in the water for players to battle it out. Anywhere from zero to three fortresses are located in each ocean region, so expect more in oceans that are more strategically pivotal, between islands or continents.

No release date or price for now (previous paid updates have cost between 6.99/$9.99 9.99/$12.99), however you can sign up for the closed beta by heading this way. Places are however limited.

PC Gamer

After several years of tinkering, tweaking, and video series updating, Prison Architect has finally launched its version 2.0 the 45th and final amendment to Introversion s jail management sim.

To mark the occasion, producer Mark Morris and designer Chris Delay recorded a typically jovial send-off diary and explained that, as this is their ultimate video, developer tools and cheats seen featured in a few of their alpha videos are now available to everyone.

The world found time to have two rounds of Olympics; Usain Bolt won six gold medals in the time it took us to do Prison Architect, says Delay in the dev diary below. Morris intervenes: But I reckon the International Olympic Committee probably look at us and go: Those Prison Architect guys, they made Prison Architect in the time it took us to host two games!

Once triggered, Prison Architect s cheat mode allows construction to occur immediately; it adds a new Spawn toolbar that permits instant creation of objects for zero cost; water can be placed like any other building material; and research in the bureaucracy screen can be sped up at the player s discretion, among a range of other unscrupulous undertakings. It s worth noting that cheat prisons can t qualify for achievement unlocks and also can t be sold on for profit.

Function keys can now perform debug services, behaviours settings can be altered, and the game s modding system has also been bolstered. All of that, plus an extensive list of bug fixes, can be found this-a-way.

Introversion will still be at hand to provide support moving forward, however instilling players with the ability to cheat feels like a fitting way for the studio to part ways its prison management sim.

While the previous update suggested the developer s next project will be either first-person cave explorer Scanner Sombre or bomb defusal game Wrong Wire the above video appears to point to the former.

PC Gamer

End-of-days disaster simulator The Long Dark s long-awaited Story Mode will add two new regions, new clothing, improved first-person presence, and the Aurora, developers Hinterland Studio has revealed in an update.

Originally scheduled to arrive in Spring 2016, Hinterland says it s working hard on the game s Story Mode so it both lives up to player expectation and can capitalize on the full potential of [the team s] work. This primarily means the addition of two new regions one which is completely finished, the other of which is being tweaked as a result of changes to story and missions which are hinted at in the screenshots below.

Many of the exterior updates like more detailed rocks, better grass, trees, etc. will be gradually released in Sandbox updates, reads the update post. Most of the interiors places like the Carter Dam, the Camp Office, Pleasant Valley Farm, etc. have been updated with much more detailed interiors.

"Those interiors will be released when we launch Story Mode, so even the fans who are a lot more focused on Sandbox will be get something new to enjoy.

As we've already learned, Story Mode follows the exploits of bush pilot Will Mackenzie and doctor Astrid Greenwood, and as such Hinterland has also recreated the clothing assets so as to better reflect its updated character designs. A better interface is planned for the Clothing system, on top of improved customisation features.

The Aurora is also touched upon in the post, however Hinterland is keen not to spoil what it means in-game just yet. It does, however, post this:

For those players more interested in The Long Dark s Sandbox mode, Hinterland assures that while Story Mode is the current focus, roughly one third of its team is still developing Sandbox. As a result, recent updates to the latter have tended toward gameplay mechanics and UI.

This will likely continue to be the case until we launch Story Mode, the update continues. We know that a lot of you would like us to expand Sandbox with more regions but unfortunately every region we build for Sandbox is one we can t build for Story, and we don t want to release the new Story Mode regions until we launch it, so they are new when you play them.

Episode One is apparently playable from start to finish at present, however is still being playtested and polished before imminent release. Wrap up, keep warm, and watch this space.


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