PC Gamer

In his GDC talk on the development of Divinity: Original Sin, Larian Studios founder Swen Vincke gave us a hint of what we can expect from Larian's next game. Or, rather, its next two games. If you missed the news back in December, Divinity: Original Sin was successful enough for Larian to start working on two new RPGs using the same engine. Vincke casually said that Larian may reveal those games at E3 in a few months—or in 2016. "Whenever they're ready," he said.

Larian is expanding to develop its next games more quickly. And a couple themes from Vincke's talk may offer some clues as to what Larian will (or, more likely, won't) be doing with its future RPGs. Vincke pays close competition to his competitors, both to avoid release overlap (he suggested not releasing an epic open world game starring a man looking for someone this May, for example) and thematic similarities. Don't expect the next Divinity to be too similar to Dragon Age, Pillars of Eternity, or The Witcher 3.

And no matter when Larian gets around to announcing its next RPGs, don't be surprised if their release dates get pushed back a time or two. For Divinity: Original Sin, Larian went all-in, pumping more and more money and time into the game instead of compromising their vision and releasing it early. That strategy nearly bankrupted the studio, but it paid off in more than 500,000 sales. With Original Sin's success under its belt, we wouldn't expect to see Larian's next RPGs until they're completely ready.

Announcement - Valve
Save 40% on Divinity: Original Sin as part of this week's Weekend Deal*!

*Offer ends Monday at 10AM Pacific Time

PC Gamer

Larian Studios has released a new patch for Divinity: Original Sin that makes a number of balance changes and bug fixes. However, the big hook in this one has to be the implementation of Steam Cloud saves—and, for modders, the release of a 3DSMax exporter that enables the importation of custom animations and models.

Existing save games will remain on your local PC, as cloud saves are stored in a new, compressed format that's not supported by previous versions of Divinity. Cloud saving can be turned on or off from the properties menu on Steam, and when enabled, saves will be automatically synced (and deleted as necessary) when the game exits. Larian also warned players not to start the game manually from its  folder while the Steam Cloud saves are syncing, as doing so could corrupt the Steam cached cloud files.

The patch also fixes a dozen specific bugs—the pet black spider given to Kickstarter backers will now be an actual black spider, and not the fleshy spider (this is important stuff, you know)—and makes a number of stat and balance changes as well: Magic weapons have been changed to do physical damage with a magical boost, willpower, bodybuilding, and various physical and magical resistances have been rebalanced, creature initiative have been changed, and armor has been "toned down" to help cut back on unnecessarily long fights.

Finally, for the modders, "We have supplied a 3DSMax exporter to allow you to import custom animations and models into your mods," Larian wrote. 

The update is a big one, just under a gigabyte in size, and will come in automatically, assuming you have automatic updates enabled on Steam. Get all the details here.

Community Announcements - Larian_Octaaf
It’s time for the first update of 2015!

In addition to a number of bug fixes (thank you for all your feedback!), we’ve gone through all of the encounters in the game and made a ton of balancing changes that we think will make combat even more fun. We’ve also activated the Steam Cloud saves, and we have good news! PC & Mac savegames are compatible. For the modders out there, we can finally release the exporters that will allow you to import your own models and animations into the game.

Here’s the list of the most important changes and a few important remarks about Cloud saving:

Cloud system:
When you enable cloud for Divinity: Original Sin, you will see your cloud quota in the save/load screens. Only new savegames will be uploaded to the cloud as they have a new, compressed format. So if you need your latest saves on the cloud, you will have to load them and resave. You will then see a cloud icon next to them. Hover over the different statuses in the save/load screen to see what will be added and removed from the cloud. You can remove saves manually from the cloud by deleting them via the in-game menu. Furthermore, the game will remove older saves from the cloud automatically when you have run into the max amount of cloud save data. Keep in mind that if you use the Steam Cloud for Original Sin, you will be uploading data on a regular basis if you make a lot of saves. Upload speeds will depend on your Internet connection.

FAQ for Cloud:
  • Do the cloud saves work cross-platform (Mac <-> PC)?
    * Yes, you can sync from PC to Mac and Mac to PC.
  • What happens to my old saves?
    * They remain locally on your current PC. Only new savegames made in patch 1.0.251.0 and beyond will be uploaded to the cloud.
  • What happens when my quota is full?
    * Your newest saves are uploaded to the cloud and oldest saves are removed from the cloud. This does not mean you lose your saves. They are just removed from the cloud, but stay locally on your PC.
  • What do the icons mean in the save/load screens?
    * "Cloud with arrow" means the save will be uploaded to the cloud upon exiting the game. "Cloud with x" means the save will be removed from the cloud upon exiting the game. A normal cloud means the save is correctly in sync.
  • How do I turn on/off Steam Cloud?
    * You can do this by clicking through the following steps: Library > right click on game > Properties > Updates > Steam Cloud > Check or uncheck the checkbox at the bottom.
  • Note: since the game is DRM-free, it can be started manually from the game folder while steam cloud is syncing. Do NOT do this, as it can possibly corrupt your steam cached cloud files. You will not lose any saves, but the cloud will be confused as to what is in sync and what is not. Please only start the game via steam, if steam is running.

Update:
We added the following hotfixes with 1.0.252.0:
  • loading of a save with missing mod dependencies now throws correct error message instead of crashing
  • fixed possible crash during/at end of combat (texture issue)

Bug Fixes:
  • Gameplay Blocked when talking to Leandra while escaping from Death Knights
  • Bairdotr party size issue fixed. You were no longer able to recruit a 4th party member. Loading your savegame should allow you to re-hire a 4th companion immediately.
  • Fixed Homestead room-opening issue if you spoke to Zixzax with a companion first, while other player characters were arriving. If you had this issue pre-patch, you can try loading your save and returning to the Homestead.
  • Fixed Zandalor being interruptible when you first meet him. This could cause story progression issues.
  • Evelyn NPC blocked and remains in clinic before and after going through the lair scene
  • Equipment usable in skill bar
  • "Send to Homestead" appears in context menu if you start new game after loading save
  • Change Tenebrium weapon damage calculation: Tenebrium ability is now a requirement and you get the damage boost from your weapon ability
  • Kickstarter pet black spider should now be the black spider model instead of fleshy spider
  • Ingame time incorrect after loading a save and then starting a new game
  • Due to cloud being enabled, the way the player profiles are shown in the game has changed. All existing profiles are scanned and available, instead of only the profiles linked to your steam account.
  • Fixed issue that could get your character stuck in skill preview mode after spamming skill keys when leaving a dialog

Mac specific changes:
  • VideoCardBlackList expanded with all the reported models for Yosemite (Lockup on first screen on old hardware)
  • OpenGL specific fixes for flickering objects
  • OpenGL performance improvements
  • Effects library updated with camera effect
  • Smoother zoom and scroll
  • Books rendering issues with OpenGL
  • Mouse right click in fake full screen was not working

Balancing changes:
Cyseal
  • Chimaera (script improved)
  • Dietmar (bugfix: enemies won't turn invisible again on save/load)
  • Lighthouse Horror (bugfix: scripting error)

Black Cove
  • Crab Summoner (now summons more, hits harder, can teleport back to the player if too far away)

Luculla Forest
  • Blue Mushrooms (bugfix: summons will not be of a different faction anymore)
  • Void Shepherd (bugfix: killing the shepherd now ends the fight)
  • Drunk Goblins (bugfix: goblins were not ending turn when drinking from flower)
  • Rafflesia (bugfix: now summons level 14 flowers)
  • Shadow Summoner (now stronger & faster)
  • Spider Queen (bugfix: now summons level 14 spiders)
  • Kromkromkris (bugfix: doesn't get attacked by his own summons anymore)

Hiberheim
  • Boreas (bugfix: made non-teleportable & doesn't move when it's not his turn anymore)

Dark Forest
  • Anguish Demon (removed one summon, making the fight a bit easier)
  • Fire Demon (summons void dogs faster)
  • Kalgruuda Cloudpiercer (doesn't end turn after summoning and summons don't skip their first turn anymore)
  • Braogg Spiritchaser (doesn't end turn after summoning anymore)
  • Tunnel Mushroom (made non-teleportable)

Stats changes
  • Rebalanced Constitution & Damage: from Luculla to Dark Forest, overall, creatures go down faster but deal more damage
  • Toned down Armor: some Armor scores were too high, resulting in unnecessarily long fight
  • Rebalanced Initiative: some creatures had too high an Init, others too little. NPC Init scores will now be closer to players' score
  • Rebalanced Willpower & Bodybuilding throughout the game
  • Rebalanced physical & magical resistances
  • Some creatures had high dexterity and were difficult to hit
  • Pure elementals (fire, water, air, earth) now have proper resistances and immunities
  • Magic weapons changed (example: a flaming sword would inflict pure fire damage. Now, it inflicts physical (slashing) damage + a fire boost)

Editor Update:
  • We have supplied a 3DSMax exporter to allow you to import custom animations and models into your mods
PC Gamer

Get your bargains in while you still can - Steam's Holiday Encore Sale, bringing together 40 of the most popular discounts of the last couple of weeks, ends in just a few hours.

Until 6pm in the UK (10am PST) you can get PC Gamer award-winners like Alien: Isolation, Divinity: Original Sin and Endless Legend for a cut price - or non-award-winners too, if you like.

There's enough choice there to suit most of you and prices are, as you'd expect from a Steam sale, very reasonable in general.

The full list of discounts is right here:

  • 7 Days to Die - 50% off
  • Age of Empires II HD - 80% off
  • Alien: Isolation - 50% off
  • Arma 3 - 50% off
  • Assassin's Creed Unity - 33% off
  • BioShock Infinite - 75% off
  • Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel - 50% off
  • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare - 25% off
  • Company of Heroes 2 - 75% off
  • Counter-Strike: Global Offensive - 50% off
  • Dark Souls II - 63% off
  • Divinity: Original Sin - 33% off
  • Don't Starve - 75% off
  • Endless Legend - 50% off
  • Euro Truck Simulator 2 - 85% off
  • Far Cry 4 - 20% off
  • Football Manager 2015 - 33% off
  • Game of Thrones - A Telltale Games Series - 25% off
  • Garry's Mod - 75% off
  • Kerbal Space Program - 40% off
  • Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes - 33% off
  • Microsoft Flight Simulator X: Steam Edition - 80% off
  • Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor - 40% off
  • Mount & Blade: Warband - 80% off
  • Payday 2 - 75% off
  • Prison Architect - 80% off
  • Saints Row IV - 75% off
  • Shovel Knight - 33% off
  • Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth - 40% off
  • South Park: The Stick of Truth - 66% off
  • Space Engineers - 50% off
  • The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth - 33% off
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - 75% off
  • The Forest - 33% off
  • The Long Dark - 50% off
  • This War of Mine - 25% off
  • Total War: Rome II - Emperor Edition - 75% off
  • Transistor - 66% off
  • Wasteland 2 - 50% off
  • Wolfenstein: The New Order - 66% off
PC Gamer

Peter "Durante" Thoman is the creator of PC downsampling tool GeDoSaTo and the modder behind Dark Soul's DSfix. He's previously analyzed the PC ports of Dark Souls II and Valkyria Chronicles for PC Gamer. Today, he's celebrating his favorite genre.

I like to imagine that when historians of the medium of gaming look back on 2014, they will see it not as the year of half-baked AAA games, not as the time when microtransaction profits surged further ahead, but rather as the first year of the CRPG renaissance.

Asking a fan of the CRPG genre—that is, old-school computer RPGs—about when it reached its peak, you ll likely get a large range of answers, from the late 80s up until the turn of the century. What you won t hear is any year from, say, 2004 to 2013. While the genre has not died entirely over the past decade, it was kept alive on a sparse diet of shoestring-budget indie titles, and the very rare larger highlight, such as 2007 s Mask of the Betrayer.

All of this changed in 2014, and it s not looking to stop any time soon. Even genre aficionados might have had trouble keeping up with the deluge of great games throughout the year—these are generally not short games—and it seems all but impossible for the casual fan. As such, I want to close out the year by providing a quick look at each of my personal highlights, and an even quicker overview of some other worthy candidates.

Might & Magic X: Legacy

In a year filled with amazing games in my favorite genre, it s hard to select a single one to stand above the rest. However, if I had to choose, it would come down to Might & Magic X: Legacy. As a grid-based open-world turn-based first person party RPG, it s a representative of what might be the rarest RPG subgenre of them all. Certainly, this is not a choice I d have ever expected to make at the start of the year, but M&MX is the complete package. It combines rewarding exploration and dungeon crawling with great character development and combat systems, and had me glued to my screen throughout its entire duration.

I am still amazed by the fact that this game was even made, and in the shape of a true old-school sequel and not an ill-advised attempt at rebooting the franchise. As you might be aware, Might and Magic is owned by Ubisoft these days, and, as the story goes, it is only due to the near super-human persistence and passion of some of their employees—and the success of 2012 s Legend of Grimrock—that the project ever got off the ground.

I fervently hope it is not the last one.

Divinity: Original Sin

With Divinity: Original Sin, the fine folks at Larian Studios managed to fulfill their ambition of providing world interactivity on a level with Ultima 7, which has always felt a decade ahead of its time in that regard. But that s not the whole story: in the process of doing so, they also created what might well be the best turn-based combat system in any RPG ever.

I do not say this lightly, or merely to underscore just how good it is having played a good chunk of them, I truly cannot think of any RPG which does turn-based combat better than Divinity: Original Sin. Its combination of a polished action point-based free movement system with highly meaningful and novel environmental interaction and a huge variety of spells and skills allows for almost limitless tactical possibilities. Even over the course of 70+ hours and a very combat-heavy final stretch, this ensured that the encounters never got old or repetitive.

On top of these achievements, Larian have also proven (again, really, after all most of the Infinity Engine games did the same) that it is possible to create an uncompromising, deep, old-school RPG experience while including full campaign coop, a lesson I hope many other developers will take to heart. Larian themselves are already planning two new RPGs based on their engine, and I can t wait to see what they come up with.

Shadowrun: Dragonfall

Out of the games I ve chosen to highlight, Dragonfall might be the most story- and character-driven. It is set in the Shadowrun universe, a veritable smorgasbord of science fiction, fantasy and cyberpunk, and a personal favorite of mine. While Dragonfall was originally released only as an expansion to last years Shadowrun Returns, developer Harebrained Schemes realized its full potential with a stand-alone Director s Cut version.

This second campaign improves upon its predecessor in many ways, both technically as well as in gameplay design. Saving works more like you would expect in a PC RPG, and throughout the campaign there is a lot more choice in what missions to undertake and their order. Skill checks in dialogue and quests also seem more evenly distributed than in the earlier game, which makes a larger variety of character build choices viable. Finally, your core party is now made up of true companion characters rather than faceless hirelings. And crucially, the developers still manage to nail the mood of the setting.

Very recently, there have been some rumblings about a Kickstarter for a third Shadowrun campaign, and if they pan out I ll make sure to be among the first to sign up for it.

Wasteland 2

The first big crowd-funded RPG success, Wasteland 2 took a lot longer than expected to reach its full release, and had some significant polish and enhancement performed even beyond that. But the wait was worth it: inXile delivered a huge, sprawling post-apocalyptic RPG with a wealth of unique locations meshing into its central story, old school party creation and a large selection of character skills.

While some interface niggles remain—the relative utility of skills may be somewhat imbalanced and no single element reaches the heights of Divinity s combat system or M&MX s exploration—on the whole Wasteland 2 is much greater than the sum of its parts. As a result, it is perhaps the closest of all the games I ve chosen to highlight to delivering the complete isometric RPG experience which fans have been clamoring for.

One thing is for sure: it comes as a huge relief to me, and probably many RPG fans, that inXile proved their skill to some extent with Wasteland 2. Their next task is, after all, to create Torment: Tides of Numenera, a spiritual sequel to one of the genre s all-time greats, Planescape: Torment.

The others…

It feels unjust to cut off the more detailed look at individual games and developers at this point, but sadly time and space are limited. In any other year over the past decade, each of these games would have caused a splash in the RPG community, so relegating them to this part of the article is merely a concession to the massive quantity and quality of this year s releases. Each of them is absolutely worth checking out, and all of them have something unique to offer.

Blackguards hex-based strategy and faithful adaption of the pen-and-paper Dark Eye ruleset are absolutely worth a closer look. And the same applies to the sublime blend of exploration, dungeon crawling, and puzzle solving which can be experienced in Legend of Grimrock 2.

Dead State presents a unique RPG experience and simulation of survivor behavior in a zombie apocalypse scenario, and Lords of Xulima combines isometric exploration with a first person battle system in an interesting reversal of the celebrated Realms of Arkania series.

… and the Rest

An interesting note about this renaissance of the CRPG sub-genre is that, despite the huge number of games, it seems to have left other releases in the broader sphere of RPGs mostly unaffected. This might be at least partially explained by the fact that many of these games were made by new companies, or separate teams in established development houses.

Be that as it may, the point is that there have also been a great many action RPGs released in 2014, and some of them of surprisingly high quality. This of course includes games such as From Software s Dark Souls 2, a great sequel to one of the best action RPGs of all time, and solid new entries in established franchises like Risen 3. However, there were also some jewels created by smaller teams, such as the dialogue-heavy Consortium which explores the idea of an RPG taking place in a minimal environment.

And to top it all off, the new trend of Japanese ports exposed PC-only gamers to some true classics of the genre for the first time this year, with the obvious headliner being Valkyria Chronicles. Oh, and there was also a great new console-style RPG released on PC in the form of Obsidian s South Park: The Stick of Truth.

The future is so bright we ll need shades

If there were no upcoming CRPGs at all, or if, after 2014, we d revert back to the sporadic release schedule of the past decade, we wouldn t have a renaissance on our hands. 2014 would be an aberration, a glorious one for sure, but still only temporary. However, that isn t the case. While it still seems doubtful that 2015 will deliver the same quantity and quality of RPG releases that we saw in 2014, that is an impossibly high standard to set. Indeed, it is easy to argue that even during the golden age of the genre, the number of quality releases per year couldn t quite match what we have experienced over the past 12 months.

That said, 2015 looks like it will put up a fight nonetheless. There are, of course, the heavy hitters: Pillars of Eternity and Torment: Tides of Numenera—though the latter might not quite make it by the end of the year. They are supported by a scaffolding of promising independent games like Serpent in the Staglands, Underrail, and of course the grandfather among them, Age of Decadence. And some of this year s games will see sequels in 2015 already, including Blackguards and The Banner Saga.

I am almost at the point where I would appreciate the releases slowing down a bit so I have more time to catch up.

Almost.

Announcement - Valve
The Steam Holiday Encore Sale starts today! We brought back 40 of the most popular deals to give you one last chance to pick them up while they are on sale. Only 2 days left to take advantage of huge savings on thousands of games throughout our store.

Steam Holiday Encore Deals include:


Participating in the 2014 Steam Holiday Sale will also earn you exclusive Holiday Sale Trading Cards. Collect all 10 cards during the sale to earn the Holiday Sale 2014 Badge, backgrounds and emoticons! This is your last chance to craft the 2014 Holiday Sale Badge.

The Steam Holiday Sale runs until 10AM PST, January 2nd.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

Wizards.

2015 is almost here and I’m sure you have a plan. You do have a plan, don’t you? You’re not planning leave the year to chance, skipping gaily across the pages of the calendar like a child through a meadow, are you? Because the meadow/calendar is filled with vipers. I’m… look, sorry, we’ve caught a case of the day-before-last-day-of-term sillies.

What I mean to say is that Divinity: Original Sin devs Larian have revealed their plans for 2015, 2016, and into the hazy future: keep polishing the RPG (which already won our Bestest Best Kickstarter award, doncha know?), and get stuck into another two RPGs on the same engine.

… [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer

Check out our game of the year awards 2014 page to find out how the awards were decided.

Chris Thrusten: The funny thing about Divinity is that it s a throwback to a classic form of the genre that nonetheless feels like it s from the future. Its big new ideas are part of that—two protagonists, you controlling both; campaign-wide co-op; a complex combat system grounded in emergent interactions—but the crucial thing is the sense of freedom that complexity gives you. It s not afraid to let you break things, or try. It gives you ownership over your experience.

It s this that makes it feel a lot like playing a pen and paper RPG with a good game master, something most RPGs shoot for but few achieve. It s notable that this creates a game that is, fundamentally, funny—its attempts at drama don t really stick, but the humour does, and that s because humour is a natural complement to freedom of this kind. Most pen and paper RPGs I ve played have ended up making me laugh one way or another, because that s the natural sideeffect of sitting in a room playing and improvising with your friends. Original Sin has that feel to it.

That feeling is compounded by the range of tools available to build and run your own multiplayer sessions, and in the sheer time investment required to get everything out of the game. This is an RPG that can still surprise you after many hours simply by virtue of its core design, rather than some left-field plot twist or BioWare-style escalation in the stakes. It s not a game that s likely to make you cry—we ve got Inquisition for that—but it is the one that will make you feel a whole host of other emotions, including why did I just electrocute my own wizard and what happens if I blow up the mayor . Those are totally real emotions, by the way. Yep.

Tom Marks: I ve spent almost every weekend of the past four months playing this. I ve played over 80 hours and every minute has been co-op with the same person. It s a game designed from the ground up with co-op in mind, and that has created interactions unexpected and exciting. When playing alone, you re often presented with the option to disagree with yourself. Those moments help define your characters personalities and are mostly for show, but when playing with my girlfriend—who sits five feet away from me—we can discuss the choice we want to make before selecting our answers. A plan that often falls apart as we determine the best choice out loud before one of us secretly changes their mind and puts their character at odds with the other.

Divinity is the kind of game that I would normally get lost in, using it as an escape to another world. But, fundamentally, it pushed me to invite another human being into that experience. Fortunately for me, I really like the human being I chose to play it with, and the game became our escape rather than just mine. Working together isn t forced upon us by the game, it s just naturally what we want to do and makes every decision we make together—or argue about—feel completely within our control. At nearly 100 hours long, it asks a lot of those who choose to play together, but playing Divinity that way is an incredibly rewarding experience, both in and out of the game.

For our full verdict read our Divinity: Original Sin review.

   

It's Christmas. Would you like a free game? Of course you would! Thanks to our friends at Playfire, you can get a free Steam key right now. Follow the link for full details.

PC Gamer

As we mentioned yesterday, Divinity: Original Sin developers Larian are working on two new, as yet unrevealed RPGs, using the Divinity: OS engine as their base. But that doesn't mean they're done with Divinity—there's the little matter of that 'Hardcore' mode that promises to make pretty major changes to the underlying game. As revealed about three minutes into the above Kickstarter update video, for Hardcore mode Larian are going back and making changes to every encounter in the game, giving baddies new skills and new strategies so that your old tactics will no longer be quite so effective. It's taking a little longer than expected, so there's no date yet, but I'll eat my Santa hat if it doesn't arrive sometime next year. (My Santa hat is made of chocolate, by the way.)

Hard cores aside, we can expect to see changes made to Divinity's economy, to its story and companions (including added banter)—there's also a high likelihood of added controller support, given that a couple of devs are filmed playing around with such a thing in the video. Added together, it's clear that an extraordinary amount of work is being done on Divinity post-release, so if you've already finished it, another playthrough may be in order towards the tail end of 2015, when I imagine most or all of these additions will have been patched in.

Before then, we can expect another patch in January focused on bug fixes and the like. Here's a bit from the latest Kickstarter update on that:

"Rest assured that these accolades don't make us want to kick back and rest on our laurels: quite on the contrary! We realise all too well that Original Sin is a good, but not a flawless game and a lot of effort has gone into upgrading a multitude of the game's aspects like combat, pacing, UI and main story narration. And yes, work on the hardcore mode still continues and yes, same goes for the Linux version!

"It will take us some time to implement all these changes and features, but in the meantime a patch with a whole host of other fixes should be ready for you somewhere in January."

Thanks, RPG Codex.

...

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