Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

It’s the weekly Steam charts! These are the games which sold best on Steam last week. This week, it’s the first true> chart of 2017, as the last one covered the arse-end of 2016. All change, all change.

I’m even going to do this one upside-down. New year, new rules! And I don’t want to spoil the surprise right away.

… [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

Out with the old, in with the new. By which I mean ‘and our weekly Steam Charts, showing the ten games which sold best over the previous week, returns – replete with most of the same names as last year.’

SHOULD AULD ACQUAINTANCE BE FORGOT AND NEVER BROUGHT TO MIND?

Welcome back. … [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer

Of the many contributions made to gaming culture in 2016, few have been more important than the unstoppable rise of Bathtub Geralt. And now we are delighted to report that the iconic image of everyone's favourite witcher having a relaxing soak has been recreated in real life by Maul Cosplay. 

Maul, who's also known as Ben and is the current promotional model used by CD Projekt to portray Geralt, posted the stirring picture on Instagram along with several other revealing shots destined for The Witcher Cosplay Calendar 2017. 

The bathtub pic will be in there, naturally, as will "Geralt and Yennifer and the Unicorn," "Geralt and Triss and the lighthouse," one of Geralt and Triss and Yennifer all together in the altogether, and another called "Geralt's workout." Because wow, that guy just isn't getting worked out enough as it is. 

In case there was any doubt, a lot of these images feature Geralt doing what he does when he's not doing what he gets paid for. "This product (like the game) contains slightly hot and erotic photography," the calendar preorder site warns. "If you want to buy this calendar, you should be able to stand nipples. Male and female alike." 

Speaking of which, as a public service I will note that there is at least one calendar image I'm not posting below because it's a little nipply. Thanks in advance for not clicking that Instagram link if you're under 18.   

Also thanks, Radek

PC Gamer

CD Projekt Red has come into quite a bit of money to help it research several areas of video game development. The Polish government gave the developer the biggest portion of its 116 million PLN ($27 million USD) fund that was granted to it by the National Center for Research of Development, WCCFTech reports.

The Witcher developer had all four of its proposals approved, including an additional one that pertained to GOG.com and focused on the development of "cross-platform multiplayer gaming software for popular consoles and operating systems." The proposals revolved around city creation, seamless multiplayer, cinematic feel, and animation excellence. You can read more about each of CD Projekt Red's proposals further down this article.

The studio was awarded 30 million PLN ($7 million USD), and CD Projekt Red president Adam Kicinski released a statement that said, "Developing video games is a hyperinnovative activity, but also one which carries substantial financial risks, involves continuous R&D work, and requires much experimentation and prototyping along the way.

"The GameINN program—a fruit of our industry's collaborative efforts—will, in the coming years, enable Polish developers to carry out nearly 40 projects worth 191 million PLN," the statement continues. "I am confident that the resulting innovative solutions will further elevate the quality of Polish video games and enhance our competitiveness on the global stage. Indeed, our industry now has the potential to become the champion of the modern Polish economy."

We can get a pretty good look at each of the developer's proposals, thanks to the NCBR's official document. Open world RPGs are mentioned several times throughout, which could point to work that's being done for Cyberpunk 2077, another Witcher title, or a different game altogether. Of course, this is just conjecture; this research could end up unused by any title at all. You can see the four proposals, translated by WCCFTech, below.

City Creation

Comprehensive technology for the creation of "live," playable in real-time, cities of great scale based on the principles of artificial intelligence and automation and taking into account the development of innovative processes and tools supporting the creation of high-quality open world games.

Seamless Multiplayer

Comprehensive technology enables the creation of unique gameplay for many players, taking into account the search of opponents, session management, replication facilities, and support of a variety of game modes along with a unique set of dedicated tools. 

Cinematic Feel

Comprehensive technology for providing a unique, film quality RPG with open world, also taking into account innovative solutions process and unique set of dedicated tools. 

Animation Excellence

Comprehensive technology enabling a significant increase in quality and production of complex face and body animations for open world RPG games, also taking into account the innovative process solutions and a unique set of dedicated tools.

-----

Another studio awarded with funds is Dying Light developer Techland for a prototype of a first-person "action RPG set in an original fantasy world." Other funded studios include CI Games (Lords of the Fallen), The Farm 51 (Get Even), and Bloober Team (Layers of Fear). You can read more about their approved proposals on WCCFTech.

PC Gamer

Source: Cook & Becker

I once crossed a river on horseback and thought for certain I would die. It rained the day before and the runoff made the water deeper and faster than usual—some grade-A drowning material. But Monty carried me. He waded up to his neck and carried me through the brute force of thousands of pounds of hurtling water like it was nothing more than a mud puddle. When we reached the other side, he turned back towards me, snorted, and took a dump.

At that moment, I knew I would become a videogames writer.

And no one understands the value of a loyal, healthy horse companion better than PC Gamer. They’ve helped us scale vertical cliffsides in Skyrim, disable tanks with their poops in Metal Gear Solid 5, and be less angry than normal when we couldn’t fast travel The Witcher 3. They’re also very pretty and I like the noises they make. 

But the time for sharing the love is over, as we've decided to declare the best horse in PC gaming through rigorous horse analysis. Tuck that shirt in, champ your bit, and let’s ride.

Round 1: Gait

The Appaloosa Horse Club—who sell some great Appaloosa-themed Idaho license plates, by the way—are my go-to for equine facts and criteria for showmanship and competition. To have a baseline acceptable gait, and I’m judging by Western style riding standards, a horse must “move straight and true at the walk.” Some horses, in games and real life, skitter at the sight of a small rock or pull over to snack on tall grass whenever they like. They’ll zigzag on easy terrain and take alternate paths on a whim. The perfect videogame horse knows where you want to go before you do. It can’t turn on a dime, but eases into your key presses without hesitation, and won’t tear off into the woods without checking with you first. Riding a horse is an exercise in trust, and if your horse is coded to be an erratic jerk, there’s nothing true left to walk for.

Roach: If Roach’s gait were true, I’d trust her, but damn, if I give Roach the smallest bit of leeway, she’s happy to take me on a trip down whatever fork in the path she feels like while clipping every fruit stand and fencepost on the way. 

Battlefield 1 horse: With reliable, steady gaits and just enough resistance on the reins to make them feel alive, the Battlefield 1 horses are great companions to ride. But in the trenches their surety and truth dissolves into nothing. Once they’re stuck in a trench, their otherwise reliable trots trot off while I jam the keys and fruitlessly try to lead them by the reins with my gun hands. War truly is hell.

D-Horse: It’s hard to properly assess D-Horse since most of Metal Gear Solid 5’s terrain is fairly flat, but even at top speeds, D-Horse keeps a steady back. When it comes to obstacles, though, D-Horse is a fickle creature, uncertain where to go or what to do with the slightest bump in the path. There’s a reason you can send D-Horse into the sky with a fulton parachute on demand. 

(Winner) Skyrim horse: Skyrim horse does not falter. They’ll try to climb cliff faces, invisible walls, visible walls, and even fly with the right console commands. (Every good horse knows a few console commands, eg AddShout Giddiyap, ModApple +1000, AntialiasMane_ON.) Problem is, they move like personal gravity isn’t a thing, trotting in a floaty way that highlights how their pace doesn’t match the length of their gait. But an odd, unrealistic gait doesn’t matter so long as it’s true and straight, which makes a loose adherence to gravity a pretty handy tool against mountainsides in your way.

Round 2: Mane attraction

Let’s talk about hair. There are a few traditional ways to groom and prepare a horse’s mane, and while they all serve a specific purpose, there is one objectively best way to do it: braiding. It utilizes the horse’s natural mane to make an impossible maze of mesmerizing, twisted strands while also keeping the hair out of way of riding implements and impacting the horse’s performance. Other methods include pulling or thinning, in which the mane is trim that still has weight and substance, but barely fills out half the nape, which is a horse crime. Banding uses rubber bands to make your horse look like a big joke, one tiny clump at a time. In a videogame, a mane shouldn’t make you laugh, it should make you feel unworthy and grateful because it doesn’t matter if you have level 99 dragonbone armor—you only look as good as your horse does.

Roach: In the complex horse lexicon, roach actually means to shave a poor creature’s mane down to its neck. But in The Witcher 3, Roach actually has a fairly lengthy mane. Geralt is definitely going for irony, but to use an otherwise healthy horse’s mane and its identity as the butt of a joke shows the two have some work to do before they can even take mane fashion seriously, let alone riding.

Battlefield 1 horse: A thinned mane isn’t a great starting point for this war boy, but with some subtle hair physics and a few longer loose strands, it looks like the Battlefield 1 horse has had a few weeks to let things grow a bit wilder than normal. If only a little wild was enough.

D-Horse: With a pulled and thinned mane, D-Horse won’t stop any single horses in their tracks, but his hair is functional and sleek despite its simple, compromised design. That said, after completing the game you get can equip the optional Furicorn skin, which gives D-Horse a demonic obsidian mohawk. It’s not exactly elegant and there’s no subsection in the Appaloosa Horse Club Handbook stating criteria for ideal rock spine arrangement, but it’s 100-percent better than roaching the sucker.

(Winner) Skyrim horse: Mods don’t disqualify horses from presentation categories since combing through arcane folders and unzipping files requires the exact same skillset as running a comb through a horse's mane. And with a few mods, you can give your Skyrim horse the braided mane they deserve. I can’t find a mod that does that, which falls to the community, but I understand the difficulty of making something so impossibly perfect. The potential for one to exist is enough for Skyrim horse to take the cake here. The Immersive Horses mod is a good starting point, bringing new breeds, commands, and some gorgeous natural manes to the table.

Round 3: Life Force

You won’t find this section in the Appaloosa Horse Club Handbook, but I have no doubt it’s a regular topic of debate among the board at every monthly potluck (Deborah makes some mean scalloped potatoes). When a good horse trots into a room, people turn their heads and recognize that yes, this is a horse, four legs, hooves—the whole rigamarole. A great horse trots into a room, though, and people know it without looking. They feel it. Also, they smell pretty bad, so that helps. But the ideal horse should carry an unseen energy, an inner glow that says, I’m a horse, my legs are big, and rivers are very easy to cross. Sidenote: can I have an apple? In videogames, this comes across best when a horse behaves like it isn’t a wire mesh and a few shades of brown.

Roach: There’s life force in Roach, but not in the ways that align with horse excellence. Were Roach to attempt what insiders call the ‘Triangle of Truth’ by walking the perimeter of a triangle in alternating walks and trots, he’d no doubt veer off path and into a pile of monsters, then get spooked and rear back, knocking Geralt to the ground. It’s a good demonstration of personality and life, but not in the ways that make a virtual horse an excellent riding and emotional companion. 

Battlefield 1 horse: The Battlefield horse has some pretty good idle animations. It whinnies, shakes out its mane, and flicks its tail. But you could drop a nuclear bomb half a mile away and they wouldn’t flinch. During a terrible twist in which I turned on my own horse, convinced they were a robot or phantasm assuming the visage of a horse, I held a flamethrower to their face and emptied the fuselage. What I found inside was unspeakable.

Skyrim horse: There’s no need to peer inside the Skyrim horse’s head to know it’s an empty vessel. While it’s the most mobile and powerful of every videogame horse, it sacrificed soul for functionality and took on the traits of a big hunk of styrofoam in the process. 

(Winner) D-Horse: I can’t remember what I had for lunch yesterday (not apples or barley, so what could it be?), but I can recall something someone said in a film theory class I took nearly a decade ago. Showing someone on the toilet in a movie is one of the most effective tools in establishing the diegesis, or universe, of the film. Doing so implies that this person ate off camera, went through the digestive process, and had to perform a mundane, regular, and highly relatable ritual. Similarly, by showing us D-Horse defecating and letting us use that to spin out jeeps so we can parachute them into the sky is key in establishing the sense that Metal Gear Solid 5’s world is a real place, as ridiculous as it is. Thanks to a stinky keystone I can envision D-Horse as a creature with its own desires and daily minutiae, and a livelier companion to spend time with beyond simple transportation and daily horse proximity needs.

Final Round: Graphics

For the final round, we’ll be reviewing what makes every videogame horse really stand out: the graphics. Graphics, as the Appaloosa Horse Club defines them, are “the polygons defining the wire mesh of a horse, the textures defining the color and features of the horse, and how those elements are in conversation with one another.” A few pages later, they summarize, stating each horse, “...should look pretty rad at 140Hz.” We couldn’t agree more, but it’s also one of the more difficult categories to rate, since every horse is beautiful, unique, shining, and eternal, and as such should be graded according to its own scale and not in any competition at all, actually. Oops.

Roach: Very Polish-ed. Huge, detailed muscles, but has a head that clips through physical objects, including its own body. Not a great look for a horse.

D-Horse: A very regular model with light contouring to give the impression that this horse could be lifted into the sky via parachute with ease. Good butt.

Skyrim horse: With a few mods they can look real enough to reach out and touch, or like a sabertooth tiger wearing cyber armor, a very rare horse indeed.

Battlefield 1 horse: Looks like a very realistic horse from the outside. Cosmic horror on the inside.

Winner: All horses

PC Gamer's pick for Best Horse goes to...

Skyrim’s horses take the cake, despite having dated animations and eyes deader than a mudcrab. They win because they’re the most expressive and diverse of the bunch thanks to mods. Granted, it’s never about what you want, but what you can do for them.

Source: Immersive Horses YouTube video by Brodual

If a horse wants to be a flaming hell skeleton, it can. If it wants better animations, it can have them. If it wants a lush river of a mane, no problem. What color? We have them all. Skyrim’s horses can grow to the size of a mountain and snort to slay dragons. They can be smaller than an apple, which is sort of every horse’s dream, really. They can become deities of Skyrim, perfect in every way (except for the smell, that’s always going to be part of the deal). 

The only thing modding can’t do for a horse is program it to respect you, but a real horse’s mind is just as insurmountable, deserving of dedication and patience and no other expectation than for the privilege to simply get to and fro. Also, the Battlefield 1 horse was pretty cool, but I just couldn’t get over how creepy their eyeballs look from the inside.

PC Gamer

After completing the Large Pixel Collider last month, we made a shortlist of games that would help us show off the power of our fully armed and operational godly gaming rig. Obviously The Witcher 3—one of our award-winners from 2015 and one of our favorite RPGs ever—had to be included. You knew we weren't going to miss an opportunity to make a splash with Geralt.

See The Witcher 3 with everything cranked up in the Vimeo embed above—we're using Vimeo for this series of videos because we think it offers better compression than YouTube, and we wouldn't want you missing out on any of the 8.3 million pixels we're throwing at you.

Want to know what hardware we're running? Read more at pcgamer.com/LPC

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

Had a week off. (No, not a holiday, no such thing when there’s a three-year-old in the house). Bit of a break from writing about games. Though I’d rebuild and resupply a little, come back fighting fit, ready for anything GAMESWORLD might throw at me next.

Anything but this. … [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (RPS)

Black Friday 2016 is finally here, and it’s of course the biggest day for deals yet. We’ve rounded up the best below, so if you’re looking for great games or PC hardware, step inside.

… [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer

You may have heard recent rumblings about Witcher studio CD Projekt gearing up to fend off a hostile takeover. The rumors were rooted in the schedule of an "extraordinary general meeting of shareholders," translated by NeoGAF user Boskee, which said attendees would be voting on whether to buy back $64 million of its own shares, whether to merge its brands, and whether to change its statute to put new limits on the voting rights of high-volume shareholders.

The changes are meant to make the company more resistant to unwelcome overtures from major players, but as Polish site RP.pl said (Google translated), "The question is whether this is a hypothetical situation, or whether the investor is already on the horizon." Fortunately for those who want to see CD Projekt remain independent, it told WCCFTech that the situation is very much the former.

"The proposal is not a reaction to any current events affecting CD Projekt. Rather, it is meant as insurance against future hypothetical scenarios which may never materialize," a rep said. "We wish to safeguard the interests of minority shareholders in a hypothetical case where a major shareholder emerges professing a business and strategic vision which conflicts with ours."

This isn't the first time a rumor of a possible CDPR takeover has come to light: In September 2015, EA was reported to be looking into acquiring the company, which also proved to be false. I was glad then, and I'm glad now: CD Projekt is hardly the scrappy little underdog it was ten years ago, but it still marches to its own very unique beat. And even though it hasn't exactly been prolific over the past decade, I'm more than happy to take quality over quantity any day.

PC Gamer

For the next ten days, digital distribution service GOG is hosting a 'Monstrous Fall Sale' which sees a load of games going cheap and, in some cases, completely free.

Much like the platform's previous sales, headline deals switch in and out every 24 hours. At the time of writing, highlights include open-world role-player The Witcher 3 GOTY edition for 20.99/$25.69 and stylistic time manipulator Superhot for 10.39/$12.69 both with 40 percent discounts. Divinity Original Sin Enhanced Edition is also half price at 14.99/$18.29; while Little Big Adventure 2 free-of-charge for the next couple of days.

"Score even more free games in the Monstrous Fall Sale: check in daily, collect badges, and keep shopping to earn XP and unlock Expeditions: Conquistador, Dex, and Victor Vran for free," reads a statement from GOG. "Every dollar spent gives you more XP, and you'll find great combos throughout the sale like Divinity: Original Sin 2 or Tyranny, which unlock all 3 free games right off the bat.

"We're starting with deals and bundles including Pillars of Eternity (-60%), Grim Fandango Remastered (-75%), Day of the Tentacle Remastered (-50%) and more but check back every day for new offers, bundles, and announcements."

GOG's Monstrous Fall Sale is on right now until November 13 at 11am BST/7pm PST and everything else in between. I've had a cursory look over what's on offer, however please do share your own favourites with us as you spot them in the comments below.

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