The Witcher® 3: Wild Hunt - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Brendan Caldwell)

Drizzle-soaked Welsh county and card game of tavern scoundrels, Gwent [official site], is now in open beta. Originally an in-game pastime from The Witcher 3, developers CD Projekt RED are casting it out into the world to see if it can survive on its own with naught but a pair of free-to-play clogs. It involves pitting your fightcards against the enemy s fightcards on a wooden battlefield and borrows at least some ideas from the card game of sublime Italian cowardice Condottiere. But if you’re unfamiliar, we have a trailer below which explains it much better. … [visit site to read more]

The Witcher® 3: Wild Hunt

It's Role-Playing Week over on GOG.com, and over the next six days you can get discounts on a handful of different RPGs. One of the highlights is The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - Game of the Year Edition, which is down to £17.49 / $21.74

If you've got the game already, but haven't checked out any of the DLC, you can get 50 percent off Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine too. Hearts of stone is down to £4 / $5, and you're tasked with defeating a ruthless bandit captain, Olgierd von Everec. The final Witcher 3 expansion, Blood and Wine, is £8 / $10, and it adds an extra 30 hours of gameplay to an already massive game. 

You'll also find The Witcher and The Witcher 2 in the sale, along with all kinds of versions of Pillars of Eternity and its expansions. Tyranny, the evil campaign follow up to Pillars of Eternity, is also cheaper than normal. Both Legend of Grimrock games, and both System Shock and System Shock 2 can also be grabbed for very cheap. 

Some online stores give us a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Read our affiliate policy for more info. 

Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

We are living in a golden age of big-budget PC games that offer us choice and freedom. Be they descendants of the System Shock model – finding a route around a meticulously-crafted, locked-down and hostile place, most recently seen in Prey [official site] – or the roleplaying games based around choice and consequence rather than action alone, they are legion. There are so many, even, that I’m not sure we can fully appreciate how good we’ve got it.

… [visit site to read more]

Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

We are living in a golden age of big-budget PC games that offer us choice and freedom. Be they descendants of the System Shock model – finding a route around a meticulously-crafted, locked-down and hostile place, most recently seen in Prey [official site] – or the roleplaying games based around choice and consequence rather than action alone, they are legion. There are so many, even, that I’m not sure we can fully appreciate how good we’ve got it.

… [visit site to read more]

Owlboy - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Jamie Wallace)

Another week has gone by and with it came the news of Destiny 2, a Witcher TV show and a whole stack of new gaming deals to check out. Conveniently enough, I m here to take a closer look at that last thing and it s about the only thing that s keeping me from playing more Prey. Without further hesitation, let s go ahead and check out what s on offer this week, shall we?

As usual, we ve got deals that ll work in the UK, deals that ll work in the US and some deals that will work in both the UK and US, as well as presumably many other places. Let s get started.

… [visit site to read more]

The Witcher® 3: Wild Hunt - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Adam Smith)

Netflix are developing a series based on The Witcher. The press release says it’ll be based on “the globally popular fantasy saga from Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski”, with only passing mention of the games. As for what it’ll be about, the producers Sean Daniel and Jason Brown (of The Expanse) have this to say:

“The Witcher stories follow an unconventional family that comes together to fight for truth in a dangerous world. The characters are original, funny and constantly surprising and we can t wait to bring them to life at Netflix, the perfect home for innovative storytelling.”

It’ll be English language and I look forward to my Netflix recommendations to suggest “IF YOU LIKE THE WITCHER YOU SHOULD WATCH THE WORST WITCH”.

… [visit site to read more]

The Witcher® 3: Wild Hunt

The Witcher Saga—the series of novels which inspired CD Projekt Red's esteemed videogames—is getting an "English language drama series" on Netflix. 

Alongside production and visual effects studio Platige Image, the online streaming service is set to welcome Geralt of Rivia et al—naked bath variations yet to be confirmed—with the author of the original book series Andrzej Sapkowski on board as a creative consultant.

"Andrzej Sapkowski has created a rich and memorable world, at once magical and familiar," says Erik Barmack, Netflix's Vice President for international series in a statement. "We couldn’t be more excited about bringing Netflix members around the world." 

Sapkowski himself adds: "I'm thrilled that Netflix will be doing an adaptation of my stories, staying true to the source material and the themes that I have spent over thirty years writing. "I'm excited about our efforts together, as well as the team assembled to shepherd these characters to life."

Naturally, it appears the book series will be the main source of inspiration here, however it'll be interesting to see how much, if at all, CDPR's videogame series overlaps with its television iteration. Platige's press release can be read in full here.  

Team Fortress 2

I tried.

Without bagels, I’d probably live to be 100 years old. But I have regular access to bagels and sourdough loaves and this sandwich bread always in my house called Birdman that’s covered in seeds and I don’t know why. I eat the stuff so fast I’ll be surprised if I make it to 50. 

In videogames, bread often gives you health instead of slowly seeping it away, a beacon of hearth and health. It’s been this way since the earliest games, and as technology became more capable of producing detailed environments and uncanny human likenesses, so too advanced the fidelity of the loaf. But the evolution of bread didn’t happen in a straight line. Diverse genres, art styles, and game engines shifted the purpose and priority of bread throughout the ages.

To get a clearer picture of how game bread has or hasn’t evolved, we’ve taken a look back at its implementation in some best games ever made to some of the most obscure.

BurgerTime (1982) 

As one of the earliest depictions of a hamburger bun, BurgerTime did a decent job. And it should have, given the name. Notice the inference of sesame seeds on the top bun and how the light diffuses on the bottom bunk. Early pixel art set a high bar for bunwork. 

Ultima VI: The False Prophet (1992)

A decade later, the burger genre fell out of vogue and fantasy roleplaying games stepped into the limelight. Ultima IV didn’t feature bread in a major way, but was an early example of inventory art, proof that you didn’t need the latest in computer graphics to make a great loaf. 

Jesus Matchup (1993) 

As a preteen, I went to a Catholic church camp even though I’m not and have never been Catholic. I ate the body of Christ even though I wasn’t supposed to and my friend Brian chastised me after the fact. He said I needed to get confirmed first and that I broke some kind of holy rule. The bread was just a thin wafer, like a sugar cone without the sugar, and maybe the aftertaste of it was a taste of hell itself. Jesus Matchup’s brown lump captures my disappointment exactly.

Ultima Online (1997) 

Pixel loaves hadn’t evolved much between Ultima IV and Ultima Online, but for one minor detail that changed the bread game forever for a few months. Ultima Online’s bread features a small blemish, giving the impression of a bite or piece ripped away for light post-adventure munching. The loaf went from inanimate prop to inanimate prop with history

Thief: The Dark Project (1998) 

Whether Thief should commended or condemned for its early attempt at modeling a 3D loaf is beyond me. All I know for sure is this: that’s a log. 

Someone’s in the Kitchen! (1999) 

You may know Steven Spielberg for his hit films like E.T. and Jurassic Park, but did you know his name was once mentioned in a trailer for a game he probably had nothing to do with? Someone’s in the Kitchen! isn’t just good reason to call the police, it’s a bad point-and-click edutainment game with one hell of an opening theme song. Also, you make a sandwich in it while a demon toaster—who is going to kill me, I saw it in a dream—judges your creation. The bread looks like my little brother sat on it, and is a shade of yellow I’ve only ever seen in bathrooms built in the 70s. Clearly, the late 90s weren’t great for game bread. 

The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind (2002) 

Even the modern masters of 3D bread had to start somewhere. In Morrowind, Bethesda drew inspiration from something other than felled trees and instead turned their eye to the sky, probably. I’m guessing here. They managed to suggest bread by texturing a footballish shape with what look like photos from the visible surface of Jupiter, a perpetually storming gas giant. 

World of Warcraft (2004) 

Just two years later an MMO, known for prioritizing multiplayer features over looking good, managed to bake bread that an Orc could tolerate. While the left loaf looks like a water chestnut, the precise angles and light divots up top are a convincing enough illusion. The right loaf, except for it’s undercooked coloring, nails the shape. And the inner texture marks a defined border between crust and light, fluffy inside. I’m tempted to throw some mayo, lettuce, tomato, and a bit of thinly sliced night elf meat on there just looking at it.

The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion (2006) 

Maybe Bethesda should’ve prioritized bread resolution DLC over horse armor. At a glance, one out of ten times I’m going to say that’s bread. The other nine times I’m going to say that’s a large misshapen potato. I lived in Idaho for a while. Got invited to a ‘Baked Potato Party' and yeah, they get that big.

Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale (2007) 

While 3D game bread moved into potato territory, Recettear reaffirmed that pixels were still the way to go. Its depiction of Walnut Bread takes a good squint to make out, but when you get up close, the shades of gold and brown and white light diffusing on the outer crust nearly flash the entire baking process on the back of your eyelids. “Walnuts, soft dough and a bit of sugar…” do more than an extra dimension ever could.

Dinner Date (2011) 

I’d flake on a guy who thought it’d be a good idea to dip that twisted loaf in some red shit too. And look at that distribution! I’m not sure what’s being distributed, but half of that isn’t even bread, it’s Dark Brown Stuff. Jesus, man. We should never be able to see inside the bread if the tech isn't ready and can’t simulate a good bake. 

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011) 

Star Baker goes to Todd Howard this decade. Look at the fidelity of this loaf. A nice rise, detailed textures, and I can nearly hear the muffled tip-tap from the even bake. Forget adventure and the snowcapped mountaintops and vampires and dragons—like a toilet in a Tarantino movie, a good loaf is the keystone of any open world. 

Minecraft (2011)

Well regarded for its wild redstone contraptions and horrifying monuments to pop culture, Minecraft’s bread has been largely ignored, and for good reason. You’re one of the most successful games of all time, and a brown lump is the best you can muster? I’ve felt more love radiating from an old hotdog bun.

Scribblenauts Unlimited (2012) 

You can tell this was made in a bread pan, small specks imply the bread is airy and light, you can summon it whenever you like, and nearly every humanoid creature will eat it. It’s a crude child’s drawing, sure, but Scribblenauts built put time into simulating natural, albeit simple, bread world behaviors. Consider it this immersive sim, the System Shock, of bread. Place it in the world, and the world reacts to its presence.

Bioshock Infinite (2013) 

Source: David Miles on YouTube

If one game knows how good its bread is, it’s Bioshock Infinite. If you were to press pause and inspect the 3D baguette, it’d be possible to nitpick small design decisions, like texture resolution, flour distribution, and grain density, but because the bread is sandwiched with context—the dancing bread boy and his believable reaction to owning a baguette inside a big patriotic amusement park city held up by balloons that Ken Levine imagined using his brain, his very own personal brain—it doesn’t feel out of place. Realism is helpful, certainly, but the game world needs to feel alive, like a natural home for bread above all else.  

Team Fortress 2: Love and War update (2014) 

Bread is only monstrous when left to mold, and Team Fortress 2’s Love and War update bottles the essence of in a cute, tragic short film. There’s little purpose to the bread in-game aside from a few dough-themed items. Personally, I interpret it as a commentary on the state of game bread as nothing more than a simple prop and HP potion skin, new ideas and advances left in the pantry to rot. I see you Valve.

I Am Bread (2014) 

As a goofy physics playground, I Am Bread is fine. I do take issue with how controlling a slice feels like maneuvering a heavy sponge. Bread isn’t heavy and sandwich bread isn’t durable. One fall off the table and it’s over, usually. I Am Bread forgoes natural bread behaviors for the sake of a joke, but I’m not sure we’ll be laughing when our kids start to think they can wash the dishes with a sandwich.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (2015) 

Everything about The Witcher 3’s world feels hand-placed. Small villages, big cities, and even monster-infested caves are brimming with life and purpose, but in order to maintain such a sprawling illusion, nearly all props and people are static. NPCs sit in the same place spouting the same lines and props like bread just sit there, looking delicious, but forever out of reach. What an awful game.

Fallout 4 (2015) 

After setting a new standard for 3D loaf work in Skyrim, Bethesda dropped the atom ball in Fallout 4, spending more time on the bread box than any bread at all. Modders came to the rescue again, modeling slices, sandwiches, and adding recipes any old ghoul could follow.

Dishonored 2 (2016) 

Karnacan bakers know how to bake bread. Lovely rise, nice crust, but a bit low res I’m being honest. Eating it gives you a small dose of HP, but the animation is a simple swipe-and-swallow maneuver. It’s pan for the course, and not much else. In 2016, it’s a good bake, but it’s not a great bake. 

The future of videogame bread

How far have we come, really? From BurgerTime’s advanced bun art to Dishonored 2’s simple dark loaf, videogame bread feels without a sure destination—a lumpy mass that needs more time to prove. Perhaps the future holds loaves we never could have imagined, or abominations, such as virtual reality pumpernickel that virtually tastes like sourdough. 

Will Call of Duty: WWII pay proper homage to the history and show families turning their nose up at National Loaf? Maybe someday we’ll spend as much money on naan as we do on spaceships in Star Citizen. All we know for certain is that bread will be there, a short roll for every dodge roll and an abundance of biscuits to crowd every RPG inventory.

The Witcher® 3: Wild Hunt

Above: Skyrim's Advanced Cooking mod by Corpsehatch.

I love to eat. This is hardly a secret. For the better part of a decade someone could have just tossed you my belt, and from that alone you could have deduced that my gut won many heated battles with tightly buttoned shirts. But somehow I got past that. I'm down eighty pounds after but a handful of months and getting thinner every day.

But my general love of food? It's still here. It always will be. My 'big meals' these days consist of little more than grilled, seasoned tilapia and shoots of asparagus, but one of the manifold beauties of videogames is that I can live out my fantasies of cooking and devouring sugar-packed pastries and fat-dripping rare steaks to my increasingly healthy heart's content. I've always had a soft spot for cooking in games, but now that my literal soft spots are melting away, I find that it's turning into a passion. 

In fact, it's become one of the things I look for in roleplaying games above all else. It's common to hear talk about how one of the chief attractions of videogames is that they let us become the things we want to be in life, but most of that talk centers on things like strength, confidence, or physical attraction. In my view, the best games let us excel at and spend time with relatively humble things, like cooking. Some people want to be mages with fireballs shooting from their fingernails. Me? I'd kind of like to be a fat Pandaren cooking chicken fried rice on a wok, all while chatting about nature and philosophy against a backdrop of sun-drenched meadows. World of Warcraft lets me do that, all without the dangers of tubbiness. For me, at least, it's a vicarious pleasure that works. 

You'd think a man who lives on the roads and crafts his own potions on the fly would know his way around a skillet.

It's not as if I spend my hours salivating over Burger Time or Diner Dash. I look for cooking as a complementary activity, much as it is here in the real world. I spent most of my time with Conan Exiles hacking at ungulates with stone blades chiefly for the pleasure of grilling their muscle into steaks over a cozy campfire for my friends. In Skyrim, I've enjoyed tinkering with Kryptopyr's Complete Alchemy and Cooking Overhaul and Corpsehatch's Advanced Cooking, both of which add a more realistic (and worthwhile) cooking experience compared to Bethesda's original vision. I even get a little sad when all these elements are missing. I replayed The Witcher 3 in its entirety recently, and nothing disappointed me about the experience so much as the realization that all this raw meat kept dropping from the endless swarms of wolves and that there was no way to turn it into deliciousness. You'd think a man who lives on the roads and crafts his own potions on the fly would know his way around a skillet. But nope.

Sharing is caring

This passion for culinary creativity has its roots in real life. For two years at the turn of the century, I diced onions and guided grease as a chef at the Austin, Texas co-op where I lived, running a kitchen with industrial equipment and feeding dozens of fellow students between courses on astronomy and Latin. It's largely because of this experience that I've come to think of cooking and eating as an inherently social activity, and thus I find my greatest enjoyment of its digital counterpart in MMOs.

Single-player games might have more realistic cooking mechanics, but MMOs let you share your food with other people. Better than that, you can sell that grub. Hell, there's actual prestige. It's one thing to be proud of making a stash of Elsweyr Fondue in Skyrim that no one gets to see besides you and Lydia, but back in the day, it was quite another to be one of the few proud owners of the ridiculously rare recipe for Dirge's Kickin' Chimaerok Chops in World of Warcraft. I also love the apprentice-and-master dynamic surrounding the craft in Final Fantasy XIV. And much of the fun I get out of Elder Scrolls Online these days springs from roleplaying as a chef with all the rare recipes I've amassed over the years I've played, to say nothing I get out of the fun of surreptitiously scrounging around in crates and cupboards for choice ingredients while the guards are turned away. There's thus a sense of danger involved in cooking that Direnni Hundred-Year Rabbit Bisque or that Planked Abecean Longfin. It makes cooking exciting, and I wish more games followed suit.

Legion is a great expansion, but it's done much to hurt my love for one of my favorite aspects of the game.

Weirdly, some games have backed away from rewarding cooking experiences. To see me at my happiest, rewind a few years back to World of Warcraft's Mists of Pandaria expansion, where you'd finally me enthusiastically and dutifully harvesting my own food from my little farm and learning and mastering multiple schools of cooking. (To this day, I play a Pandaren monk named Chaofan, which means "fried rice" in Mandarin.) You'd find me making a fortune selling some of the better stuff on the auction house, and getting a kick out of setting up a noodle cart for my fellow guildies to grab a bowl of soup that boosted their stats for an hour. 

Cooking felt like a real profession for once, and it was arguably more rewarding than some of the more popular ones like blacksmithing or leatherworking. Today, in Legion, cooking mainly consists of waiting for a bumbling Pandaren chef to "research" recipes for you, and more than half the time he usually just comes back with burnt food. He's the one doing the discovery, not me, and it doesn't help that many of the recipes aren't even all that useful. Legion is a great expansion, but it's done much to hurt my love for one of my favorite aspects of the game.

Lately that especially hurts because, as a lover of fantasy, I find that eating and cooking whatever kinds of food suit my whims has became my own personal fantasy. Food isn't evil, of course: it's one of the few pleasures that truly unites us all. But never again can I afford to enjoy it like I used to without swelling out my gut and risking a few years off my life. In moderation, naturally, there's little worry about that in games. And right now, rather than taking memorable cooking experiences away, I'd like to see game developers make better ones. My heart—my stomach—yearns for it.

The Witcher® 3: Wild Hunt

The adventures of Geralt and his bathtub are two years old this month, but whaddya know: this is probably still the prettiest game on PC. A video by Youtuber Thirty IR has been making the rounds (thanks, Kotaku) showing Geralt gallivanting at 8K, which Youtube apparently supports at 60 frames per second! Even if you don't have an 8K monitor (hell, we don't) you can still enjoy a ludicrously downsampled video on your monitor. Jaggies will be but a distant memory.

The 7680x4320 video is the result of four GTX Titan Xps in SLI pushing 33 million pixels. That's four times as many pixels as 4K, which is still out of reach of most PC gaming hardware. Naturally, the full system specs are equally intense:

  • Monitor: Dell UP3218K - 8K IPS LCD Monitor
  • GPUs: 4x GTX TITAN Xp (2017) 4 WAY SLI @ 2038Mhz / 13358Mhz
  • MoBo: Asus Rampage V Extreme (X99)CPU: i7 6950X @ 4.30GHz
  • RAM: Corsair Dominator Platinum DDR4 3200Mhz (64GB)
  • PSU: Corsair AX1500i
  • CASE: Cooler Master Cosmos II
  • OS: Samsung 850 Pro 256GB
  • Games/Programs: Samsung 840 EVO (RAID-0) / Samsung 850 EVO

That's almost $7,000 worth of gear just for the graphics card and CPU. All the settings, naturally, are on Ultra.

Thirty IR recommends watching the video in Microsoft's new Edge browser, but we had a bit more luck in Chrome. Either way, you may have to play around with your hardware acceleration to ensure smooth playback. 

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