Survarium's unstoppable "green apocalypse" is creeping towards a closed beta development phase, according to a new dev diary from the folks at Vostok Games. An MMO/FPS hybrid set in a world of collapsing societies and strange anomolies, Survarium's latest update features new public footage from the shooter, as well as some details about the ways players can find an invite to help test the game.
"Right now we want to focus on purely gameplay, start working with the balance, the in-game economy, as well as increase the server workload to test how the servers behave under really heavy loads with a large number of players," said the game's project lead Ruslan Didenko in the video diary below.
Survarium has been in alpha testing through the summer and the team's planning a variety of options for those of you who want to take part in the beta. Given the subject matter of the game, it seems fitting that Vostok is planning a lottery system through its website to hand out entries to the closed beta. Once implemented, the lottery will randomly hand out a new beta invite every three hours, according to Vostok marketing director Oleg Yavorsky.
Of course, it's not completely random, as Yavorsky reports that registered users of the game's website as well as active forum members will see a better chance of scoring an invite.
For a refresher on how Vostok Games emerged from the collapse of the Stalker series, check out this interview with Survarium lead designer Alexei Sytyanov from earlier this year. Want to get on radar of Vostok Games early-testing program? Sign up here.
This latest Survarium trailer is a pretty good showcase for the game's lovingly rendered ruined world, but it's also one of the more exciting 'let's show off one of our game maps' videos I've watched. It has a narrative and everything, telling the story of a sniper perched on top of an abandoned church, and some dude who tries to take him down. What is Survarium again? It's the free-to-play multiplayer shooter from former Stalker 2 devs, and you can still sign up for the alpha over here.
Snipers. Why'd it have to be snipers? Although it looks like a straightforward Call of Duty-style shooter in this video, Survarium, like Stalker, will feature various anomalies - which appear to add various buffs and power-ups to your character - along with co-op missions and an intriguing "free play" mode where anything goes. The beta and launch (for ex-USSR territories at least) is still on track for later this year, with the international one happening next year.
Oct 5, 2013
Remember when buying a game didn’t feel like a guarantee of seeing the ending? There are still hard games out there, Dark Souls flying the flag most recently, but increasingly, the challenge has dripped out or at least softened, often leading to sadly wasted opportunities. What would Skyrim be like, for instance, if its ice and snow wasn’t simply cosmetic, but actually punished you for going mountain climbing in your underpants?
With a quick mod – Frostfall in this case – you’re forced to dress up warm before facing the elements, and things become much more interesting. That’s just one example, and over the next couple of pages you’ll find plenty more. These aren’t mods that just do something cheap like double your enemy’s hit-points, they’re full rebalances and total conversions. Face their challenge, and they’ll reward you with both a whole new experience and the satisfaction of going above and beyond the call of duty.
Game: Stalker: Call of Pripyat
All those weapons scattered around? Gone. Anomalies? Now more dangerous. Magic mini-map? Forget it. Valuable quest rewards? Good luck. Things you do get: thirsty, and factions who send goons after you if you anger them. On the plus side Pripyat is much more active, with a complete sound overhaul, and new NPCs to meet – who all have to play by the rules too, with no more infinite ammo. If you can survive here, you’ve got a good chance when the actual apocalypse comes.
Fallout: New Vegas
Link: Nexus Mods
Nevada is a good example of making things more difficult without being openly psychotic. Levelling is slower, players and NPCs get less health, and obvious features are now in, such as armour only being a factor in headshots if the target actually has head protection. It’s also possible to toggle some extra-hardcore options, such as food no longer healing and taking care of hunger/thirst/ sleep on the move. There’s a sack of new content, and an Extra Options mod is also available, offering even more control.
Despite what modern ‘old-school’ shooters would have you think, Doom was a relatively sedate experience – fast running speed, yes, but lots of skulking in the dark and going slow. Not any more! Brutal Doom cranks everything up to 11, then yawns and goes right for 25.6. We’re talking extra shrapnel, execution attacks, tougher and faster monsters, metal music, and blood, blood, blood as far as your exploding eyes can see. It’s compatible with just about any level you can throw at it, turning even E1M1 into charnel house devastation. The enemies don’t get it all their own way, as Doomguy now starts with an assault rifle rather than simply a pistol, and a whole arsenal of new guns has been added to the Doom collection – including the BFG’s big brother.
Full Combat Rebalance 2
Game: The Witcher 2
This streamlines the combat and makes the action closer to how Geralt’s adventure might have played out in the books. He’s more responsive, can automatically parry incoming attacks, begins with his Witcher skills unlocked, and no longer has to spend most fights rolling around like a circus acrobat. But he’s in a tougher world, with monsters now figuring out counterattacks much faster, enemies balanced based on equipment rather than levels, and experience only gained from quests, not combat. Be warned this is a 1.5GB file, not the megabyte Hotfix that’s claimed.
Elder Scrolls games get ever more streamlined, and further from the classic RPG experience. Requiem drags Skyrim back, kicking and screaming. The world is no longer levelled for your convenience. Bandits deliver one-hit kills from the start. The undead mock arrows, quietly pointing out their lack of internal organs with a quick bonk to your head. Gods hold back their favour from those who displease them. Most importantly, stamina is now practically a curse. Heavy armour and no training can drain it even if you’re standing still, and running out in battle is Very Bad News. Combine this with Frostfall, and Skyrim finally becomes the cold, unforgiving place it claims to be.
Total War: Shogun 2
Not only is this one of the most comprehensive mods any Total War game has ever seen, its modular nature makes it easy to pick and choose the changes that work best for the experience you want. Together, the campaign AI is reworked, as are the skills and experience systems, diplomacy and technology trees. There are over 100 new units. Campaigns are also longer, providing more time to play with all this, with easier access to the good stuff early on in the name of variety. There’s even a sound module that adds oomph to rifles. Add everything, or only the bits you want. It’s as much of a tactical decision as anything else on the road to conquering Japan.
Game of Thrones
Game: Crusader Kings II
Real history doesn’t have enough bite for you? Recast the whole thing with Starks, Lannisters, Freys and the rest and it will. This doesn’t simply swap a few names around, but works with the engine to recreate specific scenarios in the war for the Iron Throne. Individual characters’ traits are pushed into the foreground, especially when duels break out. Wildlings care little about who your daddy was. It’s best to know a fair amount about the world before jumping in, and the scenarios themselves contain spoilers, but you’re absolutely not restricted to just following the story laid down in the books.
Game: Grand Theft Auto IV
Guess what this one does. A bowling league for Roman? Cars that drive themselves? A character who appears to tell Niko “You have $30,000 in your pocket, you don’t need to goon for assholes” after Act 2? No, of course not. These guns put a little reality back into the cartoon that is GTA. The missions weren’t written with that in mind, obviously, but there’s nothing stopping you from giving it a shot. Worst case: murdering random civilians on the street is much quicker, easier and more satisfying. At least until the cops show up to spoil the fun. Range, accuracy, damage, ammo and fire rate are all covered, though be warned that you shouldn’t expect perfect accuracy from your upgraded hardware. This is GTA after all. Realism is not baked into its combat engine.
The Long War
Game: XCOM: Enemy Unknown
You’re looking at eight soldier classes, many more missions, invaders as focused on upgrades as your own science team, and a much longer path to victory. Research is slow, not least to make early weapon upgrades more useful, while the aliens are constantly getting more powerful. Their ships are better, their terror missions are more regular, and more of them show up for battle. In exchange, you get to field more Interceptors, the council is easier to appease, and the ETs don’t cheat as much.
Game: Far Cry 3
Ziggy makes Rook Island a more natural place, removing mission requirements for skills, cutting some of the easier ways to earn XP, increasing spawn rates to make the island busier, and throwing away the magic mini-map in favour of a compass. The second island is also unlocked from the start. Smaller changes include randomised ammo from dropped weapons, being able to climb hills that you should realistically be able to, and wingsuit abilities made available earlier to get more out of them.
Minecraft has a Survival mode, but it’s not desperately challenging. Terrafirmacraft takes it seriously, with hunger and thirst that must be dealt with at all times, and key elements added such as the need to construct support beams while mining to prevent cave-ins, and a seasonal cycle that determines whether or not trees will produce fruit. Many more features are to be added, but there’s enough here already to make survival about much more than throwing together a Creeper-proof fort.
Game: Torchlight II
Link: Synergies Mod
This adds a new act to the game, over a hundred monsters, new rare bosses, a new class – the Necromancer – more and tougher monsters and the gear to take them on. There are also endgame raids to add challenge once the world is saved yet again, and more on the way – including two new classes (Paladin and Warlock). It’s the top-ranked Torchlight II mod on Steam Workshop, and easily the most popular. Be aware that it’s still in development, and has a few rough edges.
Game: Civilization V
Link: Steam Workshop
While Brave New World has officially given Civ V a big shake up, for many players Nights remains its most popular add-on. It’s a comprehensive upgrade, adding new buildings, wonders, technologies and units, with a heavy focus on policies and making the AI better. The single biggest change is how it calculates happiness, citizens adding cheer simply by existing, but the slow march of war and other miseries detracting from the good times. Annexed a city? Don’t expect too many ticker-tape parades. Yet keeping happiness up is crucial, as it’s also the core of a strong military. This rebalancing completely changes how you play, while the other additions offer plenty of scope for new tactics and even more carefully designed civilisations.
Ultimate Difficulty Mod
Link: TTLG Forums
This makes Dishonored’s enemies more attentive, faster and able to hear a pin drop from the other side of the map. When you get into a fight, it quickly becomes an all-out street war. The biggest change is to Dishonored’s second most abusable ability: the Lean (Blink of course being #1). Corvo can no longer sit behind scenery, lean out into an enemy’s face and be politely ignored. He’s now much more likely to be spotted – especially in ghost runs, where his advantages are now limited to the Outsider’s gifts rather than the Overseers’ continued lack of a local Specsavers.
Game: Deus Ex
New augmentations! Altered AI! Randomised inventories! Also a few time-savers: instead of separate keys and multitools for instance, a special keyring has both, while upgrades are used automatically if necessary. Difficulty also changes the balance considerably, from the standard game to ‘Realistic’ mode where you only get nine inventory slots, to ‘Unrealistic’, which makes JC Denton the cyborg killing machine he’s meant to be, but at the cost of facing opponents who warrant it. In this mode he gets double-jumping powers, and automatically gobbles health items when he gets badly wounded. Good luck though, I still got nowhere.
For those of you who found the Exclusion Zone of STALKER: Call of Pripyat a bit too warm ‘n cuddly, take heart! Misery Mod 2.0 is here to kick you in the teeth, knock you to the ground, and fill your bleeding mouth with irradiated soil. Misery 2.0 features tons of gameplay adjustments and additions, new visuals and sounds, and a more harrowing and challenging experience for you to enjoy in the brief time before your brutal and lonely death. Get in here, Stalker!
Begin your short, miserable life by choosing one of three classes to inhabit before you are killed. You can pick from the Assaulter, the Recon, and the Sniper class, which give close-range, mid-range, and long-range combat options. Each class has its own little perks and drawbacks, and comes with a different set of starter gear.
Don't forget binoculars! They let you see danger 3 seconds before it eats you instead of 1 second before it eats you.
I started as a sniper, figuring the best way to approach the new even-less-forgiving Zone was by peering at it from a safe distance through a scope. This worked great until the Zone was like, "Uh, we see you over there, and now we're going to run over to you in a big scary furry rush of teeth and radioactive blood!"
At least I heard those dog monsters before they killed me. After restarting, I was peering around again when a bloodsucker, one those invisible nightmares, crept up and slashed me to death before I even knew he was there. In vanilla mode, you can hear the labored breathing of the bloodsuckers. Not so in Misery. Snorks are still snorks, but when they attack you during a midnight thunderstorm, and you can only see them when lightning illuminates the countryside, they're somehow worse than snorks. Anyway, they killed me too.
At least he seems as surprised and frantic as I am.
So, combat with mutants generally lasts about as long as it took you to reach the word “generally” earlier in this sentence. Combat against other stalkers, initially, proved just as brutal, mainly because I kept winding up in firefights before I even knew there were other stalkers in my vicinity. This is because Misery removes the HUD radar, and with it, the little beep that would indicate there was another human nearby in the original game.
At night, this is about as good as the view gets.
This makes sense: there’s nothing particularly realistic about a bunch of illegal scavengers and murderers walking around in the Exclusion Zone with tracking devices that lets everyone else know exactly where they are. Still, since the radar is no longer there, I keep forgetting it's no longer there. The absence of beeps still registers in my brain as an all-clear for other stalkers, and so I kept blundering into the path of bandits and other ne'er-do-wells who would fill me with bullets as I strolled obliviously in front of their crosshairs.
Once in a while, it's actually a nice day to die! And then you die.
So. DEATH. A lot of death. A pack of pseudodogs chased me onto a boulder at dusk, and even after getting a night's rest in my sleeping bag, they were still circling in the morning. I ran for it, but they chased me down. Radiation poisoning while collecting an artifact is nothing new, but it acts much quicker than it used to, and despite flooding my veins with anti-rad meds, I expired a few minutes later. While searching for cover before an Emission, I ran smack into a pack of Burers coming out of a building. One raised his arms into the air, waved them like he just didn't care, and I dropped stone dead on the spot.
Just before you die, your vision blurs, so you get to see horrifying things twice.
But let's say, hypothetically, you've survived an encounter, and you're wounded. Let Misery pour some salt on that for you! Bandages will stop your wounds from bleeding, as in the vanilla version, but they do nothing to actually heal you; plus, your weapon will be auto-holstered while you frantically wrap up your boo-boo. Maybe a bite to eat will help? It’ll fill your belly but do nothing for your wounds, and the game makes you stop for a few moments to listen to yourself eat (and it'll even auto-remove your protective helmet while you chow down, leaving you even more vulnerable).
Medkits heal you, but not instantly: your health will slowly creep back up over several long, tense seconds. In other words, no more ducking behind cover, hammering your bandage hotkey, instantaneously ingesting a handful of diet sausages, then sauntering out at full health. Those days are over, like your fragile little existence.
Emissions kill everything: birds, mutants, and any Stalker who thought this crummy old bridge would provide cover.
Obviously, I haven’t been able to check out the full scope of the mod, as I spend most of my time dying or creeping around at a snail’s pace because I’m so scared of dying. From what I've seen, though, if the goal was to make the Exclusion Zone even more daunting, more horrifying, and more unforgiving, well done! And, for STALKER purists (if there are any), there’s still plenty that hasn't changed. You still get to play Inventory Tetris, the map is still junky (but I would expect a decent map of the Zone would logically be hard to come by), and, as always, you can still find comfort squatting in front of a fire with some fellow weary wanderers.
Anyone got a guitar? I can join in: I play a mean bolt.
Unfortunately, I can’t entirely speak to the improved visuals (as my screenshots no doubt attest) because Misery is designed for PCs quite a bit heartier than mine, but even on my aging computer it looks quite nice, runs fairly smoothly, and I didn't experience a single crash with the latest version of the mod. The sound is quite stellar as well. Mutants are scarier sounding, and being out in a heavy storm with the driving rain and booming thunder is absolutely thrilling.
Take only pictures, leave only a submerged corpse after dying of radiation poisoning within sight of a trading outpost.
Installation: There are only a few steps, just make sure you follow the installation and "Starting the Game" instructions on this page, including launching the game with admin privileges. Moddb is hosting the full file, otherwise you might have to merge a couple files from a mirror (which I had trouble with last week). It’s a massive download, 2.6 gigs, and extracting and installing takes a good ten minutes or so.
Jul 10, 2013
Major STALKER: Call of Pripryat mod Misery has a new trailer that runs through the additions planned for its v2.0 update. It's nine minutes long, which should give you an idea of just how much has been packed into this revisit. Wait, what's that, YouTube description? "Not all features of MISERY 2.0 are mentioned in this trailer." Yikes. In that case, this giant overhaul promises to be one seriously miserable time. In the best possible way.
To précis the giant feature list: Misery 2.0 further overhauls Call of Pripyat with newly enhanced audio and visuals - covering every detail from textures to scope design, and ambient sounds to real-world radio music. More dramatically, it aims to repurpose every location with some form of life - including faction zones, boss lairs and 'light' and 'hardcore' hunting grounds.
Then there are improvements to items, weapons, loot, props, NPCs, armour, UI... As they say, Misery loves company. You can see the full list of changes at the mod's ModDB page. And remember that these are all additions to the even bigger changelist from the original 1.0 release.
For those who didn't make it to the video's end: Misery is due for release on July 31st.
New screenshots of Survarium, the online spiritual successor to Stalker, have surfaced from the game’s alpha development phase. Stalker, the fantastic first-person shooter with a legion of devoted fans, set expectations high for Stalker 2, which was then unexpectedly and unceremoniously cancelled. Since the sequel officially died, Stalker 2’s former developers have set up shop as Vostok Games to pursue an MMOFPS version of the game that never happened.
Survarium will pit players against the mutants and vicious human enemies familiar to fans of post-apocalyptic fiction in a free-to-play multiplayer setting. It’s completely different from their single-player, story-based bonafides, but the developers seem confident that the ideas they began to flesh out in Stalker 2 will be just as engaging when players meet them in Survarium.
The screenshots look and feel like Stalker, which is an accomplishment in itself. Rusted out tanks and broken electrical stations show off the landscape, and I can already tell that I don’t want to get caught in this world alone at night.
We spoke with Survarium's developers earlier this year, and since then development has continuing with growing popularity. The game is currently in alpha testing and will release later this year.
From PlanetSide to Quake to Team Fortress, the current issue of PC Gamer US is locked and loaded for a countdown of the 25 Greatest Shooters of All Time. Plus, we bring you our review of a brand new Eastern European dystopian shooter with mutants—Metro: Last Light—and invite you to Reinstall a classic Eastern European dystopian shooter with mutants—S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl.
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Subscribers should have this issue in hand, unless your mail carrier suffered some unfortunate fate similar to the player character in Fallout: New Vegas, and is now wandering around with amnesia collecting canned food and scrap metal. Alternatively, you can snag the issue on a physical newsstand, or the digital ones listed above. Subscriptions and single issues are available, so in the words of Olmec from Legends of the Hidden Temple: "The choice is yours, and yours alone!"
Double Fine Adventure now has a name: Broken Age. We have new details!
Competitive Minesweeper? Yep. It exists.
Our first glimpses of Battlefield 4
Five hours hands-on with Company of Heroes 2's campaign
Reviews of six gaming headsets
Reviews for Defiance, Monaco, and Resident Evil 6
A mod to make Legend of Grimrock even grimmer
Your letters, the PC Gamer Rig, and everything else you expect to see
May 15, 2013
After three years of labor, French development team Elseware Experience is finally ready to release DNIEPR, a custom Left 4 Dead campaign placed in the bleak Soviet-era ghost town of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.
I can't believe I didn't realize before now how perfect the abandoned Ukrainian city of Pripyat (also the subject of STALKER: Call of Pripyat) would be for zombie hordes and rampaging Tanks. Now that I’ve seen it in action, it’s chilling how much photos of Pripyat already look like set dressing for The Walking Dead.
This project is the kind of thing that makes you love gaming on PC. Three and a half years after Left 4 Dead 2 released, here we are with another completely new campaign with four new maps, an original story, an original soundtrack and custom models. If you'd like to show your support for the "hundreds and hundreds" of hours Elseware took to create DNIEPR, you can send them a donation at the bottom of this page.
DNIEPR will be available for download on May 20. If you haven’t played L4D2 in a while, this is a perfect excuse to reinstall and jump back in. If you need even more reasons, we've covered a plenty of great content mods for Left 4 Dead before.
Jan 24, 2013
Farewell then, THQ. Yesterday saw the publisher’s final assets sold off to a variety of buyers, and while many good people (and franchises) managed to find a new home, our thoughts and well-wishes are with those that didn’t. As we’re in a reflective mood, we thought it only appropriate to commemorate the loss of this fine company with a look back at ten of the best games it’s delighted us with over the years.
Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War (September 2004)
Tempting though it is to bang on about Relic Entertainment’s wonderful sci-fi RTS Homeworld, it wasn’t until 2004 that THQ took the Vancouver-based studio under its wing. Dawn of War represented the first fruits of that union, and it remains one of the most successful digital adaptations of the tabletop favourite, capturing the appeal of the series in a smart, refined package.
Full Spectrum Warrior (October 2004)
The most satisfying triumphs come from conquering the greatest adversity. Pandemic’s squad-based military shooter was an incredibly demanding game in its day, its punishing authenticity a result of its origins as a US Army-affiliated training simulation. Persistently tense and claustrophobic, it may not have been the dictionary definition of ‘fun’, but it was a sweaty-palmed experience we’ll never forget.
Titan Quest (June 2006)
Time for a lesson in ancient history - well, 2006 does seem a fair while ago these days. THQ managed to temporarily sate appetites for a new Diablo by releasing this gloriously entertaining action-RPG that proves you don’t need an awful lot more than an enormous world and hordes of colossal monsters to biff for a good time. Titan Quest may not have been anything particularly new, but there’s an art to making hacking and slashing as fun as this.
Company of Heroes (September 2006)
Just as the world and his dog was heartily sick of WWII settings, Relic’s blistering RTS managed to make us all care again. ‘Visceral’ may be horribly overused in games criticism, but rarely has the word been applied more accurately than to CoH’s shudderingly intense combat. Tough, gritty and oddly beautiful, it elevated its creator among the giants of the strategy genre.
Supreme Commander (February 2007)
Chris Taylor and Gas Powered Games might be in the headlines for very different reasons at the moment, but back in 2007 this talented studio was making waves with a truly brilliant RTS. Supreme Commander was grand-scale warfare at its most exhaustive and exhausting – with some of the best AI in the business putting up a heck of a fight, every hard-earned victory was worthy of a triumphant air-punch.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R (March 2007)
Frightening, surprising, intense and ambitious? Or scrappy, buggy, overwhelming and confusing? S.T.A.L.K.E.R was all of the above and more, a sandbox-survival horror-RPG-FPS-adventure that cast you as a scavenger around the ruins of Chernobyl. Everyone’s experience was different: ours involved a lot of nervy creeping around in the dark, punctuated by terrified shrieks whenever a mutant spotted us. And we loved (almost) every minute of it.
Red Faction: Guerrilla (September 2009)
God bless Geo-Mod 2.0. It’s rare we’re minded to salute a physics engine, but the unparalleled destruction it enabled is what made Volition’s game such a giddy joy to play. After all, why just shoot an enemy when you can topple a multi-storey building onto him? Expertly paced, with a campaign that escalated into hysterical carnage, Guerrilla may have been unrefined at times but boy was it fun.
Metro 2033 (March 2010)
A rare thing: a great shooter with shooting that isn’t that great. Metro’s gunplay is lacking in feedback, but it’s hard to care too much in a world this rich and enveloping. Every inch of 4A Games’ subterranean nightmare is permeated with an atmosphere so thick you could slice it. This is the FPS as survival horror, and as appropriately brutal and hard-edged as that suggests.
Darksiders (September 2010)
A tilt of the hat to its sequel, too, but we’ve got rather a soft spot for Vigil’s original, even if ‘original’ is hardly a word you’d use to describe Darksiders’ unholy blend of Zelda and God of War. If you’re going to steal, though, then be sure to pinch from the best, and this post-apocalyptic tale did just that, marrying puzzly exploration with thrillingly weighty scraps, topped off nicely by some fine Joe Mad artwork.
Saints Row: The Third (November 2011)
What started out as a poor man’s GTA began to find its own identity in the follow-up, but it wasn’t until the third game that Saints Row realised its true potential. It was a monument to excess, a crude, coarse, tawdry descent into debauchery that was almost operatic in its tastelessness. Some remained immune to its charms (if that’s the right word) but there was genuine sophistication behind the silliness. Dumb, then, but artfully so.
This is no place for a horse.