PC Gamer
black_friday


Good news, everyone! Steam, Amazon, Blizzard, and more have kicked off Consumer Season by booby trapping the web with potent spending bait such as 33% off XCOM: Enemy Unknown, 50% off The Walking Dead, and 66% off StarCraft II. We spent the morning stumbling through the minefield to compile a list of some of the best seasonal discounts, but stay vigilant: more surprise server-busters are bound to go live as we approach the spendiest weekend of the year.



Steam: Like the Summer Sale, the Steam Autumn Sale rotates deals daily, with even more fleeting Flash Sales lasting only 10 to 15 hours, so serious shoppers should check in at least twice a day. As a bonus, you get to follow Steam's adorable doodle story: currently, it seems a turkey is being forced to enter a Felix Baumgartner-inspired high diving competition.

But don't just look at the front page: Steam isn't promoting most of its deals, so scan the full list now and then. Here are some of the better discounts at the time of writing:


33% off XCOM: Enemy Unknown - $33.49 / £20.09
50% off The Walking Dead - $12.49 / £10.49
25% off Borderlands 2 - $44.99 / £22.49
75% off ARMA II: Combined Operations - $17.99 / £14.99
25% off Dishonored - $44.99 / £22.49
50% off Counter-Strike: Global Offensive - $11.24 / £8.99
33% off The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - $40.19 / £23.44
75% off Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II - $2.49 / £1.74
75% off Limbo - $2.49 / £1.74
25% off Torchlight II - $14.99 / £11.24
75% off Cave Story+ - $2.49 / £1.74
More Steam Deals





Amazon: (Some deals are region-specific) Amazon hasn't been quite as liberal as Steam with the big games, but it has conjured a storm of Lightning Deals on desktop PCs, components, and peripherals. The scattershot selection below should give you an idea of what to expect.

HARDWARE:

17% off iBuyPower AM699 Desktop - $579.99
18% off CyberpowerPC GUA890 Desktop - $499.99
39% off Dell S2330MX 23" Ultra-Slim VGA Monitor - $139.99
40% off Samsung Series S24B30BL 23.6-Inch Screen LCD Monitor - $119.99
33% off Corsair Vengeance C70 Mid Tower Case - $97.45
31% off Logitech Optical Gaming Mouse G400 - $34.49
19% off Logitech G600 MMO Gaming Mouse - $64.62

GAMES:

50% off The Walking Dead - $12.49 (Steam code)
80% off Dungeon Defenders - $2.99
10% off Hitman: Absolution - $44.99
75% off all Assassin's Creed games (excluding Assassin's Creed III)
More Amazon Deals




Blizzard: Blizzard has joined the party with Diablo III for $40 / £33 and StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty for $20 / £17.



GOG: GOG's current sale nets you five games from a list of 20 for a mere $10 (just over £6). The list is loaded with some great indie adventure and puzzle games, so if you don't already own them, now's a good time to prepare for that "it's cold outside, so I'm going to drink tea (whiskey optional) and not leave my screen for the next forever hours" feeling.



Green Man Gaming: While Green Man doesn't celebrate consumerism with a morbid-sounding Friday, it is offering its usual voucher code. Enter GMG20-1FYLZ-EDG8R when purchasing a PC download for 20% off any game, except those already on sale. At the time of writing, GMG's daily deal (North America only) is Mass Effect 3: N7 Digital Deluxe for $15.99.



Newegg: (US and Puerto Rico only) Newegg has taken this whole "Black Friday" thing awfully far. Not only has it preempted Black Friday with "Black November," it's re-preempting it with a Pre-Black Friday Frenzy sale. How about a 500 GB Western Digital WD Blue hard drive for $50? A Samsung B350 Series LED monitor for $180? Keep in mind that if you visit Newegg from now until December 1st, you should not expect to then purchase other things, like food.

If you find any great deals as the weekend progresses, we'd love it if you shared them in the comments. And if all these sales combined with a poorly-timed lack of funds has you feeling down, remember that buying stuff is only briefly thrilling, while instead you could be continuously thrilled by PlanetSide 2, MechWarrior Online, Tribes: Ascend, or many of the other new free-to-play games we're thankful for this year.
PC Gamer
Game Music Bundle 4


Whether you're partial to the melancholy strains of Dear Esther, the thoughtful plinky plonky accompaniment to Indie Game: The Movie or the bluesy rawk of Shoot Many Robots, there's probably something in the latest Game Music Bundle to tickle your ears. You'll get the soundtracks mentioned above along with Spelunky and Retro City Rampage for any donation over a dollar.

If you pledge more than ten dollars you'll receive tier two of the bundle, which includes the "exclusive Joypad EP, featuring a never before heard preview from Zelda: Twilight Symphony." The excellent Hotline Miami EP, the Kanto Symphony EP, Peter Hollens and Lindsey Stirling's rendition of the Skyrim main theme, Adventures in Pixels by Ben Landis, Jottobots and Pop Methodology Experiment One OST.

That's a lot of notes for $10. You can listen to excerpts of all the tracks on offer and buy the bundle from the Game Music Bundle site now. The bundle will be available for another five and a half days.
PC Gamer
ibj0uvd5hQYj5Y


When Skyrim released we said, "Yeah, it looks pretty, but just wait until the modders get to it." A Reddit post this morning reminded us to check and, yep, they got to it. A blogger going by Unreal has been posting Dead End Thrills-like screenshots from a Skyrim world augmented by up to 100 mods at a time, and oh man, Bob Ross would have approved, rest his soul.

Unreal has "around 800" mods installed, but only uses varying combinations of 100 of them to produce these screenshots. If you want to achieve similar results, Unreal's FAQ points landscape lovers to the Skyrim Total Enhancement Project and lists a sampling of the "more than 300 mods" tested. That beautifully lush grass is "a WIP mod so there's no download link," but others work in its place.

Keep in mind that when that grass fills the screen Unreal reports framerates as low as 5 fps, so super-modded Skyrim isn't always playable. But think of it as a preview of the near-future: new hardware and engines should be able to render equally detailed worlds at 60 fps, at least if those worlds are created by PC-focused developers. And even without the grass, the screenshots are beautiful, and Unreal boasts 40-60 fps with an overclocked Core i5-2500k and GeForce GTX 670.

We've posted a few more screens below, but see all the Skyrim magic at Unreal's blog, A State of Trance, and check out our 25 favorite Skyrim mods for another resource.





PC Gamer
The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim Dragonborn 7


If, like me, you're the kind of person that likes to cross-reference every bit of minutia in promotional materials for upcoming installments of your favorite game franchises, this Skyrim: Dragonborn trailer analysis might be relevant to your interests. YouTuber samyoulonline drops some Tamrielic science, presenting some pretty believable theories about what locations, antagonists, and items might be involved in the next installment of Bethesda's Nordic fantasy epic.

All signs seem to point to us facing off against the Daedric prince Hermaeus Mora, and traveling to his realm of oblivion. Also probable are the return of some classic Morrowind enemies like ash zombies and ascended sleepers. Personally, I'm still holding out hope that we'll be able to fly our dragons over the entire volcanic ruin of the Morrowind province. It's not like they have to populate a wasteland with quests and towns, right?

Let us know about your theories for the Dragonborn DLC in the comments.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (John Walker)

Come along, PC users, to my special cave.

Bethesda still haven’t announced the big Skyrim expansion, Dragonborn, for PC. 360 owners are getting it on the 7th December, but for reasons that absolutely elude us, the PC is left unmentioned. What’s more frustrating is that this is normal for Bethesda. The chances are it will come to PC, and therefore your seeing the screenshots below will be a worthwhile whetting of your appetite. But they so far haven’t acknowledged even the possibility that the machine on which the Elder Scrolls games have thrived for decades will be graced by the extra content. Which is rather lame.

(more…)

PC Gamer
Skyrim Diary 14 - Dragon


This is the diary of me attempting to play Skyrim using only Illusion magic: I'm not allowed any weapons, armour, or magical items, and I can't attack anyone directly. The first entry is here, or you can see all entries to date here.

A hail of arrows shoots past me, and I scramble up some rubble to get away from the Giant. I look back to see if he's following, just in time to see him crumple a guard like a tin can. Oh Lord. Sorry guard!

The Giant stomps towards me. I still don't have any stamina to sprint with, and I haven't really got anywhere else to run to, so I just run to the other side of the tower. More arrows pelt him as he trudges round after me, into full view of the rest of the guards. At first this seems like a good thing, but then he stomps off into their ranks and starts crushing them one by one.



I do the only thing that seems to irritate him more than being physically injured: try to Calm him down. He turns and runs for me. Let's go around the tower again!

I scamper on a little, then turn back to see if he's following. He's not. He's found Irileth, the Jarl's housecarl, and is beating her to a pulp. She can't actually die because she's critical to the plot, so he's just incapacitating her over and over again, beating her back into the same hole every time she gets up.



I can't help feeling almost partly responsible for this. I anti-Calm him again, and he comes for me.

By my third lap around the tower, the giant's killed all but two of the guards, and the housecarl is on her knees again. The Giant raises his club above her, two more arrows thunk into him, and he goes limp. He crashes to the ground, finally dead.

I look sheepishly at the two surviving guards, then loot the corpse.

The dragon's body crashed down a long way from the watchtower, and as I'm about to head over to it, the guard who killed the giant stops me.

"Hey, I know you." Oh God. Not now. I must have a bounty on my head in this district, though I can't remember why. I suggest he's made a mistake.
"No, there's no mistake, you're a wanted woman, and it's time you paid for your crimes."
I blew all my money on Sarah the Implausible Horse, and all my most valuable possessions - my health potions - are stolen property. Getting arrested right now would be really, really problematic and really, really embarrassing.



But strangely, I have one dialogue option I've never seen before. I try it.
"I don't have time for this. Do you?"
The guard reflects. "You know what? You're not worth it. You can be some other guard's problem."

Phew.

I'm almost at the dragon-corpse when I stop again. I see something bright in the bushes. It's a ghost... of a wolf. And there's a guy who looks like John Malkovich pushing his face through a mop running along behind him. Belrand?! Holy shit, man! Exactly how tough are you? And when did you land?

We trot up to the dragon corpse together, and it melts in front of our eyes. I'm shovelling its gold and valuable bones into my pockets when its soul flows through me, revealing to the city and the world that I am the Dragonborn, Skyrim's only hope of salvation.



We're all in quite a lot of trouble.
PC Gamer
Skyrim Dragonborn top


In an effort to recapture the limelight a soldier from Fallout 3 has invaded the upcoming Dragonborn expansion for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Desperate to relive the glory days of 2008, when Fallout 3 was quite popular, the Brotherhood of Steel member tunnelled his way into Tamriel. His plan to set up a shop in Whiterun before Skyrim's release where thwarted by a poor sense of direction and an inability to see anything through his helmet's ridiculously tiny eye slit. "It was the worst thing that's ever happened apart from the thing with the giant robot," he said. "And no, I don't want to talk about it."

The soldier, who wishes to keep his identity a secret, broke down quickly under questioning, revealing that all he wanted was to have an adventurer stray within earshot so he could loudly announce his life story. "Am I doing it right?" he asked forlornly, before folding his arms and resuming a well-practiced idle pose.

Authorities vowed publicly to have the soldeir removed in due course, but added that they couldn't right away, as they were too busy admiring the weird creatures and "mad awesome sky-lizards" present in the latest batch of Dragonborn screenshots.





















PC Gamer
Skyrim Diary 13 - Kill the Dragon


This is the diary of me attempting to play Skyrim using only Illusion magic: I'm not allowed any weapons, armour, or magical items, and I can't attack anyone directly. The first entry is here, or you can see all entries to date here.

I park Sarah on a hill at a safe distance, and head on to the watchtower. I stop before I get there, and scan the horizon. I've just had an idea. I find what I'm looking for, then carry on to the tower.

The guards are just arriving. Belrand's at my side. I wait until I see the dragon itself - circling high in the clouds - then put my plan into action. I run away.

I sprint across the scruffy brushland until I arrive at a huge bonfire a little way outside the city. I knew what I'd find there when I saw its glow on the horizon a minute ago - a few woolly mammoths and two Giants, devoted to protecting them.

I run up to a mammoth and start jumping around annoyingly. The nearest Giant roars, and waves his club angrily at me - but doesn't attack. Not good enough. I keep being annoying, dancing dangerously close to the giant himself, but no luck.

Then Belrand catches up, and runs straight at the Giant. Oh hell. I hadn't accounted for this. I do the only thing I can think to do, and cast Calm on the Giant. The spell does nothing, but feeling it hit sends the Giant into a rage - he turns away from Belrand and charges at me.



Belrand swings his two-handed frost axe at the Giant's leg, but he keeps coming for me. I'm just about to turn and run when the second Giant catches up to Belrand, raises his club, and brings it slamming down on the ground.

Belrand is crushed - and then, in a quirk of Skyrim's physics, sent rocketing into the sky. He flies higher than the dragon, until he's just a glowing speck in the sky, then he vanishes altogether. I am agog. I run.



When I finally risk taking a split second to glance back, the Giant is still storming after me, but the second hasn't given chase. As far as I can see, Belrand's body still hasn't hit the ground.

I'm running for the watch tower, in the hope that I can still execute my plan: get a Giant close enough to the dragon that he gets caught in the crossfire, and watch the titans clash. This is scuppered somewhat by a sight that would otherwise be great news: the dragon comes crashing down out of the sky. It's dead. It's taken me so long to bait the Giant over here that the guards have killed it without me.

I should really lead this angry Giant away from them now, but I don't have a choice: I'm out of sprint juice and he's gaining on me fast. I keep heading for the watchtower.

The guards are shouting and rejoicing about their hard-won victory when I get there, at which point they all look at me and raise their bows.

Hey guys! I, um, brought a Giant?

Next Thursday: how that goes
PC Gamer
The Elder Scrolls Online trailer


Bethesda's latest trailer for The Elder Scrolls Online may have just changed my mind about the game: I was a little lukewarm on the idea before - now I am rather Dovah-keen. The video shows off the first proper gameplay footage (rather than the environmental fly-by videos we've seen previously) and talks us through the MMO's features. You can read our earlier in-depth Elder Scrolls impressions here, or hit the jump and see the trailer for yourself.

Here are the headlines: there aren't any shards - everything takes place on one single server, or "megaserver" as Bethesda have dubbed it. You can play as nine different races and there's oodles of customisation and specialisation on top. Perks sound particularly interesting - and extremely broad, too - determining everything from vampiric powers and pets to how you replenish your mana on the battlefield.

Combat, meanwhile, is said to be in line with traditional Elder Scrolls action, with attacks and blocks tied to mouse-clicks rather than hotkeys. That said, the video doesn't convey the sense of brutal kinetic connection you get from a Skyrim ruckus; it looks very much like MMO hotkey combat, even if it isn't.

The entire thing takes place 1000 years before the events depicted in Skyrim, and all of Tamriel is at your disposal. The Imperial homeland of Cyrodiil has an extra special role, however: it's the setting of the game's PvP component. A time of uncertain succession, players of any level can take to the field in massive battles, besieging forts, smashing them with ballistas, and eventually claiming the emperor's crown for their own side.

Sounds like there's plenty to do, anyway - certainly enough to keep the Dragonborn from getting dragonbored.

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

The next set of DLC for Skyrim has its first adver-trailer, although no PC date is confirmed. In fact, only the 360 date is listed and it’s a not-too-distant December 4th. Skyrim will soon incorporate the island of Solstheim, which doesn’t look like it’s completely> covered in snow. There are some giant mushrooms and a house that looks like it might be carved out of a giant beetle carapace. It’s a tad Morrowindy. Story-wise, it’s all about the Dragonbeast, who is the first of the Dragonborn and an all round nasty piece of work. It also looks like dragons will be available as giant air-steeds. You’ll never go back to Easyjet again.

(more…)

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