On the cusp of an open multiplayer beta for Crytek's maximally lustrous Crysis 3, Nvidia released an early version of its GeForce 313.95 drivers today. The GPU giant claims the drivers boost SLI performance for Crysis 3 by up to 35 percent in addition to other "sizeable SLI and single-GPU performance gains" in games such as Assassin's Creed III and Far Cry 3.
Nvidia says users should expect a 27 percent gain in graphics performance while playing Assassin's Creed III, 19 percent in Civilization V, and 14 percent for both Call of Duty: Black Ops II and DiRT 3. Just Cause 2 improves by 11 percent, and Deus Ex: Human Revolution, F1 2012, and Far Cry 3 all improve by 10 percent.
Demonstrating its mastery over orderly green bars, Nvidia also supplied benchmark charts for these games using four of its most recent cards: the GTX 650, 660 Ti, 680, and 690. With the 313.95 drivers, the company declares GTX 690 users can max out all settings in Crysis 3 and still achieve 60 FPS.
Grab the new drivers and check out the charts at Nvidia's website. Also try out the GeForce Experience—which we've talked about at length—to automatically optimize and configure your games based on your PC's hardware.
Civilization V might be getting a second expansion at some point in the future. According to the Steam Apps Database - a website that trawls Steam's huge library - an entry exists for an expansion called "One World". This was spotted by a user of the 2K forums, who was presumably inspired by the addition of spies in Civ 5's last expansion, Gods & Kings.
While potentially exciting news for Civ fans, it's worth remembering that the Steam database isn't an exact science, and a content listing isn't a guarantee of release. Still, more Civ 5 content is hardly outside the realm of possibility. While Gods & Kings had some great additions, it wasn't an all-changing shift in how the game played out.
One World doesn't give many hints as to the possible direction of an expansion. Civ fans are speculating that it may refer to colonies, corporations, or enhanced economy and diplomacy options. Let's be honest though, at this point they're just throwing their wishlist at the wall and hoping that something sticks.
2K have responded to GameSpy's enquiries with the stock "we do not comment on rumors or speculation" line.
Lambent Stew's free, web-based Steam Time Analysis tool laid bare my backlog of shame by breaking down time spent (or not spent) on each of my library's games like some sort of cold, ruthless PowerPoint presentation. The breadth of information provided is quite impressive. Over email, Stew told us the new build includes a few new features that further visualize users' habits.
You're now be able to compare your profile with those on your friends list for games owned, how many were played, and total hours played. (Our own Executive Editor Evan Lahti only played around 16 percent of his over 1300-game stable, the lazy bum.)
Similar to another homebrewed utility, a new worth calculator also provides combined figures for minimum, maximum, and current game prices in your library. Locating your own profile should be easier with improved search: just type in your Steam profile ID, and the tool should easily zero in on your data.
Check out the tool for yourself on Lambent Stew's website. How do you rank against your friends? What's your most-played game?
Combating Thanksgiving food comas with the awe-inspiring power of the gaming binge, over 6 million gamers logged into Valve's digi-hub over the weekend after enduring the motions of spending "time" with "family." Undoubtedly spurred on by the Autumn Sale and its many wallet puns, the surge also rode the waves of numerous major releases such as PlanetSide 2, Assassin's Creed 3, and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2.
The ballooned player count peaked around 11:00 a.m. PST Sunday with 6,045,912 users logged on, Kotaku noticed. Notice that's concurrent logins, not active game sessions—while games define the vanguard of Steam's excellence, the chart gathers numbers from simply having the program launched and running. That's where the always-handy Steam Graph service steps in with more numbers for your numbers.
Plugging in a few top releases into Steam Graph for the Thanksgiving weekend shows a fair spread across PC gaming's most popular genres. Dota 2's un-beta boasted a little over 170,000 simultaneous players on late Saturday, while soccer-sim Football Manager 2013's surprising strength topped at around 60,000. On Sunday night Black Ops 2 spiked at 51,000 soldiers, and PlanetSide 2's fight for Auraxia swelled to 30,000 Steam conscripts last night. Lastly, as many as 15,000 stone-faced killers were concurrently shoving sharp metal objects into various people in Assassin's Creed 3.
Conclusion? I'm really tired of turkey sandwiches, but Steam's powerful presence on the PC only increases with each passing year.
Civilization V's 'Fall' patch has been a long time coming, but it's crept onto Steam just in time to see the country sacked by the barbarian invader known as 'Jack Frost'. As updates go, it's less of a patch and more of a plaster cast, attempting to perfect the balance of the game with a frankly enormous number of bug fixes, balance tweaks and general spit-and-polish. You'll find the full list here, but we've plucked out a few gems after the break.
Bug fixes include the news that "resurrecting a player will have both sides forget any denouncing that happened before resurrected", while "if you intentionally starve your city by reassigning all your citizens to be unemployed, you won't end up with more citizens than you have population." Which makes sense. Balance-wise, you'll now get 25HP for pillaging tiles, and you'll receive less "espionage notification spam". Additionally, Ultrabook users have been granted touch/gesture support, with a new gesture menu that lets you control the game by tapping and dragging on the screen. Again, that's just the tip of the iceberg - ginormo list of changes available here.
Take Two have dropped word that a 100-strong team of developers in South Korea are building a dedicated online version of Civilization. It's being built for release in Asia, but if it does super-well there's always a chance it'll travel. The XLGames team is headed up by ex-Lineage designer, Jake Song. "A genius? That would be nice to hear, but I'd rather be called a craftsman," he says on XL's comically po-faced front page.
XLGames' last project was a CryEngine 2 powered MMO called ArcheAge. The size of the current team and the studio's knack for turning out pretty environments suggests that Civ Online will likely be a presentable, polished experience (the header image is of Civ 5, not Online incidentally), but will they be able to retain the depth of the Civilization series without becoming a Lineage-esque grindhouse? The Facebook game, Civilization World, was the last attempt to take Civilization online, and ended up being a bit of a disappointment to Civ fans.
But what does Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick think? “Making our intellectual property available to delight consumers wherever they are is an important component of our long-term growth strategy,” he says. “Our online and mobile social projects in Asia are enabling Take-Two to further broaden its global footprint and-" okay that's enough of that. More importantly, what do YOU think of the idea of Civilization Online?
For the past 16 weeks, I've been chronicling the rise and fall of tribes, kingdoms, and great heroes in historical strategy games. It all started in Civilization V with The Celtic Chronicle, and has made its way to the currently running Crusader Kings Chronicle. The feature is taking a week off, so between now and next Wednesday is the perfect time to go back and get caught up, or just reminisce about all of the epic moments of ages past. You'll find links to every entry ever, with clip show-esque highlights, below.
Civilization V: The Celtic Chronicle I attempt to lead the new Celtic civilization in Civilization V: Gods and Kings to world dominance against all odds.
In Part 1, the Celtic tribes go to war with the French, besiege Paris, and found the greatest religion ever. Highlights include that awkward moment when everyone shows up to claim the same ruin and that time we marched a whole crapton of Picts out of the forest and the French were like, "Whaaaaaaa?"
In Part 2, we become a republic and begin spreading PC Elitism to the ancient world. Highlights include that time we thrashed the English in a major historical reversal, and these badasses. Highlights do not include this horrible political chart I made at the last second in about two-and-a-half minutes.
In Part 3, the Middle Ages go... slightly pear-shaped. Highlights include that time city guards completely cut off from reinforcements took out the entire German army, and that one battle that actually made me stand up from my computer and pump my fists in the air like a guy in a joint pain medication commercial.
Civilization V: The Swedish Saga Taking what I learned about Gods and Kings from the Celtic Chronicle, I make a much longer go of things as the Swedes.
In Part 1, things are off to a great start. Highlights include Game of Thrones references and more Game of Thrones references.
In Part 2, we gallop right through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Highlights include that time we founded a religion based on awesomeness and even more Game of Thrones references.
In Part 3, some actually interesting battles finally happen. Highlights include that time we had guns and Denmark didn't and that time Denmark had guns finally, but we already had better guns.
In Part 4, Sweden and Denmark are united under the new, socialist government of the Norse Democratic Union. Highlights include that time Denmark had guns that were as good as our guns, but we won anyway and that moment when everyone finally realized how dangerous Greece was.
In Part 5, WORLD WAR! Highlights include PEW PEW PEW! and KABOOM!
In Part 6, it's a race to the finish line, where the finish line is outer space. Highlights include SCIENCE! and one last Game of Thrones reference.
The Crusader Kings Chronicle After two epic games, I put down Civ V for Paradox's Crusader Kings II, where my quest is still ongoing to raise my noble house to glory in 11th Century Europe. Here's your chance to get caught up so you can jump in with next week's fresh entry!
In the Prologue, I introduce the cast and explain how the game works. Yes, that requires a whole entry. Highlights include me misreading "Bishop of Killaloe" as "Bishop of Killahoe," and making a poor holy man seem way more gangsta than he actually is.
In Part 1, I unite the Duchy of Munster and start down the path to becoming High King of Ireland. Highlights include that time we won our first war and the moment when any semblance of following actual history flew out the window.
In Part 2, I take a head wound in battle and take over playing as my son. Highlights include that time I conquered more territory and that time I charged after a bunch of retreating barbarians even though they outnumbered me five to one.
In Part 3, there are a lot of rebellions. Highlights include that time I crushed all of those rebellions.
In Part 4, some serious epicness ensues. Highlights include that time I became a Crusader and that time I became a... well, I won't spoil it.
So there's your Saturday morning clip show for the week. More Crusader Kings goodness will arrive next Wednesday, so check back and witness glory!
Valve did a sneaky, small-but-significant thing recently: it expanded its "Top Sellers" list on Steam to include one hundred games. The sales leaderboard doesn't tell us exactly how many copies a game sold, but it gives us a vague idea of how well certain games are doing on Steam in a given moment.
It's an inherently misleading metric—take that as a disclaimer. Still, as we sit in the shadow of some of 2012's biggest releases, I'd like to take a crack at gleaning what we can from this moment in time.
2K's having a great end of the year. The $50 pre-sale of XCOM is outselling everything but Borderlands 2 on Steam. We might be able to chalk that up to fairly generous pre-purchase incentives (which could include a free copy of Civ 5 if enough people pre-buy it). It might be mild evidence that demos still work, too. Borderlands 2's high concurrent user count over the past few days (reaching 123,758 last weekend) is also evidence that 2K will win the weeks connecting September and October on Steam.
Digital pre-orders are a thing. XCOM isn't the only thing-you-can-buy-but-can't-play-yet doing well. Joining the unreleased are Dishonored at #7, War of the Roses at #12, Football Manager 2013 at #17, Company of Heroes 2 at #29, and Hitman Absolution at #51. Even though there's no chance of a game going out of stock, Steam users don't seem to mind putting money down in advance, especially if they're rewarded with bonus content or a small discount for doing so.
Where are the MMOs? Oh, right. Zero MMOs appear in today's top 100. I might consider that unsurprising—we wouldn't expect too many people to be picking up competitors while Guild Wars 2 and Pandaria are drawing the attention, and neither are available on Steam. Still, it's a little surprising not to see RIFT ($10) or EVE Online: Inferno ($20) popping up anywhere.
Call of Duty remains a PC fixture. The sense that Call of Duty remains a fixture for PC gamers is supported by SteamGraph data. Some form of Call of Duty make up 10 whole entries of the Steam's top 100. Many of those are map packs, but the performance of Call of Duty: Black Ops - Mac Edition (#41) is interesting to me. It released yesterday, September 27, and it's outperforming stuff like Civ V: GOTY and Natural Selection 2. Modern Warfare 3 is 50% off until October 1, and it's sitting comfortably at #5.
DayZ continues to have a long tail. I don't think Arma 2: Combined Operations (what you need to play DayZ) has left the top ten of Steam's Top Sellers since it caught on in May and June. It seems to be outperforming other games that released in May and June like Sins: Rebellion (#56), Max Payne 3 (#76), Civ 5: Gods & Kings (#20), and Spec Ops: The Line (unlisted).
Below: the data, captured at 6:05 PM PDT. Ctrl + Fing encouraged.
Top Ten Borderlands 2 XCOM: Enemy Unknown Total War Master Collection Torchlight II Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Carrier Command: Gaea Mission Dishonored Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Arma 2: Combined Operations Empire: Total War
#11-25 Castle Crashers War of the Roses Borderlands 2 Season Pass FTL: Faster Than Light Cortex Command The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Football Manager 2013 The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Dawnguard Garry's Mod Sid Meier's Civilization V - Gods 'n Kings Dark Souls: Prepare To Die Edition The Binding of Isaac Half Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax Ultimate Boy Left 4 Dead 2 Hell Year! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit
#26-50 F1 2012 Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour Rome: Total War - Gold Company of Heroes 2 Total War Shogun 2 - Fall of the Samurai Sid Meier's Civilization V Counter-Strike: Source Borderlands: Game of the Year Worms Revolution Total War Mega Pack Terraria The Walking Dead Rocksmith Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Collection 3: Chaos Pack Call of Duty: Black Ops - Mac Edition Binding of Isaac: Wrath of the Lamb Portal 2 McPixel Sid Meier's Civilization V: Game of the Year Total War: SHOGUN 2 The Sims 3 Counter-Strike Complete Hearts of Iron 3 Collection The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition
#51-100 Hitman: Absolution Borderlands Train Simulator 2013 The Testament of Sherlock Holmes Medieval II Gold Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion Orcs Must Die! 2 - Family Ties Booster Pack Call of Duty: Black Ops II The Amazing Spider-Man Orcs Must Die! 2 Saints Row: The Third Dead Island: GOTY Natural Selection 2 Orcs Must Die! 2 - Complete Pack Half-Life 2 Amnesia: The Dark Descent Rome: Total War - Complete The Orange Box Borderlands 2 + Official Brady Guide Batman: Arkham City GOTY Arma 2: Operation Arrowhead Grand Theft Auto IV Endless Space Killing Floor Call of Duty: World at War Max Payne 3 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 SPORE I Am Alive Fallout 3: GOTY Fallen Enchantress Valve Complete Pack Fallout: New Vegas Ultimate Edition Mount & Blade: Warband New Star Soccer 5 Portal Bundle Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Collection 2 Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 Expansion Counter-Strike Call of Duty: Modern Warfare® 3 Collection 1 Arma 2 Might & Magic Heroes VI - Danse Macabre Adventure Pack Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 Call of Duty: Black Ops Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD STAR WARS: Knights of the Old Republic II Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Planets Under Attack Transformers: Fall of Cybertron Age of Empires III: Complete Collection
Reiterating: We don't know what formula or data drives Steam's Top Sellers rankings. It's probably safest to consider them a representation of what games are selling well in one moment of time on Steam.
Today, 2K Games revealed XCOM: Enemy Unknown's system specs and a peculiarly designed pre-order deal on Steam. All of the pre-order rewards, which include a free copy of Civilization V, are not guaranteed: in a post yesterday, 2K said three tiers of incentives unlock as more pre-orders roll in, with purchasers receiving the accrued spoils on XCOM's October 9 release.
The first tier, the Elite Soldier pack, gussies up your squad with "several aesthetic upgrades to armor suits" using "a variety of colors and tints." You'll also nab a soldier sporting the classic flattop hairdo from the original XCOM.
Tier 2 inflates your overflowing Team Fortress 2 item backpack with a flattop hair-helmet (sans appropriate theme music, sadly), an "Area 451" Sectoid head-over, and a giant Vigilant pin.
The last tier keeps it simple: a free copy of Civilization V, which is giftable for those who already own it. As I write, the progress bar is at around 80 percent into the first tier.
2K has also revealed XCOM's system specs. In addition to packing in more tasty tactical treats for the PC version, XCOM's development team gratified the PC's "superior hardware" with increased detail depth and graphics power, but the below system requirements show support for a wide range of setups:
Minimum Requirements OS: Windows Vista Software: Steam Client Processor: 2 GHz Dual Core Memory: 2 GB RAM Hard Drive: 20 GB free Video Memory: 256 MB Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce 8600 GT/ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT or greater Sound Card: DirectX Compatible
Recommended Requirements OS: Windows 7 Processor: 2 GHz Dual Core (Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4 GHz or Athlon X2 2.7 GHz) Memory: 4 GB RAM Hard Drive: 20 GB free Video Memory: 512+ MB Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce 9000 series/ATI Radeon HD 3000 series or greater Sound Card: DirectX Compatible
Thing I love about PC gaming #143: buying old games and buying a new games feels the same. Games get cheaper, but they don't tumble into bargain bins. They get re-promoted. Communities of fans stick around for years. When Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II was added to Steam this week, we celebrated. Today, it's in the top sellers list. The PC is where games go to thrive, on and on.
Oh, and we also spend less on them, new or old. This week in game deals: Civilization V, Grand Theft Auto IV, Torchlight, The Walking Dead, and more!
This week's best deals ► GTA IV, Civ V, Torchlight, and more If I may make a suggestion: grab GTA IV for $5, gather a few friends, and set up a no-friction car mod footrace. It will be $5 well spent.
75% off Grand Theft Auto IV at GameFly- $4.99 75% off Civilization V Game of The Year Edition on Amazon - $12.49 40% off The Walking Dead at GameStop - $14.99 50% off Torchlight on GOG - $7.49 50% off Legend of Grimrock on GOG - $7.49 75% off Just Cause 2 on Steam - $3.74 50% off Age of Empires Online Steam Starter Pack on Steam- $9.99 20% off at Green Man Gaming with the voucher code DERHE-RRDER-RINGE
Steam ► Just Cause series For under $4, you could justify getting Just Cause 2 just 'cause.
75% off Just Cause - $2.49 75% off Just Cause 2 - $3.74 50% off Age of Empires Online Steam Starter Pack - $9.99 66% off Day of Defeat: Source - $3.39 (Friday only) More Steam deals
Amazon ► Civilization It's nothing new for Amazon, which seems to cycle its discounts among the same set of games, but its Civilization sale is still strong.
75% off Civilization V - $7.49 75% off Civilization V Game of The Year Edition - $12.49 10% off Civilization V: Gods and Kings - $26.99 75% off Civilization IV: The Complete Edition - $7.49 67% off Mount & Blade - $4.88 62% off Trine - $7.63 More Amazon PC game downloads
GameFly ► Grand Theft Auto Select Grand Theft Auto games are 75% off on GameFly all weekend. What a steal!
75% off Grand Theft Auto IV - $4.99 75% off Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony - $3.75 75% off Grand Theft Auto: The Lost and Damned - $2.49 75% off Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas - $3.75 75% off Grand Theft Auto: Vice City - $2.49
Get Games ► Rayman, Driver, Far Cry There's no particular theme on Get Games this weekend, but some nice deals. Its Sleeping Dogs sale has gone from 25% off to 10% off, but it's still one of the few retailers that has it on sale. But there's a "but": you can get it cheaper at Green Man Gaming, with its 20% off anything voucher.
10% off Sleeping Dogs - $44.99 50% off Rayman: Origins - $14.99 75% off Driver San Francisco - $8.74 75% off Far Cry 1 + 2 - $6.25 50% off Lord of the Rings: War in the North - $19.99 More deals from Get Games
GameStop ► The Walking Dead and Saints Row If you didn't pick it up during the Steam Summer Sale, The Walking Dead for $14.99 isn't bad at all.
40% off The Walking Dead - $14.99 75% off Saints Row: The Third - $12.49
GOG ► Indies Invade GOG's weekend theme is looser than usual, but to our benefit: it's got 50% off some great indie games.
50% off Torchlight - $7.49 50% off Legend of Grimrock - $7.49 50% off Tiny and Big: Grandpa's Leftovers - $4.99 50% off Darwinia - $4.99 50% off Spacechem - $4.99 50% off Geneforge 1-5 - $7.49
Green Man Gaming ► 20% off it all
That voucher is still active -- until the end of August, you can save 20% on any PC download at Green Man Gaming with the code DERHE-RRDER-RINGE.
GamersGate ► Sale 'splosion
As usual, GamersGate has ten pages packed with sales. Many of them will cause shrugging, but not all of them: try S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl for $3.99 (Friday only), Mount & Blade Collection for $20.97, and Warp for $2.49.
Let us know in the comments if you find any more great deals, and, though I skipped it last week: what are you playing this weekend? I'll be getting a head start in Guild Wars 2 -- if you're doing the same, come find the PCG US crew on the Tarnished Coast server. What race are you planning to choose?