PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Triad Wars is an “open world action strategy” game coming exclusively to PC">triadwars

As promised, United Front Games has today released details for Triad Wars, the long promised follow-up to Sleeping Dogs. According to the video embedded below, Triad Wars is a "living, breathing" "open-world action strategy" game set in Hong Kong, coming exclusively to PC. Rather than focus on Sleeping Dogs protagonist Wei Shen, the online game will more closely resemble a traditional MMO, with players responsible for establishing their own turf, finding a niche in the underworld, and hopefully fighting to take other gangs' turf.

According to one talking head in the video below, the ever-evolving world may evolve into a completely different game over the course of two years. TriadWarsZ, maybe? The gameplay will vary depending on how you choose to play: for example, players are free to choose which area of criminality they would like to specialise in, with smuggling and counterfeiting two options mentioned below. Meanwhile, the combat in Sleeping Dogs will apparently feature in Triad Wars.

Triad Wars is expected to release in early 2015, though closed beta registrations are available right now. The video below will give you the full rundown.



PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Titanfall ‘Sand Trap’ will dig deadly trenches through IMC Rising pack">titanfallsand

IMC Rising will be the last map pack to release for Titanfall, so there s a fair bit resting on it. Respawn has detailed the third and final map in the collection and, according to designer Chris Dionne, it s a marriage of old and new ideas.

One of my main goals with Sand Trap was to use old ideas in new ways, Dionne writes. In the center is a buried bunker inspired by the buried architecture in Fracture; this lets Titans stomp around above while pilots scurry below. Across the map are deep trenches that create a well-run highway for pilots; inspired by wall running in Rise they give quick and (relatively) safe routes across the map.

While the trench network may recall the rich wall-running possibilities seen in Rise, there is one twist: the trenches are filled with unrefined fuel , meaning pilots will have to scramble along the sides of the pits rather than hide at the bottom of them.

All of this adds a unique feel to our game modes. In Last Titan Standing, the battle often plays out over the dunes and is reminiscent of a classic tank fight from hill to hill. In Capture the Flag, a long central trench crosses the map from one flag building to the other, offering relative safety (except for the central room which is perfect for an ambush ). On the surface, long sight lines offer snipers a unique advantage, especially in 8v8 pilot skirmish when Titans aren't around to keep them in their place.

There s still no release date for IMC Rising, but you can read about the other maps in the pack, namely Zone 18 and Backwater.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Steam has over 100 million active accounts, added 1,300 new games in the past nine months">steam community

Valve casually announced today that there are over 100 million active Steam accounts. That is a lot of active Steam accounts. That's approaching the population of Mexico.

The press release announcing today's store update also notes that 1,300 new games have been released on Steam in the past nine months for a total of "over 3,700 titles." It's pretty crazy that such a big percentage of Steam's library was released in less than a year. The gates are open, and the new features introduced today are meant to better connect those 100 million users with Steam's rapidly growing library.

So far, it feels like a big improvement over the old page (granted, just about any change would have been welcome). One of the new features is Steam Curators we've made our own curation page if you want to follow us. For more on what's changed, read about the announcement here.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Big changes to Steam: ‘Discovery Update’ adds curators, recommendations, and hides unpopular new releases">Steam Discovery update

The Steam homepage finally has a new look! A very slightly different, bluer new look! OK, it looks about the same, but the functional changes in today's 'Discovery Update' are really big.

The update introduces a "smarter" homepage which recommends games based on past purchases, what you've been playing, and friends' recommendations. Personalized recommendations are obviously a huge deal to services and stores like Netflix and Amazon, so it's a little surprising that it's taken Steam so long to implement it. But here we go.

Further addressing the problem of figuring out which games to buy, the update also lets you follow 'Steam Curators.' Curators can be any individual or organization who has opinions about games and wants to share them, and Steam now offers a nice page where they can organize their recommendations. Following a curator (you can find them here) will also send their recommendations to your home page

To become a curator, you need to create a group, or already be an officer or moderator in a group. It occurred to us that recommending games is something we do a lot of, so we've gone and tested the feature out: here's our curator page. We'd be honored if you followed us.

Those are the biggest additions to Steam today, but there are several other changes, including an updated search tool. As I looked through the changelog, this one also stuck out to me:

Changed New Releases to Popular New Releases to filter out less popular titles and provide a more functional release list.

One of Steam's biggest problems right now is the huge number of games being released. How do you present so many new games to users, and how do you deal with the fact that some of them are very, very bad? This change feels like an effort by Valve to have the best of both worlds: spend less energy deciding who can publish what on Steam, but make sure customers only see popular games unless their preferences (games played, curators followed) dictate otherwise.

I don't think this is doom for little games on Steam. The new 'discovery queue' only shows "the most popular new releases," and 'new releases' is now 'popular new releases,' but scrolling to the bottom of the homepage now reveals the 'recommendation feed.' My feed currently includes Ys Origin and Thomas Was Alone, and the list goes on and on as you scroll. Valve says the feature "helps to make sure you don t miss that interesting indie title that s unlike anything you ve played so far, or that awesome adventure game that you missed from last year." If all this is effective, niche games should benefit by being shown to the players most likely to play them. That's my hope.

There are a lot more changes you can now customize lists to filter out Early Access and other types of games, for instance and you can read the full changelist here. Regarding the new look, Valve preempted my joke about it being bluer:

Updated the visual design, layout and typography of the store to reflect a more contemporary Steam brand direction (also commonly referred to as Making the store blue ).

PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Ubisoft explains why Watch Dogs is a lot like the first Assassin’s Creed">watchdogs

The original Assassin's Creed was a beautiful world in search of a game to occupy it. (When a large proportion of your mission design involves sitting on benches, you've got a variety problem.) Second time around Ubisoft made good on the premise with the brilliant Assassin's Creed 2, Brotherhood, and the company expects Watch Dogs to follow a similar pattern.

In an interview with our friends over at CVG, Ubisoft Montreal vice president of creative Lionel Raynaud called the cyber vigilantism game "a brand and promise" for the future. "The reception has actually been pretty close to Assassin's Creed ," he noted, "with the first one we didn't have such a good reception, and it was fair."

Raynaud also admitted that there were problems with Watch Dogs' replayability, and that it was easy to spot that it was a first iteration. He also made the point that while Ubisoft always knew that Assassin's Creed had potential, it didn't know it would become the mammoth franchise that it is today.

"It's the same thing with Watch Dogs: it was difficult to do everything at the right level, which is why we took more time," he said. "The time we took was definitely useful it allowed us to release the game without compromises and do everything that we wanted. We also kept parts of the game we felt didn't fit with the original for the sequel."

That sequel is already in the works, as Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot revealed just weeks after Watch Dogs launched.

Raynaud confirmed that the sequel will not only try to make good on the promise of the core idea, as the Assassin's Creed series eventually did, but also live up to that first impressive demo of the game we saw at E3 2012.

That's likely to be quite a way off, though. If you don't want to wait, the final release of TheWorse Mod enables many of the visuals effects presented in the E3 2012 demo that were cut from the final release.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Corsair K70 RGB keyboard debuts with per-key backlighting for $170">Corsair K70 RGB-teaser

Corsair has been making gaming gear for years: mice and keyboards, headsets and mousepads. Now they re uniting their various gaming lines under one Corsair Gaming banner, and to mark the occasion they re updating one of our favorite gaming keyboards, the Corsair Vengance K70. The new Corsair Gaming K70 RGB is still a mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX switches, but it replaces the old red LEDs with full-color RGB backlighting under every key. We tested out the K70 RGB with Corsair s new customization software to see how flashy the lighting can get.

Look below for a video of the RGB backlighting in action.

The K70 RGB pairs with Corsair s CUE software, which controls everything from shortcuts and key macros to light programming. The lighting system is powerful, but not immediately intuitive. It s easy enough to create a lighting pattern, like a gradient or wave of various colors, but it s initially overwhelming how many options there are the speed at which lights change, duration of an effect, brightness, even what groups of keys or individual keys the effect applies to.

Figuring out how to apply a lighting pattern to activate based on a command or keypress involves jumping around the software a bit. Spend long enough with it, though, and you can have keys breathe or change colors when pressed, or organize your keyboard by different lighting zones. We played around with a simple wave pattern to take full advantage of the RGB spectrum.

It s pretty.

Aside from its new per-key lighting, the K70 RGB isn t very different from the Vengeance K70 of the past. Corsair is offering it with three different types of Cherry MX switches: Reds, ideal for gaming, Blues, ideal for typing, and Browns, which sit right in the middle.

Each model costs $170, which is a lot of money, even for a gaming keyboard. Full RGB lighting doesn t come cheap. If you plan on grabbing a K70 RGB, we recommend the Red Cherry MX switches for games. The keyboard is already available on Amazon. If you just want the functionality without the fancy RGB lighting, you can grab the older Vengeance K70 for a much more affordable $110.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Devs react to Spacebase DF-9 release: “Early Access is not an ‘alternative’ development approach”">zomboid

Earlier today, we brought you Tim Schafer's explanation for Spacebase DF-9's unexpected transition from early access to v1.0 release, and why planned features have been lost in the process. The short version is that the game stopped selling enough Early Access copies to keep supporting development at the scale Double Fine was hoping for, so it had to adjust its plans. In light of this, several other developers with Early Access games have made public statements regarding their projects, and Early Access in general. Here's what they had to say:

"Alpha Funded / Early Access is not an 'alternative' development approach. It has a very specific use for a very specific set of games," said Andy Hodgetts of Project Zomboid developer The Indie Stone. "So what is very clear to me, is if you can t guarantee this from the outset then Alpha-Funding / Early Access is not for you. It s too risky and were it just your own reputation on the line, that d be fine. But failures tarnish the reputation of the entire model, so a failure (particularly a high-profile failure) is potentially damaging to the very developers who need this model the most."

Meanwhile, a 'health check' statement on the Chucklefish blog notes that recent troubles at other developers means: "It s not the best time to be a part of the early access party and it s easy to see why people are worried about the health of the Starbound project." However, it goes on to note that the game's future is completely secure:

"Not only is the development of Starbound extremely healthy. (More so than it s ever been in fact, with more team members than ever and all of us in the same location), but Chucklefish could fund the development of Starbound for another 9 years at least. Even if we didn t make another penny in that time."

Elsewhere, Maia developer Simon Roth shared some hard numbers. He said that, over its lifetime, Maia has averaged $1,515 a day, though that number is massively skewed by the attention it got around launch. During a month without significant updates, it makes closer to half that amount.

"At our current burn rate, running off cash reserves, with no further sales of the game, development can easily continue for about five years," Roth said. "That said, current development has a few bottlenecks I would like to hammer out of the pipeline, which will push up costs by a few thousand."

It's interesting to see that it's these smaller devs that have the financial safety to net to keep development going even if sales drop, but it also makes sense. As Hodgetts pointed out, unlike Double Fine, they have much smaller teams that don't work out of San Francisco, where the average employee costs $10,000 per month.

Ultimately, it's important to remember that Early Access remains a very new funding method, and the bugs are still being worked out in terms of best practice. As ever, we're interested in hearing your thoughts on what works here.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to How to win eco rounds in CS:GO">csgo-pistol

Every Monday in Shooterology, Evan writes about FPSes.

You re dead, and you re broke. How are you going to win the next round when the enemy team has body armor and rifles and you don t?

This is the daunting proposition of an eco round in CS:GO, when your team collectively decides to fight on a budget so it can afford a full complement of gear in the next round. As one of the regular hurdles of competitive play, mastering the eco round is an important part of winning. Here s how I try to make the best of an economic disadvantage.

Decide to win

I ve solo-queued with so many people who see eco rounds are an invitation to play lackadaisically. You ve got pistols, they ve got rifles let s just get this over with, right? In high-level competitive play, though, eco rounds regularly go the way of the underdog. Part of that is because pro players are so comfortable with pistols, but the other half of that is their mindset: they see eco rounds as an opportunity to gut their opponent s economy rather than a round that they re pre-destined to lose.

If you ve already made your mind up that you re going to lose, congrats! You probably will.

Buy the pistol (or shotgun) you re most comfortable with

If pistols had a popularity contest, the P250 would win. It s beloved for a reason: it s a $300 weapon that can kill with a single headshot at close range. It s more versatile and more accurate than the Deagle in most situations. But if the Deagle or Five-Seven somehow speak to how you play Counter-Strike (and you don t mind buying one fewer grenade next round to offset the cost), go for it. There s plenty of math you can hold up as evidence, but I m a big believer in the idea that you re going to perform best with the weapon you feel the most confident with.

Don t rule out shotguns completely, either: mid- and late-game eco rounds are one of the situations where shotguns have a lot of utility. A Nova at $1200 or a MAG-7 at $1800 are several times the cost of a pistol, and tend to favor defensive use, where you can dictate the range that you encounter enemies and pick spots that force enemies to look two ways as they cross a narrow area (like the ramp on Nuke, or banana on Inferno). Holding a weapon that deals a lot of damage all at once is a way of compensating for your fragility and the accuracy-destroying power of aimpunch.

Make the enemy encounter multiple pistols at once

Unless you brain an enemy, you re going to have to shoot them more than they shoot you. Offset that disadvantage by positioning yourself with a teammate to see and shoot an enemy at exactly the same time. If you re covering an entry door, your teammate shouldn t be able to see an enemy before you do, and vice versa. Because there's less room for error, your timing and angles count a lot on an eco.

Do something ridiculous

On the surface this seems like it runs contrary to Decide to win, but think about it this way: one of your biggest advantages on an eco round is that you ve got less to lose. Try a strategy that your opponent would never expect, like rushing everyone through palace on Mirage, or making a hard balcony push on the T side of Inferno. On defense, consider stacking a single bombsite with your whole team in the hopes that the Terrorists will split their attack.

If you can t beat em, rob em

CS:GO is a pay-to-win game: buying power equals firepower. When you steal a weapon from a dead enemy, you re fighting on their tab. Given the choice between fighting on the wrong side of a three-on-one with no armor and cowering in a corner with a nicked AWP, save the AWP. You re probably going to lose more eco rounds than you win, so be willing to take a small gain out of a bad situation.

If the enemy knows you ve taken an AWP or another valuable weapon, it may even go out of its way to hunt you down in the final moments of the round. In this situation, a secondary, riskier way to do economic damage to an opponent on an eco is to go for exit kills, or positioning yourself to lose the round, but kill one or two players as they re exiting a known position (usually one at a time, to look for you in the waning seconds of the round).
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Tropico 3 is free on Humble Bundle, but only today">tropico3

The Humble Bundle store is a great place to get games for cheap, and it doesn't get much cheaper than free. The store is currently holding its End of Summer Encore Sale, which is offering lot of great deals as usual, as well as a free copy of the banana republic management sim Tropico 3.

The only thing you'll have to give in return is your email address. If that sounds like a fair trade, you'll want to head over to Humble soon, as both the Tropico 3 offer and the summer sale at large will end tomorrow at 10 a.m. Pacific.

There are other great deals you can jump on right now, though they're infinitely more expensive than free. Some highlights (click the links to find our reviews):

Banished $8

The Wolf Among Us $10

South Park: The Stick of Truth $20

Company of Heroes 2 $10

Splinter Cell Blacklist $4.49

Child of Light $7.49

Nidhogg $5

You can grab these games on sale at the Humble Store.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Oculus Crescent Bay interview: Nate Mitchell on prototype tech and VR presence">oculusconnect-natemitchell

After testing out Oculus VR's new headset prototype Crescent Bay, I put the pieces of my brain back together enough to have a coherent chat with Nate Mitchell, VP of product at Oculus. I last talked to Nate at E3, when he walked me through demos of SUPERHOT and Lucky's Tale. This time, at Oculus Connect, we talked about the new Crescent Bay prototype what Oculus had to improve from DK2 to achieve "presence," what kind of hardware it takes to run games at 90Hz, and whether gamers who ordered a DK2 should be upset that there's already a new prototype on the way.

Wes Fenlon, PC Gamer: What the hell kind of hardware am I going to need to run this thing?

Nate Michell, Oculus VR VP of Product: The demos in there are running on high end machines. We try to be super transparent about that. They're running on the new Maxwell GPUs from Nvidia.

PCG: The 980?

Mitchell: I think it's the 980s. The demos are running at 90Hz. That really becomes the gating factor here. For that 90 frames per second, in UE4 where we're doing a lot of complex artwork and trying to render complex scenes, they're high end GPUs. They're high-end systems. i7s. You're going to need a high-end computer for that sort of experience.

But I think what's important to contrast is, looking at GearVR, there are these two clear categories. GearVR is not a high end GPU, but you're still able to have a really compelling experience. It's cool being able to show people that. We've been telling people that for a long time, and they're like, "you really have stuff running on mobile devices that's compelling?" And we're like "Yeah!"

But now you can see it with GearVR. Dropping into Oculus Cinema, it's compelling. You do feel like you're there. It's not the same level of presence or fidelity. It's not Showdown.

PCG: I would say it's nowhere near, but I was impressed with GearVR in that it felt like it was close to DK2 or Crystal Cove, the first time I experienced it.

Mitchell: Yeah, it's somewhere between DK1 and DK2. The lack of positional really hurts immersion. So you do this and nothing happens. That's killer.

PCG: In terms of the quality of display, I felt probably a little more motion sickness not having the same level of refresh and blank frames...

Mitchell: Definitely. And the optics aren't quite as good.

PCG: What can you talk about with the new Crescent Bay, hardware-wise, tech-wise, what you improved? The optics, the screen?

Mitchell: I'll run through the list and you can ask whatever you want and I'll refuse to answer if I have to. There's improved display technology. The displays are running at 90Hz. We've integrated audio. We have 360 degree head tracking. The LEDs on the back of the headset let you turn around and crouch. We have new optics.

And the optics are actually responsible for one of the things about the whole system is that we talk about it as this total experience. We want people to focus on the experience. Some people come up and say "what is the resolution of the display? It's so high, I can't see the pixel structure!" Part of that is the optics working with the display, working with the mechanical engineering, working with the industrial design, to make it, perceptually if you saw Abrash's talk, it's all about the human perceptual system. The perceived resolution seems really high, but it's not important what the real resolution is if the perceived resolution is that good.

And the ergonomics and the industrial design are obviously upgraded. It's significantly lighter, a lot more comfortable. The straps are a pretty cool system.

PCG: And just the way it fits on your face is different too. You get a little bit of vision

Mitchell: Light leak...

PCG: Under the bottom of the headset. Was that actually intentional so you can see, basically?

Mitchell: I don't know if it was intentional or not with these prototypes. Sometimes we build prototypes that have that just so you can see. It's not super important when you're building prototypes to have it be fully mindblowingly immersive. On the flipside of that, it might be that we did that for nose clearance or something like that.

PCG: It felt like for the first time someone was experiencing something like that, you almost need that visibility there so that you don't fall on your ass or walk into a wall.

Mitchell: It definitely helps. It's something they actually talk about with the Valve room. Having that space out the bottom can be good for people so they're not walking into walls.

PCG: The crazy thing is, I guess if I look down deliberately and exaggerate that gap, it would break immersion, but in general, even when I could see that in my peripheral vision, it doesn't break presence the way I thought it would.

Mitchell: There's a threshold there. You're absolutely right. If you have light leak on the whole thing, it'll break presence. And light leak can come from other spaces too. In DK1, one of our early units came back, and there was so much light leak in the foam padding that the screen was bright and there was glare. And we were like, this is not usable. So there are different thresholds. Some space there can be good, but it depends what the user wants.

PCG: Let's go back to improved optics. What does that mean, exactly?

Mitchell: Ahh, I can't go into it too much.

PCG: Putting aside the improvement part you can't talk about just in general, with optics, are we just referring to the glass that's between you and the screen? I feel like optics is a very encompassing topic.

Mitchell: Yes, there is more. So I'm a software engineer, and one of the things I often talk about when it comes to getting into hardware, was how surprised I was at the complexity of optics. We would sit in these rooms when we were going over the design of the Rift, and I'm not a hardware guy, but I'm in there as a product person. And they'd be like, we want to increase visual clarity, so we're going to increase that, and then everything else drops, and they're like, well, we can do this, turn all these dials...every single element changes everything else.

That's a super simplistic description of it, but the complexity of optics is just mindblowing. There's also all sorts of things like collimated light, right? Optics is affected by the screen to lens distance. So it is, you're right, not just the glass, but the actual mechanical engineering and industrial design as well.

What we've done here is we're using a different lens that DK2. A lens that we're generally more happy with. In terms of the lens, the screen and the lens together. The tradeoffs and the characteristics that you want. But when you look at the lenses that are in Crescent Bay, like I said before, the perceived resolution seems significantly higher.

PCG: But you can't tell me if it is or not?

Mitchell: There's a lot of optical magic happening there that really helps.

PCG: So, presence.

Mitchell: Presence. I wanted to say one thing you asked me about all the Crescent Bay stuff. is the final thing. The most important thing. Being able to deliver presence at a level that's impossible with any of our other VR headsets before.

PCG: I don't remember you guys even using the word presence before this point. Maybe you did and I don't remember but at first I thought, okay that's a good buzzword, and I understand what it means in this context. I didn't really buy it until I used Crescent Bay. And now I buy it. What were the big steps that you took, when DK2 was done, what were the pillars you had to hit to get presence? When did that become an achievable goal?

Mitchell: Like Brendan said, a lot of the things we do are in the pursuit of presence. In Brendan's keynote, when he talked about the five different things optics, latency, tracking, resolution, persistence he actually talked about some of the rough specifications for some of those things. For persistence, he was saying it needs to be less than 3 ms, and for latency it needs to be sub-20 ms.

So we knew some of the thresholds, at least theoretically. In our experience, at least this is a new field. It's not like "here is a line to draw for presence" and then you cross it. THere are all these different things, and you're like, probably true, probably true, probably true. But if you take any one piece out of this house of cards, it all comes tumbling down. We're pushing on every axis, in terms of better display technology, higher framerate, which meant lower persistence, better tracking. Some of these things are fundamental, others are technical.

But we knew where we wanted to go, and it was just a matter of putting it together and iterating on the hardware until it was showable. These things come online in individual parts. You might have a 90Hz panel running at your desk, but without the 360 tracking and the new optics and everything else, it's not a huge leap forward.

PCG: For people who bought a DK2, there are some people out there who don't even have it yet. Should they be kind of pissed right now that this awesome new thing has come out and now their old one feels outdated?

Mitchell: They're allowed to feel whatever they want that'll be my PR answer. They shouldn't be pissed because we have no plans right now to release Crescent Bay. No plans. It's just a feature prototype like the HD prototype that we showed at E3 2013. But they might still feel pissed, and I don't have a good answer for that. And I'm sorry. They should be able to cancel their order, I think, if they want. But I would say, if you're a developer, get your hands on DK2. It allows you to build experiences for Crescent Bay. At the end of the day, this is a dev conference, it's not the consumer Rift. We still have a long way to go.

PCG: First DK1, then DK2. These both felt like very PC gaming oriented things, it's something the core guys are going to get and put it on and sit at their desk. It's going to enhance games in some way, make it more immersive or whatever.

Mitchell: It's delivering on the dream of the Holodeck.

PCG: Now this is something you're going to use standing up...

CV1 is still targeting sitting down, but go on!

PCG: How do you bridge that gap between this being a product designed for the PC you have at your desk, but this being something that has to run at a high end machine, but you need to maybe have Kinect-type space around you.

Mitchell: For CV1 we're still targeting that sitting experience. We expect people to sit at their desk, set up the headset, or at the couch, whatever it is, and have an awesome VR experience. The reason we do this standing up here at Connect, is because standing up does amplify presence. So does audio. If we took the audio out of all those demos, you'd probably still achieve experience presence. And you put it in, and it's not great audio in , but it's just impactful. Your brain is more convinced. It does amplify it.

Standing is another thing that amplifies presence. We still want people sitting down for the consumer version of the Rift. We'll see if people build little spaces. Carmack talked about his VR lair. One of the beautiful things about mobile is that it's portable, so you don't have cables, but you don't want to be walking around with that either.

We've got a long way to go on that front, really getting it right, where you have a holodeck and aren't crashing it into walls all the time.

PCG: Maybe you should ship it with some foam blocks people can build a fort out of.

Mitchell: There you go. I like it. Product idea.

PCG: Thanks for your time, Nate!

Mitchell: My pleasure.

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