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PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Meet Aztez, the Aztec-themed brawler with impeccable style">Aztez

Trends and fads come and go in gaming, just like they do everywhere else. First came the Zombies, then came the roguelikes, then, well zombies again. If Aztez, an Aztec-themed brawler, is part of a new trend in historic side-scrollers with incredible art styles, then it is a trend I heartily endorse.

We saw something similar with Apotheon, a Greek-themed side-scroller, but Aztez looks more bloody and chaotic or maybe the black-and-white color scheme just makes the blood pop. Either way, the devs at Team Colorblind have built a real stunner of a trailer for Aztez. The game will bounce between turn-based strategy and side scrolling beat-em-up sequences as you work to expand the Aztec empire. As an Aztez, an elite warrior, you ll be sent in to squash revolts, curb plagues,eliminate political opponents, coerce powerful neighbors, protect allies, and more. Sounds like a busy job, doing the dirty work for an entire empire, but it looks like fun.

There s also a real weight to the attacks, sending characters flying around the place. Get a load of the heft of this club:

Beautiful. Head to the Aztez website and the devblog for more details and to follow along. Aztez will be released this year on Steam.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Hearthstone Help: The Best Decks Explained">help_top

Still getting crushed by a stream of Murlocs? In the first of a series of articles, our friendly Hearthstone expert shows you why some decks seem so unfair, and how to counter them.

Well met, PC Gamer readers and Hearthstone fanatics. My name is Vincent Sarius, and I've been playing Hearthstone since October, during which time I've reached the 'Legend' rank in every season on the European server. In this series of articles I'm going to make you a better Hearthstone player by revealing the strategy behind some of the game's key concepts, showing you some killer decks created by other expert players, and explaining how the game itself is evolving.

Which brings us to our topic for today: The Hearthstone "metagame", and how understanding it will improve your performance. Metagame is a term used in games of all kinds to describe "the game beyond the game", or in other words the dominance of certain strategies and play styles, which become popular in the community because of their perceived effectiveness. The metagame invariably keeps evolving as players find new ways to defeat currently trendy techniques. This is known as "breaking the meta". In Hearthstone, much like Magic: The Gathering, the metagame is exemplified by a particular deck becoming heavily used on the Ranked Ladder.

However, generally speaking, even the most seemingly effective deck will have a flaw. Decks tend to gain traction and popularity because there either isn t a deck which capitalizes on this flaw yet, or there is but that deck is currently unpopular. As decks appear which do expose or capitalize on the flaw, the previously dominant deck will often be tweaked (by its creator, or other players who've copied it) to counteract these newly unfavorable match-ups. One of the most exciting aspects of Hearthstone, for me, is how immensely fluid this makes the metagame feel. A deck which is commonly considered to be the best one week will often barely played the next. Usually, the new best deck will be the one that crushed the previous one, and so on ad infinitum.

A dog's life for hunters

To get a sense of why some decks originally rose to prominence, and then subsequently dropped out of favor, let's start with Hunter class. A while ago, playing as a Hunter was very different. It largely had one viable type of deck, which relied on an old iteration of the Unleash The Hounds card that gave all of your Beasts +1 Attack and Charge, enabling them to score 'cheesy' one-turn kills. Over the course of Hearthstone's beta Blizzard removed, or severely gimped, any combo which could theoretically kill an opponent in one turn on an empty board. The first of these nerfings saw Unleash The Hounds redesigned into it's current form, but with a slightly at higher mana cost of four mana. The one-turn-kill Hunter was gone.

Subsequently the Hunter languished as one of the widely regarded worst heroes, until Blizzard halved the mana cost of Unleash The Hounds, which drew back the attention of some of the better players and deck builders. Eventually this led to the creation of a deck known as the Chakki Hunter (check out the cards here), and also known as the Beatdown or Facerush Hunter. This deck's purpose is to simply kill the opponent quickly with strong Charge creatures, and punish any minions they chose to place by drawing cards and doing damage with an Unleash The Hounds + Starving Buzzard, often throwing in a Timber Wolf to increase the damage. This is probably one of the most hated decks by players in the lower ranks, simply because it often feels like there is nothing you can do if you don't draw the perfect cards to counteract it. Although, as you re about to see, that s not the case.

This Chakki Hunter prompted a big increase in the use of minions with the Taunt ability, and a greater focus on survivability in many of the decks designed to last until the late-game when both players have large mana pools. Probably the most effect counter deck was the Kitkatz Warrior, a very late-game Control deck with amazing survivability and great removal options for the weak creatures that Chakki was running. (A Control deck is one used to play reactively against your opponent s threats until the late-game, when its high cost cards arrive to crush the opponent.) For most of March and April, I would say this was the strongest deck. It had it all: A great burst combo, enabling it to do massive damage over the course of one or two turns, and a strong mana curve, meaning a balanced spread of card costs to ensure flexibility at all times. However, it wasn t to last. The Hunter adapted.

The latest trendy evolution of the Hunter is now known as the Kolento/Gaara or Midrange Hunter deck, although the original iteration of this deck was made by Lifecoach, a top 30 NA player and former professional Poker pro. This deck still utilizes the Unleash The Hounds combo, but it focuses on stronger, more durable Beasts. Synergizing the abilities of the deck s many Beast minions to great effect.

Just a few days ago, this deck constituted at least half of the matches in the Rank 1-3 bracket, and a large percentage of the 'Legend' bracket as well. It's currently the deck to beat, and demonstrates how the Hunter has evolved from cheesy one-turn Kills into a less gimmicky, more value-focused midrange deck.

The warlock visits the zoo

So, what other decks are big on the ladder right now? Probably the other most hated deck after the Beatdown Hunter is the Zoo Warlock deck, which is focused on playing very cheap minions, fueled by the Warlock's hero power which enables him to draw a card at the cost of taking two damage, which helps continually exert pressure and control the board.

A lot of players seem to believe that this makes it a 'Rush' deck i.e. one that relies on overwhelming early aggression to secure a quick win but it's actually more of a midrange Control deck, built around buffs allowing cheap creatures to 'trade up' by sacrificing lower cost minions to remove your opponent's more expensive ones. The design design philosophy being that if you re the one who chooses what creature to attack, you have a natural advantage. In this case, the Zoo name was given in honor of a very popular Red/Green/White Magic:The Gathering deck which had much the same idea: Lots of cheap, durable creatures.

The best current iteration of the Warlock Zoo deck was built by Reynad, a popular Twitch.tv streamer, though it s heavily influenced by an earlier Warlock Control deck made by Curi. Unlike the Beatdown Hunter, no clear-cut counter to Zoo has emerged yet, however certain decks make for a very favorable match-up against it.

Rogue sets the tempo

Currently, the best option against the Warlock Zoo is the Savjz Tempo Rogue deck. This is a deck designed to dictate the 'flow' of the game through superior mana usage, which is known as Tempo . Against decks which seek to control the board such as Zoo, the Tempo Rogue has an advantage due to many of the Rogue cards being very good against low health creatures, while also being cheap enough that they can be played early in the match before the Zoo player has wrested the board away from you.

In particular, cards like Backstab and SI:7 Agent make it very hard for the Warlock to actually get its important creatures to 'stick' on the board often they get removed before they can have any impact. If the Zoo player is unable to get an early advantage, they tend to lose. However, the Tempo Rogue deck also suffers from the same problem as the Beatdown Hunter large durable creatures with the taunt ability can stop the deck in its tracks. This is part of the reason why Tempo Rogue has never become as popular as the Zoo Warlock or Chakki Hunter decks it has a few very good match-ups, but also a bunch of bad ones.

Trial, and less error

Try out some of these decks and see how you get on. Especially at the lower ranks, their effectiveness will catch many players off guard, and by using them you'll come to understand what it is about the combination of cards that makes them so powerful. (Don't worry if you haven't got all the exact cards, just substitute them for ones which have similar attributes and abilities.) Next week we'll be looking at how to build your own unique deck, incorporating some of the ideas from this article like Tempo, Mana Efficiency and Card Advantage. Creating your own deck is a big part of the fun in Hearthstone, and certainly more so than copying the cards of high-profile players or 'Netdecking', as it s known.

Next week: Why having a strong Mana Curve is so important when designing a deck, and the best ways to synergize different elements of your deck.

PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to The Elder Scrolls Online devs discuss bugs, black market in “state of the game” address">The Elder Scrolls Online just pretend those snakes are bugs

While heroes across Tamriel journey to reclaim their souls from that jerk Molag Bal in The Elder Scrolls Online, the MMO's devs have kept to their own quest to vanquish lingering glitches and loopholes such as a pretty serious duping exploit and the dreaded Spell of Disappearing Bank Items. In a message posted today on the official forums, director Matt Firor addressed these issues and other problems in a general evaluation of TESO's current state and the studio's plans for improving it.

One highly visible aspect of TESO's gold-farmer invasion is the presence of bot groups sitting right on top of boss monster spawns in open dungeons to constantly gather high-quality loot and gold. Partly at issue is the game's open-tapping system, where any player can hit a monster once or twice and benefit from full experience and looting privileges. Beyond banning reported bot accounts, Zenimax is still figuring out a long-term solution its latest proposal is a loot lockout timer that's drawn heated debate over its potential to hamper character progression.

"I play the game every day; I see too, and yes, they drive me crazy," Firor wrote. "We have had a daily running battle with them ever since the game launched, and we continue to take measures to keep them away from players, even when it isn t always apparent that we are."

Firor also revealed black market reports account for nearly 85 percent of calls and emails sent to the game's customer support team. It's a good sign of an active community stepping up to do its part to banish the gold-selling affliction out of Tamriel for good, but all the reports are also stretching the response time for open tickets to a lengthy wait another concern Firor is aware of.

The recently discovered duping bug a simple procedure of cloning stacks of items using guild banks hasn't affected TESO's economy, Firor claimed. "We did turn off guild banks to limit the spread of the problem, but that was only until we put up a new version of the game that fixed the exploit later that evening," he explained. It'd be nice to see a more thorough description of how Zenimax detects which items were duped or not, as it's rather easy to launder copied crafting materials through secondary accounts and the sale of crafted items using said materials.

Firor concluded with the announcement of an updated version of the game soon appearing on testing servers with numerous fixes and adjustments to class abilities and item balance. Craglorn, the first adventure zone, will also appear for Veteran-ranked guilds to try out 12-man raid content and 4-man dungeon challenges.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Dark Souls 2 secrets guide: shortcuts, estus shards and more">darksouls2-boat

Article by Glenn Butera

Like Dark Souls' Lordran, Dark Souls 2's Drangleic is a world packed with secrets. There are secret paths to ferret out between areas. Bosses that you may never face in a normal playthrough. Estus flask shards and Pharros' Contraptions and Souls Vessels to find. We've compiled a guide to Dark Souls 2's most vital secrets. If you're just starting out (have you read our beginner's guide?) or a seasoned veteran, you'll find a wealth of useful information for your journey through Drangleic.

Want to skip ahead to a specific part of our secrets guide? Click one of these links to jump to the information you're looking for, whether it's the location of every single estus flask shard in the game, a list of the most important Pharros' Contraptions, or the NPCs you absolutely must talk to.

Page 2: Estus Flask Shards and Sublime Bone Dust

Page 3: Pharros' Contraptions and Soul Vessels

Page 4: The most important NPC merchants

Check out our Dark Souls 2 hub for more guides, a ton of 4K screenshots, videos, and analysis of the PC version from Dark Souls modder Durante.

Level Shortcuts

Looking to take some time off your speed run or skip a tough boss fight? These helpful shortcuts will quickly and safely lead you through the world of Drangleic.

Entry to The Lost Bastille: There are two ways to reach The Lost Bastille.

Finish No-Man s Wharf and use the ship to get to the Exile Holding Cells bonfire.

Use the Soldier s Key (obtained from The Last Giant) on the door in the giant sword room of the Forest of Fallen Giants. Head up to the ramparts and defeat the Pursuer. Continue past the boss fight area and you will find a nest up a small set of stairs. The Pursuer s eagle will take you to The Tower Apart bonfire.

Ruin Sentinels boss skip: This skip requires the Exile Holding Cells bonfire and a Pharros Lockstone.

Head down the ladder after the Heide knight and turn right. Break through the wooden planks on the wall and head to the opposite corner of the room. Strike the locked door with your weapon to get the Royal Swordsman to open it from the other side. Defeat the enemies in this area and head into the next room by climbing up the short ladder outside and falling through a window. Turn right and use a Pharros Lockstone in the next room. The further of the two secret rooms will open and have an elevator cage to take you up to the entrance to Sinner s Rise, or you can backtrack down the staircases to the Servants Quarters bonfire.

Smelter Demon boss skip: In the large lava room that leads to the Smelter Demon boss, lower the bridge using the lever and halfway across drop off to your left. Turn the wheel to close off the fire from the kiln room and enter the kiln from either doorway. Climb the ladder and kill the Alonne Knight Captain to reach the next area.

Shrine of Winter: There are two ways to reach the Shrine of Winter.

Open by lighting the Primal Bonfires after defeating The Rotten, Old Iron King, Duke s Dear Freja, and The Lost Sinner.

Acquire a set number of souls in a playthrough (e.g. if Soul Memory entering NG+ is 2,500,000 you will need 4,500,000 additional souls to enter the Shrine of Winter): NG: 1,000,000. NG+: 2,000,000. NG+2: 3,000,000 and so on up to NG+7: 8,000,000.

Helpful Hints

Drangleic is a dangerous land full of challenges waiting to steal your souls. There's lava that will kill you. Phantoms that will kill you. Poison that will kill you. Here are some tips to survive some of Drangleic's toughest environments and save your souls even in death.

To safely walk on the lava rocks in the Iron Keep, use the Pharros Contraption water pools (roll in them), Flame Quartz Ring +2, and the Smelter Demon armor. Make sure to use an Estus Flask while on the lava before opening any chests.

There are three Rings of Life Protection that you can acquire throughout the game that will allow you to keep your Human Form and Souls upon death. The rings only cost 3000 souls each to repair, allowing you to nullify death.

No Man s Wharf: At the top of the second set of stairs with the Varangian Sailor throwing oil jars, turn left and the ring will be just inside the house in an alcove.

Shaded Woods: Take the left doorway at the Ruined Fork Road bonfire and go all the way around the circular stone structure to find the ring guarded by 2 Goblins.

Felkin the Outcast: Sells for 6000 souls

If you do not have any White Phantoms summoned you can quit the game in a boss fight.When you reload you will be placed outside the boss fog gate.

Estus Flask Shards

Lifegiving Estus Flasks don't come easy in Dark Souls 2. You'll have to hunt for flask shards to assemble complete flasks. Here's where you can find each and every one of them.

Majula: Strike the stone resting on the edge of the well to raise a corpse with the shard.

Forest of Fallen Giants (Cardinal Tower bonfire): Head up the staircase behind Merchant Hag Melentia and destroy the breakable door. The shard is in a chest on the second floor of the bonfire room.

Majula: Obtain the mansion key from Cartographer Cale (located in a cave in the large open area after the first fog gate). Use the key on the mansion in Majula and kill the skeleton in the basement. The shard is on a corpse on the right.

No-Man s Wharf: After ringing the bell to call the ship, continue past and head down to the ground floor. Turn left and the shard will be in a room with behind some poison pots guarded by Varangian Sailors.

The Lost Bastille (Exile Holding Cells bonfire): Head down the ladder after the Heide Knight and hug the left wall after killing the Undead Jailor and 2 dogs. Hug the left wall to find the chest containing the shard.

The Lost Bastille (Tower Apart Bonfire): Fight through the room with the Royal Swordsmen and get the Antiquated Key in the chest in the next area. From the Servants Quarters bonfire (after Ruin Sentinel Boss), head left in the bottom floor of the circular stairs room instead of going up the stairs and drop down from the rooftops. Use the key on the door to your left and break through the boards in the opposite corner. Hug the left wall after dispatching them to find the chest containing the shard.

Harvest Valley (The Mines bonfire): Just before entering Earthen Peak on the bottom floor, there is a small set of stairs leading down to a long hallway filled with poison. The shard is at the end of the hallway. Note: the poison can be drained by using the torch on the windmill axle near the Central Earthen Peak bonfire.

Shaded Woods (Old Akelarre bonfire): In a chest directly across from the bonfire door on the bottom floor. To enter this area you must use a Fragrant Branch of Yore (obtainable in Harvest Valley) on the petrified Rosabeth of Melfia.

Shaded Woods (Shaded Ruins bonfire): Unpetrify the Lion Clan Warrior across the log to the right of the bonfire and kill him. He will drop the Fang key that can be used to open the door at the end of the corrosive pits area to the right of the giant Basilisk. Inside the door is the shard and Weaponsmith Ornifex (Boss Soul Trader).

Brightstone Cove Tseldora (Royal Army Campsite bonfire): Just before the Prowling Magus & Congregation boss fog gate, there is an illusory wall on the left. Head up the staircases and the shard is at the top.

Brightstone Cove Tseldora (Lower Brightstone Cove bonfire): On a corpse through the door directly opposite of the bonfire room.

Drangleic Castle (Central Castle Drangleic bonfire): After activating the golem to start the elevator, head through the large room with the Alonne Knight Captains, Primal Knight, and Royal Guards. The shard will be located in a solitary chest in the room just before completing the loop back down to the bonfire.

Shrine of Amana (Crumbled Ruins bonfire): After killing the ogre hug the right wall instead of entering the hut, and you will find the shard after killing a Lizardman and two Amana Shrine Maidens.

Sublime Bone Dust

Sublime Bone Dust upgrades your Estus Flask to a max of +5, allowing for greater health recovery from each swig. To upgrade your Estus Flask, you must burn the Sublime Bone Dust in the Majula bonfire. If you attempt to burn additional Sublime Bone Dust past +5, you will receive a message stating Cannot burn further items."

Heide s Tower of Flame (Heide s Ruin bonfire): After defeating the first Old Knight, you will see a second with a large hammer just up a set of stairs. Killing him will drop the Sublime Bone Dust and he will not respawn. You can use a bonfire ascetic after defeating the Dragonrider boss to respawn the Old Knight and obtain another Dust.

Huntsman s Copse (Bridge Approach bonfire): Just before the end of the bridge to the Executioner s Chariot boss, jump across the small gap to the right onto a ledge containing a corpse with the Sublime Bone Dust.

Black Gulch: After defeating The Rotten boss, there will be a small cave on your right with a chest containing the Sublime Bone Dust between the boss room and the Primal Bonfire.

Iron Keep: After defeating the Old Iron King, you will find the Bone Dust in a chest before heading down the stairs to the Primal Bonfire.

Sinner s Rise (The Saltfort bonfire): Head down the ladder and down the stairs to the elevator. At the bottom of the elevator take a left and kill the Enhanced Undead. The Sublime Bone Dust will be located up against the wall behind it.

Pharros Contraptions

Throughout the world you will see Pharros Contraptions that look like a stone face on a wall or floor. If you insert a Pharros Lockstone into the contraption, you will trigger an event that can be either a secret or a trap. Here are four contraptions you should make sure to seek out.

Forest of Fallen Giants (Cardinal Tower): Head down the ladder in the back of the ballista room to find a illusory wall contraption that yields a Titanite Slab and the Chloranthy Ring.

The Lost Bastille (Servant s Quarters): In the outdoor area with the well and dogs there will be a room with a raised platform in it. Entering through the windows is the easiest way to get on the platform and you can turn right to find an illusory wall contraption that opens two areas. One of the areas has a Soul Vessel, while the other has a cage elevator and a Wilted Dusk Herb.

Undead Crypt (Undead Ditch): After the shield-wielding Imperious Knights, drop down the hole and head straight ahead and slightly to the left to the wall in front of you (there is no stone baseboard in this region). Press the action button on the wall to open it and there will be an illusory wall contraption in front of you. The wall that it illuminates is directly opposite your current location and there is a Great Lightning Spear inside.

Dragon Shrine (Shrine Entrance): Head up the stairs and kill the Drakekeeper. The illusory wall contraption is located just behind him under the stairs. It opens the wall to the left containing the Staff of Wisdom and the Judgment armor set.

Soul Vessels

Can be used to reallocate stats by giving one to the middle of the old firekeepers in Things Betwixt. (Note: You cannot lower a stat below the original base stat of your class.)

Majula: Obtain the Mansion key from Cale the Cartographer (located in a cave in the large open area after the first fog gate) and defeat the skeleton in the basement. In the back left corner of the basement you will find a chest that contains the soul vessel. If it is not a soul vessel, closing the game and restarting it will allow you to open the chest again.

Using a bonfire ascetic on the Majula bonfire does not grant you another soul vessel.

Majula: Speak with Crestfallen Saulden (sitting next to the obelisk) after bringing 4 NPCs to Majula and he will give you a soul vessel.

The Lost Bastille (Exile Holding Cells bonfire): In the area just before Steady Hand McDuff s workshop (contains 2 dogs and an Undead Jailor) there is a boarded up entrance that you can destroy. Open the door with the Antiquated key, or hit it with a weapon. This will cause the Royal Swordsman on the other side to open the door. Straight ahead will be a building with a raised platform in the back. Once up on the platform, turn left down a passageway and use a Pharros Lockstone to open two secret rooms. The closer room contains a chest with a soul vessel in it.

This soul vessel respawns when you use a bonfire ascetic on the Exile Holding Cells bonfire.

Drangleic Castle (Central Castle Drangleic bonfire): Kill an enemy near the golem up the ladder to bring it back to life and activate the elevator. Ride the elevator up to the top and the soul vessel will be in the middle chest.

You do not have to enter the room with the golem. If you have magic and the binoculars, you can open the gated door and kill the last stone soldier on the left. This will activate the golem and you can head back down the ladder.

Undead Crypt (Undead Crypt Entrance bonfire): Just before the fog gate, if you drop off the edge to the left, you can enter a room containing a chest with the soul vessel and a ladder to get to the next bonfire.

Memory of Orro (Giant Tree on the ramparts in Forest of Fallen Giants): At the start take the right doorway and turn right immediately in the room where Giants are fighting soldiers. You will see a corpse in the corner with the soul vessel.

This soul vessel respawns when you use a bonfire ascetic on The Place Unbeknownst bonfire, but in order to do this you must defeat the Giant Lord boss.

NPC Merchants

As you talk to NPCs and meet certain requirements, some merchants will sell rare and useful items. Here are some to watch out for. Remember that you can resurrect a dead merchant by offering souls at their gravestone.

Maughlin the Armorer: Immediately available in Majula.

Sells Alva set after 16,000 souls and will give you Aurous set if you speak with him having 0 souls in your inventory. Sells Moon Butterfly set after bonfire intensity 3 and Moon Butterfly Hat after intensity 4.

Steady Hand McDuff: Found in a cell in The Lost Bastille accessible by blowing up the wall with a rolling explosive barrel. He will sell and smith items for you once you give him the Dull Ember from the kiln lava area in Iron Keep.

You can move McDuff off the chest he is sitting on by lighting the torch in his cell. There is a Twinkling Titanite in the chest.

Straid of Olaphis: Unpetrify him up the stairs in The Lost Bastille near the bridge to Sinner s Rise.

Sells Great Lightning Spear and Sunlight Blade after finishing the Undead Crypt.

Weaponsmith Ornifex: Unpetrify the Lion Clan Warrior to your right from the Shaded Ruins bonfire and kill him to obtain the Fang Key. Use the key on the door down in the Shaded Ruins corrisive pits to free him and he will move to a room in the bottom of Brightstone Cove Tseldora.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to EVE Fanfest 2014 schedule includes panels with physicists, actual cage matches">evefanfest2014

Even if you don t play EVE Online, it s a great game to read about because of all the weird things that happen in and around it. Most of that stuff happens in the game, but a lot takes place at CCP s annual EVE Fanfest in Reykjavik, Iceland, and EVE Fanfest 2014 already sounds like it will be pretty intense. The convention will include live cage matches, for example.

Today, CCP announced the EVE of Destruction event, in which the game s developers will take on Gunnar Gunni Nelson, an Icelandic mixed-martial artist (MMA). On Friday, May 2, 20:00 UTC, Gunni will take on 10 CCP staff members, one at a time, submitting one before moving on to the next. It shouldn t take long.

CCP Community Developer and coach for the CCP team Sveinn Kjarval, promises flailing, half-strength maneuvers from CCP members that will possibly, eventually have a 2% chance at best of causing this human tornado of devastation to pause and laugh just long enough that we get super lucky.

More serious things that will take place during EVE Fanfest 2014 include the official dedication of the World Within a World monument to EVE Online players in Reykjavik's harbor, a session with physicist Les Johnson about interstellar travel, and announcements regarding EVE Online, Dust 514, and EVE: Valkyrie.

The entire event will also be livestreamed on CCP s Twitch channel, and available to purchase in HD. Plus, you better believe we'll be at the event, covering the madness but (probably) not participating in cage matches. You can find the full EVE fanfest 2014 schedule in this PDF.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to New Project CARS trailer claims it’s the best looking racing game on the planet">projectcars

Slightly Mad Studio describes Project CARS on its YouTube page as the most authentic, beautiful, intense, and technically advanced racing game on the planet. Well. They ll feel rather silly when that Martian-developed racing game launches and absolutely crushes them, but until then, the latest trailer for the game looks like a strong claim to the title.

Direct your eyeballs at the trailer above, let them feast on the digital automobiles, and tell me where you ve seen a more realistic car with the exception of the real world. As to whether Project CARS will look that good when it s finally release, we ll find out in November 2014, when it starts rolling out.

Besides its beauty, Project CARS will allow you to create a driver, race in a variety of motorsports, and challenge other players online in special community events and leaderboards.

Slightly Mad Studio, which previously worked on the Need for Speed Shift games, is also currently developing free-to-play racing MMO World of Speed, which will offer a more arcade-style experience, but is also quite pretty.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Reinstall: Leisure Suit Larry: Love For Sail">Reinstall - Leisure Suit Larry

Poor Larry Laffer. Few characters have ever been so misunderstood or unfairly looked down on than Al Lowe's perpetual but loveable loser, thanks to a couple of basic misconceptions about the series that the Leisure Suit Larry games are sex games rather than comedy games about sex, and that Larry himself is some kind of sex monster, rather than a guy who spent at least his first trilogy specifically looking for love. Really. No fewer than three times is he happy to settle down after finding Miss Right. The whole 'ultimate pervert' thing comes far more from marketing than the action in the actual games.

Now, admittedly, by the time of this, the sixth and final game at least, the final one whose name can be uttered in public without diminishing all who hear it that had faded somewhat. Love For Sail is very much Larry Laffer on holiday, on a cruise ship full of cartoon babes and casual opportunities for fun in the sun at least, in the few precious seconds when Al Lowe isn't busy torturing him with a very different kind of slapstick. Thing is though, it's also a damn fine comedy adventure that deserves more attention.

The contents of Larry's wallet. The only thing less impressive than the contents of his pants.

Love For Sail doesn't have much plot, and yes, what little it does have plays straight into the series' reputation. At the end of Larry 6, the health-club set Shape Up Or Slip Out, Larry won over a new-age hippie type called Shamara and the two settled down to watch stock footage together. This is a series happy to lavish lots of attention on goofy fan-service and Larry's pain, but is ultimately so coy about actual sex that its most infamous scene involved a censor bar. Even in this game, which features a nudist character who hangs out at a clothing-optional pool, the only real nudity is saved for Easter eggs. Larry 7 picks up the next morning. Shamara declares that a night with a man like Larry "gives a woman plenty of time to think", and decides that what she really wants out of life is money. She steals his wallet and leaves him handcuffed to his bed with nothing but a cigarette to remember her by. Larry, being Larry, promptly sets the room on fire.

It's a great opening that shows off the series' new-found cartoon chops. The scene has a real sense of pace in spite of the limited animation frames. Larry can't die in this game, but the scene still manages to pump up the danger as the fire spreads. Larry puzzles his way to safety by way of the nearest balcony and a slow-mo cry of "OOOOOOOH SSHHHHHIIIIIIII-" that takes him straight into a cactus. He cheers up, and shrugs off the bruising spikes with the discovery of a free cruise ticket aboard the, sigh, "PMS Bouncy", whose exhibitionist captain, Thygh, runs a regular competition to spend the trip in her cabin. Larry of course enters, in the hope of being able to.

At least they're blind! What's that? Oh.

Your eyes are rolling. Of course they are. But give it a chance. Larry 7 has no shame about being the game version of a naughty postcard, but the way it actually does it is fairly surprising. Unlike most games that play in this water for instance, it's a cheerful, sex-positive, and above all good-natured story free of the usual creepy misogyny and cynicism. A couple of characters are willing to bait Larry into a trap, but most are simply hanging out and having fun. Larry is neither Casanova nor a Witcher-style card collector whose interests begin and end with getting everyone into the sack. Occasionally puzzles do involve a little manipulation, like slipping the ship's tightly-wound librarian an erotic book in the hope of loosening her up a little, but even in those cases it's with characters who don't mind. Far, far more often, the women who Larry chases are entirely in control of the situation from the start to the humiliating end where he almost inevitably ends up sneaking back to his cabin stark naked and unsatisfied.

Before unlocking a librarian's naughty side, be absolutely sure you don't need to borrow 'a jacket'.

Even at his most successful, Larry's adventures never rate more than 'naughty'. The universe is built to frustrate him, and he has a knack for stealing defeat from the jaws of success. This is a comedy game, not a porn one, best summed up by the fact that one of his challenges is to persuade nudist academic Drew Baringmore (on board along with the likes of Dewmi Moore, Annette Boning and wait for it Jamie Lee Coitus) to visit his cabin by getting a completely naked woman into her clothes. That cabin incidentally is the engine room, with the kind of smell that needs a Scratch And Sniff card to convey. Coincidentally, the original version of the game came with one. A very smelly one.

Most of the time isn't spent trying to get Larry laid either. Instead you explore a world of lovingly written puns, bad jokes and visual gags. Larry's narrator, Neil Ross, delivers every description and bit of bad news with delicious glee. His cynicism and Larry's relentless optimism make a perfect partnership. Every character has a ton of dialogue, more even than first appears. For Larry 7, Lowe decided to reintroduce a parser interface, making it possible to type in subjects and verbs that might not be on the official options list. They're almost never actually needed, aside from in the intro that shows off how they work, but they're there.

Lowe also played with some other amusing features. You can record lines of out-of-context dialogue so the game can insert them mid-way through to voice one of the characters. You can also set your desktop wallpaper to a particular file and it'll reflect your progress with pin-ups of the most recent character Larry dealt with. It also features a game-long item-hunt puzzle where you repeatedly track down a mysterious figure in red and white "Where's Dildo?" (though that gag didn't work so well in the UK, where the character is called Wally). Love for Sail arguably contains the greatest default response in the history of adventure gaming courtesy of Peggy, the ship's foul-mouthed, peg-legged deckhand. Ask her about something she doesn't know and, complete with bleeps, she just replies "I don't know **** about that. But! I do know this! Your mother was a ***** ***** ****** ****** *****************!"

Security is Serious Business on the ship. As long as nobody's forgotten to lock the door it's all protecting.

The fact that Love For Sail bleeps its swears and keeps even nudity to Easter eggs is an indicator of how harmless it is as a game. A few specific scenes, like Larry's game of Strip Liar's Dice with a hot casino fly who has no intention whatsoever of playing fair, or an encounter with a pair of country and western singers, do get a little more graphic than the rest. Even then, those bits are short, and stop before they've even started to tease. This is a comedy, and a funny one, built on deliberately bad jokes and physical humour and bursts of surrealism courtesy of the high-resolution (for the time) cartoon graphics. If you find it sexy, that's a bonus. It's absolutely not required to enjoy the game.

There are though a few definite 'urgh' moments scattered around, including a couple of overplayed stereotypes, and one genuinely misjudged scene where Larry thinking he's getting lucky with a rich black widow in a darkened room accidentally ends up... how to put this delicately... banging an old man to death. This is unfortunate. Not very funny either. By the end of the game, the basic goal of getting Larry with Thygh also goes pretty sour, both for the fact that they've barely even met by that point, and Larry doesn't typically fall into the trap of chasing lovers as prizes and she has to be outright bribed into finally sleeping with him anyway. None of this works. Larry was always at his best when chasing people because he genuinely wanted to be with them rather than just to have them, usually to the point of being punished with death for aiming for a quick shag. This was very much living down to expectations.

Still less regrettable than Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust...

The rest of the game though more than makes up for that, being a rare case of a game that includes sex having been made with actual love and attention rather than treating the fan-service as a reason not to bother. Love For Sail was able to harness the power of CD and high-resolution graphics (well, for a 2D game in the mid 90s, anyway) to look great and focus on the comedy in a way it never had, with the writing and design to make it well worth doing that. It ended up being a great send-off for the series in its original form, even if two more games and a flat remake would subsequently bludgeon it to death with its borderline sociopathic main character Larry's nephew, Larry Lovage, a failed younger copy stripped of any sense of innocence or emotional connection in a series that saw targets where the original merely saw opportunities. That's a massive, crucial difference. Love or hate original Larry and his games, he deserved better than that as a legacy. Specifically, he deserved more adventures like this.

Leisure Suit Larry: Love For Sale is available on GOG.COM
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Watch Watch Dogs’ multiplayer hacking modes in action">Watch-Dogs1

Ubisoft has finally released a video that delves into a number of Watch Dogs multiplayer modes and it s one video you'll definitely want to watch.

The above video offers a great look at three unique modes, which, gratefully, are nothing like your typical deathmatch or capture the flag modes. All multiplayer takes place in the same world as the single-player campaign, and in the first mode called Online Hacking Contracts we see how they blend together seamlessly. You goal is to invade another player s game, hack him for points you can use for upgrades, and hopefully get away without getting caught.

The second multiplayer mode uses Watch Dogs ctOS Mobile Companion App, which runs on both iOS and Android. In this mode, players can challenge each other to a race, where the player on the PC is trying to get through a series of checkpoints while the player with the the mobile app deployed traps and cops to stop him.

Finally, in the Competitive Decryption Combat mode, two teams race to steal data from a specific location and escape.

It's all pretty cool stuff. Tyler got to play with all of this for a good number of hours, and his hand-on preview has a ton more info. Watch Dogs is out on May 27.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to DayZ update adds new village and bow crafting recipe; removes mouse acceleration">DayZ

DayZ has received a new stable update, and one that introduces some significant features to the game. More importantly, it removes some significant features. So, as we welcome a new village, a recipe for bow crafting and the ability to melee attack with a frying pan, we also bid good riddance to mouse acceleration (or, to go by its scientific name, "weird floaty mouse times").

"Two very important changes were improvements to multiplayer netcode and an entirely new mouse control system that removed the previous one based on mouse acceleration," writes Rocket in the latest DayZ update. The new 1:1 mouse movement should hopefully make DayZ a smoother, and more responsive first-person shooter.

That post also details the DayZ team's upcoming focus, much of which is in pursuit of greater optimisation in the future. 64-bit servers are being tested, solving memory-limit issues; the renderer is being disconnected from simulation, leading towards client-side FPS improvements; and loot respawn experiments are going ahead, in the hope of a globally managed loot solution.

As for other upcoming changes, Rocket is teasing a new city that the team are working on. "This city, called Novodmitrovsk, will have an industrial zone and is very close in size to Cherno or Electro but located in the north of our terrain."

You can see the full patch notes for 0.44.123800 below:

Known Issues:

Binoculars not functioning properly in crouch and prone states.

Thrown objects moving at a slow frame rate during peak server load

Crossbow damage higher than desired

Player breathing in first person louder than desired

Ongoing melee balancing has zombies more resilient to body impacts. (Aim for the head)

Accelerated Time falls out of sync after extended uptime (disabled for this update)


Actions: Melee attacks added to frying pan and cooking pot

Actions: Recipe for bow crafting added

Items: Dexterity of shotguns, pistols and rifles configured

Items: Tracksuit Jackets and Russian Officer Hat configured and added to loot spawns

Items: Binoculars configured and added to loot spawns (known issues above with this item)

Items: Implemented Crossbow + bolts.

Server: Basic item bullet physics enabled (known issues tied to server performance)

Server: New guaranteed messaging system for network traffic

Server: New player spawn locations near Klen, Chernaya Polana, Orlovets

Server: Accelerated Time implemented for gameservers

Systems: 1:1 Mouse control / movement

World: New Ash Tree model

World: New village "Karmanovka" has been added


Actions: Crafting with medical items - splints, blood bags, blood testing

Actions: Removed force feed and force drink from epinephrine and morphine

Actions: You can no longer turn on flashlight or defibrillator laying on the ground without battery being attached to it

Actions: You can no longer empty magazines or ammunition boxes laying on the ground (and loose ammo)

Actions: Players loading into server no longer play reloading SFX

Actions: Burlap sack removes from head properly

Actions: Apply defibrillator action messages

Actions: You can catch rain holding bottle in hand only

Actions: moved quantity manipulation and item removal directly into action on self

Actions: added config entries to actions for single use food and drinks

Actions: Single use food and drink items now adding to player water and energy levels

Actions: Injection vial cannot be consumed

Actions: Medical items related actions on other player (proper quantity handling)

Animations: Player now can wave (F1) when unarmed or holding one-handed item with raised hands.

Animations: playing correct footstep sounds for 2handed melee raised run, aimed rifle run

Animations: Removed the jerky motion when sometimes equipping a weapon/item, usually at the start of eating/drinking/bandaging

Animations: sitting with 2 handed melee should now work properly

Animations: Fixed an issue where you would first stand up when pressing crouch in unarmed sitting pose

Animations: Fixed an issue where you couldn't sit from unarmed prone directly.

Animations: fixed missing rotation animation for unarmed crouched player

Animations: Iron sights now use all 3 parameters for min, max and init zoom. Values of these params tweaked.

Animations: Player's "naked eye" max zoom level lowered. It allows for the same max zoom as iron sights.

Gear: Improvised courier bag and taloon backpack shows their damage state in inspect window

Gear: Green bandage stops bleeding

Gear: Fruits no longer show 100% label

Gear: FNX45 red dot sight optics renamed and now requires 9V battery in order to work

Gear: Resolved chambering issue with 22 related to stack quantity

Gear: Tablets amount in inventory slot changed from % to pills

World: Rocks at Ship Wreck location reworked

Zombies: Melee attack bleed chance nerfed

Zombies: Damage is dealt to head while kneeling

PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Watch Dogs’ hero is a lovable loser, and I’m a low-rent super villain">vlcsnap-2014-04-22-15h57m32s13

I keep pausing at doors, fumbling with the controller to find the open button. Watch Dogs world is better than that. I remind myself to just walk through the door, and borderline-schlubby hero Aiden Pearce pushes it open and steps into a dingy pawn shop, all shrouded in darkness until his eyes adjust to the dim bulbs. I walk out, then back in, untraining myself to stop and wait for a loading screen.

Watch Dogs near-future Chicago feels incredibly real, indoors and out. It's dense, full of debris, full of life. It feels a lot more like a city than the playgrounds of GTA and Saints Row, and I said the same after I played the high-tech crime drama in Montreal last year (just before it was delayed). After five more hours of play at an event in San Francisco last week (which was PS4 only, I'm afraid), I still think so, though it s exposed more of its flaws now.

The pedestrians have dumb mouths, for instance. Standing in one spot, I heard the same conversation three times in a row, the same voices miraculously coming out of different pairs of pedestrians. I rode a motorcycle by the curb at all of five miles per hour and someone on the sidewalk flipped out and called me crazy. The pedestrians are very stupid, and that s disappointing in a Chicago that s otherwise intricately simulated. But far more damaging to my suspension of disbelief is how many of them I kill.

How I terrorized Chicago

When I'm put into a system, I can't help but want to test the rules, to see how far I can go in any one direction. So, I pull out my gun and unload it into a group of pedestrians. It feels a bit horrific in such a well-realized city, but I can do it, so I do it. The police take me down, and I reappear where I was with my reputation meter reduced to "hoodlum." There's no restraint to the violence outside a meter that represents your public image (oh no, a meter!), so outside of missions and side missions, Watch Dogs is GTA: a big city where you can steal cars, drive recklessly, kill pedestrians, kill police, and suffer no consequences.

I missed this part of the demo, but yep, it's a thing you can do.

Aiden Pearce doesn't seem like someone who'd use the city as a playground for indiscriminate violence, but Watch Dogs tries to have it both ways. On one hand it addresses the perils of vigilantism and the surveillance state with tricky decisions and characters who I think we'll come to like a lot, and on the other it offers a Saints Row-style death and destruction bonus mode with a spider tank. It struggles to be both at once: I felt like I was playing two games, one as Aiden, and one as a crappy Spider-Man villain.

For sure, though, being a crappy Spider-Man villain kicks ass. I love driving muscle cars around Chicago, barreling into lesser vehicles, zapping traffic lights to cause crashes, sticking up gun shops, shooting criminals in their backs before they can even commit a crime, and casually wandering around bursting underground steam pipes. (They erupt through the pavement, launching cars into massive plumes of superheated water, and it's glorious.)

Aiden's form of the justice system.

Life gets even worse for the residents of Chicago when, teleported to a later part of the game, I discover that Aiden's blackout gadget is my favorite thing ever. It does what it says, cutting the power to the city so I can drive around waiting for the awesome moment when all the lights flick back on I do it over and over just because of how cool that looks. I also spend a full minute raising and lowering concrete blockers under a small car, watching the driver freak out as I give him the hydraulics experience, eventually flipping the car over. Being a dick is fun.

Being Aiden Pearce

Aiden Pearce is kind of a dick, too, but the biggest surprise of the demo is how much I like Watch Dogs' protagonist. I like him more than the low-rent villain I spent so much time playing as. Though he mopes and rasps like Batman, he doesn't have the chiseled jaw of your vanilla comic book hero, and really, he's kind of a loser.

A man who hasn't made good life decisions.

Aiden's a not-quite-reformed criminal who lives to protect his sister and nephew while taking bloody revenge on the rival somebodies who killed his niece (she was in his car, someone shot out a tire, it crashed, she died, very tragic). He seems to like his cool, distant, hardened-by-the-world persona, even though it got his niece killed and he's a bit too old to be running around in a leather trench coat, living in a motel and fancying himself a badass. It's kind of sad, but charmingly sad. Aiden is that guy who watches Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels every weekend and wishes it were real life. Kind of dopey, not anyone I'd peg as a hardboiled criminal. I want to pinch his dumb cheeks, except he has a gun and no big qualms with using it.

His hired sidekick, Jordi, is even better. In the few brief scenes I saw with him, he effortlessly became my most anticipated part of the game. Jordi could be the funniest, best-acted character Ubisoft has ever created. There's generally a sense of humor to Watch Dogs that surprised me. Outside of the intro cinematic, in which someone actually says "this guy's hacking days are done," the writing is smart and funny it's a game story I look forward to, which is rare.

Having it all

One concern is just how much Watch Dogs tries to do it's like a restaurant with a 20 page menu, where you know that at least the fish dishes are a gamble. There are cars, guns, hacking, gadgets, crafting, skill trees, story missions, side missions of every variety, minigames, several multiplayer modes, and on, and on. The world is dangerously cluttered with hackable stuff too: I was trying to hack a someone s phone and blew him up because I accidentally hacked the circuit box next to him. Justice is blind, and an arsonist.

It's very Ubisoft game design: an open world where there's a marker every five feet with something to do. I was disappointed to find that the main missions stick to the familiar fail, start over, trial-and-error until you succeed structure, but I generally had a lot of fun being Aiden, even the reckless, "somebody stop him!" version of Aiden I mostly played as.

This exceptionally staged screen is supposed to demonstrate mutiplayer.

In side missions, I identified potential crimes and creeped in to intervene, but kept blowing my cover and spooking the criminals before I could witness a crime. I shot them anyway. Justice! In another side mission, I raced cars to check points against the clock, at one point driving a motorcycle through a glass window to shave off a few seconds. Justice! I guess. And that barely begins to cover all the things to do in Chicago.

I just worry that I'll get tired of being Aiden too quickly. He's loveable, but he's also a loser. After five hours of playing, I was more than ready to not be him anymore, to stop chasing down and beating people, to stop getting into gun fights all the time. It's a little exhausting, and all his bravado really kills my suspension of disbelief. Watch Dogs' Chicago feels like an invention of Aiden's mind, a place where he can live out his action movie revenge fantasies without consequence. Maybe the car accident was his fault all along and he's coping by pretending he's a whip smart vigilante. Oh, poor Aiden, constantly imagining car chases and bloody shootouts while he wanders around looking at his smart phone.

I admit I'm getting a bit curmudgeonly I mean, the highlight of my demo was visiting Aiden's sister (it just seems like something a real person would do, OK?) Even that ended with a car chase, though, so clearly Aiden's dream world doesn't let him be a real person for long. It's good then, that the car chases are fun fast, destructive, and with a satisfying conclusion where I chase the guy down on foot and beat him with a night stick.

As long as the story gives me enough motivation (threaten my sister? I have three sisters, I can relate to that, and now I'm in a world where I have unlimited judicial power, so careful there buddy), Aiden's goofy revenge fantasies might become my own. Or I'll just be rampaging around like a villainous maniac, which is fun in its own way, but a little less fulfilling.

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