Braid

The Witness designer Jonathan Blow has shown off an early prototype of a new game. While not official in any capacity, the unveiling happened during his talk at the Reboot Develop conference in Croatia. Thankfully, it was livestreamed on Twitch, so we're able to get a look at it as well—it's been uploaded to YouTube by Daniel Bross, and you can see it in the embed above.

It looks like it's a puzzle game that consists of pushing blocks around. According to Blow, it's still very early on in development, as most of the work has been focused on creating the level editor and engine, which will be made available to other developers for free. He said that he "should make and ship" a game on this engine, so we could could end up seeing it come to fruition. And apparently, he's already thrown together more than 25 hours of single-player gameplay, but he noted that it's unpolished and the visuals aren't final.

It might be a while before we see or hear anything else about this untitled game, but we'll be sure to report back when something is revealed. Blow's last two games, Braid and The Witness, were both puzzle games that garnered many positive reviews. In fact, The Witness received glowing remarks from critic Edwin Evans-Thirlwell in PC Gamer's review

Panzer Corps

Slitherine Games announced Panzer Corps 2 last month as a bigger and more advanced take on its 2011 turn-based strategy game, with refined gameplay and a fully-3D engine capable of rendering hundreds of units "with a level of quality and detail never seen before in a wargame." To celebrate the announcement, the studio has teamed up with Bundle Stars to put together a multi-tier Panzer Corps Bundle, featuring the original game and up to 15 pieces of campaign DLC. 

For $3, you get Panzer Corps, which we called "a perfect introduction to the wonderful world of wargaming" in our 2011 review, and the Grand Campaign '39 DLC. For $5, you'll tack on the Grand Campaign '40, '41, '42, '42-'43, and '43 DLCs, and for $10 you'll also get the Afrika Corps, Grand Campaign '44 East, '44 West, '45 East, and '45 West DLCs. And at the top of the heap—$15—it's all of that plus the US Corps '42, '43, '44-'45, and Sea Lion DLCs. 

The base Panzer Corps includes 26 scenarios, played out from the perspective of the Axis, in a single campaign tree that covers the entire course of the war. The Grand Campaign expansions are more specifically focused, and collectively provide a much more in-depth wargaming experience. "Each campaign can be started with the core force from the previous Grand Campaign, so you can continue Grand Campaign ’40 with your core force that completed Grand Campaign ’39," the Bundle Stars listing explains. "Alternatively players can start with a preset core force and play each campaign on its own, or jump in to the Grand Campaign at any year." 

Your mileage may vary (Did you know that the Panzer IV had an operational range of 200 km? It's true.) but to my mind, if you're at all interested in this package then the top tier is the only way to go: It's got everything that's in the Panzer Corps Gold bundle on Steam except the Allied and Soviet Corp DLCs, and that sucker will set you back $80—and it's a lot more expensive than that if you buy the expansions separately. 

The Bundle Stars Panzer Corps Bundle is live now and will be available until midnight on April 25.

Some online stores give us a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Read our affiliate policy for more info. 

Outlast 2

Outlast 2, as we learned in March, will be out next week—April 25, to be precise. With the date slowly closing in, developer Red Barrels has released two separate trailers to celebrate the moment, one for the sequel, and one for the retail bundle coming on the same day, called Outlast Trinity. 

Outlast 2 is separate from, but very similar to, the original, with ill-tempered nasties chasing you around a dark, spooky farm, rather than a dark, spooky insane asylum, while you try to make your escape—and, in this case, locate your missing wife. Luckily, your video camera gives you a limited ability to see in the dark; unluckily, that means you'll occasionally have to lay eyes on the multitudinous horrors spread throughout the game world. Like, for instance, the pit of charred babies that Tim had to walk across last summer. (Which, for the record, he did not like.)   

The trailer above is for Outlast 2, while the one below is for Outlast Trinity. It's a disc-based package featuring Outlast, the Whistleblower DLC, and Outlast 2, which Red Barrels said in March would be released for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, but not the PC. The press release put out right around the same time by distributor WBIE, however, says that it is coming to the PC—although a poke around retailers including Amazon, GameStop, and a few overseas sites uncovered no evidence of its existence alongside the console boxes. 

I've reached out to Red Barrels directly to try to clarify the situation, and will update if I receive a reply. In the meantime, I don't know, so here's the trailer.   

DARK SOULS™ III

Source: Undead Burg

In games all about the futility of humanity and slow cycles of decay, Dark Souls series director Hidetaka Miyazaki went to incredible lengths just to shine a little light on the same players he punished so severely. How is it that "Praise the sun!" became the phrase most synonymous with such a somber series?

You don’t need to have played Dark Souls to be familiar with praising the sun. Chances are you’ve seen it in an all-caps Reddit comment, scrolled past the ‘praising intensifies’ gif somewhere on Twitter or Facebook, or watched convention-goers praise the sun for photos like it was the new planking. This cultural takeover, the permeation of celebration through a game that intentionally restricts communication, is all according to Miyazaki’s grand design—and it began long before the kindling of the first flame.

Early light

Demon’s Souls was the foundation for the mechanics that we now think of as the souls-like genre—abstract multiplayer, maddeningly opaque lore, and soul-crushing difficulty. It’s commonly considered Hidetaka Miyazaki’s original creation that led to its popular Dark Souls offspring, but the genre, and the sun gesture with it, might not exist at all without Miyazaki’s rebellious spirit. In a 2015 interview with The Guardian, he explains how he took over the failing project:

“The project had problems and the team had been unable to create a compelling prototype. But when I heard it was a fantasy-action role-playing game, I was excited. I figured if I could find a way to take control of the game, I could turn it into anything I wanted. Best of all, if my ideas failed, nobody would care—it was already a failure.”

Hidetaka Miyazaki went from programmer to president at FromSoftware within 10 years.

Dark Souls went from an obscure Japanese action RPG to a household name among PC gamers, so it's clear how that gamble turned out for Miyazaki. Demon’s Souls was more than just the origins of the souls genre. It was also the birthplace for Miyazaki’s sunlight scheme. 

When I presented the game to the rest of the company, I showed them that pose and one of the higher ups told me it just wasn't cool enough. Of course I told him I'd get rid of it but I secretly kept it in the game.

Hidetaka Miyazaki

In Demon’s Souls, praising the sun only makes a guest appearance and isn’t referred to as “praising the sun.” Just like the rest of Dark Souls lore, it’s been there longer than anyone knew to look for it. It’s an uncommon gesture in Demon Souls, used only when a character casts a miracle while wearing the Ring of Sincere Prayer. In the Dark Souls Design Works set of interviews, originally only published in Japanese, Miyazaki explains how the gesture arrived first in Demon’s Souls and later in Dark Souls: 

"That pose actually carries some significance for me. During Demon’s Souls, that was a holy sign. When I presented the game to the rest of the company, I showed them that pose and one of the higher ups told me it just wasn't cool enough. Of course I told him I'd get rid of it but I secretly kept it in the game. So naturally, with [Dark Souls] I was determined to use it."

After successfully smuggling the pose into Demon’s Souls, Miyazaki was determined to bring it with him to Dark Souls. To spread his holy message, he needed a prophet. Thus, the Warriors of Sunlight were born.

Father sun

Up to this point, praising the sun had been met with little recognition. It existed in Demon’s Souls only as contraband, going mostly unnoticed. Miyazaki knew that his movement would need a champion in order to survive.

Source: ThePruld on YouTube 

Solaire is the first Warrior of Sunlight that the player meets several hours into Dark Souls. Up until running into him in the Undead Parish, you’ve been beaten up, beaten down, and mocked by environment and NPC alike for the curiosity that other games used to laud you for. Solaire, by contrast, immediately offers to help you. He can be summoned as a companion during the next boss fight and several others throughout the game. He’s a consistent presence of support and friendship throughout an otherwise lonely journey. 

When asked why they praise the sun in a Reddit thread, MightySquidWarrior gave the following interpretation: 

"Without waxing too poetic about my man-crush for Knight Solaire, let me just point out that he is the first person players encounter who is truly nice to us for no reason other than that he is a friendly fellow. At this point, we've been beaten down so many times we think everything that moves in the game is out to kill us, so encountering an outright helpful NPC is shocking. In our joy, we praise the sun."

The only way to convene a sunbros meeting is with synchronized sun-praising.

Unexpected kindness or silliness is the common theme in just about anything that becomes popular in the Dark Souls community. Dressing up as an NPC when invaded became a fad thanks to the hiding in plain sight video. The Fashion Police had a moment to shine after a theatrical retelling of an encounter cropped up on Reddit. In a series that routinely builds players up just for the sadism of knocking them back down again, every little ray of sunshine is a victory worthy of praise. Solaire, as MightySquidWarrior explained, is arguably the first such ray of sunshine that players of the original Dark Souls ever experienced. It’s a memorable moment that fiercely endears players to Solaire.

Sun language

Miyazaki gave created Solaire of Astora, the grossly incandescent Warrior of Sunlight, knowing full-well the impression he would leave on players. Even so, that alone would not have been enough to raise everyone's hands in sun-praising. Miyazaki's methods are more subtle than that. 

Gestures are indispensable in Dark Souls. The entire game fundamentally restricts communication. You play a voiceless character who can often only interact with NPCs by gesturing or attacking. When it comes to multiplayer, the lack of both voice and text communication leaves you similarly hamstrung. To communicate with others, friend and foe alike, gestures became a dialect of their own. It became customary to bow before fighting a hostile player invader. It only made sense to give a good “hurrah” or jump with joy after a particularly difficult fight. You may even prostrate yourself if things are looking particularly dire. Then, after joining Solaire’s Warriors of Sunlight covenant later in the game—and who wouldn’t—you’re gifted a glorious new gesture. You can now praise the sun.

"If only I could be so grossly incandescent!" Solaire of Astora

The beauty of praising the sun is that it has no baked-in meaning. Waving and bowing and pointing all have obvious uses based on real-world application. Before putting the gesture into players’ hands, throwing your arms up in the air with your palms out while standing tiptoed could have meant anything, but it's a  unique gesture that only looks like a person preparing to swan dive or somehow take off flying.

Praising the sun was an opportunity for players to place their own meaning on the game world, rather than continue to excavate its vague item descriptions and cryptic cut scenes for scraps of information. In a series so bent on kicking the player while they're down, on dragging them through a broken record of humanity's greatest failures, it's a fun, hopeful gesture that rises to the top. 

So with Solaire as their inspiration, everyone came to a collective, gradual decision on the meaning of praising the sun. It would be a sign of joy, hope, and jolly cooperation.

Call of Duty®

It appears that the rumor that Activision's Call of Duty series would return to the Second World War in its next installment was true: A countdown at callofduty.com is leading to the "worldwide reveal livestream" of Call of Duty: WWII in the middle of next week. 

The site doesn't reveal anything more than the setting, with an image of an American GI who's clearly seen too much, and that Sledgehammer Games is the developer. An option to sign up to be notified when the livestream begins is also available.

Roughly five days remain on the clock, and in case there was any doubt it's labeled with the time and date of the reveal: April 26, at 10 am PT. We've reached out to Activision for more information, and while we'll probably have to wait for the big moment like everyone else, we'll let you know if we hear more. 

Abandon Ship

When Abandon Ship was first announced late last year it came with a special billing. "FTL-meets-Sunless Sea in the golden age of sail" so said developer Fireblade Software which, alongside its high-fantasy themes, procedurally-generated world, and oil painting-like art style, sounded impressive. 

So impressive that we invited Fireblade's Gary Burchell and Adam Thacker to the PC Gamer Weekender to talk us through how development is going, and how we'll aim to conquer the high seas when Abandon Ship lands later this year. 

Live from the Gamer Stage, Burchell and Thacker dive deep (sorry) into the game's exploration, combat, and inventory and trading systems—all of which looks to be shaping up nicely.

PC Gamer

As the name implies, Mr Shifty’s protagonist can ‘shift’—or teleport dodge—with supernatural speed, a very convenient skill if bludgeoning baddies to death is your vocation. And bludgeon he does, because this game closely resembles Hotline Miami in its approach to fast-paced, calculated top-down violence, though it replaces Hotline Miami’s thick sense of style with an effective, if one note, novelty.That novelty is—you guessed it—the shift ability. In this otherwise very straightforward action game, Mr Shifty’s special skill is the saving grace. His ability to flank and outmanoeuvre enemies, in addition to the convenience of warping through walls, is a delight to experiment with, and the game thoroughly explores most of the ways in which such a skill can be applied.

The story is negligible: a corporate villain called Chairman Stone has some deadly plutonium, and you have to infiltrate his skyscraper to retrieve it. Along the way you’ll lay waste to thousands of hapless minions, and engage in some very light puzzling. These minions range from bumbling oafs who punch you, through to snipers, dual-pistol wielders, lasers (of course), and other enemies with flamethrowers, grenade launchers, and machine guns.And that’s pretty much the sum total of what you need to know about Mr Shifty. It’s very rare that something arrives so stripped of all the moreish qualities games are expected to have in this age. There are no collectibles, there are no new powers to unlock: it’s just you, the agile Mr Shifty, and the relatively breezy problems he must overcome.Mr Shifty doesn’t have a gun, but he can pick up some neat perishable melee weapons throughout the levels, ranging from wooden planks to a golden trident which, when thrown precisely, can nail a whole line of enemies against a wall. Aside from shifting, the only other special power here is a meter which, when filled after enough attacks, automatically slows down time if a bullet draws too close.Meanwhile, you’re able to use environmental hazards to kill enemies, and while you can never pick up their weapons you’re able to—for example—catch a grenade and throw it back at its source. One cool encounter forced me to blink to a door guarded by enemies, quickly open it to allow a deadly turret to obliterate them, before blinking out of the way just in time.

While the movement and pace of Mr Shifty never feels bad, the game does rely on a few annoying tropes—for instance, temporarily removing your cool ability as an added mid-game twist. I hated this, because it revealed how reliant this game is on the inherent joy of blinking the nominal character around the levels, and without being able to shift whenever I wanted I got bored. Also, while the combat always has impact and always feels empowering, the several instances of wave-based enemy encounters was tedious rather than challenging. Mr Shifty is at its best when all enemies have been placed deliberately, purposefully.Meanwhile, Mr Shifty isn’t as challenging as the likes of Hotline Miami, and chances are you’ll knock it over in about 5 hours. It’s a neat game built around a single neat idea, and once the neat idea’s every permutation has been exhausted, the Mr Shifty gracefully bows out. Hardly groundbreaking, but the fluidity of the combat and simplicity of its execution makes Mr Shifty recommendable for fast-paced, top-down punching enthusiasts.

H1Z1: King of the Kill

The crowd of pro players is being told that they need to put white booties on over their shoes before walking onto the shiny black stage floor for rehearsal, and one player asks if his flip-flops count as shoes or if he should put the booties on over his bare feet. The fog machine is not producing fog, the players are also informed, but instead a "water-based haze" that shouldn't bother any allergies. As former NBA player Rick Fox stares at the screen of his phone while slowly pacing the circular stage—booties on—a production assistant strides over to another crew member, asking if there’s Red Bull anywhere on stage. "I have no idea," he's told. The PA hurries away. "I have no eyes on Red Bull," he reports gravely into his headset.

It's March, and I'm awkwardly trying to find a good place to stand in a crowded television studio—out of everyone's way but still close enough to observe everything—at the H1Z1: King of the Kill "Fight for the Crown" tournament in Los Angeles. With a $300,000 purse—$180,000 going to the winner, as well as smaller prizes for teams placing 2nd through 5th—it's the first official team-based tournament for Daybreak's Early Access battle royale shooter, and it will be edited and televised on the CW a month later. There are a lot of other firsts today: for some players it's their first tournament ever, and for many it's the first time they've met their teammates in person, despite playing with them online for months or even years. In the designated smoking area outside, I chat with a woman who has flown in from Wisconsin with one of the players, her nephew. "It's the first time he's been on a plane," she tells me.

Before the tournament begins, there are two practice matches scheduled. 15 teams of five players will parachute onto the map to begin looting buildings, scavenging weapons, ammo, armor, and first-aid. As they search for gear, a circle of poison gas will slowly close around the map, pushing the teams closer and closer to each other. The last team standing—even if only a single player on that team remains—wins.

75 Remain

So far, there's been a distinct lack of fighting and no killing to speak of.

The first practice match begins, and as the teams descend onto the map, the UI on the screen reads 75 REMAIN, 15 TEAMS. For the first few minutes, the teams are scattered widely over the map, scavenging in tight clusters and piling into vehicles together. But as the minutes pass and the circle of gas begins to close, teams draw near and conflict seems inevitable.

Still, for long minutes, there's not a single shot fired. Occasionally two teams will wind up just a few buildings apart in one of the map's towns. Their guns remain silent, however, and they eventually withdraw and head in different directions. More time passes. There's still no combat. It's not boring, but I do keep staring at 75 REMAIN, 15 TEAMS at the top of the screen. This is King of The Kill. This is Fight for the Crown. So far, there's been a distinct lack of fighting and no killing to speak of.

After the practice round, I spoke with Inboxes, a pro player for Rogue, the Las Vegas based esports organization, about the lack of action in the early minutes of the match, and if it was due to an abundance of caution or if the teams simply hadn't spotted each other.

"We saw a ton of people before anybody died," Inboxes told me. "We saw multiple cars, multiple teams, and I think just like every other team we made the conscious decision to get the hell out of there and stay alive as long as possible. Because that's what matters. Placement. It doesn't matter how many kills you get in these tournaments, it's placement."

In the end, it becomes a frantic and confusing bloodbath of hipshots and thrown grenades

Placement or not, by my watch it's now been more than twenty minutes of play and no one has even fired a single shot. 75 REMAIN, 15 TEAMS. I watch plenty of H1Z1 streams, as well as other battle royale games on Twitch, and I enjoy the building of tension between skirmishes. Right now, though, I'm beginning to wonder if this type of match will work for an edited television show. Despite the fact that the only activity thus far has been running, looting, and driving, the two announcers (Gold Glove and Ceez) have kept up the constant stream of patter and banter, but twenty solid minutes of players picking up guns and not firing them? It feels like it could be a struggle to present this in dramatic fashion on TV.

"We expected that," H1Z1's executive producer Chris Wynn tells me after the practice round ends. "I've been saying we'll go fifteen to twenty minutes without any action, and then you're gonna get a whole bunch. It's just the nature of what's at stake, and the fact that you get one chance so everyone's trying to be a little bit more cautious."

"That one went a little bit longer than I thought [it] would," Wynn admits. "And then you have just an explosion of action and it can be hard to follow."

Wynn is right: the first practice ends in sudden burst of violence that leaves the commentators and control room scrambling to capture what's actually happening and who it's happening to. With the circle of gas closed to perhaps a three city block radius, there are still 12 teams and 55 players remaining. In the end, it becomes a frantic and confusing bloodbath of hipshots and thrown grenades, enjoyable to watch but difficult to gauge the specifics of. Team Gates wins the practice round in what appears to be less of a strategic victory and more a sheer battle of reflexes.

One more time

Yeah, get pumped, and get out there... do it again.

Grimmybear

The teams leave the arena for a break, then walk back on for the second practice round. Once they've taken their seats on stage, they're told to get up and do it again: the producers want to see a bit more excitement from the players as they enter the arena. "More energy," is the directive. "Look for your people," meaning the audience cheering from the bleachers.

Since the tournament isn't being broadcast live, and the producers want to keep the results secret for a month until it airs, the audience for this event is comprised only of friends and family members the teams brought with them.

"Look for your people?" one player comments as the teams queue up to enter the arena properly for the third time. His team's bleacher section is nearly empty. "There's no one here for us."

"That was great," the stage manager announces after the players, more pumped and energetic this time, enter the arena and take their seats again. "One more time." The players get up again and shuffle back off. I begin to wonder if the starting, stopping, and waiting is taking a toll on players who are filled with Red Bull (provided some was found) and are no doubt just itching to play the game already. Does the pre-taped TV aspect of this tournament take a toll?

"Yeah, that's different," Grimmybear of Counter Logic Gaming tells me with a laugh when we talk during a break. Grimmybear has played in the H1Z1 Invitational tournaments, as well as tourneys for Counter-Strike and StarCraft: Brood War.

"It's not too bad, it's not really a problem," Grimmybear continues. "It's just, it's totally different than TwitchCon. You go there [at TwitchCon], they set up the computers, you get ready, and you just chill until the game starts and you're in. And this, they're like, ‘Yeah, get pumped, and get out there... do it again,’" he says, laughing. "So, it's different. But it's not bad. We know it's for TV." 

We're people who play videogames in our rooms all day, you know. We're not actors, we're not used to doing multiple takes.

Inboxes

I ask Inboxes about the TV cameras and retakes as well. "Granted, all of us are... we're people who play videogames in our rooms all day, you know," he says. "We're not actors, we're not used to doing multiple takes.

"I mean obviously this is a little bit uncomfortable for some of us. We're not really used to it, but as for affecting the game itself, no, we're still going to be able to play in our element when the time comes."

As the players take their seats again, there's another wait as Jessica Chobot, host of the show, records a series of bumpers—the short video clips that will lead into commercial breaks during the edited broadcast.

"Things are quickly heating up, so don't go away, we'll be right back," Chobot says from her platform above the stage before the camera returns to position. In another take, she reads: "With over half the teams eliminated, we may have a winner here in just a few moments."

If the final tournament is anything like the first practice round, where 90% of the action is simply players gearing up followed by a quick mess of violence in the final few minutes, I have trouble imagining how they'll be able to use most of her lines.

Press reset

I have no idea who was killed.

Gold Glove

The second practice round eventually begins—and almost immediately ends. Shortly after the round starts, a player abruptly falls through the map and into videogame limbo, and the game has to be restarted. When I spoke to Chris Wynn at the 2017 Game Developers Conference, we discussed the possibility of an Early Access bug disrupting a tournament. This is just a practice round, but it's hard (for me, anyway) not to worry about something similar happening when the final match is in progress.

What's more, as the restarted match proceeds, I notice the 75 REMAIN indicator on the screen drop to 74 a few minutes in. There's no notification of a kill or a death, and no shots have yet been fired—the teams are nowhere near each other. As I watch, the 74 flips back to 75. A bit later, after a player has been eliminated, the screen reads 73 REMAIN. A few moments later, it jumps back to 74 again. Even here on the LAN, it appears a player has briefly lost their connection to the match a few times. Something else to worry about when the real tournament begins.

It's a livelier match this time: the teams are playing much more aggressively, engaging early, and taking risks. In part it's due to time constraints: the teams have been told the round will end in fifteen minutes, even if there's no winner by that time. So, the teams take chances, engage early, and it's a entertaining and eventful match from start to finish. With so much action, the commentators seem to have issues keeping up. "I have no idea who was killed," Goldy says after a violent skirmish. Luminosity Gaming, led by top-ranked H1Z1 player Ninja, wins the second practice round. Now all that's left is the real thing.

Showtime

The actual tournament, perhaps unsurprisingly, is a bit more like the first practice round than the second. Extreme caution reigns, and while eleven minutes into the match a few shots are fired, they don't result in any kills. It takes almost 20 minutes before the first player exits: it's Grimmybear, killed during a skirmish with Team Gates. As the circle closes, entire teams follow: Rebel, Cloud9, Echo Fox, Rogue, and CLG are all eliminated. The final three teams as the circle closes: Luminosity, World's Best Gaming, and Obey Alliance. Obey waits while the other two teams whittle each other down, then off the remainders without any of their own team dying to take home $180,000 of the $300,000 purse.

But did it make for good TV?

Watching the members of Echo Fox squat in a cloud of gas using bandage after bandage wasn't exactly gripping TV

I watched the tournament on the CW last night, and I really enjoyed it. Via the magic of editing, the show staggered the landings to show several teams getting their boots on the ground and give viewers some time to get a feel for the teams and where they were on the map. They also gave a good look at a couple of the battles, such as when the Ohio Rebels were wiped out, and highlighted some fun moments, like when CLG's plan to camp a rooftop fell apart after the wall of gas reached them before they had a chance to snipe another team, and they had to scamper to safety.

But there was a lot of padding in the hour-long special (such as showing the Ohio Rebels getting wiped out, again, after a commercial break). There were several long montages of player eliminations, though each elimination was shown so briefly it was hard to tell how or why most of the players were killed. And there were a number of cutaway segments of team members talking strategy (sort of), discussing what they planned to spend their winnings on (stuff), and which teams the players felt posed the biggest threat.

Not everything worked well on TV. Long distance firefights mostly looked like players hopping around and shooting at near-invisible specks on the screen. There were a lot of shots showing players driving in circles, and watching the members of Echo Fox squat in a cloud of gas using bandage after bandage wasn't exactly gripping TV, no matter how hard the announcers tried to make it so.

Perhaps H1Z1 isn't the perfect esport for television, but it was a good show: energetic, exciting at times and silly at others, and edited deftly enough that I didn't stare at the words 75 REMAIN for the first twenty minutes. Plus, nobody fell through the map or got disconnected. That's gotta count for a win.

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III

Have you read our Dawn of War 3 review in progress yet? Or perhaps you're saving yourself from spoils ahead of its April 27 launch next week. Either way, Relic and Sega's incoming Warhammer-inspired RTS has dropped a launch trailer which, even if you're hiding till next Thursday, is more about scene-setting than plot-spoiling. 

Fancy a look? Here you go:

Six days ahead of schedule is early in the grand scheme of launch trailer unveilings, however Dawn of War 3's falls in-line with today's multiplayer open beta—which kicks off at 6pm BST/10am PST, and runs through to the same time on Monday, April 24. 

You might've spotted Tom, Sam, or Fraser Brown's enthusiastic early impressions before now, however here's how Sega describes what we're in for: 

"Dawn of War 3’s story will unfold across 17 single-player missions, challenging players to command epic heroes, assemble huge armies, and wage war across a range of hostile environments. In Multiplayer, the scale of battle will hit its peak as players unleash towering war machines and screen-shaking super abilities to defeat their foes."

Again, Dawn of War 3 is due April 27, and sign-ups for its multiplayer open beta go live via the game's Steam page from 6pm BST/10am PST today. 

Dota 2

Photo credit: Riot Games

It’s another jam-packed weekend in the world of digital sports and lots of tournaments are reaching the finals stages. There’s plenty of action from the League of Legends LCS Spring Split Finals to the CS:GO cs_summit. We even have the Hearthstone Collegiate National Championship to look forward to. All the details on this weekend’s events can be found below.

League of Legends: 2017 EU LCS Spring Split Finals

Two-time defending EU LCS champions G2 Esports secured three straight wins against Fnatic in the semifinals last Saturday, winning the series and taking a spot in this weekend’s finals. Fnatic didn’t go down without a fight and they caught G2 off-guard in game one with aggressive roaming and early lane swaps, but G2 played safe and punished Fnatic’s over-aggressive plays. Meanwhile, Unicorns of Love took down Misfits in a tense 3-1 series. The final game saw UOL secure an early lead thanks to an explosive play in the bot lane, which gave them a 3-1 lead. UOL used this power advantage to quickly barrage Misfits’ bot-lane and secure a quick 23-minute victory. This weekend’s final schedule and stream can be found over on LoL Esports.

League of Legends: 2017 NA LCS Spring Split Finals

Team SoloMid made short work of FlyQuest in last weekend’s semifinals with a clean 3-0 sweep. Both teams will play in Vancouver this Saturday and TSM will face Cloud9, while FlyQuest will play in the third place match against Phoenix1 in the finals. The series saw both teams pick strong team fighting compositions, but TSM had a better frontline which they used to tank FlyQuest’s damage and snag objectives for a decisive sweep. The semifinal series for Cloud9 was also a one-sided affair as they dominated Phoenix1 in a quick 3-0 series. Cloud9 matched P1 point for point, but they always had the advantage in every skirmish. Phoenix1 desperately tried to make a comeback, but Cloud9’s superiority was shown in game three when they only gave up one tower and three kills. This weekend’s final schedule and stream can be found over on LoL Esports.

Dota 2: StarLadder i-League Invitational European Qualifier

The European qualifiers for the LAN finals of SL i-League Dota 2 Invitational are under way and eight teams will compete in the final playoffs. Cloud9 is kicking the quarterfinals off today when they face Team Spirit at 08:00 PDT / 17:00 CEST, while Natus Vincere tackle Effect later at 11:00 PDT / 20:00 CEST. The semifinals and finals will be broadcast over the course of the weekend, so make sure you head over to the official Dota 2 StarLadder site to find latest schedule and stream.

CS:GO: cs_summit

Eight teams will clash this weekend in a bid to secure the lion’s share of the $150,000 prize pool. Cs_summit offers an informal, relaxed atmosphere for participating players and is designed as a behind-the-scenes style event. Players will be able to take a more active role in the broadcast than what is normally seen at traditional live events, so expect to hear some top quality pro analysis. The semifinals kick off today at 15:30 PDT / 00:30 CEST, while the finals start same time tomorrow. You can check out the full weekend schedule and stream over on Beyond the Summit.

Overwatch: Rumble

The Spring Overwatch Rumble is back once again and the weekend tournament will see eight of the best North American teams clash. However, the pros will also be will be joined by eight qualifying teams, so anything could happen. The format for the tournament will be a round robin and only the top two teams from each group will advance into Sunday's double elimination bracket. The invited teams for this tournament are: EnVyUs, Immortals, Rogue, LG Evil, Cloud9, Splyce, compLexity, and Selfless Gaming.  You can check out the full schedule and stream by visiting Rivalcade's Overwatch Rumble page.

Hearthstone: Collegiate National Championship

After seven weeks of grueling group play, regional playoffs, and an elimination championship bracket, the Hearthstone Collegiate National Championship is coming to an exciting end this weekend. Live finals will be broadcast from the Esports Arena in Santa Ana, California where the remaining teams will battle it out for the lion’s share of the $160,000 prize pool. The Collegiate National Championship is one of the first Blizzard-sanctioned Hearthstone competitions to use the new standard rotation with Journey to Un’Goro in play, so expect plenty of primordial decks. The event will be kicking off tomorrow at 09:00 PDT / 18:00 CEST and will continue at the same time tomorrow. You can check out the full stream by heading over to Twitch.

Heroes of the Storm: Global Championship

The Heroes of the Storm Global Championship is wrapping up week seven of play this weekend and the tension continues to build up. Teams from around the world will be aiming to continue their journey towards the Mid-Season Brawl and secure a top spot in the regular season. Tempo Storm still remains at the top of leaderboard in North America, while Team Liquid are the team to beat in Europe. You can check out the standings for each region and view the tournament schedule for your area over on the Heroes of the Storm’s official site.

Rocket League: Championship Series

The Rocket League Championship Series returns this weekend and things are heating up at the top of the European and North American brackets. NRG have looked extremely strong so far, but G2 will be looking to secure a lead this weekend when they face their rivals tomorrow at 03:20 PDT / 12:20 CEST. Meanwhile, over in Europe Northern Gaming have taken third place and will be looking to take the top spot from Gale Force when they face Pocket Aces Sunday at 13:30 PDT / 10:30 CEST.  Make sure you check out the full schedule and stream over on the official Rocket League: Championship Series website.

StarCraft 2: GSL Super Tournament 2017

The three Global StarCraft League seasons are the pinnacle of competitive StarCraft II play in the Korean scene. This year’s tournament winner will receive $150,000 and a guaranteed spot at the WCS Global Finals, so the competition is expected to be extremely fierce. GSL matches are the defining journeys in many StarCraft II pro players’ careers and it’s likely that we’ll see some new talent shining through. The full schedule and stream can be found by heading over to the WCS StarCraft 2 site.

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