Jan 7, 2014
At this year's Consumer Electronics Show, Valve's Steam Machines are king. The Half-Life developer and Steam creator held a press conference that that everyone wanted to attend, but flipped the script when it devoted the majority of the event to its hardware partners. But even though Gabe Newell gave the briefest of briefs, some Valve-only content was still available: The company's press area included six Steam Machine prototype stations, giving the press a chance to try some popular games with the fabled Steam Controller.
For me, this was a first chance to test how Valve's haptic-powered trackpads hold up in first-person games such as Metro: Last Light and Portal 2. I came away interested in the technology, but not impressed enough to be completely sold on the concept.
The controllers on display were hooked up to 40" televisions through prototype Steam Machine hardware ostensibly the same boxes sent to beta testers late last year. Each test station had a comfortable couch to sit on, emulating a best-case living room gaming setup. Eagerly, I sat down at a station and started playing Metro: Last Light, sliding my thumbs along the controller's rigid trackpads to move and look. The Steam Controller prototype this isn't final hardware by any means uses its haptic feedback capabilities to vibrate under your thumb as you slide across its trackpads. It's an odd sensation: I was acutely aware of each move or twitch I made on the controller's surface, but I'm not sure what it added to the tactile experience.
The trackpads were also incredibly sensitive, at least on the default settings. This isn't necessarily bad: many gamers crank their mouse sensitivity in order to maximize movement. On first picking up the controller, however, it was extremely surprising. I've played shooters on a dual analog joystick setup before, and am used to a decided lack of quickness available the aiming stick will often glide along slowly, and in many cases, a game will throw in some aiming assistance to compensate. There was none of that with the Steam Controller, which means you're getting a purer experience. But it was initially much harder to aim than I'd hoped, and I never quite adapted to the accelerated aiming in my 10 minutes of playtime.
Clicking the dual trackpad controls was also incredibly easy, sometimes to my detriment. I'd crouch when I wasn't expecting to, because the clickiness of the left trackpad was much easier than I'm used to on a thumbstick. I'd like to think that's something to which one can adapt with enough time.
As far as additional buttons, the Steam Controller has plenty for a standard shooter setup. Two sets of triggers on the shoulders could aim and fire, and the buttons on the underside of the controller were responsive and didn't get in the way. The face buttons were easy to reach, though the non-standard setup meant I had to think more about what buttons I wanted to push. Configuring the buttons seemed easy, with a built-in interface that lets you change buttons on the fly.
Games such as Metro: Last Light and Portal 2 make intuitive sense on the Steam Controller, while my limited experience with Starbound proved to be slightly more frustrating, as Evan predicted in his editorial last week. The trackpads' sensitivity didn't lend itself to movement on a 2D plane, though this could be because Starbound isn't quite optimized in its controls the game is Early Access, after all. The ultimate test for Steam Controller, in my opinion, will be games with independent camera and character movement, like Dota 2. Sadly, I didn't get to play one.
I definitely want Steam Controller to succeed I love the idea of a new controller standard, although it would need to live alongside keyboard and mouse controls for other PC functions. And I'm hopeful after an admittedly short playtime with a Steam Controller prototype that such a device could be fantastic. But I need more time to evaluate if such a controller can be viable, and I'd need to see if it really is possible to adapt to such aggressive sensitivity controls.
It doesn't seem like Valve will divulge any release dates or pricing at this year's event--either for the controller or any of the Steam Machines--but I'm confident that Valve's device could be a significantly better experience than existing controllers.
Have you seen the Large Pixel Collider in action? We built the most dangerous computer the world has ever known, and we're capturing gameplay footage of the most graphically-intensive games at settings that would cause conventional PCs emotional harm.
Last week, we debuted our footage of Arma 3, with gorgeous results. This week, we have Metro: Last Light, running at 1440p with every graphical option set to Ultra. Is it enough to bring the LPC to its knees?
Spoilers: No, it is not.
See what's inside the Large Pixel Collider, our own personal demigod of a PC.
Steam Machines are coming soon. Very soon. In fact, they're supposed to come as soon as early 2014. Even sooner than that, however, Valve will send out a prototype of its own design to 300 randomly-selected users for beta testing and it announced a game to come bundled with those prototypes for SteamOS testing.
4A's post-apocalyptic survival horror gem, Metro: Last Light, will be that game. After a May release date on Windows in May of this year, the game landed on Linux and Mac earlier this week. Considering that Linux is the basis for SteamOS, the operating system that Valve plans to release early next year, it was already at least partially primed to work on a Steam Machine.
The entire catalog of Linux-compatible Steam games should be available to play on SteamOS when it launches next year. Although that currently includes just around 200 games, there will be no shortage of games to play if you switch to the OS. You can always manually add non-Steam games into your Steam library and SteamOS will be able to play non-Linux games. But with Metro and the recently-announced Linux version of Total War: Rome II that will also be compatible with the Steam Controller, we can count two more relatively high profile additions to the Linux slate.
Oct 16, 2013
Metro: Last Light has had a fairly random assortment of downloadable content so far, but the latest is perhaps the most fully fledged, particularly if you enjoy getting slabs of new story content rather than extra guns or alternate modes. The Chronicles pack has just been bolted onto Last Light - er, if you part with $4.99/£3.99 first - and adds three additional single-player missions centered around side-characters Pavel, Khan, Ulman and Anna. It also adds that fan-made bicycle shotgun weapon because, hey, old habits die hard. As do mutants.
Want to hear more about those single-player missions? We have you covered. "Discover how Anna, the unflinching Polis Sniper, tried and failed to rescue Artyom from the Reich forces in the ruined botanical gardens," reads the press release. "Put the irrepressible Pavel’s deadly skills and ingenuity to the test as he attempts to escape the Bandit Lair beneath Venice. And guide Khan and Ulman through the forgotten, haunted tunnels of Polyanka in a chilling supernatural tale that reveals a dark secret from Khan’s mysterious past..."
Metro: Last Light is quite good, by the way.
Deep Silver have revealed details of the third of Metro: Last Light's four planned DLC packs. The 'Developer Pack' is due out next week, and... well, I'll level with you, it's a bit of an odd one. Of all the DLC bits we've seen for the post-apocalyptic shooter, it's the one that most resembles a random assortment of disparate ideas, mixed together into a thick goulash.
Here are the three main parts, as announced over Deep Silver's PR tannoy:
"Players can experiment with every gun and attachment combination in the Shooting Range, and complete unique marksman challenges for each weapon."
"The AI Arena allows players to pit customisable squads of human soldiers and mutants against each other or prove themselves in several challenges."
"Lastly, players can explore Metro’s cast of characters, and human and mutant foes, up close in the ‘Metro Museum’."
There's a solo mission, too. The Spider's Nest traps you in a arachnid-infested catacomb, with just a lighter, a torch, and a giant flamethrower for company. That'll be a fun one for arachnophobes.
Despite the weird mix of ideas here, I quite like the sound of the AI Arena. It's unlikely to usurp Salty Bet as the king of the AI battlers, but - as someone who has spent hours creating random fight scenes in Gmod - it's bound to be an amusing distraction.
Previously, Metro: Last Light received the Faction Pack, adding three single-player missions that each dealt with a different group in the game, and the Tower Pack, an out-of-universe combat arena. The final DLC release will be the Chronicles Pack, which will add more single-player missions that explore the side-characters Pavel, Khan & Ulman, and Anna.
Metro: Last Light's Developer Pack is due out September 17th, and is priced £3.19, $3.99 and €3.99.
A soggy, post-apocalyptic underground is no place to find oneself trapped in—so let's jump right back into it, shall we? The second of Metro: Last Light's DLCs was released yesterday. Okay, so the screenshots don't look like the post-apocalyptic Metro we've become far too familiar with—in fact, there's an odd, clinically Portal-like feel to some of these scenarios. That's because 4A Games is using this DLC as an opportunity to focus on what it feels wasn't given enough attention in the base game: the combat.
"We changed everything —from the control scheme, to our animation system, AI, projectile modelling, audio…" 4A says in a developer blog post. "And ultimately, all this work only really came to bear in a few gunfights spread across the campaign!
"We wanted to create some DLC that took advantage of these new, refined combat mechanics, that allowed players to explore the system in more depth—and so the Tower Pack was born."
The Tower is a "combat simulator" almost entirely removed from the Metro universe, with the only familiar carry-over being Last Light's combat mechanics. It's a kind of arena, filled with all of Metro's enemies and weapons, in which you'll get to really let loose with the mechanics in a place separate from Artyom's mission.
The Tower Pack went live on Steam yesterday. If you previously purchased the Season Pass, your game should update automatically. This is the second of Last Light's planned four DLCs, and we've also got some vague hints about the content of the final two DLCs. The next pack, the Developer Pack, will include a shooting gallery, an "AI arena" and a museum of all things Metro, as well as a new solo mission. The final Chronicles Pack sounds like it'll be the real corker of the bunch, though, offering three new single-player missions played from the point of view of four side characters.
Good news, Metro fans! According to Deep Silver CEO Dr. Klemens Kundratitz, more Metro games are planned beyond this year’s Metro: Last Light. Speaking to Joystiq at Gamescom last week, Kundratitz refused to officially announce a Last Light sequel, but emphasized that the franchise would have more entries eventually.
"I’m very glad we acquired that brand," Kundratitz said, referring to Deep Silver’s purchase of Metro from THQ during that troubled publisher’s asset auction earlier this year. "While it launched in a very dry space in the gaming calendar this year, it still got a lot of attention."
Kundratitz also said that future games would be made “more accessible to a broader gaming audience," but insisted that Dmitry Glukhovsky, the author of Metro 2033, still holds the license and has some say in the creative process. Any changes to broaden the audience for future Metro games will have continue to be approved by Glukhovsky.
We enjoyed Metro: Last Light, so we’re happy to see that more Metro games will probably be heading our way in the near-ish future. Now begins the long, long wait.
It's a little late - Metro: Last Light's Faction Pack DLC came out a couple of days ago - but this launch trailer gives you a good idea of the styles of play associated with each of the game's factions. Essentially: sneaky, snipery, and - er - hate-y, as you complete three missions as a Polis Ranger, a Red Line Sniper and a Reich Heavy. It never said they were nice factions.
The Faction Pack is the first of four planned DLC updates for Last Light. Other add-ons will include the Developer Pack, which will "give creative players some interesting tools with which to explore the world of Metro"; the Tower Pack, which is said to offer a "unique solo challenge to Metro veterans"; and the Chronicles Pack, which will bring more single-player missions to the game.
Metro: Last Light Faction Pack is out now, available for $4.99 / £3.99 / €4.99
Jul 10, 2013
Deep Silver has announced a new mutation of Metro: Last Light DLC called the “Faction Pack” which straps you into the soggy boots of three different soldiers who—like the name suggests—belong to separate factions.
There’s the Redline sniper who must defend an outpost during a radioactive storm, a “Reich Heavy” charged with holding the frontline, and a Polis Ranger rookie looking to navigate a forgotten library. Each character has his or her own unique mission, though we wouldn't be surprised if each of the missions tied together somehow.
The Faction Pack hits Steam worldwide on July 16 for $4.99 / £3.99 / €4.99, though it won’t cost you a pretty penny if you snagged the season pass.
Deep Silver also briefly touched upon three new DLC packs, with the “Chronicles Pack” being the most promising as it features new single player missions as well. The other two featured a challenge based "combat simulator" and an AI arena, which sound slightly less interesting than new single player content. The publisher didn't announce release dates or prices for the other pieces of DLC, but hopefully the Faction Pack sets an example the rest will follow.
From PlanetSide to Quake to Team Fortress, the current issue of PC Gamer US is locked and loaded for a countdown of the 25 Greatest Shooters of All Time. Plus, we bring you our review of a brand new Eastern European dystopian shooter with mutants—Metro: Last Light—and invite you to Reinstall a classic Eastern European dystopian shooter with mutants—S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl.
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