PC Gamer
Half-Life


Counter-Strike creator Minh Le has been talking to goRGNtv about Valve's most anticipated projects. He's seen artwork of Valve's next Half-Life game, and more of Left 4 Dead 3, which has been rumoured since the Valve database leak late last year.

"I don't know if I can talk about that, to be honest," says Minh of the new Half-Life, "but I think it's kind of public knowledge that people know that it is being worked on. And so if I were to say that yeah, I've seen some images, like some concept art of it, that wouldn't be big news, to be honest." Sorry Minh.

"But yeah, I guess I could say that I did see something that looked kinda like in the Half-Life universe. It wouldn't surprise anyone if I said they're doing it, they're working on it, yeah. So to go on a limb I'd say I did see some concept art for Half-Life 3."

Minh doesn't sound entirely sure, there. The artwork could have been for Half-Life 2: Episode 3, which Valve promised a long, long time ago. Everyone assumes that Valve have dropped the episodic structure to start a full sequel, but Valve have never commented on those specifics. Gabe Newell has repeatedly confirmed that Valve are still working on Half-Life, though, sometimes in code.

Valve haven't talked officially about Left 4 Dead 3, however. "The one thing I'm really excited about is Left 4 Dead, the new Left 4 Dead," says Minh Le. "I saw it, it looks great. I was really excited when I saw that. I was like 'wow, this looks great'.

"I really enjoyed Left 4 Dead, it was just one of those games that really just changed the industry. I think at the time there wasn't many good co-op games, so it was like yeah, this is a great co-op game."

Mihn Le left Valve years ago, so it's not clear when he saw the work he's talking about in this interview, recorded last week. He was hired by Valve to work on Counter-Strike, but he left in the late 2000s to work on Tactical Intervention. Valve, meanwhile, are also supposedly working on a new iteration of the Source engine. Will L4D3 take advantage of that new tech? Will we learn more at E3 next month?

Thanks to Total XBox for the heads up, via the many eyes and ears of GAF.
PC Gamer
Left 4 Dead


In the UK, most arcade machines are gaudy, flashing money-sinks, designed to trap the arms of extra-strength-beer-swilling drunks as they attempt to pry loose change from the coin return slot. They are places of hellish despair, rich with unique smells and suspicious stains. In other countries, they also contain the promise of fun, friendship, and not stepping in a puddle of sick. Nowhere is this more the case than in Japan, where an array of popular arcades can still attract the interest of developers. Valve, for instance, are now collaborating with arcade specialists Taito on an arcade port of Left 4 Dead.

An informative trailer has surfaced on the port's official site:



Titled Left 4 Dead: Survivors, the concept will likely be similar in scope to Valve/Taito's previous collaboration, Half-Life 2: Survivor.

That's right, there was a Half-Life 2 arcade game, and it looks amazing. Terrible, sure, but also amazing.





In fairness, those are modes designed for arcade. The game's story mode is... sort of Half-Life 2. If you squint a bit.



If we're all very lucky, Left 4 Dead: Survivors will be similarly terribrilliant.
PC Gamer
Evolve


By Ben Griffin.

Picture Left 4 Dead on Avatar s world of Pandora. Picture hordes of exotic wildlife, some friendly and some not so. Picture Bill, Zoey, Louis and Francis replaced by four interplanetary Hunters charged with protecting human colonies in deep space. And picture a 30ft-tall beast gunning for them. Picture that, and you ve gone some way to picturing Evolve, the new four-on-one sci-fi shooter from Left 4 Dead makers Turtle Rock.

Founded in 2002, the developers made their name with the Valve-owned Counter-Strike: Condition Zero, and later Counter- Strike: Source. Then after a prod by Valve to design their own property, the Counter-Strike custodians replied with arguably the best zombie game ever. That was six years ago.

We wanted to do something big before people forgot that we were the Left 4 Dead developers, says Turtle Rock s executive producer Matt O Driscoll. We learned a lot from that game in terms of multiplayer and co-op. Evolve carries the Left 4 Dead DNA.

In Evolve, up to five players face off in class-based combat. Four of them band together as Hunters, while the last plays the monster, which will be different on each map. On Forest Ruin it s the Goliath the angry dad of the Star Wars Rancor with armoured skin and fire breath. O Driscoll likens each 20-minute match to an epic boss battle. Unlike most scripted encounters, where you aim for a glowing weak spot and dodge a flurry of forecasted attackers, fights here are organic. They evolve .



We learnt that people like playing cooperatively, says Phil Robb, founder and art director at Turtle Rock. We re always looking for experiences we want that nobody has given us. That s where a lot of our game ideas come from. As far as what we brought over, it s a lot of small things. Incapacitations, for example: People don t just want to die. We want to give them a chance to come back.

A lot carries over, but much has also been left behind Valve, for example. Certainly Valve had a big part in the initial days of Turtle Rock, Robb says. We worked very closely with them, we learned a lot from working with them. But some of their things are a little different from the way we want to do things. We have often been asked this question: You did Left 4 Dead, but how much did you really do? We re not going to sit here and say a bunch of words and expect you to take our word for it. We re going to make a kickass game. We ll do our best to prove that Turtle Rock is the real deal, and we don t necessarily need Valve to be great... as much as we respect and love them.

Turtle Rock want to establish their own identity, and the way to do that is Shear. A topographically scattershot ball of rock spinning on the end of the Milky Way s longest arm, Shear is Earth if humanity languished in the middle of the food chain. We ve broken from the bounds of the Solar System and spread out across the galaxy. There are colonies everywhere, and the farther you get from Earth, the more inhospitable they become. There is no planet farther than Shear. It s one big frontier town, and people are settling there or trying for the same reason that they settled in the American West. Money. Opportunity. A new life.

Early on, we tried some experiments with making the planet super weird, but at some point you take that too far and people become uncomfortable, Robb says. You want to create a world where people understand the rules... so you draw heavy inspiration from Earth environments. That s the ice, desert and lava levels confirmed, then.



I think you see that in pretty much every science fiction movie ever, he adds. Star Wars certainly did that with Hoth and . Avatar did it too. You ll think that you re in a jungle on Earth, but then something pops out and you re like, Oh, that s new.

That s where our Hunters come in. They re planet tamers think Liam Neeson in The Grey armed with armour-piercing bullets rather than poems. They drop down from ships and safeguard colonies from sharp-toothed natives. The thing is, Robb says, these guys are used to dealing with a certain level of wildlife, but they get here and the monsters are a bit above what they re used to. So they find themselves in a tricky situation. These things are intelligent and they ve got some mysterious unknown agenda that we don t understand.

Pitting differently-powered players against each other recalls Left 4 Dead s Infected mode. The main difference here being that, rather than monsters hunting humans, for the most part humans hunt monsters. So what s to stop the bigger and faster Goliath simply legging it?

On the mode I played, Hunt, the Goliath must meet its own objective to win: here it is destroy the generators. Thing is, he starts as something small and squishy no match for a team of heavily armed Hunters. So his aim is to roam the map killing and eating its fauna in order to bulk up. The first of many different types and builds of boss, Goliath is a King Kong type who can scramble up vertical surfaces and leap like Ang Lee s Hulk. In terms of handling he reminds me of Left 4 Dead s Tank Goliath can charge, wrench and throw rocks from the ground, and flail around with his slab of a forearm.





Only after evolving is he ready to tackle the generators. There are three stages of evolution think of them in terms of height. Stage one: 10ft. Stage two: 20ft. Stage three: 30ft. Before the match starts you ll choose two abilities, and then an extra one upon each evolution. The general rule with consuming creatures is that the tougher they are, the quicker you ll evolve. Those long-armed sloths are a pushover compared with that imposing herd of dinosaur deer with blue spiral snouts, but they don t drop nearly as much meat. The fiercest animals give health bonuses and damage buffs, but sometimes they re better left alone entirely. Turtle Rock call these elite animals .

One such elite bathes in a cloudy shallow pool on Forest Ruins, an alligator-snapping turtle hybrid the size of a train carriage. Robb explains: One of the cool techniques as the monster is, say you re a little bit banged up but you need to bring the fight to , go hang out by the Tyrant pool. He s more standoffish against a stage three monster but he loves to eat Hunters. So you sit around there and sooner or later you re going to knock one of those poor buggers into the pool and he s going to eat them and all hell breaks loose. It s a really great strategy for the monster to use.

Indeed, there are numerous ways to utilise Shear s wildlife. As a stage one Goliath fleeing the Hunters, I spot a reaver den and cut through it. They re too small to pose a threat to me but they ll certainly give humans a hard time. Then, after lengthening the gap, I circle around and gobble up all the freshly killed reaver corpses. Yummy.

The wildlife stands in for Left 4 Dead s common Infected, but they re fewer in number and not as consistently aggressive. Sloths might give you a swat if you walk too close but they re not out for blood. The monkey-like reavers, on the other hand, are. Pack animals, they ll come after Hunters. At one point a Jockey-type jumped on my face and exploded in a green cloud of noxious gas. But what of Left 4 Dead s memorable horde technology? In terms of that sense of being overwhelmed we were not really aiming for that, but a different kind of tension, Robb says.



When you ve gorged on enough local wildlife to fill your bar, you can evolve. Choose your moment though, because just like a teenager in puberty, you re especially vulnerable during your transitional period. A ground-trembling roar echoes around the level when you grow, signalling that the Hunters are about to become the hunted.

However, if the Goliath instead wants to play it safe and evolve further before risking an engagement, Hunters have ways of finding him. They can follow the roars, feel vibrations in their controllers, and look for flocks of unsettled alien birds that give away the Goliath s position. There are also sound spikes to stick in the ground that alert the team to suspicious movement, electric mines (up to eight of which can be planted at once), and waypoints. For the latter, clicking the right stick paints a yellow marker on the horizon in order to guide teammates towards areas of interest. If you happen to highlight the monster as you do so, this marker glows red.

All Hunters have jetpacks as well. Navigating Shear s craggy terrain would prove impossible without them. They re limited by a cool-down timer, but Evolve is generous with it. If you fall short of a steep cliff, you ll automatically amble your way up to save being separated from your buddies. There are also Hunter-only perils. At one point I plunged down a deep human-sized hole that took an entire jetpack boost to escape from.

Each of the four Hunters has a unique role in the team. As the Trapper, Griffin can capture the monster. His harpoon gun restricts its movement, and he has sole access to sound spikes. His most important ability is the mobile arena. If timed correctly, you can trap the monster under a huge blue dome for a limited time. This is where the Markov the Assault comes in. His close-range lightning gun and long-range rifle make him the ideal damage-dealer, and when the going gets tough a personal shield makes him momentarily invulnerable.

If the Trapper and Assault are the front-man and guitarist of the group, Support man Hank is the drummer. His laser cutter deals moderate damage, but his shield gun makes him great backup: aim it at someone to reduce their damage. He also has a cloak, and anyone inside its radius will be rendered completely invisible to the monster, who will have to It s not just the boss you need to watch for these sloths are riled, too. The Hunters protect the generator from a third tier Goliath. All the characters have cool little touches, like cigar-chomping Hank. rely on infrared smell-o-vision (click the right stick to take a sniff). Hank also has the fiercest ability of the team, a fearsome orbital strike.



Lastly, Medic Val s medgun emits green beams of health, and her healing blast instantly replenishes teammates within the radius. She s important in tracking, too. Her tranquilliser rifle slows the monster to a crawl, while her anti-material rifle pierces its skin. If teammates target the area where it hits, they ll deal extra damage.

Combining powers is key to victory. For example, restricting the monster s movement with the harpoon gun, trapping it with the mobile arena and then slowing it with the tranquilliser rifle allows the Support to line up an orbital barrage. These characters are designed to be memorable, too. Griffin looks fresh from the outback with his Aussie hat and hunting knife. The bruiser Hank has a lucky playing card strapped to his bicep. Markov heaves a pair of chunky Tesla coils on his shoulders. In both shape and colour, these characters are immediately identifiable in a firefight.

Each class contains several characters, too. All the Assault guys are big guys. Markov has these double Tesla coils but the other guys have things. We want the monster to take a look and base his strategy on who he s facing. Once you play it long enough you ll learn what characters can do. Oh there s Markov, I m going to play this way to counteract what he can do. Each one of the Assault guys does damage their own way, says Robb. This, he hopes, will lend longevity to the game.

Indeed, there s a lot more to come from the currently pre-alpha Evolve. Despite the absence of Valve, first contact leaves me impressed with its distinctly Left 4 Dead level of polish. Turtle Rock have evidently learned from the masters and grown as a game-maker. They ve evolved, and perhaps the very idea of co-op will, too.
PC Gamer
l4d2 raptor p90


Good community content continues to flow from Left 4 Dead 2, a game we can't seem to stop championing for its healthy modding scene. Our latest praise is aimed at GoldenEye 4 Dead, an adaptation of the 1995 James Bond film and Nintendo 64 game that isn't afraid to bring original ideas to a setting most gamers are deeply familiar with.

Watch my playthrough with Tyler above.

Download links to featured mods
 
Download GoldenEye 4 Dead campaign
Download S&W Model 29 revolver weapon mod
Download Stevens Model 620 shotgun weapon mod
Download Lightsaber weapon mod
Download Desert Recon FN P90 weapon mod
Download Mountain Dew pills
Download Captain Price character mod
Download Hitler Hunter character mod
Download Glowing One Spitter character mod
Download Raptor Ellis character mod
PC Gamer
DNIEPR Left 4 Dead Campaign

After three years of labor, French development team Elseware Experience is finally ready to release DNIEPR, a custom Left 4 Dead campaign placed in the bleak Soviet-era ghost town of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.
I can't believe I didn't realize before now how perfect the abandoned Ukrainian city of Pripyat (also the subject of STALKER: Call of Pripyat) would be for zombie hordes and rampaging Tanks. Now that I’ve seen it in action, it’s chilling how much photos of Pripyat already look like set dressing for The Walking Dead.



This project is the kind of thing that makes you love gaming on PC. Three and a half years after Left 4 Dead 2 released, here we are with another completely new campaign with four new maps, an original story, an original soundtrack and custom models. If you'd like to show your support for the "hundreds and hundreds" of hours Elseware took to create DNIEPR, you can send them a donation at the bottom of this page.


DNIEPR will be available for download on May 20. If you haven’t played L4D2 in a while, this is a perfect excuse to reinstall and jump back in. If you need even more reasons, we've covered a plenty of great content mods for Left 4 Dead before.
PC Gamer
Hellraid


Last week, Techland announced its new game, Hellraid, with a few screenshots and some promises. This week, though, they’ve got a teaser trailer full of gameplay that backs up some of those promises, and it’s looking pretty interesting.

There’s a distinct taste of Skyrim in the visuals, but the melee combat in The Elder Scrolls has never had this much gravitas without extensive modding. Enemies counter and duck your sword, and parrying has an impact you can feel.



Watch for the trademarked front kick familiar from Techland’s last game, Dead Island, at about the 0:20 mark.

Hellraid will feature up to four person co-op, and I’m betting that it will follow the same drop-in-drop-out connection formula that worked pretty well (mostly) in Dead Island. Four classes are announced so far; the warrior and the mage get a lot of screen time in the trailer. It’s just a teaser, of course, but so far we haven’t seen any sign of the other two classes, the paladin and the rogue.

The other mystery involves the Game Master, the overseeing AI that will tweak, balance and randomize parts of the game like loot and spawn points. Like the director in Left 4 Dead, having a part of the game that is playing you can be an interesting experience.

Hellraid should be released later this year.
PC Gamer
rsz_tf2_medic


There may come a day when preparing for the next chapter of a Left 4 Dead game will include wiping down your sweaty palms and taking a deep, deep breath. If you don’t, the zombies will get faster.

In remarks during the 2013 NeuroGaming Conference and Expo (via VentureBeat), Valve’s in-house experimental psychologist—Wait, hold on. Did you know that Valve employs an experimental psychologist? I wonder if he has lunch sometimes with the economist.

Anyway, Valve’s in-house mad scientist, Mike Ambinder, discussed experiments where players’ overall nervousness and agitation were measured, in part by recording sweatiness. If players began to show signs of nervousness or fear, the game would speed up. This new control scheme—mouse, keyboard, sweat-measuring skin pads—added another way for the player to interact with the game. Shoot zombie, reload pistols, keep calm. Signal for rescue, throw molotov, keep calm.

Ambinder also described other experiments in game design and biofeedback—which Valve has been talking about for a few years—including a version of Portal 2 that was played via eye tracking. Exploring the next generation of possible gaming inputs shows once again that Valve continues to operate, and plan, on a whole different level.

So good for you, Mike Ambinder. Just stay away from the mega-baboon hearts and everything will work out just fine.
PC Gamer
rsz_tf2_medic


There may come a day when preparing for the next chapter of a Left 4 Dead game will include wiping down your sweaty palms and taking a deep, deep breath. If you don’t, the zombies will get faster.

In remarks during the 2013 NeuroGaming Conference and Expo (via VentureBeat), Valve’s in-house experimental psychologist—Wait, hold on. Did you know that Valve employs an experimental psychologist? I wonder if he has lunch sometimes with the economist.

Anyway, Valve’s in-house mad scientist, Mike Ambinder, discussed experiments where players’ overall nervousness and agitation were measured, in part by recording sweatiness. If players began to show signs of nervousness or fear, the game would speed up. This new control scheme—mouse, keyboard, sweat-measuring skin pads—added another way for the player to interact with the game. Shoot zombie, reload pistols, keep calm. Signal for rescue, throw molotov, keep calm.

Ambinder also described other experiments in game design and biofeedback—which Valve has been talking about for a few years—including a version of Portal 2 that was played via eye tracking. Exploring the next generation of possible gaming inputs shows once again that Valve continues to operate, and plan, on a whole different level.

So good for you, Mike Ambinder. Just stay away from the mega-baboon hearts and everything will work out just fine.
PC Gamer
62 Left 4 Dead 2


Valve have posted a patch for Left 4 Dead 2 this morning. Along with the regular old incomprehensible patch notes, ("Cleaned up DLC add-on file dependencies and simplified talker file structure." Huh?) they've finally enabled Steam Workshop support, creating an easy system for browsing and installing new weapons, campaigns, items and - er - clothing. I guess the Venn diagram of fashion enthusiasts and mod creators does have some crossover.

As it's only been live for a few hours, L4D2's Workshop listing is still a bit barren. It shouldn't take long for some top content to appear, though - Left 4 Dead 2 already has a healthy modding community, so, with any luck, some of the best will be uploaded in the coming days.

Adding mods to the game was already a relatively simple process, but of course the Workshop streamlines it down further and, perhaps more importantly, will automatically each mod with any patch the creator uploads.

Hopefully we'll soon see some of the great community created campaigns start to appear, like these brilliant Back 2 School maps.

PC Gamer
Dota 2 Steam Guide overlay


Someday, Valve will eventually run out of wonderful features to pack into its mega-gaming-hub Steam. Let's hope it's a long way off, because we'll all be busy poring over the user-written manuals, walkthroughs, and tips for our various games in the newly launched Steam Guides section of Steam's Community area.

Anyone can create and submit a guide for the game of their choice by clicking the new Guide tab on a game's Community Hub page. You can pretty up your words with images and embedded YouTube videos as well, and the guides also appear upon Steam's overlay whenever you're running a program. Neat. I can finally whip up my "How to avoid tigers" guide I've been planning for Far Cry 3 quickly and easily.

Head over to the Steam Guides page to take a look at the over 1,000 guides already created.
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