Dishonored®: Death of the Outsider™

It's worth taking your time in Death of the Outsider, the recently-released expansion for Dishonored 2. Its world is dripping in atmosphere, full of detail and side stories that will take you the best part of 10 hours to fully explore.

But, naturally, that hasn't stopped an army of speedrunners using every exploit possible to zoom through the game. The best of the bunch is streamer Bjurnie, who has just achieved a new world record by zipping through the expansion in nine and a half minutes flat. 

If you recognise the name it's probably because Bjurnie also holds the record for speedrunning Dishonored 2, which he completed in a lick under 23 minutes, and is third all-time in the list of runs for the original Dishonored. Something of an expert in the series, then.

There's a few techniques at play in the run, shown at the top of this article, but the most noticeable is known as the 'leap glitch'. Basically, you have to rebind jump to the mouse wheel, preferably on a free-scrolling mouse. Then you jump into a vault and cancel the animation, and if you get the timing right you'll fly miles. It's easier said than done.

Needless to say the run is incredibly impressive, especially considering Death of the Outsider has only been out a matter of weeks. Bjurnie barely puts a foot wrong.

Thanks to Destructoid for flagging the run.

Divinity: Original Sin 2

Though I know I shouldn't, because I haven't finished the game, I've started digging into Divinity: Original Sin 2's mod tools. They're amazing. Right out of the gate, Larian has given us full accesses to a graphical design environment so we can make wholly new RPGs using the Divinity 2 engine. I know this is standard as far as Larian is concerned, but it's otherwise a rarity to get such unfettered access to a game's inner-workings.

The problem is that by learning the tools (here's how to set them up) I'm spoiling Original Sin 2 for myself, and may end up pulling back the curtain too far. If I can will myself away from the campaign and mod tools, I'll use this weekend to get back on the boat and continue teleporting people into fire. I'll just have to stop thinking about all the islands and mountain passes I could be designing.

I also hopped into in some custom Rocket League matches set up by PC Gamer Club member Julez, who had me up half the night playing basketball hockey with plungers and tornadoes—it's some of the most fun I've had in a multiplayer anything in a good while, PUBG included. Rocket League is such a gift, and if you haven't tried a private match with modifiers, I highly recommend it. Plus, we now have transparent goalposts!

I'll be spending more time in the Call of Duty: WWII beta as well, with the hope to have more impressions and criticism for you early next week. If you've been playing it, let us know your feelings on CoD's jaunt back in time in the comments—or tell us about whatever you've been playing lately, this weekend or otherwise. Anyone getting into Cuphead?

Half-Life 2

Every week, we ask our panel of PC Gamer writers a question about PC gaming. This week: you have a three-slot loadout you can fill with weapons from any PC game—what do you put in them? We also welcome your answers in the comments. 

James Davenport

Half-Life 2's crossbow: Look at me, I'm doing the PC Gamer dance, invoking Half-Life 2. But truly, the crossbow is a work of art. I remember pulling over in the buggy, spotting a combine chilling on an old billboard platform, zooming, aiming, and letting that beautiful dart find a home. Nailed the guy to the wall and I clapped. I expect nothing else from a videogame gun. 

FEAR's HV Penetrator: Look, I love guns that let me nail men to walls. FEAR's HV Penetrator also lets me do that, but in stylish slow motion with a fully automatic weapon. The first GIF I ever made, age 14, was of this very beauty. It's part of me now. 

Devil Daggers' devil daggers: What are daggers if not large nails? There's no men to nail to the wall in Devil Daggers, though I'm sure an endless stream of knives shot from a hand with hell-magic would do the trick just fine. 

Chris Livingston

I have an all-Valve answer, I guess. 

Gordon Freeman's gravity gun: My love for the gravity gun is probably mostly out of nostalgia at this point, but just yesterday I had to help a neighbor move furniture, and now I'm sore, and god forbid I ever use whatever passes for my muscles to do something. The gravity gun would have saved me time and energy, plus I could have launched my neighbor's tacky nightstand into the next town.

Chell's portal gun: Set a portal over the couch and one in the office, then I can go smoothly from working to watching TV, again sparing my pathetic muscles.

TF2's medigun: Let's face it, with a gravity gun and portal gun I'm going to wind up injuring someone, likely myself. Can you use a medigun on yourself? Yes: by placing some portals first. It's perfect.

Philippa Warr

Crowbar (Half-Life): I'm a big fan of weaponry I could pass off as entirely innocent if anyone were to query what I was up to, or which has multiple uses. I mean, If you're carrying a plasma cannon around you're clearly up to no good. Swap that to a crowbar and suddenly you're a useful person doing useful tasks. The crowbar also contains the possibility of easily opening boxes which might contain presents—a plasma cannon would just obliterate everything and then no-one gets any presents. 

Blowtorch (Worms): This is another useful tool which just happens to double up as a weapon. "Madam, why do you have a blowtorch with you?" "Obviously I am going to be brazing some metal." "Ah, of course. Have fun!" 

See? AND I could caramelise the sugar on top of a crème brûlée in a kitchen emergency where you need a crème brûlée in a hurry. And don't mind the kitchen being on fire.Odette (Bayonetta): As someone who regularly wears stilettos, I'm already a big fan of weaponised shoes. The problem with high heels, though, is that you tend to need to go a lot slower. You're trading speed for piercing damage. Not so with Bayonetta's demonic ice skates! You lay down a trail of ice and speed around, plus each foot now has a sharp blade attached. Triple flip into triple toe loop into triple slashing of my foes. 

Evan Lahti

Railgun & Rocket Launcher (Quake series): There's no better one-two punch in PC gaming. Like Quake itself, Quake's guns are the pure distilled essence of FPS concepts—in this case, splash damage and direct damage. There are no attachments, secondary fire modes, or reloading to get in the way of your aim, and wielding them is a high-skill meditation on the genre itself. The canonical combo is to pop someone up by hitting them in the feet with your rocket launcher, switch to the railgun, and zap them out of midair. When you pull this off, your ancestors smile.

Particle Cannon (Wolfenstein '09): This little-remembered gun is essentially a firehose hooked up to the Ark of the Covenant. The gun feels like a faucet for liquified, otherworldly power, a theme throughout Raven Software's Wolfenstein, and it’s a great example of the fun that can arise when a single-player shooter hands you something overpowered. After a short spin-up time, a zig-zagging splurt of unholy turquoise flicks out of the barrel, cueing a banshee screech. A lot of the fun is owed to Raven’s expressive death animations: even a splash of PC energy dissolves Nazis instantly, and without interrupting their momentum.

Samuel Roberts

Gloo gun (Prey): How has no one else suggested this yet? It's a gun, but also a tool that can help you reach new places in the environment, where level designers inexplicably hide money and ammo. No FPS weapon this year is cooler than the Gloo Gun. 

Gauss cannon (Doom 2016): I went back and forth on this one, because a lot of Doom 2016's weapons transform throughout the game into more exciting, silly tools. I narrowly picked this one over the assault rifle that fires tiny rockets, merely because I love the precision bolt move on this one. It makes you feel like Iron Man.

Automatic shotgun (Wolfenstein: The New Order): An easy choice. My favourite modern shotgun. While my other two choices could be called frivolous or flashy, these are practical, cathartic-feeling bad boys for dealing with any FPS level that the gods may throw my way.

How about you, eh? Let us know your choices in the comments.

Cuphead

Cuphead, the platformer inspired by 1930s cartoons, is out now. You control one of two characters, Cuphead or Mugman, trying to repay a debt to the devil. To do that they have to blast through enemies and powerful bosses, picking up new weapons and learning abilities as they go.

Developers StudioMDHR Entertainment has put a lot of effort into recreating the feel of the era. There's watercolour backdrops, hand-drawn animations, and original jazz music accompanying your adventure.

From first glance it's done a good job. As you can see from the launch trailer above it looks and sounds great, and judging by the overwhelmingly positive user reviews it plays pretty well too. It seems the long development time (it was first shown off at E3 way back in 2014) has paid off.

There's both singeplayer and local co-op if you've got a friend who fancies a go as well.

It's £14.99/$19.99 on Steam, GOG, the Windows 10 store and Humble Store.

PLAYERUNKNOWN'S BATTLEGROUNDS

Update: Well that's a bit embarrassing, isn't it? My original article said that the issues plaguing the game over the past few days had been fixed. But as soon as the article went out players contacted PC Gamer on Twitter to say they were still having trouble. Then, shortly after, the developers put out this tweet: 

So, it appears the problems persist for some, although it's working fine for me now. This is the error message that players are getting, and it's the same one I was getting on Thursday and Friday (hat tip to Twitter user @designmechanic):

Here's the original article below, for the record.

Original story: 

Trying to play PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds over the past few days has been frustrating. I tried on Thursday, and I couldn't even reach the game's main menu screen because of a non-specified error. 

I tried again yesterday, and I could reach the menu screen if I refreshed enough times, but after that I couldn't pair up with a friend to play a Duo or Squads game. In the end, I had to give up.

Those issues are now, thankfully, resolved, so you can play to your heart's content (as I will be doing this weekend).

It appears to have worked for everyone: Twitter was awash with frustrated players yesterday and the day before, but there's been no angry tweets about the servers so far today.

Let's hope it doesn't happen again. If there's one thing that could turn players away from PUBG it's problems like this. And with competitors coming out of the woodwork (I'm looking at you, Fortnite), keeping the player base happy is now more important than ever.

While you're here, have a read of James' piece comparing Fortnite's Battle Royale mode and PUBG.

Assassin's Creed® Origins

If you're an Assassin's Creed superfan and you need some new headphones, the Ubisoft Store in the UK has a nice "Listen Wireless" Bluetooth rig from Focal with a 15 meter range, 20-hour battery life, 15Hz-22kHz frequency response, and the Assassin's Creed logo emblazoned tastefully on the cups. If, on the other hand, you also happen to be in possession of $60,000 and a complete lack of reason or common sense, then perhaps these cans will be more to your liking. 

The cans in question are the Assassin’s Creed Origins Utopia by Tournaire handcrafted headphones, created through the combined talents of a 3D artist, an art caster, and a goldsmith, all of whom "worked together with the [Tournaire] jeweler for several months." The headphones—aural artwork, really—are made exclusively in France, and will feature an average weight of 150 grams of 18k gold per set. Only ten will be released to the public, and they will sell for €50,000 each, which works out to just shy of $60,000.   

Impedance? Sensitivity? Driver type? What are you, some kind of philistine? Considerations like these are for people who think that Beats are probably a little too extravagant for their budget. But you, my friend, are a consumer of means and discernment—and clearly what matters to you is not how they sound, or even how they look, but that the whole world knows that you can wear 60 large on your head like it ain't no thing. 

Tournaire will accept payment via credit card, PayPal, wire transfer, or cheque drawn on a bank domiciled in France. Oh, and that swanky Bayek bust that would make an absolutely perfect display stand for these things? It's not included—you'll need to drop another €12,000/$14,100 for that. Tournaire promises delivery of the headphones (and the bust, because come on, don't be a cheapskate) within six weeks of order placement. 

I've emailed Tournaire to inquire about getting a set of these headphones for review. I'll let you know what they say. 

Football Manager 2018

We reported last month that Football Manager 2018, the somewhat popular soccer boss sim, will be out on November 10. Today, by way of a literal "fake news report," developer Sports Interactive has revealed a little bit about the changes players can look forward to in the new game. 

Most of the above video is just faux-speculation about upgraded AI, a new graphics engine, revamped scouting options, and "dynamics," whatever that means. All the features mentioned are presumably actually on the way, but it's presented as breathless, unsubstantiated hype—the rumor mill has reached a fever pitch!—until Sports Interactive gaffer Miles Jacobson shows up at around the 2:40 mark. 

Jacobson doesn't delve into great detail, but he confirms that the scouting system in Football Manager 2018 will "better reflect how real clubs recruit players," and that it will feature "improved stadium designs and match presentation, [and] increased depth to sports science and tactics." It also come with a new graphics engine, and those previously mentioned "dynamics," which he describes as "one of our big new features for this year," although he declines to explain what it actually is.   

All will presumably be revealed in October, when Sports Interactive will release a series of videos covering all the changes and new features in more depth. Football Manager 2018 is available for prepurchase now on Steam for $50/£38/€55, with a 25 percent discount available to owners of FM17

Call of Duty®: WWII

The Call of Duty: WWII PC multiplayer beta got underway yesterday, a day in advance of its scheduled start date for reasons that remain a mystery. Regardless, Sledgehammer appears to be making good use of the extra time, as studio co-founder Michael Condrey took to Reddit to run down some of the "top observations" made so far, as well as the changes that are already on the way. 

"Thank you for your continued support and enthusiasm for our road to November. We look forward to a healthy and constructive dialog throughout the weekend on our forum," Condrey wrote optimistically. "This year, we made a renewed commitment to the PC community for Call of Duty: WWII, and it was great to see players rally to some of the PC focused features that are available in the Beta. Over the next few days look for us to continue to make adjustments as we uncover any new issues." 

Condrey said developers are aware of, and working to fix, problems with accessing the game "due to bad connections or blank loading screens," as well as "mid-match crashes" and "minor rendering issues." Changes to weapons have already been made: All SMGs have had their damage per second and falloff range reduced, the STG44 recoil has been "nerfed," and the fire rates of the M1A1, 1911, and P-08 have been increased slightly. 

The following fixes will be rolled out to the beta "shortly," Condrey said: 

  • Infinite level loads and time-outs when using shader pre-caching and letter-boxing
  • Crash fix on start-up for Windows 8.0
  • Fixes to the behavior of the Resolution/Render Resolution/T2X Resolution advanced video options
  • Fixes to the T2X Resolution setting not getting preserved after exiting the game

Condrey encouraged players to "keep grinding, streaming, commenting, and reaching out to us," and said that anyone experiencing problems with the beta should hit up the troubleshooting guide on Steam for help.

The Call of Duty: WWII multiplayer beta will run until October 2 (unless Sledgehammer screws around with that date too). The full game comes out on November 3.

Total War: WARHAMMER II

Total War: Warhammer 2 is great. The Creative Assembly has elegantly streamlined the game, introduced an excellent new campaign structure and done a tremendous job of realising four exciting factions from the OTT world of Warhammer. We like it so much we gave it 92 in our review.

For new players the game explains itself better than any other Total War to date, through detailed tooltips and sensible campaign introduction tutorials. It is a complicated game, however, and some systems (I'm looking at you, corruption) can pop up and disrupt your campaign out of nowhere. I've addressed a few of these elements below with brand new players in mind.

Learn your army in custom battle

You do need a short winning streak of battles to get a campaign off the ground. If you struggle to take your first province, or do so too slowly, you risk falling behind in the grand race to control the vortex. Total War: Warhammer 2 is forgiving during the opening stretch, but a campaign isn't the best place to learn an army and experiment. Plus, how are you supposed to know what to build if you don't know how the units you're unlocking really function? 

So, jump into skirmish against the computer in custom battle mode and get used to your army's units right away. Just how tough are those High Elf spearmen really? Can a dinosaur with a laser cannon on its back tank a hundred clan rats? I have found it useful to focus on a few core units that work efficiently to form the backbone of an army. Then I like to find a few high level units I like so I can later aim for them in the campaign.

There are some cool story scenarios to play too. These are a good way to learn the controls, and they show you what a balanced force can look like. There's no substitute for picking your own units if you're trying to learn a force. A few hours of experimentation in custom games could save you many hours during a campaign.

Look past a campaign's starting difficulty

In typical Total War fashion each campaign has a difficulty rank to let you know how tough that faction's starting position is on the world map. It's tempting to jump into the easiest starting position, but there is more to the choice than this. Though it's wise not to opt for a hard campaign straight away, it's worth bearing in mind each faction's tricks and play style before you choose.

If you play as High Elves in Teclis' "easy" starting position you find yourself in the heart of the High Elf island of Ulthuan. It's a beautiful land of rainbows, huge magical vortexes and fortresses positioned in easily defended mountain passes. As starting positions go, this is as good as it gets. However the High Elves are an elite army that relies on a relatively small number of vulnerable units that can deal a lot of damage. Their research tree is the most complicated of the set. Plus their special ability to manipulate enemies through trade is also more abstract than, say, Skaven, who can bring up units from beneath the earth in corrupted territories, or the Dark Elves, who can spawn enormous black arks to harass distant enemies.

If you have played Total War games before then the organised blocks of infantry in a High Elf army will feel nice and familiar, but I would be tempted to recommend the Lord Mazdamundi Lizardmen campaign and even, perhaps controversially, the Squeek Skaven campaign. Mazdamundi's starting position is very friendly to the Lizardmen. Once you've seized your province you can ally with the cheerful human faction south of you and then raid the weak Dark Elf forces to the north. Lizardmen units are more fun than Elves because they have dinosaurs and giant frogs that cast magic. This is a fact even though Jody will fight me over it.

The Skaven Queek campaign is a tough prospect for a newcomer, but it's a lot of fun if you don't mind taking some punishment and want to think like a Skaven warlord. Taking the starting province is dead easy because you just set up in a series of ruins, however you face constant raids from a High Elf island nearby and from treasure-hunting Lizardman fleets. There are a bunch of Skaven clans to the east that will fight hard for the warpstone source in that area of the map. It's a game of scrabbling from settlement to settlement. Raid aggressively to keep your food supplies up and smother enemy territories with corruption. This is the way of the horned rat.

The Dark Elves are interesting too. They get more powerful when more things die in battle, they have cool monsters and Malekith is a powerful general. Sadly, I find Malekith's starting position a bit dull. You're dropped into the frozen North far from the sea, surrounded by independent states and ruins plagued by Skaven. Once you do get onto the ocean Black Arks are amazing. These ominous seaborne fortresses are cities in their own right.

Check which buildings you need for research

Most of Total War: Warhammer's factions need to construct buildings to unlock paths on the technology tree. This does a neat job of tying building, tech and unit production into one interlocking system, and it gives each faction characterful approaches to R&D. Lizardmen—magical demons and masters of the universe—have loads of mystical buildings that unlock short sprints of technology. Skaven instead start learning new tech when they've built a couple of tier-three buildings (though note that you can found a settlement at rank three if you have enough food for a shortcut).

Whatever faction you decide to start with, open up their tech tree on turn one and mouse over the little red icons attached to technologies. These will tell you what you need to build to start researching that discipline. When you know your tech buildings you can plan to leave spaces for them in your provinces. If you don't want to worry about any of this, go with the Dark Elves. They can plunge straight into the research tree with a simple payment. That's sorcerers for you.

Look out for corruption

Chaos and the Skaven infest the lands they occupy, changing the very nature of the Old World to suit their gods. Corruption is displayed as a percentage value in each territory and you may even notice the land changing in appearance as Chaos warps your home into a lava-strewn hellscape. 

If a land becomes too corrupted your armies start to die off, public order takes a massive hit, and and you're pretty much screwed. Chaos corruption can spread very aggressively (much more quickly than the first game, it seems) and because wrangling corruption is a slow process, prevention is better than cure. 

A territory's info card on the bottom left of the screen gives you a useful breakdown of all of the factors influencing corruption in that region. Your methods for dealing with corruption vary from faction to faction. Look for hero skills and buildings that improve your quotient of untainted land. Note that you can level up the same hero skill multiple times, so you can create heroes dedicated to hoovering up corruption wherever they go. Multiple hero effects stack as well, so if you have a serious corruption problem a reactive cluster of heroes might help.

Of course you might play a faction that enjoys rolling around in corruption, in which case look for buildings and heroes that spread more of the stuff. It's fun to load up Skaven heroes with pestilence and send them raiding in enemy territory where they can steal food and spread rot at the same time.

Chaos invasions become powerful quickly

In Total War: Warhammer 2 the four major factions are performing rituals to influence the roaring vortex at the centre of the map. Every time you successfully perform a ritual Chaos invades your lands. In my experience the first invasion is easy to bat away, but Chaos attacks with much greater power with each ritual performed. 

I was caught out in one campaign when I decided to let my garrisons and an army of magically summoned wild dinosaurs defend my lands while my main army was marauding abroad. A collection of rampaging Chaos armies stole away several cities before my mighty Slann returned to crush them. The best defense is a strong economy that allows you to sustain multiple armies, but if you like to gamble you can build defensive structures that grow the garrisons automatically stationed at your cities.

Merge units, and be careful about raising a second army too soon

Unit upkeep costs are a big deal. Raising a second army of noteworthy strength can wipe one or two thousand gold off your incoming gold total per turn. If this puts you into the red then be prepared to disband individual units from your armies to balance your economy. This is especially painful if you're having to disband battle-tested forces that have earned veteran bonuses.

Merging units is an efficient way to cut costs. If you have two half-strength units of clan rats after a battle, consider merging them by clicking one, shift-clicking the other, and then selecting the merge command from the tiny pop-up menu. Now you're only paying for one unit rather than two. You can always hire another unit of clan rats later when you have more cash coming in.

There are lots of ways to make money. The safe way is to build a bunch of money-making buildings and spread them across your empire. If you would rather use those building slots for other things then you can be a pirate instead. To do this plunder nearby lands in raiding stance, defeat enemy armies and extort as much money as you can from the aftermath, and sack cities every so often to empty their vaults. Look out for bonuses in your hero skill trees and technology trees that increase the percentage of gold you get out of combat engagements and plundering settlements. 

If you're a charismatic faction like the High Elves, trade can also bring in a lot of cash. Talk to everyone and try to establish as many trade agreements as possible.

That's enough to be getting on with for now. It is still difficult to quickly discern what minor variants on units really do in the game, but the best way to fix this is with experimentation in step one. With a bit of training you'll have control of that vortex in no time.

PLAYERUNKNOWN'S BATTLEGROUNDS

Developer Bluehole announced today that PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds is now being maintained by PUBG Corp, a Bluehole subsidiary "focused entirely on the development and global business opportunities" for the battle royale shooter.

PUBG development lead Chang Han Kim is now CEO of PUBG Corp, and Woonghee Cho, former CEO of Maui Games and head of business development for Neowiz, will join as COO of the new company to focus on "accelerating overall business development and managing global operations."

"This new structure allows us to be nimble as we look towards the expansion of strategic business opportunities that include the game’s potential in the esports sector and the growth of PUBG as a true global IP franchise," said Kim by way of a press release. Regarding the global part, PUBG Corp has already set up an office in the US, and plans to open offices in Europe and Japan, as well.

PUBG recently broke the record for concurrent users on Steam, and according to Bluehole it has sold over 13 million copies. Expansion was inevitable. The biggest downside to this change, as far as I can see, is that we'll all have to get around writing 'PUBG developer PUBG.'

...

Search news
Archive
2017
Nov   Oct   Sep   Aug   Jul   Jun  
May   Apr   Mar   Feb   Jan  
Archives By Year
2017   2016   2015   2014   2013  
2012   2011   2010   2009   2008  
2007   2006   2005   2004   2003  
2002