PC Gamer

Image via Steam Workshop, by Lord Rich.

What is the lurker supposed to do?

Release your inner Ethan Hunt and bring out your sneakiest plays: it s time to talk about the lurker. Compared to the roles I ve covered so far (support and entry fragger), lurker is the most distinctive in terms of what you re supposed to do and how to get it to work within a team. It would be easy to say that the lurker is the player who sneaks around the map on their own trying to backstab people. In a sense that s true, but there s so much more to it.

The lurker is supposed to wander off by themselves and either secure kills or stall the opposing team s defenders rotation over to the site where the main attack is taking place. They should also scout ahead to let the in-game leader know whether it s a good idea to go for the intended execution or not. Let s say they re in apartments on Inferno (a moment of silence for our beloved and figured-out map) and they can hear that there s a CT on short as well as one in pit after you ve taken control over banana. In this instance, they know that the rotation is going to take a while and that it s probably wise to try to take the B-site. The lurker is also in a great position to kill the CT in pit once that guy realizes that the terrorists are swarming B.

Alternatively, the lurker could go down to boiler room and try to kill the player on short in order to stay closer to B so that they can assist his team during the post-plant situation. There s a lot of decision-making involved when you lurk: decisions that can either make or break a round. Let s say the lurker decides to go for the kill in pit but the CT manages to get out safely. Then our lurker is in a bad situation and can t be of much help for their team. On the other hand, they might secure the kill and put some pressure on defenders in CT spawn, making it a lot more difficult to retake the site.

Who should be a lurker?

I d say that there are two primary qualities that a good lurker needs: creativity and good communication. A creative lurker can come up with plays that most other players wouldn t even consider. Coming up with a play involves good reads of what your opponents are likely to do as well as understanding what they may or may not expect. I d say your lurker should be a player who trusts their instincts. When I ask the lurker on my team how he came up with a certain play, he often replies with I don t know, it just felt right . Lurking is a highly intuitive endeavor. It takes time to get it right, so don t beat yourself up if you re new. The only way to develop this skill is through experience.

The other part, communication, is probably the main reason why you want a lurker on your team in the first place. Your lurker needs to be able to assess the situation and provide good information. If they can t hear nor see a CT in a position where they expect a CT to be, they should alert the rest of his team as they might be about to walk straight into a meat grinder. Remember that knowing where the defenders aren t positioned will help you figure out where they are.

Also, it doesn t hurt if your lurker is a person who watches a lot of demos in order to learn how top players generally react to certain plays. How does the B-player on Mirage generally react to a smoke strat over at the A-site? Is it possible to categorize players in different groups? The players who tend to rotate early, players who stay for too long and players who half rotate over to a more defensive position closer to the market area? If so, will that knowledge help you identify what kind of player that B-defender is in a live game? I think so. Study the game and tendencies and you ll have a better chance of making good decisions on the fly.

It s also important that your lurker is individually skilled and can hold their own in a fight, as that s what they re supposed to do most of the time.

Pro example

This round was played during the grand final of Dreamhack Masters in Malm , Sweden a few weeks ago. Christopher GeT_RiGhT Alesund from Ninjas in Pyjamas starts off the round by going off on his own towards B. He jumps down to lower tunnels and is lucky enough to find Ioann Edward Sukhariev out of position on catwalk. As Edward goes down, the rest of NiP know that there s one less CT remaining on the A-side of the map.

GeT_RiGhT proceeds by smoking off mid doors. At that point Na Vi have no idea how many players are around the mid area. As a result, they can t really start to rotate away from either site. Two flashbangs and a sneaky play through the smoke later and GeT_RiGhT picks up his second kill: Ladislav GuardiaN Kov cs.

After that kill, he waits for a second or two but no one tries to trade off the kill from the B-side of mid, suggesting that the B-player might have pushed tunnels for information. I have no way of knowing for sure, but I think that the smoke in mid served two purposes. The first one and the most obvious one is that it allowed GeT_RiGhT to go for the sneaky play with the flashes. The second one was that it, in a way, forced Na Vi to go for a peek in tunnels for information, because at that point they couldn t know where NiP was going to attack. Knowing that there was a possibility that they would peek and find that no one was there made Christopher realize that there was a chance that the B-player was going to attempt to flank him. His flawless read of the play secured his third kill of the round as he managed to pick off Egor flamie Vasilyev.

After that his job was pretty much done. He decided to stay in lower tunnels and make sure the last CT couldn t push mid doors. This time he missed the fact that Daniil Zeus Teslenko pushed short in an attempt to save his armor and CZ75-Auto. It s easy to see what an impact his lurk play had on the round. Not only did he kill three players, he also made sure that the defending players couldn t know where the main push was going to take place.

How to practice lurking

If you ve decided that you want to be the lurker on your team there s a lot of work to be done. The main area that I think you should focus on is your gamesense. Watch a lot of demos from your own games to find out how players on your level react to the things you do. How do the players on a certain site generally react to a flashbang thrown in a certain spot at a certain time. If you notice a pattern you should try to figure out what triggered the response.

The best way to learn these things is to play a lot of games. Preferably against other pre-made teams, so that you know that they will communicate. It s even more important that you focus and try to figure out how a specific opponent plays during the actual game and how you can use that knowledge to your advantage. If your team goes for an A-push and you throw your flashbangs and a smoke towards B, how long did it take for the B-players to get to A? Is it possible for you to play in a certain way to trick them into doing what you want them to do?

Because of the nature of your role, you should spend a lot of time on deathmatch servers. It s crucial that you get good at winning those aim duels. It s like that old Bruce Lee quote that s been cited almost too many times: I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times . If you spend more time working on the basics of the game than your opponent, you give yourself a greater chance to come out on top of any given situation.

When you play games for practice purposes you should try to mix things up as much as possible so that, over time, you build a solid repertoire of plays that you can use in different situations. However, it s important to remember that when you play matches you can lure your opponents into a false sense of security by going for the same exact play every single round. Usually those plays involve a smoke and two flashes. It s important that you re able to stay alive once they know what you re up to. After a few rounds they might think that they ve figured you out and when you throw your utility grenades they know that you re alone. All of a sudden you show up with your entire team and the CTs haven t started to rotate in time. GeT_RiGhT might not have been the player who came up with that style of play, but he sure was the one to make it famous. He s able to pull it off on a professional level because of his raw individual skill. Like I said, put a lot of time into practicing the basics.

Watch the pros play

As with all roles in CS:GO it s important that you watch the pros play if you want to improve. First of all, you should try to answer the most basic of questions: what exactly is this player doing? By keeping that question in mind you ll look for the information that s actually useful rather than to just notice the big kills and wish that you could pull off stuff like that.

Once you ve answered that question your next one should be: why are they doing what they re doing? Here s where it gets tricky. Look at what their teammates are doing and how the lurker s plays help them. Lurkers rarely just lurk for the sake of lurking.

So, who should you watch? One obvious choice is GeT_RiGhT, the best lurker in the history of CS:GO and Counter-Strike in general. Every CS player can learn things from him.

The next guy I recommend you to watch is Spencer Hiko Martin from Team Liquid. At the moment he s the strat caller for his team, so if you watch recent games you ll notice that he plays more of a support role than before. Take a look at a few demos from before the MLG Columbus Major and you ll find some useful stuff. His style is a lot more passive than GeT_RiGhT s, but he s really good at finding kills. Especially towards the end of rounds.

You can find both recent and older demos over at HLTV.org. Click Events and under Past events you ll find a link to their massive and awesome archive. There you can select specific events you want to watch and you ll have access to an almost infinite number of demos.

Study hard. Play harder. Get to where you want to be.

PC Gamer

Travel along the Road of Sacrifices in Dark Souls 3 and you ll come across a massive, festering swamp. It s a grim place, crawling with the undead and, most terrifying of all, giant crabs. But it s also littered with useful items, making a dash through the sickly green sludge worth the danger of getting caught in their pincers. One of these items is the Fallen Knight set, an intriguing suit of black armour with decent protection against fire. It s stylish and intimidating, looking like something Kylo Ren would wear to a Renaissance fair, and it s one of my favourite sets in the game. But beyond its fashionable design, there s also a secret tragedy lurking behind that menacing helm.

In the Souls series, lore can be uncovered by reading item descriptions. Checking the description for the Fallen Knight set, it describes the former owner of the armour as a member of an order of knights who disbanded and fled, but met untimely deaths. One of those deaths, it seems, was in this stinking swamp. Take some time to study the armour and you ll see delicate gold patterns engraved into the black metal. It s clear this isn t just a bog standard suit of armour knocked up by a village blacksmith. The knight would have earned this, or been given it for some special reason.

Which makes the fact that he s attempted to hide it with an old, tattered cloak all the more mysterious. At one time this knight might have worn this armour with pride, but now he s trying to disguise it, as if he s ashamed of it. Or, more likely, ashamed of himself. I get the feeling that, after whatever made him flee, and whatever he was fleeing from, he became something similar to a masterless samurai. I can imagine him wandering Lothric, working as a sellsword, looking for a purpose in life, before meeting his demise on the Road of Sacrifices, probably in the claws of one of those monstrous crabs.

The armour is badly worn too. There are dents, scratches, and weapon impacts all over it, indicating many battles fought, or a hard life on the road. You can t help but wonder what this magnificent black and gold armour looked like when it was new, pristine and gleaming on the back of a proud young knight. But now it s battered, filthy, and draped in a ragged cloak. Dark Souls is great at imbuing its world, weapons, and armour with a melancholy sense of history, and the Fallen Knight set is a wonderful expression of this. Even the slot on the helm makes it look like it has a sad, pained expression.

But there s more. The helm, armour, and gauntlets have almost identical descriptions, but examine the trousers and you ll find an additional detail about the troubled past of their former owner. It reveals that the trousers are dampened and indelibly stained with the misery of flight , which is a lyrical, poetic way of saying our knight pissed, and possibly shit, himself while he was running away. I love this, because at first glance the Fallen Knight set looks so cool and sinister, but then you learn the truth. It s a nice subversion that only makes the backstory of the armour even sadder, and an amusing joke at the expense of players who don t read the item descriptions.

There might be other items in Dark Souls 3 or clues from previous games that further embellish the story of these fallen knights, proving my speculation wrong. But that s the beauty of the Souls games. You re given subtle clues and left to piece the lore together yourself. That a single suit of armour found lying in a swamp can tell such an evocative story whether my version is accurate or not speaks volumes about the attention to detail in these games. I ve fought through gruelling dungeons and vanquished fearsome bosses in this old, forgotten armour, so perhaps I ve restored some glory to it and the memory of its previous owner. And you get used to the smell after a while.

PC Gamer

Stellaris may already be the grandest space adventure to grace PC, but mods will take it to infinity and beyond. That's the plan, anyway. Just weeks after Paradox announced that Hearts of Iron 4 would be its most moddable game yet, Stellaris looks set to rival it.

"Any gameplay exposed to the player in Stellaris should be moddable, game designer Joakim Andreasson says. "So our modders can change pretty much every value, most of the game rules, and the content they see within the game."

In addition to making sure next to nothing is hard-coded, a 3D exporter tool joins the modders' arsenal. The Clausewitz Maya Exporter makes it simple to get your custom models into the game. As it's already been released, I expect the Enterprise to be warping around my sector by launch. You can test drive the exporter here.

The second part of Stellaris' video dev diary is also out now:

PC Gamer

Like the well-oiled machine it is, Activision today unveiled this year s instalment of Call of Duty amid an explosion of adjectives and hyperbole. Infinite Warfare will take the dependable shooting game to space this year, and apparently you ll be able to fly spacecraft as well. Still, that s not what most people are excited about: a remaster of the original Modern Warfare game has arguably attracted more interest, but it looks like you ll need to purchase Infinite Warfare to get access to the remake.

That s according to the Modern Warfare FAQ, recently posted on Activision s support page. Those hoping to play the remake must own Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare in order to get Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered , the page reads. Meanwhile, in response to the anticipated question of how to get the remaster, the FAQ reads that it s only available through the Legacy, Legacy Pro, and Digital Deluxe editions of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. Tom detailed what s in each of those earlier today.

That s sure to disappoint any nostalgics with a space phobia, or indeed anyone who just isn t interested in this year s Call of Duty instalment. Using whole other games as a pre-order carrot is an interesting tactic, but it s been happening in the console space for a while now, thanks to the Xbox One s backwards compatibility.

There are some more obvious caveats listed in the FAQ: progress you ve made in the original Modern Warfare won t carry over to the new one, and the game will feature ten multiplayer maps, with Crash , Backlot and Crossfire already confirmed.

Of course, it s very possible that the remaster will be available as a standalone game at some point in the future, but if you were hoping to jump onboard as soon as it released, it looks like you re coughing up for Infinite Warfare.

PC Gamer

I can't remember how long it took me to finish Half-Life 2. It's been a while, after all. But I can say, with absolute confidence, that it was a lot longer than the breathtaking 40:49 it took the SourceRuns Team to do it.

As is usual with speedruns, this is not a typical playthrough of Half-Life 2. It's done using a 2006 build of the game that used the original engine, which has significant movement differences, as well as a long list tricks and glitches that have since been patched out. It's also segmented, which basically means that it's a group effort: Different players hammer through different bits of the game, and the best of them are stitched together into what you see in the video.

The net result is fast, furious, and funky, as the runners clip through walls, fly over levels, and blow past the talkie bits. It doesn't look like much fun in the conventional videogame sense, but it's a hell of a sightseeing tour, and a remarkable accomplishment, coming in at just one-third of the world-record mark the SourceRuns team set in 2013.

A spreadsheet that breaks down just about every element of the run you can imagine is up on Google Docs, and the SourceRunners have also posted a separate video explaining how clipping works on YouTube.

PC Gamer

Cheating in CS:GO is its own small sub-industry, a hard-to-kill parasite riding on the skin one of the PC s most popular games. Some ne'er-do-wells get off avoiding the notice of the VAC system for as long as possible. Others leverage cheating as a profitable enterprise, offering premium programs and services. Some professionals have even used cheats during competition (with disastrous, career-ending consequences). For Valve, combating the risk of hacking is an endless war. Just last week, Valve s elimination of a popular Team Fortress 2 cheat nabbed nearly 170 pro TF2 players. And last year, it dealt over 1 million bans to suspected accounts; with ownership counts likely exceeding 20 million, CS:GO likely represents a significant chunk of that figure.

Earlier this year, CS:GO player AndroidL was inspired to take matters into his own hands. In late January, AndroidL created and dispersed a pair of free hack programs on a popular cheat forum. Unbeknownst to their downloaders, the programs were time bombs. They d function normally for a set period of time before permanently skewing the user s view angle to an abnormal tilt and enabling a constant bunnyhop script huge, obvious red flags that would immediately trigger a VAC ban. Although clever, the first few hack releases earned modest attention roughly 1,000 downloads apiece, according to AndroidL s Reddit post.

CS:GO has a cheating problem, AndroidL explained to me over multiple private messages. I don t think Valve is doing enough to prevent cheating; it doesn t speak publicly about VAC (for obvious reasons) or cheating in general. For such a competitive game with such an active and thriving community, Valve fails to at least acknowledge cheating is an issue in CS:GO which is appalling. Due to their failure to communicate, we aren't sure if Valve are actually attempting to combat cheaters or not. It's impossible to play a game of CS:GO today without suspecting someone on the enemy team of cheating.

AndroidL used this chart taken from vac-ban.com to illustrate the impact of each hack's release.

AndroidL s hack took a more direct approach. It dispensed with timers and prompted a ban the moment a user would load the hack and enter a match by continuously topping off health, ammo, and armor values. Yet despite the almost instant effect, it achieved greater success, accumulating over 3,500 downloads.

Contributing to the hack s propagation was a simple testing method: I set the launch options of CS:GO to +sv_lan 1 -insecure which disables VAC (but consequently prevents me from joining any VAC enabled servers), AndroidL wrote. This means I can test the hacks without getting banned. I just played an offline game with bots where I was able to confirm the features such as editing my view angles along with health and ammo numbers.

Once the hack s usability was confirmed, AndroidL uploaded it onto the cheat forum through a VPN to stay anonymous. The forum account was only days old with no reputation, which would typically undermine the legitimacy of the hack. But to promote the hack, AndroidL went for a straightforward solution: I had a few of my friends post messages such as great, the hack worked! and so on until the comments overflowed onto a second page. Most hackers don t check the second page of posts; they ll only read the first few comments and then download the hack. As publicly released programs tend to last only a few days before detection by VAC, dummy nods of approval was enough to push the scheme in front of as many eyes as possible while it lasted.

AndroidL s favorite forum complaint. It's strange how people think they're entitled to free hacks, as if someone else is to blame for the consequences of their cheating.

And it worked. The hack s impact was magnified by its sheer efficiency; a cheater couldn t react fast enough between launching CS:GO and meeting VAC s awaiting hammer seconds later. As bans started snowballing, users flooded the host forum with warnings and grievances of their sudden downfall. AndroidL feigned innocence by coming up with excuses as to why it wasn't my hack banning people to encourage others to download it.

Members of the CS:GO community could already participate in culling the cheater population through Valve s Overwatch initiative for a few years now, but AndroidL s accomplishments demonstrate how one can more surgically hamper hackers with only modest extra effort. The victory could very well be temporary at best devoted cheaters can simply create a fresh Steam account and spend the $15/ 11 on another CS:GO copy but from AndroidL s perspective, the self-demise of those who sought an ostensibly easy access to a hack was worth it.

The skewed view that a hacker would eventually see with AndroidL's hack.

I think Overwatch is a very good idea, AndroidL wrote. It's another filter cheaters have to go through, but the only reason Overwatch exists is because VAC lacks the capabilities to detect all cheaters. Although I believe VAC is a good safeguard against cheaters, I don t believe it is a strong enough safeguard. There is little to no effort involved for a hack developer to bypass VAC it is a decent system to keep away the masses of people using public cheats, but other than that VAC is essentially futile.

I do have a plan with similar tactics and I probably will do this again sometime, AndroidL continued. It would be great if I could cooperate with Valve to get a larger number of cheaters banned. Taking cheating into our own hands seems to be the only solution right now, and I encourage others that have the skills to do this to create similar fake hacks. Furthermore, I want to put off those thinking about cheating. This wasn t the first fake hack, and it definitely won t be the last.

PC Gamer

So Modern Warfare Remastered is officially a thing. Though it was confirmed via, of all things, a poop emoji a few days ago, we didn't hear anything more of it until today's moderately leaky Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare reveal. When the official trailer finally landed, a couple of hours ago, it was accompanied by a coda revealing that Remastered would be a pre-order bonus for Infinite Warfare's Legacy Edition.

Now, a press release sheds a bit more light on how Modern Warfare has been spruced up for modern audiences.

Firstly, it's being developed by Raven Software, which has been involved with COD's development for some years now. Secondly, it features "vibrant current generation visuals, with fully improved texture resolution and detail, high-dynamic range lighting, lit and shadowing VFX particles, revamped animation and audio, stunning sound and much more", suggesting it's a wee bit more involved than many remasters. Ten of the original's maps will carry across to this new version, including Crash, Backlot, and Crossfire.

You can see a few comparision shots in this NeoGAF thread. It does look better.

One thing that isn't clear (I suspect purposely so) is whether or not Modern Warfare Remastered will be available to buy separately, or whether you'll have to shell out for Infinite Warfare's Legacy Edition, or above, to get hold of it. I think it's extremely unlikely that it won't be available separately at some point, but here are the various pre-order offers anyway:

Legacy Edition and Digital Legacy Edition Includes both Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered

Digital Deluxe Edition Includes Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered and Season Pass

Legacy Pro Edition Includes Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered, Season Pass, collectible Steelbook, official game soundtrack and additional digital items

PC Gamer

Oh look here's a sizable update for rhythm roguelike (somehow, it's still the only one) Crypt of the Necrodancer, that adds a whopping two new playable soundtracks to the game. Soundtrack the first is a "retro freestyle" OST by Shovel Knight composer Virt, while the second is a work of "pulse pounding synthwave" from Girlfriend Records. You can switch between the current soundtrack, and these new ones, from the menu.

There are also a load of bug fixes, but more importantly for those of us that don't yet own Necrodancer, there's a sale on Steam. You'll save 67% if you buy the game in the next 30-and-a-bit hours, which sounds like a bonny deal indeed.

PC Gamer

Update: here's the trailer in good-o-vision, on the official COD YouTube account. It reveals that if you pre-order the 'Legacy Edition' of Infinite Warfare, you'll get that recently revealed COD4: Modern Warfare remaster bundled with it.

Well, here it is. A reveal trailer for the teased Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, now on Hulu, and in a million potatocam YouTube videos, one of which I'll embed below. One suspects this trailer has arrived slightly ahead of Activision's orchestrated marketing schedule, given that the official COD Twitter account hasn't yet posted anything about it, and hurrah for that.

As you can see, COD:IF will be out November 4, and will feature a big battle where an armoured vehicle thingy rolls down some stairs. Also, you'll be able to blast off into space! Fancy that. I should probably write more, but I wanted to post this posthaste, in case it suddenly disappears from the interwebs.

PC Gamer

Eric Barone has been understandably busy these past few months, but after a short break to play Final Fantasy IX (among other games), he s ready to talk about Stardew Valley s future. The biggest talking point is that cooperative multiplayer is definitely coming, and it might not take too long either: Barone has agreed to let publisher Chucklefish handle some of the more finicky programming duties.

There s obviously a huge amount of work involved to achieve all this, and I am just one person, Barone wrote in the update. I know in the past I ve been very adamant about doing everything myself, and I still am when it comes to game design and content. However, I ve decided to seek outside help for some of the more technical things listed above.

In addition to cooperative play, localisation for other, non-English speaking countries is on the cards. In the more immediate future is version 1.1, which will roll out a bunch of new gameplay additions and changes, such as:

More late-game contentNew farm buildingsNew cropsNew artisan goodsNew advanced farming/producing mechanicsShane and Emily will be marriage candidates. They will also have more events and dialogue as a result.More marriage content for all spousesMore events for the non-marriage NPC sImprovements/Additions to mining and combatAbility to move buildings and other convenience featuresMore bug fixesMore secretsMore small, fun touches to the world

Have you played Stardew Valley yet? At least a million other people have, and according to our reviewer it s definitely worth your time.

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