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PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Hotline Miami 2 gameplay footage is 80 minutes of surreal music and ultraviolence">hotline miami 2

Unsurprisingly, Hotline Miami 2 doesn't look very different to the original Hotline Miami. As a result, you may not want to watch this 80 minute gameplay video in its completion, unless to enjoy the oddly discomforting ambient synth music (interspersed with chainsaw sounds, but y'know).

There are a few points of interest: the new level editor is shown off at various points, while the sequel's new weapon dual-wielding is amply shown off right from the beginning. According to YouTube uploader LennyReviews, the footage is of a very early build, so level layouts may not be final. Gameplay takes place across the first two acts, during which we are promised no story spoilers.

Speaking of the level editor, Samuel Roberts went hands on with the tools at E3 2014, and came away impressed. "I love what I saw of the editor, and I seriously want to try my hand at creating a Hotline Miami level that's of a professional standard, as it were," he wrote. "While Dennaton isn't looking to talk about the story of the main game, it feels like this is the component of Hotline Miami 2 that we'll be talking about for years to come.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Atari is rebooting Alone in the Dark and Haunted House">aitd

Horror games are in the midst of a bit of a renaissance, thanks to titles like Outlast, Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs, The Evil Within, Alien: Isolation and countless more. So it's no surprise Atari has announced reboots for two horror properties in the form of Alone in the Dark: Illumination and Haunted House.

First off, would you look at those names. Remember when video game names could be relied on to desribe exactly the contents of the game? Originally released on Atari 2600 back in 1982, Haunted House was set in a haunted house. Flash forward 32 years, and the newly announced Haunted House reboot, in development at Anna studio Dreampainters, will presumably also take place in a haunted house. Or else it better. No details are available except for a mailing list sign up, so we await news of its setting with anticipation.

Meanwhile, details are similarly scant regarding Alone in the Dark: Illumination, with only a mailing list sign up page available at present, though it's in development at a studio called Pure. Both games are expected to release by the end of 2014. Even the question of whether these games are even in development for PC is up in the air: no platforms are indicated.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Vagante, a new 2D roguelike platformer, is now on Kickstarter">vagante

My ears prick up whenever there is mention of 'roguelike' and 'platformer' in the same sentence. For anyone who has poured thousands of hours into either Spelunky or Rogue Legacy (wel'll never get those hours back, but who needs them?) Vagante is sure to be of interest. A public alpha build was released early last month, but now studio Nuke Nine has launched a Kickstarter to help complete the game. They're after $50,000.

"The current public alpha of Vagante only scratches the surface of what we want to implement," Nuke Nine writes on its Kickstarter page. "We have more items, areas, classes, monsters, and more besides planned. Our goal is to make the game we want to play, and we re some of the harshest critics when it comes to games."

Vagante will feature a selection of classes ranging the usual RPG mainstays: knights, rogues and mages. Loot appears to be central to the game's appeal, while the game's treatment of magic will take cues form titles such as Castlevania and Diablo.

Meanwhile, the four man strong studio has also made a few recent additions to the demo, which you can still download on the Kickstarter page. Chief among the changes is the introduction of local co-operative multiplayer, which seems pretty generous.

Visit the Kickstarter page for more details. Here's a trailer:



PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth cooperative gameplay video is all tears">Binding of Isaac

Given the frequency of updates lately, I'd hazzard a guess that The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is approaching completion. Edmund McMillen posted this cooperative gameplay video earlier today, and it's looking good. Watch as Edmund and his sidekick Danielle rain tears of death upon their foes, and watch as Danielle faces off against a large sentient mound of feces named, um, Dingle.

The video shows one of twenty challenge modes planned for the final game. Entitled 'Head Trauma', it forces players to use high speed but low damage tear projectiles. The above footage follows a similar gameplay video released earlier this month, as well as the news that Rebirth will allow users to capture and share game seeds, meaning especially good runs can be replayed over and over again.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to A newbie plays Dwarf Fortress: Ep. 1">DwarfFortress_SiteHeader

In early July 2014, Dwarf Fortress received its first major update in two years. We wrote about why now is the time to get into the game with our guide Into the deep. Reading about the new features in Dwarf Fortress 2014 ended up giving me the bug: I'm determined to learn how to run a fortress and how to navigate Dwarf Fortress' labyrinthine menus. But I'm not embarking alone. I pulled in PC Gamer video producer (and DF veteran) Will Chesney to teach me the ways of Dwarf Fortress' bloody world.

This is episode one of our Dwarf Fortress Let's Play. It's aimed at newcomers like me who want to learn the game. As we play, we'll talk through the complex process of beginning a fortress, controlling our dwarves, and learning new mechanics. It may all end in blood and tragedy, but at least we'll learn something along the way. Look for new episodes of our series every Tuesday and Thursday. Now: let's strike the Earth!
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Hatoful Boyfriend, the game of pigeon love, delayed until September">Hatoful Boyfriend - Screen 1

The sad pigeon-wings of destiny have swooped down on Hatoful Boyfriend, the game of love between birds and the one human who dares go to school among them. It was originally supposed to be out this month, but publisher Devolver Digital revealed today that the egg needs a little more time in the nest.

You should be paying attention to Hatoful Boyfriend because it is a game about dating pigeons as a human. You're a student at the prestigious St. PigeoNation's school for birds, for reasons which will presumably be made clear in the game (or maybe not), and you must negotiate its halls and unforgiving social strata as you search for love and maintain an acceptable grade point average.

To paraphrase the mighty Samuel L. Jackson, you either want to play that, or you don't. Unfortunately for those in the former camp, you're going to have to wait a bit longer to launch your quest for avian amore. "Hatoful Boyfriend has been delayed just a bit to September 4 as @Mediatonic polishes up the game before it hatches!" Devolver Digital tweeted this afternoon.

Hatoful Boyfriend has been delayed just a bit to September 4 as @Mediatonic polishes up the game before it hatches! pic.twitter.com/A5R1MWknm6— Devolver Digital (@devolverdigital) August 19, 2014

No specific reason for the delay was given, only that it "needs just a smidgen more time in the pigeon nest before it hatches." And I think that's enough bird puns for one day, don't you?
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to XCOM: The Board Game hands-on: aliens, apps, and anxiety">XCOM-soldiers-3

Written by Julian Murdoch

Most board/videogame crossovers are terrible, so it was with a healthy amount of skepticism that I sat down at GenCon 2014 in Indianapolis this weekend to play XCOM: The Board Game, a coop strategy game due later this year from Fantasy Flight Games.

Fantasy Flight has a small pocket industry making these crossover attempts: several runs at the World of Warcraft license, A Gears of War game, even a game based on the world of Doom. Most of the time, the theme of the videogame seems like a weird bolt-on to the cardboard version, both watering down what might be good gameplay mechanics and failing to create a meaningful connection to original game. XCOM: The Board Game avoids both of these traps, both delivering a new, fun coop experience and conjuring up the XCOM world in interesting ways.

It s worth noting that when XCOM: Enemy Unknown hit the PC in 2012, many reviews pointed out that core tactical gameplay was actually prototyped as a boardgame before being brought digital. XCOM: The Boardgame has nothing to do with that tactical miniatures (video)game we all lost countless hours too.

That s good news. Eric Lang, the designer of the upcoming digital/boardgame hybrid, put it this way: Why would we try to replicate that exact experience, he said, sitting across the plastic counters and cardboard chits that define the boardgame experience. It already exists. We all played it. So we pulled the camera way back and put you in charge.

The core conceit of XCOM: The Board Game is precisely that. In the video game version, most of the gameplay happens at the ground level, occasionally pulling out for a brief geoscape perspective. In the board game, you sit above the geoscape level, the big-boss of all. Each player assumes one or more key roles: Commander, Squad Leader, Chief Scientist, and Central Officer. Each role has its own tasks to accomplish, working together to defeat an incoming alien invasion: assigning ground troops, interceptors, and satellites to defend planet earth, researching technologies, salvaging wreckage, and completing critical missions to repel the invading sectoids, floaters, and the rest of the XCOM menagerie.

As a cooperative boardgame, it shares much in common from games like Z-Man Games Pandemic, which assigns each player at the table a critical role in achieving a common objective against the game itself.

The Commander sends interceptors to shoot down incoming UFOs and manages the budget, allocating cash to all of the other players. Everything in the game costs money, and money is always scarce. The commander will never be able to give everyone all the money they need.

The Chief Scientist researches new technologies that act as buffs for other members of the team using card game mechanics. Each other player has buffs that can provide enormous benefits, but she only has so many scientists to deploy, and more scientists cost more money.

The Squad Leader assigns specialist troops (assault, sniper, special ops) to both defend XCOM home base and achieve the missions required to actually win the game. But troops get killed in combat, and recruiting new ones or leveling them up costs money too.

The Central Officer manages satellites and communications infrastructure. But the enemy is always targeting satellites, and new ones are expensive.

Each turn, each member has critical tasks to accomplish, and as a team, there are limited resources available to tackle the ever-changing crises which spread panic to the continents of the world. Too much panic, and the game is lost. Successful resource allocation requires real team communication and collective decision making.

But it s the Central Officer that sets the game apart. Instead of a traditional fixed turn order (I go, you go, the game goes), the Central Officer uses an app (iOS, or browser-based) to tell each team member what to do, when, and to relay the new information that comes in from the computer controlled AI. She also manages the satellite network to make sure that the best possible information is coming into the team. And it all happens on a timer.

Here s how it worked in practice, in my demo game:

Commander, assign your interceptors. You have 15 seconds.

Africa s about to fall into panic. Europe s no better. I have six inbound UFOs, and six interceptors, but I m short on cash. If I move to defend, I ll have nothing to give my ground troops, who are repelling a base-invasion at XCOM HQ. And the Science Officer won t shut up about wanting to get more salvage.

Five seconds! screams my Central Officer.

I let Africa fall, assigning three interceptors to Europe.

Done! I cry. He presses a button on the iPad next to me. Squad Leader, Defend the Base! You have 13 seconds.

Time itself is the most critical resource. If the Commander (me, in our demo) takes too long, there are consequences. If anything goes wrong like losing satellites or letting a continent fall into chaos there are consequences. Sometimes the consequences are traditional boardgame consequences fail a few dice rolls when trying to defend XCOM base, and your soldiers die. Fail to research a new technology often enough and your scientists have to take a turn off and think about what they ve done.

But because the AI for the game is in the App, both time and information are part of those consequences too. After our failure in Africa, the next round had us assigning resources before we even knew where the UFOs were going to land. After running over time last turn, the Squad Leader, forced to decide between three missions to pursue, only gets 10 seconds to read the mission cards and decide, instead of 25 seconds.

And just like that, the game goes from strategic allocation and resource management to real time panic. The irony here is that this is unique in the XCOM universe. XCOM, after all, is a turn-based strategy game. A safe haven for people who don t like the stress of managing a build order in StarCraft 2 or getting a skillshot just right in League of Legends.

This is the genius of XCOM: The Board Game. It uses an app to change the very structure of the game (Do well, and you ll get critical information before you have to act. Do poorly, and you re flying blind), and it adds an element of real-time panic to what would otherwise be a fairly staid resource and strategy design.

This, it turns out, was the entire point: to stress you the heck out while you re trying to save the world. Making decisions with limited information and limited time is what brings out stress, explains Lang. Real time is the best way to do that. But using a sand-timer just doesn t cut it. An App feels really impersonal, it actually feels actually sinister. When the app pings you, that sound effect starts stressing you out.

By turn three of our demo, I d failed to allocate resources effectively with time being our most critical resource of all. And the earth was lost.

XCOM: The Board Game works as a boardgame for two reasons. The first, obviously, is it s connection to a beloved strategy videogaming franchise. The second is it s integration of a digital component. It will be easy for crufty grognards to immediately dismiss that as a gimmick designed to appeal to people who aren t real boardgamers a comment I heard more than once on the floor of GenCon.

But XCOM: The Board Game is doing something that happens all too rarely in board games it s actually innovating. I only got to play once the line for demos ran around the Fantasy Flight Games booth all weekend long but I will for sure be playing many, many times again, when it s out later this year for $60.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Wasteland 2 release date is finally revealed">tumblr_n9wbaiGEn41sqkv5zo1_1280

Wasteland 2 is coming! You already knew that, yes. But do you know exactly when it is coming? No, you do not! For that, you must read onward.

September 19! InXile boss Brian Fargo made it official on Twitter a few minutes ago, writing, "Official Wasteland 2 release date... September 19th! The 20+ year wait is soon over." The game was originally expected to be out this month that's August but the studio said on August 4 that it was "pretty likely" to be pushed into September, which is exactly what happened.

Official Wasteland 2 release date... September 19th! The 20+ year wait is soon over.— Brian Fargo (@BrianFargo) August 19, 2014

So there you go, the big secret revealed and the game just a few weeks away. If you're not sure why you should be excited by this news, have a look at our hands-on preview from earlier this month, in which Cory Banks picks a fight with some houseplants and gets schooled by a gang of rabbits for his trouble. It's every bit as good as it sounds.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Analyst says digital sales made up 92 percent of PC game market in 2013">steam sale day 9

It might be time to reconsider the idea that digital distribution is the future. According to analyst firm DFC Intelligence, it actually stopped being the future quite some time ago, as nearly all PC game purchases made in 2013 were done digitally.

92 percent is a huge number, certainly higher than I would have guessed, but that's the figure that DFC served up to PCR, and it's a shift that's been underway for awhile. Two years ago, EA announced in its first-quarter financial results for FY2013 that it actually made more money from PC sales than PlayStation 3, a fact attributable largely to the rise of digital sales. In the same report, it revealed that digital sales had increased dramatically over the previous year, while physical sales were in obvious decline.

Aside from the usual suspects, such as Steam and GOG, the digital explosion is also being fueled by the rise of free-to-play games, a model that's become so lucrative that Crytek bet (and almost lost) the farm on it. John Romero said last month that the PC is "decimating" consoles, thanks in large part to the popularity of free-to-play games, a position bolstered by DFC in April, when it said that the worldwide PC games market had actually surpassed that of consoles.

Of course, not everyone is ready to give up their boxes, discs and feelies; consider the IndieBox, a small operation we looked at earlier this month that's found success creating physical collector's editions of popular indie games. But in the big picture, there is no doubt: The PC game box is dead and buried.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to H1Z1 hands-on: zombie archery, disease, and monetizing the apocalypse">screenshot_3840_2160_108

The plan was simple: get to the tree, cut it down, and then make it into a bow. Bows are important in H1Z1 s early game, so I booked it as fast as I could to get to this lone Douglas fir in the field. Unfortunately, I had to run past a massive herd of undead to get here, making quite a bit of racket in the process, and they re getting closer as I bring out my axe.

One swing into the trunk takes a chunk out, and another gets it ready to fall. But I m making too much noise, and I can hear the shambling hordes behind me. A third whack brings the tree down and the zombies rushing. The bow I never made wouldn t be much help against so many flesh eaters, anyway.

As I respawn on a hill overlooking yet another group of ghouls, Producer Steve George chuckles. You re getting some pretty rough spawns, he tells me. What we want to do is get a bow in your hands as soon as possible. I spin around and start moving toward a tree again, this time without bringing friends. With the tree down, I can finally put a ranged weapon together.

Unlike DayZ, which emphasizes scavenging abandoned buildings for supplies, H1Z1 s current build gives you some basic tools for crafting right from the beginning. Opening the inventory window and switching to the crafting tab shows me that I already know how to whittle wood logs down to planks and sticks. It even goes through some steps automatically for me if I choose to craft wooden sticks, the game will first transform logs to planks, and then to the stick that I want.

Another window helps me discover new recipes by comparing different materials. I take my survivor s shirt off and shred it into strips, and then put it in the discovery window with the wood sticks. Presto-chango, now I can make a bow. It feels more Don t Starve than DayZ, and lets me feel more powerful in H1Z1 s Oregon woods than I ever have in Chernarus.

A lot has changed since we last saw H1Z1 at E3 2014. The world is more substantial more wildlife in the wilderness, more towns and houses to explore. Crafting has been expanded, but it also feels as important as scavenging now. Quickly building a bow means I m better prepared for facing the beasts living and dead in the game. I watch as a wolf chases down a deer, which George refers to as the circle of life AI programming in the game. The wolf pounces, kills its prey, and then turns on me. I hold the right mouse button to draw my bow and fire arrows with the left button. It doesn t feel natural I expected to hold my left click before I shot but I still dropped the wolf in one shot.

I ask George how SOE would handle permadeath, thinking that I could lose the ability to craft this sweet bow the moment I meet a Zed. The idea is that you lose anything you ve gathered, he tells me, but any recipes you ve learned stay within your system. So you don t need to learn how to re-craft a bow after you die. The same will be true with items purchased through the game: you ll simply respawn with anything you ve paid real money for.

Also added, just in the past week, is the H1Z1 virus itself. SOE did not share many details, but you will have to manage your disease if infected, or become one of the shambling undead I kept fleeing. Some houses had pills that could help boost my immunity, and an indicator at the bottom right told me when I was infected, and to what stage the disease had progressed. It s a small thing that makes H1Z1 feel more game than simulation, much like how your health, thirst, and stamina are tracked in the interface instead of inferred through you are hungry messages and how hazy your screen becomes, but it works.

Unfortunately, the similarities between DayZ and H1Z1 extend beyond the setting and into the state of the game. It s still an extremely early build, and bugs were common. Items would refuse to move in the crafting windows. Clothing, once equipped, would refuse to unequip. The hitboxes for zombies are inconsistent, as is their pathing. I lost a pursuing zombie by running into a house that it couldn t enter, for some reason. The newly-added bears are nigh-impossible to kill, as I learned the hard way. I watched a single grizzly tear through a massive herd of undead, then it killed me in one quick swipe. Once I finally made it to a small town, I had to mash on the E button to get a door to open all the way. Getting it closed while fleeing from enemies could be a crapshoot.

SOE is aware of all of these problems, and is uncharacteristically transparent about them. During my demo, the inventory interface failed to recognize items I was swapping, leaving me unequipped and unable to drop the buggy item. George said it was a new issue, and when the client was restarted, I was good to go. But the experience is indicative of why SOE still hasn t released the game in an early access form.

We get a lot of questions all day on Reddit, says Jimmy Whisenhunt, senior game designer. People are like, Hey, this looks really playable! We re seeing it on streams! And yeah, absolutely, but we want to make sure that when you play the game, the wolf is attackable, and it feels right. That s a lot of what we re working towards right now, making sure this stuff feel right before we go out for early access.

When it is ready for early access, Whisenhunt tells me the game will be available for $20, much cheaper than initial access to Landmark. We re going to monetize this game a little differently than we have in the past, he tells me. People get really nervous when we tweet something like, Hey, you get a premium bat for the SOE Live Pass. And then people say we re selling weapons. In reality, the premium items will be cosmetic, and SOE may experiment with gated access for gamemode-specific servers, with Whisenhunt specifically mentioning a battle royale server as an example. You could play your way into that, or even purchase your way into that, he says. Eventually, however, the game will be free-to-play.

The big question, then, is when H1Z1 will be available on Steam. SOE wants to release the final version by October 2015, but would only say that it will offer the early version soon. I think it should offer access now: even in its current state, I m excited to see what lots of players will be able to do with the world.

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