Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Jeremy Laird)

It’s that time of year when the press releases stop flowing, the new product dries up and yours truly runs out of novel kit to verbally clobber. What more excuse do we need to round up the highlights of the year in PC gaming tech, from the proud victories and fearful gaffes to the simply-failed-to-ever-happens. Here we go…

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Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

This image represents Steam.

Here’s a thing which may mean absolutely nothing to you: Steam is reportedly now region-locking gift copies of every game. If you don’t know what that means, don’t sweat it – you’re probably not affected. If you do know some of those words and do care, I’ll explain. Basically, it’s to stop folks buying games from the Steam stores of countries where things are cheaper. While a change like this has clearly been a long time coming, it’s supposedly happening now in response to the Russian ruble’s current problems.

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Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Philippa Warr)

The last couple of years I’ve seen games in various stages of completion making overtures towards the professional gaming scene. Of these I’d say Smite – a third-person over-the-shoulder lane pusher has done the most to convince me of its intentions towards competitive gaming.

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Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Adam Smith)

It’s Chriiiiiiistmas, as Noddy Holder screams every morning to the terrified residents of Toyland, no matter what the season. Beneath a mechanical tophat festooned with mirrors and baubles, he gambols and grimaces, throwing colourfully decorated parcels containing tiny tartan trousers and other glam trinkets.

Steam is a lot like young Noddy, spreading goodwill whatever the season with its regular sales. But now is your chance to grab gifts for one and all (yourself included), because the Holiday Sale has just begun. Highlights below.

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Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (John Walker)

RPG Lords Of Xulima snuck out last month, forgetting to tell anyone it existed, and indeed that it seems rather good. I’ve played the first few hours of the 60+ hour game, and have some early impressions to share with you. For instance, here’s my impression of a games critic:>

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Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Adam Smith)

You may know Swedish developers Simogo as the developers of frights and folklore game Year Walk, which came to PC in March. Since that game’s original iOS release, Simogo have released two other astonishingly clever and beautiful interactive narratives on fruit-based gadgets. 2013’s Device 6 was my favourite handheld game of that year, converting the iPad into a future-book from the best possible timeline. And this year’s release, The Sailor’s Dream, has been a tranquil companion in the small hours of the morning.

Now, as a little pre-giftsmas treat, Simogo have released a new narrative, The Sensational December Machine, for free on PC and Mac.

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Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

Not pictured: your own legs. But they're down there!

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.>

No, not that one. The other one. Yes, the FPS. EA trying to resurrect Bullfrog’s top-down tactical series as an FPS was obviously going to rile up the people it was supposed to excite, but ignore the name. It’s a pleasant spot of face-shooting in a sumptuous cyberpunk world of gleaming clean lines and filthy neon. I don’t remember much of the campaign, but writing this has me wanting to dive back into the co-op.

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Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

Oh.

So, that Minecraft‘s pretty popular, isn’t it? Apparently worth a fair chunk of change too. I see sprogs wandering the streets brandishing foam pixelated swords all the time, Minecraft t-shirts on their chests. Playing it has turned folks on YouTube into Internet celebrities and heck, it even has its own convention. In a way, it’s surprising that it’s taken this long to make a baffling spin-off.

Telltale Games – yes, them lot behind The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us – are making an episodic Minecraft story-o-game named Minecraft: Story Mode.

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Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

GO

If you’re one of those whose bought Assassin’s Creed: Unity’s DLC Season Pass at launch, you’re getting a big fat Sorry from Ubisoft whether you felt you needed it or not. They need your forgiveness. They burn for it. The publisher’s apologies for Unity’s many and various bugs and performance issues comprises a choice of one of the following: Far Cry 4, Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag, The Crew, Rayman Legends, Watch_Dogs or Just Dance 2015. We already knew that! But now it’s actually happening right now go go go go

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Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Rich Stanton)

Hideo Kojima is one of console-land’s greatest champions. Over the past two decades Konami’s Kojima-led team, eventually formed into Kojima Productions, has produced classic game after classic game almost all of which are Metal Gear titles. Though not without critics, each MGS feels like a reinvention rather than a sequel, consistently innovative, stylish, and changeable. And with Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, the prologue act to next year’s full release of MGSV: the Phantom Pain, Kojima Productions reinvents itself as a PC developer.>

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