Shacknews - Steve Watts

Today at a panel during its annual Firaxicon event, Firaxis took the wraps off of two new enemies coming to XCOM 2: the Archon, and the Advent Shieldbearer. Shacknews was on-hand to talk with the developers about the new additions.

Advent Shieldbearer

The Shieldbearer is a heavy tank unit with a bulky set of armor. He's hard to take down on his own, but his special ability makes him even more of a threat. He can activate shielding within a radius around him, which will buff any other enemy units inside of it. The team said during the presentation that he'll often need to be the first priority, because once he armors up his allies the battle gets that much more difficult.

The Archon

The Archon carries a strikingly different art style, which creative director Jake Solomon joked looks akin to a summon from Final Fantasy. Archons don't take cover, but they're resiliant on their own regardless. They use a beam staff as their primary weapon, but once they're hit they fly directly at units for a high-damage melee attack. Then they have the dramatic "Blazing Pinions" ability, which sees them flying above the battlefield and targeting multiple units with a series of bombs.

Enemies Known

"We really wanted [the Archon] to be a contrast to the Floater," art director Greg Foertsch told Shacknews. "The Floater is dirty and grungy, and we wanted to embody 'elegance' with this. We somehow landed on Egyptian influence--it was so elegant with a lot of gold. He has this sort of angelic feel. We were really trying to contrast against other characters, and with this inner rage, the violence when he attacks. We also wanted to contrast that." 

That elegance is a larger element in the game as a whole. The presentation made a point of showing the city architecture, 20 years after the aliens have successfully taken over. It looks eerily perfect, and the Archon continues that visual language. Foertsch mentioned it's as if both the architecture and the Archon are examples of the aliens "trying to make it a little less scary even though it's more scary."

Between an intimidating Archon and the defensive powerhouse Shieldbearer, I wondered if any work had to be done to balance for the new enemies. 

"We have these fundamental building blocks to deal with in XCOM," Solomon told us. "You've got aim, you've got cover, you've got mobility. A lot of things we do is give the aliens abilities to take those away. Let's say the Viper, she can grab a soldier with her tongue and steal them, and all of a sudden you're down a soldier. So, the Archon, same thing. They are extremely mobile and they can melee attack your units, and they can fly up above and bomb you. But their bomb doesn't land for one more turn, so the counter for that is mobility."

Solomon was careful to note that that the team doesn't think of balancing in XCOM as coming up with specific unit counters for enemy types, partly because the new procedurally generated stages would make that unworkable. Since enemies are chosen semi-randomly, players should always have the tools to deal with whatever combination might arise.

Check back on Monday for more from the team on modding, procedural generation, and more.

Shacknews - Joe Tirado

Jolly Holiday is an exotic weapon quest that grants you the Chaperone. The Chaperone is a shotgun made famous by the Taken King live action commercial, and the quest to get it is quite a trek. This guide will show you how to get the quest, complete it, and offer up some tips to help you move things along a little bit quicker.

First things first. There are three prerequisutes that I currently know of to get this quest to drop. Firstly, you have to complete the Taken King main storyline (defeat Oryx in the Regicide mission), you must have The Last Word exotic hand cannon, whether year one or two, and you must be at least Crucible rank 3. 

Once you've received the quest from Amanda it's time to grab your Last Word and head into the Crucible.

Shindig In the Crucible

This step requires you to gain a certain amount of renown in the Crucible while using your Last Word. 

This part takes a little explaining, as I was running around crucible matches using only the last word and no secondaries. The biggest thing to remember here is that you don't need to get the kills using The Last Word. All you have to do is have it equipped at the time of your enemy's death. This means Supers, grenades, melee, Special, and Heavy Weapon kills all count towards your renown, as long as The Last Word is equipped in your Primary Weapon slot. You also need to remember that any deaths you acquire while The Last Word is equipped will drop your renown. If you think you're going to do poorly in the match, unequip The Last Word and run something else.

Struggling to build up your renown in the Crucible? Try these quick tips to help you get out of your slump and press forward in the quest:

  • Only have the Last Word equipped when you know you are going to get kills. That sounds silly, but stick with me here. You should never, EVER be running directly into a match with your Last Word out unless you are supremely confident that you are going to do well. Most of those people aren't reading this guide though, so for everyone else, take this advice. If you feel out the other team a bit and are playing well, equip it and get at them. 
  • Take out the Last Word only when you have a Super or Heavy ammo. Put it away as soon as you die. This is a slow, but methodical way to ensure you get positive results without having to remake all your progress again and again.

    • Play the Mayhem game mode. I got through this in three matches of Mayhem. How? Well to be honest, I very rarely used my Last Word, instead relying on my grenade and Super kills to build up points. Multikills and Killstreaks also add to your total Renown, so pick your spots and you should do just fine. 
    • Equip the Last word at the end of a match you are about to win. Winning increases renown, so throw The Last Word on right at the end of a round if you are about to complete a victory. 

    A Generous Donation

    This step is the easiest, but the worst. You'll need to bribe the people choosing the winner of the competition. In order to do this you're going to need a total of at least 15,000 Glimmer. If you need Glimmer, make sure you are using your glimmer enhancing items, and going after majors/ultras. The easiest, and most well known is to load up the Exclusion Zone mission on Mars. Make your way through the mission until the Cabal alarms sound, and then kill the Majors that spawn in after the large blast doors open. Once the yellow bar enemies are dead, run forward and let the others kill you. It's a hit to your PVE stats, but in the end this is one of the easiest and quickest ways to farm for Destiny's chosen currency. Make sure you pop Resupply Codes every chance you can to help increase the Glimmer drops from Cabal enemies. It's a bit of a slog to grind for Glimmer, but it's going to be worth it, trust me.

    Buckshot Bruiser

    Step one, kind of. This step you'll have to use your Shotguns to kill Guardians in Crucible, or Majors in missions. I've heard reports that launching Patrol on any world doesn't work, so I just did it by killing about 35 people with my Shotgun in the Crucible. If that's your thing, though, you can load up Heroic Strikes and get after those Majors. Deaths dont matter here, so just keep piling up your bodycount. I am also fairly certain that you have to get the kill with a Shotgun, unlike step one in which you just need to have a certain weapon on your person.

    Two for the Road

    The last step you'll need to complete is a special Level 42 version of the strike, Shield Brothers. The one catch though is you have to kill them with shotguns. I suggest going into this with people who know what's going on, otherwise you could end up like me, and have to do it twice. We made sure to land the killing blows the second time around with Shotguns and thankfully it completed. I wont bore you with mission specifics, as you have most likely already beat this during the campaign. Just know that my Titan's Defender bubble proved to be pretty useful, and Void weapons do wonders. All of the Psions have Void Shields and can be a pain in the neck in large groups. 

    That's it. Head back to Amanda to complete the quest and gain your shiny new Chaperone! Keep in mind, you'll have to wait for a Weekly Refresh to get your new weapon, so if you don't like waiting, get your friends together on a Monday and get this thing done so you can wake up the next day and have your shiny new shotgun waiting for you at the Tower. 

    For more Destiny content be sure to check out our guide to all 50 Calcified Fragments, as well as our Destiny Walkthrough page which has more guides and cool content for you to check out.

    Shacknews - Steven Wong

    WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for Soma and the System Shock series.

    System Shock 2 video game storytelling to a new level when it released in 1999. Like its predecessor, it was a sci-fi horror game where a player awakens from cryo-sleep with amnesia. By then, the crew of the space vessel had been either killed off or mutated into violent creatures. Beyond it was a malevolent super-intelligent AI named SHODAN, who didn't have a very flattering opinions about humanity. So, it was up the player to figure out what was going on, then stop the threat from reaching Earth.

    The game's cliffhanger ending left plenty of room for a sequel, but a number of factors made it impossible, relegating the game to the status of a cult classic. That is until BioShock, the famed spiritual successor to the series, released in 2007. Although BioShock has some fantastic themes, incredible visuals, and excellent gameplay, it actually bears very little resemblance to its spiritual predecessor. Apart from superficial elements like being a sci-fi first-person horror game with the word "shock" in the title, characterized by conveniently placed audio logs (and one or two ghosts) to provide background information, and a disembodied voice telling you what to do (leading to a sudden yet inevitable betrayal), the BioShock and System Shock series are completely different. But considering how well BioShock was received, most fans seemed relatively content with what they got.

    Then the independently developed horror survival game Soma released last week, and even though it doesn't have the moniker, it might actually be a worthier successor to System Shock than BioShock. It features a man named Simon who awakens inside an abandoned installation with no clue how he got there. The setting, an underwater installation populated by crazed killer mutants, practically begs for a BioShock comparison, with themes of free will and Objectivism replaced with trans-human Existentialism. However, I argue that there's more to it. Despite very obvious difference, underwater facilities have some key commonalities with outer space locations. You need a special suit to go outside, decompression is a big problem, and you're often trying to navigate a maze of narrow, darkened, corridors. But Soma shares themes with System Shock that go beyond setting.

    Rogue AI

    System Shock's famous antagonist is SHODAN, the AI that imagines herself as a god, and wants to remake humanity into slaves while wiping out the rest. Soma almost tells an inverse story using the same themes. Instead of being freed of its ethical constraints and going insane, the PATHOS-II artificial intelligence WAU is bound by its programming to try to save the remnants of humanity. The only problem is, there is no fixed definition for what is "human" or alive, and WAU was never programmed for abstract thinking.

    Therefore, it goes about the task of preserving humanity the best way it can, but finding a way requires a lot of experimentation. So, it tries a variety of approaches, which happens to include mutating some of the inhabitants of PATHOS-II into creatures that most people would describe as monsters. The fact that practically all of its experiments went insane is either irrelevant (since they're technically still alive), or a problem that can be overcome with more testing. It's little different from the experiments performed in the System Shock series to augment creatures. I still harbor a particular disdain for psychic monkeys, and let's not even start on the ninja cyborgs.

    The point is, the opposing AIs are two sides of the same coin. Where SHODAN was allowed to open her mind up to new possibilities and had dozens of military experiments at her disposal, WAU is very much constricted by its programming and resources, and went out of control in its attempt to save everyone.

    When Change is Necessary

    System Shock 2 features a second antagonist called The Many, a biological experiment that evolved out of control. Its goal is to spread itself by incorporating humans into its ever growing biomass, where they become part of a singularity. It sees itself as a transcendent form of life. One that is not divided by petty individualism, nor limited by a fear of death. From its point of view, it's doing humanity a favor by trying to bring them all together. Players are tasked with destroying The Many before it can reach Earth, but it's presumed that it's the right thing to do.

    Soma doesn't introduce an alien life form, but it does take on themes of change and survival. The inhabitants of PATHOS-II are doomed, and the last remnants of humanity will die with them. Copying their minds to into a computer system called The Ark, where they'll live out virtual lives in a simulated world, is a last ditch effort to preserve some aspect of the human race. Even if they aren't technically alive, they can still think, feel, and act in an artificial world.

    Unlike System Shock 2, Soma at least allows players to think about whether a virtual existence is one worth having. At certain points, they can choose to either erase these digital personas, or just have them sit there until the day some future race or aliens happen upon them and figure out some way to reactivate them. To the digital persona, it would be a Rip Van Winkle effect of unimaginable proportions, but they would at least continue to exist in some way.

    The Many wants to uplift humanity to a new existence. Project Ark is all about copying their minds over to a computer probe and launching it into space. Both are ways to save humanity while leaving the arguably human part behind. However, both games also fail to let players decide if it's worth it. Is a species that launched violent psychic monkeys out into space on a half-built spaceship one that's worth saving? At the same time, how long before the inhabitants of Ark grow weary of their immortal virtual existence and turn suicidal or insane?

    The End?

    It's clear that Soma benefits from gameplay elements that were first introduced in System Shock 2, like picking up recordings left behind by the deceased to figure out what's going on. At the same time, there are significant differences, like how the protagonist in Soma can't fight any of the horrors he comes across, while System Shock always involves a character that can use high-tech weapons and cybernetics.

    However, we can look beyond those differences. In the end, both games leave players floating in space with a number of unanswered questions.

    Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

    For Nintendo, September will mainly be remembered for Super Mario Maker. In fact, it's been such a phenomenon that a Super Mario Maker stage was added to Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS as DLC. Shacknews decided to grab a handful of Amiibo figures and give this stage a whirl.

    The first thing to notice in an 8-player smash is that breakable objects aren't as prominent. When playing four-players, blocks and other destructible items will be sprinkled around the map. If broken, a hand will simply replace the busted parts. Environments will vary from overworld to underground and various set pieces will be utilized, including conveyor belts and lava.

    But regardless of how many players are on-screen, the visual styles will change back and forth between the four Mario games featured in Super Mario Maker. On top of that, to set this stage as an honor of all things Mario, 27 Mario-themed music tracks are available. Many of these are already existing tracks, but players will also get the vintage overworld music from Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario World and a remix of the Super Mario Maker theme.

    We played one survival round and posted it for your viewing pleasure, so catch the full video below for all the action. The Super Mario Maker stage is available on both Wii U and 3DS for $2.49 for each platform, $3.49 for both platforms, or as a massive bundle on the Nintendo eShop. For those looking to jump back into Super Smash Bros. after some time away, the characters have undergone some slight tweaks. Be sure to catch up with the community-collected patch notes.

    Shacknews - Steve Watts

    As the fall video game season ramps up, we're going to be spending more and more time with some of our favorite heroes--Master Chief, Lara Croft, some unnamed rando who wandered out of a wasteland vault. So we got to thinking: what makes these characters interesting? What makes a good hero? This week, the Chattycast takes a closer look at heroes in games. What makes a compelling hero? Do you prefer a personal avatar, or a fully-formed character? What makes a hero compelling and iconic? Is it enough to like these characters, or do they need to be aspirational fantasies as well? Who are some of your favorite heroes, and why? All that plus Newsybits, Beat the Doc, and more! 

    Be sure to visit for your 30-day trial with a free audiobook download of your choice.

    RSS | iTunes | Download this episode

    Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

    It's been almost a month since Super Mario Maker hit the Wii U, with Nintendo already selling over one million units worldwide. There have been over 2.2 million courses created, many of which utilize classic Mario mechanics in unique and inventive ways. Some even manage to cleverly utilize the classic Mario rogues gallery in some ways never been seen.

    Well, they use the available Mario rogues, anyway. There are actually quite a few baddies that are currently missing from Super Mario Maker. There's a good chance that Nintendo is planning to add these foes later down the line or there are probably other reasons they're not available. Perhaps it's a little too difficult to downgrade a 16-bit polygon into an 8-bit sprite. Nonetheless, let's take a look at some of the foes that have yet to make the Super Mario Maker cut.

    Chargin' Chuck

    It was strange to see Chargin' Chuck make his debut in Super Mario World back in 1991. One wouldn't have expected to see an American football-themed enemy pop up in a Japanese game. But Chuck slid right into his role as a Mario foe, adding some interesting twists that hadn't been seen to that point. He was a burly bruiser that would charge Mario on sight and withstand up to three hits.

    On top of being durable, Chuck also came in different varieties. Some Chucks would throw baseballs (while curiously still wearing their football gear), others would dig up rocks, and others would act as a watchdog to trigger a certain other enemy that we'll cover in just a moment. The challenge in bringing in Chuck likely involves bringing him down to the NES-level of graphics. What would a Super Mario Bros. or Super Mario Bros. 3 Chuck even look like?

    But there's still hope that Chuck can take the field, since Nintendo hasn't exactly forgotten him. Chargin' Chuck was most recently seen in Super Mario 3D World and Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, so he isn't exactly a permanent benchwarmer.


    Spike first debuted in Super Mario Bros. 3 as a pesky little reptile that would spit up a spiked ball and toss it in a straight line forward. He's evolved quite a bit since then, changing up his moveset so that he throws his spiked ball, more like a soccer goalkeeper.

    Spike would be an interesting addition, because taking care of him involves a degree of timing. Mario has to be careful to not step on him while he's holding his ball over his head. What makes Spike an interesting foe is that his patterns have changed over the course of each Mario game. He actually moves back and forth in Super Mario Bros. 3, whereas he stays in one spot in New Super Mario Bros. Adding him to Super Mario Maker would involve setting up some differing movement patterns for Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario World counterparts, but Spike would fit nicely on the roster of enemies.

    Rip Van Fish

    Super Mario World players remember this little guy all too well. Rip Van Fish was a terrifying underwater foe that would sleep in various corners, but would quickly spring into action if awakened. He would chase Mario relentlessly and home in quickly, with a player's only hope often being that Rip Van Fish would eventually get tired and fall back asleep. Alone, he was a formidable foe, but in numbers, he was downright terrifying. Super Mario World underwater stages didn't get much scarier than when a school of Rip Van Fishes were awakened by a whistling Chargin' Chuck.

    Super Mario Maker underwater stages are arguably some of the game's weaker offerings, just because there's only so much creativity that can be exercised with the underwater formula. That's mostly because it takes away the central mechanic that makes Mario who he is: jumping. Rip Van Fish can add some much-needed intensity and a fresh difficulty factor to underwater levels and he would fit in just fine across all game types. Imagine a Bullet Bill cannon shooting out schools of these guys, all just dying to chase Mario to the bitter end.


    Pokey's first claim to fame was in Super Mario Bros. 2, but he would eventually find a home as a standard Mario foe with Super Mario World. Sure, he was mostly just there to show off Yoshi's bottomless appetite, but he was still quite a threat, nevertheless.

    Pokey's appeal would be in creating new (literal) hurdles for Mario to clear, challenging players to jump over his lanky, spiny body without hitting it. He would be a wonderful addition to jumping puzzles, fitting in well with trampolines and music blocks. He could even be made into an impassable obstacle by growing to giant size. Pokey deserves more time in the sun and would add plenty to the Mario Maker formula.

    Fire/Ice/Boomerang Bros.

    Hammer Bros. remain the peskiest of Mario's enemies, often spelling death at a moment's notice. They are a constant thorn at his side, so it was obvious that they (and their larger counterparts, the Sledge Bros.) needed to be in Super Mario Maker. But what about the other variety of Bros. that were introduced over subsequent installments of 2D Mario games?

    The Bros. gradually evolved to throw more than just hammers. Boomerang Bros. first debuted in Super Mario Bros. 3 and were quite common to the game, mostly seen as wandering encounters or as occasional bosses. The game also added the much rarer Fire Bros., who could duplicate Fire Mario's pyro-tossing powers. The Fire Bros. would become much more prominent in later Mario games, particularly New Super Mario Bros., which is where the Ice Bros. would also debut. The Ice Bros. were a double whammy that their snowballs would not only register as a hit, but would also freeze Mario in an ice block for a short period.

    New Bro varieties would go a long way towards shaking up level variety. Fire and Boomerang Bros. would translate easily enough across all four game styles, while Ice Bros. could add new nightmare scenarios for masochistic level designers. Imagine trying to make a long jump, only to get hit by a snowball. Picture tossing your controller as you could only watch Mario sink into the abyss below as a helpless block of ice. The possibilities for masochism are there and they'll hopefully be realized soon.

    Boom Boom

    Boss selections in Super Mario Maker are pretty scant. There's Bowser, Bowser Jr., and... er... bigger Bowser and Bowser Jr. Oh, and I guess there's Clown Car Bowser and Bowser Jr. Alright, the point's been made. There just aren't enough boss characters, which begs the question? Where's Boom Boom?

    Boom Boom has been dwelling in castles since Super Mario Bros. 3 and has been the mid-boss of choice for so many Mario games since the 2D revival almost ten years ago. So it's somewhat of a shock that he didn't make the Super Mario Maker cut. Tossing in new twists to a Boom Boom room would be really interesting and go a long way towards mixing up the increasingly-stale Bowser fights. This is especially true if players can choose from the standard boss and the fiend that sprouts wings and hovers around the room before swooping down.

    Boom Boom is Mario's most memorable mid-tier fiend this side of Birdo, so why not let him haunt castles again? He'd certainly make for a nice change of pace.

    Super Mario Maker could always use more foes, so who would you like to see added to the enemy list? Let us know in the comments.

    Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

    October is here and it's time to celebrate the loyal customers of your paid console membership of choice. Xbox owners can pick up games like Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, Dying Light, and the LEGO games for cheap, but will see an even greater discount as Xbox Live Gold members. Meanwhile, PlayStation Plus members will get some notable discounts on games like Devil May Cry 4 Special Edition and Skullgirls 2nd Encore, but this is also the last weekend to pick up the free PlayStation Plus offerings for September before they change over for October. Check out the full list of deals below.

    Here's our selection of this weekend's console deals:

    Xbox One

    The following deals are available to everyone, but additional discounts are offered to Xbox Live Gold members.

    The following games are a part of Xbox One Games with Gold/Deals with Gold. An Xbox Live Gold Subscription is required to receive these discounts.

    PlayStation 4

    The following deals are available only to PlayStation Plus members.

    Nintendo Wii U

    Xbox 360

    The following deals are available to everyone, but additional discounts are offered to Xbox Live Gold members.

    The following games are a part of Xbox 360 Games with Gold/Deals with Gold. An Xbox Live Gold Subscription is required to receive these discounts.

    PlayStation 3

    The following deals are available only to PlayStation Plus members.

    Nintendo 3DS

    PlayStation Vita

    The following deals are available only to PlayStation Plus members.

    Shacknews - Brittany Vincent

    Davey Wreden, creator of the critically acclaimed Stanley Parable, has finally produced his follow-up: The Beginner's Guide, or a selection of deep cuts from amateur game developer "Coda's" collection of unfinished titles created via the Source Engine. For $8, it amounts to what is essentially a how-to in game design for spectators masquerading as a fully-voiced personal narrative that overanalyzes nearly every single decision and design choice by "Coda." However, this sophomore effort is a sadly self-indulgent exercise that requires little thought or little input from the player to complete.

    The Stanley Parable was a fascinating exercise in interactive fiction for a glittering few moments, and anyone who played it could understand why. After winning over the hearts and minds of critics and those who continually push for narrative legitimacy in a medium that's already proven time and time again its ability to weave believable and enjoyable stories, it was content to exist in a vacuum alone. It was a gem to be placed on a pedestal. It didn't have much to say, but it was an experience that begged at least one completed run-through, if only to be able to discuss it with friends. The Beginner's Guide attempts to recapture this magic, but fails.

    Commentary Track

    The Beginner's Guide follows narrator Wreden as he takes players on a guided tour through several unfinished projects created by an acquaintance named Coda. These range from large rooms with interconnecting passageways, a staircase that slows you down as you ascend it, a prison that was said to lock players in a cell for an hour before releasing them, and several other annotated works that Coda never saw fit to complete. As such, they're barely playable, save for a few moments of interactivity here and there via the typical WASD and mouse combo.

    But this isn't about playing the games so much as experiencing them, as you'll find out from the very beginning. As Wreden offers insight into what the player is seeing onscreen, he often waxes poetic about the hidden implications of Coda's creations, evidenced in the first level, a Counter-Strike map. Coda has strewn several boxes across the map and Wreden is quick to interpret them as deliberate attempts to give what would otherwise feel like an ordinary game map a more human touch.

    Perhaps that is what Coda meant, but who's to say? Why should we care? From the beginning of the interactive experience these suggestions come off as ham-fisted and contrived. While there's nothing wrong with searching for deeper meaning in the ins and outs of everyday life, let alone game design, none of Wreden's statements sound authentic, or even as though they were culled from a different person, which "Coda" likely was not.

    Every new area merits a new explanation. Glitching out and rising above an unfinished skybox in the first level is related to a transcendent experience, as Wreden describes how Coda must have been fascinated with the way the view makes you feel "small." A door-opening puzzle that is re-used over and over in Coda's games is symbolic of "shutting the door on your past" and moving forward. Surely it couldn't have been an uninspired puzzle that was simple to design? At one point you play a “game” that forces you to only walk backward through several doorways while you take note of various messages on the walls around you.

    Even that merits a long, drawn-out rumination on why it’s innovative. It’s not. It’s pretentious.

    Director's Cuts

    Unfortunately, the entire game is riddled with these anecdotes, sentiments that are meant to feel deeply personal and at times depressing, and the ideas that permeate The Beginner's Guide are those of a creator who desperately wants to communicate a message that's far more complex than it needs to be. It's Wreden attempting to weave a story that's very obviously an amalgam of ideas created specifically for this game, which felt extremely forced and silly by the end of it all, especially with a final chapter that made some rote and indecipherable decisions.

    It's very clear the type of audience Wreden felt he was catering to by creating a two-hour experience that you can interact with as a mock-game, which can leave you feeling alienated unless you choose to believe there really is another person in the story beyond Wreden himself with dual personalities.

    There's a place for this type of content, but not so much within the stratosphere of gaming where general audiences go to find their next addiction. It's a project that's more in-line with media you'd give a loved one or a colleague you'd like to share ideas with. Obviously a traditional game isn't what The Beginner's Guide set out to be at all, but it doesn't quite flourish as an offbeat art piece either. Charging an admission fee for what is essentially an explainer reel with jumbled tidbits of mundane unfinished game ideas is ludicrous, even in the name of thinking outside the box in terms of game design. Play The Stanley Parable instead.

    This review is based on a PC code provided by the publisher. The Beginner’s Guide is available now on Steam for $7.99.

    Shacknews - Shack Staff

    It should almost go without saying nowadays that not all of the great modern games come from AAA publishers. In fact, we've had some truly fantastic games come from independent developers, whether they be solo efforts, small team collaborations, or just a group that put a Kickstarter together. This has been one of the most difficult Shack Top 10 lists to put together, given the outstanding quality of indie games over the past five years.

    But nonetheless, Greg Burke is here to break down the Top 10 Indie Games You Need to Play. Just look at this as more of a "10 favorites" than a traditional Top 10. So grab a snack, give the video below a look, and maybe consider picking one of these up if you haven't played them already. And if you have played all ten of these games, then congratulations on having exquisite taste.

    If you've missed a previous Shack Top 10 list, be sure to catch up. And for more, be sure to subscribe to Shacknews on YouTube.

    Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

    As the fall season rolls on, it's time to race ahead into this weekend's sales. Speedrunners is leading the pack with a free weekend. For those that haven't tried the Steam Early Access title, it's undergone some significant changes since it first hit beta about a year ago. So give it a look to witness the changes for yourself. Steam is also offering up the Paradox Interactive collection, which includes Cities: Skylines, Pillars of Eternity, Knights of Pen & Paper +1 Edition, and many more. All that, plus Amazon has gone into the business of digital Blizzard games, so find some great Blizzard games on sale this weekend. Check out the full list of deals below.

    Here's our selection of this weekend's PC deals:


    Bundle Stars

    Pay $2.49 for GabeN: The Final Decision, AR-K, League of Mermaids, Summer Athletics, Showtime!, Fritz For Fun 13, Mountain Crime: Requital, Doctor Who: The Adventure Games, Paranormal State: Poison Spring, Legends of Atlantis: Exodus, Fort Defense, and Stranded in Time. These activate on Steam.

    Or pay $14.99 for Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and its DLC packs. These activate on Steam.

    Or pay $2.49 for Duke Nukem Kill-A-Ton Collection, Carmageddon 2: Carpocalypse Now, The Apogee Throwback PAck, Wings! Remastered Edition, The Original Strife: Veteran Edition, Super Motherload, Wizardry 6 & 7, and Z.A.R. These activate on Steam.

    Or pay $2.49 for Lethal RPG: War, The Forest of Doom, Deep Dungeons of Doom, Before the Echo, Hoven the Sages Spinel, Heroes of Loot, Ittle Dew, and Deity Quest. These activate on Steam.



    • Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor GOTY Edition [Steam] - $25.00 (50% off)
    • Guardians of Middle-earth [Steam] - $5.00 (75% off)
    • Other games in GamersGate's Middle-earth sale can be found here.
    • Shelter 2 [Steam] - $11.24 (25% off) (Other Shelter games also on sale here.)
    • Train Simulator 2016 add-ons are all on sale here.


    • Wolfenstein 3D + Spear of Destiny + Return to Castle Wolfenstein - $13.38 (33% off)
    • Quake II: Quad Damage + Quake III: Gold - $19.98 (33% off)
    • Vampire: The Masquerade Redemption - $1.99 (67% off)
    • Police Quest Collection - $3.33 (67% off)
    • Other games in's Activision Titles for the First Time sale, including Kings Quest and Space Quest games, can be found here.

    Green Man Gaming

    Use the code 23PERC-AUTUMN-SAVING to get 23% off your purchase. Some exclusions apply.

    Humble Bundle

    Pay what you want for Sir You Are Being Hunted, Q.U.B.E.: Director's Cut, Goodbye Deponia, and a 66% off coupon for Planetary Annihilation: Titans on the Humble Store. Pay more than the average $7.01 to get Skullgirls and all of its DLC, Planetary Annihilation, Xenonauts, and more games to be named later. Pay $10 or more to also get Gang Beasts [Steam Early Access]. Pay $25 or more to also get a DIY vinyl figure. Pay $70 or more to also get seven vinyl figures and a DIY vinyl figure. All games work on Steam with Steam keys available for a $1 minimum donation.


    • Command & Conquer Red Alert 2 and Yuri's Revenge - Free!


    As well as regular discounts, Steam has a couple of additional weekend deals.


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