We were sure that we saw everything there was to see at E3 but one game apparently evaded us. Everquest Next wasn't shown publicly, but apparently the next-gen MMO was around in a clandestine capacity at E3—and was good enough to warrant one "best of show" award from the single outlet that saw it.
According to lucky publication MMORPG, its behind-the-curtains peek at Sony Online Entertainment's next massively multiplayer monster " head and shoulders above any game we saw at E3." No other deets, unfortunately, as they've been sworn to secrecy, but apparently we won't be disappointed. It's news enough that the game was in a showable state, and hints further that we might see it go into closed beta at the end of this year or early 2014. Let's hope that the fashionable feathered cowl in the above concept art makes it into the game.
SOE president John Smedley last year detailed his plans for the long-running EQ franchise, promising that Everquest Next would serve as a huge reboot for the genre it helped to establish. Straying so far from the formula is a bit of a gamble, but this first hint of success is pretty promising. MMORPG say that we'll get to see what the big deal with Everquest Next is come its official unveiling, scheduled for August.
Virtual reality is kind of a big deal now. We've always hoped the tech would one day succeed, and now a few other people share our opinion—people with money. After taking in a cool $2.4 million from a successful Kickstarter campaign last September to produce dev kits, the Oculus Rift team has obtained an additional $16 million from Matrix Partners, Spark Capital, Founders Fund, and Formation 8. Oculus Rift Founder Palmer Luckey wrote a few words assuring backers that the new financial partners believe in his dream as well.
“We were fortunate enough to be able to pick investors who we thought would be a great fit,” Luckey said. “They really believe in our vision for the future of VR. These are people who have taken companies from startup to mass market many times, entrepreneurs who have a ton of meaningful experience building hardware and software consumer technology.”
Luckey didn’t say when we would see the HD Oculus Rift that we fell for back at E3 on store shelves, but hopefully that extra cash will help along the process.
Put your plasma cutter replica back in its case and stuff your necromorph-stomping boots in the closet, because it looks like we aren’t getting a new Dead Space game anytime soon. In an interview with Eurogamer, EA Games label boss Patrick Söderlund confirmed that the space horror franchise is going on hiatus while Visceral Games works on something else.
“Is it better to put them on the fourth version of a game they've done three previous versions of before?” Söderlund asked. “Or is it better to put them on something new that they want to build, that they have passion for?”
Söderlund makes a good point, though I wonder if Dead Space 3 sold the five million units it needed to “remain viable.” After all, Battlefield 3 sold quite well, and now Battlefield 4 is coming out this holiday.
Either way, Söderlund sounded confident about Visceral’s future, saying "Will there be another Dead Space game? Who knows? Have we killed it? No, of course not. But right now that dev team is focused on something else that you and other gamers will be very happy with."
Indie adventure Beatbuddy has brought some new talent on board in Rhianna Pratchett, writer of Mirror’s Edge and Tomb Raider. Pratchett will be polishing the script and storyline for the music-intertwined adventure game.
"No matter what you’ve written in the past, it’s the challenges and the people you work with who really matter,” said Pratchett in a press release. “I cut my teeth on smaller indie titles, so it’s great to get to do more work in that space again...”
We last saw Beatbuddy at PAX this year, and the intriguing mix of music and puzzles looked like a game to watch out for, and it’s unlike other games in the adventure genre. It utilizes music a little bit like Audiosurf, but... not really. A trailer posted earlier this year might help explain:
I think it’s a real coup for German developer Threaks to land an award-winning writer for its first game. The plot was one of the things we liked about Tomb Raider (even if the gameplay didn't always match up with the writing), so hopefully this collaboration can produce some great gaming. Beatbuddy is still in development and will be released later this summer.
Indie hit Torchlight, the action RPG that pushed all of our kill-loot-kill buttons in the decade between Diablo 2 and Diablo 3, is now available for free from GOG. The DRM-Free Summer Sale launched early this morning, and it'll run for 17 days and feature over five hundred games on sale.
GOG is also borrowing a page from Steam’s playbook with daily specials. Check back every day for up to 90% off games like GOG’s D&D titles, including Baldur’s Gate 1 and 2, Neverwinter Nights 1 and 2, and more.
As GOG’s selection of games has grown to include a lot of indie titles, it's been coming into direct competition with Steam in a lot of areas. It’s no surprise, then, that GOG’s summer sale is timed to begin and end only weeks before Steam’s (usually) mid-July summer sale. As the competition gets fiercer, it’s going to be interesting to see what ridiculous deals online retailers will employ to earn your business.
If you’re new to PC gaming and missed out on the classics of yore, or you misplaced all of your disks and are feeling nostalgic for the good old days, I highly suggest snagging some of the best PC games of all time at any price. At steep discounts and with no DRM, it's hard to resist GOG's offers.
The sale runs from this morning at 6 a.m. PDT to July 5. Daily deals change every day at 6 a.m. PDT and run for 24 hours.
DayZ creator Dean "Rocket" Hall.
DayZ creator Dean Hall is full of ideas. On the heels of his successful Mount Everest climb, he's already talking about the next game he wants to make: a mountaineering game. But speaking with him at E3, that isn't the only game concept gestating in the New Zealander's brain: Hall has an interest in making a turn-based version of DayZ, too.
In this first segment of our conversation, Hall details what a Jagged Alliance-ified DayZ might look like. Come back tomorrow for a continuation of our interview that focuses on DayZ standalone and Hall's mountaineering game.
What happens when you eventually stop working on DayZ? Do you hand it off to Bohemia at that point? Do you hand it off to the mod community?
"I love the concept of turn-based... I think that would be an awesome thing to make one day."
Dean Hall: I’d say it will be handed off to Bohemia. I signed with them. They own the rights to DayZ. So I would say we’d see other stuff come out of it. I was talking to someone before. I said, “I would love to make a DayZ turn-based Jagged Alliance game. I would play the shit out of that.” Because I love Jagged Alliance.
Jagged Alliance 2, right?
Dean Hall: Yeah, yeah. Well, obviously.
Just making sure.
Dean Hall: You wouldn’t want to make that straight after DayZ. I don’t think I’d do a very good job of it. And also, Project Zomboid’s out. So why not just go play that? There’s a lot of ideas. But that was something I always thought would be cool, a turn-based…It would be amazing, right?
I like the idea of being in situations where you see another player or an NPC and not having combat be the only option.
Dean Hall: Exactly. Yeah. When I played Jagged Alliance 2, seriously, it was just great. It had a little horror element in it. You could play the sci-fi mode. And so I just… I was thinking, wow, what a great game that would make.
I guess you could think about how you’d implement fear as a mechanic, too.
Dean Hall: Exactly.
In a turn-based context that’s really interesting. Fear and fatigue could affect your accuracy…
Dean Hall: The original X-COM is one of my favorite things. I love the concept of turn-based. I know it’s not super popular. People don’t really like it that much now. But that’s definitely in the cards. I think that would be an awesome thing to make one day.
Have you played Enemy Unknown yet?
Dean Hall: I did, the new one. Not a fan. It’s a shame, because… It’s not quite my game. It’s a fantastic game, and I can see why people love it. But I’m a freak when it comes to games.
Jagged Alliance 2, an equally cheerful game as DayZ.
There are a few points of like, mechanical overlap with Jagged Alliance 2 and Arma and DayZ—they both have multiple firing stances, for example.
Dean Hall: It does, doesn’t it? When I thought about it, I was like, “This game has to be made.” What I’m hopeful of is that instead of DayZ being this franchise of a game after a game after a game, shooter shooter shooter, there’s some other directions it could go that could be quite interesting. Again, the whole concept of, “This is your story,” I think it would be interesting to make it… Jagged Alliance 2 always felt quite linear to me. I’d love to take elements from the early Fallouts, where it felt to me like the story wasn’t so forced. And so that would be great, to take the two and mash them together and create this DayZ turn-based strategy that was not storyline-based. Again, the whole DayZ thing is, it’s your story.
So it would be a single-player campaign game, hypothetically, but with different branching quests?
Dean Hall: Yeah, exactly. You’d grow it out. I don’t know.
So you don’t have a hard plan to pursue this turn-based version of DayZ right now, but you are talking about creating a mountaineering game. Are you worried about making a game that isn’t about zombies?
Dean Hall: I think I have to do that. If I went and made the DayZ turn-based strategy game, a turn-based game like Jagged Alliance, then everyone would say, “Dean Hall equals zombies.” I think it’s important to go out and make a game that’s not zombie-based, that I’m passionate about, that I’ve always wanted to make. I don’t think it will be as mainstream, obviously. DayZ turn-based strategy would never be as mainstream. But I don’t think that’s bad. Look at KSP. Look at Hotline Miami. Well, actually, Hotline Miami is pretty mainstream now. But there’s a lot of games out there that find their place and do well. It’s what the PC does so well. Maybe the PS4, too? You never know.
When you say it’s a good thing, it’s a good thing for you.
Dean Hall: Yeah.
It’s a healthy change.
Dean Hall: Yeah. And also, you get kind of sick of zombies. Like I say, I definitely think I’d one day like to make this DayZ turn-based strategy game, but by the same token, you need to refresh yourself and go off and experiment and try something else.
Check out our complete coverage of E3.
Ubisoft made a big splash with Tom Clancy's The Division at E3 this year (it was one of our favorite things at the show), but aside from a gameplay video and some outrageous noise about the game possibly not coming to PC, real details have been thin on the ground.
Enter Ubisoft’s official blog, with a huge pile of info about the upcoming open-world MMORPG. Communication Manager (and former PC Gamer Editor-in-Chief) Gary Steinman laid out a ton of specifics, so let’s dive right in.
In the aftermath of a bio-terror attack, New York City is suffering through some...difficulties. “A big part of the game will be restoring the infrastructure of New York,” according to game director Ryan Barnard. “So the players will actually see the impact of what they do in the game. They’ll fix New York, which is in this ‘mid-crisis situation’ where communication, law enforcement, power and water are all failing.”
The Division will feature classless characters, a massive relief for anyone who has ever been stuck in MMO-land without a healer or tank. Players will spend their upgrade points outfitting themselves for a certain style of gameplay, but those points can be changed later. “How your Division agent and mine work together is very important,” Baynard says. “Being open and not being class-locked will allow you to go back to your skills and talents and make adjustments.”
The full blog post explores Ubisoft’s plans for “second screen” (i.e., phone and tablet) functionality that will serve as UAV support for players in the game proper, solo versus group play, PvP, group events and endgame content. Check it out if you’re hungry for more information. If you’re in the begging mood, that petition for PC support is still going around, with over 80,000 signatures so far.
Like Garrett out of the shadows, details continue to emerge that give shape to Eidos Montreal's upcoming Thief reboot. From a new Shack News interview with lead level designer Daniel Windfeld Schmidt we hear about the "reinvention" of the stealthy, blackjack-swinging original.
With any re-imagination of a classic series, questions often surface about the exact relationship between the new and the old. In his response to queries submitted by players of the previous titles, Schmidt addresses this connection from a few different angles. It sounds like the new game, at the very least, will be linked—through its urban setting—to the earlier editions of Thief.
"I don't want to say we completely scrapped everything," Schmidt said. "We took a lot of inspiration from what made city memorable. The connection might be a little different, but for us it's still the same. We haven't locked down the names of the new districts. We choose what matches best with what the old games have. Naturally we want to make it feel like it is the same place."
Schmidt also described the role that stealth will play in the new Thief cosmos and, from his description, it appears that we'll all be feeling very precarious. "There isn't a "safe" state," Schmidt said. "Even though the game has a light and darkness kind of binary look to it, it is much more analog than that. There is this middle state as well where you are kind of exposed. There are several states and the analog value comes from how the eye works. Are you moving, are you standing up, are you crouching. A lot of this matters in how we detect you."
Although recent footage has shown us a variety of takedowns with bow and blackjack, we also know from Schmidt's comments that the entire game will be "ghostable" and can be completed non-violently without killing or knocking out anyone. It sounds like a challenge. Are you up for it?
Slender, the cult horror game based on a popular internet meme, took the online world by storm last year. YouTube is filled with reaction videos of people playing it in the dark and shrieking whenever the blank-faced Slenderman appears. But as scary as it was, it wasn’t much of a game.
That’s where The Arrival comes in. It has nicer visuals, more levels to wet yourself in, a smarter Slenderman, and even a story to follow. It’s still a simple game at its core, but it feels like much more of a complete package than a short-lived novelty.
"It’s just you, the darkness, and a flashlight."
Like the best horror games, it’s about survival. But there’s no popping caps at old Slendy: it’s just you, the darkness, and a flashlight. You move through a variety of gloomy, claustrophobic environments while being stalked by a tall, faceless, thin-limbed man in a suit. He’d look like a dick in a bright room, but in the dark he’s nightmarish: all spindly and horrible.
He can move now. You’ll see him ahead and run away, only for him to appear suddenly behind you. It’s incredibly unnerving, and playing in the dark with headphones is genuinely chilling. The subtle use of music and sound effects is excellently done. He can even lock doors behind you, the skinny prick.
Slenderman isn’t the only thing you have to worry about, either. After the forest level, a remake of the original game’s single area, you find yourself being pursued by another, equally terrifying, being. If that isn’t bad enough, a hardcore mode gives you a finite amount of flashlight battery, more aggressive enemies, but an alternate ending if you can stomach it all the way through.
"Hardcore mode gives you a finite amount of flashlight battery."
You have to perform such tasks as collecting a certain number of documents or activating generators, but as you get closer to completing your objective, Slenderman’s pursuit gets more aggressive. If he catches you, or you stare at him for too long, it’s game over. It’s a challenging game, not helped by how tense it is, but the glacial pace can make repeating levels frustrating.
The lighting is beautiful, and the forests and corridors thick with atmosphere. A grainy film effect adds to the horror film feel, and whenever the Slenderman is near, the HUD – which mimics a video camera – distorts and flickers. Daylight scenes break up the gloom and show off the surprisingly beautiful world design. Don’t get used to them, though. It’s a relentlessly dark, bleak game.
There isn’t much to The Arrival. It’s really just wandering around in the dark, and occasionally fleeing in terror. A story, told through discarded documents and other environmental clues, is nicely constructed, but you probably won’t replay it. It’s all about your first playthrough, and it’s just about cheap enough to justify that scare. Suspend your disbelief and flick off the lights and you’ll find a horror game that’s light on game, but tall on tension.
Expect to pay: £6.80/$10
Release: Out now
Developer: Parsec Productions
Publisher: Blue Isle Solutions
Good lord, that’s a striking mobo. It’s also a pretty impressively performing board too, built for the new generation of processor from Intel, the 4th Generation Core architecture, previously code-named Haswell. It’s also one of the first boards I’ve looked at outside of the expensive Intel own brand mobo that was shipped me with the inaugural i7 Haswell review CPU.
The most obvious thing about this board is its micro ATX form factor, but don’t for one second think that has an impact on the performance you can get out of this mean, grean motherboard. It may be small, but don’t let that fool you - it was able to keep pace with a similarly impressive, full-size Asus Z87-Pro board.
It’s got a host of functionality too, housing a full complement of SATA 6Gbps and USB 3.0 ports, as well as support for both sides of the multi-GPU battle, in SLI and CrossFireX.
It’s the full Z87 motherload, in other words.
There are other things that mark it out as a gaming board, aside from the aggressive skull and blade motif on the component cooling block. The key one being the attention Gigabyte has paid to the on-board audio.
They have physically separated out the section of PCB that houses the Creative Sound Core audio, marked out by a green-lit divide when the board’s powered. That separation enables them to minimise the amount of noise/interference you often get with on-board audio, especially through headphones.
The highlighted separation of the audio section on the PCB
Another key pointer is the fact it’s got swappable operational amplifier (op-amp) chips. I’m pretty sure this is normally a feature you only get with high-end PC audio cards, so to have the option to swap out different chips to fine-tune the sound is impressive. You get two different chips with the board - one for more neutral sound and another with ‘softness of touching’, which apparently makes it suitable for orchestral sound.
You can also pick up another three chips in a separate op-amp upgrade kit, should you feel the need.
As for performance the G1. Sniper M5 is every bit as good as the other boards I’ve checked out, offering top-end overclocking chops from my 4770K engineering sample. I managed a decent 4.7GHz top speed with the Gigabyte board, a figure matched by the also impressive Asus Z87-Pro. The board Intel shipped with the chip itself, on the other hand, could only just about hit 4.5GHz, though the Intel board did perform slightly better at stock speeds.
But with the retail chips generally offering less overclocking headroom that means this impressive mATX Gigabyte board will still have you covered.
Price: £170 / $200
CPU rendering performance (multi-threaded)
Cinebench R11.5 - Index score: higher is better
Gigabyte G1.Sniper M5 - 8.05
Asus Z87-Pro - 8.05
Intel DZ87KLT-75K - 8.11
CPU rendering peformance (single-threaded)
Cinebench R11.5 - Index score: higher is better
Gigabyte G1.Sniper M5 - 1.72
Asus Z87-Pro - 1.76
Intel DZ87KLT-75K - 1.77
CPU encoding performance
X264 v4.0 - FPS: higher is better
Gigabyte G1.Sniper M5 - 45.5
Asus Z87-Pro - 45.6
Intel DZ87KLT-75K - 45.7
Memory bandwidth performance
SiSoft Sandra - GB/s: higher is better
Gigabyte G1.Sniper M5 - 17.45
Asus Z87-Pro - 17.47
Intel DZ87KLT-75K - 17.56
Maximum CPU overclock
i7-4770K - GHz: higher is better
Gigabyte G1.Sniper M5 - 4.7
Asus Z87-Pro - 4.7
Intel DZ87KLT-75K - 4.5