PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to New York’s Museum of Modern Art adds games including Portal, EVE Online, and Dwarf Fortress">68 Dwarf Fortress







If you walk into New York's Museum of Modern Art in the near future, you might discover that its curators have taken a stance on the issue of "Are games art?" And that stance, it seems, is "Yes." Fourteen games including player-driven space MMO EVE Online, perplexing puzzle shooter Portal, and ASCII graphics-based breakdown of civilization simulator Dwarf Fortress will serve as "the seedbed for an initial wish list of about 40 to be acquired in the near future, as well as for a new category of artworks in MoMA’s collection that we hope will grow in the future."



Other PC titles in the initial collection include Myst, SimCity 2000, The Sims, and Jason Rohrer's Passage. The games will be on display and presumably playable in the museum's Philip Johnson Galleries starting in March. You can read more about the collection on the MoMA official site.



Do games belong in art museums? Let us know what you think.
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to It’s Mann vs. monsters in this Binding of Isaac themed TF2 map">TF2 - BoI Map







Team Fortress 2 is no stranger to crazy boss fights, but a Nolan North-voiced bomb spamming wizard is one thing, a floating skeletal head that shoots ubercharged spies is quite another. That's what you'll face in this insane TF2 community map, highlighted by Isaac creator Ed McMillen on his blog.



The map contains multiple levels and bosses from the game, and uses Blu team mercenaries in place of Isaac's varied cast of monsters. The video shows fights against Husk, Mom and Mom's Heart, as well as a representation of the Wrath of the Lamb expansion's super-final boss fight.



To play it you need to visit the Super Zombie Fortress server of the map's makers, the unfortunately named SLAG gaming. Annoyingly it's in rotation with the server's other SZF custom maps, meaning there's no guaranteed way to ensure a game. But you can still enjoy the absurdity of this boss fight round-up video.



PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Guillermo del Toro has the right “horror vibe” to direct a Half-Life film, says writer Marc Laidlaw">Half-Life 2 Episode Two Hunter







Hollywood studios have approached Valve in the past to explore the possibility of adapting Half-Life for the silver screen, but before you could spit out "Uwe Boll," Valve declared that any sort of movie involving Freeman and Friends® would be created by its very hands. What-ifs persist, of course, and in an interview with New Rising Media (via VG247), Half-Life writer Marc Laidlaw named Hellboy and Pan's Labyrinth director Guillermo del Toro as a good fit for a hypothetical adaptation.



"Guillermo del Toro has the horror vibe that I think a lot of people miss out on when thinking about a Half-Life movie," Laidlaw said. "Half-Life is essentially horror after all. The science in it barely passes as hand-waving, but when a headcrab jumps at your head, it’s a precisely engineered jolt."



Laidlaw also thinks Total Recall and Starship Troopers director Paul Verhoeven could concoct something "insane" for a Half-Life film, and pointed to The Lord of the Rings' Peter Jackson as a "purveyor of faithful adaptations." "There are probably a lot of good potential directors, but I think most of them are busy pursuing their own visions," he added.



Regardless of who would come aboard for the supposed project, they'd need the thumbs-up from Valve boss Gabe Newell, who holds a rather soured opinion of what Hollywood offered him so far. "Directors down there wanted to make a Half-Life movie and stuff, so they’d bring in a writer or some talent agency would bring in writers, and they would pitch us on their story," he told us. "And their stories were just so bad. I mean, brutally, the worst. Not understanding what made the game a good game, or what made the property an interesting thing for people to be a fan of."
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Steam logs over 6 million concurrent users during Thanksgiving weekend">Steam concurrent users graph







Combating Thanksgiving food comas with the awe-inspiring power of the gaming binge, over 6 million gamers logged into Valve's digi-hub over the weekend after enduring the motions of spending "time" with "family." Undoubtedly spurred on by the Autumn Sale and its many wallet puns, the surge also rode the waves of numerous major releases such as PlanetSide 2, Assassin's Creed 3, and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2.



The ballooned player count peaked around 11:00 a.m. PST Sunday with 6,045,912 users logged on, Kotaku noticed. Notice that's concurrent logins, not active game sessions—while games define the vanguard of Steam's excellence, the chart gathers numbers from simply having the program launched and running. That's where the always-handy Steam Graph service steps in with more numbers for your numbers.







Plugging in a few top releases into Steam Graph for the Thanksgiving weekend shows a fair spread across PC gaming's most popular genres. Dota 2's un-beta boasted a little over 170,000 simultaneous players on late Saturday, while soccer-sim Football Manager 2013's surprising strength topped at around 60,000. On Sunday night Black Ops 2 spiked at 51,000 soldiers, and PlanetSide 2's fight for Auraxia swelled to 30,000 Steam conscripts last night. Lastly, as many as 15,000 stone-faced killers were concurrently shoving sharp metal objects into various people in Assassin's Creed 3.



Conclusion? I'm really tired of turkey sandwiches, but Steam's powerful presence on the PC only increases with each passing year.
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Tidehunter guide – Dota 2 Hero College">THfrontpagecloseup2







"Who needs a big brain when you've got teeth like mine?"



That line, plucked from Tidehunter's stable of bassy, boastful voice-over, tells you everything you need to know about him. The disenchanted former champion of the Sunken Isles is big, green and—relative to certain other Heroes—straightforward enough to play with your brain turned off. He’s a mana-efficient, no-frills initiator and a loveable lug all-around.



You can blame his ultimate for this. Screen-wide, tentacle-driven stuns that last for a sweet 2.77 seconds have a way of making everyone —ally and enemy alike—stop in their tracks.



But let's take a step back and examine Tidehunter through a more technical lens. The melee, strength-focused hero is part Aquaman, part Hulk. He’s a team player, a Hero who shines brightest when he's with his posse. Almost everything in his armament reflects this. Gush? Slows, damages and reduces armor. Kraken Shell? It provides marginal damage reduction, sure, but it lets him shed unfortunate debuffs. Anchor Smash? Injures and adds insult to injury by reducing enemy damage output. Both from a traditional and a practical standpoint, Tidehunter is built for initiating combat and soaking damage.

Page 1 - Skills

Page 2 - Items, How To Play Tidehunter

Page 3 - Tidehunter Wallpapers

 

DIFFICULTY:

Spells: Easy

Farm: Easy

Positioning: Easy-Moderate

Overall: Beginner-friendly



SKILLS

Occasionally dismissed as a one-trick pony, Tidehunter is not without his intricacies. In the hands of a competent player, he’s is more than a simple bludgeon—he can be a work of art, and a percursor to bigger, badder things. And while that is excellent, this doesn't change the fact that a hammer to the face, regardless of whether it's being wielded by a novice or a veteran, is still a hammer to the face.

GUSH

Summons a gush of water to damage an enemy unit, reducing their movement speed and armor.

http://youtu.be/68728IYAiok



Gush is, quite literally, Tidehunter regurgitating bilgewater and stomach acids on an adversary. What else would cripple and eat through dense armor? Filtered Avian? Please.



With that taken into consideration, it’s an unexpectedly lovely ability. The armor reduction from Gush isn't really comparable to the havoc that Dazzle's Weave can wreck on the enemy team but for a skill that comes with a touch of damage and a 40% reduction in movement speed? It works. It really does.



Because it works in so many possible ways, it's easy to forget that Gush comes with an exorbitant price tag. Compared to the other skills in Tidehunter's arsenal, Gush is expensive, so much so that, in the earliest stages of a hypothetical match, it's the only thing you'll be able to cast before you have to chug down a mana potion.



Much like in real life, careful budgeting is essential here. Make the mistake of overestimating how much mana you have after that initial Gush and chances are you'll find yourself in the midst of your enemies with nothing but a sheepish grin to protect you.



Damage: Magical

Mana Cost: 120 / 120 / 120 / 120

Cooldown: 12 / 12 / 12 / 12

Damage: 110 / 160 / 210 / 260

Slow: 40% / 40% / 40% / 40%

Armor Reduction: 2 / 3 / 4 / 5



KRAKEN SHELL

Creates a thick armor shell that reduces physical damage and removes negative buffs when damage received reaches a critical threshold. Kraken Shell does not stack with items that provide Damage Block.

http://youtu.be/mbIfRCkRM6g



Of all of Tidehunter's abilities, Kraken Shell is probably the one with the least immediate value. But that doesn't mean it's irrelevant. Kraken Shell can be great. Regardless of whether we're talking about 28 or 2000 base damage mitigation at level X , any means of cushioning the impact of a hit is amazing and while it doesn't quite scale into late game, that early 15% reduction (on average, most heroes will be dealing roughly 150 to 175 damage per basic attack by the time you have Kraken Shell maxed) in incoming damage is still pretty darn sweet.



More importantly, however, much like the safety belt we so often take for granted, Kraken Shell will save your life. Take this story as an example.



A friend of mine and his team had cornered an enemy Tidehunter in the river near Roshan. Doom seemed inevitable for the unfortunate Leviathan. As Tidehunter's health dwindled away, the Mirana on his team made one last desperate attempt to save her comrade. She hit her ultimate. Tidehunter became invisible. Just as quickly, my friend's teammate responded with Dust of Appearance.



“Pro,” my pal thought approvingly. The fish would die.



For a split second, Tidehunter returned to view before, just as abruptly, he vanished from sight again.



Silence followed.



“You did get dusted, right?” A hesitant inquiry over all-chat.



“Yes.”



“... why can't I see—oh. Kraken Shell. Damn it.”



Ability: Passive

Damage Reduction: 7 / 14 / 21 / 28

Damage Threshold: 600 / 600 / 600 / 600



ANCHOR SMASH

Tidehunter swings his mighty anchor to damage nearby enemies and reduce their attack damage.

http://youtu.be/30uJcLr3ttA



While Tidehunter is normally picked for that outrageous ultimate of his, Anchor Smash is what puts him completely over-the-top. His third ability is what separates leviathans from bottom feeders, what anchors him as one of the best initiators ever.



Even after taking the maritime menace's shallow mana pool into account, Anchor Smash, with its low cost and near-negligible cooldown, is still delightfully spammable. Four seconds? 60 mana? It doesn't really get better than that.



But wait, it does: Enemies caught within Anchor Smash's generous radius of effect will receive a 40% reduction to their base damage for up to six seconds.

In a game so often dominated by hard-hitting, autoattack-loving carries like Anti-Mage and Drow Ranger, Anchor Smash is a godsend. At the cost of a measly 60 mana, it allows you to almost halve the damage output from any given hero. Sure, it does nothing against, say, Lina's ultimate, but it can certainly make Night Stalker less of a reason to wet your pants.



Damage: Physical

Mana Cost: 30 / 40 / 50 / 60

Cooldown: 7.0 / 6.0 / 5.0 / 4.0

Damage: 75 / 125 / 175 / 225

Damage Reduction: 40% / 40% / 40% / 40%

Duration: 6 / 6 / 6 / 6

Radius: 400 / 400 / 400 / 400



RAVAGE

Slams the ground, causing tentacles to erupt in all directions, damaging and stunning all nearby enemy units.

http://youtu.be/BZBsiD9wuWQ

In a perfect setting, you'd be equipped with every item that you need, be blessed with phenomenal, catlike reflexes and no lag whatsoever. The enemy will be bunched in a group. You'll blink in, a watermelon-patterned behemoth of death and destruction, and hit R for Ravage. Ecstatic screaming ensues. A disgruntled enemy will sullenly announce ”GG.” “Good game,” you'll think to yourself, as you let a smile unseen curve your lips as the team marches onwards to enemy's last bastion of defense. Yes, this is the sort of MOBA memory you’ll stow away as a future story for your grandchildren.



It doesn't always happen like that.



In fact, it usually doesn't. Generally speaking, it's more likely to go like this:



Your Naga Siren will decide it's high time to sing the song of her people. Why? Because she is the prophesied carry, because an ultimate that temporarily emasculates both teams (enemies will neither move nor take damage during Siren's performances) is apparently far more effective than a damaging, screen-wide stun. Because she damn-well wanted to.



"But I thought I was initiating!" She'll remark as your head sinks against the keyboard.



"..."



No one ever said it was easy being green. That said, Ravage still rocks. It's one of the reasons that Tidehunter sees so much play. Even at level 1, his ultimate boasts of an impressive 885 radius and a sizable 2.02 stun. As you might have guessed, it isn't too hard to hit your mark with Ravage – all it really takes is the ability to be within the same general vicinity as the enemy. Hit 'R' to win, idiot teammates notwithstanding.



Damage: MAGICAL

Mana Cost: 150 / 225 / 325

Cooldown: 150.0

Damage: 200 / 325 / 450

Radius: 825 / 925 / 1025

Duration: 2.02 / 2.32 / 2.77



Next page: Core Items, How To Play Tidehunter



TIDEHUNTER CORE ITEMS

(Buy these items or we can't be friends.)







Arcane Boots

For all of his stellar qualities, Tidehunter's almost painfully mana inefficient, a gas guzzler if there ever was one . Consequently, no other form of footwear better complements Tidehunter than a pair of Arcane Boots. To provide a bit of perspective on the matter, Arcane Boots will bolster Tidehunter's existing mana pool by an additional 250 points—that's more than enough for two extra Gushes. Once you throw in Arcane Boots' active ability—it feeds you and allies within a certain radius 135 mana—there's really no other reason to opt for different shoes.

Blink Dagger

Blink Dagger is Tidehunter's little black dress : simple, perfectly suited for every occasion and an absolutely essential part of his wardrobe. Though a somewhat costly investment—2150 gold isn’t exactly lunch money—it's one that is worth its weight in precious metals, primarily because it circumnavigates Tidehunter's biggest weakness: his lack of maneuverability. With a Blink Dagger, Tidehunter won't have to worry about his torpid turn rate or his minimal talent at crowd control. Instead, he'll be able to pretend to be a freakin' ninja albeit one that has more in common with sashimi than the folk who eat it.





HOW TO PLAY TIDEHUNTER

Early game is an interesting beast. Depending on who you talk to, the correct method for playing Tidehunter can differ drastically. For some, like a friend of mine who routinely engages in high-level games, Tidehunter's natural habitat is either the offlane or the aggressive trilane . In the former, his role is to harvest as much gold and experience as possible, to disrupt his opponent's attempts at creep-based agriculture and be as much of a pain as possible without compromising his safety. If he's part of a three-way, Tidehunter's role changes a bit. Here, he often finds himself instigating contact between neutral creeps and his own or aggressively spraying bodily fluids of some variety on the enemy.



For others, like Loveless and this errant League of Legends player on DOTAfire, Tidehunter can be more of a supportive character or an aggressor in a two-man show. It varies, really, especially in public games where nothing is really impossible.



Depending on the setup of the match, Tidehunter's skill build will change as well. Should Tidehunter be positioned in the solo offlane or in any other similar scenario, Anchor Smash will take priority over Gush. Inversely, if the Hero ends up responsible for catalyzing kills, Gush often gets maxed out first. Regardless of the situation, however, Kraken Shell is usually left for last. Though it offers increased damage reduction, its importance is far outweighed by the other skills in Tidehunter's repertoire. (Needless to say, Ravage is leveled at every possible opportunity.)



Once mid-game approaches, things become less ambiguous. Ultimately, Tidehunter was created for one purpose and one purpose only: to initiate fights and to mitigate all incoming damage, something that becomes all too easy after the introduction of a Blink Dagger. With the aforementioned accessory, Tidehunter will be able to catapult himself into the center of his unsuspecting enemies to cast Ravage before following up with an Anchor Smash and the usage of Gush on anyone attempting escape.



The rest of the game generally follows the pattern: Blink. Ravage. Anchor Smash. Gush. Rinse and repeat. What usually varies toward end game are the items that you purchase after that all-so-crucial Blink Dagger. If the other team is heavy on stuns or magic damage, it's not uncommon to see a Black King Bar or a Pipe of Insight fitted into Tidehunter's shopping list. Shiva's Guard, however, is frequently the tertiary purchase of choice, thanks Tidehunter's normal placement in any team fight. Should the game drag on long enough, a Refresher Orb can make an appearance as well. More eclectic picks such as Vladimir's Offering, Assault Cuirass and even Radiance have all been made to work—it's largely up to the individual. So long as you don't deviate from the core formula, Tidehunter can be a swimmingly easy Hero to captain.



Cassandra Khaw is a street dancer, an entry-level audiophile, a voracious reader and an itinerant freelance journo for places like Tech Hive, PC World, Indiegames Blog, PC Gamer and more. When not otherwise working at a weird hour, she can be found chasing down confederates in DOTA2 is a desperate attempt to keep them healed. Like every other hipster Asian out there, she started playing DotA about a decade ago and still misses Riki's original Ultimate.



Next page: Tidehunter wallpapers







The original Tidehunter art featured in this guide was illustrated by Lisa Cunha. Check out Lisa's portfolio.

Tidehunter wallpapers

2560x1600

1920x1200

1920x1080

1600x900

3840x1080 (dual-monitor)

1024x1024 (iPad)

640x960 (iPhone)
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Steam Guard soon to be required for all Steam trading">steamtrade







From December 12th, trading through the Steam inventory will be restricted to accounts that have had Steam Guard, Valve's account protection system, activated for 15 days.



Steam's trading service lets users exchange items from different games, as well allowing for the swapping and gifting of the games themselves. Mostly, of course, it's used to facilitate Team Fortress 2's strange hat-based economy.



So what's brought about the change of policy? For starters there was the recent allegation that Russian mobsters were using TF2 to launder money by purchasing keys in bulk, trading them for earbuds, then selling them at a slightly reduced price. Perhaps more tellingly, the change is being made just before Christmas, when Valve traditionally likes to perform weird experiments with sale achievements and tradable items. As this Reddit thread points out, last year crafty users were able to exploit the coal promotion to get more favourable trades.



Steam Guard is a free service that forces an additional email confirmation every time you log in from a new PC. Tying an extra layer of protection to virtual economies is becoming an increasingly common practice - Blizzard already require Battle.net Authenticator for Diablo III players looking to use the real money auction house. If you're a regular Steam trader who's yet to enable Steam Guard, you've until tomorrow to make the switch and ensure uninterrupted service.



In other trading news, TF2 recently doubled the size of its maximum backpack size to 2,000, provided players are prepared to spend the £47.43 it would take to purchase enough Backpack Expanders to reach the limit. That might seem overkill right now, but in the future, when all goods and services are purchased through a Bill's Hat bartering system, you'll be glad of the extension.



Thanks, PCGamesN
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Black Friday deals: the best PC game and hardware sales on the web">black_friday







Good news, everyone! Steam, Amazon, Blizzard, and more have kicked off Consumer Season by booby trapping the web with potent spending bait such as 33% off XCOM: Enemy Unknown, 50% off The Walking Dead, and 66% off StarCraft II. We spent the morning stumbling through the minefield to compile a list of some of the best seasonal discounts, but stay vigilant: more surprise server-busters are bound to go live as we approach the spendiest weekend of the year.







Steam: Like the Summer Sale, the Steam Autumn Sale rotates deals daily, with even more fleeting Flash Sales lasting only 10 to 15 hours, so serious shoppers should check in at least twice a day. As a bonus, you get to follow Steam's adorable doodle story: currently, it seems a turkey is being forced to enter a Felix Baumgartner-inspired high diving competition.



But don't just look at the front page: Steam isn't promoting most of its deals, so scan the full list now and then. Here are some of the better discounts at the time of writing:





33% off XCOM: Enemy Unknown - $33.49 / £20.09

50% off The Walking Dead - $12.49 / £10.49

25% off Borderlands 2 - $44.99 / £22.49

75% off ARMA II: Combined Operations - $17.99 / £14.99

25% off Dishonored - $44.99 / £22.49

50% off Counter-Strike: Global Offensive - $11.24 / £8.99

33% off The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - $40.19 / £23.44

75% off Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II - $2.49 / £1.74

75% off Limbo - $2.49 / £1.74

25% off Torchlight II - $14.99 / £11.24

75% off Cave Story+ - $2.49 / £1.74

More Steam Deals











Amazon: (Some deals are region-specific) Amazon hasn't been quite as liberal as Steam with the big games, but it has conjured a storm of Lightning Deals on desktop PCs, components, and peripherals. The scattershot selection below should give you an idea of what to expect.



HARDWARE:



17% off iBuyPower AM699 Desktop - $579.99

18% off CyberpowerPC GUA890 Desktop - $499.99

39% off Dell S2330MX 23" Ultra-Slim VGA Monitor - $139.99

40% off Samsung Series S24B30BL 23.6-Inch Screen LCD Monitor - $119.99

33% off Corsair Vengeance C70 Mid Tower Case - $97.45

31% off Logitech Optical Gaming Mouse G400 - $34.49

19% off Logitech G600 MMO Gaming Mouse - $64.62



GAMES:



50% off The Walking Dead - $12.49 (Steam code)

80% off Dungeon Defenders - $2.99

10% off Hitman: Absolution - $44.99

75% off all Assassin's Creed games (excluding Assassin's Creed III)

More Amazon Deals









Blizzard: Blizzard has joined the party with Diablo III for $40 / £33 and StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty for $20 / £17.







GOG: GOG's current sale nets you five games from a list of 20 for a mere $10 (just over £6). The list is loaded with some great indie adventure and puzzle games, so if you don't already own them, now's a good time to prepare for that "it's cold outside, so I'm going to drink tea (whiskey optional) and not leave my screen for the next forever hours" feeling.







Green Man Gaming: While Green Man doesn't celebrate consumerism with a morbid-sounding Friday, it is offering its usual voucher code. Enter GMG20-1FYLZ-EDG8R when purchasing a PC download for 20% off any game, except those already on sale. At the time of writing, GMG's daily deal (North America only) is Mass Effect 3: N7 Digital Deluxe for $15.99.







Newegg: (US and Puerto Rico only) Newegg has taken this whole "Black Friday" thing awfully far. Not only has it preempted Black Friday with "Black November," it's re-preempting it with a Pre-Black Friday Frenzy sale. How about a 500 GB Western Digital WD Blue hard drive for $50? A Samsung B350 Series LED monitor for $180? Keep in mind that if you visit Newegg from now until December 1st, you should not expect to then purchase other things, like food.



If you find any great deals as the weekend progresses, we'd love it if you shared them in the comments. And if all these sales combined with a poorly-timed lack of funds has you feeling down, remember that buying stuff is only briefly thrilling, while instead you could be continuously thrilled by PlanetSide 2, MechWarrior Online, Tribes: Ascend, or many of the other new free-to-play games we're thankful for this year.
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Portal 2 patch adds splitscreen, Big Picture support">portal 2 coop splitscreen







Caring, sharing types rejoice: Valve have released a patch which enables two-controller splitscreen play for Portal 2, making it all the easier to give your co-op buddy a purple nurple when they "accidentally" mis-time the placement of an Excursion Funnel. Again.



And you aren't restricted to squinting at a fraction of your desktop monitor, either: the update adds support for Big Picture mode, allowing you to bicker over who gets to hold the Discouragement Redirection Cube in the comfort of your own living room.



All you have to do to activate splitscreen is to press X on the second controller inside the first co-op menu, and then a whole new world of same-screen squabbling is available. We recommend you fuel your newfound fractious fellowship with our recent guide to the top 10 Portal 2 co-op maps.



The patch also fixes a couple of controller support glitches: previously the ‘quick ping’ button caused the player’s movement to stop and it was impossible to exit Robot Enrichment or Create Test Chambers menus using the controller alone. No longer!
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Pro Tip video shows how to become a noob camping AWPer">Counter-Strike Global Offensive Pro Tip AWP







At least, that's probably the sort of nomenclature you'd reap from public servers after applying the skills picked up from Team Dynamic marksman Keven "AZK" Larivière for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive's one-hit wonder AWP sniper rifle. As part of Valve's Pro Tip video series, Larivière spills the bullets on the best uses of a sniper's superior oversight, when each of the two zoom levels come most in handy, and how shooting the legs off a careless opponent equates to a high-caliber "tsk-tsk."



The real secret of a successful AWPer, however, probably lies with mastering quickswitch tics in a cacophony of deployment noises, as Larivière's lightspeed weapon swapping both defies and defines efficiency. Its mesmerizing effect probably lulls unaware victims into an easy kill like a rubber-armed spider.
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Dota 2 Diary: How to learn a hero in two hours">Water: essential



Water: essential



I've played 183 hours of Dota 2. Some of you will be saying "Whoa dude, that's time you could have spent making a mean batch of marmalade." Others will be saying "Rofl, l2play noob."



But Dota 2's depth means that despite me having played longer than it took Apollo 13 to fly to the Moon and return to Earth, there's still heaps of heroes that I never played a single game as. This is a problem that faces many new players -- how to get up to competence as quickly as possible with a hero you haven't played before. Here's how I learn a new hero in two hours.



First, go and get yourself some paper, a pen, and a big glass of water -- ideally a pint glass or bigger. Good hydration is essential for learning - it's necessary to maintain the tone of your cranial membranes for optimum neurotransmission. If you're dehydrated, you won't learn a thing.



Enigma is definitely one of the shiniest heroes.



Go to the Dota 2 wiki and search for your hero. I'm going to use Enigma as an example, because I've never played as him, and I've rarely seen him in battle. Look at the page, and write down three things. The first is whether they're a strength, agility or intelligence hero. Enigma is an intelligence hero. The second is whether they're ranged or melee - Enigma is ranged. Finally, write down the list of recommended roles -- initiator, disabler and jungler, in this case.



Now go to Dota Cinema's Heroes page and find your hero. There are no names here, but learning how to recognise heroes from their portraits is useful. Click through, and watch the Spotlight video to see how your hero's abilities work. Make notes, if you want to, of things to remember - the idea is to create a cheat sheet you can glance at while you play.



Now stop for a second and think. When are you going to use each of your abilities to best effect? For Enigma, I'm thinking I want to use Malefice to get ganks in early game, and when chasing later on. I want to use Demonic Conversion when jungling and pushing. I want to lay down Midnight Pulse early on in a teamfight, and want to combo that with a Black Hole. To make that work, I'm already thinking I'm probably going to need to build a blink dagger. Again, write down some brief notes.



Very funny.



Okay. We're ten minutes in, and you already know how you want to play your new hero. Load up a bot-match. Grab the recommended items, and put points in skills wherever you think you should based on how the game is going. DON'T LOOK AT A GUIDE YET. Blindly following a guide is a bad way to learn a hero, because you'll get dependent on it and get ganked while you're trying to read.



How did that go? Did you win? It actually doesn't matter. What matters is whether you used your skills. Go back to the notes you made and see whether you got the most out of your abilities. Make some more notes based on the game you played. In my case, I was pretty happy with my skill use - but I found they were powerful but very mana-intensive in the early game, so I made a note to buy more clarities and go for a quick soul ring. One thing I wasn't too good at was being present in teamfights, so I wrote "teamfights" and underlined it. Twice.



Go make a cup of tea to get a screen break, and think some more about the game while it's brewing.



Don't use these until you've played at least one game with a hero.



Now you're allowed to read some guides. Head over to Dotafire and see what others have to say about the hero you want to learn. Now you've got some experience yourself, you can judge whether a guide is on-the-money or not. You'll almost certainly learn some new things about your abilities too, and some tips on how to use them well. Make more notes, grab more paper if you need to, but try and keep all the information on a single sheet if you can - it's easier to take in that way.



For Enigma, I learnt several things. I learnt that I can use Demonic Conversion on friendly creeps, which is useful for tower pushing. I learnt that I should hide before teamfights so that my black hole can be more of a surprise. I also learnt to stay the hell away from silencing heroes.



Time to hit a real game. Make sure you've got "all pick" selected, and find a match. In any downtime (pauses, waiting for loaders, etc), glance at your notes to keep them fresh in your mind. Godspeed.



I always get heaps of assists, damnit.



Oof. I got demolished in my first game with Enigma. How did you do? I got unlucky with jungle spawns, and I couldn't quite get off ganks on the long lane, even with the help of Lion -- we didn't have enough damage early on, and another of our lanes was getting demolished so they slowly snowballed us.



But that's okay. I didn't play too badly, which after just a single bot-match with a hero isn't anything to be ashamed of. The key is knowing the hero's strengths and weaknesses, how best to use their abilities, and situations to avoid in the future. And keeping those at the front of your mind.



Now go, I hereby graduate you from the two-hour-hero academy. You're no expert, but you're well along the road. Good luck.
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