PC Gamer
Skyrim Sabercat
Ever managed to sneak right up to an enemy's exposed back, only to have your companion stand up and start stomping around the place screaming battle cries and alerting the entire dungeon to your presence? The latest Skyrim patch insists that companions will "now sneak properly when player is sneaking." FINALLY. Hopefully that means lone rogues can roll with some company from here on in.

The Bethblog mentions that the patch has moved out of beta and will now apply automatically through Steam. The update also comes with fixes for a few mod issues, and will let you continue to download mods even when you're subscribed to 50 already, hopefully bypassing the pesky limit that some players were running into.

If you're interested in enhancing your copy of Skyrim, but don't know which mods to start with, check out our round-up of the 25 best Skyrim mods, and our guide to the best and weirdest entries so far in Steam's Skyrim workshop. Here are the latest patch notes.


Fixed issue with downloading mods when you are subscribed to more than 50 mods
Fixed crash when loading a subscribed mod that has been removed from Workshop by the author
Mod load order functionality


Fixed occasional crashes when loading a save that relies on plugins/master files that no longer exist
Fixed issue where controls would become unresponsive while charging an enchanted weapon
Fixed issue where controls would occasionally become unresponsive while switching from third to first person while using the Arcane Enchanter
Fixed issue where controls would become unresponsive if activating a crafting station with autorun active
Fixed issue where keyboard would fail if Rename Item was selected before choosing the number of charges, while using Arcane Enchanter
Fixed several issues with remapping buttons while using an Xbox 360 controller
Fixed issue where pressing Escape button after fast traveling but before the loading would cause certain menus to stop working properly
Followers now sneak properly when player is sneaking

PC Gamer
Jet Set Radio HD
Did you spend the year 2000 skating around cities, spraying tags and dodging angular cops in Jet Set Radio? Firstly, you're forgiven for gaming on a Dreamcast and not a wondrous gaming PC, secondly, good news! Eurogamer mention that a HD version will be coming to our monitors, resplendent in updated HD loveliness.

Those stylish, cel-shaded lines should stand up quite nicely after a bit of high-definition polishing. If you're so excited you can feel your fingers reaching for a spray can dodge the inevitable ASBO and plough your creative, anti-social urges into the new competition on the Jet Set Radio site. You can design new in-game graffiti for prizes.
PC Gamer
Mass Effect 3's Narrative Mode lets players coast through the story without fear of failure.
Panic stations for people who've pre-ordered their copy of Mass Effect 3 from GAME or Gamestation: the UK-based retailer won't be stocking any EA games in the month of March after PS3 and Xbox 360-only title SSX. That includes Mass Effect 3.

Eurogamer spotted the news this morning, in a memo sent around GAME Group employees. For PC gamers, the news means we won't be seeing any new EA titles for release in both GAME and Gamestation this month. Keen speculators would assume that drought would continue beyond March.

According to a launch update put out on EA's site, people who've ordered the N7 edition of the game - the collector's version that comes with free DLC and a pet robodog - should re-order their copy via Amazon, Play, Zavvi, or ShopTo. GAME promised a special pre-order bonus with their version of the game: the N7 Warfare Gear weapons pack. EA's site urges customers to stay tuned for the status of that. Course, we can still get copies from Origin, a magic internet shop unaffected by the whims of the high street.

More news as we get it from GAME Group and EA.
Feb 29, 2012
PC Gamer
End of Nations - Tanks go hull down
End of Nations may well be the largest multiplayer RTS we've ever played. Rift creators, Trion Worlds and the ex-Westwood veterans at Petroglyph are making a free to play real time strategy game, and they're making it big. Its largest maps will let two teams of 26 players fight with up to 20 units each. That's 1040 troops on a single battlefield, controlled by 52 different people. End of Nation's campaign will take place on an even greater scale. As a member of one of End of Nation's two factions, every victory will count towards an ongoing win/loss competition that will let your clan take take and hold territory on a grand strategic map of the planet.

The 52 player maps weren't ready to be played when I met up with Trion to get an early look at End of Nations recently. Frankly, Trion wouldn't have been able fit enough people into the demo room to show it, but I did spend some time with a few of End of Nation's other modes including a co-op survival map and a tense 4v4 control point arena. End of Nation's grand war is driven by fast, accessible skirmishes between highly customisable units. Every kill earns experience, which allows for advancement along detailed tech trees bristling with powerful new tanks, VTOLS, infantry squads and robots. It's smart, addictive, and fun. If you have a "ones to watch in 2012" list, you'll want to add this one with a big fat marker pen.

There's no base building in End of Nations. Once you've chosen your troop line-up your entire army is air-dropped into your team's deployment zone. Whenever a unit gets blown up, you can call them back in using points earned defeating enemies and capturing points, a system that will feel very familiar to World in Conflict players. With no mining, gathering or base building to think about, my focus for most of each game was on the constant fighting for control points carefully positioned around the map.

That's intentional. Trion and Petroglyph want to strip away the battlefield-wide micromanagement associated with traditional RTSes so that players get on with the fun bit: turning the enemy army into smoking wrecks. After the demo, I spoke to Trion senior producer, Chris Lena about the decision to cut out bases and concentrate almost entirely on combat. He hopes that this direct approach will bring disaffected strategy players back into the fold. "We think a lot of people over the years that used to play strategy games and RTS games have moved away because the genre hasn't changed," he said. "In some ways it's become more hardcore over time. We think we've solved some of those problems."

End of Nations battles don't rely on the kind of precision, timing and resource control that dominates the average StarCraft 2 scrap, it's all about fast micromanagement. Each type of unit has a unique special ability. My mammoth tanks could go hull-down, sinking into an immobile defensive posture to better guard control points. My flimsy artillery could sit at the back and throw down a circular overwatch area that they would shell repeatedly, perfect for putting pressure on chokepoints like narrow streets and bridges. I also gradually gained access to a suite of general commander abilities as my artillery continued to obliterate the hordes of incoming infantry. These would let me repair vehicles quickly or call down big area of effect buffs, improving the resilience of all allied units.

Smart use of these abilities can win fights, and they can become game-changing as you use them in co-ordinated attacks with allied commanders. Teamwork is essential, and End of Nations is built to encourage players to form squads. "We're fans of MMORPGs and other games that have been getting a lot of people together" said Lena after the demo. "I think recently a lot of games the most fun is other people, right? That's definitely a big part of it."

That's where Trion's MMO experience comes in. "We find that what's really worked is a lot of the social features," Lena says. "like clan mechanics, chat, friends lists, being able to find groups together. We want as manypeople as possible in the game because it makes it more fun for everyone else." As we talk, we end up using MMO phrases like PvP and PvE time and time again, partly because of Trion's MMO background, but also because End of Nations is making a determined attempt to bring the scale of a free-to-play MMO to the RTS.

That means PvE, too. Once they've rolled out the End of Nations multiplayer build this summer, Trion say that Petroglyph will be readying up a massive co-op campaign offering squads massive co-op missions. These will pit armies of players against the AI controlled Order of Nations faction. Lena says that some of these will let 52-player armies take to the field together in huge areas akin to MMO zones, to take on environmental hazards and battle multi-stage bosses.

Factor in the massive levelling system, the in-game currency that can be spent on customisation and unit upgrades and the grand war for control of Earth, and there's going to be plenty to get our teeth into when the first build of End of Nations rolls out later this year. We'll have to wait and see exactly what the microtransaction scheme will be like, but for now Lena assured me that it won't be a "pay to win" game.

End of Nations is shaping up very nicely indeed. There have been attempts to create massively multiplayer strategy games before, but few with this much ambition. If those 52 player rumbles can live up to our expectations, End of Nations could be pretty special.
PC Gamer
Mojang announce that they've hired the Minecraft community members behind Bukkit to work on their server software and "offer better official support for larger servers and server modifications." Bukkit was a free, open source community-made server mod designed to make it easy for server admins to create and maintain heavily modded Minecraft servers. The tweaks they'll make to Minecraft's back end should lay the groundwork for future mod support, meaning more scope for mad mods like that one that adds a portal gun, and that glorious TNT mod, and the one that adds dinosaurs, and the millions of other Minecraft mods out there. This can only be a good thing.

"These guys have always had server admins in mind when developing their additions to the game," says Minecraft lead designer, Jeb on the Mojang blog. "We hope that this will help the quality of Minecraft multi-player to improve, both for large and private family servers, while still being able to add fun stuff for the bigger audience."

Anything that gives Minecraft modders more power must be a good thing. There's a huge number of great mods out there already. We've picked out the best in our round up of the 25 best Minecraft mods.
PC Gamer
Baldur's Gate
A new Baldur's Gate website has appeared, fronted by that grimacing skull. Eurogamer mention that the site's source code contains a number of cryptic Baldur's Gate references and there's a wall of the original character images in the gloom behind that famous face. GameBanshee indicate that ex-Bioware veteran Trent Oster's Beamdog are behind the new site. The digital distribution service is currently working on a HD version of MDK2 which suggests that a crisper version of Bioware's classic RPG may be in the works. We'll know shortly. Beamdog say they're "hoping to announce something soon."

Here are those hints hidden in the new site's source code while you wait. Ready your dice for a perception check, here come the clues.

Shadowy Figure- Raise Dead : Infinity Engine.
For years, I clung to the memory of it. Then the memory of the memory.
And then... it returned. Better than it was before.
Pore over the tapestries and works of art hanging from our walls if you wish, Child of Bhaal... perhaps you will find a clue. But patience, ah... patience would reveal it all.
As the silver moon waxes and wanes, so too does life.

PC Gamer
Sure, we might've gotten it a tad later, but clearly the definitive Alan Wake experience is on the PC. In fact, this surreal survival-horror game looks so good that we'd like to share it with you. Well, to be honest, we just don't want to be the only ones who have to go to sleep with the lights on after playing it. Read on to find out how you can snag yourself a free copy of Remedy Entertainment's cerebral thriller—the Collector's Edition, no less!

We've got ten CE Steam codes to give away, which will win you Alan Wake, the game's soundtrack, and both DLC plots entitled "The Signal" and "The Writer." To enter the giveaway, simply send an email to contests@pcgamer.com with “I want to win a trip to Bright Falls” in the subject line. We'll select ten lucky winners on Monday, March 5th to receive a copy of the game. Be sure to check back at pcgamer.com for our review of Alan Wake, and remember, friends don't let friends play XBLA games before they hit the PC.
PC Gamer

Mechs are the best things to shoot at in games, I think. They're expressive and durable: they have layers of armor and discrete body sections; they lose limbs; their ammo storage can spontaneously explode; they can power down to hide from your radar. MechWarrior Online sent along their first trailer for us to share with you—a teasery gaze at its mascot mech Atlas falling out of a dropship. Register a pilot name on the game's website, if you'd like.
PC Gamer

Guild Wars 2 is pretty, everyone knows that. But it's also designed to scale down smoothly so that the game can run on lower-end machines as well. In this video, Gavin and Josh walk you through every graphics option available in the beta, and show you step-by-step how they effect the visual fidelity of the game in a variety of settings.

You can also watch this video on YouTube.

Update: A more detailed list of system specs for the machine running the game in this video below.
CPU: AMD Phenom II X6 1090T, 3.6GHz six-core
MOBO: ASUS Crosshair IV Formula
GPU: Radeon HD 6970 2GB
PC Gamer

A couple months ago, I talked about my hands-on time with The Secret World and its hit-and-miss Illuminati starting area, the frustrating-yet-awesome open-world Egypt zone, its Minecraft-like crafting system, and the brilliant character customization system. But today, we're getting into the really good stuff: the no-frills, fast-paced dungeons.

First up, we step through "The 13th Gate" and go straight to Hell. That's right, the burning lake of fire where demons use liars for chew toys.

We revealed the first dungeon of Hell in our January issue cover story (US), and this is the follow-up dungeon, called Hell Fallen. I'm a tank with a full Hammer build, designed to take a beating and keep aggro on me, instead of my squishy companions. Like everything else in The Secret World, I would soon learn that this was not an easy task.

We start in a large open area of orangish-red rocks with industrial piping and scrap metal heaped all over. Hell is surprisingly industrialist. I spot a few demons roaming the desolate valley and make my charge at them. They hit me once and immediately run for my healer. That's okay, I have a few abilities to taunt the enemies, making them return to me. Why is nothing happening. A quick glance shows my skills are greyed out and unusable. My healer is dead. Crap.

With a little nudging from the developers, I realize that the high-speed winds blowing through the area (very noticeable visually) lock out my skills. It was my job to get the enemy's attention and drag them behind the large pieces of scrap metal or the crumbling ruins littered around the valley, which would block the winds and let me tank to my heart's content.

Boss #1
After four pulls and quick fights, we were at the first miniboss, a hulking demon labeled Archaeomachinist. Every boss in the game is given a personality, like cowardly or brute or defensive, and this particular guy was a coward. As soon as we engaged him, he threw down a couple turrets that draw red lines in their targeting direction, much like Portal's goofy tin can shooters. Players have to constantly move to stay out of the crosshairs of these little guys--a fun minigame to keep you active while focusing on the big guy. The big guy that ran to hide behind the crumbling walls of ruins whenever he could. Trying to tank the cowardly demon was tough to do without breaking line-of-sight on my healer, but it added another fun element to the fight. On top of all that, he called in artillery strikes that showed up as red circles on the ground before exploding anyone standing inside it.

Boss #2
I run around the corner ready for some more trash mobs, and instead find another miniboss waiting just ahead: a fat demon standing in a small valley pass surrounded by large cylindrical machines. We rush in and he responds by activating an energy shield on himself and calling in minion demons to protect him. As we kill waves of minions, his shield drops temporarily, giving us a chance to hit him hard. About two wave in, I suddenly realize that the machines have slowly been turning on behind him. On both edges of the valley, they're starting to emit green smoke that doesn't look healthy, and more and more are activating. The poison cloud is quickly closing in on us, and we're now on a timer. I work to bring the boss to the dead center of the valley, hopefully buying us enough time to take the boss down before the gas strangles in on us. Our group's damage output is solid and we succeed--but by the end, we had only a few feet of open air to fight in.

We climb out of the valley and work our way up the industrial paths that climb up the mountain, and I take a moment to enjoy the view of asteroids burning down through the sky all over. And then I realize my friends have just aggroed a giant two-headed demon monster that I should probably go tank for them.

Boss #3
I drop into a makeshift arena and charge straight at the Engine Tyrant Alpha (the big nasty dude in the screenshot above). He comes with two spirits that seem to be healing him from the edges of the arena, so I throw taunts on the boss and try to grab the attention of the spirits as my teammates work on burning them down. I continually lose aggro on the spirits, but our healer's a pro and keeps everyone alive despite my messy tanking.

The large demon is throwing out cleaves that hit everyone in front of him, so I drag him to a corner of the arena and keep his damage all to myself. And then, just as I'm starting to feel good about myself as a tank again, a second giant demon identical to the first jumps down into the arena and grants a protective shield to the one we were fighting. For the rest of the fight, I play catch-up trying to keep aggro on both beasts as we alternate killing the one without the shield. It's by far the most challenging fight so far, and I resign myself to simply not being able to keep aggro 100% of the time. But, again, my healer seems to be doing an awesome job and keeping us all alive as we kill one demon and then the other.

Boss #4
The Executrix is not a name earned lightly, so I knew we were in big trouble when we ran into this guy. We made our way out into the cratered ruins, and were promptly ambushed by wave after way of demonlings as massive artillery rained from the sky all around us. This is The Secret World's equivalent of "trash mobs" that exist in other MMOs' dungeons--almost all are tied into the boss event and only take 3-4 minutes.

After taking out the waves, the female demon Execturix (screenshot above) swoops in and starts mass-ressurrecting the corpses of the adds we'd killed. Luckily the resurrected soldiers are fairly weak when they return, but the mechanic is enough to keep things interesting as we swap between targets to keep the little guys under control. As a tank, this was a really fun fight to throw around my AoE attacks to keep the little guy's attention without losing the big guy.

Boss #5
A trio of lava golems are trying to break down a gate for some reason. I would've voted to let the lava golems do their things and raid the demon pantry or whatever they were up to, but they apparently didn't like us spying on them and sent one of them to smash us while the other two continued their work on the door. It seemed simple enough at first, and then the golem starts melting himself down into a massive pool of expanding lava that's deteriorating my legs at an alarming rate.

I'm able to barely outrun the slowly-widening lake of lava, but I'm helpless without being in melee range. My ranged counterparts are still chipping away at the golem's health. Thankfully (sort of) the other two golems decide their brother is taking too long to kill us and rush over to help. We've now got three giant golems that periodically liquify into giant pools of health-sucking lava (all at different times, mind you). It makes for a crazy fight where you're constantly bouncing between three golems, attacking whichever one is moving and punching while avoiding the pools of lava constantly growing around the field. After awhile I notice a tell: when the golems lift their legs up, they're readying a massive stomp in front of them. I alert the group and our healer has a bit of an easier time keeping us alive without as many face-stomps coming in.

There are a few trash mobs lining the path up to the final boss, but even these mobs are interesting fight as they teleport around to different members of the group, leaving a small lightning field wherever they teleport from.

I'm glad the devs introduced the "you shouldn't like wind" mechanic early on in the dungeon, because this final boss brings it back with a vengeance. The boss hangs on the edge of the platform, periodically summoning massive winds that shut down your abilities and damage you, if you don't take cover behind one of the few pillars around the edges of the circular platform we're fighting on. At the same time, two of those assassins are teleporting around, leaving lightning fields in their wake and grenades are falling from the sky.

As a tank, I felt pretty helpless. There was no way to contain all this damage. At one point, wind had forced all of us to hide behind pillars, but our choice of pillars had separated our group: i could see my healer across the large platform, getting pummeled by an assassin. As I'm weighing the pros and cons of braving the damaging wind to help her, a pile of grenades fall in front of me, blocking my path and the other assassin teleports away from us, dropping a lightning field at our feet thats zapping us relentlessly.

It's frantic, it's crazy, and it demands split-second decisions from you one right after another the entire fight. Before I can be a hero and race into sheer death to save my healer, the boss teleports to me and knocks me out into the open, over the grenade field and safely onto the other side. I hurry through the wind to get the assassin off my healer's back and our DPS finds a way to cross the grenades without blowing themselves to bits. We're back in business and within a few minutes the big guy's fallen.

Closing notes
The almost complete lack of trash mobs kept this dungeon moving along. Every fight felt important because there was a big guy with a unique mechanic involved. But even boss fights can often be boring in MMOs--TSW's stood out to me as particularly fun, mostly due to their insistence on keeping you guessing and forcing you to work to accomplish your role. As a tank, it was REALLY hard to keep aggro, but the game is balanced with that in mind. People don't die as quickly as they do in most MMOs, so me losing aggro didn't mean our group would wipe. Instead, my job seemed to be to struggle and improvise to hold aggro as much as possible. My allies can take hits from time to time, but they can’t hold it forever--so there was still pressure to regain aggro as quickly as possible. It's a hardcore design in line with Funcom's desire to make TSW a difficult game that refuses to hold players hands. The result is a dungeon that consistently delivers those fast-paced shots of adrenaline that any tank will be familiar with: that feeling of panic when you lose aggro and have to improvise to get it back before someone dies.