PC Gamer
Half Life Episode 3 concept art


When Half Life: Episode 3 concept art surfaced on the facebook page of fansite ValveTime yesterday we were sceptical, but it's increasingly appearing that they really could be from the long awaited sequel.

Most of the artwork depicts a snowy wilderness with characters clad in winter clothing. This tallies with location the Borealis, the Aperture science ship that was revealed to be stranded in the Arctic in Episode Two. More intriguingly several of the stranger pieces of artwork contain the word 'Xen' in the file names, the Alien world visited in the original Half Life's final act.

OXM have been on top of the story and note that moderators on the Steam forums are claiming the pictures are genuine. Meanwhile fansite Lambda Generation traced the images back to a (since deleted) Picasa gallery belonging to Valve artist Andrea Wicklund.

Now here's the bad news. Although they were only recently discovered these images were all uploaded to Picasa in March 2008, only a few months after the release of Episode Two. This means that even if they are genuine, they aren't necessarily indicative of the direction Valve are taking now, four years later.

You can see the full gallery of images over at Valve Time.
PC Gamer
Team Fortress 2 - meet the pyro


Team Fortress 2's latest update has landed and it's magical. A whole new batch of items have been added that allow the wearer to see the world as the Pyro does. And if you don't know what that means, be sure to watch Meet the Pyro (embedded above) before reading on.

Watched it? Good, then I'll carry on.

The update gives every class a pair of Pyro goggles, which allow them to see into the magical world of Pyroland. A whimsical, beautiful place where no-one dies and everyone is friends.
In Pyroland, everything is brighter and more colourful. There's no blood or pain, instead hurt enemies spray balloon and confetti, and laugh in excitement. Medikits look like cakes, and dominations are friendships. Also, all the signs read "MMM MMMPH".

The goggles aren't the only way to visit Pyroland, using any of the new items (many of which we saw in Meet the Pyro) will do it. Weapons include there's the Rainblower, a flamethrower that fires rainbows, a giant lollipop shaped axe called the Lollichop. While miscellaneous items like the Burning Bongos, The Infernal Orchestra and the Balloonicorn will do it. These items look like default weapons to anyone who can't see into Pyroland, but those who can will perceive them in their full glory. Oh, and did we mention you can buy a real Balloonicorn? Well you can, and it comes with the item code too.

There's a hilarious summary of the new items on the Team Fortress update page, but more details can be found on the Team Fortress wiki. Meanwhile, we've included some screenshots of our own journey into Pyroland below.









PC Gamer
Guild Wars 2 preview thumb


Finally! Guild Wars 2 has to be one of the most anticipated games of the year, but ArenaNet have always been coy about when the game is actually coming out. Not any more. As the above trailer declares, Guild Wars 2 will arrive on August 28th.

Before all that though, there'll be one final beta weekend on the 20th-22nd of July, following on from yesterday's stress test weekend. If for any reason you're still undecided about the game, try reading our most recent Guild Wars 2 preview, which is just one of several you can find under our Guild Wars 2 tag.
PC Gamer
Guild Wars 2 preview thumb


Finally! Guild Wars 2 has to be one of the most anticipated games of the year, but ArenaNet have always been coy about when the game is actually coming out. Not any more. As the above trailer declares, Guild Wars 2 will arrive on August 28th.

Before all that though, there'll be one final beta weekend on the 20th-22nd of July, following on from yesterday's stress test weekend. If for any reason you're still undecided about the game, try reading our most recent Guild Wars 2 preview, which is just one of several you can find under our Guild Wars 2 tag.
PC Gamer
Ghost Recon Future soldier trailer thumb


Ghost Recon: Future Soldier is now Ghost Recon: Present Soldier. Except in the UK, where's he's Ghost Recon: Coming Out Tomorrow, Honestly Guv Soldier. Yes the high tech manshooter has finally arrived on PC, after the customary last minute Ubisoft delay. He's brought along his good friend: Private Day One Patch.

The PC version of Ubisoft's near future shooter seems to be encountering some issues, with users on the Steam Forums complaining of buggy WASD controls. Hopefully this patch will fix those issues.

Here are the patch notes, from Blues News

Improved stability in online multiplayer matches.
Improved voice chat quality for PCs running Windows Vista.
Improved navigation through game’s menus.
Introduced 6-man party system in the multiplayer game mode.
Balanced several weapons (assault rifles, SMSGs, handguns, shotguns).
Balanced equipment (grenades, flash bang, EMP, stun guns, number of drones in match).
Adjusted aim sensitivity and quick scope.
Fixed map exploits.
Adjusted melee.
Adjusted XP values.
Several technical / network improvements.

 
Have you been playing Ghost Recon? Have you encountered any technical issues? Also: which is better, a Future Soldier or an Advanced Warfighter?
PC Gamer
LEGO Minifig MMO


Funcom have just announced that they're making a LEGO Minifigures MMO. It'll be based on the extensive collection of LEGO Minifigures which includes brides, mummies, baseball players, and one called "Gorilla Suit Guy." He carries a banana.

It doesn't sound like the Minifigures MMO will be aimed at the min-maxers. Instead Funcom are focussing on "maximum accessibility" and working closely with the LEGO Group to produce a "broad and enhanced experience."

“The market for family-friendly online experiences intended for children and youngsters is brimming with potential,” says Funcom CEO Trond Arne Aas. “Being able to work with a world-renowned brand such as the LEGO® brand to develop an MMO for this audience is incredibly exciting to us as game developers and for Funcom as a company."

Here's hoping that Funcom's MMO doesn't suffer the same fate as the last LEGO-based MMO. Josh enjoyed LEGO Universe, but it got closed down in January due to a dwindling subscriber base. For more on that, check out his interview with the devs and retrospective on the tricky transition to free-to-play.

Funcom are also due to release a modern-day, non-plastic, MMO next week. The Secret World is due for launch July 3rd. That's a far more serious affair set in a world where "every myth, conspiracy theory and urban legend" is true.
PC Gamer
black crops


Nuketown was one of the most popular maps in Call of Duty: Black Ops' back shooting filling multiplayer, and a favourite of fans. Now an IGN reader has spotted a poster at Irish game store Xtravision that indicates the beloved map is coming back, but not for everyone.

The redesigned map is called 'Nuketown 2025' and will be updated to fit with Black Ops 2's more futuristic approach. It's unclear if the Nuketown will be a special edition bonus (the sign does say 'limited edition') a pre-order bonus (it also says 'driving pre-orders... and day 1') or an retailer specific bonus. Either way it's described as the 'biggest incentive in Call of Duty history', which while it will no doubt excite retailers, is just an additional annoyance for fans.

Maps are always a controversial choice when it comes to bonus incentives, as EA and DICE found out last year when gamers attempted to organise a boycott in the mistaken belief that Battlefield 3's Back to Karkand would be day one DLC for pre-order customers. The fear is that it will unnecessarily split the community, although given that Black Ops sold 20 million map packs, Activision could probably split their community several times over and still have more players than almost every other FPS.

Bonus maps aside, the new Call of Duty actually looks like it's trying some new and interesting things. Check out our Black Ops 2 preview for more.
PC Gamer
IntoThePixel_MassEffect_thumb


There's a surprise hidden in Mass Effect 3's Extended Ending DLC, no, it isn't that Vega was a Reaper all along, it's some files that contain information on the story of the game's next DLC.

Eurogamer have spotted a thread on the Bioware Social forums, where users have sorted through the new files and found several references to a future DLC.

This is your last chance to avoid spoilers, read on at your own risk.

The new DLC appears to be about a 'rogue' Reaper by the name of Leviathan, who may be connected to the 'Leviathan of Dis', the corpse of a giant spacefaring alien that was mentioned a planet description in the first Mass Effect. Leviathan appears to have separate motivations from other Reapers and has spent the last few years by itself, rather than joining in with the invasion. Leviathan controls a mining camp of indoctrinated individuals, and Shepard travels there in order to rescue a scientist called Ann Brynson.

The notion of a Reaper with the free will to break with its purpose is an intriguing one, and one that makes me feel a little bad for slaughtering so many of them. Perhaps I should have asked them to surrender first? Hopefully we'll see more details soon.
PC Gamer
mp3_localjustice


Max Payne doesn't serve up universal, global, or even regional justice, just Local Justice, the first multiplayer map pack. It'll be here on July 17 with 55th Battalion HQ, The Imperial Palace, and Departure Lounge maps; a Light Fingers Item for faster looting; an M4 Assault Rifle with attachments; and a new faction, the São Paulo Police.

On the same day, Rockstar will also release the pre-order and retail DLC for purchase, or as part of the Max Payne 3 Rockstar Pass which earns you all existing and future DLC.

For reasons, it's out on consoles earlier. I'm not too concerned about it though -- I wasn't especially enthused by Max Payne 3's multiplayer gun fightery. The game's style of combat just seems better suited for headshotting rooms full of goons. Anyone feel differently?
PC Gamer



The second episode of Telltale's excellent game adaptation of The Walking Dead releases this Friday. In prep, Telltale has put out a trailer (above) and a video recap that summarizes the choices made by players in the first episode (within).

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