PC Gamer
Grand Theft Auto 5

From the "people are still talking about this?" files today comes an interview by The Guardian with Rockstar co-founder Dan Houser that touched upon Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas' Hot Coffee scandal. The ensuing media scrutiny and negative pressure wound up "draining and upsetting" company members facing "a tough time" keeping relationships with the press civil.

"The massive social decay that we were supposed to induce hasn't happened," Houser said. "So, in that regard, a lot of those debates that used to go on, they're not such a big deal now. We never felt that we were being attacked for the content, we were being attacked for the medium, which felt a little unfair. If all of this stuff had been put into a book or a movie, people wouldn't have blinked an eye. And there are far bigger issues to worry about in society than this."

Hackers rooting among San Andreas' files unearthed an abandoned yet mostly intact minigame where main character CJ would have sex with his girlfriend at the prompting of certain...er, "movement" commands. The resulting outcry involved the Federal Trade Commission investigating Houser and the rest of Rockstar's staff. The ordeal was recently documented in detail in a book by David Kushner titled Jacked: The Outlaw Story of Grand Theft Auto. Kushner is also the author of the excellent Masters of Doom.

While Rockstar may simply be biding its time until the appropriate moment to unleash its fomented armageddon of entropy, its current efforts on Grand Theft Auto V look extremely promising, though a PC version lingers in uncomfortable "consideration" territory for now.
PC Gamer
Borderlands 2 Mr. Torgue's Campaign of Carnage DLC

If a syringe containing the distilled souls of Dragonball Z's Hercule Satan, Team Fortress 2's Saxton Hale, and Hulk Hogan was injected into someone's arm, you'd get Mr. Torgue. If you asked Mr. Torgue what his favorite kind of explosion is, he'd respond with "YES." If a vault hunter asked him for directions to the newest uncovered vault, he'd throw his horns in the direction of his freshly launched Campaign of Carnage DLC for Borderlands 2. And then blow it up with the grenades his hand was holding.

In his newly excavated Badass Crater of Badassitude, Mr. Torgue offers a new storyline, quests, bosses, weapons, and cameos from equally unstable characters such as Moxxi and Tiny Tina. In case you play for three minutes without seeing a single explosion, an arena-style Loot-splosion event tosses shiny gear your way on the displaced air of—you guessed it—explosions. As Mr. Torgue himself would eloquently state, "IF YOU'RE NOT PICKING GIBLETS OUT OF YOUR TEETH, IT WASN'T A REAL KILL."

Mr. Torgue's Campaign of Carnage is now available for download for $10 on Steam. Our critical opinion is forthcoming, assuming it remains unexploded.
PC Gamer

Got Hitman: Absolution, video capturing capability, and the desire to be $1000 richer? You can make use of those strangely-related criteria by heading over to GamrRank, a meta-achievement/playtime tracking social media platform. The service is offering one grand to the best Hitman video involving a dead body and your name spelled on a surface with bullet holes—just like so many of my home movies. The video above explains the finer points.

You have two weeks to get your entry in. Second place nets you $500, and third will take home $250. Some Hitman swag is also available for honorable mentions. If you have a GamrRank account, you can check out this page to accept the challenge.
PC Gamer
Total War Shogun 2 Otomo Clan DLC

When the Portuguese first landed upon Japan's shores in 1543, they stroked their handlebar mustaches and said, "You know, that whole honorable swordsman thing is working well for you, but what you really need is our brand of GUNshido." They then shot the word "PORTUGAL" into the side of the Emperor's palace. My history recollection is probably incredibly inaccurate by now, but still, guns remain the central theme for the November 30 release of the Otomo Clan DLC for Total War: Shogun 2. You'll get a new playable faction with five armed unit types, extra buildings, and special traits.

The Otomo Clan high-fived Portugal's trade deals early on during Japan's feudal fracas, and it nabs a number of assets following the basic military doctrine of "take anything and add a gun to it." The Otomo Donderbuss Cavalry, for example, masters the art of firing the shotgun-like Donderbuss rifle on horseback. The Otomo Matchlock Samurai combines fearsome swordsmanship with rifle-fire volleys range, because handing samurai another method of dealing swift death is both overkill and freaking awesome.

The Portuguese Tercos (which I read as "Portuguese Tacos" at first glance) and Otomo Matchlock Ashigaru supplement the samurai as long-range riflemen. On sea, the Otomo Matchlock Kobaya harnesses "Christian fervor" for more accurate shots during marine operations. I guess I missed the Bible passage granting dead-eye divinity.

Cash-strapped warlords can also lease off a single building slot per city to the Portuguese for a lump payment burst of funds towards rapid troop buildup. As for traits, the Otomo Clan provides appropriate bonuses to pumping out the firepower:

Can recruit cheaper gunpowder units (-10 percent)
Missionary actions are cheaper (-15 percent)
Improved conversion to clan religion (+2)
Faster import of Matchlock Ashigaru units (-3)

Steam is offering a 10 percent discount on pre-purchases, so head over to the DLC's store page for more info.
PC Gamer
StarCraft 2 Heart of the Swarm

Team Liquid recently caught up with StarCraft 2 lead designer Dustin Browder at the Blizzard World Championships in Shanghai. Over the course of the 30 minute interview, Browder revealed his team's plans to address the current balance and metagame issues in Wings of Liberty and the upcoming Heart of the Swarm expansion. You can check out the video above, or if you're in a hurry, we've tl;dr'd the main points into a paraphrased list, organized by race, below.


The community is calling for big changes, but Blizzard is continuing to take a conservative approach to balancing. The devs worry that sweeping changes could throw off the existing, fairly balanced win ratios that exist in most match-ups just to fix some very specific issues that only affect portions of the very high-end metagame.
Heart of the Swarm should open up greater variety in map design by correcting issues with some match-ups forcing certain builds or making certain attack timings indefensible without specific chokes.
The devs aren't afraid to nerf units out of the competitive metagame (as they did with WoL Reapers) if they are too hard to balance, or if they make certain match-ups boring or predictable.
The design of the new HotS units is mostly finalized at this point, and the team is focusing on changes to existing WoL units to create a balanced metagame for the expansion.


Blizzard is considering making psionic units immune to Fungal Growth, a spell largely seen as the biggest balance issue in the game right now. This would allow Ghosts and High Templar to effectively counter Infestor play.
Neural Parasite will probably be removed altogether. It's rarely used, and it's too powerful in the few weird cases in which it is used.


The Mothership was never meant to be a unit that plays a role at the high-end competitive level. It will likely be getting a redesign in HotS to put it back in the category of a "just for fun" novelty.


Blizzard recognizes there is a significant skill gap and playstyle difference between general Terran players and top-level Korean Terran players, and would like to see this gap shrink.
Seeker Missiles and Thor Shoulder Cannons might be seeing a buff in HotS. Blizzard doesn't want the Shoulder Cannons' appeal to be their ability to stun, as they feel there are enough stuns in the game already, but they want Thors to be good at something aside from countering Mutalisks.
Medivacs may be getting a buff as well, and late game static defenses may be nerfed as top-level players have become so skilled at shutting down the once dominant Terran drop play.
PC Gamer

A Kickstarter has gone live for Thorvalla, a new "old school" computer RPG being created by Planescape: Torment producer Guido Henkel. Set in a Norse-influenced fantasy universe where people tame and ride dragons, the project follows in the footsteps of some other Black Isle alumni that did pretty well for themselves with Project Eternity. Henkel is asking for a million dollars, slightly less than the original goal that Obsidian thoroughly crushed, but details on the game are currently very scarce.

As PC Gamer's resident certified Viking and Medieval Gaming Beat Reporter, I'd love to be overflowing with excitement about this. But at the moment there isn't a lot to go on. We have a map, detailed below, some very early concept art, and a bit of fiction that introduces your character as a hardy, northern, dragon-owning explorer who will begin the game by getting into a fight with the sea and losing.

The ingredients for Viking wonder are half-there, but it remains to be seen whether Henkel and co. can raise their not unsubstantial funding goal without a big, recognizable name like Obsidian behind them. How many million-dollar, crowdfunded, old school RPGs can the market support? A fellow Kickstarter in that category from Brenda Brathwaite (Wizardry) and Tom Hall (Commander Keen, DOOM) was cancelled last month after it failed to attract enough attention—primarily, I think, due to an underwhelming amount of details on what the game actually was.

Thorvalla's reward tiers are fairly typical, with the high-end allowing you to design a monster or an NPC in the game. The project is tentatively slated for an August 2014 release. If you find yourself called, you can chip in to launch the longship here.
PC Gamer

The year is 20XX. Over-reliance on mysterious "cloud storage" and catastrophic "Y2X" software failures have devastated the world's supply of PC games. You can only choose five games to preserve. What's at stake? Oh, just the fate of PC gaming and ten dollars. Yep, that's (mostly) right: drop by GOG this week and you can liberate five DRM-free games from their servers for only $10 (around £6).

There are 20 games to choose from, including the likes of Resonance, Gemini Rue, Torchlight, and Trine, and a combination of the most expensive nets $60 in savings. It's the perfect opportunity to be a hero and save great games for future generations, who will laugh at our local hard drives until the digital apocalypse brings their networks crashing down.

And this is just the beginning: every year in the US we spend a certain Thursday eating large birds, then the subsequent Friday spending billions of dollars to adjust retail outlets' yearly earnings reports. It's weird, I know, but we do benefit with big discounts. Rumor has it that Steam's Autumn Sale starts tomorrow, so prepare to trample their servers as well.
PC Gamer
planetside 2 launch

Something about the word "ultra" immediately evokes a reverent silence. Not only does it share the first letter of one of my most favorite words ("undulant"), it's also an adjectival call to stand up and pay attention wherever it appears. PlanetSide 2 is out today, and soldiers the world over are pouring into Auraxia's resource-laden continents as I type. One particular fan celebrated the release with a gameplay video showcasing the deadly beauty of PlanetSide 2's massive battles on ultra graphics. Ultra cool.

Author Crypski's hardware setup allows for some strong eye-splosions—he rocks an 4.5GHz Intel i7 3770k, an EVGA GTX 670, and 8GB DDR3 RAM. For those of us with less royal rigs, though, we've found PlanetSide 2 to offer pretty well-scaled-yet-stunning visuals on older hardware, though the game tends to chug a bit during the densest firefights.

Another note: Crypski's video removes the HUD for both vehicle and soldier sections, so expect slightly more screen clutter of ammo counts and flashing red "YOU'RE DEAD" health bars if jump into the fray today.
PC Gamer
day 9 sean plott

StarCraft 2's longtime player/commentator/ambassador Sean "Day" Plott is one of the best interviews in gaming. He's universally candid, positive, relatable, and unlike some game developers, he's got nothing to hide. He's also full of good ideas—another one of which was mentioned last weekend to GameSpot during the Battle.net World Championship in Shanghai. In that interview, Mr. 9 was asked to look into the long, six- or seven-year future of StarCraft, and tell us what he'd like to see in such a crystal ball. His response: StarCraft in high schools.

Dan "Frodan" Chou, GameSpot: "Now we've seen the scene grow and expand to this point, what would you like to see in six, seven more years as well. I know that's really shooting far, but if you could extrapolate, what's your dream and your vision?"

Plott: "I've given this answer many times before, and I'm gonna give it again: High. School. Leagues. I think that is the prime example of cultural embeddedness. You think of something like football—American football, sorry Europe. 'American hand egg,' you know the thing with like the leather coney dude. I'm great at descriptions, oh yeah. Occasionally, but not always. Okay, so American football is stupidly complicated in terms of rules. Just, the concept of downs and kickoffs and onside kicks and what off-sides is—all that is quite complicated. But no one's looked at a manual ever. I've never opened the rule book to football, and yet I know all the rules to football because my friends and my family acted as the manual. It was a cultural manual. And high school I think is a huge part of that—that you go into high school sports, you see it, it's all around you, and I'd want that for StarCraft. Even something like chess—not a lot of people invest in chess or play a lot, but they know about it, a lot of people know the rules of it, they know how the pieces move, that the knight moves in a little 'L.' And if that carried over to StarCraft with high school leagues then I think that would be the biggest sign of success."

It's a nice thought, letterman jackets with stitched-on patches of Banelings and Siege Tanks. Blizzard agrees, apparently; Plott's comments directly echo those of Ilja Rotelli, Blizzard’s Director of Global Community & eSports. Watch GameSpot's full interview below.

PC Gamer
ace of spades header

Preview by Cara Ellison.

Imagine smacking a huge Jenga tower over with a shovel. That approximates the feeling of gleeful destruction you get from Ace of Spades - a brick-based first-person destroy-em-up, in which you blast apart the colourful blocky environments, and everything within them, in a fury of physics-enabled pyrotechnics.

In true multiplayer FPS tradition, you choose a class, choose a team, and shoot the pixels off each other until someone wins. Each class has distinct and useful abilities essential to team tactics: the Soldier has the most health and a decent gun, the Scout is weak but has a powerful sniper rifle, the Engineer can build sentries and use mines, and the Miner has the holy grail: the drill gun. This lets you bore through everything in your path at the speed of a rocket. Not only can you core enemies' angular faces, you can also use it to carve a tunnel under them, pop out the other side and clock them in the spine with your triple-strength spade.

The jaunty playpen aesthetics do away with the need for squelchy realism. When your health runs out, you explode in a cascade of cute man-blocks. Grenades send up a hundred little Duplo shards. You can build prefab blocks to bridge your way to the enemy. You feel testosteroney and adorable.

The three main arenas I played were a jungle, a lunar base, and a haunted mansion. The jungle is bright, green and hilly - with a huge space to cover, it’s rife with places to hide and snipe or tunnel and assassinate. In the lunar base level, zero gravity gives jumps an extended reach, adding to the challenge of fixing enemies in your crosshairs as they drift across the map like Sugar Plum Fairies prancing about on a bouncy castle.

The haunted mansion is for zombie mode.

Zombie mode is absurd and hilarious. Zombie players have no weapons but their creepy, burrowing green arms and hyper-speed legs. The Survivor team chooses from the usual classes, but if killed by a zombie, you become one of them. To win, the zombies have to claim the lives of every Survivor.

Zombies move so fast that sometimes you are entirely unaware of their presence until you see a purple flash and a blip on the mini-map. Engineers end up building turrets everywhere across the mansion in a feeble attempt to protect the Survivors. It's like being in a child’s dream reconstruction of Aliens.

Ace of Spades has a short while left before its December launch (the exact date still to be determined by Steam) by which time it'll have hopefully sorted out the stability issues I encountered. Its fundamentals are already extremely promising, however, and the prospect of a level creation tool at release extremely welcome. This sort of title is the reason the internet was inv -

Look, I tried to go this whole preview without mentioning Minecraft, but I just can’t take it any more. MINECRAFT WITH PHYSICS AND EXPLOSIONS! MINECRAFT WITH FPS SHOOTY-MAN STUFF! ZOMBIE MINECRAFT! There, I said it. Shut up.

Developer: Jagex
Publisher: Jagex
Release: December
Link: www.aceofspades.com