PC Gamer
Battlefield 3 End Game thumb

Watching this trailer for Battlefield 3's final DLC pack, End Game, you can see why many online shooters have started to replace the flag part of Capture the Flag with Intelligence, Bombs - really anything that isn't a flag. It does seem a little bit silly when you think about it.

General: Why are we retreating? I didn't give the order!
Colonel: Er... well they captured our flags, sir. All three of them.
General: Oh. Can't we make more?
Colonel: We're out of cloth. And our parachutes are the wrong color.
General: Oh dear. Well, best pack up our millions of dollars of weapons, munitions and state-of-the-art vehicles and go home then.

But if the concept makes no sense, the execution looks to be some serious fun, as bullets and explosions chase the flag bearer across the giant maps of the game.

End Game also adds the Air Superiority mode - previously relegated to the console exclusive Battlefield 1943 - as well as dirtbikes, dropships and four new maps. It's due out in March, and will release early for Battlefield 3 Premium subscribers.

The Premium service has done rather well for EA. Joystiq report that the publisher's latest financial results show 2.9 million people have subscribed to the scheme, generating $108 million in sales across all platforms. Although, between the PC version's bigger maps and shinier graphics, and the occasional Origin sale on a Premium sub, I'd bet PC users make up a healthy portion of that figure.
PC Gamer
Lumina City

I haven't played Lume - the charming paper-and-cardboard-crafted adventure game - but the following video of its sequel, Lumino City, had me regretting that decision immediately. As with its predecessor, the game is being created with handmade characters and sets, giving it a beautiful, striking, diorama-esque visual style that's far more effective at suggesting a 3D space than a pair of dark glasses and an overpriced cinema ticket. Speaking to IndieGames, State of Play Games revealed that Lumino City will be several times larger than Lume, with the promise of better puzzles, and a "massive leap" in the fidelity of the handcrafted scenes, thanks to a number of technological advancements (including motors and laser-cutting).

Lumino City should release in "late Spring" this year, on PC, Mac and Linux (with iOS versions coming later, presumably once they've squished the sets with a hammer so they can fit on the smaller screens). Head over to IndieGames to learn more about the creation process, but not before gawping at this stunning teaser trailer:

PC Gamer
Bioshock Infinite

Here's a rather splendid new trailer for Bioshock Infinite; one that packs together grand vistas of the soaring city of Columbia, insight into its fire-and-brimstone ruler Zachary Comstock, and plenty of explosive combat against men and monstrosities. It's also likely to be the only trailer you'll see today that features a minigun-toting mechanical George Washington.

He only makes a brief appearance, but Comstock seems set to be a great character. His zealous, patriotic fervour seems like a nice counterpoint to the grand idealism of Bioshock's Andrew Ryan.

Also: a game trailer made entirely from footage of said game! What a novel idea. We approve.
PC Gamer
Dirty Bomb thumb

Splash Damage's online FPS Dirty Bomb has started letting selected members of the public jump in to its London-based maps. Honestly, players are being allowed to run around unfinished versions of games earlier and earlier. Soon you'll be able to start shooting up wireframe walls with no skybox.

You can get instant access to the alpha test right now, but it's not cheap. $120 not cheap, in fact. That's the price for the Legendary pack, which includes an immediate pass into the game, along with five Founder's Mercs, an artbook, soundtrack and T-shirt.

"We have always believed that multiplayer is more thrilling than single player," reads the updated Dirty Bomb website. "We’re dedicated to the perfection of team play. We are committed to developing games that our fans can enjoy for months and years."

"We’ve taken the unprecedented step of opening up Dirty Bomb’s alpha for private testing by fans. Sign up now to help shape Dirty Bomb!"

Buyers of the cheaper Elite ($60) and Veteran ($30) packs still get "Priority Access" to the beta, although won't be allowed in right away. Other purchasing options include the Contributor Pack ($240) and VIP Founder ($320!), which both come with instant access to the developer's IRC channel, along with a selection of other bonuses and the Legendary benefits.

Splash Damage say the reason they're able to offer access so early is their new Echo tech. "Developed by the talented chaps over at Fireteam, Echo basically collects and visualises detailed data from all of Dirty Bomb’s multiplayer servers, allowing us to balance and optimise the game in ways we couldn’t before." They've put together a video showing how the tool helps them develop the game.

Clearly the price is aimed at those who really want to support the game, especially as all signs point to Dirty Bomb being free-to-play. Anyone tempted?

Thanks, PCGamesN.
PC Gamer

Paradox's CEO, Fredrik Wester, has just finished delivering the opening press conference of the Paradox Convention 2013. Announcements included new expansions, a new game, and something involving the thunderous thespian Brian Blessed. Read on for a complete run down of the convention's revelations.

War of the Roses gets Brian Blessed DLC

Gordon's alive! This announcement is bizarre, yet somehow appropriate. A bit like Blessed himself.

In February, War of the Roses will be getting a DLC pack that will feature the vocal talents of the sonorous Brian Blessed. No details yet on Blessed's role, but you can bet it will involve many decibels. The game will also be holding a free trial.

The Showdown Effect blasts into beta

Pre-orders for the cliché-filled 2.5D multiplayer action game will begin today. Everyone who pre-orders will get instant access to the beta.

The pre-order page isn't live yet, but it should be available at some point in the next few hours. Here's the website, and here's a trailer:

Pagans invade Crusader Kings II

Some long awaited news for the feudal feuding strategy, as playable pagans will finally be made available. The Old Gods expansion will focus on Vikings and Pagans, and add landless adventurer characters.

The chance to bother the Scandinavians as a Norse warrior has been at the top of the community's wishlist since the game's release. The Old Gods will also set Crusader Kings 2's starting date back to 867 AD.

Victoria II: The African campaign

Also to be expanded is colonial grand strategy title Victoria II. The Heart of Darkness add-on will focus on Africa, as you "compete with other colonial powers and experience international crises which require Great Power mediation if the world is to avoid war." It will also feature new naval combat.

Ship gets real

The conference also announced a brand new game, Leviathan Warships, complete with the excellent tagline: "Ship just got real."

It's a strategic action game, in which players build and customise their own fleet of warships to pit against three other players. The game will support multiplatform cross-play, with PC, Mac, iOS and Android versions planned.
PC Gamer
Cooler Master HAF XB

I’m a tinkerer, I can’t help it. I love digging around in the innards of my PC to see how it ticks, or, more often, why it isn’t ticking. Cooler Master’s chassis design bods are obviously tinkerers too, because they’ve just announced the new HAF XB case.

Now, it may look like I’m going off on one about yet another mini-ITX chassis when most of you are sporting full ATX machines. But wait! This too is an ATX case, able to house any standard-size motherboard, with all the componenty goodness that entails.

The HAF XB is a chassis trading on the successes of the previous entries in the HAF (High Air Flow) range of PC cases, but this one is an altogether different beast.

Sure, it’s got all the fans, vents, filters and airflow-design that we’ve come to expect from the HAF cases, but this is one squat offering that can be stripped down for some serious tinkering.

The side panels, with their heavy-duty carry handles, as well as the top mesh panel can all be quickly removed giving you immediate and unfettered access to your hardware. It then becomes one of the funkiest test bench around.

Especially when compared to mine...

The PCG test bench is a little more basic...

You may question the need, but if you’ve ever tried to fit a new cooler, or even just tried to jam in new RAM, then you’ll understand that having direct access to your motherboard and other components can only be a good thing.

It’s especially handy not having to remove your mobo or flip your tower chassis onto its side.

There's still a frame in the way when the HAF XB is in test bench mode

Also, if you’ve got a closed-loop liquid chiller attached to your CPU you can keep that plugged in as the reservoir sits behind the long vent on the front of the machine. On my testbench the Corsair H100 I usually have plugged in remains delicately balanced on the side of my desk...

That said, you will still have to work around the frame of the HAF XB, so it’s not quite as open a test bench as my old Intel bench, but it’s still an interesting development in the consumer market

It should be on virtual shelves of your favourite retailer very soon.
PC Gamer
Steam Big Picture mode

Gabe Newell has been talking about the dangers faced by Valve's Steam Box - and other living room based PCs. You'd think the greatest threat to couch-centric gaming would come from the existing dominance of Sony and Microsoft, but Newell disagrees. "The biggest challenge, I don't think is from the consoles," he says. "I think the biggest challenge is that Apple moves on the living room before the PC industry sort of gets its act together."

Newell was speaking at a lecture to students at the University of Texas' LBJ School of Public Affairs. On the challenge Apple poses, he states: "The threat right now is that Apple has gained a huge amount of market share, and has a relatively obvious pathway towards entering the living room with their platform."

"I think that there's a scenario where we see sort of a dumbed down living room platform emerging — I think Apple rolls the console guys really easily. The question is can we make enough progress in the PC space to establish ourselves there, and also figure out better ways of addressing mobile before Apple takes over the living room?"

But Newell notes that, if delivered well, the PC offers many attractive features for people looking for a lounge gaming solution. He cites increased hard-drive space, customisable form factor and the attractive prospect of using hardware a consumer may already own.

"I think a whole bunch of hardware companies are going to be releasing products in the next 12 months — you'll hear it referred to as Miracast, Shield from Nvidia, or lots of other people," Newell continued. "There are going to be a huge set of products that say, 'If you want something that's incredibly cheap, at a price point well below anything that consoles will be able to reach, you're going to take advantage of the PC that's running somewhere in your house.'"

"It's like one of those things where afterwards it will seem like it was very simple, when beforehand, everyone sort of denied that it was possible."

So why isn't Gabe stressing the existing consoles? He counters that, for Steam users, the benefits of carrying their existing content over is just too great.

"We're happy to do it if nobody else will do it, mainly because everybody else will pile on, and people will have a lot of choices, but they'll have those characteristics. They'll say, 'Well, I could buy a console, which assumes I'll re-buy all my content, have a completely different video system, and, oh, I have a completely different group of friends, apparently. Or I can just extend everything I love about the PC and the internet into the living room.'"

Thanks, Polygon.
PC Gamer
World of Warcraft

Bringing the sparkly Night Elves and drunken pandas of Blizzard's Warcraft universe to the silver screen has been a goal for both the developer and film studio partner Legendary Pictures since 2006, but finding a worthy director turned troublesome throughout the project's formation. Now, The Hollywood Reporter is saying that English filmmaker Duncan Jones has signed on to direct the live-action adaptation for a planned 2015 release.

Jones previously directed the sci-fi thriller Source Code and low-budget space drama Moon. He's also the only son of musician David Bowie, a factoid which sort of cosmically fits with choosing the proper individual to make a movie based on a franchise where dancing is practically its own language. A tweet from Jones corroborated the news this evening, along with another one from Blizzard CCO Rob Pardo.

So the gauntlet was thrown down ages ago: Can you make a proper MOVIE of a video game.Ive always said its possible.Got to DO it now! ;)— Duncan Jones (@ManMadeMoon) January 31, 2013

big news today on the World of Warcraft movie!hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/wa…— Rob Pardo (@Rob_Pardo) January 31, 2013

Not much else is known about Warcraft's secretive script or cast nor how many films are planned. Back in 2007, Blizzard Vice President of Creative Development Chris Metzen hinted the movie's setting takes place one year before the events of World of Warcraft and will likely feature appearances by heroes Cairne Bloodhoof, Thrall, and Bolvar Fordragon.

Fellow Azerothians: What do you think of Blizzard's choice for director?
PC Gamer
Medal of Honor

The critical response to Medal of Honor: Warfighter was pretty unforgiving, and so was its performance at retail. We didn't pull any punches, calling it "a boring, unoriginal, morally bankrupt, ethically dubious glorification of war, that's not worth your time or money." Nothing ambiguous about that! In short, you could probably call it "a bomb". As a result, EA has announced during its third quarter financial call that the Medal of Honor franchise has been taken "out of rotation".

The news comes straight from the mouth of EA COO Peter Moore, who believes the game was good, despite everything. "The game was solid, but the focus on combat authenticity did not resonate with consumers, he said. "Critics were polarised and gave the game scores which were frankly lower than deserved. This one is behind us now. We are taking Medal of Honor out of rotation and have to bring year-over-year continuity to our shooter offerings."

Labels president Frank Gibeau also put in his two cents, saying that "we're a hit-driven business where it's about what you can build in a certain period of time and really deliver for the marketplace, and frankly we missed on Medal of Honor. And we take responsibility for that."

But what of that other major EA property, Battlefield? Things are looking pretty rosy over there: Battlefield 3 Premium has accrued nearly 3 million subscribers since it launched in May. No surprises where EA's shooter focus will be going forward, then.
PC Gamer
Bioshock Infinite cover thumb

BioShock Infinite's box art reveal in December showed a scowling Booker DeWitt casually hefting his boomstick as the Stars and Stripes burned in the background. Uproar ensued over the artwork's machismo, and Creative Director Ken Levine defended himself with salad dressing analogies. Now that we've all had a chance to think that one over, Level Designer Shawn Elliott has shared his thoughts on the issue with OXM.

"I can imagine it’s a very difficult challenge to take and create a single image that says everything that needs to be said in the game," Elliott said. "I mean, God—imagine, you know, writing a book and trying to make the same kind of statement with a book cover, a movie poster or anything. Stanley Kubrick is one of my favorite directors and his movie posters are always phenomenal, but they don’t ever really tell me anything at all about the contents of the movie, so I imagine it’s a challenge."

“Box art in the '80s, for early games they tried literally to put everything on there," he went on. "So you’d have game box art where there’s a dinosaur on one side, there’s a spaceship on the other, and you really don’t understand what the hell is happening." It's true: We dare you to decipher just what is going on in this picture.

Though Irrational helped soothe concerns with a voting event for alternative cover designs, Elliott isn't worried dedicated BioShock fans will lose sight of Infinite's more complicated themes beyond provocative flag-burning shot.

"I wasn’t frustrated at all,” he stated, “because the interesting thing is that the game so far has largely been discussed by enthusiasts. Those people got to see our very first stab at the game at reveal, they got to see the E3 trailer, they got to see pretty much everything. Any time we put media out about the game, every screenshot or whatever, they have been aware of it. So I don’t really have to worry that they’re getting the wrong impression, because they’ve picked up on every impression that we’ve made.”