PC Gamer
shootmania storm 2

Last week saw the kick off of our very own ShootMania tournament. We had nearly 50 teams sign up for the month-long double elimination competition, and a mixture of pro-players and talented amateurs alike did battle for a bit of the £800 prize pot.

With last week's losing teams heading down to the lower bracket things are only going to get more intense at the top, and from 7pm GMT tonight we'll be streaming the best matches live on our Twitch channel, with commentary courtesy of Ziggy “nVc” Orzeszek and David “Zaccubus” Treacy from Team Dignitas. You can hit the jump to see the feed below.

PC Gamer
Fallen Enchantress

You get the impression that Stardock are trying to bury the memory of much maligned 4X strategy Elemental: War of Magic - possibly while whistling a nonchalant tune, hoping we'll not notice the fresh patch of disturbed earth and the shovel in their hand. First there was Elemental: Fallen Enchantress - the standalone expansion that went a long way to fixing the ill will caused by its predecessor. Now we have the second expandalone, Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes, conveniently dropping that troubled prefix altogether for its May 22nd release.

Some light historical revisionism then, but it's hard to mind when there are so many extras being added to the game. Legendary Heroes brings new monsters, champions and maps, along with an expanded role for heroes. It's free to owners of the original Elemental, $19.99 for those who have Fallen Enchantress, and $39.99/£24.99 for everyone else.

You can find out more on the expansion's features in our previous announcement post.
PC Gamer
Company of Heroes

After nearly seven years of being bombed and battered, Company of Heroes' online infrastructure is in need of a break. Servers located at the game's old hosting company - the now Ubisoft-owned Quazal - are due to be shut down on May 7th. Is this the end of the war? Not quite. Replacement Steamworks servers have already been parachuted in, giving fans the chance to migrate over before the original host's honourable discharge.

If you own the game on Steam, you'll already have the new version, the aptly titled "Company of Heroes (New Steam Version)", in your Library. It's a single launch option - so any expansions have been rolled into the DLC tab of the listing's properties menu.

Owners of other versions will need to transfer their games, by adding their CD Keys into the "Activate a Product on Steam" option.

It's a bit of an odd situation. Some players may feel justifiably aggrieved by this service switch. But while the sudden requirement of the Steam client might not be universally welcomed, it's surely a preferable option to a complete shutdown of the old servers.

Plus, it could be worse - the original Dawn of War 2 is still tied to Games for Windows Live.

Thanks, Strategy Informer.
PC Gamer
Blacklist - Fisher

Splinter Cell: Conviction may have starred a more action-heavy version of Sam Fisher than was seen in his Third Echelon days, but - even with its lighter, more fluid stealth systems - Ubisoft's Jade Raymond thinks its complexity has still had an effect on the series' appeal. Speaking to Eurogamer, the Ubisoft Toronto managing director said the games' comparative difficulty has made them less popular to modern audiences.

"One of the things that held it back is despite all of the changes that have happened over the years, it's still one of the more complex and difficult games to play," Raymond said. "Even though we do have core fans who are like, 'Oh, I want to have more of this experience,' when you play any other game that has stealth elements, they're all a lot more forgiving than Splinter Cell.

"I guess Splinter Cell stayed with the most pure approach to that stealth experience."

Raymond points to the "planning" phase of the game - the moment before entering a room where you're forced to assess the situation. "You've got to spend some time thinking, right, so where are the guys positioned? How will I get through here? Where's cover? How do I hide? Okay, I'm going to shoot out those lights. 'This is my strategy' is an important first phase.

"By default there aren't many games where that's the phase. Most games you can walk in and you start shooting right away, or you just walk in and you improvise as you go along."

Despite this, Raymond isn't advocating any further simplification with the upcoming Blacklist. Instead, Ubisoft Toronto are focusing on choice. "In this game we do have a broader range of play styles possible than ever before," she said.

"We brought back the purest hardcore version, which is, you want to ghost through the level and get through it without killing a single person. Every single thing you want to do you can do in a non-lethal way. That requires the most planning and being the most strategic."

For further challenge, you can even ghost through levels in Perfectionist mode - which removes features like Mark and Execute. "That's for those who want to plan it out and feel really smart, and, 'I'm going to use the Sticky Cam with the Sleeping Gas and them I'm going to whistle and the guy's going to come,' and do the full set-up."

Jon Blyth came away from his hands-on time with Blacklist's Perfectionist mode convinced of it's Splinter Cell heritage, saying: "This isn't a dumbing down of Splinter Cell – it’s taking the slick style of Conviction and bringing it back into official ghost ops." You can read his full preview here.

For more from Raymond, check out Eurogamer's full interview.
PC Gamer
Frozen Endzone

In an update to tactical turn-based sports game Frozen Endzone's Greenlight page, Mode 7's Paul Taylor reveals some of the features being added to the game. Currently, the team are working on new multiplayer modes, variable pitch and score zone sizes, team customisation and a second stadium. They're also working on narrative scenarios. Here's hoping we'll be involved in intense negotiations with our robo-squads over the quality of their half-time cups of oil.

"One of the problems I have with a lot of sports or sports-style games is that they can be a bit dry and stats-based," Taylor writes. "By having some more characterisation and a greater feeling of stuff happening in the world, I think we can create a more interesting atmosphere."

Currently he's planning a "Coach's office" - comparable to the map screen of Frozen Synapse - in which players could talk to other coaches and receive emails from characters.

As for the alternate game mode, while it's being kept secret for now, Taylor says, "I think a lot of you will like it - and we discussed some of the possibilities we want to include for custom games with different rule-sets today."

For more on Frozen Endzone, check out out huge announcement interview. The game's starting whistle is due to blow in 2014.
PC Gamer

Nowhere is going to take some explaining. Unfortunately, it's the kind of game that might seem more confusing after someone has described it to you, but that's a risk I'm going to have to take. In the developers' own words, "Nowhere is a procedural single player, open world, sandbox game; You incarnate as a floating sentient orb, a machine-being in a post-singularity society of vaguely self-conscious mechanical entities; for lack of a better word, I call them drones." Still with me? Good. "You live the full life of that one drone in this closed ecosystem, which is represented as a giant otherworldly colony suspended in space. When you die, you reincarnate, and you live the next life, until all lives are played out. Occasionally you meet a former self of yours, younger and older. You go back and forth in time and as every member of that society, you shape what you are as a collective. As the game progresses, you and the system become one." It also has nice music. More after the break.

Here are a couple of videos to keep your eyes from glassing over, and to prove that inspiring collection of words is referring to something real:

As you can hear: awesome music. As you can see: what the hell? This beautiful, vaguely menacing sandbox is brought to you by married development team Duangle, who consider their game "a native title for the Oculus Rift (although we are still waiting for our SDK)". The full game is some way off yet (probably 2015), but alphafunders are being given access to a "regularly updated" development build - you can pre-order Nowhere for €14.95.

I leave you with another video, and with another amazing block of text from designer and programmer Leonard Ritter, a man with an almost Molyneuxsian turn of phrase.

"Nowhere has no fixed plot line, but provides emergent goals. The player creates his own narrative. The concept is highly AI dependent. It is a 'civic' sandbox game. You can go with the flow of society, obstruct it, destroy it or mold it into something else. You are going to experience the system from both sides: conservative and progressive, rich and poor, creator and inhabitant. You will pass laws and be forced to live under them. You will instigate against yourself, become a victim of your own indifference, or enjoy the rule of your state-building foresight. The game can reach one of six extreme outcomes, of which each one is honored as a unique ending to your karmic ascension."

It also looks a bit like a Kuedo music video, as you can see from the following alpha footage.

(Thanks, RPS.)

PC Gamer
StarCraft 2 wcs

With the qualifiers now finished, the 32 players competing in the first season of the European leg of Starcraft 2's World Championship Series have been announced. The pros have been split into eight groups, with each group battling on a different night over the next three weeks. The first group - featuring SaSe, ForGG, sLivko and Bunny - kick things off tonight, from 6pm CEST/5pm BST.

Each group will fight five best-of-three matches, using the following format:

Player #1 vs. Player #4
Player #2 vs. Player #3
Winners of these matches will then face each other
The losers of the initial matches face each other
The loser of the 3rd match and the winner of the 4th match will face each other

The two players to win two games overall will move forward to the 16-player second stage, with the losers dropping to the Challenger League.

Play will continue tomorrow, with the Group B battles, then resume next week with Groups C-E fighting from Tuesday to Thursday. See the full timetable and player list below:

You can watch the WCS, for free, at the official WCS Europe stream. Do any of the upcoming match-ups take your fancy?
PC Gamer
Saints Row 4 Jet

It's finally happened: I've become desensitised to Saints Row's brand of ultra-wackiness. That Volition are offering a free hyper-patriotic Commander in Chief Edition upgrade of Saints Row 4 to pre-orderers is no longer a surprise. The included eagle-shaped jet? Barely a raised eyebrow. The Stars & Stripes skinned 5-in-1 combi-gun? I'd be amazed if it wasn't included.

Of course the Screaming Eagle jet comes equipped with rockets in its talons and a "Sonic Scream" screech attack. And obviously the "'Merica" gun combines flamethrowers, rocket launchers, and an "ultra-powerful" dubstep gun. Sure, it all sounds massively imbalanced, but - and it's worth repeating - this is Saints Row. Since when has balance been a concern?

So far, these pre-order extras are only announced for North American retail - although I imagine they'll also roll into the Steam and international releases. After all, as Britons around the country awkwardly ignore the fact that it's Saint George's Day, the idea of our own over-the-top, celebratory in-game gubbins really would be a surprise.

Saints Row 4 is out August 23rd

PC Gamer

At this very moment, I'm sat at the temporarily abandoned desk of Gunpoint creator/on-sabbatical PC Gamer section editor Tom Francis. Let's root around through his no-doubt highly encrypted folders to see if we can find any new info about his game. Hmm, here's one called "TOP SECRET GUNPOINT SECRETS - DO NOT OPEN". I wonder what happens if we open it? Ooh, two files: one a video marked "New Gadgets", the other a text file titled, "Gunpoint is coming to Steam". Inside it's just pages of exclamation marks.

Dammit! Clearly he's detected my infiltration, having already publicly released this info - er, yesterday.

The trailer runs through a few of the gadgets you'll be able to play with, including the Hushcracker, Prankspasm and gun re-purposing Longshot. Tom also announces that the game will be available through Steam, with achievements being integrated thanks to the help of Stealth Bastard creator Jonathan Biddle.

What hasn't been revealed is the release date. To be alerted of that, you can sign up to a mailing list on the Gunpoint site.
PC Gamer
The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot

We already offered our early impressions of The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot earlier this month, but now you have the opportunity to see the game in action thanks to a new gameplay trailer. The Diablo / Dungeon Master hybrid doesn't have a release date as yet, but the free-to-play title is currently in closed Alpha, so it's probably not far off.

The video demonstrates character customisation, castle building and combat, as well as the jolly, self-referential humour that will hopefully set Might Quest apart from some of its very obvious influences. Of course, one of the game's selling points are the user generated dungeons, which you can read more about in this preview.