PC Gamer

Subset Games have revealed some more information about their upcoming free update for FTL. In a new blog post, the team run through some of the subsystems that the Advanced Edition will bring. The expansion - due early this year - will introduce the ability to clone crew members, hack enemy ships, and use mind control. This will basically make the game 30% more sci-fi - a figure that will rise dramatically should they announce a constantly malfunctioning holodeck room.

The cloning room is a medbay that, as the name suggests, provides clones of dead crew members at a cost to their skills. The downside, rather obviously, is that you don't have that medbay, although the clone room does slightly heal all crew with each jump.

"The goal of the Clone Bay was to really disrupt the core way you play the game," write Subset. "You ll be able to send crew off into dangerous situations without fear of death. Giant alien spiders will no longer be the terrifying, unstoppable force that you re used to, since the system can simply revive your crew after the event. But, if a stray missile takes out the system mid-clone, you ll find death can still be quite permanent."

For hacking, players can fire a drone that attaches to an enemy system. Each system will produce a different event, for instance hacked Teleporters will instantly recall boarding invaders - giving players another option against invaders.

Head over to the full post to learn about the self-explanatory mind control, and the backup battery - designed to provide a short burst of extra power at crucial moments.
PC Gamer
Civilization 5

By Chris Kinniburgh.

It was supposed to be a short break. I told myself Civilization V wouldn't suck me in when I began playing on the big screen. The game will be too tedious. The text will be too small. I was wrong.

I've spent the past couple days going through every game I thought would be interesting to play, and Civilization V on a couch, staring at a big screen TV is among most engaging, relaxing gaming experiences I've ever had with a game.

There were a few hurdles to jump before I began. I chose to decrease the resolution to 1360x768, giving me a 16:9 resolution that looks fine on the big screen while giving me slightly larger text than 1920x1080.

There are two comfortable configurations for the trackpads. First, you can set the left trackpad to control moving the map while the right trackpad controls the mouse. Alternatively, you may choose to use both trackpads to control the mouse (as shown in Valve s Steam Controller demonstration of Paper's Please).

My preferred setup has the left trackpad move the camera while the right controls the mouse. Left and right triggers correspond to right and left clicks respectively. The flipped mouse buttons feel intuitive while playing, though causes a bit of cognitive dissonance whenever a game directs me to click with the left mouse button and I use my right hand. I'll report back in a few months if I've completely lost my sense of direction.

Using the dual mouse method feels quick, but the trackpad allows me to move fast enough through the screen that I only need to lift my thumb once to get from the top left corner to the bottom right. While that 10th of a second speed increase is nice, it's outweighed by the speed gained through quick control over the map.

Moving through Civ V's menu screens is effortless. The Advisor Counsel, Overview Screens, Social Policies, and Era Map are all bound to keys, and there are a few left over to handle zooming in and out, and Next Turn. With these bound, I found myself more quickly navigating the Civilization user interface than I had in my previous couple hundred hours with a mouse and keyboard.

It's also surprisingly easy to move the cursor quickly with precision. While I don't expect to be effectively splitting my Marines in StarCraft any time soon, I can certainly play a turn-based game without frustration.

Sitting 17 feet away from a 50-inch television, the relatively small text is easily parsed. With responsive controls, a comfortable seat, and a large television, I found myself able to quickly enter the flow state that Civ V does so dangerously well.

Along with Civilization V, I've spent a bit of time trying out FTL, which was similarly simple and easy to enjoy. While you won't be able to bind every hotkey available in the game, the overall experience of boxing and moving your crew feels natural and quick. The ability to pause the game while playing also enables players to slowly familiarize themselves with the controls.

I also decided to try my hand at StarCraft II. After taking some time to think through any reasonable hotkey layout and determining there was none, I proceeded by playing with the controller's default keybindings when plugged into a PC: the mouse controlled by the right trackpad, map with the left trackpad, and mouse buttons mapped to the triggers. The games were difficult. I eventually mapped the attack-move command to the right bumper, and S and D to the left and right half of the trackpad. With these commands, I was slightly more able to macro while playing. The game was still tedious. I considered investing another hour into coming up with a way of mapping a couple control groups and re-working StarCraft s grid system to use fewer keys, but I thought better of it.

While the steam controller has the ability to control most games, the effort required to enjoy real time strategy games is great. First you have to spend time finding a comfortable mapping of controls. Next, the effort required to relearn a new control scheme, a process made more difficult by the lack of onscreen button prompts and reminders. Only then can you forget about the controller and just enjoy the game. Increasingly I'm finding myself more and more interested in playing games that quickly move over those first two steps. Platformers are easy to map to a controller, and have generally felt great while playing. Slow paced games like Civ V, FTL, or Hearthstone are relatively easy to map and their slow pace allows for the time needed to come to grips with a new control scheme.

Chris' Steam Controller tests continue, what would you like us to take a look at next? Let us know in the comments.
PC Gamer

Before running away for a few days to visit family and then de-stress in DayZ, Evan, Cory, and Tyler gathered to reflect on the biggest surprises of 2013. Watch the whole five-video series on the PC Gamer YouTube channel, and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more regular content, gameplay footage, and conversations.
PC Gamer
FTL Advanced

For all its infinite wonder, space is kind of a jerk. It would be bad enough if FTL was about navigating its various deadly pitfalls, but the game goes one further - pitting you against a selection of deadly alien races and their many weapons. Despite all this, and as good as the space roguelike was, I always felt that it could use more variety and options to support the need for repeat playthroughs. Step forward FTL: Advanced Edition, which will be made available as a free upgrade to the base game next year. Along with the already detailed ships, weapons and events, its developers have now announced another race of murderous foe. It looks like space is being upgraded to an ultrajerk.

The new race is The Lanius: metallic scavengers who absorb materials to survive. If that sounds like bad news, their other quirk is their relationship to oxygen. They don't require life support to survive, and, more than that, will actually drain the oxygen of any room they're in. Oh dear.

In the Lanius's announcement post, the game's makers also round up some of the other upgrades planned for the update:

"Lanius Ship: New player ship with its own achievements and alternate layout.
"Type C Ship Layouts: 8 of the original ships will have a third layout that capitalizes on the new content. With the Lanius ship, that makes for a total of ten new starting ship designs.
"Backup Battery Subsystem: Subsystem that can provide temporary reactor power in a pinch.
"New Drones: Expanded drone options includes: the Shield Drone that generates a green super shield for your ship, the Anti-Combat Drone that shoots down enemy combat drones, and the Ion Intruder that blasts into the enemy ship and randomly ionizes systems while stunning and distracting crew.
"Gameplay Refinements: Doors and Sensors can be manned to increase effectiveness; you can now rename crew mid-game; each race has a small variety of colors which allows for easier visual recognition;
"And more to come: We re still balancing and polishing the features that are being added. Be sure to keep an eye out for additional content announcements!"

Subset have also announced that players will be able to toggle the Advanced Edition's bigger changes, for those who want to re-experience the classic brutality of the current version's violent men, rocks and mantises.

PC Gamer
pc gamer xcom names

Names are important. Giving a name to a tiny, mindless unit in games such as FTL or XCOM: Enemy Unknown—and XCOM: Enemy Within, out today—gives them the importance necessary for permadeath to matter. I don't care if some anonymous squaddie bites it in an alien base mission, but I care a lot more about the well-being of Lt. Tyler "Maverick" Wilde.

Once you've used all of your friends' names, though, how to you find the right identity for your team? Do you use pet names, or celebrities, or characters from fantasy novels that clearly don't fit in a sci-fi setting? You probably freeze up, unable to remember the names of loved ones or childhood heroes. We know this condition all too well. This is Naming Paralysis, and while your insurance may not cover the treatment necessary, we can help.

Last year, we created The PC Gamer Character Name Repository, a shared Google Doc that we encouraged you to throw XCOM and FTL-friendly names into. Since then, you've added more than 300 names to the list, across different categories. As XCOM: Enemy Within launches today, we're putting the Name Repository back into your hands, so that together, we can all fight Naming Paralysis.
PC Gamer

FTL: Faster Than Light, last year’s breakout hit from two-person studio Subset Games, will receive a free update that adds new ship systems, weapons, events and environments. Called FTL: Advanced Edition, the update will be timed to coincide with an iPad edition of the game set for release in 2014.

The update will also include new music by composer Ben Prunty. Mind control systems will force enemies to sabotage their own ships, and new sectors and events have been written by FTL writer Tom Jubert and Wasteland 2 scribe Chris Avellone. New weapons and effects will be available to stun and freeze enemy crews, and overcharging weapons will unleash higher numbers of volleys. With a game as finely tuned as FTL was, it will be interesting watching the new content expand our horizons without being unbalanced.

The closest I’ve ever come to playing Firefly: The Game was while I was obsessed with FTL last year, so I’ve got a soft spot for the game. Plus, it's notable as one of the earliest Kickstarter success stories that went on to big acclaim. After more than a year since release, Subset could easily have added this content as paid DLC, so releasing it to fans for free is a classy move.
PC Gamer
GOG charity

You can never have too much of a good thing, and a good thing is donating to charity while getting new games. DRM-free gaming store GOG is holding a bundle sale where you can pick up three games for a $5 donation to the World Wildlife Fund, Gaming for Good, or Worldbuilders.

You must pick at least three games from a selection of 10, including FTL, Incredipede, and Botanicula. Each additional game will cost you roughly $2.30 more, or you can get all 10 games for a donation just under $17.

The charity of your choice will receive 100% of the proceeds, and all of the games are DRM-free. Go check out the donation page and chip in a bit for a great deal on games.
PC Gamer
The Curious Expedition

The Curious Expedition is a roguelike exploration game with an unbearably interesting hook: take your pith-helmeted hero into a violent, randomly generated jungle and meet new tribes, fight lizard men, find ancient ruins, and return a famous explorer. By taking the classic roguelike above-ground and into unknown continents, Curious Expedition might be able to plant a stake in a crowded genre in the tradition of FTL.

“Roguelikes are story generators, where the author is not the game developer, but where the story is written by the attempt of players to deal with the emergent behavior of simulated systems slowly spinning out of control,” says programmer Riad Djemili. Djemili and artist Johannes Kristmann are developing curious Expedition independently. “In our game these systems represent the delicate psyche of your party members and their interaction with an incomprehensible world.”

After equipping your expedition and making choices reminiscent of Oregon Trail (Did I pack enough water? Should we have hired extra soldiers? I brought way too many bullets), your group makes its way into the randomly generated wilderness toward a long-lost ruin like El Dorado or Atlantis. Though reaching the ruin is your ultimate goal, along the way you’ll have opportunities to meet and trade with natives and, as befitting explorers in the age of early colonialism, leave a trail of destruction behind you. Using a magic wand that summons a spring of fresh water in the desert is a no-brainer, for example, but Djemili warns that the spring might turn into a new river, flowing across the countryside and washing out villages until it empties into an ocean. If enough natives are displaced, the resulting tensions could bring a war crashing down on your fragile expedition.

Inspired by the stories of Darwin and Dr. Livingstone, the team has also added a dash of Steampunk and Lovecraftian horror. Nikola Tesla explores the wilderness armed with his Tesla gun, a powerful electrical weapon that can be recharged by harassing electric eels. Explorers must also carefully manage their sanity, as low sanity causes morale problems and “can lead to all kinds of mischief like paranoia, hallucinations, claustrophobia or spontaneous tentacle growth,” according to Kristmann.

Different heroic explorers have different skills. Darwin the naturalist catalogs wildlife while Huizinga the anthropologist befriends natives and learns their cultural rites. In addition to using different skills, some of the explorers are less equipped to undertake the journey at all. Playing as an unprepared city-dweller with no survival skills introduces an organic higher difficulty setting to the game.

The team’s plans for Curious Expedition are remarkably ambitious, and I hope they aren’t overpromising or setting themselves up for creeping feature lists. If it goes as planned, the premise of Sigmund Freud embarking on a quest to loot the treasures of El Dorado is so compelling that I can’t wait to see more about it. A playable alpha for Curious Expedition is planned for next summer, with the full release to follow late in 2014.
PC Gamer

The Humble organisers aren't afraid of side-projects, but now that they've had their fill of stand-up comics and corporate overlords, they're returning back to the very source of their humility. The ninth Humble Indie Bundle has just gone live, and, in a move that shouldn't surprise anyone, it stars Polytron's gorgeous platformer Fez. You'll also find FTL, Mark of the Ninja, Trine 2, Brutal Legend and Eets Munchies.

Here's the basic breakdown:

Trine 2: The Complete Story
Mark of the Ninja
Eets Munchies (beta)
Brütal Legend*

*You're right, pedantic indie fan, Brütal Legend on consoles was published by EA. But Double Fine self-published for the PC version, so let's just go with it.

In addition to that, beating the average gets you Fez and FTL: Faster Than Light. The bundle also straight up admits that more games will be added soon, presumably because they've pulled that trick so often that it's no longer a surprise. If you beat the average at any point, you're guaranteed to get the added games as soon as they're revealed.

Also: pay-what-you-want, charity, contribution sliders, Steam keys, soundtracks. Look, there have been nine of these at this point, so you know what to expect. Details, as always, are available straight from the Humble store.

(And, since you're probably wondering: Eets Munchies is a "reimagining" of Klei Entertainment's first game, Eets. Look upon its trailer, and remember that this is the same studio that went on to make Shank.)
PC Gamer

You can't play games all the time. Eventually your hands will degrade into coarse lumpy bone sacks, unable to perform rocket-jumps or micro small army men. At some point, you're going to need a rest. Luckily, in the downtime, you can still think about games, and listen to the music from games, and create plasticine dioramas of your favourite moments in games. I mean, I guess you could do something else entirely, but that wouldn't neatly lead into the news that the Game Music Bundle 5 is available, and contains some great indie soundtracks.

There's a two-tiered pricing system, with a purchase of $1 or more securing you these albums:

Monaco: What's Yours Is Mine by Austin Wintory
FTL: Faster Than Light by Ben Prunty
Fez by Disasterpeace
Gunpoint by John Robert Matz, Ryan Ike, Francisco Cerda
Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded by Austin Wintory
World of Goo by Kyle Gabler

Then, for $10 or more, you can grab a further 13 soundtracks:

FZ: Side F
FZ: Side Z
Monaco: The Gentleman's Private Collection
The Forge
Hero of Many
Marble Time
Super Panda Adventures
Anodyne Remix Album
Frog Fractions
Little Inferno
Me and My Dinosaur 2
Drox Operative

Frog Fractions soundtrack? Weird.

The standard bundle of six albums is almost completely excellent. The bigger bundle? Wildly more eclectic, but definitely worth a look, not least for the two excellent Fez remix albums.

The Game Music Bundle 5 will run until the 27th August.

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