PC Gamer
Dota 2
It's barely news, I know: Valve just sent out a sneaky 7 o'clock press release formally declaring Dota 2 free to play. Like League of Legends and nearly every other MOBA known to man, it'll supported by microtransactions.

More noteworthy is the confirmation that Dota 2 will utilize Steam Workshop, and that, like TF2, the Dota Store will be putting player-made items on sale. A few are on sale now, actually—the "Early Access Bundle." "The opening of the Dota Store is a big part of our final push to launch," said IceFrog, design lead on Dota 2.

Dota 2 will release on PC later this year, Valve says. Expect a big coming-out party for the game during The International at PAX Prime.
PC Gamer
dota 2 free
Unusually close to our bedtime, Valve has launched Dota 2's microtransaction shop as it formally declares the game free to play. Click here to read the fancy Dota 2 Store announcement page.

We expected Dota 2 to be a free-to-play game—that's barely news. But more noteworthy is the confirmation that all of the game's playable heroes will be free with no limitations, that Dota 2 will utilize Steam Workshop, and that, like TF2, the Dota Store will be putting player-made items on sale. 67 items are in Dota 2's section of the Steam Workshop now, and almost 200 are in the Dota Store.

Dota 2 will release on PC later this year, Valve says. Expect a big coming-out party for the game during The International at PAX Prime.
PC Gamer

Looks like our prediction last week about Rift getting a new expansion was spot on.

"I have unlocked the secrets of The Infinity Gate." These are exactly the sort of words you don't want to hear from one of Rift's anarchic greater dragons. This one is Crucia, grand foe of the high elves of Telara, lord of the Plane of Air and commander of the Storm Legion, who look as though they're about ready to mount a full scale assault on the citizens of Telara in Rift's next big update. The colossal stone infinity gate is warming up, ready to punch holes through reality and deliver the hordes of the plane of Air right into the laps of Ascended players. It should be a mighty good fight.
PC Gamer
Humble Bundle 5 thumb
Quick question, what's the biggest name game you've ever seen in a Humble Bundle? Whatever you answered, you are now wrong, because the Humble Indie Bundle 5 dwarfs all those that came before it. Previous bundles have usually included a single household name like Braid, World of Goo or Super Meat Boy, backed up by several other smaller (but nonetheless excellent) indie efforts. Humble Bundle 5 on the other hand delivers indie darlings LIMBO and Bastion, awesome survival horror Amnesia: The Dark Descent, recent hit Sword & Sworcery and Psychonauts. Yes that's Tim Schafer's Psychonauts. You may now gasp in excitement.

Considering Psychonauts was published by THQ and cost $13 million to make, it might just be the least 'indie' game ever to be included in the Humble Bundle, but that doesn't make the deal any less fantastic. Any one of these games could headline a bundle by itself, the combination of all five of them together might just represent the best deal in gaming. You can buy the bundle at the Humble Indie Bundle website. You'll have to beat the average price to obtain Bastion, but believe me, it's well worth it.

Here's a trailer for the bundle, including a personal message from Tim Schafer himself.

If you want to know more about the bundled games you can check out our Limbo review, our Bastion review or our Amnesia review.
PC Gamer

Tom went to visit Zenimax Online Studios recently to take an early look at The Elder Scrolls Online. He sat down with game director Matt Firor to talk about the challenges of bringing The Elder Scrolls into an MMO setting, with reference to character building, skills and more. To hear more from the designers of The Elder Scrolls Online, check out our 20 minute video interview with Maria Aliprando, Nick Konkle and Brian Wheeler. Check out our post on everything you need to know about The Elder Scrolls Online for more details.
PC Gamer
dual core
Did you read about the details of Intel's Ivy Bridge launch a few weeks ago and wonder what happened to the dual core and ultra mobile chips that have proved so popular in Sandy Bridge variants? Don't worry, they haven't been retired – just held back until today, that's all.

There are 14 new processors launched today, nine of which are duallies. They join the quad core Core i5 3xxx and Core i7 3xxx CPUs we've already seen and reviewed in PCG 241, and with them promises of ultra cheap or ultra thin gaming systems, and touch screen Ultrabooks too.

If you're holding out for the dual core Core i3 3xxx, however, you'll be sadly disappointed. Those aren't arriving until later this year, which means we'll probably continue to favour AMD's Fusion processors as budget gaming buys come review time.

There's a full list over at Engadget if you want to see them all, but the CPUs range from the lowly desktop Core i5 2470T to the ultra low voltage Core i7 3667U, which is an Ultrabook destined chip that draws just 17W and features Intel's best graphics core to date, the HD Graphics 4000. Which is still a bit rubbish, mind.

As an aside, Intel's 'Core' branding made a lot of sense when it launched, since it suggested a clear hierarchy of Core i7>Core i5>Core i3 based on numbers of cores, Hyperthreading and graphics processor. The while nomenclature has collapsed in on itself of late, however, and the difference between a Core i5 3427U (two cores, Hyperthreading) and a Core i7 3667U (two cores, Hyperthreading) comes down to 200MHz and a megabyte of cache memory.

If you can spot the difference those stats make in any practical benchmark relevant to an ultrabook, you fully deserve the $140 difference in price between the two.

The good news is that Intel reckons it'll be getting some very cheap Ultrabooks out later this year as a result, and told The Verge that it hopes to see some which cost under $700. A quick scout of the web suggests that Acer's already close to that mark, even with last year's tech.

We haven't had one of the new chips in to review yet, but looking at Notebookcheck's early figures it looks like the story is (unsurprisingly) the same as the quad core announcement a month ago. That's a small speed increase which isn't worth switching out a good Sandy Bridge chip for, but nice if you're upgrading any way.
PC Gamer

Starforge is a game about gathering resources, building defences, fighting aliens and punting yourself miles and miles using giant spinning hammers. It's a free to play game built by CodeHatch, a team of two men called Steve and Will. They've constructed an engine that will let you base jump from outer space to the surface of the planet below, where you can start moulding the terrain to build new structures. There'a s bit of Minecraft in there, a bit of Terraria, a splash of Tribes and a lot of comedy physics.

The video above, spotted on Reddit, was released alongside the first playable version of Starforge. The demo has proved so popular that CodeHatch can't mirror the files on their site, but the build is still available through the official Torrent feed. It's aimed at high-end PCs only, for now, and there a lot of bugs and absent features, but the developers say that there are a lot more fixes to come.

"All of the features promised in the video are in mid development and will appear in a future build very soon," they write under the YouTube video. "At the end of the day though we are just two people and only have 24 hours in a day like anyone else. We had no idea our project would receive this much attention and we hope that we timed this right. We will try our very hardest over the coming months and years to make this project the exact way we envisioned it to be."

It's remarkably ambitious, but the terrain manipulation already looks fantastic and outer space is gorgeous. This thing has "potential" scrawled all over it.
PC Gamer
Crusader Kings 2 Sword of Islam thumb
Crusader Kings 2 is getting a new expansion, it's called Sword of Islam, and it's tailor made for those of you who were always secretly rooting for Saladin. As you might have guessed from the title, the expansion offers an alternative to the Christian Crusaders, giving you the option to instead play as a Muslim lord, defending the holy land from invaders. Switching sides isn't a simple matter, however, as Muslim culture doesn't abide by the same rules as Christendom. Laws, titles, traits and marriages will all play out differently among the Islamic nations.

The expansion will also add a big new chunk of the map, expanding it as far as Mali-Songhay, while expanding and improving combat and claims. Sword of Islam is due out in June, along with the latest Crusader Kings patch, and it'll set you back $9.99. Check inside for the announcement trailer.

PC Gamer

It's the first trailer for Skyirm's first expansion, Dawnguard. Vampires. Holy crap. Castles, crossbows, severe anti-sun sentiment. A lot of these things were picked out when fans datamined some recent patch notes, but here they are in motion. Exciting stuff.
PC Gamer
Dark Souls PC Steam
The delight of learning that the challenging sinister RPG, Dark Souls would be coming to PC was tempered by the presence of Games for Windows Live, which still lingers, like that guy at the end of a long house party that just won't leave. Wow, is that the time already, Games for Windows Live? It's been so nice to see you again and all but I have some pressing not-being-around-you matters to attend to. Oh, you want a coffee? Well..

The Dark Souls community has discovered a good, direct solution to this problem. A petition, with 22,736 signatures. Harsh, but effective. It certainly seems to have done the trick. Eurogamer report that Dark Souls will use Steamworks, though retail versions will still be tied to GfWL.

Ah! That'll be your taxi, Games for Windows Live. I'm sure we'll meet again soon, next year, maybe. Or whenever. No, don't worry, I'll call you. Goodbye now.

Dark Souls will arrive on PC on August 24. It'll have extra bosses, loot and a PvP mode. Check out these Dark Souls PC screenshots for an idea of how the port is shaping up.

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