Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2

The Warhammer 40,000 outer space RTS Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2 will be out on January 24, publisher Focus Home Interactive announced today, and will be preceded by two "pre-order betas," the first of which will begin in early December.

The December beta will run for a week, with all 12 factions, full multiplayer progression, and 1v1, 2v2, and versus-AI battles. Once that wraps up, developer Tindalos will tweak, tune, and balance things in preparation for the second beta, which will kick off in January and run until the launch date. Beta 2 will include all the updates made after the first beta, plus the campaign prologue and the first sectors of two campaigns. 

The first Battlefleet Gothic: Armada was actually quite good—difficult, and unbalanced in spots, but "the campaign’s story, script, voice acting and appearance is all spot-on," we said in our 80/100 review, and "the RPG elements are horribly compelling." Hopefully the sequel can build on that success.

The Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2 beta tests will be open to everyone who pre-purchases the game, which you can do on Steam for 10 percent off the regular price, or 25 percent if you own the first game. 

Rocket League®

RocketID, which will enable cross-platform friends and parties in Rocket League, was delayed beyond its planned September rollout so that developer Psyonix could "ensure that RocketID is operating flawlessly on all platforms before its release." A new date wasn't set at the time but the studio that more information would be released "when the time is right." 

The time became right today, and while we still don't have a release date, Psyonix has now confirmed that it won't be out until sometime next year.   

"While our goal was to release RocketID before the end of 2018, we’ve made the difficult decision to push its release into early 2019," the studio wrote in the Fall 2018 Roadmap update. "The good news is that with Sony's recent announcements regarding full cross-platform functionality, we can now make additional changes to prepare RocketID for ALL platforms should we receive permission to do so!" 

Sony has previously taken a hard line against allowing cross-platform play on the PlayStation 4 console, an attitude that we said in a September analysis "harms the games industry and players as a whole." Later that same month, however, Sony reversed course by allowing Fortnite cross-play between the PS4 and other platforms. No other games benefited from the turnaround, but it's not unreasonable to expect that if the Fortnite experiment doesn't end in flames—and there's no reason to think it will—then cross-platform support will eventually be broadened. 

"We’re working incredibly hard to ensure that it’s as intuitive, stable, and polished as possible, before releasing it to the world. We know the wait has been frustrating for many of you who are eager for this feature, and we thank you for your patience as we continue to work on cross-platform party support." 

Psyonix also said that Rocket League's launch in China is approaching, although there's still no solid date, confirmed that a new Rocket Pass and more "licensed premium DLC" will be released in December, and provided a quick rundown of Frost Fest 2018, which will also start mid-December and award players "Snowflakes" that can be redeemed for holiday-themed items including a "Golden Gift." Frosty Fest dates will be announced later in the fall. 

Bad North

The Discord Store went online this week, offering a curated collection of games including several limited-time exclusives that won't be available on other digital storefronts until later this year. Real-time strategy Bad North is one of those exclusives, but after purchasing it I learned that it includes DRM that currently prevents players from launching the game if they're not connected to the internet and logged into Discord.

Interestingly, not all games bought through Discord will necessarily have DRM: according to this developer portal and confirmed via email by a Discord representative, Discord's DRM is completely optional for developers (unlike Steam's DRM). A member of Raw Fury confirmed in their Discord channel that Bad North uses Discord's DRM, and I received confirmation that another singleplayer Discord exclusive, Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption, does as well.

I tested the DRM with my copy of Bad North. I exited Discord and tried launching Bad North from its root folder, but when I did, it launched Discord first, and only launched the game once Discord was connected. I closed both the game and Discord, disconnected my internet, and tried launching Bad North from its folder again. Discord launched, but since it couldn't connect to the internet, it simply spun on the connection screen and Bad North wouldn't launch at all.

There's good news, though: a representative for Discord told me via email that an offline mode for Discord games "is coming soon so players will be able to access their games even offline." 

In the wake of issues like loot boxes, gated content, and microtransactions, DRM isn't talked about as much as it used to be, but I still feel that you should be able to play singleplayer games wherever and whenever you want, even if you don't have an internet connection. That makes offline mode for Discord an important and much-needed feature. It would also be useful for players if a game's store page listed whether or not the developer has opted into Discord DRM.

Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden

Samuel refers to Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden as "Duck XCOM" in his August preview, which is not a terrible way of putting it. But if you'd like a rundown of what it's all about that's maybe not quite so economical, Funcom has dropped a new trailer showcasing exactly—mostly—what it's all about. 

The video demonstrates both real-time exploration and turn-based combat, which the developers are attempting to blend in a way that enables varied and efficient gameplay. 

"What we're trying to do a little bit different," co-director David Skarin says in the video, "is to take the initial part of a tactical combat game, where you're kind of setting up and planning your thing—we put that part into real-time to speed up [the game]. That gave us the opportunity to tell the story while you're the voyeur. As [former] Hitman developers, we know that this works really well, right—like when you're walking through, we can also tell a bit story while you're setting up your ambush." 

As for what it's all about, Skarin is a little less forthcoming. The game is based on the Mutant pencil-and-paper RPG series and will generally follow its "meta-plot," but it will be left to players to explore the world and discover what's actually going on—and how everything ended up in such a state.   

Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden comes out on December 4. Hit up mutantyearzero.com to find out more.

PLAYERUNKNOWN'S BATTLEGROUNDS

PUBG's latest PC-specific update—the 23rd since launch, for those counting—adds a new pistol, and tinkers with its blue zone's visuals. The former, named Skorpion, can be spied above. The latter stars in the images below. 

In a bid to make it "less difficult to see through", the blue zone's opacity has been adjusted. Likewise, PUBG Corp says it has "mitigated an issue where the blue zone’s opacity difference was too strong depending on the map and weather type."

Here's some before and after shots, across the game's different maps:

As for the Skorpion, it's available on all maps including the battle royale's training zone. It boasts both single fire and auto fire mode, uses 9mm ammo and can load up to 20 bullets—40, with an extended mag. On the attachments front, it supports a red dot sight, a suppressor, and a vertical foregrip, half grip, light grip and laser sight on its lower rail. 

Elsewhere, PUBG's PC 1.0 Update #23 adds an on-screen key guide function, which display dynamic key guides relevant to what's happening on-screen. Patch notes also now feature in lobbies, and a host of weapons, systems and performance bugs have been fixed. With the latter in mind, be sure to collect your freebies before this coming Tuesday

Full patch notes for PUBG's latest PC update can be read here

Grand Theft Auto V

Rockstar Games and its parent company Take-Two Interactive have successfully sought search and seizure orders from the Australian Federal Court in relation to alleged Grand Theft Auto 5 cheaters, Torrent Freak (via the BBC) reports. Two properties in Melbourne, Australia are said to have been entered, with five players said to have been involved with the now offline cheat software 'Infamous'.

As outlined by Kotaku Australia, 'Infamous', when active, cost around $40 USD and granted users access to a cheat menu used to generate infinite amounts of in-game cash, weapons, items, and health in Grand Theft Auto Online—and also let players teleport and instantly kill others in the same server. That can be seen in practice here.

Torrent Freak reports the Australian Federal Court has frozen the assets of the five people involved, who have not yet filed a defence. Named as Christopher Anderson, Cyrus Lesser, Sfinktah, Koroush Anderson and Koroush Jeddian, the five are prevented from creating or using game cheats, and are also currently prevented from withdrawing money from their frozen accounts—besides regular living expenses. 

Torrent Freak links to an overview of the various orders, and provides the following snapshot pertaining to the particulars of the case.

From here, it is thought Rockstar Games and Take-Two Interactive will seek copyright infringement-related damages.

PLAYERUNKNOWN'S BATTLEGROUNDS

Performance in PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds has been a long-standing priority for PUBG Corp, but yesterday's connectivity issues made the game unplayable for some. As a result, the developer is giving all PC players a free item and a fistful of Battle Points. 

PC players can claim the Black Beanie with Headphones item and 20,000 BP between now and 5pm PDT on Tuesday, October 23. 

Maintenance kicked off in the early hours of Wednesday, which was first expected to last three hours. Live servers were reinstated and subsequently uninstalled a number of times thereafter, when players faced connectivity and matchmaking issues alongside a "Network Lag Detected" error message.

And as compensation:

Remember to claim your free stuff before Tuesday. 

Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six® Siege

A new Rainbow Six Siege patch deploying sometime this week fixes two abnormal bugs that have vexed players since the release of Operation Grim Sky last month: a bug that would make a player completely invisible and an exploit on the Oregon map. What’s missing from the Y3S3 1.2 patch, however, are any balancing changes to operators.

The invisibility bug has slowly spread throughout the community in the past month, but has never reached the critical mass of other troublesome exploits, like the terrifying Blitz hipfire fiasco or Jager’s deployable shield helmet. The invisibility bug is often caused by accident, as I witnessed for myself in a match last week, but could be employed by the impure of heart.

The exploit on the Oregon map allows players to clip inside of a washing machine in the laundry room and enjoy a clean layer of invincibility from within. Exploiters can also shoot from inside the machine, which is the cherry on top of the whole mess. Nonetheless, Ubisoft says these issues will be fixed in the upcoming patch.

One other long-running exploit is finally being plugged by Ubi. Defenders will no longer be able to place a deployable shield perpendicular to a window to prevent outside attackers from vaulting in. “Trying to do so will result in deploying the shield forward or backward depending on the player position, in a way that will always leave enough room for vaulting or rappelling in,” reads the blog post. This fix is long overdue, considering there’s no balancing reason that justifies blocking access to a window.

The balancing changes currently being tested on the Technical Test Server, mostly concerning Clash and the weapon swap time between her shield and weapon, will not be making it into this patch. Ubi explained this decision in the post, citing back-end changes that needed to go live in this patch before the balancing changes were out of the testing phase. However, one bug fix listed in the patch does nerf Clash quite a bit. She can no longer “instantly go into ADS with her secondary after un–equipping her shield.” Many had assumed this was working as intended, but I’m glad to see it was a bug.

Ubi didn’t give any time frame for when the operator balance changes would be making it into the game, but anyone wanting to check them out can always download the Technical Test Server. For the full patch notes, see below.

GENERAL

Fixed – Deployable shields placed perpendicular to a window prevent vaulting.

Fixed – The operator is invisible when players load into game.

Fixed – Pistols have their reticle misaligned with the center of the screen while shooting.

Fixed – No toggle for Montagne and Pulse special abilities (now comes with toggle).

Fixed – Cannot access Bulletproof Camera by pressing the secondary gadget button while prone.

Fixed – While prone, using melee and standing up will switch the knife animation to shield.

Fixed – The Stun Grenade VFX can be cancelled under certain conditions.

Fixed – The squad leader remains alone in a match after one squad member leaves when the leader starts the match.

Fixed – Latency, micro stutters and graphical issues after playing multiple matches and maps in the same Custom game session.

Fixed – End of round timer does not stop when initiating the defuser plant at the last moment.

MAPS

BANKFixed – Valkyrie Black Eye can see through the ceiling when placed on in a spot on 2F Bank.

Fixed – Spot in 1F Tellers Office allows Valkyrie’s Black Eye to see the corridor and staircase.

Fixed – Spot in 1F Archives allows throwable gadgets to reach 2F Skylight Stairwell.

CLUBHOUSE

Fixed – Attacker drones can see through the ceiling underneath 1F Lobby and Bar.

CONSULATEFixed – Drone has no collision with the terrace edge from West Front Yard.

HEREFORD BASEFixed – Ranked Match Action phase lasts for 4 minutes on Hereford Base.

Fixed – Equipping a shield drops the fps by 10–20 on Hereford Base.

Fixed – Unstable FPS in Hereford Base.

Fixed – Maestro's gadget is vulnerable by breaking cosmetic destruction, Small pinstripe carpets across the map.

Fixed – Players can hide under a desk in 1F Prep Area.

Fixed – Defuser cannot be picked up after being dropped between the wall and the ammo box in 1F Garage.

Fixed – Defuser cannot be picked up after being dropped between the wooden planks located in EXT Barnyard.

Fixed – Thatcher's EMP grenade does not turn off the faux volumetric glow from the ceiling lights in EXT Barn.

Fixed – Small gap in 2F bathroom ceiling on Hereford base rework.

HOUSEFixed – Players can clip inside a wall using a deployable shield at 2F Workshop.

KAFEFixed – Players cannot pick up armor plates if the armor bag is deployed on a kettle in 3F Cigar Lounge.

OREGONFixed – Operators can get stuck inside a pile of boxes in 1F Office.

Fixed – Player can vault inside the washing machine on Oregon.

OPERATORS

BUCKFixed – If Buck mounts Tachanka's LMG Turret with the Skeleton Key on and leaves it, no interaction can be made with the turret afterwards.CLASHFixed – Clash can instantly go into ADS with her secondary after un–equipping her shield.Fixed – Clash is not able to use Observation Tools while her CCE shield is extended.ECHOFixed – Instead of disappearing when Echo’s Yokai hover drone is disabled, the "Jump" button appears greyed out.Fixed – If a disabled Yokai hover drone is picked up and re–deployed, it will still be in the disabled state when redeployed.FINKAFixed – Finka’s Spear308's damage falloff over distance is too high.MAVERICKFixed – Maverick’s blowtorch makes no sound on the first use on a wall.Fixed – Blowtorch SFX persists after Maverick is killed while using it.MIRAFixed – Black Mirror can be destroyed from the other side of a reinforced wall.Fixed – Mira can place her Mirror under another destroyed Black Mirror.MINOR BUG FIXESFixed – Clipping issue on Lion's uniforms.Fixed – Hibana's face appears washed off when equipped with the Yurei headgear.Fixed – Holding down both gadget buttons and releasing them in a certain order switches away from Pulse’s Cardiac Sensor.Fixed – The Chalkboard uniform for Hibana does not appear properly while in First Person.Fixed – Blitz's arm is delayed when leaning, causing clipping issues with shield.Fixed – The observation tool icon is missing from the select spawn location screen for attackers in preparation phase in Ranked.CHARMSFixed – A second "Gold Lion Chibi" will float next to the weapon it is attached to.Fixed – Equipping a country flag charm on the SPSMG9 will also apply on Clash’s CCE shield.Fixed – Chibi charms are not properly placed on Clash's CCE Shield in load out.Fixed – Multiple charms are clipping through Blitz's and Clash's shields.Fixed – Charms equipped on Clash's shield are not visible in 3rd person view.PICK AND BANFixed – When Joining in Progress during a ban reveal, players will always see the blue smoke.Fixed – Joining in Progress with previously selected operator does not update teammates blocked operators.Fixed – During the ready screen, the sizes of the operator's cards are not consistent.Fixed – The "Change floor" button is missing in the tactical map.Fixed – The bullet point that indicates the currently voted OP disappears after changing display mode. 

Crossing Souls

Loot Crate and Chrono.gg have announced the launch of a new subscription service called Loot Play that brings subscribers five "high quality, highly curated" indie games each month. Each "crate" will be delivered on the 17th of every month in the form of Steam codes, which means the games are yours to keep even if you cancel your subscription. 

"We want to help subscribers find new games that are curated with a focus on creative new voices, and we want to help these independent studios reach new audiences through our large network of Looters," Loot Crate VP of Product Marketing and Communications Erik Reynolds said. "Loot Play will be Loot Crate’s first digital subscription product and will open the door for the company to continue its growth through digital offerings, redefine collecting and explore the relationship fans have with content."   

A bit like the Humble Monthly Bundle, Loot Play will feature one monthly "anchor" game and four mystery games that will be revealed when the crate goes live. The first such game will be Crossing Souls, the 80s-themed adventure about a group of kids trying to save the world from a supernatural threat.   

Loot Play runs from $10 per month with a one-year subscription to $12 on a month-by-month basis. That might seem a little steep compared to the Humble Monthly, which features more (and more mainstream) games for $12 per month, but we can't really judge that until we know what the rest of the games in the initial bundle are—maybe they'll knock our socks off.   

One odd thing about Loot Play is that despite being an entirely digital service—the Steam codes are delivered via email—Loot Play is currently only available in the US. "Currently" suggests that international service is at least being looked at, but for now, those of us who live outside the country are out of luck. Either way, you can find out more at lootcrate.com

Skin Deep

Blendo Games, the indie studio nom de guerre of Brendon Chung that's given us games including Atom Zombie Smasher, Thirty Flights of Loving, Quadrilateral Cowboy, and Flotilla 2, is working on a new project called Skin Deep. It's an "immersive first person shooter," but perhaps not in the way you might expect: Highlights, as seen in the announcement trailer, including sneezing at inopportune times and picking broken glass out of your feet. 

The underlying fiction, according to the listing on Steam, is that you are "a walking talking insurance policy." When corporations want to their in-transit cargo safe, they freeze you and ship you along with it. If pirates board the ship, the silent alarm is triggered, you're automatically defrosted, and you go to work.   

"Stalk through a vast non-linear starship and sneak, subvert, and sabotage to survive in this stellar sandbox," the Steam page says. "You're outnumbered, outgunned, and have no shoes." 

Decent shoes seems like something your corporate masters should have thought about before they popped you into the freeze-dryer, but maybe there's some kind of Terminator-like tech limitation that's specific to footwear—or maybe Brendon Chung is just a big fan of Die Hard. There's not enough detail on either the Steam page or the Skin Deep page at blendogames.com to say for sure at this point, but a game about an under-dressed deep space hitman with an allergy problem? I don't really need to know more, that's just something I want to play. 

Skin Deep will be out in "the future."

...

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