PC Gamer
Guild Wars 2 Guardian
The big news this week was a surplus of information on Crysis 3 - but it's stealth action FPS Dishonored that creeped in and impressed us with its old-school open-ended sensibilities. Elsewhere, our hopes for STALKER 2 were finally and tragically squashed, but new tidbits of information just might have slipped out about Half-Life 2: Episode 3.

We also took a closer look at Sniper Elite: V2, Guild Wars 2, Microsoft Flight, and TERA. Read on for a full list of this week's biggest stories.

Gabe Newell maybe talked a bit about Half-Life 2: Episode 3, perhaps, by talking about Ricochet 2 instead.
Duncan Geere reviewed 1000 Amps.
Evan took a look at Crysis 3, and interviewed Crytek's senior creative director.
Tom Francis took Crytek to task over the Crysis series' unpopular extraterrestrials.
Henry Winchester previewed Sniper Elite V2, while Tyler took his best shot at the demo.
Steve Hogarty reviewed Microsoft Flight.
Josh played the first few levels with Guild Wars 2's Asura race, and Chris and Graham talked their way through 20 minutes of World vs. World PvP. You can also join our community in the beta weekend.
Josh went to war in TERA.
Chris got a good look at Dishonored, and interviewed designers Harvey Smith (Deus Ex) and Raf Colantonio (Dark Messiah).
STALKER 2's cancellation was finally confirmed, but hope is on the horizon.

If you had to talk about Half-Life 2: Episode 3 without actually talking about Half-Life 2: Episode 3, how would you talk about it? The most tortured analogy doesn't win a prize.
PC Gamer

Massively have pointed us to an interesting competition over in Champions Online. Cryptic are asking players to design them a new Supervillain, which will then be used as a ten-man boss in one of Champions' upcoming Alert missions.

Entering is simple process, you design your villain in the Champions costume creator, give him a power set and minion type and write a 250 word backstory. Maybe your character is neon pink assassin with the ability to read minds and breathe fire, or an impeccably suited brawler who alternates between throwing cars and flying on his home made rocket boots. These are just two of the patented ideas you'll have to defeat me in a game of Quake 3 to be legally able to use.

If you think you have what it takes to create the next Joker, Lex Luthor or Lady Stilt Man, just go over to the Champions Online forum and show them your idea. The winner gets to be a 10 man boss fight, but four runners up will also appear as supporting characters in future alerts. But if you're going to enter, please tell us in the thread, we'd love to see what you've come up with.
PC Gamer
Guild Wars 2 Red Team
The first Guild Wars 2 beta weekend event for pre-purchase players begins tonight at 8pm GMT (12pm PDT). European players are cordially invited to join the PC Gamer community in exploring the game for the first time.

The leader of our Guild Wars community, Archernick, has rallied the troops on the Desolation EU server. He's started a thread on the PC Gamer forum where you can find out more and share your contact details. There's also a thread on downloading the GW2 client if you've already got access.

The weekend will give players a chance to try out the human, norn and charr starting areas. Having played all three, I'd recommend the charr: the humans have the most impressive opening sequence, but Guild Wars 2's cat people get a tech-fantasy metropolis built around an enormous iron ball, affectionately nicknamed the 'Death Charr' by the developers. Their leader is voiced by Steve Blum, better known for playing Grunt in Mass Effect. They're basically adorable furry krogan. Who fight ghosts.

You'll also get to give Guild Wars 2's World vs. World PvP a try - check out our recent video for a first-hand look, or last month's preview for more information.
PC Gamer
The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim - Woolly mammoths
Yesterday, Bethesda PR guru Pete Hines teased an imminent Skyrim DLC reveal. That could come as early as next week but, as CVG point out, fans have already been doing some investigating. Players on the Skyrim forums have pulled out a series of strings hidden within a recent Skyrim patch that makes allusions to a crossbow, a snow elf prince and new vampire feeding animations.

These files were apparently part of a subfolder labelled "DLC01," which does rather suggest that these will be part of the first Skyrim update, though Bethesda have yet to announce their plans. I do quite like the idea of a crossbow, what do you reckon?
PC Gamer
In a fascinating episode of the Irrational Interview podcast, creative director Ken Levine discusses the art of games writing with Uncharted writer Amy Hennig. They talk about the how the technical requirements of the development process enforces a haphazard approach to scripting. Levine uses Bioshock's most famous moment as an example.

"I'll write a scene like the Andrew Ryan scene in Bioshock 1 before I've written most of the game, and because of the animation requirements, because it's a big animated scene we had to get started on that very early," he says. "I really don't exactly know how the hell I'm going to get to that."

"I don't know exactly how I'm going after that scene, but that scene is going to be set in stone to a degree, because of the animation requirements of it. You have to trust yourself, too, to say "this is okay, I'm going to figure this out!""

Hennig explains that key scenes are decided very early on to give the rest of the team something to develop, but the overall arc surrounding those points tends be altered as development continues. "I think people also underestimate how flexible stories are, in terms of problem solving," says Levine in response. "I think people think that stories are a lot more rigid than they actually are."

"It's the easiest thing to change, to some degree. You can be much more adaptive. You have a scene that's already written and recorded and animated and then something needs to change. The easiest thing to change is something in the story."

Levine and Hennig also reflect on the the constrained nature of game writing. While games are four or more times the size of a film, the time allowed to deliver plot points and move the story forwards is much more limited. "As game writers we have to work in an extremely, extremely compressed format," says Levine

Levine explains that the Bioshock team decided to "use the visual space" more when delivering plot points, as demonstrated in the Andrew Ryan scene and the ghostly interludes that appear as you explore Rapture in Bioshock. "You can't take for granted how patient your audience is going to be with your storytelling," he says.

It doesn't sound easy. Early on, Hennig describes games writing as "a massive and communal act of faith." Ken Levine admits that putting a game script together is a difficult and uncertain task. "I find it to be a miserable, depressing process," he says. "But afterwards it's the best thing ever."

You can download the 50 minute podcast from the Irrational site.
PC Gamer

While I was at ArenaNet I had the chance to play a decent amount of Guild Wars 2's World vs. World PvP mode. In this video, Graham and I talk you through two fortress assaults. In one, my team is on the offensive. In the other, we're mounting a heroic attempt to break an enemy siege. We discuss how the mode differs from regular PvP, the minute-to-minute strategy of defending your territory, and the inner lives of Guild Wars 2's implacable transport goat things.

For more on World vs World PvP, check out our preview. Are you taking part in the Guild Wars 2 beta weekend, readers? If so, will you be giving World vs. World a try?
PC Gamer
In a move that's sure to decimate the productivity of a million offices worldwide, Google have programmed a mini-game into their search engine. Head over to Google and type in the words "zerg rush" to find out what happens. I won't spoil it for you, but it involves a lot of clicking, and will award you a high score at the end that you can share with friends and colleagues on Google+. Let the procrastinating begin!
PC Gamer

Gamer daddies and mommas have had a longtime ally in KingsIsle, the dev studio behind Wizard101, which has been one of the most entertaining kid-friendly MMOs out there for several years. Just yesterday the studio announced their next offering, Pirate101, which trades in the card-game combat of Wizards for turn-based strategy and throws the whole thing in a pirate world where galleons fly among the stars.

The official website already has a ton of information about the game: it uses the same graphics engine as Wizards and is still aimed at capturing a young audience while keeping their adult counterparts entertained. There's also a break-down of the parental controls available (there are a lot of 'em) and even step-by-step suggestions for throwing a Pirate101-themed birthday party. I'd say KingsIsle might be getting a little ahead of themselves with that, but I've seen first-hand the fanaticism of young guys and girls obsessed with Wizard101 and know that Pirate101-themed birthday parties will absolutely be demanded in the near future.

If you don't have any young rapscallions in your life that you game with, Pirate101 is probably not the game for you. Wizard101 does a tremendous job of throwing in pop culture references to keep adults amused, and its deceptively simple card-based combat offers some deep avenues for strategy that prevents adults from getting bored too quickly. Hopefully KingsIsle will be able to straddle that same balance of accessibility and deep stategy in Pirate101. The shift to turn-based strategy combat gives me hope: it could offer some really fun gameplay for adults, if done properly.

If you're a parent, grandparent, or sibling that likes to play games with a young family member, keep an eye on this game and consider signing up for the closed beta. We'll have a full hands-on preview in the magazine and on the website soon.
PC Gamer
Valve announced today that Portal 2's in-game puzzle maker will be called "Perpetual Testing Initiative," and will be available free on May 8 for PC and Mac. The DLC will be capable of publishing puzzles directly to Steam Workshop, where users can browse, install, and vote on the community's creations.

Plans for the puzzle creator were announced last year, and we confirmed that it was in beta at GDC earlier this year. According to Chet Faliszek, Left 4 Dead 2 is next in line for the Steam Workshop treatment.

“You’ll see the Steam Workshop coming from there, then to Left 4 Dead and then we’re going to keep using it,” said Faliszek. “It’s not just for the modders, it’s for the players. It’s a super easy way to consume the creations of other people that are just really hard to do otherwise.”

Any plans to flex your physics muscles by making and playing custom Portal 2 puzzles next month?
PC Gamer
"Go big or go home" is a motto that's doomed many a board game night for me. I want the big prize or nothing at all—it is my curse. But those more eager for mid-tier rewards are going to be excited about League of Legends new referral program, which removes the top-tier real-life rewards of the original program, but makes it significantly to get the in-game perks. Transitioning to the new referral program is optional, but permanent, so take a careful look at what each offers before you decide.

The original Refer-A-Friend program
If you have an existing account, this is what you're currently enrolled in. You can see your progress within this system in the account management page. Each time someone you refer hit level 5, you earn a four-win IP boost, and receive bonus rewards at the following milestones.

1: Forum Recruiter badge
10: Tier 3 champion (worth 975 Riot Points)
25: Forum title “Recruiter”
50: Grey Warwick skin
100: The League of Legends Digital Collector’s Pack
150: Forum title “Senior Recruiter”
200: 10,000 Riot Points
250: Forum title “Master Recruiter”
350: Medieval Twitch skin (extremely rare before the new referral program)
500: Get your name added to the “Wall of Fame” in the Riot Office
1,000: A content element will be named after your summoner
5,000: All current and future content permanently unlocked
10,000: An all expenses-paid trip to visit Riot Games and develop a champion with the design team


The new Refer-A-Friend 2.0 program
This is the new program that you can join at any time--even if you choose to stay in the old program for awhile longer. But once you join, you're in it for life. If you do switch, all existing referral numbers will immediately apply and unlock rewards in the new program. In addition, each time someone you refer hits level 5, you earn a flat 250 IP, instead of the IP win boost of the old program. The level requirement for your referrals to apply towards the milestone achievements below is level 10 under the new system, though.

1: 500 IP, "Recruiter" title and badge for the forum
2: 500 IP
3: 500 IP
4: 500 IP
5: 500 IP and a Rune Page
10: 975 RP
25: Grey Warwick skin and "Senior Recruiter" forum title
50: 2,000 RP and Medieval Twitch skin
75: 4,000 RP
100: 10,000 RP and "Master Recruiter" forum title
150+: 5,000 RP for every 50 referrals after 100


As you can see, it's absurdly easier to get good rewards under the new system. Almost anyone should be able to recruit five friends through message boards, guilds or, well, friendships to earn 2,500 IP--enough to pick up a few of the beginner champions or some new Runes. The biggest perk of the new system in my eyes, though, is the drastic drop in requirements for the Medeival Twitch skin, which is incredibly rare and was out of the grasp of most players under the old system. It'll be more common because of these changes, but will likely be pretty rare still. If you think you can get 50 referrals, I'd make the jump to the new system without hesitation.

That said, if any movie stars, athletes, or insanely popular Twitter people are reading this article, you might want to stay in the old system. The only reason to stick with the old system is that you really think you have a shot at those top-tier prizes of getting your name in Riot's offices, having an in-game item named after you, and being able to develop a champion in-person with the Riot dev team. Those are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, but you have to be able to recruit thousands of people to LoL. For the rest of us, I definitely recommend switching to the new referrals program.

But before I make the switch myself, I'm going to throw out a hail Mary and leave my referral link right here: CLICK ME! Now I just need 10,000 of you to click that, sign up, and hit level 10. Pretty please?