Rock, Paper, Shotgun
Elden Ring is one of the best PC games of the year - one of the RPS Bestest Bests, in fact - and right now you can get it for free with the purchase of a Crucial SSD. At Ebuyer, there are nine different drives available under the promotion - including the super-fast P5 Plus NVMe drive, the reliable MX500 SATA drive and the great value Crucial P2 budget NVMe.
I am extremely bad at card games, despite the fact that meeting up and playing poker at a friend's house was one of the main entertainments on offer when I was a teenager (because one guy had a full chip set, for some reason). I cannot remember any of the rules of poker, but I do really like the feel of cards, the shick schick shick of shuffling them and all the business of moving them around in your hand as if that'll change things very much. Card Shark, the latest game from the Reigns devs Nerial, is an ideal card game for me, as it does all the noises of shuffling and dealing and collecting cards extremely well, without requiring any knowledge or memory of the games its punters are actually playing.
Instead, Card Shark is all about the palming and stacking and counting of cards, rather than an actual card game like your classic deckbuilders and such like. It will be out in full on June 2nd, but last week I got to play a larger version of the current Steam demo - about four hours worth of it, in fact - and I discovered that while I'm very bad at card games, I am pretty good at (pretend) cheating at them.
To some people, I would describe 20 Minutes Till Dawn as "like Vampire Survivors but you actually aim and attack." To others, I might say it's "similar to Crimsonland or Nation Red." Either way, it's a top-down survival shoot 'em up about blasting through Lovecraftian horrors using your trusty gun, levelling up to get magical perks and powers, and yes, grabbing a load of XP gems. A free demo is out now, and I'm enjoying it.
The sequel to EA and Respawn’s intergalactic soulslike Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order could be called Star Wars Jedi: Survivor. At least, that’s according to GamesBeat's Jeff Grubb, who told a commenter that they’d correctly guessed the game’s name in the chat on his Giant Bomb show, Grubbsnax.
Images of what appear to be a new entry in Konami’s psychological horror series Silent Hill were posted briefly online over the weekend, before they were struck down by a copyright claim a few hours later. AestheticGamer, née Dusk Golem, posted the images to Twitter, claiming they were a "Silent Hill leak", and that they'd received "more than enough proof to believe" their source wasn't telling porkies.
Every weekend, indie devs show off current work on Twitter's #screenshotsaturday tag. And every Monday, I bring you a selection of these snaps and clips. This week, my eye has been caught by several cute and unexpectedly deadly animals, as well a place which is not a place of honor, a Bitcoin hellscape, and of course more grappling hook ultraviolence.
A new Elden Ring survey has revealed a bunch of our favourite things about FromSoftware’s wildly popular action RPG - and it turns out everyone really loves the NPC Ranni the Witch. Conducted by Japanese gaming mag Famitsu and translated by FrontlineJP, the survey also reveals our favourite bosses, items, areas and loads more. In addition to Ranni, it also turns out players were very fond of the living jar Iron Fist Alexander, while their favourite enemy was the demigod Starscourge Radahn.
Sundays are for turning on the extractor fan before you hop in the shower. Before you hear the low rumble, let's read this week's best writing about games (and game related things).
Another Crab's Treasure is in some ways the most grimdark Soulslike yet. It's about a cute crab battling other crabs at the bottom of a colourful sea, sure, but the different shells and the weapons you and your enemies are wielding are made from trash dumping into that colourful sea by humans.
It's still cute, though. There's a reveal trailer below.
The name "Gunbrella" might already tell you everything you need to know about Gunbrella, a game in which you wield a gun which is also an umbrella. Announced this past week, it's a 2D "noir-punk" action game published by Devolver, about floating like Mary Poppins and stinging like, I dunno, a shotgun. You can find the announce trailer below.
Earlier this week, Activision Blizzard published a post on their website about their "Diversity Space Tool". Developed by subsidiary King, it's a tool for rating video game characters along certain axes in order to rate their relative diversity. Several people then pointed out that sounded mildly dystopian.
Yesterday, Activison Blizzard responded, saying that the "prototype is not being used in active game development", and was designed as an optional supplement to other work.
Happy Eurovision day, everyone! Today, musicians from across Europe and beyond come together to give it their all, with varying degrees of catchiness, camp, and drama. Honestly, this year's contest better be amazing, considering some great songs have already been knocked out before the finals. I was particularly surprised by the loss of Austria's pop goths and Latvia's song with the most surprising obscene opening line in pop history. If that's the quality of song being rejected, they BETTER NOT have any boring junk in the finals. But we have hours to fill until Eurovision starts, so what are you playing this weekend?
PCIe 4.0 drives are coming down in price fast, and nowhere is this more evident than with Ebuyer's recent sale on the WD Black SN770 2TB drive. It normally costs £190, but this has dropped to £170 today. That's an awesome deal on a high speed PCIe 4.0 drive that works on both PC and PS5 and hits the current sweet spot for bulk storage.
AMD’s FSR 2.0 upscaler is out now – in only one game, Deathloop, but still. This is a big moment for the heavily upgraded FSR (FidelityFX Super Resolution), as it’s basically attempting to fight Nvidia’s rival DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling) with some of its own tactics. There’s none of Nvidia’s machine learning enhancements, but whereas FSR 1.0 was a simple spatial upscaler – meaning data used for upscaling a frame could only come from within the frame itself – FSR 2.0 uses a temporal upscaling technique similar to that of DLSS. This allows it to draw data from previous frames as well, producing a sharper, higher-quality image.
The lack of machine learning also has the upside of keeping FSR 2.0, like FSR 1.0, compatible with any reasonably recent gaming GPU. Nvidia may make most of this generation’s best graphics cards, but you won't need something brand new and super powerful to let FSR 2.0 boost your frame rates. To find out how well it works, compared to both DLSS and FSR 1.0, I reinstalled Deathloop and gave all three upscalers a whirl.
A bit later than planned, but we're back once again for another edition of The RPS Time Capsule, in which the RPS Treehouse undergoes a collective mind-melting experiment to pick their favourite, bestest best games from a specific year to be preserved and saved until the end of time. This month, we've shifted our game preservation gaze to 2009, so read on below to find out which games made the cut, and which have been cast off into the eternal games bin.
While fads come and go, mech games continue to simmer pleasantly away without ever taking over or going away. The latest one I've finally made some time for is Ignited Steel Colon Mech Tactics, a turn-based tactical game with a light sprinkling of FTL.
Despite appearances, it's quite mildly roguelike, and those of you who dig a complex strategic challenge or skin of your teeth type survival story aren't quite the right audience. This one is a more forgiving affair, and yet not easy or simply enough that I ever got bored. It's a good time.
Liam and I have given Overwatch 2's PVP beta a whirl and it's been... interesting. Both of us have come away with mixed feelings, especially around that big "2". Does it really seem like a sequel? To answer that question, we've teamed up in this article like a Müller and its corner to mingle our thoughts in word form. Of course, if you'd rather hear us grumble at each other in glorious video form, you can watch that down below.
“The fleet does the flying, the marines do the dying,” says CCP boss Hilmar Veigar Pétursson. “I love Starship Troopers.”
Pétursson is hardly the first person to profess an affection for Paul Verhoeven’s cult military satire. But he is one of the few with command of his own company of science fiction game developers. For well over half of Eve Online’s existence, he has led CCP in an effort to create the perfect spin-off shooter - stubbornly chasing the dream of a playable Starship Troopers, even as those brave young prototypes have been cut down by unimpressed players, one after the other.
Historical real-time strategy threequel Age Of Empires III: Definitive Edition will see the arrival of a ‘casual-friendly’ mode that shifts the focus from combat to economic success in its latest DLC pack, Knights Of The Mediterranean. Developers Tantalus Media and Forgotten Empires have revealed that the DLC will also feature new Italian and Maltese civilisations, an allegiance-shifting diplomacy mode and a variation on random maps based on historic European wars.
The Lego games I'm most familiar with are the licensed property games - yer Lego Indiana Joneses and yer Lego Star Warses where you run around a continuous level smashing things. Lego Bricktales is more akin to last year's extremely cute geometric puzzler Lego Builder's Journey, in that you're exploring detailed, colourful brick dioramas, and solving puzzles by bulding things out of titular hot-property block. In Bricktales, though, it's way more granular. You're whisked away into a separate building screen to construct and stress test things like bridges and beams to support a platform, for example. You have a set number of different shaped and sized bricks to work with.
From playing a preview build of the first level - a jungle, home to some lost explorers - the thing that impresses me most about Bricktales is just how much it's like building things with actual Lego. It sounds stupid to say, but them little bricks are really astonishingly realised. It all looks so much Lego it's sort of surprising that you can't reach through the screen and pick it up. It's amazing. It's the closest thing to Lego you can get outside of actual Lego - which is the problem. It just kind of makes you miss Lego.
Hello, gentle listener. I'm afraid it has been a while since we went into the exclusion zone to find an episode or two of The Nate Files, our extra supporter-only podcast. This is entirely my fault; I was incautious while we were in there and accidentally refracted into an eel, and then Nate nearly ate that eel - it was a whole thing*, but I'm right as rain now. That's a-moray! Thank you for sticking with us while we got that admin sorted out. We really do appreciate your support so we can make these podcasts and do other fun things (like pay for my de-sliming). We couldn't do it without you!
MiHoYo have announced their new action RPG follow-up to Genshin Impact, Zenless Zone Zero, with registration for its closed beta beginning today. This one veers away from Genshin’s more traditional fantasy world towards post-apocalyptic urban science-fantasy, set in the effortlessly cool city of New Eridu. MiHoYo say this is “the last shelter for urban civilization due to the calamity”. So far, so mysterious.
Stellaris's Overlord expansion is out now, jamming the vast scifi grand strategy game even fuller with megastructures, story events and - as is Paradox's wont - more vassals. Overlord aims to offer more control over your empires, both to let you shape them in more specific ways and also to generate more anecdotes when it all goes wrong.
As always, the expansion also releasing alongside a new free patch with balance fixes and bux fixes for all.
Funcom announced back in 2019 that they planned to make Dune games based on Frank Herbert's sci-fi spice and sandworms novels. They followed through by releasing 4X strategy game Dune: Spice Wars last month, and now it seems they're ramping up development on a new open world survival game set in the Dune universe.
There's presumably less pressure to keep every scrap of information secret when the game you're developing is a remake. EA Motive seem to be taking advantage of that by releasing lots of behind-the-scenes, in-development videos and streams of their work on the Dead Space remake. Then, occasionally in those streams, they offer some news. Back in March, they let it be known during a deep dive into the remake's audio that the game would release in early 2023. Now, during a livestream about the game's art, they've announced the specific release date: January 27th, 2023.
Alan Wake 2 was announced at the death of last year with promise of a larger reveal to come in summer 2022. This week marks the 12th anniversary since the release of the first game, and to mark the occasion Remedy offered an update on the sequel. The update is: there won't be an update on the sequel this summer after all.
You could fairly think of the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 Ti as a big, stump-necked brute of a graphics card. What better characterisation for the latest tippity-top-of-the-line GPU from Nvidia, who’ve already produced the best graphics card for 4K in the RTX 3080? But rather than be overwhelmed by its power, I personally feel more like the RTX 3090 Ti is trying to trick, tempt and seduce me, Old Testament-style. “Recommend meeeee” it whispers, coasting through another maximum settings benchmark. “Tell evvvvvvveryone these frame rates are totally worth £1879.”
But I can’t. Sorry. While I am a sucker for go-faster gear, the RTX 3090 Ti is just too far of a stretch, with its sometimes imperceptible performance differences to the £1399 RTX 3090 and a tendency towards impractically gigantic partner card models.
Techland have announced that the first story DLC for their parkour-infused survival horror Dying Light 2: Stay Human will slip from its scheduled June launch date to September. The DLC is one of two planned paid story DLCs, with the second not targeted for any specific date outside of Techland’s promised five years of post-launch support for the game.
We're going macro this week, so we're talking about the best writing in video games. This is a very broad topic for discussion, so that means I also get to say 'ludonarrative dissonance' (we also describe 'ludonarrative harmony' as its opposite). Please don't let this put you off, though, because we do talk about some bloody well good games.
The times being what they are, though, results in us having a long discussion of patter theft, because some dreadful American (we assume) stole the "It's me, Blorko!" tweet and then just did a much worse version of it. Hang your head in shame, whoever you are. I also went to a first communion party and ate a lot of cake, and had a run in with a very charismatic toddler who may or may not be evil.
Bethesda have just announced they're delaying Starfield and Redfall until the first half of 2023. Bethesda's RPG space epic was originally due to arrive on November 11th 2022, with Arkane Austin's first-person vampire survival game Redfall arriving sometime this summer, but now both titles have been shifted back to an unknown time between Janauary and June next year.
Leave the doormat outside long enough in Age Of Darkness: Final Stand and you might not live to see the morning. If the game’s grimdark aesthetic didn’t warn you, here’s another from me directly: this game is brutal. Be mentally prepared to start over, over and over again. The “one more round” syndrome is strong with this mashup of tower defense and strategy.
The game’s premise is simple: survive. While the standard survival mode is challenging enough to warrant hours of gameplay, Age Of Darkness’s modifiers let you amp up the carnage for a nightmarish good time. See those little creatures all over your screen like bees in an unstable hive? Now picture building a settlement over them.
John Romero, legendary developer and co-creator of PC classics Doom, Quake and Wolfenstein, has announced he’s writing an autobiography entitled 'Doom Guy – Life In First-Person'. The book isn't due to be published until early next year, but does this mean the Doom movie from 2005 starring Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is technically Romero’s biopic? Did The Rock not want to wear a wig? I’m very confused.
In this job, I expend a lot of effort and care on details no one notices. While this is arguably a poor use of my time, I enjoy the process—and technically it is productive. But perhaps you, reader dear, might enjoy hearing about these small things, or at least find them interesting/weird. So let's talk about the work which went into producing one (1) screenshot and 43 seconds of video for last week's post about the Morrowind modder who added the family cat because their kids were afraid of mudcrabs.
This week’s freebies at the Epic Games Store are Arkane Studios’ interplanetary immersive sim Prey and Thunder Lotus Games' Viking ‘em up Jotun: Valhalla Edition. You’ll be able to nab them for zero currency later on today, but for now there’s still time to grab last week’s complimentary game, Terraforming Mars (which you can do here). Check the Epic Games Store at around 8am PST / 4pm BST for the changeover.
Steam Deck software updates continue to refine Valve’s handheld PC. This time, the big new feature is the ability to create per-game performance profiles, which let you pick and choose from the Deck’s toy chest of power and battery-saving settings and apply your tailored configuration to a specific game at a time. You can then switch between games without having to manually re-adjust those settings every time you play something different.
Last week, you decided (barely!) that drawbacks are better than a load of lasers. I feel I should've defined drawbacks more narrowly but there'll be chaos if introduce undosies. Onwards! Next, I present a choice between two oft-disliked things. What's better: controlling a turret, or little inconsequential choices?
Loot River, the pixely roguelike with a bit of Souls and a bit of Tetris, is all about making multiple attempts to navigate weird dungeons made of moving platforms, before dying and starting again. It's one of those games that's perfect for Game Pass, at least in its current form, but that's going to be changing in a small bit, according to a post devs Straka Studio made yesterday. Straka note they are a small team who playtested with a very small group, and didn't realise the game would be unwelcoming to newcomers. In fact, they've already made some smaller tweaks to the game that have made quite a difference, but the most notable problem players raised was the lack of any, umm, loot?