This week in games: Overwatch gets a server browser, Project Cars 2 targets 12K and more

More Kickstarter news this week. Can you believe it? Last week I joked about a renaissance but now I’m pretty sure it’s actually happening.Project Cars 2

That, plus Overwatch gets a server browser, South Park delays a second time, a bevy of launch trailers and announcement trailers and trailer trailers, and Project Cars 2 talks about supporting 12K resolutions. Mmmm, that’s a lot of pixels.

This is gaming news for February 6 through 10.

Another chance for me to talk about Stasis? Excellent. If you don’t know, Stasis is the best horror game you (probably) didn’t play in 2015. An isometric horror game in the vein of the classic Sanitarium, Stasis is some excellent derelict space ship sci-fi.

And now the developers are working on a follow-up, titled Beautiful Desolation. Like PC Gamer, I apparently missed word on this in January, but there’s a Kickstarter campaign and everything. I’m not a huge fan of the name, but I am a huge fan of the art on display so far, and fervently hope it reaches its funding goal.

Let’s keep on the crowdfunding theme for a second and talk about inXile. The studio released details on both the upcomingTorment: Tides of Numenera and the slightly-less-upcoming Bard’s Tale IV this week, with a look at Torment’s story and Bard’s Tale’s combat. Here’s Torment:

Halo Wars 2 launches next week, at least for Ultimate Edition buyers. Will it be good? No idea, but it sure does have some beautiful cinematics.

It’s not the sexiest update, but Overwatch is getting a server browser to complement its bevy of matchmaking systems. Want to play a custom game with friends? You can finally—nine months after release—do so.

I’d sort-of forgotten that Slightly Mad Studios has been working on Project Cars 2. Hard to forget, given the stink people made when the sequel was originally announced, coming as it did mere months after the release of the original. But regardless, I’d forgotten.

There’s video now though—gorgeous video. Also, support for 12K resolutions (12K!) and more. Time to upgrade your graphics card, sim racers.

Speaking of racing games…well, actually no. The big news this week is that Playground Games, developer of the beloved Forza Horizon series, is working on a new game—and it’s not a racing game. According to GamesIndustry.biz , Playground is opening a second studio and branching out into a new genre, in addition to (presumably) the 2018 Forza Horizon game.

If this mythical second project ends up even half as good as Forza Horizon, we’re in for a treat.

Bad news, South Park fans: Latest game The Fractured But Whole has been delayed yet again, this time to a rather ambiguous “sometime this year.” That’s the second delay for the superhero-themed sequel, which was originally supposed to arrive in December and then was pushed to early 2017. Now? Well, we’ll see.

Cue the Miyamoto quote about a bad game being bad forever, and et cetera.

Ubisoft’s doing just okay with-or-without South Park though, I imagine. Case in point: Rainbow Six Siege is still humming along, still 2015’s best shooter, and just about to start its second season of DLC characters and maps. You’ll get four minutes of that below, with a look at the new “Velvet Shell” operators and Coastline map.

Oh, and Ubisoft also brought back the Rainbow Six Siege Starter Edition. For $15 you get the game and access to four operators, with a whole lot of grinding if you want to unlock the rest—or you try it, enjoy it, and buy the full game (maybe when it goes on sale?) to continue as normal. Your call.

Okay, more Ubisoft news. Ghost Recon: Wildlands is set to release in March. Ubisoft’s continued its tradition of “Silly Live-Action Trailers” for this one—except this time they’ve made a whole live-action movie. There’s a teaser below. Go microwave some popcorn. I’ll wait.

How Windows 10’s Game Mode will make your PC games run better

The “Game Mode” destined to arrive in the Windows 10 Creators Update has been a tantalizing tease for months now, but now Microsoft’s pulling back the curtain—somewhat—on the performance-boosting technology.windows 10 pc gaming game mode

Game Mode’s designed to focus your PC’s resources on the game you’re playing in order to increase frame rates. It does so by tweaking how Windows handles allocating tasks to both your processor and your graphics card, Xbox program manager Kevin Gammill revealed in a series of interviews.

On the graphics front, Game Mode forces Windows to grant more of your GPU’s processing cycles to your game, rather than to background processes, Gammill told PC Gamer. The exact split will be different on every system, depending on the hardware and software you’re running, but Gammill made a point to stress that Game Mode will definitely reduce the graphics performance of background operations.

Nvidia AMD graphics cards

If you’re running intense Adobe Lightroom tasks in the background while you play a game with Game Mode enabled—why the hell would you do that?—Lightroom’s performance will suffer. Into watching videos while you play? Game Mode could also make, say, Netflix or YouTube chug if your GPU’s being maxed out, Gammill told Rock Paper Shotgun.

Game Mode also follows in DirectX 12’s footsteps by optimizing how your CPU behaves while gaming. When the feature’s enabled, Windows will dedicate a given number of your CPU threads to the game alone, forcing all background software and processes to fight over the scraps. The baked-in overhead allows your game to run smoothly even if CPU demands suddenly ramp up, resulting in more consistent overall performance, Gammill told PC Gamer.

Now for the part PC gamers have been waiting to hear: Game Mode will work with Windows Store games designed as universal Windows apps as well as traditional “Win32” games. Windows Store games will likely receive slightly larger performance increases from Game Mode than traditional games, Gammill told Ars Technica. That’s because Game Mode focuses your PC’s resources on the program in the foreground, and traditional games often create multiple processes or run background services to run properly.

“There’s no way at the platform level to really know where a [Win32] game starts and stops,” Gammill told PC Gamer. “You could have a number of Windows services running, we don’t know if that’s part of the game or not, that the game’s calling into. UWP is more of a contained package, and you know where it starts and stops.”

windows 10 pc gaming game settings

See the Xbox logo in the center? Those are the new Gaming settings, where you can enable Windows 10’s Game Mode.

You’ll need to enable Game Mode in the new Gaming options found in the Windows 10 Creators Update’s Settings. “We will have what we call kind of an approved list or whitelist of games that we feel super-comfortable about and we want to enable out of the gate. Those will be turned on by default,” Gammill told Rock Paper Shotgun.

But you’ll be able to enable—or disable—Game Mode for any game at any time by pressing Win + G to bring up the Windows Game Bar while you’re playing it. Open the Settings portion of the Game Bar and you’ll find an option to activate Game Mode. You’ll need to do this separately for every game that isn’t on Microsoft’s whitelist .

Finally, Game Mode is all about increasing gaming performance. So how much extra performance will games receive? Microsoft told Ars Technica that it’s seeing a 2-5 percent performance increase in games that are CPU- or GPU-bound. Gammill stressed to PC Gamer that Microsoft plans to continue improving Game Mode over time, but that boost isn’t exactly face-melting at first blush.

Overwatch

Overwatch

All that said, Game Mode seems more exciting to me knowing that some of the details are out in the open. Sure, a mild performance increase isn’t anything to write home about, but a huge part of making games feel smooth is frame rate consistency. Consistency is why you want to disable as many programs and processes as possible when you’re gaming on a PC with limited oomph.

Fluctuating frame rates can result in a janky, nasty gaming experience; I’d rather play a game with a lower but consistent frame rate than a game with a higher but inconsistent frame rate any day. On paper, the GPU and CPU tweaks imposed by Game Mode seem like they should do a bang-up job of helping games run smoother, if not faster—especially on PCs that are flirting with the limits of their hardware. I’m cautiously optimistic.

Want to try Game Mode for yourself before the Windows 10 Creators Update rolls out this spring? Microsoft’s releasing a new Windows 10 preview build today containing Game Mode and several other gaming-centric features, though you’ll have to be a Windows Insider to install it. While you wait, I highly recommend reading the interviews at Rock Paper Shotgun and PC Gamer for even more context and flavor about Game Mode.

Assassin’s Creed Empire Screenshot Leak Shows Off Crafting and Egypt Setting

Assassin's Creed Empire Screenshot Leak Shows Off Crafting and Egypt SettingUbisoft may be adamant to take all the time necessary to make new instalments in Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry worth your while, but that hasn’t stopped screenshots of the former surfacing on the Internet. The next Assassin’s Creed game, codenamed Assassin’s Creed Empire will, as earlier reports have suggested, take place in Egypt. What’s more is that it brings crafting to the series as well.

According to French game site Jeux Video, the screenshot is a wireframe – a working skeleton of an in-game menu along with a final render of what it could be. It shows off a pyramid which possibly confirms the Egyptian setting and crafting being a game feature.

 

Earlier in the year, sources speaking to gaming blog Kotaku, and those on 4Chan compiled on gaming forum NeoGAF claim that we will not see a mainline Assassin’s Creed game this year, instead opting for a 2017 release. This however, will not impact the already announced side scrolling stealth Assassin’s Creed Chronicles games set in India and Russia. What’s more is that the new mainline Assassin’s Creed game is set in Egypt.

“[The game will take place in] Egypt. There won’t be an AC in 2016. You may screen cap this and refer to it when nothing is shown in E3 2016. You’ll have to wait until 2017 for it. The reason: It will be a complete revamp of the series. The game is going for a Witcher feel, with player progression, freeform combat system. Horse is back, and boats too. It’s made by the Black Flag team. You may leave any question you want answered,” reads a post on 4chan from a user who claims to be a Ubisoft developer.

 

The Egyptian setting was also corroborated by Kotaku’s Jason Schreier. 

“Although I haven’t been able to confirm the veracity of this 4chan poster–whose posts are compiled on NeoGAF here–everything he wrote matches up with what I’ve heard independently for months. I’d heard last year from three different people familiar with goings-on at Ubisoft that the next big Assassin’s Creed would be set in ancient Egypt,” wrote Schreier. “Since this morning, two other independent sources have contacted me to corroborate that. I heard about the code name Empire from two of those sources. Three of them told me the game would indeed launch in 2017.”

In the past, Kotaku has been accurate with what to expect from Ubisoft. December 2014 saw the blog break news of Assassin’s Creed Syndicate’s existence (codenamed: Victory). Schreier goes on to state that we can expect a sequel to 2014’s open-world hacking adventure Watch Dogs set in San Francisco (the first game was set in Chicago) in its place.

Would you play an Assassin’s Creed game set in Egypt or has franchise fatigue well and truly set in? Let us know in the comments.

Battlefield 1 Open Beta Needs Xbox Live Gold Not PlayStation Plus

Battlefield 1 Open Beta Needs Xbox Live Gold Not PlayStation Plus

  • The open beta for Battlefield 1 requires Xbox Live Gold for the Xbox One
  • You won’t need PlayStation Plus to play it on the PS4
  • The Battlefield 1 open beta begins on August 31

After being leaked by retailers and officially announced at EA’s own event, Battlefield 1, like every big console and PC release these days, has an open beta. We reported earlier that it would take place from August 31. Unless of course you registered for early access. If so, you should check your email with a code to play it right now.

However, regardless of when you plan to play the Battlefield 1 beta, there’s a glaring difference between the PS4 and Xbox One versions. Playing it on the PS4 doesn’t require a PlayStation Plus subscription while doing so on Microsoft’s black box (or white if you own an Xbox One S) needs you to be a part of the Xbox Live Gold service.

Both PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold are essential if you want to play online multiplayer on either console. And it seems one is more essential than the other.

 The news comes from the official Battlefield account.

“@SpartanB013 You do not need a PS Plus account to play the Battlefield 1 Open Beta on PlayStation 4,” it tweeted to a fan.

“@Soggy_Taco Thanks for contacting us. You will need an Xbox Live Gold account to play Multiplayer during the Battlefield 1 Open Beta,” it replied to a query on the same.

This also applies to those accessing the open beta a day early. The beta will give players access to the Sinai Desert map, based on the real life one in the nation of Egypt, and provide two game modes in Conquest – a large-scale game mode with up to 64 players fighting for control – and Rush – a 24-player mode where the attacking force must find and destroy the telegraph posts of the defending force. Battlefield 1 is out on the PC, PS4, and Xbox One on October 21 and has gained a fair share of notoriety as being the most expensive game on pre-order in India.

 

Mortal Kombat XL Coming to PC Soon

Mortal Kombat XL Coming to PC Soon

  • Creator Ed Boone has hinted that Mortal Kombat XL is coming to PC
  • This comes eight months after publisher Warner Bros said it would not
  • It contains all downloadable content as well as the base game

A few days ago, Ed Boone, creator of the Mortal Kombat series hinted at bringing Mortal Kombat XL to PC.

In addition to Ed Boone’s tweets, updates to SteamDB – a third party site that tracks Steam listings, show a particular app renamed to MKXL Enhanced Online Beta.There hasn’t been an official announcement from publisher Warner Bros just yet.

Considering that Shadow of Mordor 2 was a no-show at E3 2016 and the Batman remasters are still a way off, bringing Mortal Kombat XL to PC might seem like a peace offering to PC gamers but could just very well be the only other major release the company has this year. Well, aside from Lego Star Wars.

This version of the game contains Mortal Kombat X and all its downloadable content (DLC). It was limited to the PS4 and Xbox One, much to the ire of a rather vocal PC fanbase. At the time a studio representative took to popular Mortal Kombat forum, TestYourMight.com to confirm that the Mortal Kombat XL would not be making it to PC.

 “Mortal Kombat XL and Kombat Pack 2 will available on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One only,” said NetherRealm’s Community Specialist Tyler Landsdown.

In the same discussion, fans realised that it sold nearly half a million units on Steam. The data wasdiscovered on Steam Spy, a third-party service that tracks sales on Steam. It’s known for its fairly accurate sales estimates. Around 500,000 units sold is not too bad considering how poorly it was received at launch, forcing users to download most of the game even if they did buy it on disc.

 

You Could Soon Stream PS4 Games to PC via an Unofficial Remote Play App

Good news: you’ll soon be able to stream PS4 games to your PC via an unofficial app called Remote Play PC. It’s the work of a developer who goes by the pseudonym Twisted.

Bad news: if you were expecting it to be free, you’ll probably have to pay around $10 (around Rs. 665) to use it.

And this isn’t all, Sony may even take legal action to pull the app from sale since it’s essentially allowing the developer to profit from its functionality.

(Also see: Sony Reveals PS4 Remote Play Support for Xperia Z2, Xperia Z2 Tablet)

However, from Twisted’s viewpoint, it’s necessary to pursue continued development.

“I’d like to work on this project full time, adding features, getting it stable and porting it to other platforms which I know a lot of you want! The only way to support this is to charge for the app, all my previous projects have been free and I don’t want to have to but sadly its the only way to support my living costs,”a post on the developer’s blog reads. “On the plus side this means I have more time to work on the project and provide support to its users, something which I’ve been limited on in the past.”

With the Xbox One allowing you to stream games to Windows 10 PCs and tablets, and Sony seemingly uninterested in allowing PS4 owners to do the same, this could well be a handy app for many PC and PS4 users. However since this is an unofficial app we won’t be surprised if it’s taken down sooner rather than later.

Square Enix Looking to Publish Indian Games: Sources

Final Fantasy publisher Square Enix may be looking to re-enter the Indian market. Earlier, the company had an Indian office that was shut down merely a year after its inception. The news of the firm making a comeback was confirmed by multiple game developers who have been in talks with its representatives for a few months now.

“Yes, we’re in talks with Square Enix,” a studio head told Gadgets 360. “It’s not a secret since they were at a publisher meeting held at NGDC [Nasscom Game Developer’s Conference] last week, taking pitches from other [game] studios.”

(Also see: Nasscom Game Developers Conference 2015 Dates, Key Speakers Announced)

The publisher meet at NGDC is an invite-only session where pre-selected local developers can showcase their upcoming games to publishers. Other attendees included Disney and Nazara.

Our sources also let on that the Japan-based company was looking to publish “midcore, AA games for mobile with an emphasis on story.” Midcore games usually sit between complex console and PC fare like Dota 2 and mobile games like Subway Surfer, such as Machine Zone’s Game of War: Fire Age.

“They’re not looking for anything basic. They want something a whole lot bigger in terms of game design and story than what most of us are up to. They definitely don’t want another Angry Birds or Candy Crush,” another developer told us. “Naturally they quizzed us on all possible metrics such as conversion rates and DAU [daily active users].”

Unlike the company’s presence at previous editions of NGDC, there was a single Japanese representative and his translator doing the rounds at the event rather than an entire entourage. While it’s great that Square Enix is reconsidering its interest in India, most developers are cautious.

“Considering what happened the last time around, we’re not really sure if they’re interested this time around or if this was just done to appease some higher up sitting in Japan,” another source said.

Pokemon Blue, Red, Yellow Due in February; Pokemon Go and Z Dates Teased


With a host of old games getting remastered for new consoles and more powerful PCs, Nintendo’s efforts in the space have been relatively small. Barring the superlative Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker on the Wii U, a handful of Wii titles such as Metroid Prime Trilogy and Super Mario Galaxy 2 have found themselves on the Wii U minus any enhancements or added features. Now, the Japanese publisher has announced that the original Pokemon games, Pokemon Blue, Red, and Yellow will hit the 3DS on February 27 digitally via Nintendo’s Virtual Console service.

The news was revealed in the latest Nintendo Direct – a regular event broadcasted to fans eager to know what to expect from the Mario hitmaker.

(Also see: Pokemon Fans Helpless in India as Nintendo Keeps Away)

According to a statement on the official Pokemon website: “The games remain true to the originals-complete with monochromatic pixel art and 4-bit background music-so you can feel as though you’re experiencing these games just as they were back then.”

However, not all things remain the same. Wireless trading and battling will be new additions for the games. This is because when they first hit the Game Boy, you needed a physical Link Cable to trade and battle with friends, something that’s not compatible with the 3DS. The wireless functionality on the 3DS ensures you’ll be able to revisit these classics as they were.

In the meanwhile, Pokemon Go – the augmented reality game announced in September and Pokemon Z – the next new entry in the series, has been rumoured for a February 27 release date as well. Nonetheless, we won’t have to wait too long. Corocoro magazine, known for its unparalleled access to Pokemon news has hinted that there’s massive reveal in its next issue. Hopefully we wouldn’t have to wait too long to see what’s next.

Gamers Use Digital Privacy Tools to Get Early Fallout 4 Access

Players eager to get an early taste of the latest blockbuster video games are increasingly turning to a privacy tool relied on by journalists and activists to cover their online tracks.

Fallout 4, a post-apocalyptic epic from Bethesda, has an official street date of Tuesday, November 10. But thanks to the magic of time zones, it was already November 10 in some parts of the world such as Australia – and gamers eager to explore the wasteland are using Virtual Private Networks to make it appear as if they’re connecting to popular PC game services like Steam from the Land Down Under. That way they can play the game hours before it officially becomes available in the U.S.

Virtual Private Networks create a sort of digital, encrypted tunnel between a person’s computer and the websites or services they use. VPNs often route traffic through servers in different parts of the world – effectively making a user’s computer appear to be connecting from pretty much any location they want.

That’s been a big boon to some activists and journalists who live under regimes that keep a close eye on local Internet access because it allows them to evade censorship and the surveillance. But the feature also helps people get around location-based requirements for content on services like Netflix or Hulu.

Often, using a VPN may put users on the wrong side of a company’s Terms of Services, but services rarely seem to crack down on those who take advantage of them beyond blocking the Web addresses of servers known to be used by popular VPNs.

Valve, the video game company behind Steam, did not immediately respond to a request for comment about people using VPNs to unlock Fallout 4 early. However, Steam’s Terms of Service specifically say users cannot use “methods to disguise” where they live “whether to circumvent geographical restrictions on game content,” purchase games at potentially lower price points offered in other parts of the world, or “for any other purpose.” The service reserves the right to terminate users’ access to their accounts if they do.

But Valve doesn’t seem to have cracked down on users who used VPNs to get an early taste of previous titles. And the fear of reprisal hasn’t deterred the quiet flood of people turning to VPNs to get early access to Fallout 4.

A guide to using VPNs for an early peek of Fallout popped up on a popular forum about the game on social news and link-sharing site Reddit during the final countdown to the launch. But fans are complaining that the influx of Fallout 4 traffic is causing congestion on the Australian and New Zealand servers of popular VPN services.

One post on the Fallout 4 subreddit begged fellow players to disconnect from the VPN once they’ve unlocked the game “so that the VPNs aren’t overloaded.” And some VPN providers have publicly attributed slow downs or crashes to Fallout 4.

F-Secure’s Freedome VPN, which was recommended by the subreddit’s guide, struggled with the load.

“We are adding more server capacity so people can get their #fallout4 early,” the service tweeted.

Another service, VyprVPN, tweeted that its servers in New Zealand and Australia had “hit capacity,” along with a GIF of a Fallout 4 “HYPE-O-METER.”

The review embargo for “Fallout 4” lifted Monday and so far the responses have been very positive. Bethesda didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment about the gamers who turned to VPNs to access its game early.

WWE 2K16 Championship Announced for India

This year, with games like Mortal Kombat X and Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 getting their own tournaments, it seems that WWE 2K16 is next. In order to promote the latest entry in the series, E-xpress, distributor of the game is hosting a WWE 2K16 tournament this month. In terms of prizes it seems to be the most generous one to date.

(Also see: Our 5 Favourite WWE Games of All Time)

The first prize is a PS4, Rs. 30,000 in cash, and a WWE championship belt. Coming second also nets you a PS4 but only Rs. 10,000 in cash, and a WWE championship belt. As for third place? Rs. 15,000 in cash and yes, you guessed it a WWE championship belt. Keep in mind that these are toy belts from Mattel and not the real thing.

In order to take part, you’ll need to register on the site set up for the tournament. Like prior tournaments, there’s no entry fee for participation. The tournament will take place at the Bombay Exhibition Centre during IGX, a consumer gaming expo during November 14 and 15. Other events at IGX include a cosplay competition.

(Also see WWE Superstar Daniel Bryan: ‘Watching People Play As Me Was [Like] Being A Creepy Puppet’)

With WWE being a steady seller in the country through the year, it’s nice to see publisher 2K Games taking an interest and tournaments like this only serve to grow its popularity.