Sunday, 25 February 2018

Video Game Deep Cuts: Rolling The DICE For An Oregon Trail Switch

This week's longform highlights include Phil Spencer's speech at the DICE Summit, how the Switch is encouraging people to play games they wouldn't otherwise, & rare documents on The Oregon Trail's history. ...



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Honest Game Trailers – Animal Crossing

In which some truths about video games are exposed.

Also, some Nintendo gaffs.



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Daily Deal - Invisible, Inc., 75% Off

Today's Deal: Save 75% on Invisible, Inc.!*

Look for the deals each day on the front page of Steam. Or follow us on twitter or Facebook for instant notifications wherever you are!

*Offer ends Tuesday at 10AM Pacific Time


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Ryzen 3 2200G/ Ryzen 5 2400G review: triple-A gaming without a graphics card?

AMD loves to provide PC users with a great $99 CPU, and with the Ryzen 3 2200G, it's delivered a genuine classic. Traditional wisdom suggests that when constructing a gaming PC, you need to purchase both CPU and GPU, but the Red Team's latest offering delivers an all-in-one package - a quad-core Ryzen CPU, paired with Radeon RX Vega graphics. You'll need to be realistic with quality settings and resolutions - you've got just over 1.1 teraflops of compute to play with - but this entry-level processor can indeed run most triple-A PC titles, and we had a lot of fun proving that.

In addition to the keenly-priced 2200G, there's also an accompanying, more powerful, somewhat pricier Ryzen 5 2400G - and this brace of APUs are actually the first we can thoroughly recommend owing to their integration into AMD's all-encompassing AM4 platform. As good as they may have been for their time, previous generation APUs have required their own motherboards, limiting upgrade potential. However, if you need more power, there's nothing stopping you retaining your board and RAM and upgrading to a higher-end Ryzen chip, paired with either an Nvidia or AMD graphics card.

Certainly in terms of the APUs though, there is the sense that only one of the two offerings gives truly exceptional value. The Ryzen 3 2200G offers a quad-core set-up with a 3.5GHz base clock, boosting to 3.7GHz, while the companion Ryzen 5 2400G features higher clocks and SMT support - AMD's version of hyper-threading, effectively. In terms of graphics, the 2200G has eight Vega compute units active at a reduced 1100MHz compared to the 2400G's full 11 at 1240MHz. Game performance improvements seems to vary from between seven percent to around 20 per cent though - perhaps not enough to justify the 2400G's massive $70 premium.

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Fear the Wolves turns STALKER into PUBG, spectators into weather gods

Few settings have captured the imaginations of game developers and players like Chernobyl, the site of a reactor explosion in 1986 that created one of the world's few actual nuclear wastelands. The legendary Exclusion Zone - now, would you believe, something of a tourist attraction - has provided the stage for countless virtual conflicts and survival stories. There are the indirect recreations, such as Big Robot's bleached starship graveyard The Signal From Tölva, or the Erangel island map from PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds - an abandoned Soviet testing facilty in which the wanderer is forced towards rather than away from the centre by an ever-encroaching sea of blue energy. And there are truer-to-life portrayals like Call of Duty 4's "All Ghillied Up" mission or GSC World's STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl, which gives you the run of an Exclusion Zone in which space-time is starting to fall apart like overcooked pasta.

Developed by former GSC World staff and building on the lessons of middling free-to-player shooter Survarium, Vostok's Fear the Wolves is an attempt to bring STALKER and PUBG together - a battle royale shooter that sounds like and probably is a rather opportunistic bit of genre-splicing, but which does entertain some rather exotic ideas. The project began life in September 2017, hence the current absence of screens or footage, and is slated for initial release this year on Xbox One, PS4 and PC. Developed using Unreal Engine 4, it sets you and 99 other players loose on a 25 square kilometre chunk of Chernobyl, surrounded by a radiation cloud that slowly contracts, shrinking the map. Each player starts with nothing and must scrounge weapons, protective gear, vehicles and mods such as scopes and grips in a bid to be the last person standing.

So far, so PUBG, but the devils are in the detail. Most obviously, Fear the Wolves is first-person rather than third-person, and studio co-founder Oleg Yavorski says it will aim for "more of a hardcore feel" than its primary influence, "with realistic gunfights and multiple smaller elements that players will need to master", including high-fidelity bullet physics. In itself, the relatively cramped viewpoint should oblige a more tentative approach to recon and a greater emphasis on stealth, though matches are still expected to last a fairly brisk 20-45 minutes, beginning at dawn and ending in darkness.

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