Diablo 3: patch 2.5.0 sneak peek from Blizzard

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Today Blizzard gave us a sneak peek at Diablo 3's upcoming 2.5.0 patch, making it seem like a pretty substantial update. The biggest feature to come is the Armory, which will reduce the need to constantly adapt your character to different situations, as it will allow you to store up to five complete build for each hero: "Swap seamlessly between set items, skills, runes, and gems with the click of a button."

"Any items equipped via the Armory will automatically swap to wherever the exchanged equipment was stored, whether that’s back into your stash or your personal inventory. Gems and Legendary Gems will also swap and, if you've upgraded or leveled up your gems, the Armory will automatically select the highest quality or level available for that gem type. Lastly, your skill bar will also update to your selected skills, rune, and Kanai's Cube power preferences, and you’re welcome to name your setups whatever you like!"

Adventure mode will get a few tweaks also, including a better chance for open areas to appear, along with a new tier of Very Rare Ancient loot: Primal Ancients. The game will get an user interface update too: crafting materials have been give their own tab, so you can find everything you need to upgrade your stuff much easier.

The update sounds quite consistent, and although they didn't give any certain date for it, it doesn't look like we'll have to wait much. More details of patch 2.5.0 can be found here.

Kerbal Space Program first DLC: Making History

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After almost 6 years of being available to the public, Kerbal Space Program is reaching people's attention once again. The game spent 2 years under the Steam Early Access tag before being launched in 2015. However, despite the strong launch it had, I haven't heard or read much about it since then.

Today, however, Squad made a very important announcement on their website: KSP will get its first expansion, Making History. It will have two distinct components: The Mission Builder, a set of "intuitive drag-and-drop tools" that will allow the player design and share his own missions, and the History Pack, a series of pre-made missions that will recreate historical missions into space.

The expansion also adds new parts to the game, such as fuel tanks, adapters, decouplers, command pods inspired by the American and Soviet space programs, and also Kerbal Personal Parachutes, which can save a Kerbal's life, unless they use it in the space void.

Another feature that will come together with Making History are leaderboards, giving players a way to compare their performances at the end of missions.

The price and release date of the Making History are still to be announced, but Squad confirmed in a separate post that they will keep the promise they made in April 2013, that all updates and expansions (this one included) will be free for everyone who bought the game prior to that month's ending.

Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade free version released

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Although envisioned as a persistent open-world war MMO, Warhammer 40k: Eternal Crusade did not meet the expectations at first. However, if you are still curious about it, the developers had just launched the free version. And while they originally planned to let free players play just one class and be food for the Ork waaagh! machine, the free version actually surprises, making all factions and most classes available.

The dev team explains that the free version of Eternal Crusade allows you to choose any of the four factions and lets you try four out of the five classes, excluding only the Air Assault class. All this has a bad side, though: character progression for free players comes at a third of the regular speed.

Yeah, you've read it well. You'll only gain a third of what a premium user will get. However, if you want to get full priviledges and have access to the 5th class and earn full rewards, you can either pay $20 or buy $20 worth of virtual currency.

With the price change comes a gift for those who previously bought the game or acquired it in any ways. If you're a premium user, you will get $20 worth of virtual currency and a bonus copy to give to one of your friends.

Sniper Elite 4 reveals 'Deathstorm' DLC

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Less than one month passed since Sniper Elite 4 hit the Steam shop, and the developer Rebellion Developments has now announced the first DLC of the game - the multi-chaptered Deathstorm.

Due next Tuesday, March 21st, first part of three confirmed is called Inception and it takes place immediately following the main game's story. The campaign mission is set in the cold terrain of northern Italy, where the player (either alone or co-op) will breach into a Nazi naval base that's the target of a bombing run.

"With imposing scaffolding, a German destroyer and myriad Kriegsmarine soldiers to negotiate, Karl Fairburne must help finish what the bombing run started. But his primary mission concerns the secret Manhattan Project: To retrieve a critical, mysterious package codenamed Deathstorm."

But that's not all: the Night Fighter expansion pack is also due March 21st. The expansion brings three new weapons, night-time camouflage rifle skins, and character skins. On the multiplayer side of the game, players will receive a new mode called Elimination (12-player tag game) and the Night Woods map, all in a free update.

Civilization 6 - 60 turn demo introduced on Steam

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Since Sid Meier's Civilization 6 dropped last October, the game had a host of updates, a great number of player-made mods to choose from, and it's Australian Summer DLC. If you didn't experience any of that yet and you wished to try Civilization 6, well, now you're lucky. Today Firaxis and 2K launched a free demo.

"Players who download the Sid Meier’s Civilization VI demo will be able to play as China, led by Qin Shi Huang and take their first steps building a new civilization for up to 60 turns in to the game. For those completely new to the Civilization series the demo also includes the tutorial from the full game to introduce and guide beginners to the world of Civilization."

Alongside the free demo, 2K is running a Publisher Weekend Sale which brings discounts on Civilization 6's full release, 20% off the base game and 25% off the digital deluxe edition, as well as discounts for other popular titles owned by the company, such as XCOM 2 and Mafia 3.

Okhlos: Omega, the mythological mob simulator

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Okhlos: Omega, a world where growing crowds of soldiers, citizens and animals set off to beat the gods and lesser beings from Greek mythology. Why? Because they act like total jerks and the citizens have had enough! Now, I don't think that leveling houses and towns was really necessary, but mobs and collateral damage tend to go hand-in-hand.

Instead of directly controlling individual units, you'll direct where the crowd goes by moving a banner (with your mouse) that your people will automatically gather to. You can issue basic commands for them to attack, spread out, tighten up, or hold steady and block, but there's no fine control of this angry group. The result is chaotic. When you try to squeeze everyone around bombs, spikes and other deadly traps scattered around, there will sure be some casualties.

On the other hand, sending a wave of angry citizens crashing down on a greek god has this great feeling to it. That stays satisfying, which is great, because mechanically there's nothing much else to do in Okhlos.

Each level is broken down into procedurally-generated areas with shops and a boss fight with a god or beast at the end. You'll lose strong people, weak people, you'll pick up wandering replacements, and you'll ocasionally exchange certain types of mob members for others (e.g. slaves for warriors) or claim stat-boosting heroes (like Theseus or Daedalus).

The later ones are especially important to your extended survivability. If your philosopher character dies in battle and you're out of backups, that's the end of your run. Similarly, if your whole mob dies and you can't find any others to build it back up, your fate is sealed.

Being crushed by a god could make it hard to summon the courage to start from the beginning again. The first few stages started to look very repetitive, while Okhlos‘ reliance on luck wasn’t helping matters. A lot hangs on the unit exchange shops, and whether you get offered Heroes or not. Being given a bad hand in this regard is really annoying, as they can be pretty key to success.

There are clearly a couple of elements dragging Okhlos down, what with the controls needing a bit of brain power, and certain bosses leaving me stumped, resulting in repeated sightings of early areas. The majority of the game is really delightful though, with its fun core gameplay wrapped in mythologically-themed packaging that provides a great excuse for some good old ancient humor.

Name: Okhlos: Omega
Developer: Coffee Powered Machine
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Released: August 18, 2016
MSRP: $12.99

CS:GO - Take a trip to the Canals

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Today Valve introduced a brand new addition to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive's map line-up. Named 'Canals', the map is based on an "historic Italian city" and is based on "real-world environments". The map's existence first came to light last year when players found references to "canals" in the game files. Now, it's finally here.

"The CT side is composed of a large, wide open area while the T-controlled territory forms a crescent of smaller spaces around it and provides multiple approaches to each bomb site."

The description continues:

"While the map is based on a real-world location, the aesthetics are intentionally clean and uncluttered for good player visibility. In addition, many of the environmental models are built in a modular fashion so they can be easily re-used by community map makers."

More pictures of the map:

The update will also bring in a visual upgrade to the Phoenix Terrorist player model, with the aim of "preserving character legibility and improving overall visual fidelity". Finally, there's also a new Spectrum Case containing 17 new skins designed by the community.

For a full detailed rundown on some of the design decisions, you can go here.

For Honor: 1500 honorless farmers temporary banned

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It is part of human nature to try and find an easy way to trick something into our benefit. And that's what part of the For Honor community tried to do with it's progression system, at the expense of other players' fun. Some sneaky players have been AFK farming and managed to pick-up end-game rewards without struggling to much. They rigged their games to keep their character moving, in order to avoid being kicked for inactivity, receiving progress an rewards without playing at all. Ubisoft are now working on stopping this. They gave temporary bans to 1,500 of these AFK farmers and warnings to thousands others. Permanent bans may follow in the future if the problem persists.

Earlier this month, Ubisoft explained their intent with an official announcement:

For those unfamiliar with the practice, players are able to go AFK (away from keyboard) and keep their in-game character moving throughout a match (ex. tying a rubber band on the control stick), garnering end-game rewards and progression without actually playing. The ‘farming’ aspect comes about when these players use this technique frequently to gain a large amount of these rewards.

“Because this kind of behavior negatively affects the player experience of others, it has become a top priority for us. As such, we will be sanctioning all the players who have been found to be using AFK Farming repeatedly.

They started detecting and tracking AFK farmers soon after the announcement was published, and last week they issued a first round of warnings, and they have now moved onto punishment.

Around 1,500 people have been issued with 3-day temporary bans. Another 4,000 or so have received warnings that will become temporary bans too if they persist with their illegal practice. So far Ubisoft have only temporarily banned AFK farmers but they say permanent suspension is an option too, especially for people using third-party software.

Rocket League: Dropshot mode coming next week

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After recently reaching 10.5 million copies sold on all platforms, Rocket League is soon going to add a new mode based around smashing holes in the opponent's side of the arena.

What's Dropshot mode? Well, instead of the traditional way of scoring goals, the new mode has the players hit the ball to smash holes in the opponent's side of the arena (a shiny new hexagonal one, by the way) so they can kick the ball through the holes to score. The new game mode is coming out in a free update next week, on March 22nd, as the devs announced in the recently released trailer:

The developers offered a detailed explanation of the new game mode here:

Our new game mode is all about Damage! Along with our usual stats like Goals, Assists, and Saves, Dropshot introduces Damage as a statistic — the more damage you do, the more floor panels break, and the easier it is to score a goal! Each panel can be hit by a ball twice — the first hit activates the panel, while the second breaks the panel, creating a new scoring opportunity.

“The new ball has three different phases, each more powerful than the last, that determine how much damage is done when the ball smashes into the floor panels. The second and third phases are activated by multiple Battle-Car hits, so the longer the ball stays off the ground, the more powerful it becomes. While the first phase of the new ball only damages one tile upon impact, the second and third phases can damage up to seven and 19 panels, respectively.

The update will also kick off Season 4 of competitive play, improve the spectator camera, dunk new cosmetics, and add a new night time variant of the Mannfield arena.

In other news, the Rocket League team has no plan for a sequel in the future. After being asked about a possible sequel during an interview for Kinda Funny Games, Psyonix's vice president Jeremy Dunham declared that the risk of dividing the game's player base is too great to consider a follow up any time soon.

"Why would we want to take this huge community that we've already built, that's still growing, and say, 'What you're playing now is going to be irrelevant in 12 months,'" says Dunham. "Our goal was to keep making Rocket League better and better so that we don't lose any of the people that want to play."

Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven arrives in April

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Paradox Interactive has announced the release date for the next Europa Universalis IV expansion coming next month: April 6th. As it is common with EU4's expansions, Mandate of Heaven is a mix of new content and system changes. On the themed front, Paradox says:

While Europe slowly pulls itself from a period of darkness, the East continues to shine brightly. The Ming throne is set on a foundation of thousands of years of civilization while Japanese warlords do battle in honorable array, holding tight to their bushido code. The gods have blessed Asia with wealth and culture. Are you worthy of the Mandate of Heaven?

Ming China will get to play with Imperial Decrees and Imperial Reforms, as well as demand tribute from neighbours. As for Japan, Paradox says:

Daimyos now owe loyalty to the Shogun – and the Shogun is whomever controls the imperial capital of Kyoto. Force your lesser rivals to commit seppuku to preserve their honor.

As for new global systems, expect historical Ages and Golden Eras:

Meet objectives in four historical ages from the Age of Discovery to the Age of Revolutions, earning new bonuses and powers for your country. Declare a Golden Era to further increase your chance of success.

If you're interested for more information, you can check the official announcement here.

Mandate of Heaven will cost $19.99.

Cities: Skylines, 3.5 million copies sold

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This weekend Cities: Skylines, the grand city simulator developed by Paradox Interactive, has reached the impressive number of 3.5 million copies sold since it has been launched in March 2015. Last Friday it's also been the second anniversary of the city builder's release, so in celebration the developer is launching a new free DLC for the community, which will be "available soon".

Did you ever wish to add a chinese feeling to your metropolis ? The free DLC called Pearls from the East will offer a bunch of China-themed buildings to all players, bringing in "a Panda Zoo, a Chinese Temple, and the famous Shanghai Pearl Tower", all of which should add a splash of Asian flair to your metropolises.

But hey, we're not done here. Pearls from the East is not the only DLC coming soon to the game, as you'll soon be able to incorporate the Mass Transit expansion, which brings in new transit options, such as monorails, cable cars, ferries and flying blimps, among other things. The expansion gives mayor-players the chance to generate extra income by way of fares and journey ticketing.

As it often happens with Cities: Skylines' premium expansions, the base game will also receive a free update — the latest of which introduces "mod-inspired features" to traffic management, and the often requested ability to name roads. Furthermore, the update will bring with it new unique buildings, policies, and achievements.

Poly Bridge: Even you can be an engineer!

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When I was young, I dreamt of becoming an engineer, but soon I started working with complex mathematics in school. At that point my brain decided that it simply doesn't want to come to terms with all the calculus and algebraic formulae I had to deal with. That's when I understood that my dream will never come true. Until now. Today, I discovered that anyone can be an engineer, more or less. How? Simple. The answer is Poly Bridge.

Poly Bridge is a bridge-building simulator made by the people at Dry Cactus that will let you unleash your creativity and create wonderful bridges across campaign which has no less than 105 levels. The player's aim is to build a bridge strong enough to get different vehicles safely across a river. In the game's main mode you are restricted by a budget for the materials you are using. You are provided with a variety of materials, such as wood, steel beams, ropes and cables.

10 seconds into the game and you're already building your first bridge. The tutorial does a great job at explaining to you how everything works and how to efficiently manage your resources. After a few minutes, you will find yourself working your way through the campaign levels, figuring how to build a sturdy bridge that will do fine, and often refining it to reduce the budget or make it even more efficient. There are 105 levels divided in 7 areas, each having 15 levels that will take place in a certain environment, specific to the area.

If you ever feel tired of trying to finish a level and you feel like relaxing a bit, you can always switch to the sandbox mode. There you have unlimited money which you can use to build literally any bridge that comes to your mind. You can go wild and create the most complex bridge the world has ever seen, and then if you feel like sharing it with the community, you can publish your design on the Workshop for everyone to try and solve.

The soundtrack made by the canadian Adrian Talens creates a unique atmosphere. The chilled guitar-based music will keep you relaxed during the gameplay, as the levels become more difficult.

Poly Bridge is a game that every fan of the genre will certainly enjoy. It has a high replayability rate, since you can always come back and try to build a cheaper but stronger bridge, or you can go into sandbox mode and build the craziest bridges ever built - your imagination is the limit. For it's price tag ($11.99 at the time this post has been written) the game is incredibly well polished and it can keep you in front of the computer for hours, making you forget about everything else. Even your kids.

Name: Poly Bridge
Developer: Dry Cactus
Publisher: Dry Cactus
Released: July 12, 2016
MSRP: $11.99

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