EA Releases ‘Dead Space’ on Origin For Free — A Mea Culpa for Past Problems?

PC Gamers have had precious few nice things to say about EA over the past six months, but things might start turning around here shortly. EA just announced a free release of the hit 2008 title, ‘Dead Space’. The game, developed by the dismantled Visceral Games, was released to almost universal critical acclaim and it has helped to reinvigorate the science fiction/horror genre that has so often been woefully overlooked. For fans that didn’t get a chance to play ‘Dead Space’ the first time around, now might be the perfect opportunity. All you need in order to download the free release is an Origin account.

The story of ‘Dead Space’ pulls from several of the greatest works of science fiction horror around, from ‘Alien’ to ‘The Thing’ and everything in between. The title follows Isaac Clarke, yes a pretty deliberate reference, in his journey aboard the USG Ishimura. Clarke is an engineer aboard the massive ship, known in-game as a Planet Cracker, and he is there when horrors are unleashed thanks to a relic possessed by the Unitology. The title follows Clarke as he seeks to right the very horrific wrongs that have begun to pile up aboard the ship all while he suffers from a hallucinogenic breakdown of his own. Yeah, it’s a pretty heavy title.

Fans of horror and science fiction titles owe it to themselves to get their hands on ‘Dead Space’ in order to get involved with one of the better PC single-player titles in recent memory. With that said, the game won’t be for everyone and if you are claustrophobic or tend to be filled with nightmares you might be better off turning away from this one.

EA is doing their best to try and fix their reputation after a disastrous period surrounding the release of their latest ‘Star Wars’ arena brawler, ‘Battlefront 2’ where they were heavily criticized for microtransactions and other predatory financial practices. A few great tiles being released might sway fans to be a little easier on the legendary company.

Can You Start A Career In Esports?

2018 has started off strong in the world of professional gaming. Games that have long been popular, like League of Legends, Counter-Strike Global Offensive and DOTA 2, continue to sport impressive viewer counts on twitch. During major tournaments, these games can each bring in well over 500,000 concurrent viewers.

The biggest news in esports this year has been Blizzard’s Overwatch League. This is the first time a game developer has ever sponsored and funded a league for their game, and so far they’ve been doing a good job of pulling in viewers. In fact, Blizzard and Twitch formed a 90-million dollar partnership for the first two seasons of the league.

Blizzard has marked a major turn in the esports world by introducing city-based teams. One of the biggest differences between esports and real sports has always been the lack of regional fan bases. With teams like the Philadelphia Flyers, Boston Uprising and Seoul Dynasty, Blizzard hopes to inspire regional Overwatch fan bases across the country and the world.

If other major esports titles take a turn in this direction, it seems only a matter of time before professional gaming is fully mainstream. In fact, some people believe it’s already there. This is especially true in certain age ranges: among 18 to 25-year-olds, esports already boast higher viewership than certain hallmark events in real sports.

The future is looking bright for professional gamers. Of course, becoming a professional gamer requires an immense amount of talent and absolute commitment to a single game. But, to put it in simple terms: yes. You can start a career in esports, and the financial reward for doing so is only expected to increase.

Nexus Mod Developers to See Compensation

Those in the modding community have likely not forgotten the recent fiasco over paid mods from the Steam Workshop. Met with derision, paid mods were nothing short of a flop. In a similar vein, but likely handled in a much better way, Nexus has a different method in mind for compensating its many mod developers.

Any mod developer can tell you the massive number of hours that go into crafting a great game mod. Combined with all the recurring maintenance and bug fixes to follow the release of most any moderately-sized mod, a mod developer can dump massive amounts of personal time into their creations. When released, a mod developer expects to see no monetary return for their work, as mods online are free.

Nexus Mods is a website that serves as a major platform for users to download the work of these mod developers. An article from Polygon by Owen S. Good (https://www.polygon.com/2017/12/20/16803278/nexus-mods-donations-pay-modders) outlines how, early next year, Nexus plans to compensate their modders with a new donation system.

Nexus, starting with a few thousand from their own coffers, will begin a donation pool that its user can donate to. This donation pool will be used to distribute “points” to the modders of the community based off the number of unique downloads the mod developer receives. Mr. Good explains a unique download, in this case, means the same user can download a dozen of a developer’s mods, but it would still count for only a single unique download. With points, mod developers can use their earnings in the Nexus Mods storefront, convert those points into Amazon gift cards, or transfer compensation to a PayPal account.

While it does not sound like Nexus’ system will cause mod developers to quit their day jobs, it does sound like a realistic way the greater modding community can give back to the folks who have spent so much time creating great content.

Humble Store and Steam Give Games Away for Free

Do you want a free PC / desktop game? How about 2 of them? Steam and the Humble Store are competing for your attention with 2 free games.

At Humbe Store, they are giving out a free game called Company of Heroes. This game is brought to you by Relic and is a WWII strategy game that was created four years ago. This game is considered by some one of the best in the WWII genre. Some complain that the updated version did not expand on what they did in the first version. The highlight of the game is that you can sink your foes and killing them by shooting at the ice beneath them. You can get this game from the Humble Store on Saturday, December 16th between 10 am and 1 pm Eastern Standard Time. is

The other game, that is being distributed by Steam, is called Homefront. You play this game as a first-person shooter and is a set in a United States that has become occupied by North Korea. The remake of the Red Dawn movie had the same concept. Humble Store actually gave a free version of this game last week. The free offer from Steam expires on Friday, December 15th, between 10 am and 1 pm Eastern Standard Time.

These free offers are to new to Steamto and Humble Store, but it is not the first time that a shop or game maker has given away a game for free. In the first half of December, Ubisoft gave away a version of Assasin’s Creed called Assasin’s Creed IV: Black Flag for a short time.

These free offers will continue to be made in the future as they are a good way to advertise the game to potential new customers.

Bioware Sees Management Shift Post Andromeda

An announcement was made on July 18 that the General Manager of video game developer Bioware, Aaryn Flynn, will be stepping down to pursue other career options. According to the report, he will be replaced by former “Mass Effect” project manager Casey Hudson, who left Bioware two years ago to work on an unnamed project at Microsoft that has yet to see the light of day.

Many in the industry are speculating about what is going on behind the scenes with this management shift. The harsh judgment by fans and critics of “Mass Effect: Andromeda”, the company’s most recent release, may be one of the sparks that lit this fire. Hudson had a large role in the first three “Mass Effect” volumes, and while the first two received almost exclusively praise, the third edition was criticized for its “tacked on” ending. Hudson himself took some blame for that at the time, and many fans forgave him once some more explanatory DLC came out, as well as an extended end sequence.

The problems with “Andromeda” seem to run deeper. While some have praised its action sequences and game play, initial reviews were extremely bothered by the weirdness of some of the facial animations. For many others, the thin characters, weak plot, and contrived romances, once the pride of Bioware releases, were the greater problem with Andromeda.

Also, Bioware has been trying to make its games more “open world”, which often makes tight story lines much more difficult to maintain, taking away from the heart of most Bioware titles. Their attempt at “open world” seems to have failed as well, with many fans complaining of repetitive, pointless quests and vast, empty spaces.

We will find out soon if this has any effect on the cancellation of “Andromeda” DLC. Likely not, as all of Bioware’s focus right now seems to be on their next project, “Anthem”.

VR Gaming Lands Hot Marvel Property

Virtual reality gaming is the future of video games but people just don’t realize it quite yet. Virtual reality gaming aims to bring about THE final note in immersive gaming as it will allow people to literally enter the games in every way that matters. The Oculus Rift has been the leading console for virtual reality gamers but that hasn’t been quite enough to really bust them to the next level of social acceptance and popularity. One of the big problems with VR gaming is a lack of popular, big name properties. This problem is looking like it will be solved as Marvel recently announced an Oculus-exclusive title.

Marvel is, of course, one of the largest entertainment companies in the world right now. Marvel is dominating the box office thanks to their partnership with Disney and they’ve got millions of fans following their every move. Bringing that kind of following to a fledgling enterprise like the Oculus Rift can literally be a game changing decision. Virtual reality gaming consoles have long lacked a go-to game to show casual players that it is a serious platform. Having Marvel come on board could change the entire genre.

Marvel’s Oculus-only title will be called ‘Marvel Powers united VR’. The game was displayed at the Disney D23 event this past week. Marvel Powers United VR lets players step into the cape and costume of their favorite Marvel characters to fight off waves of bad guys in a 3D, virtual reality environment. Right now there are 12 primary characters announced including The Hulk, Captain Marvel, and Rocket Raccoon. The game is being developed by the team at Sanzaru Games (Ripcoil, VR Sports Challenge). The Oculus needs a true game changer in order to keep up the frenetic and fast moving world of gaming and this could be it.

Avoiding Identity Theft in eSports

Identity theft is becoming increasingly prevalent in online gaming. In League of Legends, a new wave of scams has hit users who unknowingly try to purchase free RP with a credit card. This method of payment has not been authorized by Riot Games, and it is not a valid purchase by any means. Even though the user is logged in to his or her account, the site is not safe from fraud. People will pose as Riot employees and try to extract important information. As players, it is crucial that you refuse to disclose your username and password. After the incident, make sure to report them via the report system. With enough attention, their accounts will be closed and the company can eradicate these imposters.

The support team of Riot Games is working around the clock to address this problem. Most of the frauds use pre level 30 accounts to send messages and trade champions. Therefore, Riot is targeting these low level accounts in the near future. A two step authentication process could help them determine which ones are fake and which ones are real. Because false positives are tragic for desktop games, they need to make sure that their system has no flaws. Champions, runes, and masteries all cost valuable RP that gamers purchase with credit and debit cards. While some MOBAs can get away with little security, LoL does not have this liberty. It is constantly under fire from the North American and East Asian communities. Tracking these hackers must be done on a region by region basis.

Disney Dives into Team Liquid

Disney has invested into Team Liquid, a gaming organization that has stakes in League of Legends, Hearthstone, and Overwatch. In particular, LoL is one of their primary games that has taken off in recent years. Armed with a strong lineup of Lourlo, Reignover, Goldenglue, Piglet, and Matt, this team is looking to prove themselves in the NALCS. Disney has elaborate plans to help them. They will provide funding toward a gaming house equipped with bedrooms, practice areas, and rooms for analysis. With the right infrastructure, Team Liquid can get back on its feet and dominate the competitive scene. Disney is also providing mousepads and gaming chairs that will boost performance instantly. With the world championships approaching, Team Liquid is looking for any way to secure a berth for North America. Disney does not have a huge history in eSports, but they have the membership and money to back themselves up. This partnership has many implications for the future. Team Liquid is planning to use a 10 man roster once again, and this funding will go a long way to pay for players’ salaries. Disney has franchises across the nation, which means the team will have a home for whatever tournaments pop up. Riot Games frequently hosts championships in the Midwest and on the East Coast, so Disney resorts will be prime training grounds when the team travels abroad. In addition, eSports in not only limited to LoL. Disney is working closely with other games to provide the best experience for viewers and fans. The players will receive many benefits including an experienced coaching staff. Armed with the strongest weapons, Team Liquid has a promising few months ahead with Disney.

Total War: Warhammer II Promises Big Things

After the release of “Total War: Rome II”, many gamers and critics were of the mind that the entire Total War franchise was in serious trouble. After many great early entries, that one disappointed fans with its clunky interface and lack of story or even heart.

Many of those opinions changed with the advent of Total War: Warhammer. Initially, many feared that the company was veering from its roots in historical accuracy with this delve into a dark fantasy realm, but the game itself was received with wide approval from both the players and the critics. In fact, some have said it single-handedly saved both the Total War franchise and their parent company, Creative Assembly.

In fact, the game did so well that the sequel (and likely even a third game) have been the entire focus of the company. No other Total War game entries have been announced. Warhammer II is set to be out this fall, and the trailer is extremely impressive.

The Warhammer editions of Total War have done so well that Creative Assembly has made some promises in development that they have never done before. The developers have built in a special ability to link all the games together into one super map. If gamers have Warhammer and Warhammer II, they will be able to set up a game that allows your faction to spread its color across both maps, since Warhammer II will be taking place on an entirely different continent. The promise has also extended to the likely third edition of the game, which will tie in yet one more of the continents on the planet.

It is quite an ambitious undertaking, but Total War has always had a knack for pleasing fans, most of the time. If Warhammer II and III pay off as well as the first, you can be sure they will continue.

XCOM 2: War of the Chosen First Look

Folks at the PC Gaming Show got their first look at upcoming Firaxis expansion XCOM 2: War of the Chosen.

 

Originally released February 5, 2016, XCOM 2 is a turn-based tactics game developed by Firaxis Games that has received near-universal critical acclaim. War of the Chosen, due out August 29 of this year, is slated to be a major expansion pack for this game and will bring with it a wealth of new content and features, more so than any previous expansion.

 

XCOM 2 fans will find much to love here. War of the Chosen brings an additional campaign with three resistance factions to unite and fight the aliens. Reapers attack from the shadows and sabotage. Skirmishers are defectors from the aliens that are human hybrids and can perform multiple actions per turn. Templars are psionic fighters who become more powerful as a mission progresses. These CHosen will change throughout the game, adapting and becoming more powerful.

 

There’s also more to explore with lost cities, creating some chaotic three-way fights between the aliens, XCOM, and some alien tech-mutated humans.

 

Fans who are hoping to get an early look can check out the trailer on YouTube. They have also just made the PC Gaming Show interview fully available, so check that out to hear the developers talk about the new game and what it brings to the table in their own words.

 

As an expansion pack, War of the Chosen will require the base XCOM 2 game in order to play. So be on the lookout for summer sales coming up to get your hands on the base game if you haven’t already and be able to experience all this exciting new content in a couple months’ time.