Ubisoft Singapore under investigation for workplace discrimination

Posted on August 17, 2021 by

Ubisoft’s troubled Singapore studio is under fire from local watchdog.

Ubisoft Singapore, the studio behind the often delayed Skull & Bones, is under investigation from the country’s watchdog for fair employment practices over discrimination and sexual harassment claims.

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The Straits Times is reporting that The Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (Tafep) has received anonymous complaints from staff about sexual harassment and workplace misconduct, referencing recent media reports on the subject.

In investigating the development of Skull & Bones, a Kotaku report from a month ago painted a grim picture of the studio, with reports of incompetent leadership, and worker abuse.

According to The Straits Times, companies under investigation will be asked to conduct an internal investigation into the allegations, and interview witnesses and victims. Tafep will also require them to implement new policies to stop this from happening in the future.

If Ubisoft Singapore is found to be in violation of the Ministry of Manpower’s Fair Consideration Framework, it could prevent the studio from creating work passes for foreigners, or renewing existing ones.

Though Ubisoft’s big crisis mostly took place last year, resulting in the ousting of a number of high-profile executives and leads, many workers don’t believe the company has done enough.

The post Ubisoft Singapore under investigation for workplace discrimination appeared first on VG247.

People Can Fly didn’t receive royalties from Outriders

Posted on August 17, 2021 by

People Can Fly apparently hasn’t received any royalties from Outriders, and staff at the company don’t know how many copies of the game have been sold.

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Xbox Series X is getting a new 4K dashboard, at last

Posted on August 17, 2021 by

Xbox Series X

It’s been a long time coming, and people have been asking for it for a while, but the Xbox Series X dashboard is finally getting a 4K resolution upgrade.

Microsoft is starting to test a new 4K dashboard for the Xbox Series X for Insiders in the Alpha and Alpha Skip-Ahead rings from today. Any members of the experimental Alpha circles will get access to the newly improved high-resolution interface for the Xbox dashboard later today.

The update basically makes the Xbox UI look crisper and sharper on 4K displays – something that users have been asking for since the consoles launched in late 2020. Xbox Series X consoles were previously outputting UI elements at 1080p, so native 4K UI elements for the Home, Guide, and so on will be gratefully received.

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“This change means Home, Guide, and other areas of the UI will be displayed in a higher native resolution for increased sharpness and text readability,” said Microsoft in a statement on its site.

There’s no word, yet, on whether the Xbox Series S will see improvements on its dashboard or not, but it could just be that Microsoft wants to test everything out on the more powerful hardware before bringing it to other platforms (since the Xbox Series S can also output at 4K).

Elsewhere, this new update promises “to properly reflect local languages” across Xbox, which is being phased in at the expense of (apparently) some “odd” language that may appear around the system.

There is currently no date announced for the 4K dashboard arriving for regular gamers, but if it’s in testing now, you likely don’t have too long to wait.

The post Xbox Series X is getting a new 4K dashboard, at last appeared first on VG247.

The Last of Us Part 2 multiplayer files hint at a potential Naughty Dog battle royale

Posted on August 17, 2021 by

Multiplayer assets seemingly buried in The Last of Us Part 2 suggest that Naughty Dog may be planning to release a battle royale game set inside the iconic game universe.

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Here are all the free games you can grab right now Rebel Galaxy

Posted on August 17, 2021 by


There are an awful lot of free games floating around there right now, from Epic's weekly freebies to publisher promos on Steam, GOG sale giveaways, and more. Keeping track of them all can be tough, and you might be missing out.

That is not an acceptable state of affairs, so we've put together this running list of every free game that crosses our screens. The goal is to help you find and claim games that usually cost money, so free-to-keep and temporary promotions will be included and noted as such, but free-to-play games and others that are normally free won't be—for that, be sure to take a look at our categorized breakdown of the best free PC games.

Now let's get started:

Time-limited:

  • Nothing at the moment – stay tuned!

Free to keep:

  • Rogue Galaxy – Battle pirates, explore anomalies, befriend aliens, scavenge battle wreckage, mine asteroids, and discover artifacts as a roguish do-gooder, crafty space-trader or power-hungry privateer in this swashbuckling space adventure. (Epic Games Store, ends August 19)
  • Ultima Underworld 1 and 2 – The classic Looking Glass dungeon crawlers are back on GOG, and free for the taking throughout August. It looks dated, but trust me—this is one of the most brilliant RPGs ever created. (GOG, ends September 3)
  • Syndicate Plus – Kidnap people and turn them into mindless corporate murderslaves in Bullfrog’s groundbreaking cyberpunk RTS. The “Plus” edition includes the core game and the American Revolt expansion. (GOG, ends September 3)
  • Syndicate Wars – The sequel takes the gameplay of the original and drops it into a brand-new, bigger, and more technologically advanced game world. (GOG, ends September 3)

Prime Gaming:

The games on Prime Gaming aren't technically free, since you need to be a subscriber in order to take advantage. But there's a lot on offer if you are, including in-game loot and starter packs for free-to-play games, so it's worth keeping tabs on. Prime Gaming is included with Amazon Prime at $13 per month, or $120 per year; links to all included freebies are available at amazon.com.

  • Battlefield V – Experience mankind’s greatest conflict across land, air, and sea in EA’s hit FPS based on the Second World War. (ends September 1)
  • Lost Horizon 2 – In the shadow of the Cold War, Fenton Paddock is facing the hardest fight of his life: While the tensions between the superpowers threaten to tear the world apart, the British soldier has to save his family that has been caught by powerful enemies. (ends September 1)
  • A Normal Lost Phone – The game takes the shape of a narrative investigation: you have to search the phone’s text messages, pictures, and applications in order to learn about its former owner. Through this phone, you uncover Sam’s life, friends, family and relationships, until the evening when they turn 18 and mysteriously disappear. (ends September 1)
  • Another Lost Phone: Laura’s Story – A narrative investigation game about exploring the social life of a young woman whose phone you have just found. (ends September 1)
  • Planet Alpha – Pursued by relentless enemies on a beautiful alien world filled with mystery and danger, you must harness the power of night and day as you struggle to survive. (ends September 1)
  • Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis – The eve of World War II. Nazi agents are about to get their hands on a weapon more dangerous than the atom bomb. Only Indy can stop them before they unleash the deadly secret that sank Atlantis. (ends September 1)
  • Metamorphosis – You wake up one morning to find that you are rather inconveniently transforming into a tiny bug, while your friend Joseph is being arrested for reasons unknown. To save him and to find the answers you seek, you must embark on a journey through a world which, like you, has become twisted and unfamiliar. (ends September 1)
  • Secret Files: Tunguska – Nina Kalenkow’s world is turned upside down when she learns that her father, the scientist Vladimir Kalenkow, has vanished without a trace. Since the police can’t (or won’t?) help, Nina decides to search for clues to her father’s whereabouts on her own. (ends September 1)

We'll keep this list as comprehensive as we can, but if you spot something we haven't, let us know in the comments.

Mortal Shell’s new roguelike expansion is free-to-keep for a limited time Mortal Shell The Virtuous Cycle

Posted on August 17, 2021 by


After a year of Epic Games Store exclusivity, Mortal Shell hits Steam on August 18. That’s a day before the release of The Virtuous Cycle, a big new expansion for Mortal Shell which adds a roguelike mode, a new playable shell (the game’s take on classes) and a new transforming weapon reminiscent of Bloodborne’s trick weapons

The expansion sounds promising, and if you own the game there’s no reason not to check it out: It’ll be free to keep from August 18-22. That means if you buy Mortal Shell, you’ll be able to ‘get’ the DLC pack on Steam free of charge. The offer applies to all available platforms, which presumably includes the Epic Games Store for players who already own it there.

The roguelike mode features all the trappings you’d expect: the world is randomized, there are upgrade pillars dotted throughout the map, and there are “more than 100 upgrades” ranging exotic weapons through to “entirely new maneuvers.” The new shell is Hadern, which comes bearing talents including dagger mastery.

Mortal Shell is among the better Soulslikes, scoring an 80 in our review. “Enjoyably tough and esoteric, if a little uneven, Mortal Shell is a decent debut from Cold Symmetry,” Rick Lane wrote.

Naraka: Bladepoint tips: how to counter, get more kills, and live longer

Posted on August 17, 2021 by


Naraka: Bladepoint has been out for about a week, and already there are some expert sword swingers who are unpicking the combat animations frame-by-frame to find tiny advantages. That's useful stuff, but in this guide, we're focusing on the basic advice we've picked up over the course of a few solo and trio wins in the martial arts 'n magic battle royale game: how the tricky melee combat works, and how to win.

If you haven't tried Naraka, it's out on Steam as of last week, and pits 60 players (alone or in teams of three) against each other in a shrinking battle royale arena. Although there are guns, they're clunky, and the focus on melee weapon combos, magic abilities, and Assassin's Creed-like climbing combined with zippy grappling hooks. It took some warming up to, but it's fun. We're still working on a review, but this guide may help you determine whether or not it's something you want to try.

Getting started in Naraka: Bladepoint

  1. Play the tutorial. It’ll show you the basics of movement, comboing, and countering. Don’t worry if you’re confused on a few points when you’re done, that’s normal.
  2. Look through the Narakapedia. You can find this in the game menu accessible at the top right (the gear icon) or by clicking the ? icon up there. It’s full of stuff you’ll want to know about that the tutorial doesn’t teach you.
  3. Try the training mode. It’s in the mode select menu, which you reach by clicking the button above “Start” on the main menu. Suggestion: Press F4 to open the training menu, set the bot mode to parry training with a certain weapon, and turn combat on. It’ll come at you with blue strikes so you can find the timing for counters (left mouse + right mouse). You won’t die if your health depletes, so don’t worry about that.
  4. Play your first match. Set matchmaking to The Herald’s Trial and jump into your first game to fight… bots. Your first match won’t be a real one as Naraka: Bladepoint tries to ease you into the experience. It’ll start matching you with real players after you play a game or two with bots, though, so it’s just a rite of passage.

How to party up with friends

Naraka: Bladepoint doesn't use the Steam friends list, and instead has its own simple friends system. Click the people icon at the top right to open the friends panel, then either type in your friend's alias or paste their ID number (yours is listed under your name). When they appear in the search, click on their name to open a contextual menu and send a friend request. When you're friends, click to open the same menu or the banner icon to invite them to your party.

If you want to queue into trios with two players, you can either keep “Quick Party” checked in the mode select menu, which will find a third player for your group, or uncheck it to just play with a party of two.

Above: Performing a counterstrike with a spear. Just after he started the blue attack at the end of his combo, I held left mouse + right mouse to counter, and then clicked the left mouse button repeatedly to follow up with a counterstrike combo, which glows gold.

Melee combos, clashes, and counterstrikes

The only way to really get Naraka: Bladepoint's melee combat is to try it out in the training mode (mentioned in the 'getting started' section above), because it's all about timing. It helps to know what it is you're trying to time, though, so here's what you need to know about close-quarters fighting.

Common attacks: The left mouse button throws horizontal attacks and the right mouse button throws vertical attacks. With any weapon, these are your basic strikes.

Combos: After initiating a common attack with the left or right mouse button, combos can be executed by clicking one mouse button or the other again. Combos are listed in the Narakapedia (F2), and at most involve three clicks (eg, left click, left click, right click). Naraka is not very picky about the timing.

Focus attacks (blue attacks): Some combos end with an attack that makes your character glow blue. You can also perform blue attacks by holding down left or right mouse button to charge the attack, and then releasing it. These are called focus attacks, but are often referred to as blue attacks. Common attacks cannot interrupt blue attacks.

Clashes: If two players throw the same level of attack (common or blue) at each other at the same time, their weapons will strike each other, losing durability and doing minimal damage. 

Counterstrikes: Blue attacks are powerful, but dangerous, because if your opponent has good timing, they can disarm you with a red counterstrike. A counterstrike is performed by pressing the left and right mouse buttons simultaneously, and only works against blue attacks. The timing is tricky to master: you're not trying to click when the blow hits you, but just as it's initiated. Charged blue attacks (as opposed to those that result from combos) are the trickiest to counter, because they can be released before fully charging.

Choosing a weapon: The melee weapons all behave differently. Blue longsword attacks, for instance, fire waves of energy. Familiarize yourself with them in the training mode.

Above: The Scale Rush and uppercut attacks.

Grappling and advanced melee attacks

The grappling hook latches onto surfaces or players and pulls you toward them, so long as you have some grappling spools in your inventory. In combat, it serves two purposes: pulling you close to an enemy so you can launch into melee attacks, or getting the hell out of combat to heal.

Retreating is an important skill in Naraka: Bladepoint, as is hiding so you have time to heal. Sometimes, sticking yourself to the other side of a building will cause your enemies to completely lose track of you.

There are also a few special attacks you can perform mid-parkour. Attack while climbing upward to strike in that direction, say, if you're chasing someone up a tree. While grappling toward someone, left or right mouse button performs a flying attack. Finally, while latched onto the side of a ledge or wall running, clicking or holding and releasing a mouse button will perform a “Scale Rush” attack that launches you in the direction of the reticle. 

On the ground, pressing C to crouch and then right clicking performs an uppercut attack that launches enemies into the air, a good way to reset the pace.

Which melee weapon is the best?

Don't tell anyone, but right now the spear seems to be the best melee weapon. See why for yourself by doing counter training against it: It is quite hard to pick up on the spear's combo timing compared to the other melee weapons, making it harder to counter and disarm those who are using it.

Using ranged weapons

It's nice to have a ranged weapon equipped most of the time, unless you've got a teammate on ranged support. These include bows, crossbows, muskets, pistols, and cannons. Some can aim down sights, others just start charging when you left click. They're pretty straightforward, and there's no blue attack or countering to think about. 

If you're good with the bow, it does a lot of damage. The repeating crossbows can pick apart enemies while your friends stab them (they also have a way of making people panic). Pistols can be helpful at midrange. I haven't found muskets to be useful for much other than giving your position away, but perhaps I just haven't unlocked their place in the meta.

Souljades: green thingies that you want

Souljades are green items that provide stat boosts or bonus effects when stored in your Souljade bag. Don't ignore them! Most of them do things like increase your health, increase your resistance to ranged or melee attacks, and increase your damage output. Some Souljades do cooler stuff, like modifying a certain weapon's attack, or making you near invisible when you dash, but the basic stat buffs shouldn't be looked down on. They're a necessity if you want to win by more than luck.

While you play, be on the look out for green loot piles, which always contain a bunch of Souljades, and be sure to replace Souljades you collect in the early game with rarer, more powerful ones in the late game.

You can use the in-match currency, Dark Tide Coins, to purchase random Souljades from Rift Dealers, possibly getting one of high rarity. Increasing your Souljade bag size is also a great idea. Don't forget to loot Dark Tide Coins from the bodies of players you kill! 

General advice

  • Don’t forget to top off your health and armor after a fight. Repair your weapons, too, and then replace the consumables you used via your downed opponents. This might be the most tedious part of the game, but forgetting to repair your armor is like forgetting to protect your head while boxing—not a minor mistake.
  • You probably aren’t going to win a melee fight if you’re outnumbered. Run away.
  • When you see other players fighting, watch and wait. When one group has won, they’ll pause to loot and heal. That’s when you attack.
  • Sick together when playing in a group. For a coordinated trio, a player off on their own is an easy target.
  • Don’t be scared to be aggressive early, dropping into a loot rich zone and fighting it out. If you die early in the match, you can turn into a ghost, respawn with common gear, and try for a comeback win. Plus, you’ll never get the hang of the melee combat if you never initiate fights.
  • Try not to spam the left mouse button. It can be better not to complete combos, because many end in a blue attack, which can be countered. Harass an enemy with normal attacks only and they might get tired of waiting for a blue attack and throw one of their own, which you can then attempt to counter. 
  • Keep looting throughout the game. The golden circles that sometimes appear on the map and slowly fill up mean that a Morus’ Blessing is incoming, the equivalent of an airdrop in PUBG. Near the end of the game, you can get some wildly good stuff in them.

How Deathloop defies the immersive sim’s reliance on quick save One of the game's 8 targets surveys his lair

Posted on August 17, 2021 by


Deathloop is unmistakably an Arkane Studios immersive sim in the mold of Dishonored and Prey, but it's making some pretty dramatic changes to the format. The most notable is that the world is locked in an unbreakable day-long loop, and if protagonist Colt dies, he's thrown back to the start. 

Some players are understandably terrified by this: is Deathloop, god forbid, a roguelike? Will beating it require bashing one's skull against difficult tasks until they 'get gud'? Well, no. The things that seem scary about Deathloop—the loop, and no quick save—are actually there to encourage more experimentation and exploration, says game director Dinga Bakaba, as the player figures out how to assassinate all eight of their targets in a single day.

“So the way it works is like this,” Bakaba starts. “You have four districts that are in practice four discrete levels, big Arkane levels. Each of them has four time periods: the morning version, the noon version, the afternoon and the night. Basically, when you choose to enter one of the districts you can take your time, you can do it fast, whatever, but the thing is when you exit the district and come back to the menu, time advances to the next period.”

“We make you care about the moment-to-moment, but at the same time, very quickly, you start to forget about the consequences.”

So Deathloop won't have you on a strict timer: just like in Dishonored you can explore each region as slowly as you like. The structure of the game is kind of like a turn-based game. “So this is kind of the idea: each period [morning, noon, afternoon, night] is a turn, like it's turn-based, and every four turns the world resets, except your knowledge,” Bakaba says. At some point in the game you'll receive a power called Residuum which lets you keep weapons and items across loops. 

An image of assassin Julianna from the game Deathloop.

(Image credit: Arkane)

“It's important because the structure of the game is not an exercise in challenging you to get to the end of the day,” Bakaba explains. “You can do that, but in practice you can just skip those periods. You can enter a district, take a pick up, then exit it. You don't have to even kill anyone to get to the end of the day. Getting to the end of the day is just a rhythm thing, it gives a rhythm to the experience but it's not a goal in itself. The goal is to learn what's happening and then do some actions that can break the time loop.”

The player will likely fear the loop at the beginning of the game, because the end of it (or death) implies a lack of progress, or forward momentum. “But quickly you get the feeling that time is now your plaything,” Bakaba says. “It's on your side. You start to understand how it works, and you'll use this time loop to be where you need to be, when you need to be.”

The structure of Deathloop addresses one of the bugbears of the immersive sim: quick save. It's there in Dishonored, so you're meant to use it, but it also means you're less likely to see how sticky situations play out; it means you're less likely to be forced to improvise, to really experiment with the game's systems. But Deathloop eliminates quick saves entirely: You're meant to play through disasters, you're meant to see the outcome of poorly hatched plans.

“We always say our games are better when you go with the flow, when you roll with your mistakes and improvise solutions to those problems,” Bakaba says. “And then, even though we say that, we all play those games using quick save too. Even though I say that this is the best way to play, every now and then my ego won't take it and I will reload.”

In Deathloop everything matters, but at the same time, nothing matters. Everything matters, because you can't quick save. Nothing matters, because time loops anyway. No opportunity is lost. If you find an area that's interesting, but want to focus on a different task, you can come back later. It's not like in Dishonored, where players might be inclined to linger in an area long after they've lost interest for the sake of completionism or fear of missing out. “That's the paradox,” Bakaba says. “We make you care about the moment-to-moment, but at the same time, very quickly, you start to forget about the consequences.”

Arkane level designer Dana Nightingale said on Twitter in July that Deathloop is “a little like Bloodborne,” but she probably wasn't referencing that game's notorious difficulty. Bloodborne and the Dark Souls games liberate the player from the tyranny of the quick save, simultaneously raising the stakes and encouraging living in the moment. Just like Deathloop.

“We really wanted the player to get this feeling of mastery that we see watching Groundhog Day or Palm Springs,” Bakaba says. “We get that feeling that the protagonists are the masters of this day, of this period. We wanted to give you a feeling of that.”

The Deathloop release date is September 14, when it'll hit Steam and the Bethesda store.

New Valheim video outlines upcoming changes to blocking and staggering Valheim

Posted on August 16, 2021 by


Iron Gate Studios, developer of Valheim, is currently in drip-feed mode when it comes to sharing information on the Hearth and Home update that's scheduled to arrive sometime in the coming months. That's not really a bad thing—the studio has been sharing videos about some of the changes on the way, and so far they've been pretty interesting, if brief.

Last week we learned about how Valheim's food will change in the update. In Hearth and Home, some foods will mostly increase your health and others will primarily boost your stamina, along with balanced meals that will (as they do now) improve both. This week, another short video appeared that explains how health and stamina will change when it comes to combat.

The video is under a minute long, but here's what it tells us. Stamina will remain responsible for determining how much you can attack and deal damage, but the effectiveness of blocks will now be based on your maximum health rather than your stamina. Want to hold off monsters with your shield? Then eat some health-focused foods beforehand.

One thing not mentioned in the video is parrying, which is blocking an attack just at the moment that attack lands. It's highly effective and useful for staggering opponents, giving you a nice window for a counter attack. Since parrying is a form of blocking, I assume it's also based on maximum health, but it's not expressly stated in the video.

Speaking of staggering, a stagger meter will be added to your UI. When it's filled, it means an enemy attack will stagger you. It's not the most graceful addition to a UI I've ever seen, with a single bar floating in the air next to your character, but I suppose if it were off in a corner with your other status meters you simply might not see it.

This is all fine, I guess? The idea is it'll make it easier for players to focus on a specific playstyle, either berserker-style, jacked up with stamina, or careful and cautious with a bellyful of health. Maybe I just never really developed a playstyle because I kinda like both wildly attacking and carefully defending in the same fight. I have a feeling I'm just going to stick with balanced foods and trying to keep both my stamina and health as high up as I can get them.

The next video, which will presumably arrive next week, will tell us more about shields and blocking, and hopefully, parrying.

Lovecraft’s Untold Stories 2 comes to Steam Early Access in October Lovecraft's Untold Stories 2

Posted on August 16, 2021 by


Lovecraft's Untold Stories, not to be confused with No Code's Stories Untold, is an action roguelite with a side order of RPG mechanics that takes place in various Cthulhu-flavored locales such as abandoned hospitals and old Victorian mansions. It's more action-oriented than you might expect, but the basic elements of madness, the Old Ones, and relentless rain are all there, and people seem to like it—it's got a “very positive” user rating across almost 500 reviews on Steam.

That's good enough to warrant a sequel, Lovecraft's Untold Stories 2, which will feature similar gameplay with a more advanced visual style, six different playable characters, and co-op multiplayer for up to four people. Players will also be able to craft their own equipment, including weapons, clothing, and consumables, using blueprints and resources found throughout the game.

It doesn't sound like the most conventional approach to a Lovecraftian game, which tend to be more of a “creeping horror” sort of thing told through adventures and slow-paced RPGs, but that doesn't mean it can't work: Stirring Abyss is an interesting XCOM-like take on the classic mythos, for instance, while the first-person adventure Call of the Sea is inspired by Lovecraft, yet not a horror game. So you never know.

Lovecraft's Untold Stories 2 will launch on Steam Early Access, with three of the promised six character classes, on October 28. Have a look at some “pre-alpha” gameplay below.