You don’t have to play every immersive sim as a stealth game Dishonored 2

Posted on August 16, 2021 by


You there, in the shadows—you can come out now. I know why you're hiding, clutching a stun prod the way Indiana Jones clings to a torch. You're nostalgic for Thief, or conditioned by the disapproval of Deus Ex characters who advocated for non-lethality. You’ve been shamed by every post-level screen in Dishonored, implying you messed up by killing your enemies.

But it's OK. I free you from your obligation to skirt around the edge of the pool, instead of bombing in and making enormous, satisfying ripples in these reactive worlds. You owe it to yourself to embrace the chaotic, surprising action that immersive sims are built to support. And with Arkane finally embracing all-out shooter mechanics in Deathloop, your time is now.

Besides: you’re going to do your back in, hunching like that.

Dishonored

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Don’t get me wrong, stealth has done wonders for the immersive sim. The development of Thief pushed Looking Glass away from space stations and dungeons, and towards the kind of lived-in domestic spaces the genre is now known for. Without those mansions, teeming with tiny, gleaming objects for Garrett to plunder, there’d be no Prague in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, and no Greenbrier Manor in Gone Home. A whole discipline of level design, that goes deep rather than wide, would likely not exist.

Moreover, an early focus on stealth forced developers to get to grips with complex AI behaviour. A stealth game can’t begin until an enemy has an ‘idle’ state; it can’t produce tension until that enemy can search without ‘seeing’ you. Once that’s sorted, you’re halfway to the sort of half-hostile, half-safe environments that games like Dishonored and Fallout thrive on—worlds in which friendly NPCs might turn on you if your own behaviour is sufficiently alarming.

Those rudimentary guard responses laid the groundwork for games which hold up a mirror to the player—showing, in ugly close-up, the image a person wandering the land with a finger resting none-too-carefully on the ‘murder’ key. Immersive sims have trudged further into that moral morass ever since, reflecting back your dodgiest actions with dark endings and disapproving dialogue.

Deus Ex

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Deus Ex gives you an older brother—oh boy, an older brother! Wonder what albums he’ll let me borrow!—only to have him tell you off when you kill too many terrorists. Dishonored 2, meanwhile, hands you the sentient heart of your own mother—or partner, depending on who you’re playing—and has her make clear she’s not angry, just disappointed.

Dishonored’s combat is some of the best in the business

Many of us love immersive sims specifically for their sense of accountability. But at its worst, that sense can stop you from engaging with another tenet of the genre: freedom of approach and creative expression.

When killing is discouraged, stealth becomes the default. That’s borne out in the Steam stats for Dishonored 2: roughly 56% of players who completed the game did so in low chaos, avoiding killing wherever possible. And to do that, they made a conscious choice to circumvent combat.

Here’s the thing: Dishonored’s combat is some of the best in the business. Leaning on the action chops it honed during Dark Messiah, Arkane developed a fantastic, high stakes swordplay system that pushes you to create gaps in your enemy’s defence—staggering them with a block, or a blast from the pistol in your offhand. The moment you get an opening, you can lean in for an instakill—delivered in gory, gratifying slo-mo that recalls the work of Kojima Productions.

Dishonored 2

(Image credit: Bethesda)

On top of that, Arkane layers its powers, most of which have dual stealth and combat functions. The Far Reach that lets you stride onto ledges 200 feet away? Works just as well when flipping enemies into the air, ready to land on an exposed blade. Bend Time and Possession? Can be used to walk enemies in front of their own, mid-flight bullets. Even the most mundane parts of your moveset can turn the fight; the same lean that allows you to peek around corners is better exploited to dodge bullets, Matrix-style.

If you’re looking for inspiration, search ‘Dishonored skill video’ on YouTube and watch in awe. Masters like the ironically named StealthGamerBR make the case for Dishonored as the greatest improvisational shooter of all time—combining high-speed parkour with an ultra-precise throwing arm that turns household objects into heavy ordnance. Thanks to a set of upgrades that can punctuate your battles with bullet time, this kind of high level play isn’t necessarily beyond the reach of the average player, either—not after a couple of rehearsal runs, at least.

What’s most satisfying about StealthGamerBR’s videos is that they’re not some perversion of the immersive sim format. If anything, they’re a noisy celebration of the tactile environments being built by the developers working in Thief’s lineage. During the slaughter embedded above, the YouTuber makes a repeating comic riff of one poor guard’s severed head—dropping it first onto a table laid for dinner, then later in the soup still boiling in the kitchens. It’s a work of sick, artful comedy that makes full use of the highly interactive levels Arkane specialise in.

Even outside that particular series, you’ll find that immersive sims become joyfully daft vehicles for—yes—high chaos, just as soon as you bin off the dream of that perfect ghost playthrough. In my recent run through the early Deus Ex games, I’ve skipped leg day to invest in super-strength arms, in order to weaponise the many physics-enabled chairs, barrels and trash cans that litter Earth in the 2050s. I’ve upgraded my Invisible War machine gun to set off the spiderbombs on the belts of my enemies, freeing tiny metal arachnids into the world to fight on my side.

Deus Ex

(Image credit: Square Enix)

One of my proudest gaming memories is now of murdering Maggie Chow, the global conspirator and gang war instigator, by hurling a couch from the mezzanine of her penthouse flat. Last weekend, I smashed the glass roof of a Karnaca train station to drop straight onto the neck of a guard way below, like Mario bouncing off a Goomba. I’m happy. I hope the same for you, too.

Just try it. Quiet the voices of Paul Denton and Jessamine Kaldwin, screaming in your ear to do better. Step out from behind the armoire and stride into the centre of the room, sword held high like a Nazgûl. Yeah, you’ll get the bad ending—but as the Empire falls into ruin, you’ll be smiling.

Call of Duty: Vanguard to be revealed Thursday in Warzone

Posted on August 16, 2021 by

Call of Duty WW2

The Call of Duty: Vanguard reveal will take place in Warzone.

As expected, Call of Duty: Vanguard will be revealed in a similar manner to Black Ops Cold War last year. The reveal event, taking place within Warzone, was confirmed by the PlayStation Store through an ad.

Watch on YouTube

As spotted by @_Tom_Henderson_, the ad reveals that Vanguard will be revealed on Thursday, August 19 at 10:30am PT, 1:30pm ET, 6:30pm BST. This is likely when the event will begin.

The recent Season 5 update in Black Ops Cold War and Warzone leaked a number of details about Vanguard, including its key art, WW2 period, open beta, and more. If last year’s Black Ops Cold War reveal is anything to go by, the Warzone event will likely culminate with the unlocking of Vanguard’s reveal trailer.

The news comes in the midst of major turmoil within Activision Blizzard following the State of California’s lawsuit against it, alleging widespread discrimination, abuse, and harassment. A major part of the complaint centres on Blizzard’s “frat boy culture”, and it has so far caused the company to fire president J. Allen Brack, and longtime HR head Jesse Meschuk in a bid to make some progress.

Many, however, do not believe Activision Blizzard intends to make any major structural changes. The publisher has already brought in a union-busting law firm to quell calls for collective action, but that hasn’t stopped some employees from forming a coalition across all of its labels.

The post Call of Duty: Vanguard to be revealed Thursday in Warzone appeared first on VG247.

Best MSI gaming laptop deals Best MSI gaming laptop deals

Posted on August 16, 2021 by


The best MSI gaming laptop is about finding a mobile machine capable of offering high frame rates, a great screen, and robust build quality. MSI is a name that's often associated with powerful gaming components and some of the best gaming laptops around. So, we're making an effort to try and find the best prices on these MSI gaming laptops to keep you in touch with what's on offer right now.

If you're after true portability without sacrificing performance, the Stealth Thin takes full advantage of Nvidia's Max-Q technology, with a slim-line chassis that weighs in at less than five pounds. You'd have a tough time finding a better gaming laptop that delivers the freedom you're after without a trade-off in terms of FPS.

If performance is your top priority, a heavier 'muscle class' laptop or 'desktop replacement' with more powerful components might be a better bet, such as the MSI GT75 Titan. And with a choice of full-fat GTX or RTX graphics, the aptly named Titan is easily capable of handling tasks such as recording, streaming, and editing too.

The best MSI gaming laptop deals today

MSI GF63035 | GTX 1650 | Core i5 I 15.6-inch 1080p | $717 at Amazon
The Nvidia GTX 1650 isn’t going to deliver the highest frame rates in the most demanding games around,  but it is capable of offering some decent performance if you’re willing to make a sacrifice to the right in-game settings. With 8GB of fast dual-channel DDR4-3200 memory, a 256GB SSD, a quad-core, eight-thread Intel CPU, the rest of the spec is decent for a ~$700 notebook. Added 16/8.

MSI GF75 | GTX 1650 Ti | Core i5 | 17-inch 144Hz | $875.99 at Amazon
The extra $100 spent on this machine will net you a larger screen, and one with a refresh rate of 144Hz, too. The GTX 1650 Ti is a bit of an upgrade too, and will deliver higher frame rates at the native 1080p resolution. That 512GB SSD is more than welcome too, especially with the storage hogs that games such as Call of Duty can be these days. Added 16/8.

MSI GF65 | RTX 3060 | Core i5 | 144Hz 1080p | $1099.99 at Best Buy
The RTX 3060 is far more capable in mobile form than it is on the desktop, with performance more akin to the RTX 3060 Ti. Pair that up with a six-core, 12-thread Intel CPU, a 512GB SSD, and that 144Hz screen and you’ve got the recipe for a well-built, decently specced gaming laptop that will handle whatever you can throw at it. Added 16/8.

The best MSI laptop for gaming 2021

1. MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

Desktop performance made nigh-perfectly portable.

CPU: Intel Core i7 8750H | GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060–RTX 2080 Max-Q | RAM: 16–32GB | Screen: 15.6-inch 1080p IPS 144Hz | Storage: 256GB–1TB SSD | Battery: 82Wh | Dimensions: 9.75 x 0.69 x 14.08 inches | Weight: 4.14–4.19 lbs

Elegant design
Powerful internals

Until the advent of the GS65 Stealth Thin, every thin and light gaming laptop was either too expensive or too inefficient to be a viable replacement for your desktop. Or even your existing clamshell, for that matter. In a way, the MSI GS65 Stealth Thin disrupted an increasingly complacent subsect of computing that, to this day, is in dire need of a revolution. Black with gold accents, it took the banal red and black gamer's palette of the past and subverted it. Its gold-trimmed lattice exhaust breathes opulence. It's economical at the low end, and its recent configurations are capable of raytracing in real-time. 

Should you crave the Razer Blade's winning desktop-level performance, not to mention its narrow screen bezels, but all for a lower price, the MSI GS65 Stealth Thin is the best MSI laptop for gaming 2021 can afford. However, if it's (roughly 10 percent) weaker Max-Q graphics aren't for you; perhaps this next entry will be.

Read the full MSI GS65 Stealth Thin review.

MSI GE66 Raider Core i7 RTX 2070 Gaming Laptop

(Image credit: MSI)

2. MSI GE63 Raider RGB

Abnormally powerful for its size, and also hella lit.

CPU: Intel Core i7 9750H | GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060–2080 | RAM: 16–32GB | Screen: 15.6-inch FHD (1920×1080) | Storage: 256GB SSD + 1TB HDD–512GB SSD | Battery: 51–65 Wh | Dimensions: 10.24 x 1.16 x 15.08 inches | Weight: 5.49 lbs

Genuine (not Max-Q) RTX graphics
Modest footprint
Your next machine

(Image credit: Future)

Best gaming PC: the top pre-built machines from the pros
Best gaming laptop: perfect notebooks for mobile gaming

At the cross-section between the MSI GS65 Stealth Thin and the GT75 Titan, the GE63 Raider RGB, a midrange gaming laptop that—while thin and light—foregoes shortsighted industry trends in favor of uninhibited balance. Despite its RGB surname, don't be confused: ostentatious lighting is not the real value proposition here. Performance is.

The Raider packs Nvidia's formidable RTX graphics; absent is the stifled Max-Q design of the GS65 Stealth Thin. In other words, the GE63 Raider's RTX 2080 is about 10 percent faster than its GS65 equivalent. If you care more about frames per second than cosmetic appeal, it might be for you.

As for the LEDs, yes, it's stacked. To no surprise, the keyboard is graced with per-key illumination, meaning you could theoretically assign a different backlit color to every key on the keyboard if you're a total sadist. The keyboard itself is rather deep for a gaming laptop of this stature, with 2mm of travel guiding each press.

EVO returns to Las Vegas next year

Posted on August 16, 2021 by

EVO 2022 will be an in-person tournament.

EVO organisers have announced that the fighting game tournament will return to its Las Vegas venue next year. EVO 2022 will take place August 5-7, 2022.

With this year’s entirely digital EVO having just concluded over the weekend, EVO organisers took to Twitter to reveal that while they enjoyed online tournaments, nothing beats seeing everyone in person.

“We have loved the competition through our online events, but nothing beats live, in-person tournaments between players from around the world,” EVO said in a Tweet. “It has been too long since we have experienced the spirit of the FGC in person together.”

Back in March, Sony acquired EVO, promising to keep it open to all platforms. This year’s digital event was the first to be held under Sony ownership.

The post EVO returns to Las Vegas next year appeared first on VG247.

Looks like Pinhead from Hellraiser is coming to Dead By Daylight Pinhead from the Hellraiser series

Posted on August 16, 2021 by


Multiplayer dead teenager simulator Dead By Daylight has previously added killers like Pyramid Head from Silent Hill 2, the Ghostface Killer from Scream, Nemesis from Resident Evil 3, the Demogorgon from Stranger Things, and, oh yeah, Michael Myers and Freddy Krueger. It's a broad selection.

Hints about who the next killer would be included audio files posted to Discord that revealed the word HELL via spectrogram, and letters posted to Twitter that spelled out RAISE. Then came a teaser video showing a fuzzy VHS recording of a red flower blossoming (as seen when the Cenobites are summoned in Hellraiser) and the number 1987, the year Hellraiser was released.

So expect Pinhead, the S&M Hell Priest from the Clive Barker movie and its many sequels, to be Dead By Daylight's next killer. He has a thing for hooks, which suits the game, though he and the other Cenobites only target people who open their mysterious puzzle boxes in the movies, rather than any kid who happens to enrol for the wrong summer camp. But then Pyramid Head doesn't really make sense outside his mythos either, and the deep lore of Dead By Daylight has the events of the game taking place in an Omniverse that apparently combines alternate realities, so let's just agree to shrug and roll with it.

Some fans in the comments and on Reddit were convinced the next killer would be a character from Five Nights at Freddy's, but the clues all pretty consistently point to Hellraiser. I mean, someone even looked up the filename of the teaser on Dead By Daylight's Chinese channel and found the word Hellraiser in it. The new killer will be added to Dead By Daylight in Chapter 21.

There’s a scythe that cuts reality in Amid Evil’s expansion A scythe cuts a wound in the space between world

Posted on August 16, 2021 by


It's been a good couple of days for retro shooter fans, what with PowerSlave Exhumed, Cultic, Core Decay, and John Romero's Sigil 2 being in the news. Let's add one more to the pile. The Black Labyrinth, an expansion for the game whose website redirects from icantbelieveitsnothexen.com, has a gameplay trailer. 

The Black Labyrinth will serve as a prequel to Amid Evil, containing new levels, new enemies, and new weapons as well as “new Andrew Hulshult placeholder music”. The trailer shows a scythe thing that can shoot a row of purple energy blasts or just slice open reality and strand enemies in the void. I guess if your base game comes with a staff that shoots planets you need to go large for the DLC. There's also a pair of spiked gauntlets. I figure they'll probably let you punch enemies through time so a dinosaur eats them or something.

There's still no release date for The Black Labyrinth beyond New Blood Interactive's standard “SoonTM”, but there are plenty of other retro shooters to play in the meantime. Did I mention that Blood-esque FPS Cultic has a demo?

Five new Steam games you probably missed (August 16, 2021) Dread Templar

Posted on August 15, 2021 by


On an average day, about a dozen new games are released on Steam. And while we think that's a good thing, it can be understandably hard to keep up with. Potentially exciting gems are sure to be lost in the deluge of new things to play unless you sort through every single game that is released on Steam. So that’s exactly what we’ve done. If nothing catches your fancy this week, we've gathered the best PC games you can play right now and a running list of the 2021 games that are launching this year. 

Dread Templar

Steam‌ ‌page‌ ‌
Release:‌ August 14
Developer:‌ T19 Games
Launch price:‌ $13.49 ‌|‌ ‌£11.69 |‌ ‌‌AU$19.35

Here's a retro-styled first-person shooter with a strong Quake engine vibe and a charmingly rote narrative backdrop: you are entering hell in order to exact revenge on demons. Awesome! It's not just a shoot and circle strafe affair though, because there are ninja weapons in Dread Templar, as well as some skill customization and light puzzle solving. It looks pretty good, but do be aware that this Early Access version is only a fraction of what the final game will be: There are ten of an expected 25 levels here, with the full 1.0 expected to release during “Fall 2022”.

Fire Tonight

Steam‌ ‌page‌ ‌
Release:‌ ‌August 13
Developer:‌ Reptoid Games
Launch price:‌ ‌$4.79 ‌|‌ ‌£3.83 ‌|‌ ‌AU$6.80

Fire Tonight is about a couple separated by a fire that's ravaging their city. They want to reunite, but there's a problem: it's the '90s, so they'll have to use their legs and eyes rather than a smartphone. It isn't a horror game, though, more of a visual novel  mixed with an isometric puzzle game. The dioramic city looks like a real joy to navigate, and you'll traverse it via road, car, train and roller skate while avoiding police barricades and, naturally, fire.

Garden Story

Steam‌ ‌page‌ ‌
Release:‌ August 12
Developer:‌ Picogram
Launch price:‌ ‌$20 |‌ ‌£15.49 ‌|‌ ‌AU$28.95

Garden Story has been in development for quite a while but here it finally is, and the top-down action adventure definitely looks gorgeous. Coming across as a mix of ye olde Zelda, Stardew Valley and Forager, you play as a grape named Concord, who must help revitalize their declining island. Yep, there is gardening, but it doesn't appear to be a huge focus here. Expect to explore a whimsical pastel-hued overworld, interact with other vegetable and fruit life, and delve into dungeons to slay extremely cute baddies.

Mech Armada

Steam‌ ‌page‌ ‌
Release:‌ ‌August 10
Developer:‌ Lioncode Games
Launch price:‌ ‌$13.49 |‌ ‌£12.59 |‌ ‌AU$19.35

Launched into Early Access last week, Mech Armada is a turn-based tactics game with, yep: mechs. With most of civilization living underground due to a hectic alien invasion, these extremely well-armed robotic vehicles are used to slay the aggressive wildlife that thrives up on the surface. All mechs are fully customizable with over 70 parts, so you could spend a lot of time optimizing your build, and with procedurally generated maps there's a lot of game here to bite into. The current Early Access build has a full roguelite campaign with five biomes and more than 30 enemies to face, but expect a lot more content between now and its 1.0 launch in “about a year”.

Tsugunohi

Steam‌ ‌page‌ ‌
Release:‌ August 13
Developer:‌ Vaka Game Magazine, ImCyan
‌$10 ‌|‌ ‌£7.19 |‌ ‌AU$14.50

Tsugunohi is a series of terrifying Japanese horror browser games. There's not much to them really: You take control of a protagonist, but you're really just walking in a certain direction while scary things happen. That's a hugely reductive (if basically true) description though, because the Tsugunohi games are all about gently haunting narratives unfurling is unexpected ways. Anyway, this Steam package includes every previously released episode of Tsugunohi plus two new instalments, so if it's a veritable treasure trove of pants-shitting scares you're after, this is worth investigation.

These games were released between August 9 and 16 2021. Some online stores give us a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Read our affiliate policy for more info. ‌

Upcoming immersive sim Core Decay’s getting a demo this year Core Decay

Posted on August 15, 2021 by


Here's another titbit of info from this year's Realms Deep event, the digital showcase of retro shooters and the like coming from 3D Realms. Core Decay, an upcoming Shocklike (which is to say, a stealth-action FPS with some RPG elements) being made by Ivar Hill and Slipgate Ironworks, has a new trailer and will have a demo out this year.

Core Decay casts you as a cyborg exploring facilities that belong to the mysterious 'Contingency Accord', full of failed experiments and secret weapons. It's set in the near future, with the Earth on the edge of environmental collapse. Presumably your aim is to find a way for humanity to persist beyond, you know, the end of the world.

The demo will be set in Antarctica, in an installation called Site 43, which apparently “serves as an example of the open-ended environments indicative of immersive sims, replete with multiple paths, ample opportunities to carve a personal path, and secrets galore.” It sounds extremely like my jam and my cup of tea, which is to say it's a game where you can sneak around enemies and also hack some stuff, as well as shooting everything that moves.

Core Decay will be available on Steam in 2022, and that's where the demo will show up too.

John Romero is making Sigil 2, but he’s using Doom 2 this time An image of a demon dying to a shotgun in Doom 2.

Posted on August 15, 2021 by


Doom creator John Romero is returning to Doom, again, with a sequel to his 2019 expansion mod Sigil. The appropriately named Sigil 2 will be released for Doom 2, taking an appropriate step forward along the Doom timeline to the next game. Sigil 2 doesn't yet have a release date, and it doesn't have a lot of development done either, but I wouldn't' despair of ever seeing it. Romero's been making games for most of his life. He'd be insane to stop now.

The original Sigil was a huge unofficial expansion for Doom, like many before it, except it had the distinction of being made by one of the primary guys who made Doom. Which makes it, I don't know, officially unofficial? Unofficially official? You can read a nice breakdown of Sigil here on PC Gamer by Jeremy Peel, who really enjoyed them. “There’s a sense that Romero is having fun with the tools, exploring ideas and developing themes,” he said at the time.

Romero casually noted that he's working on Sigil 2 at 3D Realms' Realms Deep event. When asked what he's up to right now, Romero responded “Sigil 2,” continuing “we've got a really cool map, it's so fun.”

“I can't put a date on it,” said Romero. “I think that it'll be worth it when it comes out, just because that's a lot of levels and I want to make sure that they have a really good consistency and progression, and are just really challenging. They're fun to play, it's kind of like a Doom 2 version of what you felt on some of those Sigil levels.”

You can find the first Sigil on romero.com

Romero's plans for after Sigil 2? Something for Quake. “I know that that's the next thing after Sigil 2, is most likely going to be that,” he said.

Security flaw for unlimited Steam Wallet funds found, fixed hacker leaning over a computer

Posted on August 15, 2021 by


With the help of a security researcher, Valve has found and fixed an exploit that would have allowed a user to falsify the value of deposits to their Steam wallet. The exploit worked by—for example—turning a $1 deposit into a $100 deposit. It was accomplished by changing the account's email address to one including “amount100,” then intercepting a message to a payment company API. 

The writeup for the hack was posted on white-hat hacking bug bounty site HackerOne by the handle drbrix. Valve and drbrix later made the exchange public, once a fix was implemented. Drbrix first posted the bug as “medium” priority, saying “I think impact is pretty obvious, attacker can generate money and break steam market, sell game keys for cheap etc.”

Valve, after testing the exploit and trying a fix, subsequently upgraded the bug to “Critical” severity and the corresponding payout to $7,500 USD “reflecting the potential cost to the business.” 

“We hope to hear more from you in the future,” the Valve staff said. 

Yes, I'm sure they would.

Valve told The Daily Swig that “Thanks to the person who reported this bug we were able to work with the payment provider to resolve the issues without any impact on customers.” Valve did not say whether anyone had actually abused the potential exploit.