Baldur’s Gate 3 won’t leave Early Access this year ‘for sure’

Posted on June 18, 2021 by


It's been a while since we heard from Larian Studios regarding Baldur's Gate 3. There have been several hotfixes to the in-development RPG in the last few months, but the last substantial update was in February, when the druid class was added. Now, in a video interview with GameSpot, studio founder Swen Vincke has confirmed that Baldur's Gate 3 won't be leaving Early Access in 2021. "We are really trying to get the game done by next year," he said. "It's not gonna release this year for sure."

The studio is currently busy improving what's in Early Access and completing the rest of the game at the same time. Vincke explained that the next update, whenever it comes, will be one that changes existing elements rather than adding a lot of new ones, so don't expect another new class, for instance. "It's an update that focuses on a lot of the feedback that we've been getting," he said. "It's more focused on features than it is on new content."

Vincke mentioned that some of the feedback has been from players of melee characters who are finding they don't have as many options as they'd like. That's part of the nature of playing a fighter in Dungeons & Dragons, he explained. "[In] D&D, the fighter class is the tutorial class. At the tabletop it is used to teach you how to play, but as a result it gives you limited things at the get-go to work with."

Finally, on the subject of whether a Game Master mode like Divinity: Original Sin 2 had is in the works, Vincke said that while Baldur's Gate 3 would obviously benefit from one, it's not in development at the moment. "We are so focused on making the game itself, and it's such a beast to develop," he said.

Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 review Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2

Posted on June 17, 2021 by


Need to Know

What is it? Sniper stealth game with massive, open-ended levels
Expect to pay: $40/£35
Developer: CI Games
Publisher: CI Games
Reviewed On: AMD Ryzen 5 3600, Nvidia GeForce 2080 Super, 32 GB RAM
Multiplayer? No
Link: Official site

Clumsy title aside, Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 wastes no time getting to the good stuff. After a briefing that explains your motivations and a quickfire tutorial mission that instructs you on the fundamentals of sniping, you're prowling the desert of Kuamar, sneaking your way to the first overlook position. Time to first stealth kill? Maybe 15 minutes. Time to first sniper kill? Also 15 minutes, depending on your approach. Within half an hour you're perched on a clifftop scoping out a container port over a kilometre away. You'll never visit this port physically but your presence will be felt there, mainly in the cranial region. 

Having gradually refined Ghost Warrior over five games, developer CI Games clearly understands the experience it's after, and Contracts 2 delivers it with a quiet confidence. You're Raven, a crack-shot killer-for-hire dispatched to the Middle Eastern state of Kuamar to prevent a war. Your target is Bibi Rashida, Kuamar's de-facto head of state after the president, her husband, was assassinated by a neighbouring country. Rashida's planned military response threatens to destabilise the region, inflating oil prices and crippling Western economies. Your job is to undermine the regime by taking out Rashida's cronies, which includes rogue hackers and disgraced SAS soldiers, before eliminating Rashida herself.

(Image credit: CI Games)

Your effort to dismantle Rashida's regime is spread across five missions. This may not sound like much, but Contracts 2's missions are enormous. So big, in fact, they're referred to in-game as "Regions," which is a fair appraisal. Each Region is a vast expanse of meticulously crafted terrain that includes multiple objectives and various paths between them. Some locations you visit, such as a giant medieval castle that has both an inner and outer fort, would form the entire level in any other game.

Contracts 2's missions are divided into two categories. "Classic" contracts are familiar infiltration tasks, where you use a combination of sniping and stealth to physically sneak into locations to assassinate targets and sabotage equipment. But newly introduced to Contracts 2 are "Long Shot" contracts. These involve slipping through guard patrols to reach designated Overlook positions, lofty perches from which you snipe at targets over a kilometre away. They aren't simply a case of finding the target, popping their braincase, and moving on: Each long shot objective is an elaborate sniping puzzle where you use your sharpshooting skills to manipulate both enemies and the environment. 

An early example involves assassinating a target at a solar farm, but the target is hiding inside the farm's main building. To draw him out, I had to first disable the farm by shooting the control boxes that enable it to harvest electricity. Most of the boxes have multiple guards lurking nearby, which meant I also had to take them out to stop them raising the alarm when the bullets struck the control boxes. Every shot I took was fraught with tension, as bullets take a good five seconds to travel that distance, and I was never 100% certain whether a shot would hit its target, or how knocking over that particular domino might cause the rest to fall.

The puzzle-like structure of these missions elevates Contracts 2 beyond a simple head-popping simulator. The design is clearly inspired by IO's recent Hitman trilogy. Like Hitman, these contracts are built with replayability in mind. Each mission has its own set of challenges: killing targets in different ways, getting ten kills over a certain distance, killing ten counter-snipers with melee sneak attacks. 

Succeeding in a challenge nets you additional income to spend on new weapons, weapon mods, and gadgets. The latter includes a reconnaissance drone and an automated sniping-turret designed to enable synchronised kill-shots. I found the drone was only intermittently useful, as many locations where it feels natural to deploy it are protected by invulnerable radio scramblers that render the drone inoperable. The automated turret, however, is extremely cool.

Using it is almost like playing a cooperative game with yourself. You place it in a separate location so you can sync up shots on guards you otherwise can't see. But I also liked deploying it as a backup while sneaking into a facility, giving me a quick way to deal with guards I suspected might cause trouble while infiltrating.

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Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2

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Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2

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While the long shot missions are Contract 2's most significant new feature, the game's best mission is actually a classic contract. Named Mount Kuamar, it sees you on the trail of Rashida's hacker pal Lars Hellstrom, who has built himself a supercomputer housed within a heavily fortified concrete bunker known as the Citadel. First, you must disrupt the Citadel's exterior communication network, which includes a huge satellite array and a water pumping station (presumably for coolant), all connected by a massive network of underground tunnels. The mission culminates with a descent into the Citadel itself, slipping through layers of automated turrets before entering Hellstrom's inner sanctum. 

It's proper James Bond stuff, a joy from start to finish.

Contracts 2's blend of classic and long shot missions helps fix a problem Ghost Warrior has struggled with for a while. Sniping in and of itself can get repetitive quickly, but physically infiltrating bases is the opposite of how a sniper operates. By combining Splinter Cell-like stealth missions with long-range shooting puzzles, Ghost Warrior can have its cake and eat it.

This works because the challenges involved in each mission type feel very different, requiring you to adjust your tactics and equipment accordingly. Long-range sniper rifles, for example, cannot be silenced, so it's wise to use other weapons and equipment to deal with guard patrols. You can't just sneak your way through, either, as any guards close to an overlook point will converge on your position the moment you take your first shot. On the other hand, light sniper rifles used in classic contracts can be silenced, lending greater flexibility about when you snipe. But you're also physically in the mix with enemies, meaning that staring down a scope leaves you vulnerable to being attacked from the flanks.

Contracts 2 delivers both experiences capably. The sniping feels authentic and can be adjusted to be as easy or difficult as you like. And more generally, Contracts 2 just looks and feels great. Movement and combat are weighty and purposeful, while a huge amount of attention has been given to animation, environment design, and weapon handling. 

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Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2

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Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2

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The excellent presentation extends to the writing and voice acting. Contracts 2 isn't an exercise in jingoistic self-aggrandisement like Call of Duty has become. It takes a cold and darkly satirical view of contract killing and military intervention in the Middle East. The game is completely open about how your job is to keep oil prices high and Western economies afloat, an objective that leads to an amusing twist later in the game. On the lighter side, Contracts 2 also has some wonderful guard banter. They talk about their pets, complain about being henpecked by their wives, and wonder aloud whether they're characters in a videogame.

There are a few idiosyncrasies lingering from past Ghost Warrior games, particularly within the save system and enemy AI. Contracts 2 has an autosave system that disables itself when you're either in combat or close to an enemy. It's an unnecessarily convoluted system that could be easily avoided by simply letting players quicksave. And the AI really needs a secondary state between "passive" and "every guard in the area knowing exactly where you are." Stealth games are always more fun when they give you a chance to correct a mistake, to stop a guard sounding the alarm or calling in an alert. Having entire bases light up when you miss a single shot is frustrating rather than fun.

These issues aside, I'm impressed by Contracts 2. I like its Ronseal approach to executing its design, that it doesn't get distracted by tacking on a multiplayer mode or adding a loot system. The maps are fantastic, the sniping is great, the long-shot contracts are smartly conceived and fun to tinker with. A perfectly enjoyable stealth sandbox.

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands’ big Chains of Domination update goes live June 29 World of Warcraft: Shadowlands – Chains of Domination

Posted on June 17, 2021 by


We've been waiting a long time for the World of Warcraft: Shadowlands update Chains of Domination. "It sucks that World of Warcraft's next big update feels so far off," our resident Warcrafter said shortly after it was revealed in February. But it's not so far off now: Blizzard announced today that Chains of Domination will go live on June 29.

Chains of Domination will open up a new subzone in The Maw called Korthia, City of Secrets, and thanks to an invasion by the four Covenants, players will be able to use their mounts and (somehow) disable the Eye of the Jailer, granting them more time exploring the zone each day. There will be new story quests and a Covenant campaign to take on, a new eight-boss mega-dungeon, and a new raid, The Sanctum of Domination, with ten bosses including Sylvanas Windrunner.

The Sanctum of Domination raid will unlock at normal and heroic difficulties on July 6, one week after Chains of Domination goes live, and with subsequent unlocks following through August:

  • July 13 – Raid Finder Wing 1 and Mythic Difficulties (The Tarragrue, The Eye of the Jailer, The Nine)   
  • July 27 – Raid Finder Wing 2 (Soulrender Dormazain, Remnant of Ner’zhul, and Painsmith Raznal)   
  • August 10 – Raid Finder Wing 3 (Guardian of the First Ones, Fatescribe Roh-Kalo, and Kel’Thuzad)
  • August 24 – Raid Finder Wing 4 (Sylvanas Windrunner)   

On top of the new content, there will also be smaller improvements and additions including Covenant Renown levels and rewards, improvements to Torghast to make it less punishing, and a new season for PvP and Mythic+ dungeons.

Players who want to jump straight into the new raid should probably check out the Sanctum of Domination preview of the bosses you'll face and rewards you'll pick up that Blizzard also shared today. For a broader look at the whole update, here's everything we know about Chains of Domination.

The official Destiny toaster is real and you can order one now The official Destiny Toaster

Posted on June 17, 2021 by


In June 2020, Bungie told Destiny 2 players that if they raised at least $777,777.77 (the studio really likes the number seven) during its Gaming Community Expo livestream, it would maybe—maybe—make an official Destiny Toaster. The community responded, raising more than $800,000 for St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital during Bungie's block, and now the developer is holding up its end of the deal.

Behold the majesty of the official Destiny Toaster!

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The official Destiny Toaster

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The official Destiny Toaster

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The official Destiny Toaster

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The official Destiny Toaster

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The official Destiny Toaster

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This is a real toaster than you can really buy, and yes, it actually burns the Tricorn emblem into your bread. The sandwich holder seen in the images is included, and because this is Destiny 2, you'll also get the new toast-themed Burnt Edges emblem in the game. 

(Image credit: Bungie)

Lest you be wondering why players wanted a Destiny toaster in the first place, aside from the obvious answer that toast is delicious, it's actually a riff on a couple of in-jokes. One, Destiny players have long referred to "getting that bread" as shorthand for dropping a god roll set of perks on a loot drop. And two, Destiny 2 features an ugly-beautiful exotic fusion rifle called Jotunn that looks, well, a lot like a toaster.

The IRL Destiny 2 toaster is up for preorder now through the Bungie Store for $85, which is actually not a terrible price for a toaster. Granted, it's impossible to say how it compares to a nice Paderno or Lagostina unit, and it's only a two-slicer, but my immediate impression is that it's a pretty reasonable price for a novelty toaster with likely-limited mass market appeal. (Let's be honest, the average Walmart shopper probably doesn't want the Destiny logo scorched into every single sandwich they make.)

Another nice plus is that the toaster will continue Bungie's support of St Jude's: Ten percent of profits earned on the toaster will go to the hospital.

You might not realize this, but toasters are a surprisingly common aspect of PC gaming. Razer is making one of its own (which I bet will cost a hell of a lot more than 85 bucks), and it's at least theoretically possible to play Doom on a toaster. And just last year, Wes got bored and built a 36TB home server the size of a toaster oven.

Back to the matter at hand: The Destiny 2 toaster is available for preorder now but isn't expected to begin shipping until December, or possible January 2022. GCX 2021, meanwhile, is live right now and runs until 1 pm PT/4 pm ET on June 20—you can jump into the stream below, which at time of typing has already passed the $3.4m mark.

A Plague Tale: Innocence is getting optimized for Xbox Series X/S

Posted on June 17, 2021 by

A Plague Tale: Innocence is getting enhanced for Xbox Series X/S and the optimization will be available in July.

Asobo Studio and Focus Home Interactive have announced that A Plague Tale: Innocence will come to Xbox Series X/S on July 6.

Watch on YouTube

This enhanced version will feature 4K UHD (only on Xbox Series X), 60 FPS, and 3D audio support. The upgrade is free for Xbox One owners of the game.

The enhanced PS5 version is also expected in July. A cloud version of the game is also coming to Nintendo Switch.

A Plague Tale: Innocence is an action-adventure survival horror stealth game set in 1348 that focuses on Amicia and her brother Hugo, who has been ill most of his life. In the game, the duo is pursued by French Inquisition troops, and they have to contend with hordes of rats that are spreading the black plague and devouring anything in their path.

As if rats and the Inquisition weren’t bad enough, there are also hostile villagers who blame Hugo for the plague and try to kill him. There’s much more to the story than that, but we don’t wish to spoil it for you.

Asobo’s sequel to the game, A Plague Tale: Requiem, was announced during the E3 2021 Xbox Games Showcase. In it, you will follow the siblings on a new quest, as they try to survive an uncaring world as a terrifying curse hunts them down.

The sequel is without a release date and is coming to PC, Xbox Game Pass, Xbox Series X/S, and Nintendo Switch via the cloud.

The post A Plague Tale: Innocence is getting optimized for Xbox Series X/S appeared first on VG247.

Xbox Design Lab returns will the ability to customize Xbox Series X/S controllers

Posted on June 17, 2021 by

Microsoft today announced the return of Xbox Design Lab, and now you customize your very own Xbox Series X/S controller.

Starting today, Microsoft’s new Xbox Wireless Controllers are now available in Xbox Design Lab.

Watch on YouTube

You can choose from 18 different available colors for most controller parts, and new colors have been introduced like Shock Blue, Pulse Red, and Electric Volt.

Also new is the black-on-color ABXY button option, as well as a new black-on-white color option for the View, Menu, and Share buttons.

The company said that most of the color options are made with plastics containing 30% post-consumer recycled (PCR) materials by weight. This will help reduce will reduce the amount of waste plastic that ends up in landfills.

According to Microsoft, this is just the start as the team is working on developing new processes, and testing new materials so that it can continue to evolve the Xbox Design Lab experience.

Over the coming months, information regarding new customization options and personalization will be shared.

Xbox Design Lab orders can be placed now in the US, Canada, and most Western European Countries for $69.99, or the regional equivalent. You can also choose laser engraving for an additional $9.99.

Each controller will be delivered within 14 business days of placing your order.

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See Jack Sparrow in action in a new Sea of Thieves gameplay video Captain Jack Sparrow in Sea of Thieves

Posted on June 17, 2021 by


Rare announced during the Xbox E3 showcase earlier this week that Captain Jack Sparrow, the worst pirate you've ever heard of, will be coming to Sea of Thieves in its next big update. Today we got our first look at some actual gameplay in a new video teasing the upcoming Sea of Thieves: A Pirate's Life story campaign.

The new adventure, playable solo or in a crew, begins with busting Captain Jack out of prison, which seems like a pretty natural place to start. From there, you'll get an eyeful of the world's greatest Pirate Treasure, which Jack has stolen, after which you'll join him on a brand-new quest to protect the good people of the Sea of Thieves from encroaching dark forces, led by none other than Davy Jones himself.

Davy appears to be the big problem in A Pirate's Life, but other new enemies, including Sirens, Phantoms, and Ocean Crawlers will also have to be dealt with, and it appears that you might be getting some face-time with a (the?) Kraken, too. The full adventure will unfold across five new Tall Tales, and will be free to all players. Naturally, new cosmetics, including a new ship set and some Captain Jack-style couture, will also be added in the update.

A closer look Sea of Thieves: A Pirate's Life will take place at 11 am PT/2 pm ET on June 20, on Twitch and YouTube. Executive producer Joe Neate said the Sunday showcase will be "a real deep dive into all the details behind this collaboration with Disney," including a look at how Rare recreated Jack Sparrow and other Pirates of the Caribbean characters, and gameplay from the new Pirate's Life Tall Tales.

Microsoft Flight Simulator’s latest update focuses on Nordic countries

Posted on June 17, 2021 by

Asobo Studio has released World Update 5 for Microsoft Flight Simulator, and it focuses on Nordic countries.

The world in Microsoft Flight Simulator has received its latest major update, one with a focus on Europe’s Nordic countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden.

Watch on YouTube

In it, you can take to the European skies and explore fjords, urban areas, mountain peaks, and centuries-old castles from the cockpit.

Not only does it include lovely vistas, World Update 5: Nordics features improvements to landscapes, enhancements to architecture, improved data for 100 airports, and 78 points of interest.

This update also features five bush trips, one for each of the Nordic countries.

Finally, it also brings new hand-crafted airports, and five landing challenges. You will be able to test your skills at Denmark’s Bornholm, Iceland’s Isafjorour, Sweden’s Stockholm Arlanda, Norway’s Svalbard, and Finland’s Vaasa Airports.

The update is free to all users, and be sure to make sure your game is up-to-date before downloading it.

Microsoft Flight Simulator available on Xbox Game Pass for PC, Windows 10, and Steam and is coming to Xbox Series X/S on July 27.

The post Microsoft Flight Simulator’s latest update focuses on Nordic countries appeared first on VG247.

Sea of Thieves new gameplay trailer shows off Pirates of the Caribbean tie-in

Posted on June 17, 2021 by

Here’s another look at the Pirate’s Life update for Sea of Thieves which features Pirates of the Caribbean’s Jack Sparrow.

You can watch the new Sea of Thieves gameplay trailer below.

Watch on YouTube

Free to all players as part of the Season Three update arriving later this month, A Pirate’s Life takes place over five Tall Tales charting a new threat in the game.

“We’ve worked closely with the Walt Disney Games team throughout this whole process, crafting an original story which brings out the best elements of both Sea of Thieves and their beloved Pirates of the Caribbean franchise,” said executive producer Joe Neate.

“To see iconic characters like Jack Sparrow and his crew represented in Sea of Thieves’ unique art style, interacting with our own pirate universe – it’s been such an amazing experience to bring this whole thing to life and we can’t wait for you to dive in.”

In it, after rescuing Captain Jack Sparrow you’ll set sail alongside him where you will come into contact with new enemies and visit new locations which will be familiar to you if you watched Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean films.

The new enemies you will encounter include Jack’s nemesis Davy Jones, Sirens, Phantoms, and Ocean Crawlers.

A Pirate’s Life will launch on June 22.

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Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 combat will be “real and brutal”

Posted on June 17, 2021 by

Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 is still in the works, but today, Ninja Theory shared an update on where it is in the development process.

Speaking during today the Xbox extended showcase, creative director Tameem Antoniades discussed how the Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 team is currently working on the main foundations before going into full production.

Watch on YouTube

The team is also still working on motion capture, particularly on combat. According to Antoniades, combat will be “real and brutal.” The team wants it to be authentic, so both the animators and the actor playing Senua have gone through combat training for the last two years.

Real-world costumes are also being scanned in, and the team has been exploring Iceland, where the game is set, to capture the country’s sights.

Announced during The Game Awards back in 2019, Hellblade 2 was the first Xbox Series X game to be announced and we were given a look at an in-engine trailer. The game is being developed using Unreal Engine 5,

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