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Hyper Light Drifter preview build goes live on Sept. 26

Backers eager to get their hands on the sleek action-RPG Hyper Light Drifter won't have to wait long. A preview build for Windows and Mac is set to go live on Steam next week, developer Heart Machine announced today.

The build is designed to give an early glimpse at Hyper Light Drifter's standout features resulting from its extended development period, though some key elements are being saved for the final release. "Some game features are locked, some have been hidden, others are being refined, and content is always being generated for the world," Heart Machine notes. "So, to help communicate a bit better we're calling it a Preview Build."

Steam keys for Hyper Light Drifter's preview build will be sent to backers who pledged $25 or more to the team's Kickstarter project. The game will go live on September 26, and will be playable through September 28.

[Image: Heart Machine]

Tropico 5 delayed on PS4, now arriving in 'early 2015'

Despite prior word that Tropico 5 would reach the PlayStation 4 during 2014, a new announcement from publisher Kalypso Media bumps the banana republic simulation to "early 2015." Kalyspo offers no explanation for the PlayStation 4 delay, but does note that the Xbox 360 version of Tropico 5, which has long been scheduled for a November 2014 release, has not been delayed.

In more positive news, the aforementioned message issued by Kalypso announces the launch of both Mac and SteamOS versions of Tropico 5. "Starting today, Mac & SteamOS users can now visit the island paradise of Tropico in the award-winning dictator sim," the announcement states. Those suddenly interested in picking up a copy of Tropico 5 can find the game either on the Mac App Store or Steam.
[Image: Kalypso Media]

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Wasteland 2 review: The toxic adventure

It looks like mankind finally did it. After decades of nuclear-armed nation states flaunting their atomic might, somebody took things a step too far, pressed the big red button and the entire world was reduced to cinders in an apocalyptic hail of ballistic missiles. After the dust settled and the gloom of the nuclear tundra set in, tiny pockets of survivors clamored up from the rubble and banded together like dirty, irradiated meerkats. Most were just in it for the chance to eke out some kind of existence under the new status quo, but those kind souls were constantly harried by bands of raiders, cannibals, mutants and jerks who somehow thought the apocalypse would be an appropriate time to shout, "Blaster Master rules Bartertown!" at every opportunity.

All of this is a pretty big bummer for humanity, but for players of Wasteland 2, the end of the world as we know it is just the beginning of a role-playing game that, through a combination of clever writing, daunting attention to detail and phenomenal post-apocalyptic world building, legitimately earns the oft-hyperbolic descriptor of "epic." It's just too bad that these strengths are so often overshadowed by technical problems.

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Most Hearthstone players remain above Rank 15

Those of you perpetually stuck at Rank 23 in Blizzard's hyper-addictive faux card game Hearthstone shouldn't get too discouraged. Not only are you not alone, you happen to be in the same position as the vast majority of other Hearthstone players.

According to an infographic revealed by the developer (which you can find below the break), 75 percent of all Hearthstone players fall somewhere between Rank 25 and Rank 15 - a far cry from the envy-inducing upper echelons of the game's leaderboards. Furthermore, 17.5 percent of Hearthstone players are located somewhere between Ranks 15 and 10, 5.5 percent are found between Ranks 10 and 5 and a mere 2 percent can legitimately claim to have placed within the top five ranks. The number of players who have reached the rank of "Legend" is almost too small to mention, as it represents only 0.5 percent of all Hearthstone players.

If you're hoping for a noble, academic use for this data, sorry, but Blizzard is seemingly sharing these figures purely to bolster player morale. "Whether you're a Legend or an Angry Chicken or anywhere in between, Hearthstone players are passionate about the game, creative in deck-building, and best of all – a part of the ever-growing Hearthstone community," reads a message from the developer. "If you ever feel that your Rank in Ranked Play is the end all, be all of Hearthstone, don't worry – you're doing better than you think!"
[Image: Activision Blizzard]

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Double Fine to exit Early Access, release full version of Spacebase DF-9

Double Fine announced that it will abandon its Steam Early Access plans for Spacebase DF-9, revealing that a finished version of its galactic life sim will launch next month.

Spacebase DF-9's dev plans now focus on adding tutorials and in-game goals as the project nears a final release. The announcement scales back Spacebase DF-9's once-ambitious scope, which previously called for dozens of in-depth features to be added over a period of several months via Early Access.

RPS notes that a full source code release will accompany the game's upcoming launch, essentially putting future additions in the hands of its playerbase. Spacebase DF-9 was initially pitched during an internal game jam in December of 2012 before entering Early Access late last year.

[Image: Double Fine]

Neal Stephenson's sword-fighting game Clang officially shelved

Historical sword-fighting game Clang has officially been axed, developer Subutai Corporation announced yesterday. The game earned $526,125 on Kickstarter in July 2012 and according to creator and sci-fi novelist Neal Stephenson, the developer did eventually deliver on a prototype of the game as promised.

"The prototype was technically innovative, but it wasn't very fun to play," Stephenson wrote in an update on Clang's Kickstarter page, admitting he "probably focused too much on historical accuracy and not enough on making it sufficiently fun to attract additional investment." Development paused last year to attract additional investors, which Stephenson said was part of the initial plan for the game. While Clang was slated to be playable with a mouse and keyboard, the game was expected to support peripherals like Sixense's Razer Hydra motion controller and Kickstarter success STEM system.

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Battleborn engages cooperative gameplay trailer

Image Here's about 15 minutes of Borderlands developer Gearbox's "friendly shooter" Battleborn. The trailer takes its time showing off the different attacks and skills of the characters. The game is expected to launch on Xbox One, PS4 and PC in 2015.... Continue Reading

Square Enix unveils cloud gaming business Shinra Technologies

Square Enix announced its aim to deliver "revolutionary" cloud-based gaming with Shinra Technologies, a newly launched subsidiary helmed by Yoichi Wada, the former president of the Japanese publisher. Cutely named after the company in Final Fantasy 7, Shinra's goal is to "change the game industry ecosystem by offering new types of games experiences" through its own tech. Shinra appears to be an evolution of Square Enix's Project Flare streaming project (the service's web page now redirects to Shinra's) but set up as a separate subsidiary.

Shinra wants to deliver cloud gaming using what it calls a "virtual supercomputer." Rather than using one central processing unit (CPU) and one graphics processing unit (GPU) to stream a game, Shinra said its tech pools "hundreds or thousands of CPUs and GPUs in a datacenter" to boost processing power and deliver higher quality games. "It's like having a super-powered games console," Shinra's FAQ claims, "with no need to buy the console."

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Need for Speed Rivals 'Complete Edition' revs up for October

The "Complete Edition" of Need for Speed Rivals will launch on October 21. The special edition package includes all of the game's previously-issued DLC, six packs in total. NFS Rivals' Complete Edition will arrive on PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360 and PC, and will launch three days afterwards in Europe on October 24. The Complete Edition does not appear to include the game's Ultimate Racer Pack, which is only available on PC and Xbox platforms, the game's official site noted.

The standard version of NFS Rivals launched in November alongside the latest home consoles from Sony and Microsoft. The racing game was added to the EA Access vault earlier this month, allowing subscribers to play the full game at will. EA did not list a price for the Complete Edition, though pre-orders are expected to be available shortly. The game-and-DLC bundle will replace a new entry in the series this year, the first time in 13 years that EA has gone without a brand new Need for Speed game. The next entry will arrive in 2015.

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League of Legends, Imagine Dragons team for Worlds song



The League of Legends World Championship is so on, with 16 teams competing for the top spot across a road show of tournament locations in Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea. The Championship ends at the home of the 2002 FIFA World Cup, Sangam Stadium in Seoul, on October 19. See? ESports are sporty.

To kick off the Championship, the band Imagine Dragons contributed a song for another stunning piece of animation from Riot, this time in a more cartoony style than its standard cinematics. "While working on the next album, we took a break to collab with League of Legends (our favorite game) on a song," the band tweeted. Download the song here and see the League of Legends World Championship stream schedule here.

Final Fantasy 13 trilogy heading to PC starting next month

PC versions of the Final Fantasy 13 trilogy were confirmed by Square Enix today, with the first game due to launch on October 9. Hints that the series was destined for PC surfaced earlier this week when Steam logos were spotted on Square Enix's official site for the games.

Final Fantasy 13 will cost $16, and will be available through Square Enix's online store and Steam. Prices for the other two games in the series have not been announced. Those pre-ordering the game through Steam will receive a 10 percent discount ($14.39). Steam users will also have access to a set of unlockable Steam Trading Cards. The trilogy began in 2010 with Final Fantasy 13 followed by its sequels, Final Fantasy 13-2 in 2012 and Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy 13 in February. Square Enix said it shipped over 11 million copies of the games in the trilogy worldwide to date.

Watch 20 minutes of new gameplay from MGS5: The Phantom Pain

Image Hopefully witnessing 20 minutes of new gameplay footage direct from Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain can alleviate the sting of learning that Metal Gear maestro Hideo Kojima refuses to commit to a release date any more specific than a nebulous "2015." [Image: Konami] ... Continue Reading

NBA 2K15 scans your face, thinks you're beautiful

NBA 2K15 will feature the ability for players to scan their faces into the game and onto the bodies of digital athletes. 2K Sports revealed the feature in a tutorial video, which instructs prospective virtual basketballers to hold the PlayStation Camera six to 12 inches away from their faces. After slowly turning their head both ways, players will find their mapped mugs in the game, at which point they can fine-tune their features. Created players can then be used in MyCareer mode, where they will likely get dunked on by cover star Kevin Durant.

While the tutorial mentioned the PlayStation Camera by name, 2K says the feature uses "first-party camera hardware." The publisher also doesn't specify whether the feature is locked to a given console, indicating that Xbox One players can use the Kinect to scan their faces as well. NBA 2K15 will launch October 7 for PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360 and PC.

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Zelda-inspired Blossom Tales looks to bloom on Steam

Rex Rocket developer Castle Pixel recently launched a Kickstarter campaign for Blossom Tales, the studio's Zelda-like adventure game. The action-RPG is also on Steam Greenlight seeking community approval for distribution on the PC platform. Castle Pixel is seeking $45,000 by October 17 to fund the rest of the game's development. Blossom Tales has players exploring dungeons that "combine pre-designed layouts and randomized areas," completing quests as the young warrior Lily.

While Castle Pixel did not list any other guaranteed platforms for the game on its Kickstarter page. Rather, additional destinations for Blossom Tales will be unlocked should the project achieve its numerous stretch goals; it will head to Mac and Linux at the $60,000 mark and Wii U at $250,000. The Pittsburgh-based developer announced its Wii U and 3DS ambitions for the game back in May 2013.
[Image: Castle Pixel]

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Terrorists invade Gone Home in new Counter-Strike map

If you felt that critical darling Gone Home featured too little gameplay and not nearly enough gunplay, today's your lucky day: A Counter-Strike fan going by the name of "Nipper" has recreated Gone Home's idyllic suburban location within Valve's beloved first-person shooter.

Designed for up to 32 players (but recommended for far fewer), cs_gonehome essentially transplants the tenets of Counter-Strike into the meticulously detailed home that served as the setting for Gone Home. Each new round sees players purchasing weaponry and gear before setting out to hunt down the opposing faction, while hostages are spawned at random each time the game resets itself.

Despite this, many commenters on Steam are quick to point out that the design of the Gone Home house doesn't lend itself well to Counter-Strike's gameplay. Complaints range from a lack of lighting in the cellar, to too many areas in which campers can hide and narrow corridors that make Counter-Strike's most overpowered guns even more effective.

"There are several ways in which the map doesn't work all the well in [Counter-Strike], but that's hardly the point, I think," writes Steam user Space Hamlet before describing the map as "a fascinating intersection of the design of two games."
[Image: Valve]

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