February 2020

Fallout 76's Wastelanders expansion looks promising

Bethesda has shown off gameplay of the upcoming Fallout 76 Wastelanders expansion - and it looks like it makes some significant improvements to the game.

In the video below, Bethesda developers show off a raft of new locations, NPCs, conversations and a quest.

Much has changed in the massively multiplayer online game - and perhaps the most significant change is the addition of NPCs you can talk to. Upon leaving Vault 76 you'll bump into a couple, and some areas once dead are now alive with people.

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Infinity Ward is using Modern Warfare weapon charms to reference some of the best moments from the MW2 campaign

The Call of Duty games are packed full of Easter eggs - and Infinity Ward's Modern Warfare soft reboot is no exception.

It turns out Infinity Ward is using Modern Warfare weapon charms to reference the Modern Warfare 2 campaign - and that discovery has led fans to speculate that each Modern Warfare season is themed around one of Infinity Ward's previous games.

Eagle-eyed redditor AnalVor noticed three new weapon charms found in Modern Warfare as part of the game's second season battle pass directly reference iconic moments from the Modern Warfare 2 campaign.

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Call of Duty Zombies overlord Jason Blundell exits Treyarch

Jason Blundell, one of the chief creators of Call of Duty's popular zombies mode, has left Treyarch after 13 years.

In a statement published to Twitter, Blundell said his time working on zombies had been "special", and thanked the zombies community for helping to create "memories I will cherish for a lifetime".

Blundell began working on nazi zombies - 1-4 player bonus mode in which players fought against waves of enemies - back in 2007 for 2008's Call of Duty World at War. World at War was the first game in Activision's blockbuster shooter series to feature a zombies mode, although it was only playable once the campaign was completed. It would go on to gain huge popularity within Treyarch's Black Ops games as a fully-fledged mode separate to campaign and traditional multiplayer.

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Major Counter-Strike tournament is eerily quiet without a crowd

A major Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament forced to go ahead without a crowd due to fears over Coronavirus has pulled in a massive live audience online.

IEM Katowice, ongoing at the time of this article's publication, is being played without a crowd at the Spodek arena - and it's making for an eerily quiet viewing experience.

Without the cheer of the Polish crowd to accompany the action, we can hear the players yell at key moments, the occasional clap from a coach and... that's about it. In between rounds the stage is treated to a light show that's now for the benefit of the cameras only.

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Trackmania goes live service with Trackmania Nations remake

A remake of Trackmania Nations is in the works, Ubisoft has announced.

The remake includes an official season campaign, daily track selections as well as new track-creation options with new surfaces and special blocks, developer Ubisoft Nadeo said.

Trackmania Nations came out in January 2006 as a free, standalone game. This remake, simply dubbed Trackmania, launches on PC on 5th May. It was announced at the Grand League Finals in Lyon, France, where Ubisoft Nadeo showed a trailer, below.

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In Theory: Can a four teraflop GPU cut it for a next-gen console?

A next generation console with just 4 teraflops of GPU power? Well, that's the rumour. While Microsoft teases and tempts us with the 12TF behemoth that is Xbox Series X, rumours persist that a second box is in development, designed to hit the market at a much lower price-point, undercutting PlayStation 5 while still being able to play each and every next-gen Xbox game. Lockhart is its codename and I find the basic concept behind its creation absolutely fascinating.

While I suspect that there are important nuances in the design that have yet to be revealed, it's safe to assume that the basic premise is based on the theory that graphics are far more scalable than any other component of a particular game with the idea being that Series X targets 4K while Lockhart aims for 1440p instead. This is borne out by the various spec leaks we've seen, which paint a picture of a console that has far more commonalities with Series X than it has differences. Leaks suggest that Lockhart has the same eight-core/16-thread CPU cluster as the Series X (CPU clocks may be very slightly different) while it still uses an NVMe-based solid state storage solution. As it's designed to run at lower native resolutions than Series X, we should also expect a lower provision of GDDR6 memory too: 12GB vs the more capable machine's 16GB seems likely.

However, it's the pared back GPU that presents the biggest marketing challenge for Microsoft. In a world where Xbox One X hit the market with six teraflops back in 2017, how can a 4TF machine possibly cut it for next-gen? I suspect that this all about a combination of AMD's Navi architectural improvements which see a lot more 'performance for your teraflop', likely combined with more modern GPU features that the current console GCN architectures simply don't have. The architectural side of the equation is a matter of record already. Back in October last year, we put together an AMD build with 9.2 teraflops of Navi GPU power and found that we got over 80 per cent more performance from just 53 per cent more compute.

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FIFA 20 gives some players an in-game button overlay to help EA improve responsiveness

EA Sports has given some FIFA 20 players a special in-game button overlay as it bids to improve responsiveness.

Responsiveness - or the lack of - is one of the hot topics within the FIFA community. It's felt FIFA 20 is particularly unresponsive when played online, where it can feel like there's a significant delay between a button press and the corresponding action in-game.

In truth, this has been a long-standing issue with EA Sports' FIFA games, and despite the developer's best efforts over the last few years, community complaints remain.

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Game Developers Conference postponed amid Coronavirus fears

The Game Developers Conference has been postponed, its organisers have announced.

GDC said it intends to host a GDC event later in the summer.

"Having spent the past year preparing for the show with our advisory boards, speakers, exhibitors, and event partners, we're genuinely upset and disappointed not to be able to host you at this time," GDC said in a statement.

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Casual game-making through the years: an evolving, instructive joy

When you were growing up, how often did you wish a game did something a little differently? I had that urge a ridiculous amount of times. To an extent, it was probably because I grew up with a Commodore 64 for a long time and those games were frequently delightful, yet also extremely limited compared to the options we have now. Throw in a lack of money and I was simply grateful for whatever came along, but that didn't stop me dreaming of how I wanted games to play out.

The dream was an RPG where you played a footballer working their way up to glory. I tried coding it in BASIC, mostly by writing it down in a notepad rather than actually sitting in front of the Commodore 64. Predictably, it was not a huge success, but I liked thinking it through. It was a similar case for many an adventure game, too. I think I realised at that young age that graphics weren't going to be my forte so I focused on storytelling and the text-based side of things. I just wanted to make something. Anything.

This was the opening for the Shoot-Em-Up Construction Kit. Sure, it wasn't about storytelling but it was about creating your own levels, creating enemy bullet patterns, changing the behaviour of enemies, and essentially setting yourself up for a spectacularly tricky bullet-hell experience. You could even export your games for others to play and yup, they did. Commodore 64 magazine, Zzap!, showcased many SEUCK (as it was affectionately referred to) games on its cover tapes.

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