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Reverse the Verse LIVE

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September 14th 2018

RTV is back in LA with another Gamedev special! Designer Calix Reneau will build a game system prototype for potential research mechanics and answer questions LIVE.To watch Reverse the Verse LIVE each and every week, tune into http://twitch.tv/starcitizen.
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Around the Verse

The return of asteroid mining, focused audio, and Lorville air traffic in this week’s update.
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Frozen Synapse 2

Frozen Synapse 2 is, ostensibly, a game about optimisation. In reality, it’s about the game’s PRIME button, and the terror it instills in everyone that clicks it.

There’s a cadence to the game’s tactical stage: as a player, you’ll plan and confirm a five-second turn in unison with either another player or the AI. The glowing figures lurking in the vivid blue battlegrounds below are yours to command or destroy, but whatever weird half-life these figures have, it can be ended in a second if you make a tactical faux pas. So, as a player you’ll replay the five seconds, again and again, optimising your plan, trying to idiot proof the next five seconds so that none of your friendly green figures die.

Then you click the button. PRIME. The turn unspools, and you find out that your plan was not idiot proof, and that people are dying. It’s probably your fault.

Unexpected failure, and occasionally unexpected success is Frozen Synapse 2’s bread and butter. It’s a unique selling point, and the thing that will keep you up late into the night, tweaking and replaying.

Related: Best PS4 Games

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Surgeon Simulator CPR (Nintendo Switch)

Words by Nick Petrasiti

My nerves are calm and my hand is steady. Bob lays there unconscious, unaware of what’s about to happen. Something is wrong with his heart and it’s up to me, super-surgeon extraordinaire, to save his life. I take a deep breath and use a hammer to smash open his rib cage. Turns out, I’m a terrible surgeon.

Already out on a multitude of formats, Bossa Studios brings its 48-hour Global Game Jam construction to the Switch in the form of Surgeon Simulator CPR (Co-Op Play Ready). 

For the uninitiated, Surgeon Simulator is exactly what you think it is. Well, kind of. You put yourself in the role of the surgeon and are tasked with performing various operations to save patients (normally Bob). This isn’t, however, a serious romp. No, Surgeon Simulator was designed to be funny, frustrating and fiddly. You pilot the surgeon’s hand as it glides around the table trying to find the best tools for the job.

Related: Best Nintendo Switch games

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Q&A: Crusader Mercury

What are the differences in scanning between a ship like the Terrapin and the Mercury? Are they similar enough that a Mercury can be fitted to perform a Terrapin’s role equally well, or better?

Dedicated scanning ships, or ships equipped with dedicated scanners are built around that gameplay, which is not what the Mercury is built for. The Mercury’s scanners are only good enough to intercept local communications, rather than scanning of unknown areas or picking up low signatures at distance like the Terrapin can. The Terrapin, when crewed effectively, will always surpass the Mercury in terms of scanning efficiency. Think of the Mercury as a hybrid cargo ship, between freight and data.

Considering its weaponry and supposed light armor, shouldn’t the Mercury be faster than the Cutlass or Vanguard, which are armored and have more firepower? To follow up, the Mercury is considered to be fast, but the stats shows us it’s not much faster than a Freelancer. Can we expect the speeds to be adjusted?

As always, all stats are subject to change and if we find out during production the Mercury isn’t fast enough to fulfil its role we’ll adjust as necessary. Generally as ships get larger they get slower in the current design, so as the Mercury sits in between the Freelancer and Cutlass, it currently sits in between their speed ranges, although there are a whole host of parameters aside from top speed we use but don’t show to adjust their handling characteristics.

Mentioned in the design notes for Electronic Warfare, the Drake Herald will have a dedicated e-war suite. Will the Mercury follow this data-running trend and also have e-war capabilities?

Having a dedicated e-war suite was not part of the original design for the ship and at this time is not being considered for addition, instead leaving the functionality on other ships such as the Herald and Sentinel. However, a dedicated e-war suite is not a requirement for data hacking.

Will the Mercury enter the ship pipeline soon and serve as the template for the larger Crusader ships?

Keep an eye on the roadmap for more information on when this ship will enter production. The design work done on the Star Runner and Starlifter will both be used as reference for the larger ships, such as the Starliner.

Is the Mercury expected to be able to fit through Small Jump Points?

Jump point sizing and categorisation is still being worked out, but we expect the Mercury to fit through the same size jump points as the Freelancer.

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Immortal Unchained

Immortal: Unchained is Dark Souls with guns. If you’ve seen any of the pre-release trailers, you won’t be surprised to learn this of course, with the developer, Toadman Interactive, describing it as being “inspired by the emerging hardcore action-RPG genre”. Sadly, beyond the addition of guns, Immortal: Unchained has disappointingly low ambitions to innovate, instead serving only to highlight how much the Dark Souls formula relies on the strength of its combat.

If you’re familiar with the Souls-like, or ‘hardcore action-RPG’, genre, then you’ll recognise the core elements synonymous with the Dark Souls series implemented here, once you’ve figured out what everything has been renamed to. Everything has gone through the ‘find synonym’ option in Microsoft Word, but it’s all there. Souls, the currency you collect from enemies to spend on upgrades, are now called Bits, while the save points are Obelisks instead of Bonfires.

So, it’s the standard Souls-like experience in a science-fantasy setting. You adventure through various grim locales, fighting through brutally difficult combat encounters and navigating the labyrinthine environments without the aid of a map. Along the way you’ll battle some enormous bosses and die. Lots. The guns themselves are the only defining characteristic of Immortal: Unchained, which makes their lacklustre implementation even more damning.

Related: Best PS4 Games

The arsenal of weapons available is disappointingly vanilla, with the standard armoury of primary weapons including assault rifles, shotguns, grenade launchers, and sniper rifles alongside sub-machine guns and pistols for sidearms. The guns themselves feel meaty enough to fire, but the free-aiming system feels appallingly floaty on console. Your mileage may vary on PC with a mouse, but I quickly resorted to turning on lock-on aiming and never looked back.

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Portfolio: Bremen Defense Force

Writer’s Note: This portfolio was originally published in Jump Point 4.10.

With the launch of the UEE’s “Militia Mobilization Initiative,” the role that militias play in protecting the Empire has come front and center. The current directive aims to help arm civilian militias, so they can protect their homeworld and system against Vanduul incursions and outlaws. One system where militias have played a prominent role for centuries is Bremen — home to the famous Bremen Defense Force, which is the longest constantly active militia in the UEE.

Bremen was a relatively quiet and safe frontier system following its discovery in 2441. That all changed with the onset of the Second Tevarin War. The armadas of Corath’Thal utilized insurgency tactics to wage an unpredictable and shifting war against Humanity. With little idea as to where or when they might attack next, the UEE needed to raise a massive and expanding force in order to protect the populace, one that they struggled to properly feed. It was then that the fertile soil of Rytif (Bremen II) became the main producer of rations for UEE forces.

With this responsibility came both great wealth and an unexpected degree of danger. Bremen’s location meant the chance of a Tevarin attack was relatively low, but residents still noticed an uptick in Human threats. These outlaws were smart enough to avoid targeting military convoys, instead concentrating their attacks on civilians enriched by the system’s booming economy.

Philippe Lattimore almost lost his life in one such outlaw attack. The spry octogenarian was a veteran of the First Tevarin War who attempted to reenlist in the Navy when the second one began. After his application was politely denied, Lattimore took it upon himself to patrol the system. He spent his days responding to distress calls and meticulously documenting his experience. One day he answered a distress call only to be overwhelmed by outlaws still picking apart their latest catch. He barely survived the attack and although it was a close call, it didn’t deter him. In fact, it only made him more resolute to stop what was happening in Bremen, and he realized one thing: he wasn’t going to be able to do this alone.

In 2605, Lattimore met with Arcturus Koerner, Rytif’s largest landowner and de facto governor, to ask for funds to create the Bremen Defense Force (BDF). Legend has it that Lattimore spoke, uninterrupted, for over an hour about his recent experiences. He presented the detailed reports he had compiled while on patrol, highlighted the system’s current crime stats, and argued that it was vital for the people of Bremen to stand together to keep their system safe. Once done, Koerner only had one question, “How much do you need?”

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September 2948 Subscriber Flair

Subscribers

I think we can all safely agree that a mind is a terrible thing to waste, and if you ask us, that adage extends to the rest of the head as well. That’s why your head gear shouldn’t be taken lightly. With RSI’s classic Venture helmet your head is in good hands, and with this exclusive Centurion edition, you won’t have to sacrifice stellar looks for stellar safety.

Imperator Subscribers

Imperator-level subscribers will receive this limited edition purple variant along with the red Centurion design, perfectly matching the sleek base suit whilst preventing grey matter splatter on potentially dangerous missions.

If you’re an active subscriber, these items will be added to your account on September 12th.

If you aren’t a subscriber yet but want to sport these suits, make sure you subscribe no later than September 16th.

More information about subscriptions can be found here

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Hyper Light Drifter – Special Edition

Hyper Light Drifter’s biggest achievement is the mood it creates. From the outset, the game manages to communicate this feeling of encroaching doom, of hopelessness and mystery, without ever showing or speaking a single word. For a mute game, Drifter manages to deliver a hard-hitting, unsettling narrative – one that lets the player dwell more on what’s left unsaid than what is ever directly revealed.

Originally launched two years ago on PC, the game instantly became a hit with RPG and action game fans alike: between the mesmerising OST (composed by electronic music guru Disasterpiece) and it’s deceptively simple reflex-testing traversal and combat, Drifter quickly burrowed into the hearts of hardcore gaming enthusiasts… ironic, considering the title’s inspiration and backstory.

Hyper Light Drifter was inspired by the real-world struggles of creator Alex Preston, who lives with a congenital heart defect, and that echoes into the game’s strange story. You play as The Drifter, a mysterious figure that can interact with ancient technology, yet is burdened with an unspecified terminal illness. With an emphasis on discovery and player-led exploration, Hyper Light Drifter feels like a mix of retro Zelda titles, laced with elements of Diablo… all set in a world that feels like Studio Ghibli’s take on a William Gibson novel.

Related: Best Nintendo Switch Games

The publisher behind the port, Abylight Studios, has added single Joy-Con support for the Special Edition, meaning you can experience drop-in, drop-out co-op with a friend. Mechanically, co-op works well – the second player spawns in at the cost of one health bar from the first, and mimics all their currently equipped weapons to boot.

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Elea Episode 1

The first episode of Elea is full of bugs, awkward voice acting, wonky animations and boring puzzles. And yet, somehow, it remains intriguing. Its story is deeply personal, and its sci-fi setting—fleshed out with short, sharp text descriptions—feels believable. It gets weaker as its goes on, but its willingness to change pace abruptly and lurch into bizarre, unexpected scenarios has left me curious to find out what happens next.

You play River Elea Catherine Jones, a space scientist in the late 21st century. In 2073, the Earth was hit by a disease that made every newborn child increasingly violent. In response, everyone stopped having children, and to escape the disease humanity searched for other worlds to colonise, including an Earth-like exoplanet called Solace. A huge ship, Pilgrimage, set out for Solace, and was never heard of again. River’s husband was among the crew, and 13 years on she’s part of a mission to find out what happened.

It’s a linear exploration game that’s light on interaction, but it avoids being dull. You start by padding through your house back on Earth, which is crammed with sleek gadgets to fiddle with (alongside some of the prettiest bathrooms I’ve ever seen). The introduction stretches on a little too long, but it soon becomes chaotic, jumping back and forth between a series of memories, and you can expect alarming changes of paces and plenty of psychedelic visual glitches.

Related: Best PS4 Games

The constant switching keeps you guessing about what’s coming next, which makes you want to push on. You open a door, and it turns into a pitch-black horror game, before flinging you into a dream sequence in which you’ll walk, confused, through the same environment repeatedly until you figure out how to break the pattern.

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Broforce (Switch)

Inexplicably, Broforce calls to mind what Pro Evolution Soccer would look like if Hideo Kojima and Konami were still friends, and he was in charge of the beloved football franchise. Harking back to the days when player names were copy-written and you had the likes of Petr Schmeckles between the sticks for Manchester United, knocking a goal kick out to Rylan Giggles on the left wing, who’d set Erik Canteen up to score for the Red Devils.

Because it’s that kind of pun-work, that style of deft comedian-like fortitude that permeates through every pore of Broforce’s narrative – it’s that outright silliness that makes it what it is. Also, if you don’t know much about football, just know that what I wrote there was very funny. You’re welcome.

As side-scrolling shoot-em-ups go, there’s nuance to Devolver Digital and Free Lives’ run-and-gunner on Switch you’d be forgiven for missing upon first glance, but there’s also a healthy challenge, references that may be lost on a younger generation, and, yes, a humour that’s not going to appeal to everyone.

It’s important to mention the humour and inherent politicism, however. This is a game that embraces American patriotism while simultaneously ripping it to shreds. There’s a chance that people wearing Stars and Stripes pyjamas might mistake it for reverence, but that’s not what’s on show here. There’s a deft satire just below the surface. 

Related: Cyberpunk 2077

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This Week in Star Citizen

Hello everyone,

We’re one week closer to CitizenCon 2948! As mentioned last week, we recently updated the CitizenCon website with loads of details about the event, including a breakdown of what to expect throughout the day. Find all the details here, and pick up tickets to attend in person here.

We also recently revealed Crusader Industries latest ship, the Mercury Star Runner, which is only available until next week. Catering to governments and the private sector alike, Crusader Industries’ star runner chassis raises the bar on speed and efficiency while remaining a stalwart of reliability. Find out more here.

On the community front, the MISC Prospector Commercial Contest has now ended. We’re currently in the process of reviewing submissions, and will announce the winners in the coming days. If you haven’t seen some of the incredible commercials submitted, check them out here.

Lastly, we’re still running one of our most exciting contests to date. Head over to Spectrum to find out how you can win the opportunity to direct a Motion Capture shoot LIVE at CitizenCon in our recently announced Emote Contest.

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Calling All Devs

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September 10th 2018

Every week, designers, engineers and other developers from our five offices around the world answer backer questions submitted on SPECTRUM and voted on by YOU.You can submit your questions for consideration in future episodes of Calling All Devs here.And for info on becoming a subscriber, go to: https://robertsspaceindustries.com/pledge/subscriptions
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Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Lara Croft is all grown up, again.

Developed by Eidos Montreal in collaboration with Crystal Dynamics, Shadow of the Tomb Raider follows Lara as she once again tries to stop The Order of Trinity from finding artifacts capable of destroying the world. It’s a harrowing tale of Lara coming to terms with her own morality and realising the value of friendship, although it seldom gels together in a satisfying way.

The closing chapter of Lara Croft’s reboot trilogy is a complicated one. It’s simultaneously the most accomplished chapter thus far, but also continually trips up under the weight of its own ambition. Whether it’s narrative, combat or exploration, very little in Shadow of the Tomb Raider feels as good as I’d like. That isn’t to say it’s bad, it’s consistently great, but it ends up sitting in the shadows of its contemporaries.

Troubled pacing and an odd mixture of performances kept me from getting truly invested, and the absence of Rhianna Pratchett’s writing talent is most definitely felt. Arcs are established without ever being paid off in a meaningful way, or otherwise prance around in limbo without being touched for hours. It’s frustrating. Yes, Rise of the Tomb Raider could feel generic but it still managed to weave an excellent yarn regardless.

The opposite is true here. Things wrap up in a hugely anticlimactic final act that fails to deliver thanks to a clumsy narrative which juggles far too many elements when none of them have enough depth. Lara spends time either talking about her dead parents, realising her own misguided intentions or fending off Trinity, an evil organisation whose motivations are muddy and inconsistent.

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V-Rally 4

I hate waiting around in racing games. Waiting for races to load. Waiting for a voiceover artist to explain the deeper intricacies of racing disciplines you’ve played countless times before. Waiting to be shown how the garage systems and upgrade paths work, or how to access new contract offers, or whatever else the developers have cooked up as manufactured excuses to keep you off the track. Waiting, waiting, waiting.

As racing games have progressed – become more complex and complicated, as well as become full to the brim with 100-car rosters – the level of waiting has increased too. At least, in some games though, the waiting is worth it. Not in many, mind. The pacing of Forza Horizon and how it so deftly dishes out cars, races and spectacular showcase events is the best example of it in recent racers.

V-Rally 4 is not such a game. While you do occasionally see the sparks of great racer DNA emerge from beneath its bonnet, it’s mostly a scrappy, inconsistent rally game that never reaches, let alone surpasses, its older contemporaries.

Related: Best Xbox One Games

Its career is a monotonous slog full of meaningless progressions through contracts and offers you simply don’t care about. Its first race is a vertical slice, point-to-point taster session through the dusty deserts of Kenya, before you’re thrust into – you guessed it – a conveyor belt of boring tutorials about events, contracts and more.

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Reverse the Verse LIVE

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September 7th 2018

LIVE from Wilmslow, UK. Engineers, programmers and QA testers sit down and discuss the nature of Object Container Streaming and what it means for the continuing development of Star Citizen and Squadron 42.To watch Reverse the Verse LIVE each and every week, tune into http://twitch.tv/starcitizen.
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SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy

At the core of many fighting games, there is a simple rock/paper/scissors mechanic that holds the basic aspects of the combat together. Attacks can be blocked, blocking can be thrown and if someone tries to throw an attacking player they’re going to get hit. Nintendo’s ARMS does a fantastic job of taking that core concept and building a game around it, but what most fighting games do is add a bit more depth.

For instance, most have low, high and overhead attacks that require you to be standing or crouching when you block in order to defend yourself or mix command grabs into the proceedings which are throws that will best a would-be attacker, so it’s not just a clear-cut ‘blocking stops attacks’. More options, and therefore, more opportunities for the mind games that make fighting games so much damn fun, but one of the reasons people find them so complicated.

Many have tried to strip the genre back and simplify things in recent years and SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy has attempted to do the same thing with the popular ‘tag’ style fighting game. It has all of the hallmarks – characters you can switch in-and-out of the battle at will, air dashing, long and spectacular looking combos – but it is all performed with a simple button system.

You’ve got a light and heavy attack, a throw button (which can also be used in the air, a button to tag and one to block. Special moves are also all performed with one button, and by holding towards, away and down on the d-pad. That’s it. It’s dead simple. Too simple.

Related: Best Fighting Games

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Destiny 2: Forsaken

Note: This isn’t a definitive verdict and score. It’s early days for Destiny 2: Forsaken, and there’s still a ton of endgame content to tackle and a Raid to polish off. Both verdict and score may be adjusted when we return to update this review in the following weeks. 

After a year of huge excitement and mild disappointment we’re finally here, with an expansion that does for Destiny 2 what The Taken King did for Destiny. With Destiny 2: Forsaken the series is back on track, with a new campaign that’s arguably the best Bungie’s done in years plus a ton of strong story, strike and competitive content too.

This all comes at the same time as what’s effectively a reset for the game’s loot mechanics, ditching much of the stuff fans hated about vanilla Destiny 2 with a remix of ideas from the original game. Forsaken still finds Bungie struggling to make Destiny all things to all people, but there’s a sense that it’s remembered what those who love Destiny love – and what we might love in the future.

As with Destiny 2, the campaign content takes centre stage, kicking off with the death of a beloved character – you already know who – and sending you out to the Reef on a trail of vengeance.

Your destination is The Tangled Shore; a general hive of scum and villainy where Fallen crime-lords mix with the Awoken, the Cabal are causing grief and the Hive are lurking not too far below. You’re out for payback against crazed Awoken prince, Uldren Sov, and a hateful eight of his lieutenants, the Barons – a crew of miscreants, maniacs and Hive-loving monster pervs. Are you looking for justice or revenge? Frankly, who cares. These bad boys and girls need taking out.

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Zone of the Enders: The Second Runner MARS

Words by Ed Fenning

Zone of the Enders: The Second Runner MARS is an aerial mech-battling remaster, of a remaster, of the Kojima sequel to the original Zone of the Enders game that came out in 2001.

Saying the words “Hideo Kojima” can conjure up images of a game laden with overwrought yet cheesy melodrama, focused on cinematic poses and lengthy expositions that probably question the meaning of war, death, love, and robots. This accurately describes Zone of the Enders, which doesn’t stray far from this formula, except here the robots are bigger, more plentiful and they fly.

This sequel was released first on PS2 in 2003 before the entire series of games saw an HD remaster in 2012 in the Zone of the Enders collection. The main upgrade in this PS4 release is that it’s now possible to run the game at 60fps in 4k instead of 1080p, and it includes a first-person mode designed to work with PSVR.

Related: Best PS4 Games

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Samsung 970 Pro 512GB

What is the Samsung 970 Pro 512GB?

The Samsung 970 Pro is the Korean firm’s latest attempt to maintain its position at the top of the SSD market – and, on paper at least, this drive is a barnstormer.

Samsung’s next SSD success may sound like a foregone conclusion after the last few years of dominance, but reality isn’t that rosy. More drives than ever are delivering super speeds for lower prices – which means Samsung may struggle to convince people to pay for this premium flagship.

Related: Best Graphics Cards 2018

Samsung 970 Pro 512GB – Design and Features

The new drive is designed for high-end users who want an SSD that combines lightning speed with impressive endurance – so those folks who are building workstations, creative systems or other machines with demanding productivity applications.

The new drive is available in 512GB and 1TB configurations, with prices of £219 and £399 respectively. That’s a lot to ask for an SSD these days – the 970 Evo costs £180 and £330 for equivalent sizes, while the highly-regarded WD Black costs £155 for a 500GB drive and £360 for a 1TB model.

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Latest Article Comments

tynmanz Monthly Studio Report: May 2017
11 June 2017
I don't think they should continue to put features into it. They can add them later.

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