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Updated: 11 min 58 sec ago

Dorfromantik review - gentle elegance from a deceptively challenging village builder

1 hour 18 min ago

Dorfromantik is still currently in early access, though as it stands its core features are intact and there's more than enough on offer for us to provide a full review.

Dorfromantik is a journey. Even 45 hours later (a shared tally because I'm not the only one in my household besotted with it) I still discover new things about it, about how it really works. And I would never have known it to look at it. To see it for the first time is to see a game so absurdly simple, and gentle, it seems strange it has scores at all. A game about placing hexagonal tiles with little houses and trees and fields on, and creating a miniature rural idyll. But make no mistake, those scores matter, and behind that beguiling simplicity is a surprisingly challenging puzzle game.

It works like this. You place tiles one at a time, rotating them and connecting them to other tiles, trying to match the things you see on them: rivers, trees, houses, rails and fields. And if you can match a certain number of them, specified by a kind of quest tile, you will get a green tick, a xylophonic "pling!" of success, and - most importantly - more tiles. Each tile you place, depending on how you place it, scores you more points, so the more tiles you have to place, the more points you will earn. Simple.

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Categories: Video Games

Unreal developer Epic Games sues smart glasses maker Nreal

Mon, 17/05/2021 - 18:24

Chinese augmented reality headset company Nreal is being sued by Epic Games, developer of Fortnite and Unreal Engine.

If you hadn't guessed already, the squabble is over the name Nreal, which Epic Games argues is deliberately similar to its own Unreal (thanks, The Verge).

The two companies have been warring over the name for years, though this latest legal challenge from Epic appears to have been sparked by an Nreal boast it had "big news" - seemingly, that its Nreal smartglasses were being prepped for US launch later this year. I guess that's one way of throwing shades.

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Categories: Video Games

Mass Effect Legendary Edition: PS5, Xbox Series X and Series S tested

Mon, 17/05/2021 - 18:13

There's a fair degree of controversy surrounding this one - does this remaster clash with the original creator's vision, especially when it comes to its lighting and presentation? Are some of the changes to gameplay and content appropriate or indeed desirable? While the discussion plays out, there are some things that are beyond dispute. Mass Effect Legendary Edition is a truly colossal undertaking - an ambitious package that updates Bioware's creation for the 4K era, while also making much-needed tweaks to the first game's controls. And for Digital Foundry, the process of looking at this game began with one simple question: what should be the focus for our coverage and how do we begin to cover it?

The developer itself has been very open about exactly how it has approached the remastering process with its visual upgrades, while explaining in-depth how it plans to change and rebalance gameplay aspects. Our focus therefore is to produce more of an overview of the remaster, and to see how it plays out across the new wave of console hardware. And that presents some interesting discussions points: the Legendary Edition is primarily designed for the last generation of console hardware. Enhancements for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series consoles come with 'back compat plus' - which is essentially the last-gen game code running on the new consoles, with minor tweaks in place to define resolution and frame-rate targets.

In addition to testing the game on the new machines, we also went all the way back to the beginning, running Mass Effect 1 on Xbox 360. Creative vision aside, it's here where we begin to appreciate the scale of the effort. It's truly in the 2007 original where we see the greatest push to modernise the game. Controls are improved: the first game now adopts the tighter aiming mechanics of later games, with a smaller reticle and better feedback on bullet impact. It's honestly one of the main reasons to go back to it today. There is some restraint from Bioware that shows faith to the original design however. Taking cover behind walls is still automatic, for example, rather than using a button press to snap to a wall, as in the sequels. The context-sensitive cover just isn't as dependable as Mass Effects 2 and 3's approach - but for balance, perhaps, it had to stay put.

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Categories: Video Games

DF Direct Weekly takes on the PSVR2 spec leak, The Coalition on UE5 and RetroTink 5x

Mon, 17/05/2021 - 17:31

Eleven episodes in and we're not still run out of chat! DF Direct Weekly is where the core team members take a break from their tasks every Thursday to discuss the biggest tech stories of the week. The show goes out on Saturday to members of the Digital Foundry Supporter Program, who also provide excellent source material for our weekly Q+A. The show then gets its public release every Monday, where you shall discover what we think about topics as diverse as The Coalition's announcement that it's working with Unreal Engine 5, to the reveal of the Nvidia RTX 3050 Ti notebook GPU, to the leak of the PSVR2 specifications.

We also like to spend a bit of time talking about the content we're working on and some of the reaction to it, with Alex Battaglia particularly forthright about the reaction to his Resident Evil Village PC breakdown in particular. John Linneman discusses his live stream on the brilliant RetroTink 5X scaler (watch that stream here, it's great!). Meanwhile, we also talk about some of the behind the scenes goodies given away to supporters, including a two-hour retro Q+A, and a look back to God of War 3 way back in 2010 amongst other things via our 'Classic FPS Remastered' series. This is where we dig out library captures from decade-old hard drives, re-analyse the footage with today's tools and sympathetically upscale 720p video for today's 2160p displays.

For those interested in specific segments, here are some time codes for you:

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Categories: Video Games

Mario Golf: Super Rush has a mode where you race across courses on foot

Mon, 17/05/2021 - 17:23

Nintendo has shown off an extended look at several new modes coming to Mario Golf: Super Rush, as well as the game's full character roster.

Speed Golf is a fresh mode where players race each other on foot across the golf course in-between taking shots. (If only karts existed in Mario's world!)

While dashing, players can use items to regain stamina and special attacks to thwack the ball/other players out of the way. (Seriously, why isn't Mario Golf Kart a thing?)

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Categories: Video Games

Chivalry 2 crossplay open beta kicks off next week

Mon, 17/05/2021 - 17:10

The Chivalry 2 crossplay open beta kicks off next week, developer Torn Banner Studios has announced.

The multiplayer first-person slasher inspired by medieval movie battles launches its new open beta on 27th May. It ends on 1st June.

The open beta is a free download on PC via the Epic Games Store, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5, and on Xbox One, Xbox Series X and S.

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Categories: Video Games

The best external hard drives for PS5 game storage

Mon, 17/05/2021 - 15:52

With the recent release of a new PS5 update that finally allows you to move PS5 games to external USB storage, we thought it would be wise to take a quick look at some of the best external hard drives for PS5 game storage.

Before we get into it, if you've already purchased an external hard drive for PS4, you should have no issues using one of these for your PS5 as well. It may need to be reformatted when you plug it in (which will wipe all current data on the drive) but after that quick process, you'll be good to go.

If, perhaps, you've upgraded your PS4 with an internal hard drive, you could also consider buying a cheap hard drive enclosure and converting it to an external drive. It'll be a quick and easy fix but will obviously take your PS4 out of commission for any future use - unless you reinstall the old drive.

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Categories: Video Games

Walsall council criticised for enormous "Super Mario" plant pots

Mon, 17/05/2021 - 15:39

The arrival of 15 enormous green plant pots in Walsall has prompted criticism from local residents, who say they're a waste of public cash and look like "something from Super Mario Brothers".

Walsall council has been slammed for splashing taxpayer pounds on the oversized planters, which have been arranged throughout the town centre.

Birmingham Mail reported that the spending has come at a time its local authority is being asked to cut £29m from its budget - and these plant pots don't look Cheep Cheep.

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Categories: Video Games

Assassin's Creed fans translate all of Valhalla's Vinland dialogue

Mon, 17/05/2021 - 15:23

Assassin's Creed fansite Access the Animus has worked with Montreal's Kanien'kehá:ka Onkwawén:na Raotitióhkwa Language and Cultural Center to translate all of the unsubtitled dialogue in Valhalla's Vinland arc.

The video below reveals what is being said in all of the conversations going on around Eivor in this part of the game, which she (and you) are deliberately left unable to understand.

As well as dialogue, it includes translations of item descriptions and more. There's also a fascinating explanation of the Mohawk creation myth Eivor hears around the campfire - previously told by the Oneida tribe in Assassin's Creed Rogue. Intriguingly, there are differences in the stories which accurately depict the differences in its telling by the two tribes.

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Categories: Video Games

Samurai Shodown hits Steam 14th June with a new DLC character

Mon, 17/05/2021 - 15:18

Samurai Shodown hits Steam 14th June with a new DLC character, SNK has announced.

The fighting game arrives on Steam a year after it launched on PC via the Epic Games Store.

On the same day, new DLC character Shiro Tokisada Amakusa comes out.

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Categories: Video Games

A Microsoft Flight Simulator modder is building a tour guide to the entire world

Mon, 17/05/2021 - 14:40

An ambitious modder is building an audio tour of the entire virtual world - inside Microsoft Flight Simulator.

Bushtalk Radio is a community-driven project that adds audio descriptions to over 8000 points of interest in the sim. These audio descriptions are played automatically as you arrive at one of the supported POIs.

Some of the most-visited POIs with accompanying audio tours include a raft of UK landmarks, such as The O2, Tower Bridge, Hyde Park, The Shard and Big Ben.

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Categories: Video Games

Xbox Series X/S stock: where to buy Microsoft's new console

Mon, 17/05/2021 - 14:28

Xbox Series X stock has been getting progressively easier to find as we get further into the year. That said, we haven't seen much in the way of Xbox Series X consoles for a while now. Hopefully, that'll change as we enter May. Thankfully, though, the Xbox Series S is still up for purchase at a number of stores. Essentially, with more Xbox Series X/S stock drops expected in the weeks ahead, you've got a good chance of snagging a console very soon.

Keep checking the retailers listed on this page, as we'll be doing our best to keep it updated with all the latest stock info for the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. You can also follow Jelly Deals on Twitter for regular stock updates.

Latest: The Xbox Series X is currently out of stock everywhere. More consoles will be available soon. Meanwhile, the Xbox Series S is available at a few retailers globally. This includes the Microsoft Store, Very, Amazon and more. Fortunately, the availability of both consoles looks to be improving dramatically. Keep your eyes on the retailer list below for the latest stock updates for both the Xbox Series X and S.

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Categories: Video Games

Mass Effect Legendary Edition off to good start on Steam

Mon, 17/05/2021 - 13:20

Mass Effect Legendary Edition seems to be going down well on Steam, where its launch racked up EA's second-highest concurrent player total, behind Apex Legends.

Its current peak concurrent total of 59,650 (via Steam Charts and BenjiSales) is the highest for any Mass Effect or indeed BioWare game on Steam.

The average user review rating is "Very Positive", though there are a number of complaints over the game's lack of an FOV slider outside of photo mode, and its insistence on launching Origin to launch the Legendary Edition launcher, to then launch a specific game.

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Categories: Video Games

My favourite planet: The quiet awe of Installation 04, AKA the original Halo

Mon, 17/05/2021 - 13:00

This week, while a lot of you will be (re)exploring the galaxy of the original Mass Effect trilogy, we thought it would be fun to revisit some of our own favourite video game planets. First up, Oli remembers the glory of Halo. Halo's a planet right? It isn't? Oh well, nobody said this stuff was simple - just ask Pluto.

Halo, the series, owes a lot more than just its name to its original setting. The name is a pretty good start, though, with its evocation of holy reverence, of refracted glory, of encircled perfection. It is the name the religious zealots of the Covenant have bestowed upon a mysterious celestial body: a ringworld orbiting a gas giant, and an artificial paradise harbouring a dark purpose. Its creators, a long-lost race known as the Forerunners, called it, rather prosaically, Installation 04.

Whichever angle you approach it from, the Halo inspires awe. Lore first: the Halo is both ancient, a hundred thousand years old, and futuristic, created by a society far more advanced than either the humans or aliens of the game's nearish future. Over the course of Halo: Combat Evolved, you discover that it is both a research station and a terrifying weapon. The Forerunners created an array of such Halos that, when triggered together, would destroy all sentient life in the galaxy, to prevent it being overrun by the parasitic Flood. It's terrifying!

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Categories: Video Games

Mass Effect Legendary Edition changed a character's race, fixing a decade-old bug

Mon, 17/05/2021 - 12:28

BioWare has changed a Mass Effect character's race from human to turian - fixing a long-standing issue many (correctly) assumed was a bug.

THERE MAY BE MASS EFFECT 1 SPOILERS AHEAD.

Elanos Haliat, a human-hating pirate and previous leader of the Terminus Systems, appears in Mass Effect 1 on the world of Agebinium. Shepard encounters him when investigating a mysterious nuclear probe which needs to be defused.

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Categories: Video Games

Reap your reward: cursed games illuminate the ghosts of our past

Mon, 17/05/2021 - 11:00

I heard a strange story a while back about a DOS game passed around California decades ago. And that unlike any of those wild and sometimes sinister adventure games from that era, someone had traced out its instructions towards something unspeakable. This title was allegedly lost forever in a floppy disc.

And it reminded me of an era when games felt steeped in mystery and madness, before guides and trailers and press releases. When starting a new game felt like entering another world and how occasionally you'd find something nestled at the bottom of a bargain bin that gave you nightmares, and no one else had ever heard of it.

Named Pale Luna, this enigmatic game followed '80s text adventure conventions: blank screen, crisp white text characters, in the vein of Zork and The Lurking Horror. You began in a moonlit room containing gold, a shovel, and a rope, then set off to "reap your reward". You then trundled through an incoherent text-based woodland using compass directions.

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Categories: Video Games

Fans hit back at plans to introduce premium QoL and XP boosts in New World

Sun, 16/05/2021 - 17:07

Players have hit back at plans to introduce a premium currency shop in Amazon's upcoming MMORPG, New World.

The leak - which comes via the game's current alpha-test and was shared on Reddit - alleges that New World is introducing in-game purchases for "special cosmetic items for players and their in-game homes" and "may sell quality-of-life items or boosts that will help players improve their time spent levelling up their character and trade skill experience".

In response, the official Twitter account for the studio developing the game posted a statement, insisting that "all store items at launch will be exclusively cosmetic in nature" and that the storefront was introduced in the Alpha test "to test these items and their value".

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Categories: Video Games

Final Fantasy 14 vinyl boxset can be pre-ordered now

Sun, 16/05/2021 - 16:35

A vinyl collection of music taken from Final Fantasy 14 will release on 31st August 2021.

The bundle - which includes tracks across A Realm Reborn, Heavenwards, Stormblood and Shadowbringers - is available to pre-order now for £87 / $100, although custom duties and shipping costs are not included.

Each LP jacket features "gorgeous illustrations" by Kuroimori and the "vinyl cutting was done in Los Angeles by mastering virtuoso, Bernie Grundman". Purchases of the vinyl boxset will also receive a MP3 download code, too.

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Categories: Video Games

The Making of Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition

Sun, 16/05/2021 - 15:40

Metro Exodus's Enhanced Edition is a very important game - it's the first triple-A game we know of that's built on technology that demands the inclusion of hardware-accelerated ray tracing hardware. To be clear, the new Metro is not a fully path-traced game built entirely on RT, but rather a hybrid renderer where global illumination, lighting and shadows are handled by ray tracing, while other elements of the game still use traditional rasterisation techniques. The bottom line though is that this is the foundation for developer 4A Games going forward: its games will require a PC with hardware RT graphics capabilities, while their console versions will tap into the same acceleration features found on the ninth generation consoles. And while 4A is the first developer to push this far into next generation graphics features, it's clearly not going to be the last.

We've already reviewed the PC version of Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition and will be following up in due course with detailed analysis of the PS5, Xbox Series X and Series S renditions of the game. However, in putting together our initial coverage of the game, 4A Games were extremely helpful and collaborative in ensuring the depth and accuracy of our work. If you've seen our video breakdown of the title, you'll have seen the behind the scenes editor shots showing level design workflow before and after the transition to ray tracing - but that's just the tip of the iceberg. 4A were also very helpful in going deep - really deep - in explaining how their RT implementation works. On top of that, the developer gave us an excellent overview of the project: why it was time to move their engine to RT, how so many new technologies made their way into Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition, and why we need to wait a little while until the console versions are released.

It's a wealth of in-depth information we're going to be splitting into two deep-dive interviews. This week, we begin with a discussion with Metro Exodus executive producer, Jon Bloch, covering the general approach to developing the game and its new features. Next week, we're catering to the hardcore graphics audience as 4A's CTO Oles Shishkovstov and senior rendering programmer Ben Archard go into extreme depth on the development of the 4A Engine's brand new ray tracing features.

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Categories: Video Games

Google wants you to know Stadia is still "alive and well"

Sun, 16/05/2021 - 13:41

Despite a recent flurry of exits and changes at the top, Google is keen for us to know that Stadia is "alive and well" and "focused on delivering value for [its] partners and on behalf of [its] players".

"We're well on our way to over 100 new games launching on Stadia in 2021, and we're continuing to make Stadia a great place to play games on devices you already own," Stadia developer marketing lead, Nate Ahearn, told our sister site GamesIndustry.biz.

"I'd tell any non-believers to take notice of how we're continuing to put our words into action, as we grow the Stadia Makers program and partner with AAA studios like Capcom, EA, Square Enix, Ubisoft, and others."

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Categories: Video Games