Friday, October 30, 2020
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Valorant Act 3 brings a new battle pass, map, and skins next week

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Valorant Act 3 will arrive next week with a new map, a new series of skins, and a new battle pass with a fresh lineup of unlockables on separate free and premium reward tracks. Later in the month, a new character named Skye, a healer with some magical animal friends, will also join the fight.

Skye is basically an Australian forest guardian who travels with a very small, magical petting zoo. She can deploy and control a Tasmanian tiger that, when triggered, will explode in a concussive blast that damages enemies who are directly hit by it. She also has a guidable hawk that can flash and blind enemies, and will play a hit confirmation if any were within range and line of sight when it went off. Skye\’s \”Regrowth\” ability enables her to use a trinket to heal all allies within range and line of sight—although she cannot heal herself—and her ultimate ability enables her to send out three Seekers that will track down the three closest enemies and \”nearsight\” them, obscuring their vision.

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Skye is set to arrive in Valorant on October 27. Before that, though, the new battle pass, featuring a new lineup of unlockable cosmetics including gun skins, \”gun buddy\” charms, sprays, Radianite points, and more, will roll out on October 13. The premium battle pass will cost 1,000 Valorant points—$10—and features, among other things, the Ruin, Jade, and Surge skin lines, No Operator and Pick my Strat sprays, and Scuttle Trash and Discotech gun buddies. 

You can get a look at some of what\’s coming in the gallery below:

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The new map, called Icebox, features ziplines and two bomb sites, and is \”designed to emphasize skirmishes, sharp aim and adaptive play,” said level design lead Salvatore \”Volcano\” Garozzo. 

\”The gameplay premise of Icebox is that each of the sites are intended to be complex combat spaces that feature plenty of cover and verticality,\” he said. \”There’s also a zipline on the map that amplifies the feeling of action and verticality.\”

Icebox is also coming on October 13, as is a new series of skins: The Singularity line will feature skins for Sheriff, Spectre, Phantom, Ares, and melee weapons, and will be available for purchase individually or in a bundle with a player card and a gun buddy for 8,700 Valorant points, which will set you back $75. Phew.

More details on Valorant Act 3 are up at playvalorant.com. 

Star Wars: Squadrons studio Motive is working on \’several\’ new games

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Electronic Arts said yesterday that it has no plans to add more to Star Wars: Squadrons. Anything is possible, but creative director Ian Frazier reiterated that EA considers it a \”self-contained\” game, finished and complete. Today, Motive general manager Patrick Klaus followed up on that a bit with an update—a very vague, unspecific update—on what the studio is looking at getting up to next.

\”In addition to Star Wars: Squadrons, we\’re also working on several unannounced projects. Innovation is tough, but it\’s also exciting and energizing,\” Klaus said. \”With our new mission, we\’re trying a lot of things and testing many ideas which you can\’t get attached to, as iteration and experimentation are healthy and a key to finding something great.\”

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That \”new mission,\” which is the focus of the update, is \”to empower players to create, experiment, live and share their own unique stories,\” Klaus said. \”To reach this goal, we\’re encouraging innovation and calculated risk-taking in our approach to game development. We put significant emphasis on creating a safe space through our practices and culture to offer our teams the freedom, autonomy, and time to innovate where it matters.\”

He also extolled the virtues of the current Motive team, saying that there are \”no superstar creators with big egos\” at the studio, and that his goal is to \”nurture it by investing in diversity and inclusion to push boundaries, and continue to get better every day.\”

It\’s kind of an odd status report for a studio that just released what we called \”a worthy heir to the classic X-Wing vs TIE Fighter,\” but the reassertion of Motive\’s goals and aspirations could be intended to draw a line under the studio\’s pre-Squadrons history. EA Motive was founded in 2015 with high-profile Ubisoft producer Jade Raymond at the wheel, and Portal designer Kim Swift joined up a couple years later as design director. But EA\’s Star Wars troubles, which included the closure of Visceral Games and the Star Wars Battlefront 2 loot box fiasco, seemed to derail it all: Raymond left the studio in 2018, before it had released a single game, and Swift followed a year later.

\”Make no mistake, we’re not perfect. We must course correct occasionally, we have a lot to learn and a lot to prove—and that\’s OK,\” he said. \”We need to be humble and embrace this. We are ONE team, always, through the good days and the bad days. We\’ll never compromise on this.\”

That statement only makes us more curious about what was going on at Motive before Squadrons. For now, if you\’re new to Star Wars: Squadrons, we can help you get a good start with our very handy guides to VR setup, crossplay, drifting (I guess you can do that in Star Wars now), and, most important of all, how to make the Gonk droid dance. 

Genshin Impact is getting 2 updates in 2020, including a new zone and a ton of improvements

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Genshin Impact launched just over a week ago, but today developer MiHoYo released a roadmap that stretches all the way to February 2021 and includes a new zone, in-game events, and a lot of smaller improvements. The first of those updates, simply called update 1.1, will arrive on November 11 and will be followed up by a second major update on December 23. MiHoYo has said it plans to keep this five-week cadence going forward for the time being.

If you\’ve been no-lifeing Genshin Impact since it launched, though, you might be disappointed to learn that update 1.1 won\’t have much new content for players. In a series of blog posts written in Chinese on MiHoYo\’s website and translated by the reddit community, it explained that some in-game activities that players were hoping would soon be added have been delayed so it could focus on bugfixing and improving various systems.

In a separate blog post, MiHoYo outlined some of the fixes and improvements coming in 1.1, as translated by redditor Zlunlu. The translation isn\’t perfect, but it sounds like Genshin Impact will be getting a feature to lock items and equipment so they aren\’t accidentally used as fodder to power up other items, in addition to a monster encyclopedia. Players will also be able to use food and medicine without having to open the inventory, and a new item is being added to help you locate hidden chests and collectibles that you might\’ve missed. And though it\’s not confirmed to be in 1.1 as of yet, MiHoYo said it\’s also working on letting players customize the controls and rebind keys (thank God).

The 1.1 update will include one new event called The Unreturned Star, but it\’s not exactly clear what activities this will entail. It\’s likely that this might simply add some new, time-sensitive quests for players to complete in exchange for more rewards.

Update 1.2 is much more exciting, however. Though MiHoYo didn\’t go into much detail, it said that Dragonspine Mountain will be added to the game—giving players a whole new region to explore. It\’s not clear just how big this new area will be, and if it will feature the same puzzles and exploration as the two regions currently in the game.

Update 1.3 in February will include the Lantern Rite Festival, which has a \”series of activities\” associated with it. Again, not much to go on.

But, hey, it\’s good to know a bit about what MiHoYo is working on. I\’ve been playing Genshin Impact almost nonstop since it launched and having a really great time with it despite some free-to-play microtransaction nonsense.

Outriders, the co-op shooter from Bulletstorm studio People Can Fly, delayed to early 2021

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Outriders, the co-op shooter being developed by Painkiller and Bulletstorm studio People Can Fly, will not make its expected \”holiday 2020\” release. Publisher Square Enix said that the game will have full cross-play support on all platforms—PC, Stadia, next-gen consoles, whatever—when it launches, but unfortunately that also means that the game won\’t be out until February 2, 2021.

The new trailer for Outriders (and pretty much everything else we\’ve seen from it up to now) gives off a strong Destiny vibe, and that\’s not just visual: It\’s a drop-in, drop-out co-op shooter for 1-3 players set in a \”dark and desperate sci-fi universe\” where gunslinging fighters have been granted special powers by a strange anomaly that nobody understands. That\’s almost a note-for-note synopsis of the Destiny games, although there are some key differences, including that it\’s third-person rather than first, and is designed specifically for PvE action.

It\’s also not quite as live servicey: It will have a main campaign estimated at 25-30 hours, and more available in \”side quests, post-campaign and additional content\” for those who want it. 

\”We’ve made sure that there’s no right or wrong way to play the game and that you’ll always have a great experience. If you just want to complete the main campaign, you’ll experience the full story and have a great time with this game,\” claims the Outriders FAQ . \”But if you want to spend more time in the world of Outriders, getting the best items and taking on the hardest challenges in the game, it can keep you busy for exponentially longer.\”

For a closer look at Outriders, check out our preview from earlier this year (which also makes the Destiny connection) or hit up outriders.net.

Hades now offers a test branch with early access to updates and fixes

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Hades players who want to get an early look at what\’s coming next can now sign up for a test branch on Steam and the Epic Store that will grant access to the latest updates before they officially go live. Developer Supergiant said the test branch isn\’t for everyone, warning that you should only sign up if you\’re struggling with \”some rare technical issue\” or just want to help out with testing, but if that\’s your thing, now\’s your chance.

\”The Hades Test Branch is a version of Hades containing bug fixes and other work-in-progress we\’re preparing for an official patch,\” the test branch readme on the Hades Discord server says. \”Having completed the Early Access development of Hades, we want to be especially sure our follow-up patches launch in a problem-free state. Having enough players opting to play on our Test Branch will give us the confidence that our changes have been thoroughly tested before launching an official patch.\”

There will be no specific schedule test branch updates, nor will there necessarily be patch notes released outside of official updates. Supergiant also said that the existence of the test branch should not be taken as a sign that more content is coming, because it isn\’t.

\”We put everything we\’ve got into v1.0 of Hades,\” the FAQ says. \”The Hades Test Branch is to ensure our follow-up patches in the coming days are as problem-free as possible. Once we\’re sure things have settled with our launch, our small team will be taking a break to recharge, and plan what\’s next. The Hades Test Branch will likely be functionally discontinued during that time (i.e., we will not be making updates).\”

If all of that hasn\’t put you off, this is how to sign up for the test branch on Steam:

  • Right-click Hades in your Steam Library
  • Select Properties
  • Go to the Betas tab
  • Type HadesTestBranchAccess in the code field
  • Click Check Code
  • Select testbranch – Test Branch from the dropdown menu

And this is how you do it on the Epic Games Store:

  • Open your Library
  • Locate or search for \”Hades Test Branch\” (it should have its own entry)
  • Select \”Install\”

As for switching between the two branches, Supergiant said the test branch and main branch of Hades on Steam \”will be one and the same\” once an official update goes out. On Epic, the test branch will be an entirely separate library entry, so you can just uninstall it and go back to playing the main Hades game.

A channel for discussing test branch issues, as well as a running list of some of the changes, are also available on the Hades Discord server. Here\’s what\’s currently in the pipe:

General:

  • Added two more Themes 

Balance:

  • Aspect of Talos (Fist): increased damage bonus
  •  Aspect of Hera (Bow): further updates to interactions with Crush Shot
  • Sniper Shot (Bow): made trigger area larger
  • Bow: reduced Special damage
  • Charged Volley (Bow): increased effectiveness
  • Flaring Spin (Spear): increased pulse damage
  • Dash Nova (Blade): increased Sturdy duration
  • Huge Catch (Poseidon): pre-requisite can include Conch Shell
  • Hydraulic Might (Poseidon): increased Heroic rarity scaling
  • Lightning Reflex (Zeus): improved pom scaling
  • Clean Kill (Artemis): improved pom scaling
  • Fiery Presence (Mirror): damage increase now functions (& is reduced)
  • Trial of the Gods: increase difficulty in Elysium
  • Wringer: made slightly more common in Tartarus
  • Fixed erroneous Boon pre-requisities

Events:

  • Fixed issues preventing certain story events and voice lines from playing for some characters
  • Fixed Nyx\’s greetings not playing as expected when approaching her
  • Fixed Dusa\’s \’surprised\’ greetings having less variety than intended
  • Added Charon voice line variety when interacting with him
  • Added Minotaur voice line variety when entering his chamber
  • Added some new Zagreus voice lines in some contexts
  • Added a new Inspect Point after the epilogue
  • Added updated translations in all languages

Bugs:

  • Several stability fixes
  • Fixed Mouse Lock setting failing with multiple monitors
  • Fixed an issue where Deadly Flourish would reduce the critical chance of Vicious Skewer
  • Fixed issues with Well Stocked achievement not unlocking
  • Fixed an issue where the Sundial cosmetic could be unavailable
  • Fixed an issue where Themes caused erroneous Contractor notifications
  • Fixed issues with Orpheus\’ singing playing incorrectly when switching chambers
  • Fixed an issue where Dusa could get stuck while trying to fly away

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is free to keep on Steam

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Today is Friday, and for reasons that may or may not be related—I cannot say, because I do not know—Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is free to keep on Steam.

It\’s not an anniversary or anything, as far as I can tell. Sonic 2 was originally released on November 21, 1992, and came to Steam on January 26, 2011. But in the big picture, I suppose it doesn\’t really matter: As long as you pop around to Steam before 1 pm ET on October 19 and click the green \”add to account\” button, it\’s free. You don\’t have to install it, you don\’t even have to think about it—it\’s just yours. Forever.

If, on the other hand, you are a true blue (get it?) Sonic fan, Sega also has a bunch of other Sonic games marked down pretty drastically, too.

  • Sonic Adventure 2: Battle – $1
  • Sonic Adventure DX – $1
  • Sonic the Hedgehog – $1
  • Sonic 3 and Knuckles – $1
  • Sonic 3D Blast – $1
  • Sonic Spinball – $1
  • Sonic Adventure 2 – $2.50
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode 1 and Episode 2 – $2.50 each

And if you\’re only here for the free stuff, that\’s okay! We\’ve got a regularly updated list with even more free games you can grab right now.

EKWB announces RGB cable tidies to fix a problem I didn\’t know I had

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Cable management: the number one pet peeve of any PC modder. If you are one of the hapless souls who suffers from the debilitating ailment that is emplekosyrmaphobia (fear of tangled wires), EK is here to ease your distress. At least, they’re here to relieve a related distress that few knew even existed, until now.

Prime Day deals are coming…

(Image credit: Future)

Amazon Prime Day 2020 deals: the place to find all the best Prime Day bargains around October 13 and 14.

With the introduction of the EK-Loop CMS, you’ll have those pesky RGB wires under control in no time. This totally stylish, cable management solution lets you securely connect your RGB and D-RGB connectors so they don’t unplug themselves… 

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Apparently such a mishap is “pretty usual during the transport of a PC or regular maintenance and dust removal.” I’m not so sure, EK. I mean, what the heck are you doing with your PCs, rolling them down hills?

They come in packs of six, black hook and loop touch fasteners, with subtle grey EK branding on the middle, complete with a similarly styled single self-adhesive fabric strap. Together these create the apex of cable management solutions, so you can rest easy knowing that your RGBs won\’t unplug themselves, willy-nilly.

If you\’re now feeling the fear that your RGB cables will come asunder, you can purchase the EK-Loop CMS pack for just $4.99 through the EK Webshop or across EK’s tangle of reseller partner networks. 

Well, I didn’t know I needed these in my life, but now I see the light, and said light is much less likely to become disconnected, now. Thank you EK, for opening my eyes, and for making our builds just that tiny bit less unruly.

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