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Updated: 1 hour 15 min ago

Jelly Deals roundup: PlayStation Plus, Nier Automata, 4K TVs and more

7 hours 8 min ago

Any week that allows me to talk in any small way about Bob Ross is a good week. Such is the case with this week's deals roundup, where you'll find the man himself along with deals on everything from The Witness on iOS to fancy 4K TVs, with a few choice game discounts along the way.

As usual, we've got deals that'll work in the UK, deals that'll work in the US and some deals that will work in both the UK and US, as well as presumably many other places. Let's get started.

Pick up a huge amount of classic Star Wars titles this week with GOG's current batch of sale offers. Everything from Shadows of the Empire to The Force Unleashed is here - but let's face it, you're all here to buy TIE Fighter, right?

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Categories: Video Games

PUBG Xbox One performance still isn't good enough

9 hours 8 min ago

It's been over three months since Playerunknown's Battlegrounds arrived on Xbox One and Xbox One X. Released as an early access 'game preview', what was immediately clear was that PUBG's console implementation had profound issues in nearly all areas: presentation was lacking, textures possessed severe streaming problems and frame-rate was sub-optimal, to put it generously. Three months on and there have been a range of improvements, but performance, key to the PUBG experience, is still lacking - and the developers agree with us.

In its recent Spring Xbox PUBG Roadmap, Bluehole provides a candid and eye-opening admission about the state of the game. "To put it bluntly, we are simply not satisfied with the game's current console performance," the statement says. "Especially so during tense moments of onscreen action."

A couple of months have passed since our last PUBG Xbox analysis and new patches continue to roll out, so in reassessing the game, we did our most comprehensive tests yet - we captured and analysed over 90 minutes of action from both Xbox One and Xbox One X, buddying up in the same online game instances to ensure that conditions between the two consoles were as like-for-like as possible. Rather than extracting a selection of clips from the captures as we've done in the past, everything we played was analysed - the idea being to ensure that we missed nothing, while also giving us an idea of how the flow of an entire session played out.

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Categories: Video Games

Sea of meaning: how games have explored the ocean

11 hours 8 min ago

This piece contains spoilers for Rime.

"It's always ourselves we find in the sea" - e e cummings

You first notice it in the sand. The sun screes across the surface, glimmering in the silica and crushed quartz like lakes of blazing light. When you move, your body is a flying dream, each leap a shackle broken, drifting like a Chagall bride. Later on it grows more vivid: those blue caverns, shoals of fabric scraps darting back and forth, the wanderer's robes undulating like submerged cloth. The ocean is everywhere in Journey.

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Categories: Video Games

Sega unleashes new Sonic Racing teaser

Sat, 17/03/2018 - 00:21

Sega has unveiled a teaser trailer for something that very possibly might be the heavily rumoured, but still annoyingly unconfirmed, new Sonic Racing game.

I say "might be" as if the teaser trailer (which was revealed on the official Sonic the Hedgehog Twitter feed) leaves much room for doubt; it's 22 seconds of revving engines and glistening paintwork, all culminating in a shadowy logo with nought highlighted but a single red R - an R that just so happens to be identical to the one in the logo for 1997 Sega Saturn racer Sonic R. WHAT CAN IT MEAN.

A new Sonic Racing game has been suspected ever since a purported internal presentation by Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing and Sonic All-Stars Racing Transformed developer Sumo Digital surfaced online in January. One slide noted that the studio was working on an "unannounced karting game" based on an "established global IP".

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Categories: Video Games

There's an updated, expanded version of Sonic Mania coming this summer

Fri, 16/03/2018 - 23:11

Sega has unveiled Sonic Mania Plus, an updated, expanded version of last year's excellent retro-inspired Sonic Mania. It's due out this summer on Switch, PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

Sonic Mania Plus was revealed during Sega's snappily titled Gotta Go Fast: The Official Sonic the Hedgehog Panel at SXSW Gaming, along with a full run-down of its brand-new features.

First up, Sonic Mania Plus will introduce two classic series stars as playable characters: Mighty the Armadillo and Ray the Flying Squirrel. Both debuted in the 1993 isometric arcade spin-off, SegaSonic the Hedgehog, and most recently had a cameos in Sonic Generations.

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Categories: Video Games

Nintendo's holding a Direct-style showcase for indies on Switch next week

Fri, 16/03/2018 - 22:18

Nintendo has announced that it's holding another Direct-style video broadcast next week, this time focussing on upcoming indie games for Switch.

If you're in the mood for another Nindies Showcase (to give the broadcast it's official name), you can tune in via YouTube from 9am PST/4pm GMT next Tuesday, March 20th.

As for what delights it may bring, who can say? Might we get a glimpse of Stardew Valley's eagerly awaited new multiplayer update, seeing as it's due to launch on Switch before other consoles? Is Devolver Digital hinting at something? We'll just have to wait and see.

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Categories: Video Games

Rhythm platformer Runner3 finally launches on Switch and PC this May

Fri, 16/03/2018 - 21:12

Developer Choice Provisions has announced that its highly-anticipated rhythm platformer Runner3 is heading to Switch on May 22nd.

Runner3 is the far less fussily titled follow-up to 2013's excellent 'Bit.Trip Presents... Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien', and was first teased back in 2016. It was originally expected to launch last autumn, but was nudged into 2018 toward the end of the year.

When its new May launch date rolls around, Runner3 will get a physical and digital release in the US. Publisher Nicalis has yet to clarify if Europe will get a physical version too.

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Categories: Video Games

If you buy an Xbox One X next week, you'll get a free copy of Sea of Thieves

Fri, 16/03/2018 - 20:11

Microsoft has announced that all purchases of an Xbox One X next week will include a free copy of Rare's imminent multiplayer pirate extravaganza, Sea of Thieves.

There is, alas, no custom console on this occasion (you'll need to opt for the limited edition Sea of Thieves controller or hard-drive if you want some fancied-up, nautically inspired hardware). Instead, for the usual asking price of around £449.99 / $499.99 USD, you'll get the standard Xbox One X, plus a digital copy of Sea of Thieves.

Interested parties should note that the offer begins on Sunday, March 18th, and continues through to the end of March 24th.

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Categories: Video Games

Tomb Raider film review - a new kind of game-to-film failure

Fri, 16/03/2018 - 18:00

For decades, film adaptations of video game properties have sucked - but to be fair to their beleaguered makers, they have faced some intractable problems. Early video games had great name recognition and more than their fair share of iconic imagery, but their lead characters were vacant mascots and their action often defied rational explanation, never mind motivation or plot structure. Filmmakers had to either make this stuff up as they went along, like the disastrous 1993 Super Mario Bros. film - and face the scorn of video game fans who didn't see any of what they loved on screen - or abandon any ambition to flesh out their source material and make something resembling a normal film.

You could put 2001's silly Lara Croft: Tomb Raider in the latter category. Angelina Jolie nailed Lara's original look, but the character didn't amount to more than a depthless cartoon superwoman engaged in nonsensical acrobatic capers, because that's all she had ever been. Even latterday games like Assassin's Creed, which come preloaded with the kind of tangled lore that's catnip to movie producers shopping for a future franchise, struggle to present a human dimension that scriptwriters can find purchase on. Attempts to insert one fell unsurprisingly flat.

So you can see how 2013's Tomb Raider reboot looked unusually attractive to the film world. Here was a game that bore one of the most famous names in the business - one with a bit of history to it - and yet took an expressly cinematic approach to character development. It rebuilt Lara Croft from first principles as a human being, frail and flawed, discovering her true strength for the first time. It had superb art direction as well, creating a new visual language around the character that had grit, texture and plausibility as well as grandeur (although it did owe an awful lot to the Hunger Games and Tomb Raider's upstart cousin, Uncharted).

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Categories: Video Games

Detective Pikachu sees Pokémon fully embrace its anime heritage

Fri, 16/03/2018 - 17:30

I used to set my alarm on Saturday mornings so I could get up early, sit in front of the TV with my sister and watch the latest episode of Pokémon. We'd eat breakfast while glued to the adventures of Ash and his pals, and meet whichever new creature was introduced in that episode. The Pokémon TV series was amazing to me back then, because it pulled back the curtain on a world I'd stared at for so long on my black and white Game Boy screen. In the games, all the monochrome pixelated houses and Pokécentres looked alike. People talked in short, repetitive phrases. Interacting with Pokémon was limited to static sprites and menus. But on TV, the world of Pokémon was allowed to sprawl, hand drawn, into huge, lifelike cities and neverending countrysides populated with characters and plotlines developed over countless episodes. How did humans and Pokémon live together? What did battles really look like? Where did humans get all their meat from? I scoured each episode for clues.

You can see the TV show's influence on the main Pokémon games growing over time, the more recent entries in particular adopting cues from the anime's visual identity and storytelling. But the main series of games still offer fairly simple narratives - and mainly, the story of your rise to become a Pokémon master trainer, over and over again. Detective Pikachu is not one of these games - it's a story-led spin-off for 3DS which features smaller, more human tales stitched together over a wider storyline - again, something similar to the cartoon I have such fond memories of.

Each game chapter feels like an extended scene from the TV show, set in environments where humans and Pokémon live together and mingle. You play as a plucky young Ash-like character, Tim, who is new to the game's main city and looking for his missing father - but it is Detective Pikachu himself who is the star. This is the Will Arnett Batman version of Pokémon's mascot - a bit of sass, a slight suspicion of sauce and enough humour to charm even the older fans. He's a straight-talking, wise-cracking hardboiled detective, but also a tiny yellow rat. He's brilliant.

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Categories: Video Games

Star Wars Battlefront 2 progression overhaul finally revealed

Fri, 16/03/2018 - 15:57

The long awaited Star Wars Battlefront 2 progression changes have been announced and will begin rolling out 21st March.

EA DICE appears to be going the whole hog: ability-giving Star Cards, and any other item which affects gameplay, are being pulled out of Crates (the game's loot boxes) for good. You will unlock and upgrade Star Cards using Skill Points earned by levelling up classes, heroes or ships.

Crates will only contain cosmetic items, like emotes and victory poses, and nothing that affects gameplay - and you will not be able to buy them. Crates will be earned through a combination of daily log-ins and completing challenges and milestones.

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Categories: Video Games

Outer Wilds is a game about exploring a solar system stuck in an endless 20-minute time loop

Fri, 16/03/2018 - 15:48

Edith Finch and Gorogoa publisher Annapurna Interactive has announced that it's bringing open-ended time-loop space exploration adventure Outer Wilds to PC later this year.

Outer Wilds is being developed by Mobius Digital, and was first unveiled back in 2015. It's nothing if not intriguing, letting wannabe spacefarers seamlessly explore a loosely simulated, hand-crafted, and "constantly evolving" solar system where all sorts of oddities occur.

"The planets of Outer Wilds are packed with hidden locations that change with the passage of time," teases Mobius on the game's Steam page, "Visit an underground city before it's swallowed by sand, or explore the surface of a planet as it crumbles beneath your feet. Every secret is guarded by hazardous environments and natural catastrophes." 

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Categories: Video Games

Jelly Deals: Vostok Inc. discounted by 20% on Switch

Fri, 16/03/2018 - 15:33

As of right now, Switch owners can save 20 per cent on one of the console's most interesting indie gems - Vostok Inc. That brings the price down to £10.39 for a limited time.

For those unaware, Vostok Inc. puts players in the role of a newly appointed CEO of the titular company. It's about business and getting one up on the competition. Except the whole thing is in space and you'll have to literally take out the competition with guns and stuff.

Along with space battles and business flair, there are elements of resource harvesting and Defender-style people-rescuing. All in the name of the almighty space dollar, of course. Timed rather nicely with the 20 per cent discount this week, developer Nosebleed Interactive has created a rather lengthy demo of the game in order to let potential players try out the game's systems ahead of dropping some hard-earned cash.

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Categories: Video Games

Minit is a Game Boy-inspired adventure played in 60-second chunks

Fri, 16/03/2018 - 12:38

Minit has the monochrome pixel art of Game Boy, but its concept sounds like something newer - a bitesize adventure played out in minute-long servings.

The indie project - the work of four people - revealed itself last night with a trailer and a release date for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

It's due to launch in a couple of weeks on 3rd April, for the price of £6.99. Here's how it looks:

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Categories: Video Games

What should we expect from Dark Souls Remastered on Switch?

Fri, 16/03/2018 - 12:23

The Switch market's awash with ports and remasters, but one of the most eagerly awaited must surely be the conversion of Dark Souls - the first time the series lands on a handheld. Early signs point to it being handled by Virtuos - the studio behind the daring Switch conversion of LA Noire. Little else is known about the scale of the project, or what form the remaster will take across other platforms, but last week's Nintendo Direct did deliver a short burst of gameplay that offers up a wealth of clues.

Let's deal with the basics. The remaster promises improved graphics across the board, for Switch, PS4, Xbox One and PC. All will include the Artorias of the Abyss DLC right out of the box - which is great - and you get up to six players online (improving on the original's limit of four). Unique to the Switch version is the amiibo support, with the Solaire of Astora statuette unlocking an in-game emote.

A bit more digging reveals the technical ambitions of the Switch conversion. The publisher's web page lists this Switch version as targeting a 1080p presentation when connected to a TV and 720p while in portable mode. And sure enough, close scrutiny of the Nintendo Direct trailer proves the former at least: every clip of gameplay in the snippet is indeed a native 1920x1080 by our counts. That extends to the HUDs and text too, all of which amounts to a big upgrade over the original Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 editions. If you cast your minds back to Dark Souls' original 2011 release, the game ran at under 720p on Xbox 360 and PS3 - cutting horizontal resolution with native a 1024x720 output.

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Categories: Video Games

Minecraft on PC, Xbox One, Android adds opt-in experimental features

Fri, 16/03/2018 - 11:25

Minecraft now has the option for you to test "experimental features" within the game's main client.

We're talking about "Minecraft" here, AKA the game's Bedrock Edition - the newer cross-platform version currently available on Xbox One, PC and smartphones.

Android, PC and Xbox One users can now toggle the option to enable new features which are still in beta testing. Right now, that includes elements from the game's upcoming aquatic update like the new Drowned mobs (think: underwater zombies), a trident weapon, new enchantments and more blocks.

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Categories: Video Games

Fortnite on mobile: it works!

Fri, 16/03/2018 - 01:40

I have Fortnite on my iPhone SE. The complete thing? Well, the Battle Royale part, anyway: the part that is currently taking over the world. And it works! It works surprisingly well. It's a little more basic to look at and I'll need a while to get properly comfortable, but I suspect Fortnite might well conquer the touchscreen much as it's conquered everything else.

How does it look? On my SE, the framerate is fairly smooth, and while the textures are much simpler than they are on PC, it's still recognisably the same game.

Pop-in is no longer reserved for the far horizon - I'll be walking through the farm where I normally always get killed instantly and bushes will be appearing suddenly in the middle-distance - but it's hardly a big deal.

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Categories: Video Games

Fortnite's latest update introduces generous llama piñatas, remote detonation devices, and more

Fri, 16/03/2018 - 00:37

Fortnite's 3.3 update is here, and while those tantalisingly teased jetpacks might still be missing in action, it brings the usual mix of intriguing new features, elaborate cosmetics, alongside numerous fixes and improvements.

Top of the list in 3.3 is the new Remote Explosive for Battle Royale mode. As you can probably deduce from its name, the rare Remote Explosive enables you to slap a block of C4 on an enemy base (or indeed, anywhere else you fancy) then run off giggling over the hills as you detonate it from a comfortably safe distance.

Where Epic giveth, however, the developer also taketh away. As of update 3.3, Smoke Grenades are no longer available in Battle Royale mode. In a recent development video, Epic explained that players simply weren't using Smoke Grenades as much as had been hoped, and so were being removed and "put in the vault" for the time being.

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Categories: Video Games

Rare shows Sea of Thieves' mighty kraken in action, details new launch and post-launch features

Thu, 15/03/2018 - 22:03

Rare has unveiled Sea of Thieves' final launch trailer in anticipation of the game's release next week, and it offers a first glimpse of its long-teased kraken in action.

The kraken is one of several launch features that have yet to be shown in Sea of Thieves' numerous pre-launch stress tests and betas. And in its livestream last night, Rare took the opportunity to detail a few additional features coming to the swashbuckling multiplayer pirate adventure at launch and beyond.

Sea of Thieves' third quest-giving guild, The Order of Souls, is already known quantity. It's the PvE-focussed portion of the game, and revolves around collecting skull from unfortunate undead bounties. However, these missions will introduce a couple of previously unseen opponents at launch, adding a bit more strategic variety to proceedings.

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Categories: Video Games

The Crew 2 is finally out in June

Thu, 15/03/2018 - 19:21

Ubisoft has announced that its long-awaited open-world driving sequel The Crew 2 will finally launch on PC, Xbox One, and PS4 on June 29th.

The Crew 2 was originally scheduled to release on March 16th, but a delay announcement last December shifted its launch to somewhere between April and September this year. At the time, The Crew 2 developer Ivory Tower said that its had postponed the game's release in order to "deliver an experience that fulfils both our fans' and our own quality expectations."

With a final release date now hopefully set in stone, the next step on the road to launch will be a beta event. Interested parties can register to participate in the beta over on the Crew 2 website. Additionally, and inevitably, there's news of various launch day editions, with a Gold Edition and Motor Edition releasing alongside the standard version of The Crew 2.

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Categories: Video Games