Pewdiepie deals, Rigged Esports and X Series

Five Australian men have been charged with CS:GO match fixing

Official charges have been laid against these five men following a police investigation, this soon follows an initial arrest of six players back in August 2019. According to the Victorian Police four 20 year-olds and a 27 year old have been charged with “use of corrupt conduct information for betting purposes”. These charges relate to five matches in a CS:GO tournament after an investigation was prompted by tip-off. They will face court in September on the 15th with the potential for up to 10 years in prison. David Sharpe the soon to be head of Sport Integrity Australia has said, “I had early discussion with a former esports CEO around integrity within their sport and I am looking forward to engaging with them in my new role to work around the potential risks and threats.” There has been an increase in esports betting since traditional sports have been put on hold during the coronavirus pandemic. The ABC also reported that Australia’s Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit had been investigating links between organised crime and an unnamed Australian Overwatch team.

YouTube snags Pewdiepie

With so much competing for the streaming market and with Mixer taking Ninja, Shroud and King Gothalion then Twitch holding onto DrLupo, timthetatman, and LIRIK, now YouTube have made a deal with Felix Kjellberg better known as Pewdiepie. YouTube are also fully aware of his racist outbursts on stream such as calling out racial slurs during a livestream and a situation that lead to Campo Santo games preventing him from promoting Firewatch. Despite all this Pewdiepie is still one of the biggest streamers on the planet with over 104 million YouTube subscribers and over 25 billion views since his channel began in 2010. Pewdiepie said in a statement, “YouTube has been my home for over a decade now and live streaming on the platform feels like a natural fit as I continue to look for new ways to create content and interact with fans worldwide. Live streaming is something I’m focusing on a lot in 2020 and beyond, so to be able to partner with YouTube and be at the forefront of new product features is special and exciting for the future.”

Xbox Series X and all the details from Microsoft has been revealed

Ever since The Game Awards in 2019 Microsoft have been teasing us about it’s next generation console which is looks more like a PC tower than what we’ve traditionally known consoles to be. Gamespot have complied everything you need to know about the Xbox Series X console in one article which features information on the release date, hardware, the controller, games, specs and more, click here for all the details.

A Short Hike

Developer: Adamgryu
Publisher: Adamgryu
Audio: Mark Sparling
Platforms: PC, Linux, Mac
Release Date: 5th April 2019
Genre: Adventure game, Indie game

It all begins with our main character in a car on their way to Hawk Peak Provincial Park. Our protagonist Claire, is an anthropomorphic bird who is going there to spend time with her aunt May who works as a Park Ranger. In the introduction scene we immediately notice something isn’t right based on the dialogue between the two characters. Once they have arrive at the park Clair sleeps the whole day, waking up late just like a teenager would. She gets frustrated that there is no reception as she is waiting for a very important call, so her aunt suggests she climb the highest peak in the park (Hawk Peak) to get reception. Deciding to go through with it, we now follow Claire as she explores the park meeting a range of characters all the while trying to make the hike to Hawk Peak.

A short hike is an animal crossing turned indie art-style adventure game. Being all about exploring the various areas of the park, finding items, completing quests and finding hidden treasures. All of this is tied into the progression of the game which is quite straightforward, get to the top of the mountain. What is stopping you? Because the hike is such a hard one, you have to collect gold feathers. These golden feathers allow you to double jump more, climb for longer periods of time or run for longer periods of time. So in order to complete the hike you have to have enough feathers. These feathers are either found, or bought in different ways.

My favourite part about the mechanics in this game is how they all tie in so well with the genre and the exploration elements of the game. While there are loads of things to talk about I would like to specifically talk about three things:

  • The way you traverse the level
  • How the level itself is built
  • The interactions with other characters

The way you traverse the level is by either running, climbing, gliding or jumping. While in the beginning of the game you are held back by the amount of gold feathers you have, all of these mechanics are still so very satisfying, with the whole experience behind the game being about hiking, the developers have managed to create a set of super satisfying ways to do that simple task of taking a hike.

One of the reasons that it is so satisfying is because of the level layout, essentially the lay of the land is like an island where the middle is the highest point but all around the place you are met with different vertical layouts. Because all of these areas to explore you find yourself going up and down and continuously find hidden areas with ease, this lets you feel like you’re on real life hike. Especially when you find little sections along the trail that you like, or you stumble across a nice view.

I also want to mention the interactions you have with the characters scattered around the level. Not only is the writing amazing, the characters are so diverse with so many of them having a variety of different dialog depending on when you talk to them not to mention how often. A Short Hike is lighthearted and easy to digest, leaving every conversation you have to be pondered about and not left with a feeling of confusion.

The sound in this game reminds me of a mix between Zelda and a modern pixel RPG. With the sound effects having a pixelated effect however the background music being fully high quality. While I do feel that the developers missed out on one point about hiking which to me is a big deal, is the silence, the feeling of bliss and pure nature that you receive. But I also have to say that they did an amazing job with the soundtrack, Mark Sparling crafted excellent audio that changes based on the weather, location and what the player is doing. Letting you feel both epic excitement as you make your way to the top. I especially like the lo-fi chill music when gliding through the rain.

If the review so far haven’t shown my excitement for the game then I don’t know how else I can. In my opinion one of the best games of 2019, I could spend hours dissecting some of the design mastery within this game and I implore everyone to try this experience. While most other reviews on A Short Hike agree with me, aside from condemning it for having a short story line. I think it’s alright, because the story is just the facilitator for the experience of taking ‘a short hike’ which they executed well.

Reviewed by William Haumann @William_Haumann on April 29th 2020

COVID-19 Relief, Toxic Valorant and Game Leaks

A Riot employee has posted a video of sexist harassment while playing Valorant.

Valorant is still in its testing phase however still manages to sustain harassment within its player base. Riot is no stranger to this type of behaviour such as League of Legends. Riot’s UX designer who goes by the handle Greenily posted on Twitter a video of her time in solo queue on Valorant. The video shows another male player saying he was looking for an ‘egirl,’ pretending she was his girlfriend and after she told him to be quiet began calling her slurs. Greenily wrote on Twitter, “My dealings are not just constrained to this single clip. This is since I’ve ever played online games. And for the record yes, I muted him. Does that mean he won’t go making other people uncomfortable though? No. If you’re in one of these parties, please help speak up and report these people. Because I hope this is not the kind of community you want to be playing with.” Hopefully Riot act quickly before this type of behaviour takes root within the game.

The gaming world does what it can to raise funds for COVID-19 relief.

Bethesda is intending to donate $1 million to both local and international organisations working on the front line fighting the pandemic. Bethesda are also offering fans game opportunities to chip in as well. $250,000 will be going to UNICEF, $250,000 will be donated to local relief efforts within communities and $500,000 will be given to Direct Relief who also recently received $400,000 from the Corona Relief Done Quickly speed running showcase. Humble Bundle also out played themselves with raising over $6.5 million through their Humble Conquer COVID-19 Bundle. They sold over 200,000 bundles with 100% of the money raised sent to Doctors Without Borders, Direct Relief, Partners in Health and International Rescue Committee. Doctors Without Borders said, “We will receive close to $1.5 million in donations, which will enable our teams to launch emergency programs to help stem the spread of COVID-19 in the hardest hit communities, care for infected patients, and respond to the pandemic’s consequences on local health systems.”

Cyberpunk 2077 has had a leak.

Not long after Last of Us 2 story leaked online so does roughly 25 minutes of Cyberpunk 2077 gameplay footage. Don’t worry we won’t reveal any spoilers, the videos aren’t in English and seem to be recorded from a closed gameplay session from E3 in 2019. In saying that the spoilers for Cyberpunk 2077 are no where near as the same level of content as Last of Us 2. Links to both games footage are floating around Twitter and other social media platforms so be careful not to look if you are trying to avoid spoilers.

Moonlighter

Developer: Digital Sun
Publisher:
11 Bit Studios & Merge Games
Music:
David Fen & Pablo Caballero
Platforms:
Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, PC (Mac, Windows, & Linux)
Released:
29th May 2019
Genre:
Action Adventure RPG & Business Simulator

Set in a distant world where strange ruins appeared filled with mazes and puzzles to solve. Will, the games protagonist and wannabe hero dreams of finding awesome loot to sell that he finds from within dungeons, as well as, not to mention killing dungeon monsters. Each dungeon is named after the people who attempted to loot them however as time has gone by dungeon crawling for rare finds hasn’t been very lucrative. In order to find rare and expensive items you must dive deeper and deeper into the labyrinth like dungeons which can become a high-risk investment. Will is a merchant who owns a shop called Moonlighter in a little town called Rynoka whereby night Will searches dungeons for items and by day sells them in his store. Moonlighter has a sweet pixel art style which couples nicely with the dungeon crawler genre. The animations are cute and simple which flow well with the overall visual design of the game.

Moonlighter is a randomised dungeon diver where you go off in search for loot, but you also have a side hustle as a shop keeper in town. The game is divided into these two major components that work together well. On one side you have the action adventure aspect where there are procedurally generated dungeons, where you fight bosses, collect gold and items and of course fight lots of enemies. Then on the other side there is the shop where you must consider consumer demand, shop upgrades, whether you spend gold on new equipment or to expand the town to further the games progression. These two elements come together well and feed each other, you will dungeon crawl for items and then essentially sell them in the store at a price of your desire. The tricky thing is managing the greed factor, it is very easy to get carried away in a dungeon searching for more items however, if you die you can say goodbye to that recently gathered loot.

The shop requires good management skills and learning all you need to learn when it comes to the shop is taken slow and steady from a tutorial perspective everything was smooth and enjoyable. The dungeon crawling was also excellent, my only dig would be some of the fighting mechanics were a little rough and sometimes it was hard to gage distance between myself an enemy which therefore lead me to take unnecessary damage. Some of the little features that was a nice touch is this pendant you receive early in game that converts items into gold, this allowed me to clear space in my inventory while on the go however you do have to consider the value of the items you convert with the pendant will be less than what you can sell in Moonlighter. There is a lot to focus on and consider from the gameplay perspective which makes this indie gem a fantastic experience. Exploration and achievements are the big focus with this game.

The music is cinematic with pleasant melodies that propel you further into adventure. The soundtrack is made up of sweet little guitar riffs and floaty sounds of the piano, this combined with charming orchestral elements. The score generates feelings of mystery and curiosity. David Fen composed and produced the soundtrack for Moonlighter except for Pablo Caballero composing and producing the original announcement trailer for the Nintendo Switch. There are 26 songs that comprise the soundtrack which are delightful and cheery at times and then there’s the mysterious and dangerous sounds of the dungeons. The overall sound of Moonlighter compliments the visuals and game play experience wonderfully.

Moonlighter is a highly praised indie game that has over 1,400 reviews on Steam, from a development perspective this game has been a huge success. I would like to reference an article that discusses the success of Moonlighter from Gamasutra which touches on the stages of developing a successful indie game, for all you indie buffs out there.

Moonlighter is a brilliant game that teases your greedy bones, challenges you, and encourages you to explore further in every dungeon dive in hopes of finding something rare and expensive. This game is a management experience where you must consider the economy, your business and your personal goals as the player. Moonlighter has so many items, enemies and features that there is even a Wiki on Gamepedia for all your wondering. The sounds, visuals and feel of the game is charming and really makes you feel like a merchant in a fantasy adventure world. I highly recommend this game for people who are driven by strategy and achievements.

Reviewed by Evie Gibbons @eviezgames on 22nd April 2020

 

Vigor Beta Review

Developer: Bohemia Interactive Studio
Publisher: Bohemia Interactive Studio
Audio: Bohemia Interactive Studio
Platforms: Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Release Date: August 19, 2019
Genre: 3rd person survival game, Looter Shooter

Vigor is a third person survival, looter shooter. The game has little story however it takes place in a post-apocalyptic Norway after the world was nuked. There seems to be a world power in charge as there are military air drops that happen frequently. Vigor begins with you choosing your outlander, you are then guided through a tutorial by a person named Alana. Once you get through the tutorial the story is pretty much over, from here your narrative is like that of any survival game; survive.

So what is this game? Well Vigor is an online looter shooter, borrowing the playstyle from Tarkov and mixing in some elements of a battle royal. We begin the tour of Vigor in this little hub world that you call home. Here you will find everything from your online store to crafting tables to a weapons range where you can practice. This little house is the main driving factor of the game, as you will be upgrading this ‘home’ until it is a fully functioning sanctuary. Sadly, there is not much in terms of customization just upgrades to an already existing template.

When you are not in this hub world you will be going out to loot. This is done through jumping into scenarios either alone or with a friend. You will fight on a map against a group of other outlanders, the goal is to kill, loot and survive. As the player you can leave at any time from one of the many escape routes on the map but, if you leave, you’ll miss out on the air drop that is spawned near the end of the round, and this drop consists of a loot crate containing precious materials. So, you might be wondering, “what’s the catch?” well, the catch is that if you die you lose everything you brought into that round including everything you found. So, you will always be playing with the risk of losing everything, which is very alike Tarkov in that way.

The gameplay itself is relatively fun and straightforward, displaying cool concepts. However, from my experience there was more frustration than fun. The third person controller does not translate well with the Nintendo Switch controller, making it hard to aim and move in a satisfying way. Things like this are important as there is little time to react to an enemy, this could be imperative to a life or death situation, thus making the game feel clunky and not as smooth as I would have liked. Unlike the Ghost Recon Series which is what I was expecting from this type of gameplay.

The leader board system in the game is interesting, in order to rank up you must donate food to other players therefore making your decision to rank up or not a contest between comradery or greed. In the pregame menu you can select either with yourself or a team select the quality of the loot you can find. By spending some premium currency, you can fill a bar that makes either the airdrop or the loot be more valuable this adds a competitive clout effect to the game.

Being a survival game, the sound is extremely important in making the game feel real and impactful. This is something the developers succeed in, making me really think about my choices between running, crawling, or sprinting based on how the sounds were making me feel. The soundtrack is also very nicely made, taking inspiration from its Nordic country. Adding a cool new feeling to a survival feeling that we have not seen before. The gun sounds and other SFX are also very enjoyable with nothing else to be said other than well done.

Vigor is an interesting and new experience that takes elements that are proven to work from other survival games. The game tries some new things that are interesting and sets the stage for some striking community play that I would love to see more off. However, the game felt clunky and a lot of my experience was unsatisfying, the player controller is hard to use and leaves combat to be avoided rather than desired. While the narrative in the game is one that is fairly no existent, it is awesome to see some new settings that could lead to some new and exciting gameplay frameworks. The audio in the game is great and the progression is easy to follow. Being a free to play game I would say it is worth picking up and trying out. Hopefully, the game will improve after the developers make improvements after this beta phase.

Reviewed by William Haumann @William_Haumann on April 22nd 2020

Micro transactions, Facebook Gaming and Travis Scott

PCGamingWiki is Now Tracking Micro Transactions in Games

A new category has been opened on the wiki page founded by Andrew Tsai who says in a post on Monday that, “Many PC gamers don’t have a clue what they are getting into before they install the latest ‘free to play’ game, These games could contain manipulative loot boxes, hopelessly unfair grinds or game imbalancing pay-to-win unlocks.” PCGamingWiki typically looks at things like hardware, software and network related to gaming. It is a technology focused platform. The idea of this micro transactions monitoring project is to track gambling on loot boxes, cosmetics, game advantages, in-game currency, and pay-to-skip mechanics. This wiki will also keep an eye on monetization categories such as ad-supported, free-to-play or subscription. It should be interesting to see what they find.

Facebook Have Launched Their Very Own Video Game Streaming App

Facebook has decided to take on the streaming giants such as, Twitch, Mixer and YouTube. The launch of this streaming service wasn’t to be expected until later in the year however has officially come out now. You can watch now on the Facebook app (Only Android currently however, iOS coming soon) you can also watch in your computer browser. You’ll be able to follow streamers, talk in the chat to other viewers as well as play games from Facebook’s library and stream them. Some of the popular games to watch on the platform right now are, Age of Empires, American Truck Simulator, COD Modern Warfare, GTA 5, PUBG and of course Fortnite. These streams currently have lower numbers but that could change which a shift in algorithms that promote streams on the Facebook app. Let’s see how Facebook take on the video game streaming world.

Travis Scott Will Debut His New Song in Fortnite This Week

Travis Scott is a very famous, Grammy-nominated rapper and producer who is going to ‘tour’ in Fortnite from the 23rd – 25th of April to release his new single Astronomical. Travis Scott isn’t just touring his also going to be a more permanent part of the Fortnite universe since joining the Fortnite Icon Series, which is the collection of in-game cosmetics that are inspired by artists and content creators. If you join the event you will be able to pick up an Astroworld Cyclone Glider and two loading screens for free. If you’d like to check it out Travis Scott’s concerts will be hosted at different times and days however if you’d like to tune in from Australia the Asia & Oceania concert starts at 2PM AEST on the 25th of April.

In Other Waters

Developer: Jump Over The Age
Publisher: Fellow Traveller
Music/Audio: Amos Roddy
Platforms: PC (Mac/Windows) & Nintendo Switch
Released: 3rd April 2020
Genre: Narrative Exploration, Adventure, Atmospheric, Indie

Ellery Vas is a xenobiologist who discovers alien life on planet Gliese 677Cc while trying to find her missing research partner Minae Nomura. Ellery finds herself completely stranded in the ocean with a malfunctioning diving suit and you, a strange AI who is to guide her to safety while exploring extra-terrestrial fauna, and of course assisting her with the search for Minae. In Other Waters is a game heavily driven by narrative, and not just for the characters but also the landscapes you encounter, the creatures you discover, and the history of the planet you delve into. There are many secrets to divulge, challenges to face, and some that test the bond you share with Ellery. This game brilliantly touches on topics such as environmental destruction, life decisions, as well as human and AI relationships.

In Other Waters uses a gorgeous minimalistic colour palette such as teal, bright yellows and deep greens. They dominate the screen which you might think is too much however, it creates this very aesthetically pleasing visual that is a delight to navigate. These colours shift and change as you dive deeper into the depths of the ocean in pursuit of finding both alien and human life.

From a game play perspective this exploration, narrative driven, and emotional game depends completely on UI (User Interface). The aeroplane pilot like navigation system you use to assist Ellery around the underwater landscapes is stunning, simple and most importantly it feels like you are doing the thing you are intending to do. For example, you must collect samples of the environment around you to examine, and as you gather the samples you must click on different dials, buttons and knobs to make that process happen. The way Gareth Damian Martin (solo designer at Jump Over The Age) has designed this system really makes you feel like you are extracting something from the environment. There are other mechanics and systems that are also incredibly unique to In Other Waters that there aren’t many comparisons I can make however, this experience really depends on gathering information by exploring the ocean floor. The more information you gather the more the story comes together. I don’t want to give to much away so you’ll just have to pick it up and have a go.

As you explore the topography of the world around you in the blue-green depths of the ocean you do come across an abandoned base that allows you to recharge your suit and access other features such as; being able to further examine samples, engage with your diving suits systems, or may be check out the map to see where you have travelled since your journey began.

There is only one issue that tended to irritate me while playing and that was the dialog text box had a timer. This meant I had to keep up with Ellery communicating to me and if I had scanned the area there would be new dialog displayed in a different section of the screen at the same time. That was particularly difficult to juggle and that also made things challenging when I missed something Ellery was explaining to me. In saying that this is a small thing that doesn’t take away from the rest of the game’s experience or overarching feel.

Eery, endless, echoing sounds of the deep, Amos Roddy does an exceptional job of sound scaping the vastness of this alien planet’s oceans. There are plenty of echoes and tremors of the deep that you hear as you discover new things. You can really dive into the environment with Amos’ music submerging you into this alien water world. Some of the sounds are reminiscent of whale calls or dolphin cries, which all adds to this game’s rich and alluring adventure.

In Other Waters is receiving accolades and praise from players and critics around the world and all of this, of course, is well deserved. This game is a unique and interesting experience that is unlike anything I’ve played before. Amos Roddy’s beautiful and haunting music fleshes out Gareth’s intention of creating a game that compels you to explore deeper and deeper. In Other Waters evokes feelings of wonder and intrigue encouraging you to think differently about the environment, people and almost go so far as to ponder life altogether. In Other Waters is a game for indie lovers, people who want to experience insightful narrative and enjoy world exploration.

Reviewed by Evie Gibbons @eviezgames on 15th April 2020