Update: Valve's brand new "Meet the Spy" video has surfaced on Youtube. It's rib-wrenchingly hilarious, as expected. Go check it out, then try figuring out the, er, fascinating web of relationships found therein. You'll understand after you've seen it, so go now!
Close range hunting bows? Electrically charged shields? How’s a Spy supposed to put food on the table with such uncouth technologies standing in his way? Well, you gotta spend money to make money, as they say -- and it seems TF2’s classiest killer did just that.
Oh, you’re wondering about that whole Sniper update thing? Well don’t. It’s been, er, cut short.
As such, the Spy’s now hogging the spotlight, and as a certain incapacitated gunner might attest, the Spy’s shopping trip was a rousing success. First up, he nabbed the “Dead Ringer” Spy watch which, if you’re hit with a non-lethal shot, cloaks you for up to eight seconds and leaves behind a fake corpse to complete the illusion. After that, you can run or make with the stabbing. Either one's better than being dead, obviously.
Next up in this strange convergence of time-telling and murder is the “Cloak and Dagger” Spy watch. It grants you permanent invisibility – so long as you stand completely still. So if you always thought more games should involve being completely immobile, your particular specialty will bring you infinitely regenerating cloaking abilities.
Both items will be hitting just in time to combat the Sniper’s new toys on May 21. Along with head slot items. And new maps. And a new game mode. All for free. See, other developers? This is how you do DLC.
Shooting people in the head for a living comes with quite a suite of occupational hazards (people trying to murder you quickly comes to mind), but luckily, Valve takes great care of its employees. This time around, as part of its Sniper update blowout, Valve hasn’t quite given the Sniper eyes in the back of his head, but don’t think the developer doesn’t have their favorite sociopath’s back. With his brand new tribal shield that’s apparently older than “recorded time,” the Sniper won’t ever have to worry about pesky backstabbing Spies again.
Well, until the priceless heirloom takes one – and only one – for the team and explodes into itty-bitty pieces, that is. Fortunately, Valve’s expert squad of fun-gineers has a backup plan.
“All the tribal craftsmanship in the world, it turns out, cannot stop a modern butter knife. So we taped a car battery to it. Sure, the added weight of the redesigned Razorback’ll slow you down a little. But any poor sap dumb enough to backstab you while you’re sporting one is getting a surprise to the tune of 10,000 volts. Plus, if they want to stab you again, they’ll have to wait until their knife cools down. Which is lucky for you, since the Razorback collapses into a million finely crafted pieces after a single stab,” reads the Team Fortress 2 blog.
Also coming in the Sniper update is a new mode called Payload Race. The mode, described as “Gladiatorial Cart Combat,” sees both sides attempting to push a cart into enemy territory, while also keeping each other’s carts off their respective lawns. And, on top of that, if you end up too dead to continue pushing your cart, it hurdles back downhill. Them’s the breaks, you might say – until you realize that the cart doesn’t have any. Then you’ll just say some other, less publically acceptable words.
Remember that scene from Lord of the Rings where Boromir was stuck clean through with, like, a billion arrows? And you were all like, “Man, I wish I could somehow apply this awesome form of carnage to a brightly colored Valve FPS”? Well, Valve heard your repeated horn calls cries, incredibly specific reader, and will soon be giving you the chance to rain down pointy doom with the Huntsman hunting bow.
Coming in the upcoming Sniper update (which is, itself, coming later this week), the Huntsman will probably give you some new perspective in your games of Cowboys vs. Indians. Said Valve about the first in a line of new unlockables for the Sniper:
"’Now, hold on,’ you keep saying. ‘Aren't bows and arrows primitive and harmless?’ Why don't you ask the dinosaurs? Except you can't, because the cavemen bow and arrowed them to death. One headshot from the Huntsman can mean an instant crit, in addition to a bolt-riddled corpse hanging from a wall that's gruesome and funny.”
The Huntsman will come equipped with 18 arrows and a special charge shot. The rest of the Sniper’s new toys are to be unveiled throughout the week. We’re hoping for some kind of animal companion. How about you?
Want to play two of PC gaming’s genre bests? Also want to hang onto your cash with no attached consequences? Well, that’s theft. People like you belong in prison. But for once, the kind hearts at NCSoft and Valve are turning a blind eye to your antics, so you can finally live out your typically larcenous dreams – for a limited time, anyway.
For the next 24 hours, Left 4 Dead is in free trial mode, meaning that anyone can download and play Valve’s highly implausible piece of anti-zombie propaganda for free. Don’t dawdle, though; you only have until Saturday to take advantage!
As for City of Heroes, snagging a freebie is tad trickier. In celebration of the game’s fifth anniversary, NCSoft has reactivated all City of Heroes accounts – retail or trial – until 11:59pm EST on Sunday. On the menu for this birthday bash is a brand new player-driven mission editor, special events, and in-game commemorative badges. We can’t really think of any reason not to want to be a friggin’ super hero, but a few extra perks are never a bad thing.
So, how will you spend your free time this weekend – cleaning up crime or drowning in Boomer bile? Or are you gonna try for a twofer?
Looks like E3 won’t be the only time we’ll be seeing more than half of the gaming industry under one roof in the near future.
After totally serving Activision with God as its witness, Valve’s sicking its lawyers on Activision again – this time, because Activision tried to weasel out of the agreement the two gaming giants made last time they duked it out in court. Confusing, right? Let us break it down for you.
Due to a 2002 dispute over royalties, Valve sued Activision. Valve more or less won, and Activision agreed to throw the Half-Life creator a bone to the tune of $2,391,932. So far so good, but without the watchful eye of the law staring the two companies in the face, things fell apart.
Soon after litigations came to an end, Activision decided that Valve had been overpaid by $424,136 in previous years. Thus, when Valve’s hard-earned check finally showed up, it read $1,967,796 instead of the full amount agreed upon in court. As a result, Valve’s firing up the ol’ litigation machine again, and Activision is threatening to counter-sue.
Personally, we’d rather just have respective company heads Gabe Newell and Bobby Kotick hop in the cage and throw hands, but then, lack of widespread fighting is just one of the many drawbacks of today’s legal system. Oh well.
(Disclaimer: Tomorrow, in this case, refers to any point after today. After all, Valve’s not so great with providing release dates, so – surprise, surprise – these items will be ready when they’re ready.)
After a recent patch saddled Team Fortress 2 with a mysterious 50-slot “backpack” – promising further instructions at a later date – players were left wondering what strange turns lied ahead for Valve’s cel-shaded shooter. Well, check your answers and make sure your name’s on the paper, because time’s up. In an interview with Shacknews, Valve’s Robin Walker divined Team Fortress 2’s future. The gist of it all: hats soon and RPG mechanics later.
Obviously, the backpack holds things, as are backpacks’ wont. (Though, in a game where sandwiches can be considered accomplices in murder, it’s always good to check.) Apparently, the deceptively deep storage device will play host to all sorts of items, beginning with your non-equipped head-slot items. For now, hats – scheduled for release before the Sniper update -- won’t do much more than give your opponents some stylish new targets, but Walker held out hope for more down the line.
“Right now they're all cosmetic only, but it's obviously more interesting if they become more than that, so we're still thinking about that. Shipping them without gameplay changes seems like a good way to tackle the first problem, which is to ensure we don't break our silhouette based class identification. It also starts us on another path that we're interested in, which is allowing players to have some control over their appearance.”
As for items with actual stat bonuses – as well as some fly threads for the remainder of your character’s bland, sensually unappealing form – Valve plans on taking things one step at a time depending on player feedback. If the wheel needs a +12 damage modifier, it’ll get one. Otherwise, why reinvent it?
Other important tidbits: Unlockables won’t be coupled with achievements anymore, more “Meet the” videos are still on the way, and deleted backpack items won’t be gone forever following the next patch.
Information overload, right? Well, process it and then come back. In the meantime, we’ll be redrawing this comic with TF2 characters and drinking in the sweet taste of possibility. Valve, please. We need this.
Yeah – this is getting pretty ridiculous. Just when you thought Valve’s market-dominating Steam service couldn’t cut any more off its game prices without bleeding money, they go and prove everyone wrong.
This weekend, Valve’s offering the Orange Box – a complete steal even at its original price – for $9.99. For those who haven’t been keeping score, the Orange Box contains Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2: Episodes One and Two, Half-Life 2: The Lost Coast, Portal, and Team Fortress 2. Really, the only things this virtual incarnation of said box lacks are, well, actual oranges and any sort of box. But hey, you’re saving the trees for cheap, and isn’t that basically the American Dream?
So, six amazing games. Ten bucks. Breathing lightly on piggy bank will yield you that kind of scratch. Seriously, if you haven’t played these games, what are you even waiting for? Afraid you might lose your job while utterly engrossed in your new purchases? Well, if Steam keeps topping itself like this, you probably won’t need much money to keep your gaming appetite sated anyway.
Hot on the lickety-quick heels of the Scout, TF2’s Sniper class is next in line for an update. And if you thought the Scout’s new toys weren’t a big enough deal, you’ll be happy to hear that the Sniper update will be – at the very least – .0001% larger.
"It's actually shaping up to be the largest TF2 update yet, with multiple new maps and a bunch of gameplay tweaks," wrote Greg Cherlin on Valve's Team Fortress blog.
As with other class updates, the update will include unlockable items and a set of class-specific achievements. Maybe a new hat, or support for a large, plastic rifle peripheral, we’re hoping.
But what if you really, truly loathe TF2’s suavest psychopath, and just don’t think your current arsenal allows you to kill him hard enough?
"We've got another update in the works that should be done before the Sniper, and that one will include some new content for all classes," Cherlin explained.
See? Everybody wins. Valve understands the meaning of a good compromise. Giving everyone everything they want – through head-perforating violence!
Valve’s quiet, non-intrusive DRM solution – if nothing else – is highly preferable to many publishers’ boisterous assault on our PCs’ (presumed) innocence. We’d like to think Steam’s colossal success in some way attests to this.
So of course, Valve’s announcement that it’s now offering that DRM solution, known as the Custom Executable Generation, to any and all developers free of charge is reason enough to break out the Headcrab-shaped party hats. Or read press release quotes. Actually, you know what? Since we’re getting wild and crazy with excitement here, let’s just do both.
“Headlining the new feature set is the Custom Executable Generation (CEG) technology that compliments the already existing anti-piracy solution offered in Steamworks. A customer friendly approach to anti-piracy, CEG makes unique copies of games for each user allowing them to access the application on multiple machines without install limits and without having to install root kits on their PC,” explained the press release.
The new set of features also includes support for in-game DLC and a Left 4 Dead-tested, Valve-approved matchmaking system. Cool beans.
"Delivering this extension of services on Steamworks first anniversary, demonstrates our commitment to continually develop the platform to better serve the community working with these tools," said Gabe Newell, president and co-founder of Valve. "As we roll out these features, we continue to look for new ways make PC games easier to create and better for customers to experience."
And yes, before you make a snarky comment about it: DRM was already obsolete. But now it’s obsolete-er. It’s like making a horse ride in a trailer attached to a truck; the passing of the torch – especially in a situation like the one DRM has forced gamers into – need not always be cordial.
Other Valve games, we’re sure you’re great and all, but we think Valve is playing favorites. Really, just look at the numbers: Left 4 Dead, Valve’s tossing you just enough of the ol’ meat and mead to ensure your survival. And Half-Life 2: Episode 3, we thought we saw you once in a tabloid with Bigfoot, but that might’ve just been this guy. Meanwhile, it seems like Team Fortress 2 gains some new appendage at least once perweek, and, well, you can probably guess where this is going.
This week’s TF2 to-do adds multicore CPU rendering to the team-based shooter’s ever-growing repertoire, though it’s apparently not quite ready for primetime just yet. From the patch notes:
Added Multicore Rendering
This initial release is aimed at testing compatibility, so the option is OFF by default
To turn it on, go to the Options->Video->Advanced dialog, and check the "Multicore Rendering" option
Well, that’s all for now, TF2 fans. See you guys and gals next week.