Nick Pinkerton

Nick Pinkerton

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Left 4 Dead developers Turtle Rock Studios are two months away from releasing their shooter-action hybrid, “Evolve.” Leading into this, the developers hosted an event at their local San Francisco offices, rolling out a series of announcements in the process. We were able to attend the media event and get hands-on with the title.

The news includes a new game mode, a third playable monster, and an open beta announcement. Evolve will feature a single-player experience called “Evacuation” that will allow for local cooperative and online cooperative & PVP play. Turtle Rock also announced the third available Monster upon launch: the Wraith.

Evolve will enter open beta on Xbox Live January 15-19, with limited testing for PC and Playstation 4 users, too.

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Raptr has just posted its Most Played PC Games for November 2014, a list on which World of Warcraft continues to shine.

The “Most Played” list captures the total amount of time Raptr users spend playing a given game.

World of Warcraft (#2) continued its climb up the charts following the release the Warlords of Draenor expansion. Since its release, playtime has nearly doubled.

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Telltale Games has a recent history of expanding existing games, film, and comic book franchises into episodic adventure games. The San Francisco studio has taken its formula from The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us and applied it to the Borderlands first-person-shooter series, spawning “Tales from the Borderlands” (TftB).

I had played part of Episode 1: Zero Sum at PAX Prime last August and enjoyed Telltale’s blend of original storywriting and comedic references to 2K’s IP. Tales from the Borderlands certainly gives us a break from the run-shoot-loot formula from 2k’s games, which we had gotten tired of with Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel.

Raptr has just posted its Most Played PC Games for October 2014, a list highlighted by the release of FIFA 15 and a 75 percent-off sale for PAYDAY 2.

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Assassin’s Creed has taken us to some historical, exotic locations and introduced new gameplay varieties in each installment. The newest title, Assassin’s Creed Unity ($60), returns much of the gameplay focus to the original formula: stealth, well-timed combat, and puzzle solving.

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Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag offered swordplay, dramatic naval combat, hunting, and deep-sea diving. AC IV provided a diversity of action in its open-world setting, resulting in a game rarely put down.

Tesoro is a fairly new gaming peripherals company, producing mice & surfaces, keyboards, and headsets. We’ve previously looked at Tesoro’s Tizona G2N mechanical keyboard, which we gave a modest review. Today, we’re reviewing Tesoro’s mid-level Gandiva H1L gaming mouse.

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The Gandiva H1L is a high-DPI gaming mouse with a unique aesthetic presentation and a familiar, welcomed feature set. At an MSRP of $60, it competes with a large range of mid-level gaming mice, including:

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is not a Lord of the Rings game. There are no epic battles between a wizard and a balrog, there are no disguised female noblewomen slaying wraiths, and there are no hobbits singing jigs and jumping on top of cave trolls. However, having demoed Shadow of Mordor at Monolith Productions, I had not wanted any of that in the finished product.

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Sure, Peter Jackson’s films have translated well to a couple of titles, and some of our readers may have been satisfied by the more recent War in the North or Lord of the Rings Online, but there’s more to be had. What the Tolkien universe has needed to keep us inspired and excited is a logical, original interpretation of Middle-earth. Shadow of Mordor offers this originality by stripping the Tolkien world down to brains and blood, and the game is better off because of it.

Raptr has just posted its Most Played PC Games for August 2014, a month that welcomed 3 MOBAs into the top-5 for the first time.

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The monthly top dog, League of Legends, hosted its LCS playoffs last month, helping increase its Share by 2.82 percent over July. "Share" represents gameplay time as a percentage of the total time spent on all the PC games played by Raptr members.

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor—not Destiny—is my most anticipated game of September. I’m taking the road less traveled in games media by honing in on a game that, rather than offering me a horizontally-expanded refresh of its series, integrates a gameplay-enhancing system for a fresh take. Monolith Productions has prioritized the preservation of hack-and-slash combat with a Nemesis interface and engine that gives more weight to players’ battle decisions and encourages them to keep mixing up how they take control of a territory.

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I visited Monolith at their Kirkland, Washington studios and spent the afternoon previewing Shadow of Mordor's gameplay and story.

Double Fine continues to surprise with how they craft their take on various game genres. With Massive Chalice, the company has unified the turn-based strategy of XCOM and Crusader Kings with the long-term strategy elements of Civilization, looking through the genetics lens of Fire Emblem. This complex offspring of those games explores the concept of the smallest action having an impact in the longer term – a terms as long as 350 years.

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Massive Chalice Lead Animator Geoff Soulis showed us how all the pieces fit together in a hands-on demo at PAX Prime. We’ll start by overviewing Massive Chalice, then describe its classes, explain Double Fine’s flavor of turn-based combat, and tie together combat with prolonging bloodlines.

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