The past week has been filled with RTX 3000-series coverage on the YouTube channel, including a world record-setting livestream with liquid nitrogen. Now, though, it's time to go through the hardware news over the past 10 days or so. We'll be talking about the recent Bethesda/Microsoft acquisition, NVIDIA attempting to buy ARM (and, unrelatedly, change SLI support), and 5nm capacity at TSMC. Show notes to follow, along with the embedded video.
E3 has produced a huge amount of news, and we're starting some of our recap coverage with Bethesda. Bethesda's major news items included a remastered version of Skyrim – a “Special Edition” or “Remastered Edition,” as it were – and the existence of Elder Scrolls 6, with a brief hint of two unnamed, large projects.
Skyrim Remastered will ship to PlayStation, Xbox, and PC owners and primarily deliver updated visuals and a new, integrated mod system. Bethesda is fully refreshing Skyrim – something the company hasn't done with previous TES games – and may be doing so as its “The Elder Scrolls VI” title is still some ways out.
Doom is one of PC gaming’s most celebrated titles. A flagship title and pioneer of the FPS genre, Doom established first-person shooters as one of the most prolific genres in gaming. Despite this, the franchise is almost 23 years old -- and that age bears with it a need to update. A whole generation of gamers weren’t even born when the first and second games were released (1993 and 1994). The third title was fairly well-received, but didn’t seem to have the same impact and staying power as its older brothers. Now, eleven years after the eponymous film, the fourth installment has been launched, simply named “DOOM” (caps optional). This is effectively Doom 4.
Doom carries a lot of stature with its name, but it’s being launched into crowded waters. Id Software has always put an emphasis on singleplayer when it comes to the Doom titles; the focus on multiplayer was left to their Quake titles. If it was Doom that made FPS games popular, it was Quake that made competitive gaming and online twitch play popular. The most popular FPS games around today are vastly different than the twitch shooters of old. Like classic twitch shooters, games like Call of Duty still place a heavy emphasis on mobility, speed, and reflexes; unlike the older games, however, games like CoD put more emphasis on what happens in-between games. Building a loadout/class and unlocking weapons plays significantly into how progression and staying power are managed. Regenerating health means encounters with other players are more likely to be fair, and the wondrous world of pickups has been all but abandoned.
Following our GTX 1080 coverage of DOOM – and preempting the eventual review – we spent the time to execute GPU benchmarks of id Software's DOOM. The new FPS boasts high-fidelity visuals and fast-paced, Quake-era gameplay mechanics. Histrionic explosions dot Doom's hellscape, overblown only by its omnipresent red tint and magma flows. The game is heavy on particle effects and post-processing, performing much of its crunching toward the back of the GPU pipeline (after geometry and rasterization).
Geometry isn't particularly complex, with the game's indoor settings comprised almost entirely of labyrinthine corridors and rooms. Framerate fluctuates heavily; the more lighting effects and particle simulation in the camera frustum, the greater the swings in FPS as players emerge into or depart from lava-filled chambers and other areas of post-FX interest.
In this Doom graphics card benchmark, we test the framerate (FPS) of various GPUs in the new Doom “4” game, including the GTX 980 Ti, 980, 970, Fury X, 390X, 380X, and more. We'll briefly define game graphics settings first; game graphics definitions include brief discussion on TSSAA, directional occlusion quality, shadows, and more.
Note: Doom will soon add support for Vulkan. It's not here yet, but we've been told to expect Vulkan support within a few weeks of launch. All current tests were executed with OpenGL. We will revisit for Vulkan once the API is enabled.
Software publisher and game development studio Bethesda has silently rolled-out its alpha version of the “Bethesda.net” launcher, posted alongside card game Elder Scrolls: Legends. Plans for the launcher are yet undisclosed and the store front isn't active, but a key code redemption link indicates that Bethesda will soon be moving product through its store.
This is not a departure from Steam (at least, not yet), but is almost certainly a move to bypass the revenue share with Valve. Bethesda isn't the first publisher to explore this route. EA's Origin took the more extreme approach, simultaneously launching its storefront and completely removing its games from Steam. Ubisoft's uPlay doesn't do this, but buying a Ubisoft title on Steam will invariably launch the uPlay launcher, which then requests a sign-in – and that game may request its own sign-in, in case two weren't enough. GOG Galaxy is perhaps the least offensive in its authentication practices and most neutral, but is still closely related to CD Projekt Red.
Bethesda’s Automatron DLC was the first DLC for Fallout 4 and was a solid addition to the game, but fell slightly flat in some areas. Quickly following Automatron, Bethesda is rolling-out their Wasteland Workshop DLC, which adds to the capabilities of settlement building through new lighting, technology, and even the ability to catch creatures.
Capturing creatures is likely to be the most significant – and fun – addition from Wasteland Workshop. The types of creatures that can be captured range from raiders to deathclaws to cats. These creatures can be tamed, or more interestingly, made to fight to the death. Settlers can even be chosen to fight creatures, so next time “another settlement needs your help,” Preston can be forced to fight a deathclaw. Maybe that’ll teach him.
Fallout 4’s first DLC – Automatron – was released last week for $10. In it, the player has to stop “The Mechanist,” an evil villain creating robots that are terrorizing the Commonwealth. More significantly, Automatron adds the ability to create and customize robots.
Today, we're reviewing that DLC. Fallout 4: Automatron marks Bethesda's ambitious expansion efforts with its best-selling title, and we've got story and gameplay analysis below.
Fallout 4 is a solid game, but like all games, it has its flaws. Luckily, Bethesda both allows and encourages mod development that oftentimes fixes these problems and add news features – and occasionally new problems – for Fallout and Elder Scrolls games. For Fallout games, Bethesda has released the GECK for modders to use. The GECK for Fallout 4 is yet to be released, but community-made tools have been created, are improving, and allow for a jump-start on mod development.
To help address the problems of Fallout 4 and improve upon its features, we’ve settled on seven essential mods for improving gameplay. These are among the best Fallout 4 mods currently out -- mechanically, at least -- and are must-haves for the mod list. Some simply make stats and information more clear, but others change the game’s dynamics more drastically.
Morrowind strongly stands as one of the best role-playing games ever made, leveraging its uniquely crafted environment to draw players ever inward toward the spirit of a truly fantastical landscape. The game's undertone is severe, its thunderous symphony of beautifully orchestrated music guiding players through blight-stricken Vvardenfell. And yet, Morrowind is also one of the loosest, kooky games we've ever played – something with which Creative Lead Ken Rolston agreed in our 2014 interview.
It was 2002 that Morrowind first hit store shelves – quite literally, as digital downloads didn't much exist – and shortly thereafter that expansions Tribunal and Bloodmoon accompanied the RPG. Countless attempts have been made to reimagine Morrowind on various engines of newer descent. Lately, we've been paying attention to the Skyrim engine's Skywind, Morrowind engine's Morrowind Rebirth, and ground-up engine and remake OpenMW.
The above video walks-through the three major Morrowind remakes, explaining each of their goals and levels of completion. The full script for this video can be found below, should a quick read-through be more appealing than video format.
The hardware world has been lit ablaze with news over the past few weeks – CES a huge boon to that, of course – and now we turn the magnifying glass to the world of gaming. This past week alone, we've seen a new mod for Fallout 4 that introduces seasonal changes, a Call of Duty sales surge to 250 million boxed copies, Steam's Winter Sale volume increase 50% over the Summer Sale, and major eSports news from ESPN and Intel.
Fallout 4 still doesn't have official tool kits available, but that hasn't stopped modders. Most mods are making use of .ini tweaks, overwrites, and even Skyrim editing tools, and they've come a long way with that limited suite. Fallout 4's seasonal changes mod is one of the most visually appealing to-date, in our experience, and kicks-off our weekly game news recap. Video below.
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