Twitch’s new subscription service is like Amazon Prime for gamers

Twitch's new subscription service is like Amazon Prime for gamers

When Amazon bought Twitch in 2014, there were many throughout the gaming community who thought it could spell the end of the fun-loving streaming website. But, despite those fears, little actually changed.

That was until today, when Amazon and Twitch announced a new service called Twitch Prime that might feel oddly familiar to Amazon Prime subscribers.

The program was announced by Emmett Shear, CEO and Co-founder of Twitch, at TwitchCon 2016’s keynote held in San Diego, California.

According to Shear, Twitch Prime is available for free to Amazon Prime subscribers will offer free games, free in-game content, one free channel subscription, exclusive discounts, release-day delivery on any game bought on Amazon and ad-free streaming through Twitch.

"We are now happy to bring you what we believe is the best deal for gamers," Shear said.

Twitch Prime will be available starting today, and Twitch is offering a free 30-day trial of the service.

Developing…

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Updated: 11 best open world games on PC today

Updated: 11 best open world games on PC today

Introduction

Introduction

Update: Hop in your spaceship, throw on some headphones and get comfy because because the latest entry on our list would take you over 500 billion years to truly complete. Read onto number 11 to find out more!

2015 was the year of the open world game. Every game franchise iteration that came out shoehorned an explorable environment into its hyper-polished murder simulation. often they added a bit of base construction and squad management too. Fallout 4, Metal Gear Solid V, The Witcher III…

They joined a line-up that contains the best games around. Look at S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat, Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag, Shadow of Mordor, Batman: Arkham City, or the Far Cry series… all abandoned the traditional AAA linear level structures and emigrated to the wide uplands of the open world.

Even weird indie games have clasped the explorable environment to their bosom. The Long Dark, Neo Scavenger, Rust, Factorio, No Man’s Sky, Subnautica, even Euro Truck Simulator – all of these would have had a shout in our list, if we’d had room for more than 10.

But we’ve picked our favourites out of the best wide worlds gaming has to offer. Disagree? Tell us about yours in the comments.

Gabe Carey has also contributed to this article

1. Minecraft

Minecraft

I mean, you know what this is about. There isn’t a gamer reading this today who isn’t aware that Minecraft consists of; exploration and crafting in a blocky, bright 8-bit world. And when night falls or when you go deep underground, monsters come out… and that’s not just on the multiplayer servers.

Though it’s now on every last platform going, from iOS to Linux and even to Amiga, its fundamentals are the same – a large open world to explore, with no purpose beyond the one you which you create yourself. If you want to create a moving replica of Mark Hamill’s face or the hanging gardens of Babylon or just a suburban house built exclusively of dynamite, Minecraft can do it.

If you’re bored of Minecraft, you’re bored of life. But if you really are bored (of Minecraft and/or life), either try the 2D Minecraft Terraria, its sci-fi sibling Starbound, or wait for Subnautica or No Man’s Sky to land. They’re lifesavers.

2. Fallout: New Vegas

Fallout: New Vegas

Yes, Fallout 4 is the newest, most mechanically-complex and least ugly of the series, but Fallout: New Vegas is, for me, the best of the games. It brought back the weirdness and smarts of the original titles to post-apocalyptic America – perhaps because as many of the team members from developer Obsidian worked on Fallout 2.

The series always drops the player in an open world wasteland, where you must fight and talk to survive, often exploring the bizarre vaults beneath the desert or battling the mutated creatures that scrape by. Its combat system called VATS is divisive (i.e most people think it’s rubbish), but it introduces tactical flexibility to an otherwise brutally-hard game.

In Fallout: New Vegas, you play as an anonymous Courier. Left for dead, you roam the strange wastes around Arizona, Nevada and California, hunting for your killer, or exploring weird side quests. Turning on the hardcore game mode also means that food, water and sleep are essential, making it into a classic open world survival game, like S.T.A.L.K.E.R.

3. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

The first two Witchers were compelling and strange, but only mildly popular. The Witcher 3 was an absolute step up in quality, and probably the best all-round game of last year. You take the part of Geralt, a mutated monster hunter, searching for his adoptive daughter in a medieval world devastated by war.

The open world setting of the game is uniquely well-realized, knocking that of previous fantasy favorite Skyrim into a viking hat. Geralt can walk, ride or sail across the green, war-ravaged lands of the South or sail between the monster-riddled lands of Skellige in the North. He can forage for herbs, explore under the seas or the back alleys of cities, and encounter all sorts of folk tale creatures (and mostly kill them).

And the other elements of the game are spectacularly polished as well – limber, agile combat, a deep levelling system, and a storyline with some unusually-smart storylines.

4. Saint’s Row IV

Saint's Row IV

We know that Grand Theft Auto V is one of the best open world games out there. It’s a huge pastiche of L.A. that you can drive across, or hop on a train, or a boat or a plane – an amazing achievement, and the fact it works in multiplayer is astounding.

Saint’s Row IV is more limited, we accept. But where GTA V seems to have a dislike for all its characters, Saints Row IV manages to love its cast. It’s also uproariously funny throughout, with throwaway jokes about Mass Effect, Prototype, Crackdown, The Matrix, and Metal Gear being built into ridiculous missions.

As the (criminal) President of the United States, you receive superpowers, fail to fight off an alien invasion, and end up exploring a simulation of your giant home city of Steelport where you must rescue your pals from their own personal hells.

5. Metal Gear Solid V

Metal Gear Solid V

The plot may have made less sense than a mumbling monkey with a mouthful of marbles, but Hideo Kojima’s swansong was a masterpiece of layered open world mechanics.

In its twin deserts of Afghanistan and Angola, your character Big Boss has a range of objectives to achieve. He traverses these areas on foot, horseback, or in a variety of ground vehicles. You can take either lethal or non-lethal weapons, and a variety of strange AI companions.

The world itself is believably bleak, weather-torn and heavily-guarded. Uniquely, it learns from your behaviour – overuse a particular tactic, and enemies will adapt. For example, rely too much on headshots and they’ll start to wear metal helmets.

Away from the frontline, you can develop Big Boss’ base, by building new facilities and airlifting enemy soldiers, prisoners, resources, vehicles, animals and anything else you want to from the battlefield.

6. Don’t Starve

Don't Starve

Klei’s indie survival horror game takes the drawing style of Edward Gorey, the twisted monstrosities of the Binding of Isaac, and the crafting mechanics of Minecraft and creates an unholy, dark 2D world for players to explore. Suffice to say, it’s a joy.

As players explore the world, they encounter (and die at the appendages of) its various flora and fauna. Eventually, the player might have enough knowledge to not die from starvation, not to be eaten by monsters, not to die of thirst… and then they might learn how to survive winter.

Beyond that, Don’t Starve has tremendous replay value from unlockable characters, the Together expansion that allows for multiplayer survival, and the Shipwrecked expansion which introduces a whole new area to be eaten by monsters in.

7. Dwarf Fortress

Dwarf Fortress

The inaccessible indie open world game par excellence, Dwarf Fortress’ world is open in space, but more importantly in time. Before you even start playing, the game’s engine generates thousands of years of history for its huge fantasy world, then narrows in on a tiny slice of its history and geography.

Players can then either take control of a single adventurer, exploring this generated world or a caravan of dwarfs, setting off to found a colony in the history-saturated wastelands. Taking the latter mode, you have to establish supplies of food, beer, weaponry and a hundred other essentials for a comfortable dwarf dwelling.

Inevitably, they come under attack by hideous monsters, either wandering through the world or having been unearthed by Digging Too Deep. And then they all die or go insane.

If you’re looking for a much more accessible version of the game, you could try Keeper RL – which allows players to take control of dungeon full of monsters attempting to wipe out humans, dwarves and elves.

8. Sunless Sea

Sunless Sea

An entirely text-based open world? In 2016? Well, sure. Failbetter’s Fallen London story world has been developing for seven years and by now probably has more text in it than the Bible. And it’s better written too.

Despite that, it was the Fallen London spin-off, Sunless Sea, that has won the studio plaudits. Failbetter has taken the same choose-your-own adventure model and built it into a game where you’re exploring an underground sea adjacent to Fallen London.

The shipping and combat is so-so, but the game is driven by its amazingly rich storyline, full of charming devils, malevolent icebergs and soul-filled great apes. There’s no peace in Sunless Sea’s dark waters, just endless storylines to explore – and you will.

9. Dark Souls III

Dark Souls III

From Software may have started their action-RPG series on the Playstation (with Demon’s Souls), but the best editions have been on the PC (though we accept that the PS4-exclusive Bloodborne is the best of the lot).

It’s an unusual open world in that, though you can roam across it, it often bottlenecks your options to gate access to later areas. And those bottlenecks tend to be manned by giant monstrous bosses that can kill you in two or three hits.

So, yes, roaming in Dark Souls is not really something you do, given the lethality of even the lowliest enemy, until you’re very, very confident in the game. And that’s exactly when your game gets invaded by a max level idiot with a giant sword…

10. The Witness

The Witness

Jonathan Blow’s game is unlike any other on this list. It’s a pacifistic, smart puzzler that breaks the frame every time it can. At core, it’s a simple set of logic puzzles that get progressively more complex as they layer on each other. These are represented as panels throughout its open world.

And what an open world. Players amble around a landscape that’s rich with history, with several generations of ruins and repair visible in the buildings and hills. Everywhere you go, there are strange figures, some hidden in the landscape.

Get on and strange secrets reveal themselves. Audio recordings, those strange statues, images in the world that can only be seen from one angle, under certain circumstances… The more panels you unlock, the stranger the game gets – and you will never forget that it’s a game.

11. No Man’s Sky

best open-world games

No doubt a divisive entry considering the legal controversies surrounding it, No Man’s Sky is still a game that resonates with us enough to justify its inclusion on our list. In fact, with over 18 quintillion planets to explore, No Man’s Sky exhibits one of the most fully-realized open worlds even if the "game" component is notably lacking.

No Man’s Sky is all about survival and exploration, giving you the power to name and document new species across, well, all the planets even though – as the developer puts it – "it will take you 585 billion years to see them all." Although there isn’t much of an online portion of the game so far, there’s more than enough content to keep you occupied for years in the single-player mode alone.

The experience is only bettered by the ambient soundtrack (courtesy of 65daysofstatic) setting the tone of the atmosphere. Sure, it gets repetitive from time to time, but No Man’s Sky is a technical marvel if nothing else, and that alone may be worth the price of admission.

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Updated: 11 best football games on PC: top soccer titles for a virtual kickabout

Updated: 11 best football games on PC: top soccer titles for a virtual kickabout

Introduction

FootLOL

Often referred to as ‘the beautiful game’, football (or soccer – take your pick) offers up a seemingly never-ending supply of excitement, mystery and surprise. Leicester City winning England’s Premier League recently went down as one of the biggest shocks in sporting history, and who could’ve predicted the USA team’s coming of age at the 2014 World Cup?

As computer graphics have improved, so have football games. They were fairly primitive in the early days, starting out as top-down viewed DOS classics such as Sensible World of Soccer before evolving into 3D efforts in the vein of Actua Soccer.

Of course, the FIFA series has been around since the 90s and its rivalry Pro Evolution Soccer throughout the years has proved more fierce than the one between Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira. Refreshingly, a number of football games are cropping up that approach the sport from a new perspective, with many available to download on Steam.

Like the most cunning foxes in boxes, we take a look at the best of them.

  • These are the best 100 free games you should play today

1. FIFA 2016

Fifa 16

Named after the association that essentially runs global football, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, FIFA has become something of a cult. Players buy every new release when it comes out, even if it means queuing for hours, making it pretty much the Apple of football games.

The studio behind it, EA Sports, has sold around 100 million copies of the game worldwide since its launch. FIFA 2012 remains the fastest-ever selling version, shifting 3.2 million copies in the first week.

FIFA 2016 probably won’t go down as a classic, but it remains the best option for a solid kickabout on the PC. Featuring slick graphics and more fluid animations than previous versions that help you dribble like Messi, it’s a satisfying evolution of FIFA 15 rather than a full-blown revolution.

Its new Ultimate Tournament modes, which let you create a team of superstars, provide something extra to sink your teeth into. (And not only if Louis Suárez is in your squad.)

2. Football Manager 2016

Football Manager

Are you a Special One, or a Wally with a Brolly? (As England’s ill-fated ex-manager Steve McClaren came to be known.) You won’t know until you’ve tried to turn the worst side in the league into champagne-guzzling champions on Football Manager.

Another game that gets yearly updates, it offers a more God-like view compared to FIFA’s on-the-pitch action. If you think you’ve got what it takes to organise teams right down to the nitty-gritty of funding, dealing with the press, player injuries and in-team squabbling, Football Manager brings the challenge.

The 2016 version of the game, released in late 2015, went down better than a 12-yard rabona with the critics thanks to its combination of high accessibility and in-depth management options. But please, please don’t put on a dodgy Dutch accent during press conferences…

3. Pro Evolution Soccer 2016

PES 2016

PES: not the collectible sweet dispenser (that’s spelt Pez, by the way), but a football game that’s spent some considerable time in FIFA’s shadow. 2016, as it happens, is the year that it emerges from it.

FIFA is often critcized for retaining the same game engine year-in, year-out, and PES has finally taken advantage. PES 2016 makes for some fascinating encounters thanks to its unpredictable interactions, which leaves you constantly uncertain of who will win tackles, where crosses will land and whether shots will sail into the top corner or sky over the bar. You know – a bit like in real life.

This year’s version went on to be nominated in the "Best Sports/Racing Game" category at the 2016 BAFTAS – as was FIFA – but lost out to the excellent Rocket League. That still made it the best footy game of the year.

4. Rocket League

Rocket League

Football with cars seems a great idea (we think…), so it’s surprising that it’s taken this long for it to happen. Developed by US-based studio Psyonix, it has all of the tenets of soccer but replaces humans with rocket-propelled vehicles. And it’s as delightfully bonkers as it sounds.

If you have ever seen the ‘Top Gear’ episode in which Richard Hammond, James May and Jeremy Clarkson play Car Football, you’ll understand Rocket League and its appeal. The game is fast, fun, and throughly silly, which is a refreshing break from the all-serious FIFA and PES. Rocket League has sold over 5 million copies since its launch, double of that it was expected to sell.

All that’s left to ask is: which real-life footballer are you in Rocket League?

5. Goal United Pro

Goal United Pro

Are you a tinkerman, a mad footballing scientist or an astute professor of management? Goal United Pro lets you find out. It’s suitable if you want to get into a football management sim but are intimidated by sheer number of options presented by Football Manager-styled games.

It’s played in your browser, meaning you don’t have to commit to it for hours on end; but it’s not limited in scope. You’ll need to control every aspect of the team: buying and selling players, sorting out a training plan, picking a starting line-up and deciding how to rotate your squad for those all important cup games.

Lose too many games, however, and you’ll be sacked faster than you can say, "Adiós, Gary Neville".

6. Super Arcade Football

Super Arcade Football

If you played football games in the 90s, then Super Arcade Football (or SAF) will be right up your alley.

Inspired by the Sensible Soccer series, it offers as a different take on football games: from the skies. Played with a top-down camera view, SAF is fast, furious and every bit as fun as local multiplayer was when played on a Commodore Amiga with a pair of cheap plastic gamepads.

Retuned for the modern era, it benefits from slick and smooth cartoon-style animation. The game even slows right down when a player blasts the ball at the net, making for some tense moments as the ball rattles the woodwork.

As for the sound effects, if there’s a more disgusting sound for a crunching leg tackle in a football game, we’ve yet to hear it.

7. Frozen Cortex

Frozen Cortex

Alright, so this one isn’t a traditional soccer game like most entries on this list, but it’s too fun to pass up. Frozen Cortex plays much more like the American definition of football (with a bit of rugby thrown in the mix), involving two teams of robots on a futuristic sci-fi-inspired pitch.

The game is turn-based, which gives it a unique flavor compared to FIFA and other continuous football games. You’re tasked with laying out waypoints for your players to follow, with each turn ending when an action happens – like when pass is intercepted or a point is scored.

There’s a good amount of trying to second guess what the opposing manager will do, making it a bit like chess – only less boring.

8. New Star Soccer

New Star Soccer

You may have come across New Star Soccer as a mobile app, but did you know that you can also play it on your PC? That’s right: when you’re not rising up the league tables on the bus, in the dentist’s waiting lounge or on the loo at work, you can do it at the comfort of your desk.

Like previous versions, New Star Soccer 5 uses a Sensible Soccer-esque top-down view. But instead of live action, the game plays out several scenarios that you have to succeed at to win the game. They can include bending a free kick around a wall, Beckham-style, sliding a perfectly-angled pass to a team-mate or intercepting a sly diagonal through-ball.

Players start out at 16-years-old and progress as you go on, so there’s little chance of completing the game in a hurry. By the end of it you’ll have bought them private jets, taken them to casinos and even taught them to ride horses. You might have even won a few football games too.

9. FootLOL

FootLOL

During one particularly heated Premier League game, a commentator once said that the teams involved were, "fighting like beavers". FootLOL takes this amusing image to its literal conclusion, throwing cows, sheep and other animals, along with mines, guns and aliens into the mix for good measure.

If you prefer your football games to come with plenty of humor in tow, check it out. The game starts off with a round of training before dumping you into the action, either with an AI or on a multiplayer match that pits you against another up-and-coming player. Featuring 60 levels of mayhem, it provides the perfect antidote to FIFA’s badge-kissing seriousness.

10. Lords of Football

Lords of Football

Lords of Football is a tongue-in-cheek management sim that covers every aspect of football. (And we mean everything.) Unusually, this includes guiding players through death-defying training exercises, mentoring them on nightclub dance floors and making them run in giant hamster wheels. As you do.

It’s silly, yet entertaining stuff and serves up plenty of scenarios where your players can get into trouble. By now you’re probably surprised to discover that there’s actually some football management involved too. Taking control of a professional club in England, France, Spain or Germany, winning the Champions League is the goal – an especially difficult challenge when half of your squad is in rehab.

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Twitch announces TwitchPrime, Loyalty Badges, and video uploads

twitch Twitch, the video game live streaming service acquired by Amazon for nearly a billion dollars back in 2014, kicked off its annual TwitchCon conference this afternoon with a keynote. With keynotes generally come a bit of news… and sure enough, here’s whats new: Twitch Prime: As we scooped right before the Keynote, Twitch officially confirmed TwitchPrime. Included for free for… Read More

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Rosetta goes out in a blaze of glory — and science

rosetta-homepage Let’s all take a moment and pour one out metaphorically for Rosetta, the pioneering spacecraft that gave our newly spacefaring race its first comet landing. The orbiter performed its final task early this morning, making a controlled crash into the comet’s surface, destroying itself in the process but gathering valuable data down to the last minute. Read More

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