Stardew Valley is one of the loveliest indie success stories of the past decade, and it seems that tale isn’t over just yet. Players got a Christmas gift in the form of the long-awaited 1.5 update, and this update has brought the game’s biggest player count record of all time. Clearly, everyone’s been waiting for all that new endgame content.
Stardew Valley reached a new concurrent Steam player record of 89.807 on December 27, the first Sunday after the 1.5 update landed. As SteamDB shows, the previous record of 64,427 was set shortly after launch in 2016. Giant player peaks similar to the one we’ve seen this week previously hit alongside the multiplayer beta in April 2018 and the 1.4 update in November 2019, but this is far, far bigger than either of those.
It’s not as massive as the player count record Terraria set earlier this year following its Journey’s End update, but it’s a similar effect, as loads of people who’ve picked up the game over the years suddenly have a reason to jump in all at once.
Epic’s 15 days of free PC games have come to an end with one last giveaway, and it’s a big one – prehistoric creature big. Yes, Jurassic World Evolution is the final Epic freebie of 2020, so if you’re looking to build the dinosaur theme park of your dreams, you’ll want to hop on this final promotion before it slips away.
You can grab Jurassic World Evolution from the usual Epic Games Store promotion page from now until January 7 at 8:00 PST / 11:00 EST / 16:00 GMT, when it’ll be replaced by the FTL-inspired roguelike, Crying Suns. If this is your first Epic freebie during the event, you’ll get a $10 coupon for use during the holiday sale. That coupon will refresh every time you use it, so you’ll have unlimited ten dollar discounts for the remainder of the promotion, on top of the sale discounts.
Jurassic World Evolution launched back in 2018, and was a solid scoop of dinosaur-shaped fun, even if the park management layer was a touch thin. It’s since gotten a load of free updates with improvements big and small, as well as plenty of DLC to expand the content offerings.
GTA Online has a new bonus activity as of today, and GTA Online players have already mapped out what you need to do to complete it. You’ll now find hidden treasure chests as you’re prepping for the Cayo Perico Heist – these are daily collectables that’ll offer you a quick payout in GTA$.
You’ll find the new treasure chests during the scope-out mission ahead of the heist. (Check out our guide to the GTA Cayo Perico Heist missions for details on that objective.) The caches are found scattered around the map, and you’ll know when you’re near one as you hear a little jingling bell sound. You can find two caches per day: one on land, and one underwater.
Each chest will net you $15,000 – not a massive bonus, but a decent little boost whenever you’re running the heist. Luckily for the more impatient among us, dataminers have already started to uncover the chest locations, so you don’t even have to work very hard for it.
We’ve known since before launch that Cyberpunk 2077 would get free DLC early in 2021. We’ve known since after launch that Cyberpunk 2077 is fairly buggy on PC, and an absolute mess on consoles. It looks like the free additional content is still on track for the next few months, though, as developer CD Projekt Red has quietly updated its official site to confirm an early 2021 rollout.
“Free DLC starts hitting Night City early 2021,” CDPR says on the recently-updated official site. “Stay tuned for more info!” It looks like that’s all the detail we’re getting for now. The console versions are due for two major patches in the coming months – one in January, and one in February – though it’s not clear if the PC updates will be on the same schedule. (So far, the early hotfixes on all platforms have been roughly comparable with each other.)
CDPR originally discussed the early 2021 release for the free DLC in a secret message hidden in the game’s launch trailer. “Just like The Witcher 3, expect an assortment of free DLC packs to begin hitting Night City, dropping a bunch of cool stuff that’ll inject even more life into the world of the dark future.”
2020 is almost over. I know, yes, I’m also having a hard time believing it, but here we are, and the traditional marker of the new year is upon us: the Awesome Games Done Quick charity speedrunning marathon. AGDQ 2021 kicks off this Sunday, and while I know that sounds completely absurd at this point in time, there’s a whole schedule to prove it and everything.
AGDQ 2021 starts on January 3 at 9:00 PST / 12:00 EST / 17:00 GMT, though a 30-minute pre-show will begin just before that time. The show proper kicks off with an inbounds run of the parkour classic, Mirror’s Edge, and the day continues with PC games including Just Cause 3, Dragon Age: Origins, and Ori and the Will of the Wisps.
There are plenty of other notable titles throughout the week, including Hades, Left 4 Dead 2, and the original Warcraft 3. The show comes to a close on Saturday, January 9 with a gotta catch ’em all run of Pokémon Blue and an all dungeons run of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
GSC Game World’s new STALKER follow-up has been a long time coming, but it’s finally due to launch in 2021 – which, if you haven’t been watching your calendar closely, starts in two days. We’re finally starting to see what STALKER 2 will actually look like thanks to an “in-engine gameplay teaser”, but the emphasis is definitely more on the ‘teaser’ than the ‘gameplay’.
The footage quickly runs us through a dilapidated hallway, through the eyes of Skif, the game’s protagonist. Outside, through a missing wall, we see disaster befalling a bit of forest. Further down the hall, there’s a campfire, then further still, all the exterior lights turn red as our protagonist looks down at a small tablet.
It’s just a tiny teaser, but as GSC Game World tells IGN, the footage indicates “how the game actually feels: fast-paced change of scenery, ominous landscapes and the ever-present feeling of an inevitable danger accompanied by a barely-distinguishable guitar soundtrack.” It certainly does look nice, even if it still doesn’t give us much of an idea of how it’s going to play.
Steam reviews tend to hover somewhere between ‘useful resource’ and ‘nightmare meme land’, but they do at least give us an idea of which games are enjoying the most positive sentiment on the platform. Now that we’re closing in on the end of 2020, it’s time to look at the top-reviewed Steam games of the year. Maybe it’s no surprise to find the excellent Hades at the top of the list, but there are some hidden gems among those top rankings.
With 99% positive reviews after 105,009 votes, Hades is the best-reviewed Steam game of 2020. The precise ranking is determined by the algorithm of Steam 250, which determines a game’s position based on both number of votes and percentage of positive reviews.
You won’t find any traditional, triple-A releases in the top ten, either. It’s mostly made up of indie games, including Factorio, Phasmophobia, and Risk of Rain 2. Even the big names are a bit non-traditional, like Valve’s own VR title, Half-Life: Alyx, and the classic RPG update, Persona 4 Golden.
Epic’s bonanza of free PC games for the holidays comes to an end soon, but there are still a couple of more freebies to collect before all is said and done. Today’s giveaway is a familiar one – it was previously given away in July – but if you’re a fan of action-RPG games and missed out on it before, now’s your chance to grab Torchlight 2 for free.
Torchlight 2 is currently free on the usual Epic Games Store promotion page, and will be until tomorrow, December 31, at 8:00 PST / 11:00 EST / 16:00 GMT, when it’ll be replaced by the final free game of the 15 day event. If you’ve yet to claim an Epic freebie during all this, doing so will get you a $10 coupon for use in the holiday sale. That coupon will refresh every time you use it, too.
Torchlight 2 came out the same year as Diablo 3 – which is, incidentally, preparing for the next Darkening of Tristram – and offered a much more traditional ARPG experience in the vein of Diablo 2. It’s still one of the best games of its type, and if you’re eagerly awaiting the Diablo 4 release date, it’ll be a great way to fill that time.
The annual Darkening of Tristram event is set to kick off in Diablo III again, giving players the chance to revisit the town of Tristram more or less how it was in the original Diablo, which came out way back in 1996. While Blizzard hasn’t explicitly said whether the event will take on any new twists or turns this year, there is new loot to collect by completing achievements and just plain old poking around.
The Darkening of Tristram was first held at the end of 2016, as a celebration of Diablo’s 20th anniversary. It added a grainy, pixelated filter to recreate the visuals of the original RPG game, and sent players down through a memory lane of landmark locations from OG Diablo. You’ll fight the original version of The Butcher, for instance, who comes out growling “FRESH MEAT,” and find a few special weapons and other pieces of gear.
This year, you’ll begin your journey back to retro Tristram by investigating a group of cultists who are causing a bit of bother in Sanctuary. You’ll have to hunt them down to find clues that point you to a mysterious portal, which in turn will send you back to Ye Olden Dayes of Tristram.
If you’ve been wandering around Night City in Cyberpunk 2077, you’ll probably have noticed that the open-world game’s pedestrians seem a bit oblivious to what’s going on around them. They’re surprised when you bump into them, and often don’t seem to be aware of things happening just ahead. Well, thanks to a handy new mod, you can sharpen their situational awareness and have them behave more like real people who are trying not to get hit by cars.
The Alternate Crowd Behavior mod by TemplarGFX isn’t a full-on mod, it’s instead a tweaked .ini file that changes some of the distance thresholds for Cyberpunk 2077 NPCs. Specifically, the mod increases the distances that pedestrians will notice obstacles in their path, and that includes V – so you should see people turning to avoid plowing into you sooner with this tweak installed.
The mod makes a few more changes, too – NPCs will need less ‘personal space’ while walking, meaning they’ll cluster up more naturally, and they’ll be less likely to vanish into thin air while you aren’t looking at them (they’ll still disappear if you do something that scares them, however). The tweak also increases the number of NPCs allowed in a scene at one time – which is an interesting reversal of the mods that turn Night City into a ghost town by removing all the cars and pedestrians, which use the same kind of .ini file tweaks as this alternate behaviour hack does.