After an unusual period of silence from the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive development team, Valve have today announced "Operation Bloodhound", the latest community map pack. Like previous packs, Bloodhound introduces six community-created maps and makes them available to play on official Valve-owned servers until the end of the event on September 30th 2015.
The six maps include newcomers Resort, Zoo, Log, and Rails alongside returning fan favourites Agency and Season, both of which previously featured in Operations Phoenix and Vanguard, respectively. As usual, all players can check out these maps for free, but those looking to support both Valve and the map's creators can choose to purchase a "Operation Bloodhound Access Pass" which unlocks a bunch of interesting bonuses. These include the upgrade-able Challenge Coin, a stat-tracking Journal, two new "campaigns" comprised of 62 individual objective-specific missions, and exclusive access to gun and knife finishes from a number of Weapon Cases both new and old.
There's plenty on offer for those not wanting to purchase an Access Pass, however, as a new addition to CS:GO is known as "Profile Ranks", a new XP-based system attached to every user's game profile. XP can be earned from completing any of the 62 missions mentioned a few sentences ago, by participating in both Competitive and Casual games. For the first time a user levels up their profile each week, they will be provided a single weapon drop, with the type and rarity being at least partially influenced by whether or not they own an Access Pass.
We've been talking about it a bunch recently, but it's finally time to take a really good look at Portal Pinball, the new spin-off downloadable content for Pinball FX2 by Zen Studios. The studio have kindly provided us with early access to the game, so let's dive right in and find out how it plays!
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After our most recent delayed episode last Friday, we're (thankfully) back to our usual weekly schedule! This week's Round-Up focuses on the fast-approaching release of Portal Pinball and the currently on-going regional qualifiers for The International 2015 Dota 2 tournament!
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With less than 12 hours before the Qualifiers for The International 2015 Dota 2 tournament begin, we feel like now is a pretty good time to recap the information you'll need to know if you want to keep up with all the action (that is, unless you're reading this two weeks from now -- because then you're screwed).
As with previous years, the Qualifiers have been split up into four separate events, with each representing different international regions. These include the Chinese, American, European, and Southeast Asian Qualifiers, all of which will see 10 different teams of varying skill and pedigree battle it out for the six final slots in the main tournament set to take place from August 3rd through the 8th. The winner team from each Qualifier will progress straight to The International 2015 main event, while runner-up teams from each will need to battle it out for the two remaining "Wild Card" slots prior to the start of TI5.
Check out the spoiler tags below to learn more about each of the Qualifier events and the teams taking part.
Chinese Qualifier - May 25th - 28th (Starts 02:00 GMT)
Vici Gaming Potential
Wings Gaming (Open Qualifier Winner)
Americas Qualifier - May 25th - 28th (Starts 17:00 GMT)
Wheel Whreck While Whistling
North American Rejects
Unknown.xiu (Open Qualifier Winner)
Southeast Asia Qualifier - May 29th - June 1st (Starts 02:00 GMT)
Can't Say Wips
Invasion eSports (Open Qualifier Winner)
European Qualifier - May 29th - June 1st (Starts 10:00 GMT)
4 Anchors + Sea Captain
Alliance (The International 2013 Winners)
Ninjas in Pyjamas
Natus Vincere (The International 2011 Winners)
Yellow Submarine (Open Qualifier Winner)
Now you're up to speed on all of the different Qualifiers and when they will be taking place, you're probably (and hopefully) wondering "But where can I check out the events?". Well -- good question Hypothetical Reader, as a wide number of English and Russian streams will be covering every game of every event live over on TwitchTV, while Chinese viewers can check out the games over on Perfect World's Dota 2 website.
The place to be to check out live coverage of the Qualifiers is undoubtedly going to be The International 2015 Qualifier Hub, which will act as a spiritual successor to the extremely popular EU and NA Hubs hosted last year by The GD Studio and Beyond The Summit, respectively. The Qualifier Hub, which begins tomorrow (Monday 25th 2015) will see 35 different personalities, casters, hosts, players, and analysts from the Dota 2 scene gather together in Bucharest to provide entertaining content across four individual streams, including three for game commentary and one relaxed "Lounge" stream. The long list of guests set to arrive at the Hub over the next week include Purge, Blitz, TobiWan, 2GD, ODPixel, Godz, LD, Ayesee, PyrionFlax, Wagamama, and many more, all of which you can read more about over on the Reddit announcement page.
That's basically everything there is to say about the Qualifiers for now - Will you be tuning in?
After being unlocked via the Interactive Compendium a week ago, pockets of the community have been looking for more information regarding the Dota 2 Short Film Contest which will see talented creators take home $20,000 each. A recent post to the Dota 2 blog covered the contest in great detail, including discussing that submitted shorts will only be considered if they are no more than 1 minute in length, related to Dota 2 in some form, include no advertisements or promotions, and that they are rendered at 720p or higher.
While these rules might seem a tad restrictive, creators are allowed to use any Valve IP alongside Dota 2 using animation and/or live action, as using the Source Filmmaker is not a requirement (even if it would be the go-to tool for most users looking to enter the contest). The submission deadline currently stands at 4am PDT on July 13 2015, giving entrants just under two months to get something ready. As with the annual Saxxy Awards, entrants will be shortlisted by community votes on the Steam Workshop before winners are selected by Valve. Any and all winners will receive $20,000 each, while it's not currently clear what, if anything, runner-ups or special mentions will be given as a reward. Selected winners will also have their short shown off at some point during The International 2015's livestream event in August, showing it off to hundreds of thousands if not millions of viewers.
If you're looking to take part, be sure to read the full Film Contest Guidelines over on the International hub, as it provides some pretty clear and concise instructions regarding how to go about submitting your entry ahead of the aforementioned July deadline. Now, what are you waiting for? Get to work!
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