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Report: Valve is developing a Switch-like handheld gaming PC
by Pulasthi Ariyasinghe
Valve may be trying its hand at another hardware product, this time bringing out a portable PC gaming solution. Recently, a Steam client beta update revealed references to "SteamPal" and menu systems pointing towards a handheld experience. Shortly after, Ars Technica has reported citing multiple sources that this device is indeed a secret project of Valve.
The device will be a "Switch-like portable PC" per the report, allowing gamers to play their library of Steam games on the go.
In the report, Linux is deemed the most likely operating system the "SteamPal" device would utilize, but Windows is still a possibility considering the history between Valve and Microsoft. The device is said to be still in the prototyping stage, and the chip powering it will be from either AMD or Intel, not Nvidia like on the Nintendo Switch.
At least one of the prototypes has a much wider design than the Switch, the report goes on, including a touch-sensitive screen, gamepad buttons and triggers, as well as two joysticks, and a thumb-sized touchpad. A method to 'dock' the device into a larger screen using a USB Type-C port is also discussed, though no specifics are given.
Ars Technica does not have any price-related information, but if current plans hold, the report says the device should get an official reveal before the end of the year. A portable console-like product may have also been what Gabe Newell was alluding to during a recent Q&A session, where he said Valve's console plans will be revealed this year and that they will be something unexpected.
As usual, take this report with a grain of salt until anything official from Valve surfaces.
Source: Ars Technica
Nier: Automata upgrade patch incoming for the Steam version
by Pulasthi Ariyasinghe
The Steam version of Nier: Automata has been in a rough state since its launch in 2017, with the popular action game suffering performance and resolution-related issues that were never resolved. While the Steam version has lacked bug fixing updates, the recently released Microsoft Store version of the NieR: Automata BECOME AS GODS Edition (aimed at Xbox Game Pass users) landed with some much-needed improvements and stability updates.
Now, over three years after its launch, an update is finally coming to the deserted Steam version. The official Twitter account of Nier series announced the news, saying "an upgrade patch for the Steam version of NieR: Automata is currently in development," but did not go into detail on what will be included:
The Microsoft Store Windows 10 port of Nier: Automata had been handled by the studio QLOC, which said it was developed "on special request from PlatinumGames". The upgrade included a borderless windowed play setting (fixing resolution issues), AMD FidelityFX suite, HDR, and 4K upscaled UI textures. It's likely that the Steam version will include the same fixes and enhancements.
It will be interesting to see how the recommended mod by the community for fixing the Steam version of Nier: Automata will function following the update. The game also suffered a review bombing campaign on Steam last month after it was revealed that the Microsoft Store version had arrived touting new fixes.
By Usama Jawad96
Nier: Automata is being review-bombed on Steam because the Game Pass version is better
by Usama Jawad
Nier: Automata is an action RPG that was published by Square Enix back in 2017. The hack-and-slash title received highly positive reviews from media outlets and gamers alike, with some criticism being aimed at technical issues related to resolution and frame rates. While a mod that fixes some of these issues exists, they have not yet been officially patched by the developer.
Earlier this week, the Xbox Game Pass version of the game landed on PC, and since then, its Steam counterpart is being review-bombed because it is technically inferior.
The Xbox Game Pass PC version of Nier: Automata arrived on the Microsoft Store on March 18, and apparently, it does not contain resolution-, frame rates-, and controls-related issues that have been plaguing the Steam variant for the past few years. This has not flown well with the Steam community and it has taken to review-bombing the Steam version of the game.
Indeed, if you head over to the title's Steam page here, you'll notice that there have been over 350 negative reviews since March 18. Prior to the launch of the Microsoft Store version, it used to get a couple of negative reviews per day.
One recent review highlights the frustration faced by Steam gamers, saying that:
Other recent reviews echo the same thoughts. As PC Gamer notes, a dedicated thread has been started on the Steam forums, which encourages current customers to review-bomb the game until "Square Enix give a patch fixing this mess". It remains to be seen whether Square Enix can be pressured into releasing an official patch in this way, but the frustration of gamers is understandable given that the title has essentially "launched" on the same platform, just on a different storefront, with the new version being technically superior.
It is notable that the Game Pass port was handled by a company called QLOC, and it explicitly says that the latest version is enhanced due to a "special request" by the game's original developer, PlatinumGames. It is unclear at this time whether these enhancements will also make their way to the Steam version eventually, but until that happens, Square Enix will likely continue to receive backlash from gamers.
Latest Steam Client Beta update brings more efficient caching to save up to 3x more space
by Sayan Sen
The latest Steam Client Beta update, which released today, is very significant for Linux gamers as it brings with it support for Mesa's single-file shader cache format. The new caching system is said to save up to three times the disk space compared to the existing multi-file caching format since the latter tends to inflate the actual size required for the cache to be on the disk.
Moreover, the single-file approach allows for better and easier removal of cache entries when hitting the maximum cache size limit. This should be helpful for efficient parsing and modifying of the cached data in applications like Steam, which redistribute the pre-compiled shader caches. As a result, the frametime performance hits while gaming could be lower.
The single-file shader caching method has been in the works for months by Mesa graphics driver developer Timothy Arceri. He has noted that while a lot of space can definitely be saved, the cache-loading time difference between the two approaches when tested on his hard drive was insignificant.
It is worth mentioning that single-file caching is still in beta even in Mesa and a stable version will likely be introduced with the next 21.1 Mesa update. So for the feature to work, you'll need to have a compatible Mesa git package.
Alongside the addition of single-file shader caching on Linux, the update also introduces a new controller overlay design for Steam Remote Play.
Forza Horizon 4 is now available on Steam with Xbox cross-play
by Pulasthi Ariyasinghe
Just as promised, Microsoft has brought its hit racing title Forza Horizon 4 to Steam, letting players on another PC storefront have a crack at the game that originally launched on Xbox One and Windows via the Microsoft Store back in 2018.
Three versions of Forza Horizon 4 are available now on Steam, offering various extras depending on which package is picked up. All expansions and DLC can also be found as separate purchases on the Steam store page. Here's a breakdown of what's included in each edition and their pricing:
Also like most other Xbox Game Studios-developed launched on Steam, the Forza Horizon 4 release supports full cross-play with players on the Xbox ecosystem (Microsoft Store PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox Game Pass, and mobile cloud play) which still sports millions of monthly racers according to developer Playground Games. However, other than leaderboards and clubs, no progress will be carried over to the Steam version for those who want to hop over from another platform.
Here are the minimum and recommended requirements:
Minimum Recommended Windows OS: Windows 10 version 15063.0 or higher CPU: Intel i3-4170 @ 3.7Ghz OR Intel i5 750 @ 2.67Ghz GPU: NVidia 650TI OR AMD R7 250x Memory: 4 GB RAM DirectX: Version 12 Storage: 80 GB available space Windows OS: Windows 10 version 15063.0 or higher Processor: Intel i7-3820 @ 3.6Ghz GPU: NVidia GTX 970 OR NVidia GTX 1060 3GB OR AMD R9 290x OR AMD RX 470 Memory: 8 GB RAM DirectX: Version 12 Storage: 100 GB available space Since this is the first Forza game to enter Steam, Playground Games has also devised a handy welcome guide for new players. Meanwhile, a 2019 Porsche 911 GT3 RS is up for grabs for anyone, across all platforms, who logs into the game before March 14 10AM PDT, with it coming as a speedy welcome present.