Apple’s new battery cases give iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max longer battery lives

Apple has launched a lineup of new battery-packed phone cases for the iPhone XR, iPhone XS, and iPhone XS Max, as spotted by 9to5Mac. For anyone who has  suffering from short battery life on the newest iPhones, these cases are a convenient way to extend device uptime without needing to carry around a battery and cable.

The new Apple Smart Battery Cases cost $129 (around £100,  AU$179) across all three phone models. You can pick one up in either black or white.

Apple claims each case is capable of offering the following extensions on each phone's battery life:

  • iPhone XS – 33 hours talk time, 21 hours internet use, 25 hours video playback
  • iPhone XS Max – 37 hours talk time, 20 hours internet use, 25 hours video playback
  • iPhone XR – 39 hours talk time, 22 hours internet use, 27 hours video playback.

Apart from the convenient addition of power to the iPhones, they also protect the phone by covering up the back glass completely, with a simple cutout for the cameras. The silicone material fits snugly and is easy to slip on the phone, with a microfiber lining on the inside and a soft-touch exterior.

Since the cases are official Apple products, they should seamlessly integrate with your iPhone. Apple notes the phones will display an intelligent battery status while the cases are in use, so you know how much life is left. Each case also supports Qi wireless charging, fast charging with USB-PD chargers, and connectivity with accessories that use the Lightning Connector.

Pre-orders for the Smart Battery Cases are open now, with delivery starting Friday, January 18 on the two iPhone XS models and later in the month for the iPhone XR model.

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iPhone 11 renders show off horizontal triple-camera setup

There's a new iPhone 11 leak of a render that gives us an idea how Apple's 2019 smartphone may appear. The good news: it looks a lot better than before.

Last week, notable leaker @OnLeaks revealed a render of a possible prototype for the upcoming iPhone 11 displaying a triple-camera setup set in a square mounting. Today, he released another rendering created with partner CompareRaja that shows off a trio of lenses in a horizontal strip – which could be an alternate prototype for Apple’s next smartphone. 

Shortly after the first leak, a report from the Wall Street Journal claimed that a three-camera iPhone was coming – but it might only be the highest-end (like the iPhone XS Max-equivalent) of three models Apple will announce. The other pair of phones will only have two cameras, which means these leaks likely only refer to the biggest version coming this year.

As opposed to the camera block in the upper-left corner in the first render, this new leak shows off a (much more aesthetically appealing) single line of lenses in a central blister toward the top. The front notch is also slightly (but not noticeably) smaller than that on the iPhone XS.

Other triple-camera phones like the LG V40 have set their rear-facing triple cameras up in a similar horizontal arrangement – but Apple’s big development may be to swap out the rear-facing camera flash for a light ring around the central camera. A microphone also sits below that middle lens.

Multiple leaks or multiple prototypes?

And yet, CompareRaja asserts in its post that both the square block and horizontal line arrangements are legitimate prototypes. All three eventual models for the iPhones slated to come out in 2019 are still in the EVT (Engineering Validation Test) phase, so either of these could be eventual designs for any of them. 

Perhaps each design will be produced as different-tier versions, like this generation’s equivalent of the iPhone XR and iPhone XS Max.

In any case, these are radically different looks for a device from a company known for prizing aesthetics. If we were to pick one of the two, it wouldn’t be a hard choice. 

Other rumors and reports have spun out possible details of Apple’s next devices, like the more affordable iPhone XR-equivalent having only an LED screen while the pricier options get OLED displays. Check out all we know on our iPhone 11 page.

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11 best open world games on PC today

The best gaming PCs keep getting more and more powerful every day, and the best PC games are creating entire worlds, so there’s never been a better time to play the best open world games on PC. Even game franchises that used to be entirely linear are starting to embrace the open world format. You just have to look at games like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt or Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and you’ll see what we’re talking about.

There are a ton of traditionally open world franchises that are still out there, of course. Games like Just Cause 4 and Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey are the pedigree of open world game design. There are even a ton of indie games that adapt to this style. 

There are so many amazing open world games out there right now, but they all demand so much of your time, so you should only opt for the very best. Luckily, we spend an inordinate amount of time playing these games, so we went ahead and listed the best open world games you can play in 2019. 

  • Gabe Carey has also contributed to this article

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The first two Witcher games were compelling, complex and difficult, but only enjoyed minor success. However, all the word of mouth about the first two games finally paid off when the Witcher 3 came out and absolutely blew up. It was a massive step up in quality, too, and probably one of the best RPGs of all time. You step in the role of Geralt, a mutated monster hunter, or witcher, and search the world for your adopted daughter in a medieval world ravaged by war.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will be turning 4 years old in 2019, but it stands the test of time. It’s still one of the best open world games you can play in 2019 because the well-realized world blows the likes of Skyrim out of the water. Geralt can walk, ride or sail across the war-ravaged lands of Novigrad and Velen, or sail across monster-riddled and frosty islands of Skellige in the North. And, in Blood and Wine, the second expansion, you get to take on a clan of Vampires in the colorful land of Toussaint.

You can forage for herbs, explore under the seas or the back alleys of cities and encounter all kinds of folk and creatures.

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.

Last year’s Assassin’s Creed: Origins already felt like a revelation of what an Assassin’s Creed game could be – replacing many of the gameplay mechanics with what felt more engaging, organic and even fun. However, Ubisoft wasn’t done – it has refined everything that made Assassin’s Creed: Origins so great and molded it into the best game in the series so far – Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey.

Placing you in the middle of ancient Greece as either Kassandra or Alexios, you take on the role of a mercenary trying to find their family. Everything else you do is completely up to you – you choose your alliances, you choose your missions, the world is your oyster.

The fantastic RPG mechanics from Origins make a return in Assassin’s Creed odyssey – with some much-needed improvements. In so many ways, this game perfects the legendary series’ formula – making for one of the best open world games of all time.

Yeah, we hear you ‘Forza is a racing series, it doesn’t belong here’ but you’re only half right. Yeah, it’s a racing series, but the Forza Horizon series has always been among the best open world games. And, Forza Horizon 4 takes the winning formula of this off-shoot of the Forza Motorsport franchise and perfects it. 

Not only are all of the systems that were in place in 2016’s Forza Horizon 3 present here, but they’re refined to create one of the smoothest open world racing games we’ve ever had the pleasure to play. 

The map is a little bit smaller than the previous offering, but Forza Horizon 4’s world changes seasons every week, changing how each track plays every time you play it (or, at least until you’ve played it on 4 separate weeks). Simply put, Forza Horizon 4 is one of the most fun racing games on the market, and with all the added open world content – like collectable cars and randomly placed ramps – it’s one of the best open world games on the market.

Grand Theft Auto V has been out for quite a while now, but because we still don’t have Red Dead Redemption 2 on PC, it’s still the best open world game on PC from Rockstar. It’s a huge pastiche of L.A. that you can fly, run or drive across. It’s an amazing achievement and the fact that it works in multiplayer is astounding.

What makes it such a success is the freedom it gives you. When you’re not running around and robbing banks during the campaign, GTA V basically lets you do whatever you want – even if it breaks the game. You can go anywhere, do anything and commit however many atrocities as your wicked heart pleases.

There are also a ton of side activities available. So, in your downtime from creating all kinds of mayhem, you can take up some tennis, yoga, or even kick your feet up and watch some TV. There’s a reason this game is so beloved.

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 the twin deserts of Afghanistan and Angola, Big Boss, or Venom Snake, has a range of objectives to achieve. He traverses the areas on foot, horseback, or in a variety of ground vehicles. You can take either lethal or non-lethal weapons, and a variety of 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 Mother Base by building new facilities and airlifting enemy soldiers, prisoners, resources, vehicles, animals and anything else you want to from the battlefield to beef up your armory. 

Bethesda has made a name for itself over the last couple of decades for making some of the best open world games, and Fallout 4 is a fantastic example of why. You’ll be able to traverse a post-apocalyptic Boston, where you’ll explore the ruins of the city in all it’s retro-futuristic glory. 

While the plot ultimately revolves around rescuing your child from their kidnappers, you’ll ultimately forget about it altogether as you do side missions and plunder a ton of loot from super mutants and bandits. 

And, even once you get everything done (if you ever get everything done), Bethesda’s games have a tendency to be immensely replayable thanks to the way different character builds can interact with the world around you.

When Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor released nearly five years ago, it was praised for its portrayal of Tolkien’s Mordor, alongside with its unique nemesis system. The sequel, Middle Earth: Shadow of War takes this concept and turns it up to 11, setting you loose in the last human stronghold in Mordor – and is thus one of the best open world games you can play in 2019.

And, especially after the removal of the microtransactions that plagued the game at launch, the Nemesis system still feels fresh, and the combat is just as good as ever, with a wealth of new skills that you can unlock during its lengthy campaign.

Later on in the game, it will start introducing some RTS elements as you command an army of dominated orcs to retake and hold different strongholds. The Middle Earth series has shown some real innovation, and we can’t wait to see what Monolith Studios will be capable of in the future.

Last year, Ubisoft took one of the most venerated squad-based shooter series in its arsenal, Ghost Recon, and turned it into an open-world delight. You’re set loose in Bolivia, and you’re tasked with taking down a drug cartel that has taken power over the region. You’re then free to pursue this goal however you feel like. 

Ghost Recon Wildlands may be one of the best open world games when you’re playing by yourself, but where it really shines is when you’re playing with friends. This is because Ghost Recon, at its very core, has always been a tactical shooter that’s built around working with a team of AI companions. So, naturally, when you team up with your friends, this gameplay is elevated to another level entirely. 

Just keep in mind that this game is gorgeous, and demands a pretty beefy setup to run properly, so make sure you keep an eye on those system requirements. 

Far Cry 5 might just be a benchmark of what the best open world games on PC will look like in 2019. Far Cry 5 is unique in the fact that it allows you to truly go anywhere on the map – and do anything. And, it doesn’t water this freedom down by limiting the amount of space you have open to you either, it’s perhaps one of the biggest game maps we’ve ever experienced. 

Far Cry 5 takes place in the middle of the Montana wilderness, and while it does feature a plot that involves cultists or something, that all falls into the background as you wander around and get lost in the massive world. We haven’t finished Far Cry 5, but we don’t think ‘finished’ exists here. 

And, we’re obviously not the only ones that love Far Cry 5. At the Game Awards 2018, Ubisoft announced Far Cry: New Dawn, a direct follow-up – a first for the classic shooter series.

Now that a ton of Yakuza games are coming to PC, PC gamers can finally experience the insanity that is so unique to the Yakuza series. 

Yakuza 0’s map isn’t as capacious as some of the other games on this list, but it is dense with activities. Everywhere you turn either has a mini game, a side quest, or some other kind of content that you can interact with. If you’ve never played a Yakuza game, do yourself a favor and try Yakuza 0 on for size – it’s unlike anything else you’ve ever played, we promise. 

Love it or hate it, the Just Cause franchise has always been about causing random violence and destruction with barely any plot to justify it. And, well, the same is true with Just Cause 4 – we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Just Cause 4 puts you in the middle of Solis, a gigantic South American island to overthrow an oppressive local government, by destroying everything in your path. You’ll take to the sky, sea and more with a wide variety of vehicles and weapons to create mayhem however you want. 

It’s not a particularly deep game, but if you’re looking for some mindless entertainment, it’s not hard to see why Just Cause 4 is one of the best open world games on PC in 2019.

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The best Steam games 2019

If you're keen to get into PC gaming, then Steam is the best place for you to hunt for new games. That's because there are more than 23,000 available through the platform – and counting. 

One of Steam’s biggest advantages is that it lets you buy a game, download it and install it as many times as you want. You’ll also have access to automatic updates, as well, so you don’t need to go through the work of redownloading and checking to see if everything’s up to date. 

Like most gaming, movie and TV catalogues nowadays, the only problem is there's too much choice. Sure that's not a bad problem to have, but it does mean that you can get lost in Steam's giant labyrinth of games, become tempted by its frequent sales and end up with a stack of titles you've never booted-up.

Luckily, we here at TechRadar have your back. We’ve gathered up our favorite Steam games, including recent releases and golden oldies. We update this list regularly, so be sure to come back soon for more suggestions.

Kenshi

Some of the best steam games are those that couldn’t really exist anywhere else. Complicated RPGs and strategy games that need the unique features of a gaming PC. And, Kenshi is a perfect example. 

Taking inspiration from the old Mount & Blade games, Kenshi is a sandbox, squad-based RPG where you make your own story. You’re dropped in the middle of a massive world – think Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall huge – and you’re not limited by any of the gameplay systems. You can simply build a home for yourself, or set off on an epic adventure. 

You’re going to get hours upon hours upon hours of gameplay out of Kenshi, because the world is the game, not just a setting. 

What Remains of Edith Finch

This indie smash arrived in 2017, but as it recently won a 'best game' BAFTA award, it’s time to give it another plug. What Remains of Edith Finch is a narrative-led adventure in which you walk, first-person style, around as Edith Finch, exploring the house in which you grew up.

You look over the preserved relics of dead family members and are sucked into vignettes that tell the stories of how various Finches died. This sounds grim, we get it. However, its charming style and magical realism tilt make What Remains of Edith Finch involving and touching rather than depressing. 

It plays out a little like an interactive movie. You can’t fail as such, aside from getting lost, and the entire experience lasts 2-3 hours rather than 20. 

Don’t buy this if you’re going to feel short-changed by its length, but if you’ve played and enjoyed Firewatch, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture or Gone Home, you’ll love What Remains of Edith Finch.

Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdon

The first Ni No Kuni game was a collaboration with Japanese animation masters Studio Ghibli. Ni No Kuni II is not, but retains the same charming art style. 

It also changes the fighting mechanics. Instead of training up avatars to fight for you, Ni No Kuni II has a fun real-time battle system. You command three fighters with fast, slow and magic attacks, and the ability to dodge. There’s a more action-packed feel this time. 

It’s not all about action, though. While Ni No Kuni II is an action-adventure RPG, you also build up a kingdom, which plays a role in earning bonuses for your characters. This part is surprisingly moreish.

The story is more conventional than that of the first game, which might be down to Studio Ghibli’s limited involvement. However, there’s plenty of fantasy fuel and it’s more involving than your average game.  

Into the Breach

Not every top steam game is an epic open world title that would sell for $60 on PS4 and Xbox One. Into the Breach is an elegant sci-fi strategy blast you can play on your lunch break at work. 

It is made by the team behind Faster than Light, still one of our favourite PC games of the last decade. And for the handheld gaming veterans out there, there are shades of Advance Wars to it too.

Earth has been invaded, and almost taken over, by aliens. In Into the Breach you control groups of mechs sent from the future to reverse this fate. 

That may sound like a mind-bending premise, but it actually proves the plot doesn’t matter too much here. We know Earth will come out tops, it’s just a case of how.

Each encounter takes in an 8×8 block grid, your battlefield. Play unfolds in turns, and your mechs have to stop aliens from destroying too many of the field’s buildings and outposts. It has the tactical purity of chess. As you play you can upgrade your mechs to improve your chances. 

Like FTL, Into the Breach is moreish, smart and deceptively deep. 

Surviving Mars

Some screenshots make Surviving Mars look like The Sims: Red Planet edition. However it’s closer to Sim City meets The Martian.

You build an outpost on a patch of Mars, and have to keep it running to avoid your colonists dying in on the planet’s harsh surface. It’s harder than it sounds. 

Mis-managing resources in Sim City or Civilization may make your inhabitants angry, or lower your income. But in Surviving Mars it can cause a chain reaction that sees life support systems fail. 

You’ll hear “a colonist has died”, and be left scrambling to fix the problem before other inhabitants start dying like bubbles popping as they touch the ground. 

There’s work to be done on Surviving Mars’s interface but its survivalist approach to “city” building is compelling.  

Final Fantasy XV

After the massively-multiplayer Final Fantasy XIV, Square Enix has finally turned back to the series’s single player roots with Final Fantasy XV. It came to PS4 in late 2016 but was only ported to PC in March 2018. 

However, you do get all the DLC released on consoles and, if your PC is beefy enough, better frame rates. 

Final Fantasy XV is a little different to the FF games of old. You travel around an open world packed with Americana-style buildings, all your companions are human and the combat plays out in real time, not as turns. However, you can tell this is a Final Fantasy game just by watching a 15-second clip of it in action. 

New Indie Notable: Descenders

The PC tends to get associated with the kind of games you sit down at for hours. Until your eyes are red and part of you begins to regret your life choices. But it doesn’t have to be that way. 

You can play Descenders in quick blasts. If you can drag yourself away from its moreish-ness, anyway. You’re a downhill free rider who has to get down procedurally generated courses with as much style as possible, prefably using a gamepad. It might remind you of the Tony Hawk games, when they were good, or snowboard console classic SSX. 

The use of generated “tracks” means you can’t master courses, but it’s the mastery of the bike’s physics you’re aiming for anyway. A career mode pits you against a series of courses in the same style of environment, each with objectives. Finish the “boss course” and you unlock a new terrain. But you have limited lives for the whole run. A mix of mobile game style and unforgiving old-school progression mechanics gives Descenders a fresh feel. 

Not every game has to be about destroying aliens or shooting off the faces of unnamed soldiers. American Truck Simulator is like mindfulness meditation compared to those titles. 

You drive a big 18 wheeler-style truck over the long highways of the US, delivering cargo from A to B. Breaking the traffic codes doesn’t end in a GTA-style police chase, just a fine. This is the sort of game you can put on like a cosy slipper after a long day at work. 

There’s a business side to it too, though. At the start you’re a lowly contractor, but earn enough money and you can build your own shipping empire. 

Pillars of Eternity

PC gamers who have been playing since the 90s will remember all the fuss made about the Baldur’s Gate titles. Some of their biggest fans will get teary telling you about the memories of their favourite side characters. 

Isometric role-playing games like Baldur’s Gate don’t cut it in the AAA world anymore, but Pillars of Eternity brings back their essence for the Steam crowd. This is a difficult, slightly throwback-flavoured RPG where you control a band of classic fantasy-style adventurers. It’s made by Obsidian, the team behind Fallout: New Vegas. Pillars of Eternity II is on the horizon too. 

If you like your RPGs fantasy-themed, also consider Torment: Tides of Numenera.

Legend of Grimrock II

Another throwback to a style of game that has disappeared, Legend of Grimrock 2 is a dungeon crawler where you move in blocks, not freely. Why would you want that? It changes your relationship with the environment, making it feel more like an intricate puzzle than just an open world a texture artist has been let loose on. 

There are an awful lot of actual puzzle involved here too, in-between the bouts of classic "dungeons and dragons" style combat encounters. 

Retro as the play style is, Legend of Grimrock 2 looks fantastic, with plenty of outdoors areas to stop you from getting bogged down in dimly-lit dungeons. 

The battle royale that put the subgenre back on the shrinking map

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds

When it comes to in-vogue games, few titles continue to capture the zeitgeist (and fill it full of bullet holes) like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. It may have one of the worst names ever, but that hasn’t stopped PUBG from putting the ‘battle royale’ subgenre on the map and making itself into a phenomenon. Sure, there’s a lot of hype still surrounding it, but the game behind all the coverage and Twitch fascination is still one of the most addictive on Steam.

That simple premise – parachute into a map with no gear, scavenge for weapons and armour, then fight for survival with a single life in a map that continually shrinks – is still gripping, even if it has a few too many bugs. Whether you’re teaming up with friends or braving its maps alone, PUBG remains one of the most fun shooters on the market right now.

A punishing but rewarding action RPG

Kingdom Come: Deliverance

One of the most recent releases on this list, Kingdom Come: Deliverance offers an experience that’s both warmly familiar and deeply alien. Set in a fictional Medieval Europe, it’s a first-person RPG where dialogue choices shape your world as much as your ability to problem solve and your skills in melee combat. It’s a game of incredible freedom, enabling you to carve a path through its Dark Ages setting however you see fit.

You might get off your face on schnapps and get in a fight with the town drunk; you might start filling your pockets with the gold of unsuspecting townsfolk, Thief-style or stain your blade with blood in the battlefield. Part Elder Scrolls, part Dark Souls, part something else entirely, it’s an action-RPG that punishes as much as it empowers. It also runs best on PC (with the right specs, naturally) so get it on the download pronto.

A Tom Clancy success story that’s fun as hell to play

Rainbow Six: Siege

Who knew, way back in 2015, that a Tom Clancy game would become one of the industry’s biggest success stories. But here we are, in 2018, with a game that boasts over 25 million registered players and its third year of consecutive content updates and premium bells and whistles. It’s one of those success stories that keeps on succeeding, and for one very important reason: it’s fun as hell to play.

Dialling back the Rainbow Six formula to its roots – two teams fight in the same map, one protecting an objective while the other attack and fights their way in – no two matches in Siege are ever the same. Barricading doors, breaching through walls, blasting through ceilings and building an operator that’s attuned to your playstyle. It might not be groundbreaking, but add in the limited time Outbreak mode (think Siege plus zombies) and you’ve got one of Steam’s most complete packages.

Celeste is one of the most memorable games we’ve played in years

Celeste

Coming from the indie team at gave us TowerFall and TowerFall Ascension comes one of the most rewarding pixel platformers in years. As you climb the titular mountain, flame-haired heroine Madeline will battle her innermost demons as much as the harsh and dangerous conditions around her. In its simplest form, Celeste is a tight, 2D, twitch-style platformer, but in reality it’s one of the memorable games we’ve played in many years.

As poignant in narrative as it is unforgiving in mechanics, Celeste comes with over 700 ‘scenes’ to traverse, countless secrets to uncover and a story that will grip you as much as the muscle-memory building formula of its platforming. For a game built around the simple mechanics of jump, air-dash and climb, there’s an incredible amount of depth to be found as you claw your way to the summit in more ways that one.

Get it here: Celeste

Complex combat and tactical breadth make Divinity Original Sin 2 a worthwhile play

Divinity: Original Sin 2

When Divinity: Original Sin 2 arrived in 2017, it had quite the task ahead of it: living up to the legacy of its predecessor, which just so happened to be one of the most accomplished RPGs of all time. Then what does developer Larian Studios do? It only goes and follows it up with one of the most essential additions to the genre in years. Am enchanting fantasy world, a deep and complicated combat model and one of the most gripping stories you’ll experience outside of a 1,000 page tome.

The big selling point, and the main ingredient of Divinity: Original Sin 2’s secret sauce, is the complexity of its combat. You control a party of characters alongside your own custom avatar, and you can utilise each one individually in battle. With countless skills and attributes to mix and match, the breadth of tactics available makes this an imposing yet deeply rewarding way to test your RPG abilities.

Stellaris is a new evolution of the strategy genre

Stellaris

The grand and operatic strategy genre has produced some true classics on PC, experiences consoles have consistently struggled and failed to emulate. From Crusader Kings to Europa Universalis, these are games with tactics and guile expected in bucket loads from the off. 

Well, it just so happens the developer of those very games has taken that deeply immersive concept and transported it to the dark ocean of space. Enter Stellaris, an evolution of the genre that takes the space exploration of EVE Online and Mass Effect and hits the hyperdrive button.

You’ll travel through myriad procedural galaxies, filled with thousands of planets and countless alien species, each one possessing unique traits, economies and social strata. Whether it’s the power (and consistent balancing act) of interstellar diplomacy or the deep customisation of starship designs, there’s a wealth of sci-fi lore and mechanics to delve into with Stellaris.

Dota 2 has a simple but intoxicating set up

Dota 2

By far one of the oldest games on the list – well, that is if you consider 2013 old – Valve’s MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) is still one of the most addictive titles on Steam. It’s also the only game on this list that’s free-to-play, so you don’t even need to have a healthy bank balance to enjoy its moreish battles. Valve has been consistently updating and overhauling the game since launch, making it one of the most evolved MOBAs on the market.

If you’ve never played it before, it’s a simple yet intoxicating setup: two teams of five players face off in a large map. Each one is defending a base with an ‘Ancient; inside that must be protected at all costs. Find your opponent’s base and raze it to the ground to win. What plays are are brilliant hero v hero showdowns, brutal ambushes, tactical plays and nonstop action. 

Get it here: Dota 2

Cuphead is as challenging as it is stunning

Cuphead

Run and gun platformers have carved a niche out for themselves on mobile, but they’re a rarity on PC. Thankfully, this one was built to be a Microsoft exclusive with Xbox One in mind and the result is one of the most unique gaming experiences you’ll ever have. Designed to capture the look and atmosphere of 1930s cartoons, Cuphead places you in the shoes of the titular hero and tasks you with battling across three distinct words and bosses that will capture your imagination with their ingenuity that crush your resolve with their difficulty.

Recommending a notoriously tough game might sound counter-intuitive, but the steep difficulty curve is part of its charm. With a unique soundtrack and those standout visuals at your side you’ll earn every stage clearance like piece of territory in a war, each victory feeling that bit more rewarding. Brutal and beautiful in equal measure, Cuphead is a must have Steam title.

Subnautica may be new but it’s making waves

Subnautica

Another relatively fresh release on this list, Subnautica is already making waves (pardon the pun) despite having only dropped in January of this year. A survival game set in the depths of an ocean on an alien world, it’s unique twist on the classic template makes for a game that’s both captivating to watch and challenging in its many interconnected mechanics. You’ll explore shallow reefs, dangerous trenches on the seabed and everything in between, all the while managing your precious oxygen supply.

Oh, and there’s an entire ecosystem of alien marine life to contend with. Plenty of these fishy and mammalian critters want to add you to their menu, so you’ll need to outsmart and avoid them while searching for resources to build new equipment and tools. Like all the best survival games, the very best materials lie in the most dangerous of places. Dare you swim deep enough to find them?

Wolfenstein II is visceral and dazzling

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

With so many multiplayer shooters getting a focus in this feature, it seemed high time to pay homage to one of the best single-player FPS games ever. MachineGames gave Wolfenstein a bloody, alt-history revival in the form of 2014’s The New Order, so it had its work cut out for it when it came to bettering all that visceral Nazi slaying. Then along comes 2017’s The New Colossus, dialling up the violence and the depth of storytelling it would make most Call Of Duty titles look at the floor with embarrassment.

What makes The New Colossus so essential is how it doesn’t deviate from its formula, but excels on it in almost every way. Bigger and more challenging bosses; intense set-pieces; myriad weapons that spit glorious death; a story that asks far more questions and presents some bold answers. It’s also rock hard, and consistently unforgiving, so lock and load at your peril…


The best survival horror game for your Steam library, Resident Evil 7 is refreshingly terriflying

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard 

It’s not often a franchise as iconic as Resident Evil gets a new lease of life – especially when you consider the zomb-loving licence had descended into a lifeless farce over the past decade – but here we are with a genuinely frightening horror game with the words ‘Resident Evil’ in the title. What a world, eh?

While us PC folk aren’t allowed to scare ourselves half to death in VR yet (RE7 is a PSVR at the moment), that doesn’t mean it’s any less terrifying. Dropping the third-person perspective that’s felt tired and rote for many a year, RE7 embraces the first-person view that’s helped Outlast and the like re-energize the horror genre, and boy does it make for one chilling 8-10 hour scare fest.

With Capcom’s big budget, a creepy swamp setting (honestly, just go with it) and a storyline that feeds back into the series’ winding mythology, you’d be crazy not to add this to your Steam library.


The sixth entry in the Civilization series combines all the best elements of its predecessors – and there are a lot

Sid Meier’s Civilization VI

How could we put together a list of the games to play on Steam and not include the latest offering from the master of turn-based strategy and tactical simulation? The Civilization series has been through many a form over the years, but entry number six takes all the best bits from those previous incarnations, smoothes off the edges and serves up one of the most rewarding turn-based video games ever made.

There’s nothing quite like building a nation from its fledgling roots and nurturing it into a cultural powerhouse, and Civilization VI gives you more freedom and control than ever. Removing the pre-set paths that hampered the still stellar Civ V, Civ VI transforms into a landscape that rewards plucky explorers and confident conquerors with the opportunity to expand their budding society with new technologies and alliances. Sid Meier’s name alone is part of PC gaming’s lofty heritage, so owning this little doozy is a no-brainer.


A modern classic, Undertale is full of choices, and engaging in or avoiding combat can have a real impact later in the game

Undertale

Undertale is one of those games that stays with you. A work of digital art whose charm and creativity never fail to lose their edge, regardless of how many times you play it through. And considering just how many innocuous JRPGs are out there right now, that’s a pretty impressive feat in unto itself.

So why is Undertale so brilliant? It takes all of the best elements from the ever-evolving RPG genre and creates a world built on choice, consequence and compassion. As a child dropped into an underground world filled with terrors, you’ll have to face many a monster to make it home. How you face them, and what choices you make, define your journey. 

And its Telltale-esque consequence system doesn’t just extend to dialogue choices – you can choose to spare monsters after a fight, forging potential vital alliances for later in the game. You can even end fights by telling your opponent jokes. It’s a game of such warm and affable quality you’d almost believe it was a JRPG from the earliest heydey of the genre.

Get it here: Undertale


Its superb blend of brilliant writing, challenging gameplay, and well designed missions makes The Witcher 3 our pick for the best action-RPG on Steam

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

For years, one game sat atop the dark and misty mountain of action-RPGs. Skyrim was its name, and no other franchise, be it Dragon Age or Dark Souls, could even come to close to unseating its cast-iron grip upon the genre. Then along came Geralt of Rivia, riding atop The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt with a confident swagger, ready to give The Elder Scrolls a good thrashing.

If you’re looking for a game that strikes a perfect balance between length of play (you could easily spend 100+ hours across its incredibly diverse map – one that’s a good 20% bigger than poor old Skyrim) and sheer quality, The Witcher 3 is a must. There are just so many virtues The Witcher 3 has to its name – brilliant writing, unforgettable quests, genuinely challenging beasts and a pair of DLC expansions (Hearts of Stone, and Blood and Wine) make this one of the best games of this and any other generation.


If you’ve played Limbo, you’ll know what expect from haunting platformer Inside

Inside

Inside will break you heart. Let that be your warning going in.

Don’t see such words as a deterrent, but rather as a mystery to be uncovered scene by heart-wrenching scene. Created by the same studio that made the wonderful 2.5D platformer Limbo – you know, the one about a little boy stuck in a nightmare world where a giant spider chases him endlessly – it should come as a huge shock to learn that Inside will leave you just as tearful as its predecessor.

Thing is, Inside is a brilliant piece of art. Without a scrap of dialogue, you’ll explore a world in a similar platforming vein to Limbo, overcoming various ingenious environmental puzzles and evading both the flashlights of an oppressive government and the shadow of a conspiracy that’s clearly not going to end well.

But it’s worth every second. There’s a reason it won many a GOTY award in 2016, so you’d be a fool not to add this to Steam library. Just remember to pack a few tissues.


Rocket League’s central premise is football with rocket-powered cars – and it’s every bit as fun as it sounds. One of the best muliplayer experiences available on Steam

Rocket League

Once upon a time there was a little game on PlayStation 3 called Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars. It was all about using remote control-esque cars to knock a giant football around a makeshift pitch. Thing is, no one played it and the game slowly faded into obscurity.

Then Rocket League came along, which was basically the same thing, albeit with tweaked physics and a greater focus on multiplayer. One trip into PlayStation 4’s PS Plus lineup later and the game went supernova.

And with good reason, too. It’s simple concept just works – it’s a place where skill shines through as you boost your little RC car and hit the motorised equivalent of a bicycle kick. It’s glorious, offering one of the best ways to play online (whether with friends or a bunch of randoms). Come on, who doesn’t want to spend their evening chasing a football with a car? FIFA? Pfft.


Portal 2’s fiendish physics puzzles are complemented by a superb story, with voice actors including Stephen Merchant and JK Simmons

Portal 2

Portal, back in its day, was a game-changer. Sure, it sounds like we’re filling out boots with hyperbole, but back in 2007 all those portals, companion cubes and sociopathic AIs were blowing our minds on loop. Then Portal 2 came along and made the original look like a crossword puzzle in The Sun.

Okay, the first Portal is still amazing, but Portal 2 took a genuinely revolutionary concept and redefined it. Everything in this game works perfectly – the ebb and flow of its story, the growing complexity of the puzzles and the new ways you’re forced to make your mind think with portals. It’s even got Stephen Merchant and JK Simmons in it!

Portal 2 manages to take a brilliant recipe and somehow make it even more delicious, sprinkling in all new depths of platforming and puzzle flavour. If you haven’t played it, buy it now. If you have, play it again.

Get it here: Portal 2


Experience Stardew Valley’s changing seasons and various enchanting festivals while making friends with the oddball locals

Stardew Valley

Charming indie farming RPG Stardew Valley sees you moving from the bustling city to your grandfather's old, run-down farm near sleepy Pelican Town. It's up to you to uncover the secrets of the mysterious town while growing a thriving farming empire.

Stardew Valley's pixelated graphics, unique soundtrack and kooky characters make for a relaxed and fun game which combines elements such as farming simulation, adventure, dating simulation and crafting. 

Get ready to become emotionally attached because once you step foot in Pelican Town, it's hard to ever leave.

Get it here: Stardew Valley

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Windows 10 S Mode release date, news and features

Windows 10 S Mode was first unveiled as a standalone operating system back in May 2017. However, after some mixed reception, the slim OS has been evolving ever since. Most of this criticism came down to the restrictions it places on anyone trying to install any programs not found on the Windows Store.

Windows 10 S Mode will limit you to apps found on the Microsoft Store, rather than just letting you install what you want. Luckily for any PC traditionalists out there, you can shift out of it whenever you want for free, so you don’t have to use it. But, Windows 10 S Mode still makes sense for the right kind of user and device – something like the Microsoft Surface Go.

Windows 10 S Mode also takes advantage of the Windows 10 October 2018 Update. Along with a handy new ‘Your Phone’ app that lets you sync your Android phone with your PC, you’re also getting a cloud-connected clipboard, which should be awesome for anyone that works on multiple Windows 10 S devices.

Windows 10 S Mode is a core part of the Windows ecosystem these days, so we’re going to dive in and explore everything you need to know about the lightweight OS. Be sure to keep this page bookmarked, as we’ll keep it updated with all the latest Windows 10 S Mode news.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? Windows 10 without x86 and x64 apps
  • When is it out? Available now
  • What will it cost? Free to all schools using Windows 10 Pro

Windows 10 S release date

Windows 10 S first launched on May 2, 2017, with devices using the OS trickling out over the following months. And, now, Windows 10 S is bigger than ever, a fact that we expect Microsoft to celebrate with new Surface devices at Tuesday’s press event – these lower-spec Windows 10 devices are more versatile than ever before.2

Microsoft has plans to allow users to switch out of S Mode through a simple UI switch, but that’s not quite ready yet. If you’re looking for a quick and easy way out of S Mode, just head to the Windows Store on your device and search for ‘switch out of S Mode’. As for when the switch will get implemented, no one knows, but Microsoft may sneak it in at a later date – we don’t think it’ll be in the October 2018 Update, though.

Now, as for the reveal of Windows 10 S itself – Microsoft’s event invitation was titled ‘#MicrosoftEDU’, making no misgivings about its aims with the new OS. While Windows 10 S is not for individual sale, it is issued to IT administrators in education as well as laptops found in stores and online.

It’s no coincidence that Windows 10 S is focused on the education sector, where Google’s Chromebooks are experiencing outlandish success.

Windows 10 S price

Windows 10 S essentially doesn’t cost a dime. The cost of the lightweight OS is more than likely subsidized by hardware makers, assuming they’re not getting it for free. Basically, you don’t really pay for Windows 10 S Mode, instead you’re paying for the hardware running it (with, again, whatever Microsoft is charging its partners to license the software).

Save for premium devices like the original Surface Laptop, you can find devices running Windows 10 S Mode starting at just $189 (about £146, AU$251) and cap out around $299 (about £239, AU$396). PC makers across the board, including Dell, HP, Asus, Acer and Lenovo all have Windows 10 S Mode-powered devices in their stables.

But, now that Windows 10 S Mode is a thing, it’s a toggle that doesn’t cost anything extra. Both Windows 10 Home and Pro S Mode users are able to go to the Windows Store and opt out of S Mode, though the conversion only works one way – out of S Mode – right now. Though, there will be a switch in the settings app of a future build, that will let users go back and forth.  

What is Windows 10 S?

Microsoft intends Windows 10 S to serve as a lightweight, more secure version of Windows 10 for lower-end devices. While in “S Mode,” Windows 10 will only support apps that are downloaded from the Windows Store.

This talk of a version of Windows that can only download Microsoft-approved apps is familiar, isn’t it? Microsoft believes it has mastered this approach since the turbulent days of Windows 8 RT and Windows 8 with Bing – both of which tried to position Microsoft as the sole provider of apps through curation.

The good news is that this allows for a startup time of under 5 seconds as opposed to the 30 – 40 second startup time of Windows 10 Pro. Not only that, but configuring settings (such as Wi-Fi, webcam, etc.) across an entire classroom of students is as easy as inserting a USB stick in each of their laptops.

Being in competition with Google’s Chrome OS, Microsoft has, of course, also positioned Windows 10 S as a more secure PC operating system. However, its resilience to viruses is mostly a side-effect of the inability to install apps not approved by Microsoft. Historically, Windows viruses have tended to erupt from untrustworthy internet downloads.

Should you find a must-have app that isn't available in the Microsoft Store in Windows 10 S you can switch from Windows 10 S to Windows 10 Home or Pro by just going to the Windows Store and searching for “switch out of S Mode”. Microsoft used to charge a fee for this service, but now it’s free for everyone.

Microsoft will also allow users that upgrade to Windows 10 Pro to move back down to Windows 10 S. And, now that Microsoft is rumored to be working on a Windows 10 Lean Mode, which will be even more lightweight and locked down. 

Oddly enough, the shiny new Surface Laptop 2 now ships with Windows 10 Home, not in S Mode like the previous.

That said, what can you expect to see included in devices running Windows 10 S? Well, the Edge browser, OneNote and Windows Ink are all givens. The standard Movies and Groove Music apps, as well as Maps and Mail and Calendar are shoo-ins, too. 

Of course, we won’t see x86/x64 program support on a Windows 10 cloud operating system until 2019 when the aforementioned Polaris is expected to touch down and implement a ‘virtualization container’ for each of your favorite legacy applications. That means that, yes, should everything work out perfectly, there will be a Windows 10 cloud OS that can emulate the .exe’s of the past.

Despite its constraints, Windows 10 S still features File Explorer, and although many of the laptops that come with the lightweight OS pre-installed may ship with smaller capacity SSDs, Microsoft’s forthcoming introduction of OneDrive Files On-Demand will make it so files can be stored in the cloud, but still viewed the same way as locally stored content.

All things considered, there are still questions looming around in regard to the viability of Windows 10 S. Fortunately, as new developments emerge to (hopefully) address those criticisms, you can count on us to cover them right here on this page.

Bill Thomas and Gabe Carey have also contributed to this article

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