Gorgeous and clever, Campo Santo's debut is a triumph of craft - but it may keep you at arm's length.


Key events

Jack Kelley and his father are standing in the middle of the woods in Phillipston, Massachusetts. The pair are taking photos of the nearby fire lookout tower when, suddenly, they are approached by a stranger. As she closes in, they see that she is holding a lead in each hand - attached at the end of each lead is a goat.

Steam counters "review bombing" by adding time graphs to game scores

Steam counters "review bombing" by adding time graphs to game scores

"See how a game's reviews have evolved over time."

Steam has added a new option to view how a game's user reviews have changed over time as a measure to counter "review bombing".

"Review bombing" is when a mob of users downvote a game for reasons outside of the game itself. Beyond simply slamming the title in question, review bombers will also upvote each other's reviews, while downvoting those who disagree with them.

We saw this most recently in the case of Firewatch after developer Campo Santo issued a DMCA strike against popular YouTuber Felix "PewDiePie" Kjellberg after he used the N-word in a livestream. Some people weren't happy with the developer's tactic in this case, so they decided to take it out by review bombing the game on Steam.

Read more

Firewatch review-bombed following PewDiePie racism incident

Indie adventure Firewatch is being review-bombed on Steam after the game's developer, Campo Santo, filed a DMCA against YouTuber PewDiePie.

Last week Felix "PewDiePie" Kjellberg, owner of the most subscribed-to channel on YouTube, came under fire for using the N-word on during a PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds stream. He said: "What a f***ing n*****! Geez! Oh my god! What the f***? Sorry, but what the f***?"

This was the final straw for Firewatch developer Sean Vanaman, co-founder of Campo Santo, who denounced PewDiePie on Twitter and stated Campo Santo would file a DMCA takedown of PewDiePie's Firewatch content.

Read more

Firewatch developer Campo Santo and publisher Panic, Inc. are no stranger to clever fourth wall-breaking merchandise. One of the game's strangest features is that you can find a disposable camera in the 1980s Wyoming wilderness, take pictures in-game, then pay the publisher to send you physical copies of these complete with all the packaging of fictitious photo development company Fotodome. It's a neat trick, but with its latest labour of love Campo Santo has really outdone itself.

No Man's Sky's most aggravating omission (on PS4)

An obtrusive UI drops the photobomb on an otherwise breathtaking game.

No Man's Sky is a very pretty game. Its bold use of colour, surprising sentient life, and dynamic climate system offer vistas that stick in the mind for quite some time. While its procedurally-generated environments aren't quite as stunning as those shown in early trailers, it's not far off with each planet's terrain, skyline, flora and fauna offering a mesmerising sight for sore eyes. Some may be disappointed by its lack of thriving cities and lush forests, but for my money No Man's Sky still offers the most varied take on "barren alien wasteland" the gaming space has ever seen.

Ford uses copyrighted Firewatch art in ad campaign

UPDATE: Campo Santo responds with cheeky promo.

UPDATE 28/06/2016 4.56pm Firewatch developer Campo Santo has offered the following pisstake on Ford stealing the game's art for its ad campaign. It also points out that Firewatch is 33 per cent off on Steam until 4th July. Nice!

Digital FoundryBroforce has performance issues on PS4

One too many bros? Digital Foundry on the extreme frame-rate drops in side-scrolling shooter.

This one caught our eye. Broforce is a gleefully bombastic 2D side-scrolling shooter in the Contra tradition - and available this month for free to PlayStation Plus members. However, it hasn't launched in the best of states, and its variable performance is a stumbling block to enjoying the experience we'd like. We're talking about a game that's designed to run at 60fps, but as shown in our video below, can (and very much will) drop all the way down to the teens. So what exactly is going on, and why might PS4 performance be struggling as it is?

Firewatch dev releases printable maps for co-op navigation

You are here. (Or maybe over there.)

One of Firewatch's most divisive design decisions was whether to reveal the player's location on the in-game map. This convenient waypoint system works well for most video games, but Firewatch is about feeling lost as you navigate Campo Santo's gorgeous scenery using only your compass, wits, and sense of direction. As such, many opted to disable this feature for a more immersive experience. But if you really want to immerse yourself in Firewatch's navigational challenges, Campo Santo has unveiled an even better option by releasing files for printable maps.

When hearing the worlds 'video game camera' it's hard not to imagine the free-floating, functional thing dutifully framing your character's butt as they traverse the game world. Some games, however, do things a bit differently - putting a camera into the hands of the characters themselves.

Firewatch PS4 patch 1.02 improves framerate and draw distance

Firewatch PS4 patch 1.02 improves framerate and draw distance

Dev planning to upgrade to upcoming version of Unity.

Firewatch has received a new 1.02 patch on PS4 after many criticisms about its performance on Sony's console.

According to developer Campo Santo's patch notes, things like draw distance, framerate, glitches, and hanging during loading screens have been ironed out.

There's still no way to lock the framerate at 30fps, however, so it's unclear exactly how smooth this update makes the game. "We're still not done supporting Firewatch!" the developer stated on its official blog. "We're currently working with Unity on further improving the game by upgrading to an upcoming version of their engine. We're also planning to add subtitles for other languages to the PS4 version."

Read more

Performance Analysis: Firewatch

Digital FoundryPerformance Analysis: Firewatch

What went wrong with the PS4 release - and does patch 1.02 really fix all of the issues?

There's been a lot of talk about Firewatch and its sub-par performance on PlayStation 4 over the past few weeks and with the recent release of patch 1.02, we felt it was time to take a closer look. Frame-rate issues may not seem like a big deal for a narrative-driven adventure, but with a title based so much on traversing the environment, a wildly variable refresh and intrusive stutter definitely marred the experience. A patch was needed sooner, rather than later, and last week, developer Campo Santo delivered.

The game's initial sub-optimal state was both puzzling and disappointing, but to be fair, the developer was very open with the community regarding these issues. Members of the studio kept players up to date on problems as they were being addressed and the comprehensiveness of the fast-tracked patch is impressive - but what exactly went wrong in the first place and to what extent has the game been fixed?

A quick look at the launch code paints a clear picture of the technical issues surrounding the game. First and foremost, in its original form, Firewatch operated using an uncapped frame-rate with double buffer v-sync enforced leading the game to bounce between multiples of the 60Hz refresh rate. When pointing the camera in a less demanding direction, such as the sky, the frame-rate shoots up to 60 fps. Conversely, when looking forward, things snap back to 30fps or lower creating a very unstable level of performance. From the beginning we felt that a 30fps cap would help smooth things out.

Read more

The Eurogamer Podcast

We talk Overwatch, Firewatch, Homefront and Hitman.

Hello you lot! We're back with our every-other-weekly video games podcast, if you fancy giving it a listen. Oh gosh, please give it a listen. I really like recording it.

Firewatch is a very pretty game with a very nifty feature: It allows you to order physical copies of its screenshots if played on Steam. As such, players have snapped some very impressive in-game photos of Campo Santo's scenic debut.

In Play: Games' relationship with nature is weird

Escaping to - or from - the great outdoors in Firewatch, Unravel and Dying Light.

In Play is a column taking a weekly sideways look at new game releases. It's a bit like our old series Game of the Week, if you remember that.

Firewatch review

RecommendedFirewatch review

Sparks and recreation.

Her first question is: what's wrong with you? That's Delilah, Henry's new boss, talking to him over the radio as he takes in his surroundings.

As luck would have it, I knew exactly what was wrong with him. I'd spent the game's opening minutes choosing between quiet human tragedies in order to give Henry a backstory, a narrative sufficiently stocked with devastating personal failings and disappointments to ensure that he would run away here, to a lonely lookout tower in the middle of a forest in Wyoming. What a place to spend the summer! A rickety bedsit at the top of the world. Isolation, in an era before mobile phones and social networks, where the only tweeting is from the birds. The kind of isolation that can get inside you, frankly. The job is simple enough: scan the horizon and watch the forest for flames. Call them in when you see them. Bear witness - and maybe witness a few bears while you're at it.

Firewatch looks like a wilderness adventure, but really it's a character-driven game, an internal mystery - and as such, though I've avoided anything explicit, it's hard to discuss it without spoiling something or other. Proceed with caution. Anyway, that horizon you're faced with is Firewatch's greatest asset. Mountains, clouds, an expanse of tinted sky. Silver in the early morning. Lurid, throbbing orange when the sun begins to set. There's such a lot of horizon to take in, and that's the point. Something bad is happening, but you don't know exactly what form it will take, and you don't know exactly where it will show itself. Fire is not enough here, in other words. Something deeper must be smouldering away alongside it, waiting to erupt. It must be! What's wrong with you?

Read more

Look at that screenshot up there, the one of the lake. It looks bloody lovely, doesn't it? The rest of Firewatch is just as pretty - find out for yourself when I kick off our live stream at 3:30pm.

Firewatch signals a February release date

Firewatch signals a February release date

Simultaneous release on PS4, PC and Mac.

Firewatch will launch on 9th February 2016 for PS4, PC, Mac and Linux, developer Campo Santo has announced.

"Right now we're still polishing, optimising, writing, and developing the last bits of the game, but we can't wait to put it out there for you to play," the developer said on its official blog. "Our goal is a worldwide simultaneous release!"

Firewatch is the debut effort of Campo Santo, a team comprised of industry veterans from The Walking Dead, Brutal Legend, Bioshock 2, The Cave and Mark of the Ninja. It tells the tale of a park ranger named Henry who's sought isolation after various things in his life went pear-shaped. His only point of contact is his supervisor, Delilah, and the two have a somewhat awkward relationship full of clumsy flirting and uncomfortable silences. There's also a mystery surrounding an ominous stranger who creepily appears in Henry's jurisdiction.

Read more

Wilderness exploration mystery Firewatch reveals gameplay in debut trailer

Firewatch, the debut effort of ex-The Walking Dead and Mark of the Ninja devs at Campo Santo, has revealed its first gameplay footage in its debut trailer.

Due in 2015 for PC, Mac and Linux, Firewatch puts players in the hiking boots of a man named Henry who's taken the position of a forest fire lookout as a summer gig for reasons. But some unexplained event prompts Henry from his watchtower, which causes him to question his position and creates a rift between him and his only human contact, his supervisor Delilah. That's right, it's a game about awkward co-worker drama, gorgeous scenery, and a possibly supernatural mystery as you do the exact thing your supervisor tells you not to do - leave your post to explore the wilderness.

What Firewatch's actual gameplay mechanics consist of is still a bit of a mystery, but according to Camp Santo, "you'll explore a wild and unknown environment, facing questions and making interpersonal choices that can build or destroy the only meaningful relationship you have."

Read more

Ex-The Walking Dead devs at Campo Santo announce new game

Ex-The Walking Dead devs at Campo Santo announce new game

Introducing Firewatch, a "first-person exploration mystery" set in Wyoming.

The new San Francisco-based outfit Campo Santo's staff reads like an A-team of indie talent with a couple of The Walking Dead: Season One leads, Sean Vanaman and Jake Rodkin, joining Mark of the Ninja head honcho Nels Anderson, Gone Home and Gravity Bone composer Chris Remo, and astounding artist Olly Moss. Now, Campo Santo has finally revealed its first game, Firewatch, a single-player only "first-person exploration mystery."

You'll play as a man named Henry, an extreme recluse who's retreated from his "messy life" to live in the Wyoming wilderness and operate as a lookout for forest fires. Your only contact with another human is your supervisor, Delilah, who you'll only be able to communicate with via a handheld radio. Apparently "something strange" will provoke Harry to leave his watchtower and "you'll explore a wild and unknown environment, facing questions and making interpersonal choices that can build or destroy the only meaningful relationship you have."

Firewatch is still early in development and isn't due until 2015 on PC, Mac and Linux, though the developer noted on Firewatch's FAQ that it's "actively exploring" consoles. "Long-term we want the game to be playable by as many people as possible and will aim to be on any platform that fits the design of the game!"

Read more