Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Spellbreak update adds new Duos Mode

If you've been dying to drop into a game of Spellbreak with your sorcerer sidekick then you're in luck – developer Proletariat Inc have introduced a new duos mode to their arcane spin on the battle royale genre.

Previously spell slingers could either queue in squads of three or alone via the recently added solos mode. As of now you'll have the option to pair up with another player, though Spellbreak matches are still capped at a max lobby count of 42.

Nic reviewed Spellbreak earlier this week and while he was positive about its magical spin on a saturated genre, he wasn't particularly keen on the overly chaotic climax of matches though sees plenty of room for the game to become a battle royale mainstay:

Spellbreak holds vast potential and is full of depths to explore, but it's not quite there yet, despite the 1.0 release. Sure, it's fun enough to play if you can sit down with two of your friends and bash out a couple hours' madness, but I forgot what the game was called once I stopped playing. With next to no lore within the game, and with every win or loss feeling the same, there's just not quite enough to make a lasting impression.

Proletariat Inc have promised "big things" for Spellbreak in the near future. With PAX having been cancelled this year due to COVID-19, the studio have uploaded their PAX Online panel which gives fans and fellow devs a look behind the curtain while also teasing what could be coming to Spellbreak next.

Alongside duos mode, Spellbreak will be getting new outfits with which to spice up your avatar's in-game appearance. As is common in a lot of battle royale games, we will see Spellbreak's map gradually morph during future updates – there will also be a 9 versus 9 Clash team battle mode.


Ary and the Secret of Seasons Review

At first glance you'd be forgiven for thinking that Ary and the Secret of Seasons is a tie-in for a new animated movie on Netflix. You'd be mistaken. This in fact a standalone title that takes clear influences from third person adventures like Zelda and wraps everything up in a family friendly package. There are few open world or adventure titles aimed at younger players so I was really interested to see whether Ary could be a gateway game. As things turned out, the answer was less clear-cut than I expected.

The story of Ary and the Secret of Seasons is original, but not particularly new (if that doesn't sound like a contradiction). There are clear story influences from classic tales like Mulan as well as gaming stories like the aforementioned Zelda series. Ary is the younger daughter of the Guardian of Winter, one of the four elemental sages who protect the world. We join her just after her elder brother, Flynn, has gone missing (presumed dead), leaving her father paralysed by grief. When Ary finds Flynn's sword after fighting off some troublesome hyenas, she sets out to take her father's place as the season Guardian in hopes of finding her brother and putting the world to rights. It's a fairly fundamental coming-of-age tale, but the Mulan spin is novel enough to keep your interest.

While Ary's father mourns, the world order has been overturned by mysterious red crystals that mess with the seasons. Ary's homeland of Yule is no longer the wintry wonderland it should be and the other three lands are similarly mixed up. It is clear here how closely the idea of the seasons informs the whole design of the game from powers to level design, and this notion works well, but the implementation can be lacking. The most glaring example of this was children still happily playing in a lake that has been frozen over, eerily continuing their summer behaviour even when winter is restored and their bodies trapped. This kind of oversight is characteristic of a game that lacks polish.

In traditional Zelda fashion, you travel the overworld to seek out dungeons/temples and apply newly obtained abilities to overcome their obstacles and unlock further parts of the game. These abilities take the form of items that enable you to doublejump and climb, as well as season orbs that give you mastery of a season's magic. This sounds more exciting than it is in practice, as the magic is pretty simplistic. Winter freezes, Summer melts, Spring encourages growth, and Autumn brings watery downpours. There are a few moments when Ary offers up interesting puzzles that require a clever use of these, but on the whole things are rather one-dimensional.

Alongside her seasonal powers, Ary is pretty nifty with a melee weapon too. While various alternatives are available they all work identically and there is little need to spend hard-earned coins on the ones for sale in the shop. This is especially the case as money is in short supply and it is entirely possible to run out with many things left to buy. I would certainly recommend that you save your funds for upgrading Ary's combat abilities rather than spending on any aesthetic options. The developers are intending to patch in coin drops for fighting enemies so hopefully this aspect will be more balanced.

I did like the distinct look of each area and the dungeons are all clear and easy to navigate, but there was a definite lack of things to do in each overland section, with only a few fights and chests spread across minutes of aimless walking. Fortunately you unlock a fast travel ability mid way through the game which alleviates this somewhat.

While the game's visual style feels more functional than outright impressive, but that doesn't stop the PS4 version from stuttering and having some of the worst screen-tearing I've seen in a long while. Graphical glitches were common place with Ary's hair continually switching between her girlish locks and her newly shorn style out of context, and there were frequent examples of the camera getting stuck in the scenery. These technical aspects are unfortunate as the overall design is quite pleasant, but the glitches were too frequent and glaring to overlook.

Worse were the issues that affected game progression. In addition to NPCs getting stuck repeating a line of dialogue over and over until I restarted the game, I encountered one quest that simply didn't resolve and meant I couldn't access a later part of the story. Thankfully I could go back through and replay to reach the end of the game (ensuring I had multiple save files), so it's not completely broken, but I could never trust its stability. It is difficult to recommend Ary until these are patched and they really soured my experience.


Report: Sony cut the number of PlayStation 5 console they can produce

Bloomberg are reporting that "people familiar with the matter" have suggested that Sony are facing production problems with the PlayStation 5. The problem appears to be with custom built SoC which has production yields of just 50%, or in other words, half of the chips don't work. It is reported that Sony have been forced to cut the predicted number of consoles available down by 4 million units, dropping from 15 million to 11 million for the fiscal year.

The news has "spooked" investors who fear a re-run of the problems that the PlayStation 3 faced – in that case Sony couldn't get enough Blu-ray drives so production was slow and the console release was staggered. However, it's worth remembering that 11 million is still a big step up from the 7 million PS4s that were sold in its own launch window.

The problems with the chips also leave Sony with another problem, with only half of the chips working, production costs are also higher than anticipated. That's not good news ahead of the PlayStation 5 Showcase tomorrow where we expect a price, release date and more game announcements.

Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Masahiro Wakasugi suggests that the full fat PlayStation 5 could be priced as low as $449, which would undercut the price of the Xbox Series X by $50, and the discless all digital version would be slightly below $400. Take that with a pinch of salt since this is in the exact same report that production costs are higher, meaning that Sony would be taking a big, big hit per console sold until yields improve.

It's not all bad news for Sony; the Covid-19 pandemic has lead to a huge surge in PlayStation Plus subscriptions.

The PlayStation 5 Showcase will be taking place on Wednesday September 16th, with the timings being 1pm PDT/9pm BST/10pm CEST. The PlayStation 5 Showcase will last for approximately 40 minutes and will include updates on the games and input from some of the development partners. Many of the developers and artists working on Horizon Zero Dawn Forbidden West have been tweeting about the showcase so expect to see more from that game, and unconfirmed rumours suggest Final Fantasy XVI may also make an appearance.

Here are the hardware specifications for the new console.

CPU 8 Zen 2 Cores @ 3.5Ghz w/ SMT (variable)
GPU 10.28 TFLOPS – 36 CUs @ 2.26Ghz (variable)
Memory 16 GB GDDR6 (448GB/s)
Internal Storage 825 GB Custom NVME SSD
I/O Throughput 5.5 GB/s (Raw), 8-9 GB/s (Compressed)
Expandable Storage Approved M.2 third party SSDs in dedicated expansion bay
External Storage USB External HDD Support for PS4 games
Optical Dirve Ultra HD Blu-ray, up to 100GB/disc
Video Output HDMI 2.1 – Up to 4K at 120Hz, 8K, VRR
Audio Tempest Engine 3D audio

Source: Bloomberg

 


Brawl Stars Season 3 Brawl Pass – all tiers & rewards

In case you missed it, Brawl Stars has opened the gates to Starr Park in its latest season 3 update. Headlining this latest season is a new gift shop themed environment, as well as skins, and Colette who joins the current cast of Brawlers.

Brawl Stars season 3 also comes with its own fresh Brawl Pass, loaded with rewards spread across 100 tiers. For those completely new to the Brawl Pass, it works similarly to the kind of battle pass featured in games like Fortnite and PUBG. Think of it as an extra XP bar that fills as you play – each time it does, you'll reach a new tier.

Each tier comes tagged with its own reward, such as Gems, Boxes, and Power Points. However, those Brawl Stars fans who pay for the premium Brawl Pass will also get bigger bonus prizes. For the full list of season 3 check the table below. This data comes from the Brawl Stars Fandom Wiki.

Tier No. of Tokens
to unlock
Reward (Free) Reward (Brawl Pass)
0 0 Big Box Poco Starr
1 75 Brawl Box
2 75 10 Gems Mega Box
3 100 Big Box
4 150 Brawl Box 100 Coins
5 200 Big Box
6 300 50 Coins Big Box
7 400 Big Box
8 400 Brawl Box 100 Coins
9 400 Big Box
10 400 Mega Box Pin Pack
11 400 Big Box
12 400 Brawl Box 50 Power Points
13 400 Big Box
14 400 10 Gems Big Box
15 400 Big Box
16 400 Brawl Box 100 Coins
17 400 Big Box
18 400 50 Coins Mega Box
19 400 Big Box
20 400 Mega Box 100 Coins
21 500 Brawl Box
22 500 20 Gems Big Box
23 500 Big Box
24 500 Brawl Box 100 Power Points
25 500 Big Box
26 500 50 Power Points Big Box
27 500 Big Box
28 500 Brawl Box 200 Coins
29 500 Big Box
30 500 Mega Box Colette
31 500 Big Box Colette Pin (Angry)
32 500 100 Coins Big Box
33 500 Brawl Box Colette Pin (Sad)
34 500 50 Power Points Mega Box
35 500 Big Box
36 500 10 Gems Big Box
37 500 Big Box Colette Pin (Happy)
38 500 Brawl Box 100 Power Points
39 500 Big Box
40 500 Mega Box 200 Coins
41 600 Brawl Box Colette Pin (Thanks)
42 600 75 Power Points Big Box
43 600 Brawl Box
44 600 10 Gems Big Box
45 600 Mega Box Colette Pin (GG)
46 600 Brawl Box 200 Power Points
47 600 Big Box
48 600 200 Coins Mega Box
49 600 Big Box Colette Pin (Phew)
50 600 100 Power Points Big Box
51 600 Mega Box
52 600 10 Gems Big Box
53 600 Big Box Trixie Colette Pin (Neutral)
54 600 Brawl Box 200 Coins
55 600 Mega Box
56 600 200 Coins Big Box
57 600 Big Box Trixie Colette Pin (Angry)
58 600 Brawl Box 200 Power Points
59 600 Big Box Trixie Colette Pin (Sad)
60 600 Mega Box Big Box
61 600 Big Box Trixie Colette Pin (Happy)
62 600 20 Gems Mega Box
63 600 Brawl Box Trixie Colette Pin (Thanks)
64 600 100 Power Points Big Box
65 600 Mega Box Trixie Colette Pin (GG)
66 600 Big Box 300 Coins
67 600 500 Coins Trixie Colette Pin (Phew)
68 600 Mega Box 500 Power Points
69 600 500 Power Points Trixie Colette Pin (Special)
70 600 Pin Pack Trixie Colette
Total 34500 16 Brawl Boxes
25 Big Boxes
10 Mega Boxes
1100 Coins
875 Power Points
Pin pack
90 Gems
13 Big Boxes
5 Mega Boxes
1300 Coins
1150 Power Points
Pin Pack
6 Colette Pins
8 Trixie Colette Pins
Colette
Trixie Colette Skin
Poco Starr Skin

Compared to the game's first Brawl Pass, season 3 definitely has more rewards on offer though you'll need to earn more Brawl Pass tokens to hit the max tier of 100.

How do you think the rewards stack up compared to previous seasons? Do you think you'll be on track to get the items you want from Starr Park?


Halo 3: ODST is out on PC and Game Pass next week

Halo 3: ODST will be out next week on 22nd September for PC, checking off the penultimate game in the Halo: The Master Chief Collection's long journey from console to computer.

The game will also, of course, be a part of Xbox Game Pass, which is bringing full xCloud streaming to Android smartphones from tomorrow on 15th September. So you'll be able to play Halo 3: ODST and (almost all of) the rest of Halo: The Master Chief Collection across Xbox One consoles, PC and mobile.

ODST was a curious spin-off after the conclusion of the original Halo trilogy by Bungie, stepping away from the character of Master Chief and putting you in the shoes of an Orbital Drop Shock Trooper, an ODST. Nowhere near as heavily armoured as John-117, you'd have to adjust your tactics in order to overcome the Covenant forces.

The game took place in an open world with missions coming as flashbacks as you pieced together just what happened to you and your squad. It was somewhat divisive, with some loving the new structure, but others not being so hot on the change of pace and storytelling.

Our own Halo 3: ODST review was a little down on Bungie's effort:

ODST is very much still Halo, but overall it's only a passable experience. Whilst I had a lot of fun in the missions during the campaign, the open world parts completely spoil the pacing. At the end of an epic tank battle or sniper dual the game should continue to build and flow from it. Instead you're slammed back into the open world, with very little going on. The story feels lazy, and the ending is – frankly – bizare given the rest of the Halo mythos. However the individual missions, along with Firefight, saved me from being completely underwhelmed and boost it up enough that I can call it "OK".

What was more universally praised, though, was the ODST Firefight horde mode. This has been revived for The Master Chief Collection for the first time, and comes with online matchmaking, dedicated servers and even som enew custom game modes. 10 legacy maps are included to battle waves of Covenant on.

Even with Halo 4 the final piece of the MCC puzzle on PC and 343 Industries and their partners having full steam ahead on the delayed Halo: Infinite, this isn't the end for MCC on PC and console. The small team working on MCC have stated that the following features are still planned for the game over the next few months before the end of the year:

  • Crossplay
  • Input Based MM
  • Sever Region Selection
  • Custom Game Browser
  • Per Game Graphics Options
  • Per Game Audio Options
  • M&K Support for Xbox
  • PC Fileshare
  • Double Keybinds for all games
  • Viewmodel adjustments for all games
  • In game FPS Cap/Adjustments
  • Steam Account Linking

Crossplay is by far the most exciting element here, letting people team up for co-op or competitive, regardless of their platform. It'll be great for catching up on the series before Infinite finally releases in 2021.

Source: Xbox


This is the story of Fall Guys: Cheater Island – 'Big Yeetus and Anti-Cheetus' update coming soon

After a week away, during which time they were replaced by BeanBot, the social media for Fall Guys is now manned once more by a living, breathing human being, and they come bearing tales of Mediatonic's fight with cheating in Fall Guys.

An update called 'Big Yeetus and Anti-Cheetus' is on the way, with the game set to incorporate a randomised big spinny hammer and Epic Games' Easy Anti-Cheat sometime soon. Before then, Mediatonic shared the long journey of how they got here and the tentative measures that they initially took to combat cheating in their game.

Here's the full story, ripped from Twitter and reformatted a bit:

I've got lots of spicy content for you this week – The Dev team have been super busy on the new update. For now… BUCKLE UP. Let me tell you a wild story. It's called: 'The RISE and FALL of Cheater Island'. (Tagging @Netflix incase they want to make a film or series out of it)

At launch, we had some of our own cheat detection built into the game. We weren't banning anyone at this point, just gathering data carefully. We wanted to be 100% sure that our cheat detection would only catch people who were legitimately cheating. No false flags!

After we confirmed that it was working – We secretly launched Fall Guys Cheater Island™. It was a magical place where cheaters could happily compete against themselves for the Cheater's Crown – Literally just a normal crown but tainted with a hollow feeling of guilt and regret.

Remember, at this point, we had data on who was cheating, but we weren't acting on it. Fall Guys Cheater Island™ had a population of 0. So, very carefully, over time, we started to lower the threshold on the cheat detection. If you passed the threshold… you were tagged as a cheater.

It's worth pointing out at this stage – Cheaters are very smart. If they know they've been tagged as a cheater, they'll work out what caused them to be tagged and they'll tell other cheaters. Our threshold was originally really tolerant
Cheaters would get caught… but not be insta-banished. We hoped that they might realise cheating kills the fun. Most continued 😫

We want people to have fun, but not at the expense of others. So we kept lowering the threshold. If you were tagged as a cheater you'd be able to finish the game you were in then, the next time you tried to matchmake, you would ONLY be able to matchmake with other Cheaters (without realising).

You were there…
You'd made it…
Queuing for Cheater Island™

Now, if you can imagine:

  • You need 40+ players to actually populate a game.
  • Cheater Island isn't a location in the real world…
  • Cheater Island had it's own set of global servers
  • You'd need enough cheaters in your region in order to start a Cheater Island game
  • If there weren't enough cheaters… you'd all just be falling forever…

There were a few genuine bugs that would cause similar things to happen, but mostly, when people said they were "falling forever" they were cheaters and we didn't want to give them extra info.

I'm sure you've noticed we try to be super open and upfront with you in all of our communications. It's been very difficult to talk about cheaters though, because everything we say gives the cheaters more ammo. They were using any info to improve their cheating.

For a long time, there weren't enough cheaters to actually start these matches up. As we lowered the threshold on our detection, more and more cheaters were getting caught, but still… no Cheater Island matches. Cheaters were all falling forever and saying the game was broken…

At this point cheaters started to realise that they could team up with friends who weren't cheaters and they could matchmake with them… They were escaping Cheater Island. 👀

🚨 Oh no 🚨

We raced to patch this out before they all realised.

Cheaters also realised that they could use family-sharing to share their game to another account and then use the other account to bypass Cheater Island. We disabled Family Sharing to fix this problem. Dealing with cheaters is difficult… they're honestly very crafty.

During all of this time we kept increasing the thresholds on our cheat detection. We were 100% confident that anyone being flagged as a cheater was DEFINITELY cheating. This was super important to us. We didn't want to falsely ban anyone.

Last week something exciting happened! There were finally enough cheaters to actually matchmake and create Cheater Island matches!

Here's a new problem though: people were uploading videos that we think are Cheater Island… Somebody actually uploaded this video to Reddit with the title: "Ever played a round of Fall Mountain where all the players are cheating?" The problem is… this LOOKS like Cheater Island but we can't be 100% sure.

The person recording isn't cheating. Either they didn't cheat, just for the video, or it's a genuine server and a legit player. Either way, it makes the game look bad.

We DO know that Cheater Island matches were happening, we just DON'T know if that's what those videos show. For that reason, we have closed down Cheater Island. Instead, cheaters are now unable to login.

We are continuously improving the threshold on our cheat detection too. Our cheat detection system was good, but we hadn't expected so many players and we had no idea the lengths that some players would go to cheat.

We tried to create a system around "Honesty", but as soon as we realised we were in an arms race we called up the experts at Epic.

Now… Our next update is called: BIG YEETUS AND ANTI-CHEATUS

I'll tell you more about the Yeetus part later, but the Anti-Cheatus part… We're actually adding Epic's Anti-Cheat which will be a huge step forward as we continue to improve things!

I realise this has been an insanely long thread, but that's the story of Cheater Island and the reasoning behind why we've been so cryptic and vague!

Damn those pesky cheaters!

Source: Fall Guys


The new PlayStation advert will take you to the edge, and then sail right off it

Sony are famous for make adverts for consoles without actually showing consoles, or indeed gameplay, and the latest advert for PlayStation follows that trend. It starts with a man in a small fishing boat but he is quickly joined by all sorts of fantastical sea craft and spaceships, all of which sail off the edge of the world and in to space.

I've had a look and can't really see any nods to any specific games, there are Viking sail boats which could be a hat tip to Assassin's Creed Valhalla, and a Chinook which could be Call of Duty I guess, but there doesn't appear to be anything specific. There are a few quick shots of other humans but again they don't appear to be from any specific game.

One thing the advert does have is amazing sound, very few things set off my ASMR at full power but the audio in the advert did, it's very tingly!

Play Has No Limits is Sony's new tag line, replacing For The Players, but there's no mention of the PlayStation 5 console which was tagged on at the end of the last Play Has No Limits advert.

Sony has announced that a PlayStation 5 Showcase will be taking place on Wednesday September 16th, with the timings being 1pm PDT/9pm BST/10pm CEST. The PlayStation 5 Showcase will last for approximately 40 minutes and will include updates on the games and input from some of the development partners. We are also expecting the showcase to finalise the release date and price of the PlayStation 5, following the confirmation of release and prices from Microsoft for the Xbox Series X/S.

Last week GAME had teased that PS5 announcements were to take place and pre-orders were to open but that information was incorrect. Residents in the United States can begin a new quest to secure a PlayStation 5 by registering for a pre-order direct from Sony. You will need to give them your PSN ID to sign up, but this does not mean you're guaranteed a console.

There will be a limited quantity of PS5 consoles available for pre-order, so we will be inviting some of our existing consumers to be one of the first to pre-order one from PlayStation. Pre-order reservations will be taken on a first-come-first-serve basis, so once you get an invite via email, we encourage you to follow instructions and act fast.

If you do pre-register Sony will decide if you do get a pre-order invitation "based on previous interests and PlayStation activities."

Source: YouTube

UPDATE: There's a very subtle triangle, circle, cross, square in the background when the ships break through. Some people are also suggesting one of the airships is from Final Fantasy but it could equally by Jak and Daxter or just a generic airship design.


Watch the Star Wars: Squadrons "Hunted" CGI short here!

EA's Star Wars: Squadrons now has a new tie in short film created in collaboration by EA Motive Studios, Lucasfilm, and Industrial Light and Magic. It introduces one of the pilots you will find in the game and, because the world is hell, also uses some of the cosmetic DLC that you get for free if you pre-order the game.

Here's the official blurb:

The Empire's retreat after a surprise attack marks yet another stumble in the wake of the second Death Star's destruction. But for one member of Titan Squadron, the battle is far from over. Squadron Leader Varko Grey finds himself as the last TIE pilot on the battlefield, hunted relentlessly by a determined New Republic X-wing in this standalone Star Wars: Squadrons story.

A fresh slice of Star Wars: Squadrons gameplay was revealed Gamescom Opening Night Live, time diving into the single player with snippets of gameplay and narration from the team at EA Motive.

This mission shown comes from early in the Imperial side of the campaign, as you go behind enemy lines in an attempt to extract Agent Thorn. There's blowing up defence turrets, escorting transports, and all the kinds of things you might expect from a Star Wars space dogfighter.

There's a lot in common with the classic X-Wing and Tie Fighter games, between missions as well, with classically styled briefings and interactions with others in your squad. Of course, all of that is now rendered in modern graphics and looks fantastic.

There's eight ships in the game – a fighter, interceptor, support and bomber for both sides – each having a specific role in battle. You can unlock and customise them  with over 50 components to alter your ship's loadout, and just having a cute bobble head in the cockpit.

Previously revealed about the 5v5 multiplayer, there's a few different modes. Dogfight is your traditional deathmatch mode, but Fleet Battles are the signature mode. These are multi-stage battles, playable in both PvP and PvE, where you first fight to win the dogfight in the centre of the map before attacking or defending the capital ships, and finally taking it to the flagship to destroy or defend key components and win the battle. You'll be battling around a mixture of familiar and new locations as well, with battles around the gas giant Yavin Prime and the shattered moon of Galitan.

Star Wars: Squadrons is coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC on 2nd October 2020, with full support for PSVR, Steam VR and Oculus Rift VR through the entire game.


Oculus Quest 2 revealed with 'almost 4K' screen and doubled performance

Facebook have accidentally released some trailers and informational videos for a follow up to their standalone Oculus Quest VR headset. A pair of videos were published on Facebook Blueprint today, confirming the headset ahead of a presumed announcement as Facebook Connect on Wednesday 16th September.

While taken down soon after, the videos naturally made their way to YouTube soon after:

It promises to be a major step forward for the platform, with a reduced weight and size and new soft touch strap to make it easier to wear and use for extended periods of time. There will be over 50% more pixels in the screens than the Quest 1, at 'almost 4K' or nearly 2K per eye. That will be powered by a new Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 with 6GB RAM to double the performance over the original Quest. There's also an optional 256GB of built-in storage.

We'll have to wait until Wednesday for further details (unless more information leaks) about the pricing and release date.

As enticing as all of that is, for the industry leading standalone VR platform, Facebook and Oculus have recently drawn flak for an upcoming service change that will require users to login with a Facebook account in order to use their headsets. That will initially be for new devices registered from this October, and will eventually be rolled back to all existing headsets by 2023, locking off devices from the Oculus ecosystem after that point if they are not attached.

This has drawn the attention of German regulators, who believe it falls foul of GDPR's ban on "coupling" which prevents a contract, such as an EULA, from being tied to the sharing of personal data. Even if not against the privacy law, it's still a way that Facebook is folding Oculus into the greater whole of the company and letting it connect the dots on even more user data.

Source: Facebook Blueprint via Eurogamer, Ars Technica


IKEA will sell gaming furniture in 2021, created in partnerships with ASUS ROG

With the size of the video games industry these days, it's no surprise than anyone and everyone is looking to get a slice of that pie, however they can. IKEA are taking a big step up from merely having faux video game boxes in their showrooms to actually catering directly to gamers with new gaming furniture designed in collaboration with ASUS's Republic of Gamers (ROG) brand.

There's no word on what kinds of furniture and accessories they're working on, but one emphasis will be on affordability. They've also consulted with pro gamers and enthusiasts in Shanghai to discover what kinds of needs gamers have.

We're pretty sure they'll come out with some gaming oriented desks and chairs, but depending on how far they take their study, we could see them head down the dark, dark path of incorporating features based for the one in seven British gamers who pee in bottles instead of going a few steps to the loo. We also expect lots of RGB lighting.

The range of 30 products will first be rolled out in China in February 2021, before coming to IKEA's other stores in 2021.

Source: IKEA


Spellbreak Review

Spellbreak chronicles the arcane struggle between the Vowbreakers and the Vowkeepers. An epic war between two different schools of thought — one which believes that magic should be used freely and another which believes magic users should be subjugated. You, of course, are an exile, an outlaw… a Vowbreaker.

Spellbreak also chronicles the arcane struggle of wanting to be Fortnite without actually being Fortnite. It asks the age-old question of how you can take the world's most popular battle royale and make it your own. In this case, you strip away the guns, replace it with magic weapons and hope for the best.

So far, it seems to be working. The colourful chaos of this multiplayer action spellcasting game holds a lot of potential. Once you get past the tutorial, you can play as one of six different classes, and it's this which determines your main attack. You can be, for example, a pyromancer or a toxicologist — wielding flame or poison magic using a magic gauntlet on your right hand.

As you run around the map — the inexplicably named Hollow Lands — you pick up gauntlets that allow you to cast other spells with your left hand, or upgrade the main spell of your chosen class. This means you can be a pyrotoxicoloist if you want, or a cryolithomancer, a pyrolithomancer or even an electrotoxicologist, if you want to go for something genuinely difficult to say. Some of these pairings are more effective than others, with the fire spells igniting the toxic clouds you can summon, whereas others don't really do much — pairing wind and rocks, or fire and ice, for example.

This is all great if you're right-handed, but lefties will find that their primary weapon is in their offhand, with their secondary weapon — the only one that can change – locked to your main hand. You can go into the settings and change this manually, but unless you're accustomed to digging around the settings, you wouldn't know the option is there.

The class system is just first layer of depth that Spellbreak offers. Digging a little deeper, you find that each class levels up independently, unlocking perks you can then use across all classes. When you become a Level 3 toxicologist, you unlock a passive skill that gives you (and your teammates) the ability to drink potions faster, regardless of whether you want to play as a pyromancer or anything else. This adds a nice layer of strategy for those who want to play co-op.

The team modes are pretty engaging, working with friends to take down other players, whether in trios or duos (which has just been unlocked today). Playing solo is, as with most battle royales, often a game of running around for 10 minutes, looking for someone to fight, before being almost instakilled by a shot to the back. That's partly thanks to the rune system.

Scattered around the Hollow Lands, you'll find runes which grant powerful abilities, like invisibility or the ability to scan for enemies, Predator style; equipment that allows you to run faster, wear more armour or wield more mana; and scrolls that level-up your passives.

The equipment and scrolls are much of a muchness — you either find them or you don't — but the runes are actually interesting. Since you can only equip one at a time, choosing the right rune, and choosing between your current rune an upgraded version of a less powerful one, adds another layer of customisation and character building to a game which is already building a fair amount of depth.

The problem is the other side of that coin. This is a game with so much potential thanks to the depth of its gameplay, but it just doesn't feel particularly satisfying.

Everyone likes winning. Everyone loves the fanfare that comes with besting their opponents. I won my first game, systematically murdering my rivals and eventually wound up looking at a screen of my avatar milling around saying I came first. I looked at the screen and thought to myself, is this it? It was only after the next match that I realised the victory screen looks identical whether you come first or fourteenth. A game which feels equally rewarding whether you come first and last isn't going to get many endorphins a pass to exit your pituitary gland.

Is this winning?

Then there's the game's dynamic and evolving story. Sure, a battle royale doesn't really need a story, let alone a coherent one that makes any sense, but Proletariat promises an MMORPG-style evolving narrative that will induct fans into the fantasy world of Spellbreak. After the first 10 minute tutorial swings and miss, you'll be left wondering where to find it. The answer, as explained in a Reddit post from March, is that this will come in the form of seasonal 'Chapters' that will also provide additional weapon classes beyond the original six, runes and more. As someone who loves throwing themselves into a world's lore, I'm currently quite disappointed.

So, for the foreseeable future, we're all left wondering who is a Vowbreaker, who is a… the other one… and why do they all look like Magic's Jace Beleren, hoodie, face tats and all?


Nvidia will acquire mobile chip designer Arm for $40 billion

Nviai have confirmed that they will acquire UK-based chip designer Arm for $40 billion from current owner Softbank. It will dramatically expand Nvidia's portfolio to allow them to develop their GPUs, AI compute platforms and more independently from other companies.

Arm is best known for designing the low-powered CPU architecture that have come to power the vast majority of smartphones, tablets, Internet of Things devices and consoles such as the Nintendo Switch. While Arm has designed and sold their own CPU designs, they've also licensed the architecture to other companies such as Apple, Samsung and Qualcomm.

With Nvidia's purchase, Arm's open-licensing business model will continue, and various long-term licensing agreements would have precluded the company from really interfering in how current devices are created using the Arm instruction sets.

One of the original question marks over Arm's purchase by Softbank in 2016 was the company's future in the UK, the Japanese company having to commit to keeping Arm in the UK for at least five years. Nvidia have stated that beyond this they intend to expand Arm's R&D base in the UK, while also establishing a new centre of AI research in the Cambridge campus.

For Nvidia, the big advantage is the ability to more closely integrate with Arm's designs. The company has already leant on Arm CPUs for their own mobile chips, such as the Tegra X1 which is featured in the Nintendo Switch, but Nvidia has expanded beyond their original domain as a GPU designer to focus on general compute that enables the creation of AI supercomputers. Arm's low-powered CPU designs are well suited to being paired with Nvidia's technology in this setting, and positions Nvidia well for continued growth across healthcare, robotics, self-driving cars and other emerging industries.

However, they could also challenge on other fronts. Integrated SoCs with Arm CPUs and Nvidia GPUs could challenge for a place in many an Android device, while Microsoft have brought Windows 10 to Arm systems once more. This would put Nvidia in direct competition with AMD and Intel's x86 CPUs, while also being able to partner with them on pure GPUs.

It will take time for all of this to come to fruition, but in one purchase like this, it's turned Nvidia into an all-round monster of a company that could have an even bigger impact on the future of technology.

Source: Nivida


Madden 21 Review

Where can you go when you're at the top of your game? It's a question that challenges the best sports athletes in the world, but once you've been the best, for any period of time, there will invariably be a time where either your own abilities begin to dull, or someone new comes along to set new standards. The Madden franchise is having to once again answer at least a portion of that question this year.

2K's more arcade-orientated foray back into American Football might still be a year or two away, but EA's rendition of gridiron arguably reached a pinnacle three years ago, and after last year's more pedestrian outing, fans were hoping for a return to MVP status. What we've got instead is a game that looks like it should succeed, but in the end won't even make the playoffs. So, this year's Buccaneers then.

Madden 21 unsurprisingly builds on Madden 20, so many of last year's gameplay features return like Superstar X-Factors, as do the key modes of Ultimate Team, Face of the Franchise and Franchise. This year's headline new addition is The Yard; an attempt by EA to return us to those days of arcade style American Football, evoking memories of NFL Blitz and NFL Street while you slam the pigskin into the endzone with impunity. The problem is, it's not all that fun.

The immediate issue that you'll face coming into The Yard, is that it doesn't do an incredibly good job of explaining itself to you. As a mode that's sat within Madden 21, built in the same engine, and with largely the same controls, you'd think it should all come fairly easily, but it just doesn't. It's seemingly more interested in letting you wear a fluorescent jersey rather than playing the mode itself.

Its 6v6 action streamlines the heart of American Football to its base elements, while bringing a few different gameplay elements (and customisation) in to liven things up. Primary to the way you play is your selection of Prototypes, which dictates your player's skill tree and abilities. Fancy playing as a scrambling QB like Lamar Jackson? You get to pump your speed and finesse running to the max, while a Pure Passer like Aaron Johnson has the potential of utterly destroying an opponent with the passing game when fully upgraded.

Each setting has House Rules, so maybe you'll score 10 points for a 40 yard or more pass, or perhaps the passing clock will be shorter. Games are generally limited to three drives each, so they're a swift and light diversion, but ultimately, it all feels so inconsequential. It's not wild enough to be what you'd consider a true arcade experience, nor does it have enough weight to have you coming back over and over again. The mild draw is that abilities you earn here can be used in the largely unchanged Franchise mode, and vice-versa. I know which of the two I'd rather be playing.

Face of the Franchise bring another dose of narrative-driven football, but it feels like a long time since the original Longshot episode brought some heart and compassion to Madden. What you are getting is the opportunity to play two seasons of NCAA College Football, which many fans have been crying out for in the absence of a dedicated game, but that's tacked onto a linear path that you have to take with one of the most limited player creation tools in sports games. I guess it's because they're going to be wearing helmets most of the time? At least the performances are enjoyable enough and include a star turn from Snoop Dogg.

Ultimate Team is largely unchanged from last year's outing, and while it's still a compelling game of fantasy football card collecting, this year's other problems have made it the first Madden game where I haven't dropped any extra money into the mode. This is possibly one of the few things that might actually make EA think again when it comes to Madden 22 – but probably not.

When you're actually in a game, Madden 21 plays as well as last year's outing, adding in some further tweaks to make playing defence more involving. When you get it right, you can't help but smile, dialling the satisfaction of a good tackle or a great running play up to 21 with excellent replay angles and audio feedback.

Presentation remains a strong-suit for the franchise, and Madden 21's TV-style setup brings you closer than ever to a real game-watching experience. Brandon Gaudin and Charles Davis simply sound like the voices of Madden at this point, and largely their play calling matches up well with the on-screen action.

Regardless of what the game gets right, Madden 21 is creakier than a log cabin in a hurricane. On Xbox One the most anxiety-inducing of these is that full, paid versions of the game keep telling players they're playing the trial version. This happened to our review copy and based on similar reports on the Madden Reddit page, it's not a localised issue.

Add in an array of gameplay issues, including players glitching through each other, invisible tackles that fell your runner when no one is near them, broken animations, and a number of weird QA failures that show the wrong team logo, or wrong team initials when you're setting up and heading into a game, and the overall impression you're left with is that Madden 21 simply wasn't ready for release. Whether it's the result of this year's Covid lockdown hampering development, or that more time had to be spent prepping for the game's cross-generation release, EA need to respond with some serious patches.


Nexomon: Extinction Review

Nexomon: Extinction is the latest monster training game trying to take on the Pokémon throne. You'll be collecting monsters – over 300 of them with nine different elemental types – and training them up to do battle with other trainers throughout the world, but there's a deeper narrative here, with a fantastical story about tyrant Nexomon which threaten to destroy the world.

If you've ever played a Pokémon game, you're going to feel right at home in Nexomon. Fights, capturing, training and healing centres all appear and work in the exact way you would expect. It's a solid take on the genre, though it doesn't have quite the same polish that you'd expect from the history of the Nintendo and Game Freak series.

Even though Nexomon is very obvious about it's inspirations, it does attempt to change the formula around slightly. Where Pokémon limits the amount of times a Pokémon can use a move, Nexomon have a single stamina bar that powers all their moves. The more powerful the move is, the more stamina it takes. It's an interesting remedy to the issue of being overly reliant on a single move – I'm looking at you Fire Spin.

Nexomon also changes the elements around slightly, keeping the likes of fire and electric, while adding wind and mineral. I felt the additional elements made its system a little unclear, where in Pokémon it's easier to pick up on the system and find the strengths and weaknesses. The difficulty in grasping the element system made Nexomon more difficult than it should have been, although even without that issue it is far more challenging than Pokémon.

Most of the trainer battles are pretty unforgiving and you'll find yourself regularly heading back to the closest healing point. It happens so often that it starts to disrupt the flow of the game, making progress feel a bit sluggish due to the constant need for healing. What made the original Pokémon games so enjoyable was the ability to go on adventures without constantly relying on Pokémon centres, and while long-time players now complain about a lack of difficulty in those games, that adventuring feel is something that is lost in Nexomon.

One thing that Nexomon really gets right are the monsters. The larger than life narrative paves the way for some dynamic and unique monsters that are as fascinating to discover as they are to catch and eventually train. It's a shame that the starter Nexomon are a little forgettable. The game provides nine options to begin with, which is a little overwhelming for new players who don't yet know the world. Fortunately, the option to capture monsters opens up pretty quickly, meaning you can build from the starter Nexomon right off the bat.

Nexomon: Extinction's visual DNA lies in its mobile predecessor, producing simple and colourful graphics with an art style that isn't particularly exciting. I'd like to have seen a little more distinction from the previous title, as they look pretty much exactly the same, which is a real shame. The presentation isn't bad at all, it just never does anything particularly exciting and fails to really distinguish itself from other titles in the genre.


The Division 2 TU11 PTS update makes Summit improvements

Ubisoft and Massive Entertainment are currently working on one of their biggest updates to The Division 2 since the game's launch last March.

In case you missed it, the Swedish developer recently unveiled The Division 2 TU11 (Title Update 11) which includes a payload of features such as appearance mods for your Agents and new live season content, as well as The Summit. This will be available for free to those who own and have completed The Division 2: Warlords of New York.

This PvE mode will be coming to The Division 2 on September 22nd, tasking players with a lengthy gauntlet of gunfights as they shoot their way to the top, across 100 floors. Massive have just rolled out their latest patch for the PTS where some Division 2 die-hards have already been sampling the aforementioned content.

The Phase 2 patch for TU11's spell in the PTS is now live with the following improvements and fixes:

The Summit

  • Added greater variety and diversity in objective types as you progress through The Summit.
  • Changed the Hostage revive timer to be longer, giving more leeway to reach them before the objective fails.
  • Increased the radius of the hack zone for EMP objectives.
  • Increased the amount of loot caches scattered around the building, which contents scale with difficulty.
  • Reduced number of directives on Legendary Floors 91-100. Now has 3 random directives (previously had 4).

Gameplay Changes

Gear Mods

  • Reverted the increase to status effect resistance mod values from 20% back down to 10%
    Developer comment: After reviewing feedback and considering how the new generic gear mod slot system will impact the meta, we've decided to revert the changes to status effect resistance mods. The increase in flexibility towards achieving specific status effect immunity through generic gear mod slots will remain a net increase in player defense.
  • All "Improvised" crafted high-end gear now have generic mod slots, including gloves and knee-pads.

Named Items

  • Deathgrips: Increased the armor on kill from +5% to +10%.
  • The Mop: Increased the armor on kill from +5% to +10%.

Exotics

  • Memento: Lowered the bonus armor gained on trophy pick up from +20% to +10% per armor core but the bonus armor gained now stacks

Gear Sets

  • Eclipse Protocol
    • Lowered Indirect Transmission on kill status effect spread from 15m to 10m.
    • Proliferation now increases the range of Indirect Transmission from 10m to 15m.
    • Increased Symptom Aggravator damage amplification from 15% to 30%.

Talents

  • Obliterate: Increased the number of maximum stacks of total weapon damage from 15 to 25

PvP

  • Reduced the global PvP damage modifier from 0.35 to 0.3
  • Reverted previous changes to the pistol, rifle, and MMR PvP damage modifiers to pre-10.1 values (buff)
  • Small increase to shotgun PvP damage modifier to match global damage reduction and retain pre-TU11 TTK
  • Slight reduction to overall SMG PvP damage.

Developer comment: The above changes should result in a small increase to TTK at medium/close range, while keeping rifles and MMRs deadly at long ranges.

  • Crusader, Reflector, and Striker shields now take 33% more damage in PvP
  • Riot Foam Chem Launcher base ensnare duration lowered from 3s to 2s in PvP
  • Firewall specialization talent Fiery Response no longer applies a 5m burn on armor break in PvP
  • Eclipse Protocol's Indirect Transmission on kill status effect spread lowered from 15m to 5m in PvP (7m with Proliferation chest talent)
  • Lady Death's Breathe Free weapon damage amplification effect lowered from 75% to 50% in PvP
  • Headhunter buff duration lowered from 30s to 5s in PvP
  • Headhunter damage bonus lowered from 40% to 20% in PvP (25% with Perfect Headhunter)

Bug Fixes

  • Fixed an issue which allowed players to finish the 100th floor in The Summit without actually killing the enemies.
  • Fixed an issue causing only one type of enemy to spawn in The Summit on Legendary difficulty.
  • Fixed an issue causing enemies to shoot through walls on the 100th floor in The Summit.
  • Fixed an issue that caused you to be matched with a The Summit group when matchmaking for main missions.
  • Fixed an issue causing the SHD crate disappear briefly after completing the "Hold SHD Crate" objective in The Summit.
  • Fixed missing Specialization Tutorial when boosting a new character to level 30.
  • Fixed an issue which caused all trap variants to become stuck in the ceiling.

In other Division 2 news, Ubisoft confirmed that the game will support cross-generation play. This means that those on PS4 can fight alongside their PS5 companions, the same applying to Xbox One/Series X and S.

Source: Ubisoft


Saints Row V rumour points to story details and removal of superpowers

It has already been confirmed that Volition is working on Saints Row V, but what is unknown is the setting, story, and other details that will be part of the game. Overnight rumours and apparent leaks have popped up on 4Chan and Resetera, allegedly giving details about what to expect in Saints Row V. These rumours have not yet been corroborated by any sources so absolutely take them with a whole packet of salt, because these leaks could be false information. So, what are these apparent leaks saying?

For starters, one of the big plot points is that Saints Row V is supposedly taking place after the events of Saints Row 3. According to the leak, Saints Row IV and Gat Out of Hell will be retconned to be a TV show set within the universe. This leads to superpowers being removed to make the game a bit more grounded. Going on from this players will not be playing as The Boss or be part of the Saints. Instead, according to the rumours, the Saints have become an evil organisation due to Gat not being there to keep it in check. Players will be part of a new gang aiming to take the Saints down. That would mean characters like Shaundi, Pierce, and The Boss will be your enemies that you have to take down. The apparent setting is Stilwater, the original location from Saints Row 1 & 2, with a much larger map to explore.

Graphically, Saints Row V is said to be similar to Saints Row 3 Remastered, which was shockingly impressive, and the overall tone will be a bit more serious though some of the comic elements will remain. Character customisation is to said to be more in depth as each individual body part will have sliders. Four player co-op is also apparently in with difficulty scaling depending on how many players there are. There is also, allegedly, online multiplayer consisting of 32 players in a gang warfare scenario to take over territory.

As already stated, none of this information has been corroborated by additional sources, so do not take anything said here as fact. Volition will release details eventually, be it this year or next year.

Source: ResetEra


Godfall Combat trailer shows PS5 footage, pre-orders now open

Counterplay Games and Gearbox have released a brand new trailer for co-op looter slasher Godfall, and this footage focuses on combat. The video itself showcases a mix of cutscenes and gameplay captured from the PS5 version of the game. The gameplay looks rather fast paced and the combat moves smoothly as regular enemies attack the players. As the footage comes to a close it shows the three player characters running to face a large boss, and brief teases are given of the fight.

Counterplay and Gearbox have also confirmed that Godfall is now available to pre-order, albeit only the PC version via the Epic Games Store. The three different versions that are available to pre-order are:

All pre-orders will also get a Godfall Starter Pack and that includes the Chrome Silvermane, Phoenix and Greyhawk skin cosmetic variants; a yellow Typhon variant; and, Borderlands' Zer0's sword. The footage shown above is not the first time we have seen Godfall running on PS5. Last month, an extended look at Godfall's PS5 gameplay was shown. Prior to that, Counterplay confirmed that Godfall would not have microtransactions and nor it would it be a games as a service title.

Set in an high fantasy world, there are five realms of Apeiron to venture through in Godfall and, which have been split between Fire, Water, Air, Earth, and Spirit. Through the game, there's definitely been some influence and crossover from looter shooters and action RPGs, with a main goal being to find loot and continually upgrade your character build. However, that will not be the only factor in how well you do in battle. There's also plenty of Dark Souls to see in the combat, with tense battles that require positioning and timing to succeed, though it emphasises offence over defence. If you dominate the combat space, you'll be much more likely to succeed.

While PS5 pre-orders are yet to open for Godfall, it is likely we will get news on or soon after Wednesday. That is when Sony will be holding a PlayStation 5 showcase where the price and release date is expected to be confirmed.

Source: Press Release


Borderlands 3 confirmed for PS5 and Xbox Series X/S with free upgrade

  1. Gearbox has confirmed that Borderlands 3 will be releasing on PS5 and Xbox Series X/S. The game will run at 60fps in 4K on the PS5 and Xbox Series X. Additionally, owners of the current gen versions will get a free upgrade to the next gen version, as long as the upgrade is in the same console family. No content will be lost in the upgrade process with all saves and purchased content being transferred over.

Gearbox also confirmed new split screen options for Borderlands 3. The PS5 and Xbox Series X/S versions of the game will feature four player local split screen. If there are just two players an option for a horizontal or vertical split will be added. The vertical split screen option will be added in a patch for the PS4 and Xbox One versions of Borderlands 3.

New paid add on content has also been confirmed for Borderlands 3, and it will be different to the story DLCs that were previously released. The only real details we have so far is that a new game mode will be added. New skill trees for the Vault Hunters will also be introduced alongside new action skills. FL4K's skill tree was highlighted and it is called Trapper. This skill tree favours shields and increasing survival odds. The new action skill is Gravity Snare. When deployed it throws all enemies near it into the air, which then causes them to slam into the ground. FL4K's new pet will be a Hyperion Loaderbot.

In our review for Borderlands 3, Jason wrote:

I've got very mixed feelings about Borderlands 3. Overall I like it and it's fun to play, but it could have been so much more and the writing feels like time traveling back to your high school days and being surprised and a little disappointed at how immature everyone is. Few things in life are as embarrassing as the person you were five years ago. If you're not embarrassed, then I'm sorry to say that you may well be the Borderlands 3 of your friend group; stuck in the past unable to grow or change in any meaningful way, relying on fart jokes as a stand-in for your personality.
You can read the  full review here. 
Source: Press Release

PlayStation 5 Showcase taking place on Wednesday, confirms Sony

Sony has announced that a PlayStation 5 Showcase will be taking place on Wednesday September 16th, with the timings being 1pm PDT/9pm BST/10pm CEST. The PlayStation 5 Showcase will last for approximately 40 minutes and will include updates on the games and input from some of the development partners. We are also expecting the showcase to finalise the release date and price of the PlayStation 5, following the confirmation of release and prices from Microsoft for the Xbox Series X/S.

Earlier this week, GAME had teased that PS5 announcements were to take place and pre-orders were to open but that information was incorrect. Residents in the United States can begin a new quest to secure a PlayStation 5 by registering for a pre-order direct from Sony. You will need to give them your PSN ID to sign up, but this does not mean you're guaranteed a console.

There will be a limited quantity of PS5 consoles available for pre-order, so we will be inviting some of our existing consumers to be one of the first to pre-order one from PlayStation. Pre-order reservations will be taken on a first-come-first-serve basis, so once you get an invite via email, we encourage you to follow instructions and act fast.

If you do pre-register Sony will decide if you do get a pre-order invitation "based on previous interests and PlayStation activities."

The first TV spot for the PlayStation 5 has also arrived with Sony try to describe to people what it will feel like to play games on their next-gen console, wrapping together things like 3D audio, haptic feedback and adaptive triggers.

It's quite a high concept video, showing a woman adventuring in a weird and mysterious world. The opening line says, "Welcome to a world where you can feel more," and this is a key part of Sony's pitch for the next generation. The DualSense controller features adaptive triggers to relay different pressures to your fingers, while more advanced haptic feedback is to be incorporated to add more nuance compared to the rumble motors found in the DualShock 4. 3D audio with advanced HRTF processing to simulate different ear shapes will also aim to make audio more immersive and spatial, regardless of whether you're hearing sound from a TV, set of headphones or an existing surround sound set up.

Source: PS Blog


Something for the Weekend – 12/09/20

It wasn't meant to be until next week, but Microsoft's hand was forced to splash all the details and reveal the Xbox Series S this week, alongside pricing and release dates for both it and the Xbox Series X. 10th November is the date that the next generation starts… unless Sony decide they'd like to go first?

So, with a lot to catch up on…

In the News This Week

First up, that barrage of Xbox news:

And then onto the rest, with a bunch of new announcements from Ubisoft:

Games in Review

We had another metric ton of reviews this week, some great, some… well…

We also had one documentary review:

And a pair of hardware reviews – one for your fingers and one for your bum:

Featured Articles

 

Trailer Park

Xbox Series S trailer confirms resolution, SSD, ray tracing support and more specs

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Remake officially revealed

Crash Bandicoot 4's alternate universe Tawna revealed as a playable character

Riders Republic is the next game from the makers of Steep, coming out February 2021

Immortals: Fenyx Rising is the new name for Gods & Monters, and it's coming out in December

Your Achievements

Here's what you in our community has been up to this week:

  • tactical20  has been making videos in Skater XL, but he's tiring of the maps so relived the genre's glory days with Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2.
  • gazzagb has been doing some short haul trips in an A320 (in Microsoft Flight Simulator)
  • It was just a bit of Fall Guys for ron_mcphatty, who's eyeing up Death Stranding to kill some time before Star Wars: Squadrons comes out… we'll see.
  • Aside from RDR2, MrYd played some more Death Stranding, hopped into Dead Cells and WRC8 from PS Now, and had some fun with the magical new battle royale Spellbreak.
  • Willbuchanan has been playing the Spyro trilogy, snagging the platinum from the first game and immediately swooping on over to the second. He had to get over the fact that the purple and orange dragon could now swim, though.
  • And Andrewww has continued on with The Last of Us Part II and Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime.

I hope you have a good weekend and we'll see you on the other side!


The whole Xbox Series X | S reveal stream has now leaked

The whole Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S reveal stream has now leaked online, coming from the same source that dropped the Xbox Series S trailer and key parts of the original Series S leak ahead of time. "WalkingCat" has now released the whole Virtual Press Briefing in four parts on Twitter.

The stream was originally planned to happen sometime next week, Phil Spencer has claimed, but the company decided that, in the wake of the comprehensive leak, they could at least announce some parts of what they had planned on their own terms.

This Virtual Press Briefing sees Phil Spencer joined by head of platform engineering and hardware Liz Hamren and head of Xbox partnerships and ecosystems Sarah Bond, who are being interviewed by Cindy Walker, senior director of Xbox platform marketing.

There's nothing new in the briefing that hasn't already been revealed by Microsoft of leaks of the last few days, so it will be interesting to see if the company still decide to release the full stream themselves anyway. What's almost certain is that, behind the scenes, Phil Spencer will be flipping tables and launching internal investigations to discover just how such a leak could have occurred.

The next-generation will get started with the Xbox Series X and the Series S set to launch on the 10th November 2020. The Series X will retail for £449 or $499, while the Series S weighs in at £249 or $299. There will also be a 24-month subscription offer bundling a console, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and EA Play together starting from an exceedingly tempting $24.99 / £20.99 per month for Series S, and $34.99 / £28.99 per month for Series X.

The Xbox Series S is the smallest Xbox console yet, 60% smaller than the Xbox Series X, but coming with reduced power as well. It sports an 8-Core Zen 2 CPU, but this is clocked at 3.6Ghz or 3.4Ghz with SMT, putting it 200Mhz shy of the bigger console. That's paired with a 20 CU RDNA 2 GPU at 1.565Ghz, which produces 4 TFLOPS of power. There's also 10GB of GDDR6 RAM, with 8GB at 224GB/s (roughly half the speed of the Series X) and 2GB at a much, much lower 56GB/s on the Series S to cater for system processes. The 512GB SSD is an exact match for the speed of the Series X, and the console will take the same 1TB expansion card SSDs.

It's now been confirmed by Microsoft, the Series S will not run the Xbox One X enhanced versions of games, and will instead revert to the base Xbox One S versions of the game. Even so, it will still make a step forward over the base Xbox One, able to steady or improve frame rates, dynamic resolutions and implement system level tweaks on texture filtering and Auto HDR.

via GamesRadar


Epic's next free weekly game confirmed, check the full list here

It's that time of week again. Epic have gone live with their latest care package of gaming goodness with Railway Empire and Where The Water Tastes Like Wine both available to download and keep forever for those who have a Epic Games Store account.

If you're wondering how to get these free games, it's super easy. Simply visit the EGS website or boot up the Epic client where you'll be able to find both titles and add them to your library. You have until September 17th to claim them with Stick It To The Man! taking their place the following seven days.

Going back to this week's offering, it's a strange mix or simulation and storytelling. Here's what Steve had to say about Where The Water Tastes Like Wine in his review:

Summing up my experience with Where The Water Tastes Like Wine is more complex than a numerical score can truly represent. The aesthetics, soundtrack, and writing here are wonderful and more than reward the patience required to fully unravel the game's mysteries. Playing it resulted in an immersion that went beyond my niggles with the gameplay. It is clear from my comments here that the game won't have the universal appeal to match the political and social importance of its themes and message. It is a game that should be played by many, but that will probably frustrate as many as it ensnares. It more than lived up to my expectations and if you are interested in exploring the ways in which games can go beyond other media in their use of narrative then it is unmissable.

You can check out the full list of Epic free games below along with some of our reviews:

Stick It To The Man! September 17-24, 2020
Railway Empire September 10-17, 2020
Where The Water Tastes Like Wine September 10-17, 2020
Into The Breach September 3-10, 2020
Hitman August 27-September 3, 2020
Shadowrun Collection August 27-September 3, 2020
God's Trigger August 20-27, 2020
Enter the Gungeon August 20-27, 2020
The Alto Collection August 13-20, 2020
Remnant: From the Ashes August 13-20, 2020
A Total War Saga: Troy August 13-14, 2020
Wilmot's Warehouse August 6-13, 2020
Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP July 30 – August 6, 2020
Barony July 30 – August 6, 2020
20XX July 30 – August 6, 2020
Next Up Hero July 23-30, 2020
Tacoma July 23-30, 2020
Torchlight II July 16-23, 2020
Lifeless Planet: Premier Edition July 9-16, 2020
The Escapists 2 July 9-16, 2020
Killing Floor 2 June 9-16, 2020
Hue July 2-9, 2020
Stranger Things 3 June 25-July 2, 2020
AER Memories of Old June 18-25, 2020
Ark: Survival Evolved June 11-18, 2020
Samurai Shodown NeoGeo Collection June 11-18, 2020
Overcooked June 4-11, 2020
Borderlands: The Handsome Collection May 28-June 4, 2020
Civilization VI May 21-28, 2020
Grand Theft Auto V May 14-21, 2020
Death Coming May 7-14, 2020
Crashlands April 30-May 7, 2020
Amnesia: The Dark Descent April 30-May 7, 2020
For the King April 23-30, 2020
Just Cause 4 April 16-23, 2020
Wheels of Aurelia April 16-23, 2020
Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments April 9-16, 2020
Close to the Sun April 9-16, 2020
Gone Home April 2-9, 2020
Drawful 2 April 2-9, 2020
Hob April 2-9, 2020
Totally Reliable Delivery Service April 1-8, 2020
World War Z March 26-April 2, 2020
Torment x Punisher March 26-April 2, 2020
Figment March 26-April 2, 2020
Watch Dogs March 19-26, 2020
The Stanley Parable March 19-26, 2020
A Short Hike March 12-19, 2020
Mutazione March 12-19, 2020
Anodyne 2 March 12-19, 2020
Gonner March 5-12, 2020
Offworld Trading Company March 5-12, 2020
Inner Space February 27-March 5, 2020
Faeria February 20-27, 2020
Assassin's Creed Syndicate February 20-27, 2020
Aztez February 13-20, 2020
Kingdom Come: Deliverance February 13-20, 2020
Ticket to Ride February 6-13, 2020
Carcassonne February 6-13, 2020
Farming Simulator 19 January 30-February 6, 2020
The Bridge January 23-30, 2020
Horace January 16-23, 2020
Sundered: Eldritch Edition January 9-16, 2020
Darksiders Warmastered Edition January 1-9, 2020
Darksiders 2 Dethinitive Edition January 1-9, 2020
Steep January 1-9, 2020
Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair December 31, 2019
Hello Neighbor December 30, 2019
The Talos Principle December 29, 2019
Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun December 28, 2019
Hyper Light Drifter December 27, 2019
FTL: Faster Than Light December 26, 2019
Totally Accurate Battle Simulator December 25, 2019
Celeste December 24, 2019
Ape Out December 23, 2019
Little Inferno December 22, 2019
Superhot December 21, 2019
Towerfall Ascension December 20, 2019
Into the Breach December 19, 2019
The Wolf Among Us December 12-19, 2019
The Escapists December 12-19, 2019
Jotun: Valhalla Edition December 6-12, 2019
Rayman Legends November 29-December 6, 2019
Bad North November 21-29, 2019
The Messenger November 14-21, 2019
Ruiner November 7-14, 2019
Nuclear Throne November 7-14, 2019
Costume Quest October 31-November 7, 2019
Soma October 31-November 7, 2019
Layers of Fear October 24-October 31, 2019
Q.U.B.E.2 October 24-October 31, 2019
Alan Wake: American Nightmare October 17-24, 2019
Observer October 17-24, 2019
Surviving Mars October 10-17, 2019
Minit October 3-10, 2019
Metro 2033 Redux September 26-October 3, 2019
Everything September 26-October 3, 2019
Lego Batman Trilogy September 19-26, 2019
Batman: Arkham Collection September 19-26, 2019
Conarium September 12-19, 2019
ABZU September 5-12, 2019
The End is Nigh September 5-12, 2019
Celeste August 29-September 5, 2019
Inside August 29-September 5, 2019
Fez August 22-29, 2019
Hyper Light Drifter August 15-22, 2019
Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden August 15-22, 2019
GNOG August 8-15, 2019
For Honor August 2-9, 2019
Alan Wake August 2-9, 2019
This War of Mine July 25-August 2, 2019
Moonlighter July 25-August 2, 2019
Limbo July 18-July 25, 2019
Torchlight July 11-18, 2019
Overcooked July 4-11, 2019
Last Day of June June 27-July 4, 2019
Rebel Galaxy June 20-27, 2019
Enter the Gungeon June 13-20, 2019
Kingdom: New Lands June 6-13, 2019
City of Brass May 30-6, 2019
Rime May 23-30, 2019
Stories Untold May 16-23, 2019
World of Goo May 2-16, 2019
Transistor April 18-May 2, 2019
The Witness April 4-18, 2019
Oxenfree March 21-April 4, 2019
Slime Rancher March 7-21, 2019
Thimbleweed Park February 21-March 7, 2019
Axiom Verge February 7-21, 2019
The Jackbox Party Pack January 24-February 7, 2019
What Remains of Edith Finch January 11-24, 2019
Super Meat Boy December 28, 2018-January 10, 2019
Subnautica December 12-27, 2018

 

Source: Epic Games


Crash Bandicoot 4 demo announced – here's how to get access

It's crazy to think that in just under a month's time we'll be playing the sequel to 1998 PlayStation classic, Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped. Needless to say, we're pretty excited to get our hands on Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time ahead of its October 2nd release date via the game's upcoming demo.

Activision and developer Toys For Bob have confirmed that a demo will be available on both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One next week – from September 16th to be exact. This small preview of the platforming sequel will give fans a look at two levels from Crash Bandicoot 4. Not only will you get to play as the maniacal marsupial himself, Dr. Neo Cortex will also feature in this demo as one of the several playable characters in the full game.

According to Toys For Bob, this demo will also give players a deeper look at some of the game's new Quantum Mask mechanics. By using the Kupuna-Wa and Lani-Loli masks, you will be able to bend time and even phase objects in and out of existence.

So, how do you get your hands on this demo? Similar to how Activision handled the demo for Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 you will need to digitally pre-order Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time for exclusive access. This applies to both new and existing pre-orders leading up to the game's October 2nd launch.

Crash 4 will be the first mainline entry in the popular franchise for more than a decade. After the original PlayStation trilogy back in the 90s – followed by Crash Team Racing – the series changed hands. Passing from Universal to Vivendi, before ending up with Activision, they spawned a chain of experimental Crash games, none of which met the high bar set by its creators, Naughty Dog.

Having fallen off the grid, Crash Bandicoot made an epic comeback with the launch of Crash Bandicoot: The N. Sane Trilogy, a triple dose of Crash remakes developer by Vicarious Visions. With Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fuelled being another smash hit, Crash 4 was inevitable and hopefully after many long years it will be able to carry the torch.

Source: Press Release


Kena: Bridge of Spirits has been delayed to 2021

PlayStation console exclusive Kena: Bridge of Spirits has been delayed from a release around the launch of the PlayStation 5 to Q1 2021. The game will be coming to PS5, PS4 and PC.

The team at Ember Lab cite the difficulties of working at home slowing down development and forcing them to take a little bit longer before they bring their adorable game out.

Kena: Bridge of Spirits was one of the games that wowed the audience of the PlayStation 5 reveal event in June. The game's gorgeous graphics on PlayStation 5 combined with a magical world had people salivating for what next-gen could offer almost as much as Sony's first party exclusives.

Kena is, however, a cross-gen release with a PlayStation 4 version and free upgrades to PlayStation 5 to be offered. The game will also be coming to PC with some rather modest system requirements, and is a timed exclusive on console, so Xbox owners will simply be coming to the party a year or so later.

The game is a story-driven action adventure in which Kena, a young Spirit Guide, heads off on a quest to discover what led to the demise of her village. Along the way she finds and builds a team of spirit companions called the Rot. You'll be buddying up with them and enhancing their abilities to let you manipulate the environment. They're also totes adorbs.

 


Microsoft confirm backwards compatible games on Xbox Series S will use the Xbox One S versions

When the full specs of the Xbox Series S were revealed we noted that "The Series S has less of its speedier RAM (8GB) than the Xbox One X makes available to developers (9GB), and it also runs at 224GB/s compared to the One X's 326GB/s. The implication is that for backward compatibility to Xbox One titles, the Series S would not be able to run games in the One X mode, and would instead step back to original Xbox One resolutions up to 1080p."

That has now been confirmed by Microsoft, the Series S will not run the Xbox One X enhanced versions of games, and will instead revert to the base Xbox One S versions of the game.

Here's Microsoft's statement:

Xbox Series S was designed to be the most affordable next generation console and play next generation games at 1440P at 60fps. To deliver the highest quality backwards compatible experience consistent with the developer's original intent, the Xbox Series S runs the Xbox One S version of backward compatible games while applying improved texture filtering, higher and more consistent frame rates, faster load times and Auto HDR.

Microsoft do, however, explain that the Xbox Series S will run those games better than the original Xbox One hardware, pulling the same kinds of tricks that the Xbox Series X will. On the simplest level, this will allow games to run with more consistent frame rates and at the top end of the dynamic resolutions set by the developer. Games will also load quicker, especially when installed to the Series S' internal SSD storage.

However, Xbox Series X | S backward compatibility can also overrule the original game coding and implement improved texture filtering, potentially double the game's frame rate from 30Hz to 60Hz or from 60Hz to 120Hz, and implement an Auto HDR feature to add HDR to games not designed with it in mind.

Even so, it's a strange sideways step from the Xbox One X to the Xbox Series S for anyone thinking of playing Xbox One games on the console.

In case you missed them, here are the full specs for the Series S and Series X.

Xbox Series X Xbox Series S
CPU 8-Core Zen 2 @ 3.8Ghz / 3.6Ghz w/ SMT 8–Core Zen 2 @ 3.6Ghz / 3.4Ghz w/ SMT
GPU RDNA 2 GPU – 52 CUs @ 1.825 GHz RDNA 2 – 20 CUs @ 1.565 GHz
GPU Power 12.15 TFLOPS 4 TFLOPS
Memory 16 GB GDDR6 10 GB GDDR6
Memory Bandwidth 10GB @ 560 GB/s, 6GB @ 336 GB/s 8GB @ 224 GB/s, 2GB @ 56 GB/s
Performance Target 4K @ 60 FPS, Up to 120 FPS 1440p @ 60 FPS, Up to 120 FPS
Internal Storage 1 TB PCIe Gen 4 NVME SSD 512 GB PCIe Gen 4 NVME SSD
I/O Throughput 2.4 GB/s (Raw), 4.8 GB/s (Compressed) 2.4 GB/s (Raw), 4.8 GB/s (Compressed)
Expandable Storage 1 TB NVME Expansion Card 1 TB NVME Expansion Card
Optical Drive 4K UHD Blu-Ray Drive Digital Only
Video Output HDMI 2.1 – Up to 4K at 120Hz, 8K, VRR HDMI 2.1 – Up to 4K at 120Hz, 8K, VRR
Backward Compatibility Xbox One, Xbox 360, Xbox Xbox One, Xbox 360, Xbox
Availability 10th November 2020 10th November 2020
Price $499 / £449 / €499 $299 / £249 / €299

 

Source: Gamespew


4 Minutes To The Apocalypse announced, will launch in 2021

You may be mistaken for thinking we'll only have four minutes to the an actual apocalypse given this year, but fear not we're not there. At least not yet. Instead the title of this story is about Atomic Wolf Games' new game 4 Minutes To The Apocalypse, an action RPG that is set to be released in 2021 for PC, PS4, and Xbox One. It is a game set in the wake of a nuclear apocalypse but instead of roaming a wasteland you are stuck on a submarine.

The story of 4 Minutes To The Apocalypse is set on the submarine called Arizona 12. This is not a regular submarine but one of "The Last Day Weapons", one of the main deterrents to stop nuclear exchanges. It was never activated and no one on the submarine knows what is going on above the water. The Arizona 12 does have the power to end the lives of any remaining survivors on Earth, and that is where the player comes in. Your crewmates are not handling the apocalypse well, and some of them may be considering using the Arizona 12 to end absolutely everything.

The main features of 4 Minutes To The Apocalypse include:

  • Explore the sinister space of the Arizona-12.
  • Discover the secret behind events that happened on the submarine during the nuclear blast.
  • Fight with enemies using weapons you're able to find, or even the everyday object surrounding you.
  • When all else fails, and you have no chance against your opponent in a direct encounter, look for hiding places so as not to get killed.
  • Try to take control of the submarine and stop the inevitable.

4 Minutes To The Apocalypse has not been announced for the PS5 or the Xbox Series X/S.

Source: Press Release


What We Played #467 – Marvel's Avengers, Fuser & Surgeon Simulator 2

Another working week in the bag, and for us at TSA that's meant covering the bonanza of the Xbox Series S leak, confirmation, trailer, pricing, release date, spec comparison, and a little bit of silliness with photoshop.

And yet, amidst all of that nonsense, we've also managed to find just a smidgeon of time for gaming. I've been playing a little bit of Surgeon Simulator 2 with Miguel and Tom – we're slowly working our way up to a review – dabbled with the single player of Marvel's Avengers, which is pretty decent, and enjoyed my first look at the overhauled endurance racing of Ride 4.

Dom has had a busy week waiting for Madden 21 updates so he can review it in a not-quite-as-broken form, playing Super Bomberman R Online on Stadia, and previewing the exciting Fuser from Harmonix and co-op dino shooter Second Extinction.

It's been a return to Monster Hunter World: Iceborne for Nic, as he hopes to hunt all the monsters someday, while Jim has been keeping up with Avengers since launch – "It's still fun if very repetitive" – and got back into Final Fantasy VI with a fresh play on iOS.

Aran has been plugging away at Final Fantasy VII Remake, getting up to Chapter 9 so far and thoroughly enjoying it, while Steve is clearing the Wolfenstein II DLC so he can reclaim the space on his hard drive.

Steve has also been playing more BPM for review. It's "the most ridiculously difficult game I have ever played. In about 70 runs I have beaten the first level four times, and the second once (and that was only when playing with the rhythm mechanic switched off, defeating the point of the game really)."

Jason has been playing more Rocket League, more Heroes of Hammerwatch, and swearing up a storm while playing Golf With Your Friends Soon-to-be-Enemies.

And a trio of reviews have been on Ade's plate, who thoroughly enjoyed the inventiveness of beat 'em up Shing!, the bewitching Metroidvania Minoria, and Tamarin, "a game about a cute fluffy little uzi totting monkey."

Tuffcub has played Destiny 2.

Now then, what haveyou been playing the last week?


Shing! Review

Honestly, you wait decades for a little innovation in the side-scrolling beat 'em up genre, desperately playing countless duff 'em ups in the pursuit of something, anything, that's new, and then one game comes along with more innovation in its short run-time than the rest combined. Shing! may have its issues, but a lack of fresh ideas certainly isn't one of them.

A horde of Yokai have stolen the ultimate McGuffin, 'The Starseed', and its up to a trio of Ninjas and one Highland warrior to get it back. That's pretty much all the plot you need, and it's also the only excuse Shing! requires to send up to four players, over local co-op or online, on a violent mission from A to B. As you inventively hack apart every demon you find on your way, Shing! plays exactly as you'd expect a side-scrolling brawler to then, apart from the small matter of its control scheme.

This is the marmite moment. Pass this test and find the proverbial marmite slathered toast a tasty treat and you'll have a lot of fun with Shing! Spit the gloopy yeast extract all over the floor in disgust, and you'll probably bounce right off Shing!, never to return. What's with all the marmite analogies and what the heck am I talking about you ask?

Well, where the attack combos in most brawlers are triggered through an increasingly complex string of button presses, usually revolving around linking together normal and strong strikes. In Shing! every single attack is activated with a flick, nudge or rotation of the analogue stick.

Assess your reaction right now. Does the thought of controlling your attacks with an analogue stick intrigue or revile you? Going into Shing!, I was also doubtful that the approach would work, but to my surprise, the control scheme worked – it worked really well. I've always struggled to grasp long combinations of button prompts – Marvel VS Capcom was a direct cause of many stress dreams for me – but Shing! neatly sidesteps all of these issues with a much more intuitive approach.

Flick the stick in an upward diagonal and your fighter responds in kind, slicing at the head of her demonic foe. It makes complete logical sense and avoids the confusion caused by more abstract controls. Soon I was combining lengthy combos with barely any playtime at all. My fighter launching a quintet of enemies into the air, slicing and dicing for added air-time, before dashing behind the next bunch of baddies and following up with strikes from behind. It was awesome.

The issue with giving the player such immediate power is ensuring there's a satisfying level of challenge to be had. Fear not, because Shing! manages this and them some – this can be a hard game. Whilst the visual design of the enemies is uninspired, their attacks are anything but. Each foe you face has several specials designed to knock you out of a combo string. Different combinations of these enemies can offer significant challenge, as you have to skilfully asses the situation to best aim and time your attacks and avoid being countered. It's a satisfying gameplay loop, one that is lifted immeasurably when three pals join you to experience the cathartic chaos as a unit.

Of course, like with any walk and punch-athon, there's a point where repetition can set in and this is where developers Mass Creation have really put their thinking caps on to keep things fresh. First off, this is a funny game. Genuinely laugh-out-loud chucklesome. Sure, some of the jokes can come off a little childish, but they are delivered with such energy and enthusiasm by the talented voice over cast that you can't help but let down your adult sensibilities and giggle along. The tragic fate of Bob the temp was a highlight. Then there's the dialogue moments where the characters just sit and have a chat. These tea-breaks provide an opportunity to get to know the cast of characters. Bichiko, Tetsuo, Aiko and Wilhelm stopped being visual parodies of Mai Shiranui, Strider, Ayane and generic Viking and became more rounded personalities. I became rather attached to this cast of loveable reprobates and their banter over the course of the game. At any point in the game you can switch to a different character, ensuring you can freshen things up for yourself with a brand-new move set on the fly.

Boss fights get a degree of innovation too. Rather than just being a straight-up smackdown to slowly, imperceptibly, bring down a big bad's health bar,     most boss fights inject a spot of most welcome puzzle solving. One example of this that avoids major spoilers is the minion gobbling first boss – who just so happens to be virtually indestructible. Until you discover that a beam of light can be reflected back into his eyes, blinding him so that he eats a bomb demon and is damaged from the inside out. It's a neat idea and serves to break up the hack and slash, forcing players to adopt a more considered approach. Sure, there's a few bosses that resort to the player just having to wail away on them but there's some real treats of a boss fight to be discovered too.

So, where does Shing! go a little awry? Visually the game is a tad indistinct, the 2.5D aesthetic giving everything a mundane look in stark contrast to the sharp anime seen in the opening cinematic. There's also some numerous and lengthy load screens to sit through. Are these really necessary? Especially when they incessantly pop-up to slow the pace down of otherwise bite-sized action sequences. Hopefully this is something that can be fixed in future patches.

Then there's the objectification of the female characters, which, let's face it, is unnecessary and embarrassing for all involved. Why is Bichiko wearing a thong and bikini into battle and why is every woman in the game terrified of trousers? It's 2020, we don't need or want this. Or lets have some fun and put the male cast and all the yokai in thongs too, I reckon Wilhelm would rock this look.


Anda Seat Fnatic Edition Gaming Chair Review

Gaming is a tough gig. You and I both know it. The stamina required to look, unblinkingly at a hi-res monitor for multiple hours, pressing buttons, pulling triggers and moving analogue sticks with split-second efficiency is far beyond most modern athletes, while the acumen required to instinctively know every route, every tactic and every possible outcome for an encounter is the kind of thing military strategists work their whole lives to attain.

Given that it's clearly the hardest hobby, you need to look after yourself, and the folks over at Anda Seat have crafted a gaming chair in collaboration with Fnatic that's going to keep your posterior performance, and your posture, in peak condition.

Gaming chairs are heavy. It's always something of a surprise when they arrive and the box has caused the courier to have some kind of lumbar region episode. The benefit of that is that you can be certain that the components Anda Seat have used are going to be strong and robust, and once you start putting the thing together there'll be no doubt in your mind that it's going to be able to take a serious amount of parking, sitting, or taking the weight off.

Before you can get to the sitting part, you are going to have to put it together. Anda Seat have included everything you need in the box, including tools, so there's no need to go searching around for your toolbox or that Philips screwdriver that lives at the bottom of the draw in your kitchen.

It is entirely possible to put it together by yourself – I did – but connecting the backrest to the base of the seat is difficult without someone else to help. A bit of brute force might also be needed to get the caster wheels onto the five-star base, and you're then going to have to lift the chair portion up onto the wheels too. Once you've secured it all together though, the remainder, including the covers that hide all of the mechanisms, are simple and easy to attach. That second person might speed things along a touch, but it's all a relatively straightforward process that's going to result in a fully functioning, exceptionally cool-looking gaming chair.

The Anda Seat Fnatic Gaming Chair wears its gamer credentials all over in a style that's likely to be marmite to some. Personally I think it looks fantastic, with bold and bright looks and credible styling that match up perfectly with Fnatic's eSports outlook. There's Anda Seat and Fnatic logos all over the place as well, to prevent anyone watching your latest Twitch stream from being in any doubt where your chair came from.

It's got a deep, chunky backrest that has a huge black Fnatic logo embossed onto the back, while a smaller Anda Seat logo is stitched into the headrest. There's also two open sockets built into the backrest, aping the look of a racing car bucket seat, though they also perform a function as strapping for some of the chair's optional cushioning runs through them.

You'll want to be using that additional cushioning from day one; the lumbar support alone has to be one of the most comfortable additions I've come across in a gaming chair. When it's combined with the memory foam head pillow, you'll feel perfectly supported throughout you time in the chair.

Where some other manufacturer's pillows and cushions aren't held on in a particularly clear, obvious, or useful way, the offerings here fit perfectly into the curvature of the chair, while the thick elastic straps and chunky clasps are built to last. They do have the effect of making the chair look a little like it's wearing a pair of braces from the back, but I actually kind of like that.

The seat itself is well foamed and sprung, with huge, thick foam cushioning for you to perch upon, and it's no word of a lie to say it's the comfiest gaming chair I've had the opportunity to sit in. If you also find yourself needing a short snooze, it reclines to a frankly ridiculous, near-horizontal, position, while somehow staying resolutely upright.

The only mild disappointment with the Anda Seat Fnatic Edition Gaming Chair is that they've not used real leather, opting instead for premium PVC leather like you'd find in a BMW's interior. The advantage is that it'll have kept the cost down – it still has an RRP of £399.99 – it's easy to clean, and it's liable to be plenty durable in the long term.

In terms of control options Anda Seat have covered every possible base. From 4D armrests – that's armrests that go up and down, forward and back, left and right, and rotate on a central axis – to hydraulic height adjustment and variable reclining angles, you will be able to find a position and height that's just right for you.


Microsoft Flight Simulator patch 2 coming soon, here is a preview of what to expect

Asobo Studio has announced that patch 2 for Microsoft Flight Simulator is in its final stages of preparation, and it should be available within the next 10 days. While the studio has not released full patch notes yet, it has released a preview set stating what changes there will be. Asobo has confirmed there will be updates to the aircraft, the aerodynamics, the user interface, and animations among other changes. Asobo also confirmed it is working on its video series with an update on that expected next week. The world will be changes a bit too, and there will be new additions to the market. You can check out the patch 2 preview notes below.

PATCH #2 HIGHLIGHTS (full patch notes will be released with the patch)

  • Performance improvements
  • ATC updates
  • UI updates
  • Aerodynamic updates
  • Aircraft updates
  • Cockpit visuals and animation updates
  • General aviation system updates
  • General aviation avionic updated
  • Airliner system updates
  • Airliner avionic updates
  • Live Weather updates – (e.g. 225/3kt wind fixed, persistency fixed, etc.)
  • Upgraded multiplayer servers
  • Marketplace updates
  • Content Manager updates
  • Localization updates
  • Accessibility updates
  • Camera updates
  • Bush Trip updates (e.g. completion trigger fixed/Completionist achievement fixed)
  • World updates

In our early review impressions, Stefan wrote:

Microsoft Flight Simulator is remarkable. A recreation of the entire world that you can explore at your leisure, whether you want to put on a faux-airliner captain's hat and take on some intercontinental flights, or just hop in a prop plane while wearing your pyjamas. As you will have seen over the last year or so, it can look absolutely stunning.

You can read the full article here.

Source: Asobo


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