Archive for the ‘Gaming & Culture’ Category

Bethesda’s big VR games now have release dates, and they’re all in 2017

August 22nd, 2017
Nice box art.

Nice box art. (credit: id Software)

Bethesda had previously announced that it would release not one, not two, but three VR versions of its biggest franchises by the end of this year. Rather than disappoint headset hopefuls with a last-minute delay, the company has gone ahead and announced firm release dates for all three.

Mark your calendars, real or virtual: Doom VFR will land on both the HTC Vive and PlayStation VR on December 1. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR will launch exclusively on PlayStation VR on November 17. And Fallout 4 VR will round out the company’s 2017 VR schedule by launching exclusively on the HTC Vive on December 12.

Bethesda has not announced plans for any of those games to appear outside of their announced platforms. While it’s likely that at least one of the three games will flutter out to another platform, we at Ars Technica would bet cacodemons to cacodonuts that Bethesda has no intention of releasing a game on an Oculus-branded platform anytime soon. Or ever.

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New Godzilla movie promises a radically different direction for the original kaiju

August 22nd, 2017

The first trailer for the anime Godzilla: Monster Planet, coming to you on Netflix later this year.

A new Godzilla flick from Toho Studios is always cause for celebration, but Godzilla: Monster Planet is a next-level treat for kaiju and science fiction fans. The first in a planned three-movie anime series, Monster Planet takes the Big G in a bold new direction: the deep future.

The tireless fans at Tokusatsu Network have provided a quick translation of the film’s premise, which reinvents the Godzilla mythos just as much as Shin Godzilla did last year. The series begins with the premise that the kaiju menace has gotten so terrible by the late 20th century that humans have to leave the planet. So, in 2048, an AI “managed under the central government” picks a group of humans to board a generation ship bound for the Tau Ceti system.

Unfortunately, the planets orbiting Tau Ceti turn out to be uninhabitable. Soon, political infighting breaks out on the generation ship. Some humans want to return to Earth, while others think it will be too dangerous. Finally, a group of “Earth Returnists,” led by protagonist Haruo, forces the remnants of the human species to pilot the failing generation ship home.

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Posted in anime, Gaming & Culture, Godzilla, godzilla monster planet | Comments (0)

You missed your first chance to pre-order the Super NES Classic Edition

August 22nd, 2017

Enlarge / The Super NES Classic Edition is out standing in its field. (credit: Seb Anthony)

When Nintendo warned in early August that preorders for the Super NES Classic Edition would start “later this month,” we had no idea that two major retailers would sell out of their allotments in the middle of a random Monday night. That’s just what happened late last night, though, with Amazon and Best Buy both selling out while most of the country slept.

Best Buy’s preorders went live at about 1:30am ET this morning while Amazon’s started around 5:00am ET, according to reports. Both sites sold out of their initial supplies within minutes. The quick sell-outs came despite Nintendo’s promise that it will “produce significantly more units of Super NES Classic Edition than we did of NES Classic Edition” (which shipped 2.3 million units) and that “a significant amount of additional systems will be shipped to stores for launch day and throughout the balance of the calendar year.”

With Nintendo unwilling to commit to a production schedule beyond the end of the year, though, early customers seem to be clamoring for what appears to be another limited supply. European preorders that went live in June started showing up for resale at 150 percent markups on sites like eBay.

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Danish submarine mystery takes gruesome, bizzare turns

August 22nd, 2017

Enlarge / The UV3 Nautilus in early sea trials in 2008. (credit: Frumperino)

On Monday, a Copenhagen Police spokesperson released new information regarding the investigation into the disappearance of Kim Wall, a Swedish journalist who had been last seen aboard the UC3 Nautilus—the crowd-funded, amateur-built diesel-electric submarine designed and piloted by Peter Madsen. Madsen now confirms that Wall died aboard the submarine, and that he dumped her body overboard. But he claimed to police and prosecutors that her death was accidental.

Details of the investigation had been sealed (protected under the “closed doors” provisions of Danish law), as the criminal investigation is still underway. But after a request from both prosecutors and Madsen’s defense attorney, the court allowed the police department to release the following statement:

The defendant has explained to the police and the Court, that there was an accident on board which caused Kim Wall’s death and that he consequently buried her at sea at a non-defined location in the Bay of Køge. Copenhagen Police may additionally disclose that the preliminary charge of manslaughter is upheld. As the investigation of the case is still covered by “closed doors,” no further information can be given.

Madsen continues to be held on charges of involuntary manslaughter, as the investigation continues.

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SNES Classic Mini: Quick preview by someone who has never barrel rolled

August 22nd, 2017

Sebastian Anthony

I have an awkward confession to make: growing up, I never owned a SNES. I had a NES, but then no other console until the N64: my dad brought an Olivetti 8086 PC home from the office, and I was much more interested in learning how to use MS-DOS than play games. Imagine the collective chagrin, then, when I was first to receive the SNES Classic Mini, rather than Kyle, Sam, or Mark.

All this is to say: forgive me if I don’t do the SNES and its hallowed history justice. I am vaguely aware of what a barrel role is, but I have never performed one. The purpose of this story is to give you a good idea of what’s inside the Mini SNES box, and to tell you about a few other special features that haven’t been widely publicised. More in-depth coverage from one of the aforementioned Nintendo fanboys will follow.

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HP stuffed the best gaming desktop perks into the 10-pound Omen X laptop

August 22nd, 2017

Enlarge (credit: HP)

HP gave its Omen gaming line a big boost before this year’s E3 with the launch of new gaming PCs, peripherals, a GPU accelerator, and a VR backpack. While the company wants to provide devices for all kinds of gamers, its newest launch targets enthusiasts who don’t want to compromise power when choosing a portable device. The new Omen X laptop is a behemoth gaming notebook, measuring 16.73 x 12.88 x 1.43 inches and weighing 10.69 pounds. All that space is for good reason: the Omen X trades svelte for substance as it features a bunch of perks typically only seen in stationary gaming PCs.

One of the biggest things HP emphasized about the Omen X laptop is its overclocking abilities. The Omen X laptop can be configured how you’d like and you can choose to get it with Intel’s 7th gen Core i7-7820HK CPU, which is factory unlocked for overclocking. Gaming enthusiasts (and general PC enthusiast as well) are more likely to experiment with overclocking their devices to get the most performance out of the CPU as possible. However, that would normally be taxing on the entire system and the processor in particular since it produces extra heat.

As such, HP designed the internals of the Omen X laptop differently from those in its previous Omen laptops to better handle the heat produced by overclocking. HP also claims the design reduces thermal throttling that can limit the overclocking affects. The company removed the optical drive and included higher-performance fans that allow for more airflow through the machine than in the existing Omen laptops. With the help of an integrated vapor chamber and bottom vent holes, the internals better move heat away from the important stuff (CPU, GPU) and expel air through the back and sides of the laptop (which also keeps the heat away from you, the user).

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Posted in Gaming & Culture, Gaming Laptop, HP, omen x, omen x laptop, overclocking, Tech | Comments (0)

I was one of the first humans to see a solar eclipse in virtual reality

August 21st, 2017

Enlarge / Look all you want… in VR, this kind of view of the Sun is completely safe to stare at.

I’ve been told that being present for a total eclipse of the Sun is a life-changing experience. But I wasn’t able to get my act together to travel to the path of totality for today’s event. Luckily, I am part of the first generation to be able to experience an eclipse vicariously through the magic of virtual reality. While seeing a total eclipse in VR wasn’t exactly a life-changing experience, it was one of the best examples I’ve seen of the power and promise of live, 360-degree video.

I first tried to view CNN’s 360-degree Facebook Live video coverage of the eclipse on my Oculus Rift. Despite numerous tries, though, the livestream never showed up as a choice on the list of “New” or “Top Pick” videos available on the Oculus Video app. Without a built-in search function or any way to navigate to a specific URL or some such, viewing the eclipse on the Rift was a bust.

As a backup, I dug out the latest Samsung Gear VR headset and a Galaxy S7 Edge. While I waited for some necessary updates to download, I was able to watch CNN’s “VR” coverage in a simple Web browser window. I used the mouse to tilt the virtual camera between the people on the ground and the Sun in the sky. Having control of the viewpoint was nice, but watching through a small window on a laptop screen didn’t really feel all that different from watching similar coverage on TV.

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Posted in Eclipse, Gaming & Culture, science, VR | Comments (0)

America’s biggest board game convention: Gen Con in pictures

August 21st, 2017

Every year, 60,000+ tabletop enthusiasts converge on Indianapolis to take part in Gen Con, the biggest board game party in America. The Indiana Convention center is the epicenter, but the entire city turns into a Bizzaro World where everywhere you go, random people are talking CCG strategy or discussing the proper way to build an economic engine in that hot new Eurogame. Just about every table in the city has a board game spread across it. Exhausting as it is to game for four days straight, there’s no place in the world we’d rather be.

This year’s sold-out 50th-anniversary con was bigger and better than ever, and we were there to take it all in (well, not all of it). If you weren’t able to make it, our gallery above will give you a taste of the madness.

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Final Fantasy 15: Windows Edition coming to PC in 2018

August 21st, 2017

Final Fantasy XV is coming to PC in the form of Final Fantasy XV: Windows Edition in “early 2018,” Square Enix announced today.

To make up for the delay following the release of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions of the game in November of 2016, Final Fantasy XV: Windows Edition includes all the DLC and updates previously released on console, as well as some PC-exclusive graphical enhancements.

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Posted in gamescom 2017, gameworks, Gaming & Culture, NVIDIA, Square Enix | Comments (0)

StarCraft Remastered review: Brood War keeps on ticking, clicking

August 21st, 2017

Enlarge / It’s, uh, not coming, dude. (credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

Higher and widescreen resolution. Redone character portraits. Real-time lighting. Less compressed audio. That’s about the long and short of what’s new in StarCraft: Remastered. For $15 you can bolt these nicer-looking and sounding features onto your existing copy of the 1998 classic. (Which, even if you somehow avoided buying a Battle Chest compilation for nearly 20 years, is now free in its unaltered form.)

I’ll admit that this latest excuse to play the original StarCraft and its expansion, Brood War, appealed to me. Maybe it’s because I was eight years old at the time, but the campaign’s dark, sometimes comedic, sometimes horrific tale of space rednecks fighting giant bugs and psychic plant people has stuck with me like few games of the era. It certainly made more of an impression than the nonsensical science-fantasy soup that the series became across the StarCraft 2 trilogy.

Part of the StarCraft competitive scene is in the same boat, albeit for different reasons. “Quality of life” improvements, like better hotkeys and user interface options, made SC2 a fundamentally different experience than the first game and its expansion. It’s more accessible for casual fans (like me), but high-level players have long expressed frustration that the sequels automate too much of Brood War‘s hands-on design. There’s resurging interest in the original game among pro players and casters as a result.

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Posted in Activision Blizzard, Battle.Net, blizzard classic, Gaming & Culture, starcraft remastered | Comments (0)