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Is Overwatch Going Free-To-Play?

Is Overwatch Going Free-To-Play?

Is Overwatch Going Free-To-Play? Blizzard might be faced with some hard-hitting news: They may be forced to make Overwatch free-to-play. How could this be? Well, we already know that China has some pretty strict laws and regulations about the ability to purchase loot boxes. Since gambling is absolutely illegal in the nation, the Chinese officials have had to find a workaround with Blizzard so that Chinese citizens can still buy loot boxes. When you purchase a loot box in China, you are given more descriptive information about what’s inside of it, as well as the statistics of receiving a certain item, so that you are not forced to gamble. Even in virtual reality, gambling is illegal, it seems.

Could those same types of laws and regulations be coming to the United States? Well, they very well could, if the voice of the State of Hawaii’s Representative, Chris Lee, is heard loud enough. Representative Chris Lee is proposing two loot box bills to the U.S. House and Senate. In these bills, he proposes an end to the ability to legally purchase a game featuring loot boxes. Lee believes that this is an exploitative measure that costs gamers too heavily and takes away enjoyment of the game. Lee is quoted to have said, “I grew up playing video games my whole life. I’ve watched in firsthand the evolution of the gaming industry from one that creates new things to one that’s started to exploit [people], especially children, to maximize their own profits”.

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If the bill were to pass, that would mean that any purchasable game involving loot boxes – such as Overwatch, Call of Duty WW2, and Star Wars: Battlefront 2 would be forced to go free-to-play, or else they’d have to get rid of their loot box system entirely. This is an unprecedented measure in the gaming industry. It’s always a scary (and highly fascinating) moment when the video game industry gets in conflict with a national government. And now, it’s the United States’ turn to face the fire.

This could be a potential blow to Blizzard’s profits, and it can even cause the popularity of Overwatch to dwindle as a whole. If one or both of the proposed bills were to pass, what could this mean for Blizzard? Is Blizzard prepared to make some major changes to Overwatch and the loot box system? What other creative ways can they offer loot box prizes to dedicated players without having to make the entire game free-to-play? This week will certainly be an interesting test of Overwatch’s popularity. During the Lunar New Year event, there will be a small free-to-play event in which players can experience all aspects of the game – even the special game modes during the event – without having to pay. Perhaps this is a way to subtly test what the environment would be like if Overwatch were a free-to-play game. What do you think?

Graduated from MIT with 2nd class honours. I play games during my free time to de-stress. I also do some writing here and there. Hope you enjoy my articles!

Breaking: MechWarrior 5 Will Feature Co-Op Play!

Breaking: MechWarrior 5 Will Feature Co-Op Play!

It’s been about sixteen years since MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries was released in the US. Ever since, fans of the robot-piloting sim have been sitting on their hands waiting for a true successor. In 2013 we got MechWarrior Online, but it wasn’t quite the same. Thankfully, the end is in sight: last year we learned that Piranha Games (the current owners of the franchise) is working on a MechWarrior 5, slated to be released some time in 2018. Last year they released a small gameplay trailer showing off some of the gorgeous new graphics of the updated game, but little else. Piranha’s been pretty tight-lipped since then, but after a year of waiting they’ve finally given us a little more: just today we received a new teaser along with a few details about the new game.

Out of those details, probably the most exciting thing to learn is that MW5 is going to feature (and apparently heavily emphasis) four-person co-op play. As some older gamers may be aware, in previous incarnations of MechWarrior all of your teammates were firmly under computer control. Now, with MW5, those AI allies will be replaced with your actual, human friends (no word on what will happen if you can’t muster 4 friends to play with – I’m just speculating but I assume AI control is still an option).

The other big news that was included in the announcement is that there will be support for mods via Steam Workshop, meaning that even after the base campaign is complete we’ll still be treated to a steady stream of new content thanks to the fan community.

The rest of the details announced are fairly sparse, but still pretty juicy. Supposedly the game is based around “running your own mercenary company” – it’s not exactly clear what that means or how involved it will be, but it’s definitely intriguing. For those of you wondering where the game fits in to the larger Battletech time line, it’s reportedly set around 3015 during the Clan invasion.

The trailer doesn’t disclose all that much either (it is just a teaser, after all). The video opens with a slow pan through a mech hangar (it appears to be the same hangar from last year’s trailer). As we get some gorgeous vanity shots of all the mechs standing in their respective bays, we listen to a voice recording apparently addressed to the player character from their parents. The recording seems to be an audio-will, complete with the classic “if you’re listening to this it means we’re dead” trope. All of this is meant to imply that your deceased parents are apparently handing their mercenary company to you, the player. After the voice over the trailer then shifts to quick cuts of gameplay, in all their bot-destroying glory. It doesn’t really explain much of anything, but after a year of silence it’s definitely welcome.

Graduated from MIT with 2nd class honours. I play games during my free time to de-stress. I also do some writing here and there. Hope you enjoy my articles!

The Noob’s Guide to Subnautica

The Noob’s Guide to Subnautica

The Early Access title Subnautica is just on the verge of being released, expected to hit 1.0 some time early in 2018. Now is a great time to dive in to the underwater open-world survival sim, or to get back in to it if you were one of the gamers who took a peek at it a few years ago. The game can be a little daunting at the beginning, though, especially if you’re new to survival games in general. That’s why I’ve compiled a short guide to help you make the most of your undersea adventures. Be advised that while I’m trying my best not to ruin the plot, a few small spoilers may still slip in.

The guide is mainly going to focus on the start of the game: you’re stranded in the middle of a vast ocean, floating in a damaged life pod, with a vast array of strange and intimidating alien sea life swimming around you. You’ve managed to put out the fire that was raging inside your pod, but what do you do now?

The goal of the beginning of the game is to secure your survival by finding a sustainable source of food and water and constructing a more permanent shelter for yourself. Inside your lifepod is a small storage compartment with a tiny cache of goodies to help you get started: some fresh water, a few nutrient blocks, and some flares that can serve as a temporary light source. More importantly, hanging on your wall is a medkit fabricator: this device will spawn a fresh first aid kit for you once every game day (about 30 minutes or so). However, it won’t spawn a new kit if there’s still one sitting in the dispenser, so I recommend you check it regularly to help build up a backlog of medkits for emergency use.

These supplies only help you get started, though – in order to REALLY survive on this planet, you’re going to need to head out in to the water to gather materials. These materials can then be fed in to the fabricator hanging in your life pod in order to craft useful tools. A lot of raw minerals such as copper, quartz, and the like can be found by looking for small rocks called “outcroppings” on the ocean floor. Tapping these rocks will cause them to break open, revealing a mineral within. One of the core resources you’ll need is titanium – it’s necessary for crafting nearly every component in the game. Luckily, it happens to be one of the most abundant and easiest to find – you can get single pieces of titanium from rock outcroppings or retrieve “metal salvage”, which your fabricator can break down in to 4 titanium a pop. While you’re out there don’t forget to catch smaller fish such as the Peeper and the Bladderfish, which can be converted in to food and water, respectively.

Once you start collecting resources its important to use them wisely by crafting the most essential tools first. One of the first things you’re going to want to create is the survival knife. Not only is it one of the game’s only weapons, but it’s also essential for harvesting resources from certain plants and animals. Next you’re going to want to craft a scanner: this tool allows you scan plants and animals you come across to learn up on the game’s lore, but more importantly it lets you scan wrecked equipment scattered around the seabed, which unlocks fabricator blueprints for more complex (and more helpful!) tools. After the scanner you’re going to want the “repair tool” – as the name implies it repairs damaged equipment such as the radio on your lifepod (hint hint!). Lastly, you’re going to want to build the “Habitat Builder” – it’s essentially a handheld fabricator that allows you to craft the various rooms and connecting tubes of your very first underwater seabase.

Once you’ve gotten to the point that you can construct your own habitat your survival should be sustainable and you should be able to start exploring the world and pursuing the game’s story in earnest.

Graduated from MIT with 2nd class honours. I play games during my free time to de-stress. I also do some writing here and there. Hope you enjoy my articles!

Breaking News: PUBG is Getting a New Map!

Breaking News: PUBG is Getting a New Map!

Surprise runaway hit PUBG (PlayerUnknown’s Battle Ground) has announced that it’s adding a new map in an upcoming update. The new map, called “Erangel”, is in many ways the complete opposite of the “Miramar” map that players have been familiar with since the game’s inception. Erangel features a sparse desert setting as opposed to Miramar’s more forrested environment, but there’s still plenty of towns dotting the map where players can find loot and secure strategic vantage points against their competitors. According to the announcement new weapons and vehicles will also be included in the update.

The Erangel map appears to be designed to force PUBG veterans to rethink their favorite strategies. Thanks to the desert setting most of the map is devoid of trees or any other cover that players may be used to, thus encouraging players to seek out one of the numerous towns (featuring structures such as casinos, railyards, and construction sites). The towns also tend to feature unique tactical advantages. For instance, the town of “Valle del Mar” sports a bridge which the developers say is “the only direct route between mainland and the island.”

As for new items, it appears we’ll be getting a new weapon and two new vehicles. The weapon in question is the “Win94” rifle, which appears to be modeled after a classic Winchester. The two new vehicles are a humble pickup truck and the “Aquarail”, which appears to be some kind of small watercraft that looks almost like a wood-paneled jetski. There’s no word yet on any detailed specifications for the new items, although there has been confirmation that the Win94 and the pickup truck will be exclusive to the Erangel map (on the flip side, it has also been confirmed the Aquarail will be available on both maps).

PUBG came out of nowhere in March 2017 when Brendan Greene (known by his online handle “PlayerUnkown”) created a mod for ARMA 2, turning it in to a “Battle Royale” game. This unique style of gameplay drops a large group of online players (in PUBG’s case, 100) on to a large map, where they then scavenge for weapons and supplies and try to take out their opponents. The goal of the game is to be the last person (or last team) alive. Every few minutes the game shrinks the playable area, forcing players to abandon hiding places and confront their opponents head on until a winner is determined.

The game’s popularity has absolutely exploded, thanks in no small part to the staggering amount of Twitch streams showcasing the game as audiences cheer their favorite streamers on. Because of this, it’s entirely likely that PUBG or something like it may very well become the next hot e-Sport, following in the tradition of games like Overwatch and League of Legends. The game has long since abandoned its “mod” status and has become a full-fledged game in its own right, despite still technically being in Early Access. Official release is currently planned on PC for some time late 2017, and console ports are expected soon thereafter.

Graduated from MIT with 2nd class honours. I play games during my free time to de-stress. I also do some writing here and there. Hope you enjoy my articles!

Is Lúcio getting a nerf in Capture the Flag?

Is Lúcio getting a nerf in Capture the Flag?

Remember when last year’s Year of the Rooster event brought back Capture the Flag as a memorable game mode for players of all skill levels to enjoy? This also introduced the new map Ayutthaya for players to experience. It was a big hit, and it paved the way for Capture the Flag’s competitive season.

To nobody’s surprise, Lúcio has been a popular support pick in this particular game mode. It’s almost impossible to see a Capture the Flag match without someone choosing this versatile hero to accompany their team to victory.

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But what may come as a surprise is the fatal news that Lúcio is getting a big nerf – and soon. When this year’s Year of the Dog event springs into action, which should be happening this week, Lúcio may suddenly drop in popularity when it comes to choice hero selection.

A Bad Time for Movement Abilities

Blizzard has explained – and explicitly shown us – that any hero with movement abilities will instantly drop the flag as soon as they enable those movements. But the ever-elusive Lúcio has been able to evade this annoying circumstance. So far, his movement abilities have not impacted his flag-dropping skills. Players love to use Wall Ride to quickly escape with the flag, bringing his team to victory every time. Most people are lead to believe that this is why Lúcio is such a popular pick in Capture the Flag: If his movement abilities aren’t affected like everyone else’s, doesn’t that make him broken?

Alas, Blizzard has finally taken notice of this. Whether or not they have deemed this as an official “exploit”, they are bringing the patch hammer down hard on Lúcio. As the Year of the Dog patch is well underway, players can expect to see a nerf to Lúcio’s movement abilities during Capture the Flag events.

While unfortunate, it does make sense: Lúcio has been able to get to unreachable places and escape with the flag far too fast. It puts all other heroes to shame. With the new changes in this week’s patch, there will at least be a more balanced opportunity for heroes in Capture the Flag mode.

Also, for those of you having a tough time in the competitive mode for Capture the Flag, you might want to take a look at what Boostards and Boosting Hero have to offer. They generally offer Overwatch Boosting services, but have been known to also sell boosting for timed events like Lucioball and Uprising!

Confirmed and Updated

It’s true; Jeff Kaplan himself announced that changes to Lúcio would be coming very soon. As of the newest patch, Lúcio will now drop the flag if he uses Wall Ride.

Kaplan says, “Not only is his speed unreasonably fast with the boost from Wall Ride, but he can also get to places that are very difficult to defend against.”

If you’re playing Overwatch on the PC, you are likely already seeing this change in Lúcio’s abilities with Capture the Flag. If you are a console player, the patch should come in sometime later this week.

Have you noticed any other changes or nerfs to heroes with this newest patch? What kind of changes are you looking forward to the most? Let us know your thoughts!

Graduated from MIT with 2nd class honours. I play games during my free time to de-stress. I also do some writing here and there. Hope you enjoy my articles!

The Reason You Haven’t Been Able to Find a Graphics Card Lately

The Reason You Haven’t Been Able to Find a Graphics Card Lately

Today’s topic is not exactly related to gaming, but it’s close enough!

One of my favorite activities as a gamer has nothing to do with the games at all: the building and maintaining of a sweet ass gaming PC. I know many people prefer to just order a rig from a company or even buy a pre-built unit from the store, but I love researching and picking out the parts and assembling them in to a custom machine that’s truly and uniquely mine. That’s why it saddens me to say that right now is a terrible time to build a gaming PC or any other type of computer that requires a decent graphics card.

A quick overview for the less technical gamers out there: to render the graphics in a video game requires a massive amount of calculations. What’s more, those calculations have to be performed as close to real-time as possible or else the game would be unplayable (any player who’s had to suffer a drop in frame rates understands what I’m talking about). This kind of load would easily overwhelm your computer’s CPU (Central Processing Unit) – the “boss chip” inside your machine that handles most of the machine’s operations. That’s why gaming machines use a GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) – a special chip that’s hardwired to perform graphics-related calculations at exceedingly fast speed. Since this chip is very often mounted on its own circuit board that gets slotted in to the main “motherboard” of the computer it’s sometimes referred to as a “graphics card”.

Sometimes people are able to use graphics cards for non-graphics related tasks, if those tasks happen to require calculations that are similar to the type needed to render graphics. For example, astronomers will sometimes use PC’s with graphics cards to analyze the images from their telescopes to find stellar objects faster than a human could. Another “GPU-friendly” type of task is cryptocurrency mining – and that, unfortunately, is where the problem lies.

Many of you have probably heard about cryptocurrency in the news, since Bitcoin and a few others have recently seen a huge spike in value. I won’t go in to the technical details of how they work but the important thing to know is this: new currency is “minted” by people running mining software on their computers. This software has to perform extremely intense calculations as fast as possible… sound familiar?

That’s right – many forms of crypto mining happen to be highly effective on graphics cards (although, ironically, Bitcoin isn’t one of them). Because of this miners have been buying up GPUs like gangbusters, resulting in a stock shortage for us gamers. If you’ve been trying to do a new build recently you may have noticed that most of your favorite retailers are out of stock on the cards you want, and if you go to alternative markets like eBay you might find cards going for almost double their retail price. For example, a GTX 1070 (normally going for around $380) was recently spotted selling for $700! Now you know why.

Both AMD and Nvidia say they’re scrambling to increase production and meet demand, but it will likely be months before we see stock (and prices) go back to normal. I don’t recommend buying in to the jacked up prices – if you can, hold off on that new build until the costs come back down. If you can’t wait, consider buying a cheaper or last-generation card to tide you over for awhile – most of them perform just fine unless you’re trying to play on Super Ultra Deluxe graphics settings.

Do let me know if you enjoy content like this, or if I should just stick to strictly game related topics! I recently found myself emmersed in the Cryptosphere and so I thought I’d do an article related to this on the blog, so let me know if you like topics like this!

Graduated from MIT with 2nd class honours. I play games during my free time to de-stress. I also do some writing here and there. Hope you enjoy my articles!

Game Overview – Where the Water Tastes Like Wine

Game Overview – Where the Water Tastes Like Wine

As regular readers may know, I’m a big fan of narrative-focused games, sometimes pejoratively referred to as “walking simulators”. Examples of this genre would include games like “Firewatch” and “The Beginner’s Guide”, where the focus is more on being led through the story and less on challenging game mechanics. In fact, many of the games don’t even have traditional game elements like puzzles or over-the-top action. In many of them you just… walk, hence the name. I seem to have found a title that takes this concept and elevate it to a new level: “Where the Water Tastes Like Wine”.

More than anything I find this game intriguing simply because of how different it is. Set in the United States during the depression era, you play as a person who lost a card game with the devil and is now cursed to walk the country listening to people’s stories and spreading them across the land. As the stories spread they slowly get embellished and changed (just as folk lore tends to do in real life) – you could find yourself hearing a story you told someone ages ago only to discover that it’s been completely warped into something new.

The game’s art direction further strengthens this theme of American folk-lore. The visuals are a stunning blend of traditional “hand painted” 2D images bolstered by cel-shaded 3D graphics, which create the feeling that you’re walking through a painting from the 1930’s. The music, as you might imagine, is mostly in the style of that era – lots of blues and and folk singing. Perhaps most striking is the voice talent the studio has managed to snag: names like Melissa Hutchison (Clementine, “The Walking Dead”), Cissy Jones (Delilah, “Firewatch”), and Sting (Do you really need me to explain Sting?) all play characters in the game.

It’s not clear what the end goal of the game is, or if there even is an end goal. What’s more, unlike traditional walking sims “Where the Water Tastes Like Wine” doesn’t focus on a single overarching narrative; instead it invites you to explore the multiple branching stories that each individual character possesses. Also unlike most walking simulators, this game invites you to be an active participant instead of a casual observer – by choosing which stories to share and who to share them to, you’re able to shape how they grow and how they ultimately end up.

Ultimately, this is definitely a game to watch and I plan on trying it myself soon after it releases. I’m not quite sure how it will turn out, but either way I know I’ll have a new story to tell 🙂

Graduated from MIT with 2nd class honours. I play games during my free time to de-stress. I also do some writing here and there. Hope you enjoy my articles!

Discussion: Will Valve Ever Make Games Again?

Discussion: Will Valve Ever Make Games Again?

Valve is arguably one of the most influential studios in the gaming industry. Many of their properties such as Portal, Left4Dead, and Team Fortress 2 were considered instant classics. Their most famous series, Half Life, set the stage for every FPS that came after it by introducing features so intrinsic to the genre that we can scarcely remember a time without them. And yet, in the modern age things feel a little different – it’s been years since Valve has released an original title and jokes like “Valve can’t count to three” pervade the Internet. Even Half Life, their flagship franchise, has gone an entire decade without a release to tie up the massive cliffhanger gamers were left with.

Valve obviously isn’t hurting, though. Despite some competitors cropping up in recent years the Steam platform is still the main way most PC gamers buy their games. They’re even making an effort to pick away at the console market by introducing Big Picture Mode, SteamOS, and hardware like the Steam Controller. In addition to Steam, Valve is also still making money off of some of its older titles like Team Fortress 2. With all of this cash flowing in, many people have speculated that they’re simply not interested in producing any new titles.

Despite the accusations, Valve insists that they are, in fact, still making games. Even though many have written it off as vaporware, Valve has never officially stated that they’ve stopped development on Half Life 3. They’ve also gone on record stating that they’re developing new titles for their heavily-pushed virtual reality platform, although to date the only VR content they’ve released have been short demo-like “experiences”. Two years ago they released a DOTA 2 beta built on the Source 2 engine – the follow up to the famed Source engine that had driven their most famous games. Although this way a ray of hope, Source 2 has never been released to outside developers and to date has only been used on the aforementioned beta and an update to Counterstrike:GO.

Perhaps the most damning evidence is that recently Chet Faliszek, one of Valve’s most prolific writers, left the company. He was one of the writers responsible for Half Life, Portal, and several other of Valve’s most beloved games. All the other “original” writers have long since left, meaning that Feliszek’s departure was especially hard felt. A big part of why those games got big in the first place where their unique and engaging story lines, and now it’s an open question whether Valve will ever be able to deliver that again.

I’m sorry to say it, but I think Valve’s hey day as a game studio has passed. I have faith that they’ll continue to be a powerhouse through their Steam platform, but as for original game content I just don’t see it – we might get one or two lackluster titles but that’s it. But who knows? If there’s one thing Valve has always been good at its surprises – if there’s one developer who could pull off an unexpected comeback it would be them.

Graduated from MIT with 2nd class honours. I play games during my free time to de-stress. I also do some writing here and there. Hope you enjoy my articles!

Our Thoughts on Resident Evil 7

Our Thoughts on Resident Evil 7

Resident evil 7: Biohazard is the latest installment of the franchise, published by Capcom. fans of the Resident evil Franchise were disappointed with Resident Evil 6 which was released four years ago. The series has lost it much taunted touch with its fanbase. However, with the latest release, Capcom hopes to prove you wrong and that the new numbered game in the series is more than just a return to form.

This is by far the most popular and commercially successful game of the franchise. It is the first installment of the franchise in which it is played from first person perspective. The game portrays an intimate horror with a tightly focused scope and all the traps you will expect from a survival game. No meaningless stuff like the horror of guiding a seemingly terrified character out of a waking nightmare into a safety.

The story of the RE7 revolves around protagonist Ethan Winters as he searches for his wife Mia, which leads him to a garden inhabited by the Baker family. Ethan makes use of weapons and tools in the fight against the murderous cannibals of evil creatures who are referred to as the moulded and the Baker family . The game is a departure of the action oriented and zombie outbreaks of the former series toward a larger emphasis on horror and exploration.

This time, our protagonist is Ethan Winters. Just a regular joe looking for his wife. This is quite a different approach as compared to previous Resident Evil titles. Another big change, and not just a change in the story or approach is how the game is now played in First Person Perspective. This makes such a huge difference to the gameplay and I honestly think that this is the one change that made the game into such a success. Having to navigate your way around the claustrophobic Baker house, traps, and not knowing what you could encounter around the next corner just makes RE7 such an amazing and immersive experience.

To take things even further, on the Playstation 4,  you can even play the game on a VR headset. Although this is quite a game changer considering the genre of the game being horror, many people find it less ideal. Citing issues with how the game isn’t compatible with VR, or motion sickness. Moving in the game while standing still in real life can be quite a disorienting experience. Certain visuals aspects in the game seem much darker and muddier in VR, which might affect gameplay negatively.

Capcom has acknowledged that these problems exist and that you might expect a fix to be coming sometime soon.  If you can get past all the minor inconveniences that come with playing with the VR set, you might actually enjoy the game in VR. If not for your entire playthrough, but just for novelty’s sake.

If you’re a horror game buff, give RE7 a shot. If you’re not, still give it a shot! It’s honestly not that scary, and pretty fun even for non-horror fans.

Well, if you’re too scared, here’s a short gameplay video so you can get an idea of what the game is like before you commit to a purchase. Don’t worry, this video doesn’t have any spoilers in it.

Graduated from MIT with 2nd class honours. I play games during my free time to de-stress. I also do some writing here and there. Hope you enjoy my articles!

A Positive Spin on Video Games

A Positive Spin on Video Games

Since they first came out more than thirty years ago, video games have entertained, confused, frustrated and delighted millions of people of different ages, backgrounds, and abilities. Think of it like you would the evolution of Rock and Roll music or various fashion trends throughout time; terrible at first. And then, over time the positive effects come shining through and cannot be disputed.

Here’s a serious blog about video gaming for once. As “lifelong gamers” of course we are big advocates of this particular hobby and activity, but as much as we would think it’s a healthy activity, many have argued against this in the past, saying video games promote violence, etc. Our friends from CS:GO Academy had this to say about it – “We feel that we are able to focus better in real life, and also perform certain tasks better than the average person who doesn’t play video games. This is our take on gaming, and our humble opinion on it”. These guys play games (they provide boosting services for CSGO) for a living and Counter Strike: Global Offensive is known as one of the most high-requirement hand-eye coordination games in the world.

Playing video games can’t be that bad! I mean, come on, even BBC says so. Of course, there are numerous studies that “prove” higher levels of aggression, various negative health effects like obesity and physical issues that result from gross overuse in those people who play video games. It would make sense that such a debated topic would garnish more attention if the news is bad rather than good. That way, people can continue to condemn video games and “gamers”, and dismiss the entire industry as a silly and base money making a scheme that aims to capitalize on the disenfranchised and the young.

Historically, video games and simulators were used in various training programs like NASA and the military. When trainees couldn’t actually and logistically be somewhere to train, they could utilize new technologies that allow them virtually to participate. Things such as flight simulators and various war games all allowed for experience and exposure and offered the potential of learning and mastering various skills and techniques.

There is a direct link between the use of video games and improved hand-eye coordination and time between action and response. Studies show that participants who have had no more than twenty-five to fifty hours of exposure and experience playing video games, when tested after their gameplay, had quicker reaction times to stimuli, achieved better scores in visual discrimination and cognition tests and, strangely enough, had longer and more focused attention spans that those participants who did not play video games.

In the field of academia and education, there have been numerous studies which have concluded that incorporating video games into the classroom can be beneficial to children in a variety of ways. In today’s world, it is vital to provide children with all of the tools they will need to get out in there and make a positive impact on society.

We all learn differently and have different abilities and natural propensities. Some of us are good at math. Some of us are great readers or story writers. Some kids love science. Some kids really just love to build and create. Instead of reducing and limiting education to the traditional methods of book learning, we have the ability to utilize our advanced forms of technology in order to make the learning come alive and be really palpable to children who might otherwise not find any of it stimulating and might now take the opportunity to open their minds to learning. Video games can be just the thing that some children might find engaging, interesting and worthwhile. Educational video games are sneaky in all of the right ways. They can help increase attention spans and heighten spatial sensitivity and awareness.

Now, let’s put this in some kind of context that we all can understand. No one is saying that video games make you smarter or give you special abilities or superpowers. But they can help people overcome many obstacles and lead them on a path to success, one joystick at a time.

Graduated from MIT with 2nd class honours. I play games during my free time to de-stress. I also do some writing here and there. Hope you enjoy my articles!

Hitman 2016 – The Complete First Season

Hitman 2016 – The Complete First Season

Ok, I’ll admit to shedding a few tears when I finally finished Hitman: Absolution. I loved its non-linear gameplay, its twists and turns and manageable maps and characters. I spent a few days playing it exhaustively from start to finish and cheered myself on when I finally made my last kill. This was my first experience with the Hitman series and definitely was not going to be my last. I immediately found the first in the series, and just went from there, indulging my love of first-person shooter games and loving every minute of them. After a slight lapse in new episodes, IO Interactive finally released Hitman 2016: The Complete First Season. Square Enix definitely had the foresight to market this product exhaustively and their attention shifted to making this game available in both smartphone and tablet form, while IO Interactive set its sights on creating a less linear experience, with attention being paid to an open world sandbox concept and making it extremely interactive in terms of the different game playing environments. They even created and integrated new technology known as Glacier 2 rendering, which enhances the AI capabilities of the entire game itself. So, basically, IO Interactive took the time to refresh the Hitman series by updating some of the main features and making them seem new again.

Another wise choice was the decision to release each of the six “episodes” in monthly installments, thereby keeping us baited, one month at a time. Not only did it enable IO Interactive to continually update the game engine, thereby giving us the most up to date, a most deliberate effort so far in the entire series. It also allowed the developers to get continual feedback from the players as each one rolled out, enabling them to improve certain aspects of the game as the players tested them out. In addition to season one, as it is called, there were also bonus episodes offered after the others were distributed. Three, to be exact, know as “The Icon”, “A House Built on Sand” and “Holiday Hoarders”, all which provided three more missions and multiple experiences. That being said, each mission seems to get better and better, basically because IO Interactive had the patience and forethought to slowly release bits and pieces for public consumption. A genius idea if you ask me.

In my opinion, Hitman 2016 is a masterfully designed game, full of much non-linear gameplay. You can play the same mission fifteen times and never see or experience the same thing twice. There are multiple weapons, costumes, camera angles and strategies you can use every time, making for an exciting experience, no matter how many times you’ve played it. It really makes you feel as if you are 47, choosing your own adventure as you move through mission after mission, never experiencing the same thing twice and feeling many levels of exhilaration after the completion of each one.

In terms of episodic gaming, Hitman 2016 takes the cake. It is an intricate and difficult game to get through and it makes the player think long and hard before taking that shot or making that move. It’s AI style and detail-driven design makes for some of the best and most visually stimulating first-person shooter experiences on the market today. I’d definitely recommend you to try out this game if you haven’t already. You probably won’t regret it, and even if you do, feel free to blame me for it!

Graduated from MIT with 2nd class honours. I play games during my free time to de-stress. I also do some writing here and there. Hope you enjoy my articles!

Overwatch Competitive Woes?

Overwatch Competitive Woes?

The highly entertaining, yet really really challenging competitive mode in the game Overwatch is one of the most fast-paced, difficult and sometimes infuriating games on the market today. Without a good team, it is really difficult to make any advancements in your ranking, which also means it’s a pain for you to climb to the next rank or obtain any CP (competitive points) for the season. Initially, players must play ten qualifying matches and are ranked based on both their standalone proficiency in addition to the ratio of wins to losses. Only after this initial phase is completed are players given a ranking number, at which point they can then play in the competitive mode.

Keep in mind, this number is adjusted as the player continues to play competitive. As you win or lose throughout the season, your rank can change, moving up or down, depending on matches won and your personal performance demonstrated in matches. This can be a very arduous and challenging task. It can make even the best of us want to throw our controllers or keyboards across the room!

This is why a new service, known as Overwatch Competitive Boosting now exists. Basically, players find and pay a web-based company to help “boost” their performance and ranking. Players are charged a certain amount of money, which is dependent upon how many ranks up they want to achieve. What follows is a very interesting take on a new and possibly very insecure idea. An employee of the boosting company who is highly proficient in the game logs into your account and plays matches for you, effectively ranking you up without you having to lift a finger. Sounds like a great idea right?

There are a number of websites that offer this Overwatch boosting service, making for an increasingly competitive business niche. With just a simple Google search, you can find numerous companies who offer this service, which can be carried out across platforms. It’s not only for PC players anymore; now even Xbox One and PlayStation 4 users can carry themselves out of elo hell with this helpful service as well. At www.boostards.com, it costs a user about $80 to go from Gold to Platinum, which means that a random person logs into your account and plays for you.

There are also sites that offer other services, like “professional coaching”, you can choose from a number of professional players who will find out what you are looking for in your gameplay and help coach you through the game, giving you helpful tips and ways to play that will rank you up in no time. You can choose coaches for either individual or team play. This option is a much more secure one, as you will not have to give anyone your personal information in order to get assistance. It is also a much more expensive option, with hourly rates beginning at $15/hour and capping at about $40/hour.

Why do this? Well, it’s hard to say. Many argue that the lure for the end of season rewards, and CP (competitive points) which you can use to purchase cosmetic items in-game to be a good enough reason to use this unique service. Others think it’s a waste of money. We just think it’s an interesting topic to cover.

Graduated from MIT with 2nd class honours. I play games during my free time to de-stress. I also do some writing here and there. Hope you enjoy my articles!

Our Review of Final Fantasy XV

Our Review of Final Fantasy XV

Final Fantasy XV is yet another disappointment from Square Enix, who cannot seem to understand what the fans want from a Final Fantasy title. It’s almost funny – they nailed fan desires on the head with Bravely Default and came very close with Bravely Second, but Final Fantasy XV turns out to be a different beast. Unfortunately, the beast it turns out to be is not the one that Final Fantasy is known and beloved for.

In certain ways, they’ve certainly made an improvement. XV is an open world title, rather than the linear hallways that XIII was known for. This is a welcome and wanted a return to one beloved aspect of Final Fantasy. The glut of side quests and optional content, far outstripping the main story, is another aspect that fans will enjoy wholeheartedly. These things are not enough to save XV in the eyes of most Final Fantasy fans, sadly.

However, the story is sub-par, if we’re going to be generous. Final Fantasy is, or at least was, a franchise known above all for its powerful stories. These often revolved around unlikely, or seemingly unlikely, heroes who had the obligation of saving all from some existential threat. What is XV about? A prince and his eclectic collection of bodyguards saving his kingdom from his fiance’s father. The politics of war. Highways, gas stations, and diners.

As you can no doubt see, it’s rather a depressing departure. Rather than an existential threat to the world of annihilation or despotic tyranny, we will simply save a kingdom from an erstwhile ally. Rather than being an underdog or some unlikely hero with a hidden past, we are to play as a prince. Rather than existing in some high fantasy world with science fiction elements to a greater or lesser degree, we play in a world that, save for monsters and a few other elements, is very like the real one. We see cars and gas stations, talk to people in diners, and then leave to fight monsters.

All of this is yet another disappointment from the once kings of the JRPG genre. Square Enix has demonstrated they understand what we want, and that they are still quite capable of it with the Bravely franchise. Why they persist on using the Final Fantasy name, the name of their premier product, as their experimentation space, burning fans time and time again, while they do ‘the right thing’ with a second tier name, is unknown and bizarre.

It seems that we’ll have to relegate Final Fantasy’s greatness to memory, friends. There are always other companies and other franchises looking to edge into the JRPG market, which at the moment seems to be very promising to us.

Indeed, one possible challenger was released just in February of 2017. Nioh was developed by Team Ninja, and published by Koei Tecmo inside Japan and Sony Interactive Entertainment outside Japan. It’s an action RPG, so hardly a heir to Final Fantasy’s turn-based glory of old, but for what it is it seems to be excellent. It’s been compared most often to Dark Souls, another no-name franchise that turned out to be a fan favorite, just like Final Fantasy once was. Look forward to our Nioh review, friends!

Graduated from MIT with 2nd class honours. I play games during my free time to de-stress. I also do some writing here and there. Hope you enjoy my articles!

7 Useful Tips and Tricks for Overwatch

7 Useful Tips and Tricks for Overwatch

When you find a video game that manages to pull in more than seven million players in its first two weeks of existence, you can be sure that it is the kind that will spark your interest. Blizzard has always been a developer that has exceeded your expectations and the unveiling of Overwatch was not an exception. This lightning fast game will ensure that your free time is always put to good use. If you want to polish your playing skills, are a beginner, or simply want to know what the game has to offer, these Overwatch tips will come in handy!

Fight for overtime

In case you run out of time when trying to capture a point, ensure that you are close enough so that the game can automatically go into overtime. One team member should always remain near the objective in order for the game to continue and to also give you more time for the chance of making a comeback victory!

Make the most of the character swapping

Character swapping may just be one of the best things about Overwatch. If changing a character may benefit you and lead your team to a win then do not hesitate to do this. A single switch may be enough to turn around your performance. Look out for counterpicks and find out which enemy hero is giving your team the most trouble.

Always have a support

Although supports are overlooked, they are quite powerful. Consider characters like Lucio for frontline support and Zenyatta for healing support. Support heroes have extremely powerful ultimates that can make or break any team fight, and provide healing and sustenance for your team. They are absolutely essential if you want to have a good shot at winning.

One role cannot rule them all (LotR reference!)

Overwatch does not come with one perfect role. A team could either be strong or weak depending on a particular challenge. As such, it is important to assess your team and establish the roles that it could be lacking. This will ensure that your team composition is balanced and gives you a fighting chance against the enemy team if they also have a balanced team composition.

Be an aggressive tank

If you are playing a tank then do not be afraid to jump into the fight and establish your presence. Tanks need to cause chaos and confuse the enemies. Your job is to pose a threat for the enemy team, draw their fire, and basically take damage for your team while letting your team counter attack.

Defend and attack

Defense characters should not only be subjected to defending. They can also play offense. For instance, Widowmaker and Mei are heroes that work well on both attack and defense. Don’t let the role of a hero fool you into thinking that you can only play them a certain way.

Ensure that supports are protected

Do not let your supports get attacked, for they are classified as the weakest characters. As already discussed, supports are valuable characters and as such, letting them die would mean your team loses its form of sustain and without heals, it can be hard to win a drawn out team battle.

Overwatch may be a game that comes with a lot of great learning curves, however, with the right enthusiasm, you will learn how to play it in the shortest possible time. With these tips, you can never go wrong! If you are confused about what heroes you should pick, here’s an Overwatch tier list from Boostards that might be helpful when making your pick decisions.

Graduated from MIT with 2nd class honours. I play games during my free time to de-stress. I also do some writing here and there. Hope you enjoy my articles!