Gaming

Assassin’s Creed Origins Review: Steps back to leap forward

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After taking a year off from its annual release cycle, Assassin’s Creed is back. A newbie to the games swan dives into Assassin’s Creed Origins to see if the changes to the formula is enough to revitalize the franchise.
Assassin’s Creed is one of modern video games’ landmark series. It’s actually been a decade since the first game was released, which started off a hugely successful multimedia franchise spanning games, comics, novels, and even a Hollywood film.

Recent years haven’t been as kind to the brand, though. The annual releases on every platform eventually wore on critics and consumers, as review scores and sales dwindled after the peaks of the second and third main games. Ubisoft, the series creator, eventually gave Assassin’s Creed a one-year break before putting out this latest installment.


I mention all this because even as a games enthusiast, I went into Assassin’s Creed Origins having zero experience with the whole franchise.

Back to the beginning

For a series newbie, the setup is perfect. Origins basically tells how the Assassin Brotherhood, the secret organization that each protagonist from every game is part of, came to be. It takes place at the tail end of Ancient Egypt. The two pharaohs Ptolemy and Cleopatra are at odds over who should be the rightful ruler. Meanwhile, the threat of Roman imperial influence on the nation, spearheaded by Julius Caesar, hangs heavy over the embattled Egyptian monarchy.

Amid this political turmoil, you play as Bayek, the medjay of the province of Siwa, and the very last of Egypt’s ordained protectors. You are on a quest for revenge against a shadowy cabal planning on taking complete control of the country.

No other big budget game comes to mind that tackles this particular setting, so my interest was piqued, despite the rather messy intro. Fortunately, that interest blossomed into a mostly enjoyable 42-hour experience!

Gorgeous and gigantic

That enjoyment had a lot to do with how much I wanted to be in Origins‘ staggering simulation of Ancient Egypt. From the way sand blows in the desert winds to how sunlight gleams on the surface of the Nile; from the architectural apex of Greek and Egyptian antiquity in Alexandria to the fading beauty of Egypt’s capital Memphis; and from the artistic Hellenistic heights of Greco-Roman Cyrene to the ever-enduring mystery and majesty of the Pyramids of Giza, Origins renders it all in stunning fashion.

Even the depiction of life and culture in that age is impressive. Markets and ports bustle with merchants peddling wares and laborers working on galleys. Guards on horseback and chariots patrol cobblestone streets and escort traders across land and sea. A whole mountain village is dedicated to extracting salt for mummification, with the statue of Anubis, the jackal god of death, perched on a shrine overlooking the settlement.

So, even though I found the quests at the beginning to be worryingly banal, I sought them out just to learn more about the world. A good deal of them flesh out the overarching narrative, too, as they illustrate the villains’ tyranny manifesting in numerous, logical ways.

Likable leads

Bayek’s character shines through his interactions with the populace. I found that he could laugh at himself while still being fiercely passionate in his sense of justice and respect for tradition. Him being a father and a husband reflects on how good he is with kids and understanding of parents with family problems.

His relationship with his wife Aya is also refreshing. They are both extremely competent as warrior assassins and trust each other’s ability. While they share the goal of revenge, they each have distinct motivations that set their character arcs apart. Affection is something they don’t hesitate to show one another. They display moments of emotional vulnerability, but they deal with it maturely like you’d expect from a long-married, caring couple.

The rest of the cast doesn’t come close to this level of characterization, but this core pairing is solid enough that it made me want to see their story through to the end.

Gameplay is a grower

I’m grateful for being so drawn into the world and these two leads, as I wasn’t having a great time with Origins until I played way more of it. After unlocking more abilities, gaining more tools and weapons, and generally getting a hang of the mechanics, I eventually found the gameplay rewarding in itself.

While still having an action/stealth adventure foundation, Origins builds a light RPG structure a la Horizon Zero Dawn on top of it; you level up, get stronger, and gain access to more abilities. You can improve your gear with crafting materials you collect from hunting animals, dismantling equipment, or shopping at vendors. There’s a variety of weapons and shields with stats and unique perks, and they also have levels that determine their effectiveness.

Because Bayek’s capabilities are tied into hard numbers, I was frustrated on numerous occasions during fights and sneaking up on enemies that were just two or three levels higher than me in the early goings. I was still grasping the fundamentals of combat and stealth, so it wasn’t uncommon for me to get spotted while trying to sneak into a base, surrounded by multiple guards, and killed in the ensuing melee.

More demanding mechanics

The fighting system has been revamped, too. It’s reminiscent of Dark Souls in that you’re throwing measured strikes with your weapon while dodging or blocking incoming blows, and every button press has Bayek committing to whatever action you take. If you throw out a strong attack and miss, you will likely get punished with a counter-attack. There is no stamina to worry about though, with only slight pauses in between attack and defend animations to keep you from chaining infinite combos. You do have an “Overpower meter” that gradually fills up in combat. Once it’s full, it allows you to either do a powerful one-hit super move or speed up your every attack for a set amount of time, depending on what weapon you have equipped.

It’s not as tight and responsive as the Souls games, though. I struggled at the sluggishness of striking and the skittery enemy movements.

Going into a heavily guarded fort or bandit hideout, you have one major advantage. You can take control of Senu, Bayek’s trusty eagle companion, to fly over the map and mark locations of your quest objectives, enemies, treasure, and other items you can interact with. It’s critical prep work before entering hostile territory, but even then it didn’t feel like enough for me to confidently clear out encampments without alerting everyone in them.

But once I got comfortable with the controls and earned more abilities, the gameplay started to click with me.

Slow but satisfying surprise

Around eight hours and 15 levels in, I was better at sneaking past enemies and smarter at fighting them with fire bombs and warrior bows. 20 hours and 25 levels in, I was silently headshotting guards and slaying lions and crocodiles. 40 hours and 35 levels in, I was clearing out fortresses and palaces using sleep darts and poison traps and brutally executing entire garrisons with my assortment of legendary dual blades, spears, sickle swords, and staves.

Assassin’s Creed Origins is the perfect example of a lovingly crafted virtual world with a strong sense of place that is truly captivating, so much so that it carried me to discovering joy in seemingly simple systems. It’s a slow starter, for sure, but it turned out to be the biggest surprise for me so far in this year of stellar video games, and I’m glad I took the leap on Assassin’s Creed at the right time.

SEE ALSO: Middle-earth: Shadow of War review — System overload

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Features

Mobile Legends: Bang Bang roles and the best ones

A quick guide, in case you’re just starting out

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Mobile Legends: Bang Bang (MLBB/ML) is a mobile multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) developed by Moonton. There are roles or classes in Mobile Legends that have their own distinct specialty. This ultimately affects the effectiveness and functionality of the team you and your teammates construct.


A role or class is a category that your hero plays throughout a game of MLBB. There are a total of 85 heroes you can choose from six roles: Tank, Fighter, Assassin, Mage, Marksman and Support. Some of these heroes fall into two roles sometimes; each of them having their own unique abilities, skills, and stats that work to both their advantages and disadvantages. It depends from hero to hero.

How well you can manage a hero and their role as well as their specialty depends on your familiarity to the hero as well as your capacity to be willing to learn to play other heroes, the more you play ML.

As mentioned before, heroes have their own set of skills, abilities, and stats that inevitably help a team win a game. Think of roles as the basic facets your hero has and through it, you can determine your hero’s specialties and limitations.

Tank

Tanks are naturally bulkier. What I mean by bulky is that they have higher Health Points (HP), armor, and magic resistance. On the other hand, their attacks don’t hurt as much on their own.

If you like being buff and beefy, then try the tank role. They’re the walking shield of your team. They can take a beating from the enemy team so other roles can do the wrecking for them. Tanks can do Crowd Control (CC) with stuns, slows, hooks, and barriers which help save teammates and trap enemies.

Sometimes having a tank in your team can make or break a game. Most other roles have attacks that hit harder but if all of your teammates have naturally lower HP, it won’t take long for the opposing team to target you one by one and wipe your team out.

If we’re being realistic though, if you’re the person who prefers sticking to the meta and everyone picks marksmen, you’re the kind soul that worked on getting good at playing this role and probably more. Tanks are essentially the guys and gals who protecc, while his/her team attacc. Yes, with two c’s because remember, tanks and crowd control.

Fighter

Fighters are melee heroes who have a good balance of HP, armor, magic resistance and attack damage. They usually attack by jumping into and out of enemy range.

Fighters are semi-tanks. They have significant attack damage while racking up a good amount of magic resistance, HP, and armor. This role often takes the jungle and can single-handedly accomplish objectives within the game.

Not every team needs a fighter, but it can help to have someone who has a good balance between attack damage and the damage they can take. It can be a little daunting to play fighter if you’re non-confrontational since they’re melee heroes.

If you think being tank is a little too tough since the role relies on teammates for damage, you can take the fighter role. Basically, if you like hitting hard, surviving hits, and also dealing significant damage yourself, use a fighter.

Assassin

Assassins are pretty much the role you’d think an assassin would take. They’re quick and deal a painful amount of damage. Assassins normally roam and jungle, but they essentially take marksmen and mages down when they linger with low HP or overextend.

As the name of the role would imply, they like to catch people off-guard by sneaking and roaming around the map and making sure they punish any overextensions, secure kills and maybe sometimes steal skills from other teammates. Assassins are often equipped with multiple blinks and flashes — sticking true to their name and their role.

Remember: Assassins have mobility, stealth and damage at their advantage, but they can falter with not as much armor, magic resistance, and HP.

If you like roaming around the map, dealing significant damage to enemies, and sneaking in and out of clashes to execute the killing blow or prevent yourself from dying, play the assassin role. They’re slippery heroes that are tough to deal with.

Marksman

This is the role you’re taught to play from the get go. ML let’s you play Layla, a marksman, to learn the basic mechanics of the game so it doesn’t seem to be a difficult role to place. But what does a marksman have over other roles? Marksmen have high attack damage, high changes of critical hits, and range.

Marksmen are similar to Assassins with damage and attack speed but the marksman has range and skills with an Area of Effect (AoE). These default abilities and skills for heroes under this type enable them to hit hard, fast, and from far.

Marksmen are often referred to as Attack Damage Carry (ADC) heroes. They’re heroes that hit hard which, by default, allow them to rack up a good number of kills in the game. Although they do stack up a ton of damage, marksmen can be soft.

They have the advantage or range, but if someone gets up close, they don’t have that much HP, magic resistance, and mobility to often save themselves alone. If you’re the type to push and deal a ton of damage yet have the capacity to feel out when you’re being targeted and stay reasonably cautious, play marksman.

Mage

Mages are ranged heroes like marksmen but, instead of physical damage, they deal a painful amount of magic damage. They are similar to a marksman with their disadvantages: mobility and low HP.

They do find their strengths in the same category: attack damage or for mages, magic damage. On top of that, instead of solely magic damage, mages have a variety of spells, stuns, and slows that cripple both selected enemy targets and any area of effect they cast their spells on. Their spells depend on mana so mages preserve mana until they can burst spells down on an enemy target.

A fair warning though: if anyone so much as sneezes your way, you are absolutely done for. Mages hit hard but are soft. They are also significantly slow. Almost anything that can chase mages down and nibble at its HP is it’s kryptonite.

They are good at crowd control and mages do well when asserting their dominance by consistently harassing their opponents and by bursting them down with spells.

Support

Supports are often healers. Think of them as medics in your team. They help heroes heal, as well as increase their chances of survivability in a fight. Their varied skills can often stun, slow down, and throw targets back but unlike mages, supports don’t often prioritize their attack damage.

Support roles efficiently partner with roles that are disadvantaged with HP, magic resistance, and mobility to help heroes farm and take kills.

Supports are an essential part of team dynamics, but they aren’t necessarily crippled of attack damage or magic damage. Many supports are capable of tanking kills. Although it isn’t their primary objective, they can still take kills and rack up quite a number themselves.

If working around your teammates, cheering them on, and healing them is what you’d like to do, play a hero under the support role.

What is the best role to play in Mobile Legends: Bang Bang?

That’s a trick question. The answer is all of them and none of them. If you and your teammates work on synergy, cooperation and teamwork, all of the roles are the best. A game like Mobile Legends: Bang Bang can foster the importance of diversity in teamwork when working towards winning.

Each role has its strengths and weaknesses but that is ultimately why it’s important to have a healthy mix of different roles in your team. If your team were to play the same role, you’ll find the role’s and their heroes default weaknesses become amplified — making it easy for enemy teams to win.

If you’re just starting out playing Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, ease into one role and maybe expand your skill set little by little. It’ll help you grasp the significance of each role and what they can give to the larger objective of the game: teamwork, fun, and practice.

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Gaming

ASUS TUF Gaming FX505DU Hands-on: An immersive experience for less

Striking a balance between performance and affordability

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We’ve got our hands on the ASUS TUF Gaming FX705 and the TUF Gaming FX505DY so you’re probably familiar with how the TUF Gaming series positions itself as the middle ground that offers premium features but with a more affordable asking price.

Another model from the same series has reached our headquarters. This time it’s the TUF Gaming FX505DU which is a newer model in the family. That single letter difference in the model name (DY to DU) suggests that it’s almost the same, with slight differences here and there. Let’s check out what those are.


It’s done with a polycarbonate body

Instead, goes for a more premium metallic shell

ROG DNA is present

Makes the overall aesthetics look edgier

Sports the same 15.6-inch IPS-level 120Hz display

Also with slim side and top bezels

Keyboard is backlit

Although this one has RGB color going on

There are distinct WASD keycaps as well

Still emphasizing its gaming origin

Loudspeakers are located at the bottom

Equipped with DTS Studio Sound

Spacious trackpad

Ergonomically placed, too

All the ports remain on the left

Leaves space when using a mouse on the right

A little subtle on the design, but…

The FX505DU, like its siblings, isn’t as flashy as the company’s more expensive ROG laptops, but it still looks like a gaming rig nonetheless. The lid is plain and straightforward but with that ‘X’ pattern that suggests it’s no common office laptop.

Once you open the lid, the brushed metal design seen on the body makes it look premium. It still has a large chin, but it isn’t much of an eyesore as the slim top and side bezels surrounding its Full HD display will catch your attention right away.

There’s also a webcam for video calls positioned on top so that’s a good thing. When it comes to typing, we don’t have any major qualms about it but I personally could use a bit more travel for the keys. It comes with two USB 3.0 ports, a single USB 2.0, an HDMI, and a 3.5mm audio jack.

Overall, build quality is something that I like about this model as it has been certified to pass military-grade stress tests. Factor in the cool RGB backlighting and its edgy design and you have a good-looking yet tough gaming laptop.

Play wherever you go

Inside, it packs an AMD Ryzen 7-3750H which is then partnered to NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1660Ti. Together, they are a combo for fast and satisfactory performance while its 8GB RAM proved sufficient for day-to-day tasks. If needed, the memory could be modified up to 32GB for even snappier performances.

It runs Windows 10 Home out of the box and as for storage, it comes with a 1TB HDD plus a 256GB SSD.

We’ve tried a couple of games on it like Assassin’s Creed: Origins and battle royale titles like Fortnite and CS:GO — just like we did with the previous FX505DY. We’re happy to report that it could handle them easily but noticed a few lags here and there especially when there was a lot of movement happening. Not enough to affect the gaming performance, though, but we thought we’d just let you know.

The built-in loudspeakers sound decent and come with DTS Studio Sound to tweak and make the quality better. Still, it might not be for players looking for high-quality audio and you’d still be better off with dedicated gaming headphones plugged in.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

It’s true that more expensive gaming rigs provide better gaming experience, but what ASUS is going for here with their TUF Gaming series is to strike the balance between performance and affordability.

With the FX505DU and its PhP 71,995 price tag, it offers a competitive gaming experience with 120Hz display, slim bezels, more premium materials, and internals that will ensure you have what you need to be able to have immersive gameplay wherever you go.

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Deals

Sony has new PS4 Pro bundles featuring God of War

The best time to play is now with a new PS4 Pro bundle featuring two popular gaming titles

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Sony has new PlayStation 4 Pro bundles that is too hard to ignore, especially if you’ve been dying to get your hands on a PS4 Pro. It will include two popular gaming titles from Sony itself.

From August 16 to September 8, Sony is bundling the PS4 Pro with popular game titles The Last of Us (Remastered) and God of War. It will be available on all PlayStation authorized dealers. The PS4 Pro bundle will come with two DualShock 4 wireless controllers. All in all, the bundle is worth PhP 24,990, which is a considerable markdown from its regular price of PhP 32,718.


All PS4 Pro will come in a jet black color and 1TB of HDD. There is also 2 years of warranty for every gamer’s peace of mind.

Other PS4 Pro bundles on offer

Apart from this bundle, Sony will also offer these PS4 Pro bundles:

  • PS4 Pro God of War Bundle (1TB HDD) with free Marvel’s Spider-Man (worth PhP 2,349) and free mini messenger bag — PhP 23,990
  • PS4 NBA2K19 Bundle Pack (500GB HDD) with free DualShock 4 Wireless Controller (worth PhP 2,990), free Marvel’s Spider-Man (worth PhP 2,349) and free mini messenger bag — PhP 19,990

The bundled mini messenger bag is a sling bag featuring the motifs of the iconic PlayStation shapes and the PlayStation family logo. It is only available while stocks last.

All the bundles are purchasable in all PlayStation authorized dealers.

The PlayStation 4 Pro is a gaming console released by Sony in 2016. It is a follow up to the popular PlayStation 4, featuring a much refined gameplay. It comes in either 500GB, 1TB, or 2TB of HDD storage.

SEE ALSO: Sony PlayStation 5: Everything we know so far

 

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