Features

Best Video Games of 2017 (Q2 Edition)

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The first quarter of 2017 saw the release of stellar titles from marquee series. Halfway through the year, we’re still getting a ton of great games. These releases may not all be from familiar franchises, but they still provide quality entertainment. Here are the ten best video games of Q2 2017 ordered by release date.

Persona 5

Resist and revolt in this year’s biggest JRPG. Lead a ragtag group of rebellious teens to steal the hearts of oppressive authority figures, affect positive social change, forge unbreakable friendships, and maybe even fall in love. Persona 5 is a supremely stylish and epic high school simulator/dungeon crawler filled with twists and turns over a hundred hours. Some translation issues and poor representation aside, it’s a must-play for any JRPG fan. Check out our review for a more in-depth assessment!

Available on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 (April 4)

The Sexy Brutale

You are Lafcadio Boone, a man of God, gifted with a special mask, and one of the many attendees of an annual masquerade ball in a mystical mansion. The other party-goers are stuck in a 12-hour time loop, and forced to endure grisly deaths again and again. It is up to you to unshackle them from these cyclical slaughter chains with foresight, deduction, and ingenuity. Solve the scintillating murder mystery of The Sexy Brutale.

Available on Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One (April 12)

Flinthook

Be a swashbuckling pirate Robin Hood of outer space in Flinthook. As Captain Flinthook, you’ll be looting randomly generated enemy pirate ships filled with glinting goodies and belligerent baddies. A grappling hook is your main means of movement, allowing you to swing across rooms, juke and jive through danger, and rain down a hail of bullets on your foes. We mentioned this on our list of pick-up and play games for its charming visuals, intuitive controls, and replayability.

Available on Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One (April 14)

What Remains of Edith Finch

Come back home to discover what happened to the family you left a lifetime ago, and maybe learn how much they mean to you in the story-focused adventure game What Remains of Edith Finch. Experience fantastical vignettes that feature each member of the Finch family in surprisingly different and truly memorable ways no other medium can portray. It’s another testament to the power of video games as art.

Available on Windows and PlayStation 4 (April 25)

Prey

Unravel the secrets of the Talos I, a Moon-orbiting space station where all sorts of experiments are done on hostile alien lifeforms and radical neuro-technologies. Of course, everything goes haywire on your very first day on the job as Morgan Yu. Trust becomes as important a resource as the weapons and crafting materials you’ll need to survive in the claustrophobic, paranoia-inducing first-person action RPG Prey, especially when you’re not even sure what you’re seeing is real.

Available on Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One (May 5)

Injustice 2

We’ve seen Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman go at it in full combat in the movies and comics. But to actually fight as them and other iconic DC characters with hyper-realistic graphics and earth-shattering impact? Now that’s an intoxicating power fantasy. Indulge in Injustice 2, a fast-paced fighting game from the makers of Mortal Kombat, and another game we featured on our great quick play titles.

Available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, iOS, and Android (May 16)

The Surge

Following the footsteps of Nioh (which we featured on our Q1 list), The Surge is another mechanically satisfying take on the unforgiving Dark Souls action RPG formula. Instead of a dark fantasy set in the past, The Surge has you slicing and dicing power-armored berserkers in a desolate, tech-dependent future. Upgrade and customize your own exo-suit with the loot from your fallen foes to improve your chances against mounting odds in brutal and deliberate combat.

Available on Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One (May 16)

Rime

Explore a vast, beautiful island brimming with secrets locked behind puzzles in Rime. Jump across platforms, scale walls, ride odd beasts, and yell at magical, glowing statues to solve abstract, environmental riddles. And maybe just for a moment, take in the picturesque views of this bright, watercolor world. Find your zen in this interactive meditative journey.

Available on Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One (May 26)

Tekken 7

There’s no slowing down for the most popular 3D fighting game franchise with Tekken 7 releasing on PC and home consoles as an undeniable hit. The combo-fueled core that fans know and love largely remains the same with a few gameplay changes for riskier, more rewarding play. Tekken has never looked better though, thanks to the power of current hardware, and it has made the over-the-top conflict of the Mishima bloodline all the more spectacular. Did we mention Akuma of Street Fighter is also in this game?!

Available on Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One (June 2)

ARMS

A challenger appears! From the makers of storied series such as Mario, Zelda, and Pokemon comes a… wacky arena fighting game? Where you box with springy limbs that stretch and curve across outlandish stages? And you can play as a mega popular movie diva, a mummy, or a green humanoid glob of DNA among other crazy characters? ARMS is totally weird, totally original, and totally fun. Read our review for a more comprehensive take on this excellent multiplayer Switch exclusive.

Available on the Nintendo Switch (June 16)

SEE ALSO: Best Video Games of 2017 (Q1 Edition)

Hands-On

Samsung Galaxy A6 Hands-on: Repackaging the older series

A combination of the Galaxy J7 Pro and Galaxy A8

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The latest midrange phones of Samsung are finally hitting the stores, but they got us a little confused. Since the introduction of the Galaxy A series, it has always been the family of upper-midrange Samsung phones with a premium design. In 2018 though, Samsung is blending the Galaxy A and Galaxy J’s designs; the result is the new Galaxy A6 phones. There’s a regular and a better plus variant, but let’s check out the former first.

This is the Galaxy A6: A phone with a 5.6-inch Super AMOLED display and an 18.5:9 aspect ratio or Infinity Display, as Samsung calls it. The resolution of the display is underwhelming at just 1480 x 720 pixels or 294ppi, but it’s still pretty sharp. The Infinity Display of the Galaxy A6 doesn’t curve to the sides unlike with the Galaxy S9 flagship, yet the bezels are minimal.

The vibrant Super AMOLED display is a common Samsung trait

We have the usual sight in the front including the 16-megapixel f/1.9 selfie camera paired with its own LED flash, earpiece, and sensors. There’s no branding on the face of the phone so when the display is turned off, it looks sleek and clean on the table.

Too bad it doesn’t have the Always On Display feature, even though it has an AMOLED screen.

It’s an Infinity Display but not edge-to-edge

Having the loudspeaker at the side has now been a staple among Samsung midrange phones. It’s a much better placement than on the bottom since you don’t cover or muffle it when viewing in landscape orientation. This is ideal for watching videos or playing mobile games.

Both the loudspeaker and power button are on the right side of the phone

The volume buttons are on the right

Those who dislike making a choice between a microSD card or secondary SIM card will be glad to see the triple card slots of the Galaxy A6. There are two card trays inside the phone: one for the main nano-SIM card and another for the second nano-SIM and the microSD card.

You have to take out two trays to get all your cards inside

The body of the phone is mainly made up of aluminum with U-shaped antennas similar to the Galaxy J7 Pro’s frame. To be honest, the Galaxy A6 can easily be mistaken for the Galaxy J7 Pro if not for the rear camera. Speaking of, the Galaxy A6 has a 16-megapixel f/1.7 rear sensor inside an area shared with the fingerprint sensor. Thankfully, it’s identical to the Galaxy A8’s and Galaxy S9’s placement.

There should be fewer smudges on the camera lens

Going further into the internals of the Galaxy A6, it’s powered by an Exynos 7870 processor — the same silicon the popular Galaxy J7 Prime had back in 2016. The processor is getting old, so we’re hoping Samsung will use a newer one in their next release.

Good thing the bigger Galaxy A6+ has the latest Snapdragon 450, or else it’ll be just an under-powered midrange phone.

The variant we have here has 3GB of memory and 32GB of storage, but there’s also a 4GB/64GB combo available in select markets.

The Samsung Galaxy A6 with the 3GB/32GB configuration retails for PhP 16,490 in the Philippines while in India, it goes from INR 21,990 up to INR 22,990 depending on the variant.

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Apps

Android P: YouTubers React

Android Pineapple or Android Popcorn?

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It’s that time of the year again when we make guesses on what the next version of Android will be called. We saw some clues at the Shoreline Amphitheater and this is what your favorite YouTubers think.

Is it going to be Android Pineapple? Android Popcorn? Android Popsicle? Android Pie? Your guess is as good as ours. Sound off in the comments section what you think it will be called!

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Features

7 tips to stepping up your Instagram game

No amount of editing can fix a bad image

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It all started with sharing memories using a vintage filter. Through the years, Instagram grew and became a platform for self-expression, an avenue for individuals to showcase their lifestyle and creativity. More and more, people are curating their Instagram profiles and here you are, stuck with your messy feed and hoping to step up your Instagram game out of envy.

Fret not! A lot of us feel that way, too. As a creative who lives and breathes Instagram for brands, but doesn’t have the time to work on his own account, I’ve got seven tips to share to help people level up. Here they are:

Think like a brand

Chay likes to take photos of her food, while Kevin is passionate about landscape and aerial photography

Set the direction of how you want your Instagram feed to look. It can be in tune with your personality, hobbies, and interests, or you can transform it into your portfolio of artworks, photographs, or works you proudly share. It can also give people a glimpse of your lifestyle, or the things you’re passionate about. Whatever it is, you decide on what to show on your feed.

Equip yourself with the right camera

Kevin likes to capture his adventures with his favorite toy, the DJI Mavic Pro. MJ, on the other hand, prefers to capture his moments on a good camera phone

Today’s smartphone cameras can sometimes have the same resolution and image quality as a DSLR camera’s, but you shouldn’t fully rely on them. Depending on what kind of photographs you take, there’s a gadget that will help you up your Instagram game. Whether it’s an action cam, drone, or mirrorless camera, there’s a specific shooter out there for your unique needs.

Let your photos tell a story

MJ captured this photo of a girl walking on the streets of Puerto Galera under the scorching sun, while Vincenz photographed a passing taho vendor during a late afternoon in Boracay

Be in touch with your surroundings and capture the moments you find yourself in. Give your followers a glimpse of what’s happening by including people, actions, scenery, and events in your photos. Invoke emotions and make your audience feel like they’re a part of your narrative. A caption would help to support your post, but your photograph should be able to tell a story on its own.

Adjust and tweak for the best results

Chay visited an Instagram-worthy cafe in Shanghai; the raw image is beautiful enough, but to keep her style, she adjusted the brightness and temperature slightly to make it warmer

Our smartphones may not capture the exact moment we see with our own eyes, but we can always accentuate how beautiful our photos are through editing. There are numerous photo-editing apps but remember to not overdo it! Just tweak and adjust these main points: brightness, contrast, alignment, and temperature. Do so, and you’ll look like a pro.

Keep it authentic from the start

MJ upped the vibrancy a little bit to accentuate Mt. Pinatubo’s aquamarine-colored lake, and Dan tweaked the highlights to feature the skyscrapers of Singapore

Good editing is the kind wherein you don’t notice it was even edited. A lot of people overdo their editing to the point of looking artificial. Some can actually pull it off, but others try so hard to copy styles and presets that the image loses its authenticity.

Be consistent and learn how to commit

Dan’s feed consists of his daily grind showcasing urban life and architecture, while Isa’s feed features her travels and OOTDs.

This generation has a lot of commitment issues *ehem* but being uncommitted when you badly want something isn’t going to get you anywhere. Once you’ve decided to up your Instagram game, you have to continue doing so to achieve the feed that you’ve always wanted.  Be consistent in posting a single style to make it cohesive.

Don’t take it too seriously

Isa, Alven, and Michael Josh uploaded their fun and memorable moments on their respective Instagram profiles.

And lastly, enjoy and have fun! Taking it seriously kills your creativity. Get in touch with your inner child and be playful. There’s so much more to life than your Instagram feed.

Curating your feed might seem daunting, and from your perspective, it could be a thing only brands, influencers, and creative people do. You might even downplay yourself because you don’t have talent in photography, but guess what, you don’t need to be a pro to take nice photographs. Your eyes can be trained to see the beauty in everything; you just have to believe that there’s an artist inside you.

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