Gaming

Days Gone is the open-world survival game that feels just right

A hands-on look into post-apocalyptic America

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There have been a ton of open-world games for the PlayStation 4. The appeal of exploring an entire game world, all while progressing through a storyline, has not gone away since the days of Grand Theft Auto. For 2019, Bend Studio has its own open-world game to offer, and has been in the works for almost four years.

Days Gone is an open-world game mixed with the elements of a zombie apocalypse due to a great pandemic. When you read that first sentence, you stop and think, “Doesn’t the PlayStation already have a game like this in The Last of Us?” This was my first thought when I got the chance to try Bend Studio’s four-year project. I came in with the expectation that this game, at the very least, should feel and be different.

This is America, after the pandemic

As soon as gameplay starts after the opening scene, my immediate question was, “Is this supposed to be post-apocalyptic America?” The scenery looked beautiful and breathtaking, for a portion of the country ravaged by flesh-eating creatures. Of course, that’s looking past all the decaying bodies, broken vehicles, and abandoned establishments.

There’s actually so much to explore, I’m glad they require you to use the main character’s motorcycle for the whole game. It actually serves as the only usable vehicle for the duration — at least based on my gameplay, and it’s fully customizable. Of course, vehicles are subject to natural wear and tear and loss of fuel, all of which can be fixed by pressing Circle on the engine or fuel tank. On another note, two years into the pandemic and they still have gasoline in gasoline stations?

You either fight or take flight

You play Deacon St. John, a bounty hunter who, at the start of the pandemic, left his wife Sarah in the hands of NERO. NERO is a scientific research lab dedicated to solve the Freaker pandemic. Two years later, Deacon becomes an outlaw with Boozer by his side, confronting a world ravaged by Freakers left and right.

The main premise of Days Gone is survival; you are placed in a world ravaged by creatures known as Freakers that come in many forms. As the main character, you will encounter these creatures (whether as former humans or animals) at any point of the day, along with human enemies from rival gangs/groups. For the most part, I had to scavenge abandoned houses and gas stations for spare parts and guns. That’s how scarce things were.

If there’s one aspect Bend Studio did nail down properly, it’s the horde of Freakers. Usually, when games introduce a horde of infected creatures, they do so in the 10s or 20s. In Days Gone, I experienced a full wave of fifty Freakers coming at me. And, given how scarce resources and ammunition were, it was basically fight or flight. I, unfortunately, chose to fight with just a knife (attack with R2) and fought through ten Freakers before losing all health.

Improving on your survival skills

As Deacon moves around and accomplishes certain tasks, he earns experience points from it. These points turn into skill points to be used on his Skill Tree (swiping down on the Touch Pad). Such skills include the ability to face Freaker hordes better, the ability to craft certain weapons and ammunition, and heightened Survival Vision (R3).

I really felt the need to upgrade some of his skills throughout the two hours of gameplay, such as better aim (L2) when targeting opponents. For the most part, aiming with scoped weapons was pretty hard to control even with the focus assist setting on — especially if you like going for headshots (which I was).

Did it meet expectations?

My challenge for Days Gone was to feel and be different; however, what I got was a game that only felt different. It’s pretty much the same kind of survival, open-world game as more popular titles like The Last of Us. But, you really feel the gravity of the situation you’re in, the realness of a world ravaged by a pandemic, and the need to survive in it.

Bend Studio did promise that Days Gone was going to be different, and I’d like to believe that. Will it be different enough to sell? For now, it’s a game worth trying. Days Gone will be available on the PlayStation 4 on April 26, 2019, at PhP 2,999 in the Philippines, SG$ 79.90 in Singapore, MYR 239 in Malaysia, and IDR 829,000 in Indonesia.

Gaming

Ubisoft lays down post-launch plans for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla

Comes with a Season Pass with two major expansions and an exclusive quest

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Assassin's Creed Valhalla

While the game hasn’t been released yet, Ubisoft already has big plans for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla post launch. Set to release on November 10, Valhalla takes you back to England’s Dark Ages as Eivor. The game offers exciting new features as you forge alliances to establish your Viking kingdom.

Now, Ubisoft bares its plans for all of its Assassin’s Creed players a month into picking up Valhalla. This new string of exciting content includes a Season Pass and frequent seasonal content. Through this Season Pass, players will discover new territories and stories surrounding the lore of Valhalla.

The Season Pass comes with two major expansions, the Wrath of the Druids and The Siege of Paris. In The Wrath of the Druids, players unravel the mysteries of ancient Ireland. Most of the worlds here consist of haunted forests and Gaelic kingdoms.

In The Siege of Paris, players relive the most ambitious battle in Viking history. You will take part in a prolonged siege of Frankia through Paris and the River Seine. In the end, what awaits players are secrets to unfold and alliances to forge.

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla will launch on November 10 for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC. It will also be available for the PlayStation 5 when the console comes out on November 12.

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Computers

Acer has 6 new Predator and Nitro gaming monitors

Which one to pick???

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Predator Nitro

Just like Michael Jordan’s six trips to the NBA Finals, Acer is giving us SIX Predator and Nitro gaming monitor options that are all winners.

We’re just going to run this down real quick.

Predator XB3 Series for Pros and Avid Enthusiasts

The new Predator XB3 series monitors are a line of FHD (1920×1080) or QHD (2560×1440) displays that feature high refresh rates and VESA DisplayHDR certifications.

From there, each monitor has been optimized around different criteria: The XB273U NV is Eyesafe-certified, the XB253Q GW boasts an 280Hz refresh rate (overclockable) and 0.5ms (G to G) response time, and the XB323U GX is color-accurate with 99% Adobe RGB coverage.

Predator XB273U NV – Easy On the Eyes

Predator

The Predator XB273U NV, part of the XB3 VisionCare series, has been designed to give players as comfortable a gaming experience as possible. One of the first gaming monitors to be certified by Eyesafe. The Predator XB273U NV manages high-energy wavelengths in order to selectively filter out blue light while maintaining crisp and vivid color quality.

Additionally, Acer VisionCare 4.0 incorporates a range of technologies — LightSense, AdaptiveLight, ColorSense and ProxiSense — that measure environmental and ambient light and then automatically adjust the monitor’s brightness and color-temperature to match it, helping reduce eye strain.

The monitor’s crystal-clear 27-inch QHD (2560×1440) Agile-Splendor IPS1 display features wide viewing angles, a fast 1ms response time and up to an overclocked 170Hz refresh rate, while 95% DCI-P3 color spectrum coverage and a Delta E<1 rating.

VESA DisplayHDR 400 certified, the XB273U NV has true 8-bit image quality and dynamically adjusts screen brightness to suit the displayed scene for noticeably darker darks.

This model has RGB LightSense for synchronizing the screen’s colors to music, media and eSports tournaments. A built-in TX transmitter can wirelessly sync lighting colors and rhythm to additional networked monitors for an even more dramatic effect.

An ergonomic stand helps users find just the right angle by letting them adjust the monitor’s tilt, swivel, height and pivot.

Predator XB253Q GW — High FPS for Smooth Gameplay

Predator

The Predator XB253Q GW’s 24.5-inch NVIDIA G-SYNC Compatible FHD (1920×1080) IPS panel can be overclocked to an incredibly fast 280Hz refresh rate (overclockable) with up to a 0.5ms (G to G) response time to keep up with even the fastest-paced action scenes, making it ideal for first-person shooter and racing games where precision is paramount.

Integrated RGB LightSense with nine different special effects synchronizes RGB to the beat of the music, games and more. The monitor has also been ergonomically designed, allowing users to adjust its tilt, swivel, height and pivot.

Predator XB323U GX – Stunning, Vivid Visuals

Predator

NVIDIA G-SYNC Compatible and featuring a 32-inch QHD (2560×1440) panel with a speedy 270 Hz refresh rate (overclockable) and up to a 0.5ms (G to G) response time, the Predator XB323U GX’s fluidity and low latency serve to drastically reduce motion blur during fast-paced gameplay.

The 99% AdobeRGB coverage makes this an excellent choice for players who create videos of their gameplay, and a VESA DisplayHDR 600 certification indicates that the XB323U GX features 8-bit image processing and local-dimming, enabling the screen to adjust dynamically to what’s happening on the scene for deep blacks and impressive highlights.

To optimize comfort during long gaming sessions, the Predator XB323U GX provides users with the ability to adjust its tilt, swivel, height and pivot.

Predator X34 GS for Gamers Desiring Curved Immersion

Predator

The Predator X34 GS extends users’ peripheral view with a giant 34-inch curved UWQHD (3440×1440) screen, working in tandem with an Agile-Splendor IPS panel that delivers clear images even at wide viewing angles.

NVIDIA G-SYNC Compatible, it renders smooth action with up to a 180 Hz refresh rate (overclockable) and an ultra-fast 0.5ms (G to G) response time. VESA DisplayHDR 400 illuminates the finer details to create sharper images, so no important targets or details are missed, while 98% DCI-P3 spectrum coverage brings images to life in vivid color.

The flexible stand provides a multitude of viewing options, giving users the ability to adjust its tilt, swivel and height. Two integrated 7 watt speakers eliminate the need for external speakers.

Nitro Series Monitors — Get Into the Game

Two new 27-inch Nitro series models, the Acer Nitro XV272U KV and Nitro XV272 LV, are ideal for casual gamers that want to get as much value out of their devices as possible.

Both are Eyesafe-certified to help prevent eye fatigue and further viewing comfort, and an ergonomic stand lets gamers find just the right viewing angle by adjusting the monitors’ tilt, swivel, height and pivot.

The Acer Nitro XV272U KV offers stunningly clear QHD (2560×1440) gameplay with a low Delta E<1 rating and 95% coverage of the DCI-P3 color spectrum. Performance is fast and fluid with up to 170 Hz (overclocked) and a 1ms (G to G) response time on an Agile-Splendor IPS panel that also provides wide viewing angles to maximize the view.

Nitro

Beyond just looking great, the monitor is also equipped with LightSense, ColorSense and ProxiSense technologies, giving users a more comfortable experience by automatically adjusting the monitor’s settings based on ambient lighting in the environment.

The Nitro XV272 LV sports an FHD (1920×1080) Agile-Splendor IPS panel and offers up to 165Hz (overclocked) for smooth visuals even in busy action scenes. With 90% DCI-P3 color coverage and a low Delta E<1 rating.

Nitro

Pricing and Availability

The Predator XB273U NV will be available in North America in January 2021 starting at US$ 549.99; in EMEA in January 2021 starting at EUR 549; and in China in November 2020, starting at CNY 3,999.

The Predator XB253Q GW will be available in North America in January 2021 starting at US$ 429.99; in EMEA in January 2021 starting at EUR 449; and in China in December 2020, starting at CNY 2,999.

The Predator XB323U GX will be available in North America in January 2021 starting at US$ 899.99; in EMEA in December 2020 starting at EUR 999; and in China in November 2020, starting at CNY 6,999.

The Predator X34 GS will be available in North America in December starting at US$ 999.99; in EMEA in December starting at EUR 1,099; and in China in November, starting at CNY 7,999.

The Nitro XV272U KV will be available in North America in December starting at US$ 399.99; in EMEA in December starting at EUR 469; and in China in November, starting at CNY 2,999.

The Nitro XV272 LV will be available in North America in December starting at US$ 279.99; in EMEA in December starting at EUR 319; and in China in December, starting at CNY 1,999.

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Apps

Acer has an In-Game Live AI Translator on their own esports platform

It’s called SigridWave and the platform is Planet9

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SigridWave

Acer introduces SigridWave — an In-Game Live AI Translator for Planet9 which is the company’s next-generation esports platform. There’s a lot to unpack here so try to digest the information slowly.

SigridWave: In-Game Live AI Translator

SigridWave aims to break language barriers and facilitate communication among gamers around the world. It leverages deep learning tech and is especially trained in gaming jargon.

When in-game, SigridWave employs Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) technology to recognize utterances and convert them into strings of text. This text is then run through a Neural Machine Translation (NMT) technology. The NMT Tech has so far been trained with over 10 million bilingual sentence pairs, enabling it to understand the terminology associated with specific games (such as “ADS” or “camping”) and learn how players express themselves.

If your nose is bleeding after reading all of that, don’t worry. Same.

Intended specifically for gaming, SigridWave’s AI has so far been trained with over 1,000 hours of game-centric speech (voice + transcript), enabling it to accurately relay detected messages back to users in a language that they can understand.

Being game-centric is key. Acer points out that the biggest hurdle in machine translation is context. Many words can carry multiple meanings and computers struggle to discern the most suitable translation for the situation, that’s why being focused on gaming is essential.

SigridWave will have a closed beta in Q4 2020, during which time it will be available for two-way translation between English and Mandarin in a number of major FPS titles such as Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege.

Planet9 — Acer’s next gen esports platform

SigridWave will work in tandem with Planet9 — a next gen esports platform. The AI Translator is booted up while in a game lobby on Planet9’s desktop client. It’ll appear as a customizable in-game overlay.

The platform itself is meant to be partly competitive and partly social. It’s designed to provide an open community for casual and amateur players who want to improve their skills and take steps towards going pro.

The platform helps players connect with others via teams and social clubs; to improve their skills, via in-depth feedback on gameplay in the form of statistics and coaching; and to experience organized gameplay, via casual or ranked scrimmages and competitive tournaments for most games.

In-game overlays will be supported for League of Legends on launch in late 2020 or early 2021, and support will be made available for additional titles in the future.

Teams

Planet9 strives to help gamers connect with others who have similar skill levels and aspirations. From there, players can create a team to be registered on the website or search for one to join.

Planet9 will also help recruiting teams to fill their rosters, considering factors such as game played, rank, region and language in order to identify potential teammates.

Once a team is established, a private team page is created on the platform to function as a central hub for all involved. In addition to keeping track of match history and statistics for later review and discussion, the team hub includes a number of features to help keep everything organized: a board for discussion and polls, a group calendar for scheduling scrimmages, a tab to keep track of team funding and a directory with basic stats on all members.

Clubs

Planet9’s Club feature is intended to help players keep up with groups they like or admire, whether they’re major names in the industry or a local university team. Clubs consist of two parts, a public “home” page for followers and a private “lounge” for members.

The home page is a place to share content (posts, polls, videos, etc) in order to engage with the community, whereas the lounge is a place to relax and discuss club-related content with a smaller circle of more dedicated members.

Businesses, influencers and public figures are also capable of forming a club on Planet9, creating a unique new touchpoint for brands that wish to connect with gamers. Whether professional or amateur, each club is granted access to a variety of tools to host tournaments in order to grow their own community.

Planet9 recently partnered with Currys PC World to feature Planet9 in its stores in order to enhance esports initiatives in the UK and Ireland. This includes an in-house designed arena to give players a chance to see what it’s like being part of a local gaming club, practicing with teammates and learning from coaches.

These in-house arenas will launch soon with a rapid expansion to 30 stores throughout 2021. Each of the stores will open its own club on Planet9 to grow its gamer community as well as to host tournaments, creating a pipeline for players to show off their talent.

Tournaments

Planet9 includes a significant amount of infrastructure designed to make the process of organizing and hosting tournaments as seamless as possible.

An extensive UI ensures that a successful tournament can be put together even by those with no experience, while a number of automation features (registration, bracket mastering, etc.) enable experienced hosts to minimize time spent on tedious activities and focus on providing as enjoyable an event as possible.

Tournaments are highly customizable, featuring a number of preset brackets and privacy modes, opportunities for sponsored branding and club-determined rewards. Come game day, an all-in-one “Bracket Master” console makes it easy for judges and organizers to communicate, configure matches, broadcast to an audience and more.

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