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

Epic Games just destroyed Fortnite with a literal black hole

There’s an in-game reason, though (maybe)

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Are you currently wondering if (and why) Fortnite is down? If you’re trying to play the world’s biggest battle royale game, you’ll drop in on a strange sight — a black hole. To answer your first question, the game is currently down. However, Fortnite’s curious status is not because of server maintenance or a glitch. Instead, Epic Games has purposely shut its most profitable game down for the day.

Hours ago, Fortnite ended its tenth competitive season. Like most online multiplayer games today, Fortnite creates months-long periods — called Seasons — wherein gamers can rank up and subsequently gain prizes at the end of the period. However, unlike most games, Fortnite holds in-game events that significantly change the gameplay experience. For example, one of the earliest in-game events was a meteor that destroyed part of Fortnite’s map.

That said, Fortnite’s tenth season ended in a literal black hole that sucked up the entire map. Currently, the game will not start in the same lobby or map. Instead, the game only drops gamers into a front-seat view of the black hole. Fortnite is down. (Epic Games has also shut down the game’s official channels.)

For what it’s worth, the game is still churning out “some” content for viewers. Throughout its existence, the black hole has been broadcasting strange numbers for people patient enough to watch. The first set of numbers — 11, 146, 15, 62 — led viewers to a beach full of crabs when put into Google Maps. It’s a direct reference to crab raves, a meme popularized by the game’s popular Twitch streamers. Since then, the black hole released more numbers — 87, 14, 106, 2, 150. Currently, the new set doesn’t mean anything.

Further, gamers can also input the infamous Konami Code — Up, Up, Down, Down, B/O, A/X, Start/Enter — to access a Galaga minigame featuring a pizza and enemy burgers.

For now, Fortnite fans are stuck with this until Epic Games releases a more definitive conclusion. Most likely, the black hole will usher in a new era for the popular game. This might include an entirely new map or new gameplay elements.

Regardless, Fornite’s black hole is a huge gamble on Epic Games’ part. The developer has purposely shut down its biggest revenue stream for an event. It’s currently unheard of for an industry that values maximum efficiency.

SEE ALSO: Sony finally opens cross-play for Fortnite for the PS4

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Enterprise

Blizzard in deep trouble for supporting China

Update: Blizzard eases sanctions against Blitzchung

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Image source: Overwatch

The American corporate world is in a state of crisis caused by the tension between China and America. In the middle of this heightened Sino-American corporate war, Hong Kong lies in the middle, eagerly awaiting its democratic victory against Chinese authoritarianism. Because of the immensity of the geopolitical issue, individuals have inevitably expressed their opinions on the matter through public avenues.

Recently, individual opinions are getting in the way of corporate profits, especially for the companies that these individuals represent. From slaps on the wrist to outlandish punitive measures, American companies are putting a clamp on anti-China sentiments. The US is discovering where their favorite companies’ loyalties really lie — with the American people or with the Chinese government.

Blizzard: too cool for Hong Kong

Among these controversial companies, Blizzard Entertainment is fueling a significant portion of the dispute. Last weekend, the company held a Hearthstone tournament in Taiwan. The winner, Blitzchung (real name: Chung Ng Wai), expressed pro-HK opinions during his victory speech: “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age.”

Days later, Blizzard Entertainment issued steep punishments against Blitzchung: stripping him of his prize money and banning him from competitive play for a year. The company has also fired the two broadcasters involved in the interview. Blizzard has deleted the official interview from their accounts.

“I don’t regret saying that stuff. And even now, I don’t regret it at all.” In defense of his actions, Blitzchung has expressed the necessity of his opinions. “I shouldn’t be scared. I hope my act can inspire other gamers like me, to continue to support the movement in Hong Kong,” he told AFP.

According to Blizzard, Blitzchung’s voiced opinion “offends a portion or group of the public, or otherwise damages [Blizzard’s] images,” warranting the fine and the ban. Curiously, the company did not say if the ban results from any Chinese intervention.

#BoycottBlizzard

Since then, Blizzard’s actions have sparked global outrage, accusing the company of political favoritism rather than supporting its customers or representatives. Many individual personalities have boycotted the company’s products including the highly popular MMORPG World of Warcraft and the competitive shooter Overwatch.

Some Overwatch players have even started using the game’s Chinese character, Mei, as a pro-HK icon. In the game, Mei — and the other characters — are largely apolitical regarding real-world politics. The game is set in a futuristic world with anthropomorphic gorillas and conscious robots. In creating a pro-HK icon, players hope to cause a larger boycott of Blizzard’s products.

Notably, Blizzard’s employees have also expressed dismay over their company’s actions. After the incident, several employees have walked out of their offices in protest. Also, an employee has supposedly taped over Blizzard’s forward-thing motto displayed on the company’s campus: “Think Globally” and “Every Voice Matters.”

The global outrage has already earned the attention of American lawmakers. Floridian Senator Marco Rubio has tweeted his support against Blizzard. “China using access to market as leverage to crush free speech globally,” he said.

Another senator, Ron Wyden from Oregon, has expressed the same sentiments. “Blizzard shows it is willing to humiliate itself to please the Chinese Communist Party. No American company should censor calls for freedom to make a quick buck,” he said.

Meanwhile, rivaling game companies have shown support for Blitzchung. Gods Unchained, a card game similar to Hearthstone, has promised to pay the tournament winner the full winnings stripped by Blizzard. Fortnite’s Epic Games has proclaimed that it will never penalize players for expressing their right to free speech.

Companies for China

Besides Blizzard, the NBA is also embroiled in a similar controversy. China has recently blacklisted the Houston Rockets because of a tweet from general manager Daryl Morey. Apple is also in trouble for supporting a pro-HK app and censoring the Taiwanese flag.

Slowly, the world is unraveling the curtain draping over the biggest companies today. Underneath, people are discovering a cruel truth: the persistence of money versus integral values.

Update [10/11/19]: At the end of the day on Friday (US time), Blizzard issued a statement in response to the recent controversies. In the lengthy post, the company has decided to ease up on the penalties issued to both Blitzchung and the shoutcasters. For one, Blitzchung will finally receive his full winnings. Further, Blizzard has reduced the bans to only six months.

Explaining their side, Blizzard has reiterated that the decision was made without Chinese intervention. According to the statement, Blizzard acted to ensure the tournament’s status as an inclusive environment for all gamers.

SEE ALSO: Blizzard is taking their other titles to your mobile

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Gaming

PlayStation 5 will launch on Holiday 2020

Featuring a new controller

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The next generation console PlayStation 5 will launch on Holiday 2020.

Sony PlayStation published a statement today announcing the time of the launch. Another major announcement is that it will come with a new controller – one that has haptic technology and adaptive triggers.

The haptic feedback will replace the “rumble” tech found in earlier versions of the the DualShock controller. PlayStation says haptic should provide a broader range of feedback. This means a different feeling when you crash a race car to the wall, tackle on the football field, or even ” sense for a variety of textures when running through fields of grass or plodding through mud.”

There’s also the new adaptive triggers which Sony says they incorporated into the L2 and R2 trigger buttons. The new tech will allow developers to “program the resistance of the triggers.” This means having a tactile sensation depending on the action you’re executing.

Game creators have already been given and early version of the new controller so they can incorporate it in upcoming titles.

SEE MORE: PlayStation 5: Everything we know so far

 

 

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