Gaming

Death Stranding review: Trying to recover what we’ve lost

A take on the importance of human connection

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As morbid as it is, the reality is we will all meet our end. And it’s not just our own personal ends as we grow old, but also the end of civilization as we know it. There are game titles that detail every possible scenario of near-extinction for the human race, and how the survivors deal with what’s left.

Death Stranding initially seems to follow that trend — a game that tackles another possible near-extinction of the human race. At first, it seemed like another post-apocalypse storyline, mixed with the advent of technology and leaving it all to human effort to harness it. Every other video game that deals with technology, to me always ends in bloodshed.

But as I played through this game, it showed something else.

Avoiding craters and building bridges

You play as Sam Porter Bridges, voiced by Norman Reedus from The Walking Dead. His role in society is a delivery man, tasked to simply deliver supplies and resources to different cities in America. From my understanding, he’s an isolated fellow — prefers to just be on his own, and deems himself untouchable out of fear.

The entire game takes place in whatever’s left of America some time after a series of voidouts that killed millions. Sam reports to BRIDGES in the capital of the United Cities of America; as the name suggests, BRIDGES wants to repair the broken UCA and its divided people. The surrounding area of the capital is what you would expect: shielded from the outside for a good reason.

To me, this is one interesting take on human survival. Normally, in post-apocalyptic worlds, the goal is to save yourself (or your loved ones) while mauling your way through every peril. With Death Stranding, the goal is simply to survive and ensure the survival of everyone else. And the only way to do that is to, well, bridge every human together.

Realistically going all over America and its perils

Death Stranding, to me comes close to capturing the humanity of any character in terms of physical aspects. The game allows you to explore every facet of being a human while establishing a level of purpose for doing simple things. And yes, that includes taking a shower before heading out for expeditions.

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Movement in this game is what you would usually expect. As a delivery man, you got some valuable cargo on your hands, hips, and back; balance is as important as survival instincts. Fortunately, the game has controls that allow you to maintain your balance while moving. This is especially important when you’ll start carrying heavier cargo and supplies.

There’s also a level of incorporating the natural surroundings while you’re moving or running around. Even simply tripping on rocks causes damage to you, and possibly the cargo you’re bringing along. Managing your balance and stamina is necessary to survive and to get your deliveries in order.

But one interesting highlight in this game is the rain, known as Timefall which effectively renders cargo protection useless. In game, Die-Hardman reminds you that Timefall speeds up time while also inviting the unseen anomalies you’re trying to avoid. While you have an option to simply seek shelter in caves or rocks, I just went for it and ran for my life.

The concept of irreversible damage unto the world

As the game will show you early on, you are a repatriate — essentially given the ability to come back to life. Every time you die in-game, you are placed in what is known as an upside-down world. To return to life, simply follow a strand that leads to Sam’s body. This is the kind of respawn that I felt was the game’s strongest feature over all other post-apocalyptic titles.

See, when you die and repatriate with your body, anything that happened before you died stays exactly as they are. If you die from a voidout, the huge crater stays and any life lost is forever gone. For some reason, the cargo you were bringing along stays where they are/relatively intact.

I personally found this to be most realistic way to do a respawn mechanic in-game. If you’re going for full human experience, you don’t get a chance to undo any damage already caused in the world. You only get to proceed with unfinished business, but no takebacks.

There’s great emphasis on the human connection

The endgame of bridging every human possible is protection from the BTs — discovered to be former humans turned into dark matter. BTs are the ones formally responsible for all the voidouts that occur in-game. Heartman highlights that the slightest interaction with the BTs could start the ticking time bomb.

Perhaps Sam’s biggest protection against the BTs involve two things given to him: a sickness called DOOMS and a BB module. The BB module contains an actual baby inside a vat of yellow liquid, keeping it safe. Sam’s connection to the BB module only strengthens his protection and awareness of the BTs around him.

What I find a little troublesome about the BBs and BTs is that it doesn’t necessarily provide you protection. While the whole set-up of the Sam-BB relationship was for protection, running past the BTs is still pretty difficult because the baby won’t stop crying. Also, any damage done to the BB module severely stresses out the baby, making it more difficult to move around. But, I guess that’s where the ultimate challenge lies.

Overall, it hits the core principle of human survival

Death Stranding offers a unique yet relevant take on post-apocalyptic survival. As a game, several human mechanics are spot on and given their full justice. From trekking to managing your balance and cargo, you will definitely feel the realism in the human experience.

But more than anything, this game truly highlights a facet vital for human survival: connection. At its forefront, the game puts together a story that hinges on the importance of human connection on every turn. 

Sam, an isolated human being has to trust BRIDGES in hopes to restore the world to a less broken state. No lives lost, only those saved and protected from BT exposure. For the first time, I didn’t have to kill to survive; I just needed to survive so others may survive, as well.

This game offers relatively simple movement mechanics, mixed with a unique take on a post-apocalypse storyline. And if you’re looking for a different type of action-survival game, a game like Death Stranding is something truly worth to give a shot.

Death Stranding will be available on November 8 for the PlayStation 4.

Gaming

Will PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X games be more expensive?

Signs point to yes

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Image source: Sony

Throughout the entire console versus PC debate, console gamers always had one thing going for them: the considerably cheaper price of hardware. Whereas PC gamers pay through the nose for a modern gaming rig, PS4 and Xbox One gamers pay only a fraction of that price for a console. However, amidst the price of hardware, console games are much more expensive. Current AAA games usually sell for US$ 59.99 or thereabouts.

Now, with the release of the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X imminent, everyone is waiting for the fate of their wallets. How much will the consoles retail for? How much will the games cost?

Currently, we already have an idea of how much the PlayStation 5 series will sell for, thanks to an accidental Amazon leak. If the leaks are true, the consoles won’t vary much from previous generations.

However, the price of PS5 games will likely bump up. As you might have heard, 2K Games finally announced the upcoming entry in the popular NBA 2K series, NBA 2K21. The new game will be the first one in the series to play on the next generation of consoles. As always, it comes in different packages, varying in in-game loot.

The standard edition (with Damian Lillard on the cover) will still retail for US$59.99 and will play on the PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, and Stadia. However, the next-generation edition (with Zion Williamson) will retail for US$ 69.99 and will play exclusively on the PS5 and the Xbox Series X. Both Mamba Forever editions will cost US$ 99.99. For a more in-depth look at what the different packages include, check out our breakdown here.

Plagued as it is with microtransactions, the NBA 2K series can definitely obscure how much a game really costs. We wouldn’t put it past them to bump up a price for themselves. However, the regular edition historically hovers around the industry’s current standard. There is no reason to discredit NBA 2K21‘s price as a potential standard. That said, are we looking at the price of the next generation?

Right now, the most popular PS4 games are already pricey, often much more expensive than PC variants. With a potential price bump on the horizon, becoming a console gamer might be much more painful for a budget. Though the console itself is affordable, the price of each game makes next-generation gaming more difficult to follow after each big release.

SEE ALSO: Sony announces huge list of games for the PS5

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Kobe is the cover of NBA 2K21 Mamba Forever Edition

For both current and next gen

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Give us a quick second as we wipe the tears off our faces. The third and final cover athlete for NBA 2K21 is Kobe Bryant. Instead of being called the Legend Edition, it will be aptly named Mamba Forever Edition.

The Mamba Forever Edition will be available in both current gen and next gen consoles. On the current gen cover, Kobe is shown wearing the No. 8 jersey displaying the peak of his athleticism. On the next gen cover, he’s seen wearing the No. 24 jersey in a scene during his final game where he scored 60 points.

2K says the covers are a celebration of the late athlete’s lifetime achievement and basketball excellence. He passed away in a tragic accident earlier in 2020 with his daughter Gigi Bryant and seven others.

Kobe was the cover athlete for NBA 2K10, the Legend Edition of NBA 2K17.

Damian Lillard and Zion Williamson were revealed as the covers for the current gen and next-gen standard editions respectively.

NBA 2K21 will feature MyTEAM Cross-Progression and a Shared VC Wallet within the same console family (PS4 to PS5, Xbox One to Xbox Series X).

MyTEAM Cross-Progression enables all MyTEAM Points, Tokens, cards and progress to be shared on both current and next-generation versions of NBA 2K21 in the same console family. Similarly, the Shared VC Wallet means any earned or purchased VC is accessible across both current and next-generation versions of NBA 2K21 in the same console family.

Pricing and availability

NBA 2K21 will be available on current-generation platforms on September 4, 2020 and is available for pre-order today. NBA 2K21 will be available for PhP 3,190 (US$59.99) on current-generation platforms.

It will also be available on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X as a launch title this holiday. The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X version of NBA 2K21 will be available for PhP 3,690 (US$ 69.99).

The NBA 2K21 Mamba Forever Edition will be available for PhP 5,390 (US$ 99.99) for both current and next-generation platforms.

It includes dual-access where purchasing Mamba Forever Edition on either current or next-generation platforms provides a copy of the standard edition game on the other generation at no additional cost, within the same console family.

A full breakdown of pre-order details is available at NBA 2K’s website.

NBA 2K will release additional announcements and news about NBA 2K21 including the soundtrack reveal, first looks at gameplay and features for both current and next-generation versions of NBA 2K21, 2K Day celebration and much more.

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Pokémon launched Pikachu-themed wedding rings, but there’s something nasty about them

How big is your love?

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As of late, The Pokémon Company has increased its reach to a lot of other industries outside of gaming, including lifestyle apps and wireless earbuds. Now, the ubiquitous brand has expanded to the most precious catch of them all: wedding rings.

Partnered with Japanese jewelry company Ginza Tanaka, The Pokémon Company has officially launched Pikachu-themed engagement rings and wedding bands. The list of products includes simple platinum and gold wedding bands that come in a PokéBall-style box. Couples can also get their rings engraved with their own personal customizations. (However, the company rightly suggests a variation of “I choose you, [insert name here].”)

Meanwhile, the engagement rings are a bit more ostentatious. One design is a simple silhouette of Pikachu’s face, but the face’s center holds a diamond. Another design has two Pikachu tails holding the diamond in place. Like the wedding bands, they can come in either gold or platinum.

Cute as they are, there’s something awfully weird about them, as The Verge points out. In particular, the ears of the Pikachu rings look particularly nasty. Call us skeptical, but we don’t think Pikachu had *those* for ears. And yes, while they are part of the marriage process, we don’t know if you’d want them wrapped around your finger forever.

However, if you’re not bothered by them and think they’re perfectly innocent and fluffy Pikachu ears, they retail for JPY 346,500 (approximately US$ 3,225). Meanwhile, the wedding bands range between JPY 115,550 (approximately US$ 1,076) to JPY 121,000 (approximately US$ 1,126). The collection also has a keepsake photo frame selling for JPY 13,200 (approximately US$ 123).

SEE ALSO: Pokémon Unite is the very first Pokémon MOBA game

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