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.

Features

How to git gud at Mobile Legends from Blacklist International

Bring out your notepads…

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School is in session. If you’re into Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, you know Blacklist International. The recent MPL PH Season 7 champion team has a decent rep in the mobile gaming world. So, if you want to get good, you’ll definitely get good-good. And, who better to give us the best tips than the QueenVee, Ohmy.v33nus, himself?

TIP #1 – Start small

When asked how to hit it right with the basics, Ohmy.v33nus answered with pretty solid advice saying: “When it comes to improving your gameplay, do it one step at a time. Players can try mastering one hero or one role at a time first. From there, you can best strategize how you plan to win your game better.”

TIP #2 – Know you to do you

Beginners are faced with almost as many daunting questions as ordering sugar and ice levels for boba when it comes to who to play. From characters’ skills, roles, and abilities in the grander scheme of the team game, it can get overwhelming.

So the best way to get better is to know who you want to play and what role suits your preferences. And like Ohmy.v33nus said, “Knowing the role that suits you is important, some players love playing heroes in melee combat, some in long-range or using magical powers.

TIP #3 – If you want to go pro, you’ve got to play harder

We asked what advice the team had for people who are starting out and want to maybe go pro in the future. He answered by saying, “what separates casual players from those wanting to take it seriously is ranking, so if players want to be noticed they can try to achieve a top global ranking.” And, while that’s a technical target goal you can work towards, Blacklist gave sage advice on how to get there.

TIP #4 – The grind

Ranking up to where you’ve proven you take the game seriously to be pro comes with time and effort. So, it’s no surprise when Blacklist followed up TIP #3 with this: “before you achieve that desired ranking, practice makes perfect. When there’s an opportunity to practice, do it. Never stop learning and discovering your battling strategy so you’ll be able to champion your way to the global competitions.”

When asked how often and for how long the team grinds to get to be as good as they are, they practice a minimum of 8 hours per day, extending to up to 10 hours. “This helps us build team dynamics better and strengthen our strategy,” Ohmy.v33nus said.

TIP #5 – Know the meta

If you’ve got all 5 down so far, you’re up for more technical know-how. So, given the ever-changing game meta it can be challenging to keep up. This is where noting patches and updates can be helpful. Keeping track of who has been nerfed, buffed, and adjusted. And, knowing little tweaks Moonton has made in-game can help players adjust and adapt.

It’s also good to note that this is where you’ll be returning to TIPS #1 – #5, where it rides on comfort and familiarity. So, whether you fully grasp the meta or not, you can play however you feel outside the world of going pro.

So, with the current meta, we had to ask Blacklist for their whitelist. Jokes aside, we had them recommend heroes for each role and they said, “Marksman: Granger, Tank: Tigreal, Support: Rafaela, Angela, Assassin: Ling, Fighter: X-Borg, Mage: Nana.” When asked about the top meta hero picks for ranked, they said that they weren’t quite sure with the recent patch. But, they think some of the best heroes last season kept their placement. “Like Mathilda, Yve, Granger, and Harith,” Blacklist said.

TIP #6 — Play on a gaming-capable smartphone

You know that highly-contested-on-who-said-it quote about how when you give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime? Well, think of getting the perfect gaming smartphone as equal to getting yourself a fishing rod to get started on learning how to fish. But, enough silly metaphors.

Ohmy.v33nus aptly said, “it goes without saying that your tools can make or break your game. You need a phone that has the processing power, battery life, storage space, and stunning display to give you long-lasting, smooth, and precise gameplay.”

When asked about particular phones and features the team liked, he said they loved OPPO’s A94 and its AI gaming features. Adding, “our favorite is the Gamer Mode which lets you block off interruptions and notifications so you can focus more on your battle.” Plus, when waiting on important messages, the phone features a Bullet Screen Message that allows users to instantly receive messages without blocking or interrupting the game.

TIP #7 – A gaming phone, stripped

Not all gaming features need to be game-centric. At the end of the day, it’s night. No, kidding aside, Mobile Legends: Bang Bang is a fun team game and if you’re stripping the game of its fun and the team, you’ve got no one to be or get good with. A gaming phone, stripped without games, are phones, and as good as the OPPO A94’s 48MP AI rear quad-cam matrix and 32MP ultra-clear front camera set-up was, we needed to know if Blacklist had much use for it.

So, we asked how important camera specs and features were to team members when picking out a gaming phone. Ohmy.v33nus replied saying, “a lot. We don’t only focus on gaming, as professional players; we also create content and stay active on social media for fans, family, and friends.”

The OPPO A94 Features:

Display — 6.43-inch FHD+ (2400 x 1080) AMOLED display, 90 Hz refresh rate, 409 PPI

Processor — MediaTek Helio P95 octa-core processor

Storage — 8GB RAM and 128GB internal storage

Camera — Quad rear cameras: 48MP F1.7 (primary), 8MP F2.2 (ultra-wide), 2MP F2.4 (macro), and 2MP F2.4 (portrait); Selfie camera: 32MP

Operating System — ColorOS 11.1

Battery – 4310mAh, 30W VOOC Flash Charge 4.0

Price and availability

OPPO A94 comes in Fantastic Purple, Crystal Silver, and Fluid Black. It has a price tag of PhP 13, 999 and can be purchased via OPPO Brand Stores nationwide, Shopee, and Lazada.

TIP #8 – Lastly, soft skills and heart

When asked for advice for aspiring pros on what they can work on, Ohmy.v33nus said, “since ML:BB is a team game, a crucial soft skill you can develop is communication. Being clear and precise with teammates not only helps in-game strategies but also helps strengthen the synergy between them and their teammates.” Going on to say, “keep your heart in the game. Keep practicing and play regularly to boost your skills to achieve top leaderboard spots.”


This feature is a collaboration between GadgetMatch and OPPO Philippines

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Gaming

PlayStation 5 is Sony’s fastest-selling console ever

Surpasses 10 million units sold

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Given how scarce the console is right now, it doesn’t feel like the PlayStation 5 is selling like hotcakes. Regardless, it’s still going really well for Sony. Despite seeming (and announced) shortages, the new console has already reached a milestone for the company, making the PlayStation 5 its fastest-selling console in history.

In an official release, Sony has confirmed that the PlayStation 5 has surpassed 10 million units sold all over the globe. Since the console was released less than a year ago (November 2020), the PS5 has already set the record as Sony’s fastest-selling console. It is currently on pace to outsell the previous generation, the PlayStation 4.

To further increase the hype for the console, Sony has also reiterated the list of exclusive titles that it is anticipating for the PS5: God of War Ragnarok, Horizon Forbidden West, and Gran Turismo 7. Besides this impressive roster, the console will also get a number of anticipated titles on the platform: Deathloop, Battlefield 2042, and Far Cry 6.

However, despite the push for a thriving PlayStation 5 ecosystem, the console is still a rare sight today. For one, the launch (and potentially even today) was plagued with an endless drove of scalpers sucking the well dry from eager gamers. Similarly, Sony has forecasted that an ongoing chip shortage might extend well into 2022.

Though the console’s performance is truly impressive, it might take a while before it reaches every willing buyer’s living room.

SEE ALSO: Why you should buy the PlayStation 5!

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Gaming

Long-teased cat game Stray finally gets a release date

Plus a gameplay trailer

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For most followers of the industry, the gaming world often has holy grails, or games that have long been promised but haven’t seen the light of day yet. In recent history, the world’s most renowned holy grails are the doomed P.T. from Hideo Kojima, the mysterious GTA 6, and Elder Scrolls 6. However, in a smaller scale, an enigmatic cat game has enamored cat-loving gamers for years. Finally, Stray, after being announced in last year’s PlayStation 5 showcase, has a release date.

Last year, Annapurna Interactive shared a cinematic trailer for the upcoming game, teasing its arrival for the PlayStation 5. However, the game fell to silence for months. Finally, the publisher revealed a gameplay trailer for the cat simulator game.

As expected, Stray will be an action puzzle game, helping the main cat-tagonist survive an unfamiliar sci-fi world. At the start, the game shares the same mood as the Little Nightmares series: an oft-powerless character relying on their puzzle-solving skills to advance. However, the trailer reveals more progression coming in the form of cybernetic attachments which will give the cat more abilities.

At the end of the trailer, Blue Twelve, the game’s developers, confirmed that the game is coming to PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, and PC sometime in early 2022.

Stray remains one of the more anticipated small games of recent history. For years, the developer teased the upcoming cat simulator game through a short, short trailer. Hype has persistently seesawed back and forth from the same trailer without an update from the developer. Thankfully, that has now changed.

SEE ALSO: Death Stranding Director’s Cut set to arrive on the PlayStation 5

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