Gaming

Destiny 2 Review: A Superior Smorgasbord of a Sequel

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The first Destiny was one of the biggest games in 2014, but with its massive following also came plenty of complaints among critics, consumers, and even from the most diehard fans. Destiny 2 aims to address each problem, and succeeds more often than it fails.

Destiny 2 is an online-only sci-fi first person shooter. Its release comes with a ton of baggage. Despite winning awards and garnering a large, dedicated fanbase, the first Destiny took a lot of criticism for its non-existent story, lacking content, convoluted level progression, and tedious grinding. The expansions alleviated some of those of problems, but expectations were understandably high for a full-blown sequel to improve on those aspects and then some.

There’s a lot from the first game directly carried over, with a couple of tweaks. You still have the three classes to choose from: the tanky Titan, the agile Hunter, and the spell-casting Warlock. Each one has the same three subclasses based on the familiar elements of Arc, Solar, and Void. You’re fighting the same alien races: the scavenging Fallen, the mystical Hive, the AI Vex, the militaristic Cabal, and the intradimensional Taken. It’s a bit disappointing to see nothing majorly new in these departments, but at least the essence of playing as those classes and battling those enemies still feels good.

More story to see

Destiny 2 makes it loud and clear from the start that Bungie, the series’ developers, heard the gripes about the storytelling in the first game. You’re thrown right into action the moment you start playing. As one of the virtually immortal, superpowered Guardians of the Last City on Earth, you have to stave off a surprise invasion of your home from an alien army seeking to control the source of your celestial strength; Light, as the game calls it.

It’s a whole spectacle filled with characters firing off rounds and dramatic dialogue alongside you, spaceships doing battle across a laser-lit skyline, and a big bad boss alien that’s half-Bane and half-Darth Vader, speechifying as it robs you of your power. That opening sequence alone feels like more than anything the first game showed story-wise in its entirety.

The premise of depowering the Guardians, the gifted group tasked with defending the solar system from hostile forces, would have been an interesting setup for a game that’s not a blockbuster tentpole title. Like a lot of AAA action games, Destiny 2 at its core is a power fantasy. So it’s no surprise that this initial conflict for the player is resolved immediately. It wouldn’t be much of a high-octane adventure if you couldn’t access your supernatural abilities and wield an arsenal of guns and explosives and blades ASAP!

As for the rest of the non-player characters robbed of their Light, their doubts and vulnerabilities are relegated to small moments and aren’t explored past your early interactions with them. It’s a shame, really, as the plot would have felt more meaningful if it didn’t wrap up so cleanly and conveniently.

The campaign’s saving grace is that it has awesome set pieces sprinkled throughout the levels. You’ll be gawking at the expansive landscapes and elaborate interiors of the outer space worlds you go to, that is, when you’re not running and jumping around machine-gunning legions of baddies and flinging lightning storms or burning hammers at gigantic bosses.

Satisfying side activities

If you’re still hankering for bits of narrative to chew on, the whole new Adventures are meaty little side stories. These mini missions flesh out the NPCs of the level you’re in, and you also learn more about the Destiny universe. They take you to sections of the sprawling levels the campaign doesn’t lead you through.

Whether it’s crashing a demonic chanting Hive concert or preventing the Taken from assimilating the time-traveling Vex, you discover separate plot threads that weave into the bigger narrative tapestry of the series. Along with the many Lost Sectors hidden in every area that contain loot guarded by powerful enemies, the Adventures give you more reasons to explore.

Making your way to tackle these content, you’re likely to come across Public Events. These are live timed combat encounters with unique objectives that happen in public spaces. Since Destiny 2 is an always-online game, you’ll see other players roaming the areas doing their own thing. While story content is limited to three players partying up, anyone within proximity of an ongoing Public Event can seamlessly join the action. And boy are these events bursting with action.

Apart from just being a joy to play with their challenge tuned for multiple people, Public Events also dole out substantial rewards, especially when optional goals are accomplished, incentivizing participation. This leads to chaotic firefights that can then lead to impromptu coordinated firing squads against alien hordes. Blasting rockets at spider tanks and destroying mining drills in tandem with strangers is exciting with the unspoken camaraderie.

Post-game play

If you’re looking for something more mechanically and tactically demanding, Strikes and their Nightfall versions await you after you beat the campaign. These are equal to the length and scale of the biggest story missions, but surpass them in terms of complexity and difficulty. Such operations will have you running through cordoned off dungeons and arenas, completing tasks like hacking terminals or smashing magic crystals while fighting off waves of enemies, and culminating in multi-stage boss fights. Nightfalls are modified Strikes, adding layers like damage multipliers and time extensions for a more challenging experience.

While you can finish the campaign by yourself, Strikes and Nightfalls require teamwork. The former automatically groups you with two other players if you’re not already in a party of three. For the latter, you need to either find two people to join your group or start up Guided Games.

Guided Games lets you matchmake with players from a Clan. Clans are basically communities players can set up and join, making it easier for like-minded Guardians to help each other and gain rewards.

For the hardcore

Rounding out Destiny 2’s cooperative content is the Raid. It’s the biggest, most intricate, and most difficult mission in the game, needing six players actively communicating and playing specific roles to complete. It can take hours spread across numerous gaming sessions. Only the most dedicated gamers will finish it, as the coordination, time commitment, and skill it demands are leagues above everything else in the game. For those who can answer that call, it’s worth the effort to see its visual splendor, conquer its challenges, and forge bonds with friends and even total strangers.

Lastly, there are player-versus-player modes for those looking to test their mettle against fellow Guardians. In the Crucible, two teams of four face off in dedicated PVP maps, with different objectives to achieve victory. There’s a more relaxed Quick Play mode if you just want to fight other people. Competitive mode sets goals that ask for more teamwork, while the Trials of the Nine invites the best of the best with fixed match setups for less randomness and more skillful play.

Overall, it’s a much slower version of Destiny’s Crucible, with the smaller maps and teams encouraging methodical collaboration over individual ability.

Loot lust

Tying all of this content together is the drive to get loot. Stronger weapons, tougher armor, and just cooler looking gear; Destiny 2 showers you in loot no matter what you’re doing. The rate at which you get high-tier equipment is vastly increased from the first game. How you get better loot is way more streamlined too, cutting down the dizzying number of currencies and upgrade materials from Destiny to a more manageable number.

You’ll be reaching the upper limits of your power level so much faster, and doing so gives you access to endgame content earlier. Being locked out of Nightfalls and Raids in the first game because of the boring grind and poor loot drop rates has been completely remedied in this sequel.

The only glaring problem is how shaders, the color modifiers for your gear, are used up when you apply them. You can earn them through a slow drip-feed from just playing the game. However, it’s easy to get tempted to pay real money for the blind boxes containing these cosmetics. Options are welcome, but you’ll feel the effect of these microtransactions soon enough. When you start hesitating to customize your character, fearing that you’ll have to grind to find those shaders again, it just sucks.

Destiny 2 is a behemoth of a game. It’s chockful of content with more to come in the free updates and the two major expansions. Casual players will have more than enough to consume over 25 hours, while hardcore gamers can easily spend upwards of 50+ hours taking on recurring weekly challenges and optimizing their gear. Either way, it’s a great time that can be made all the more memorable with friends to play with.

Destiny 2 is out now on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, with a PC version coming out on October 24. PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold are necessary for 90 percent of the game.

SEE ALSO: 8 PS4 multimedia features you must try out

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Computers

Lenovo Legion lineup gets an upgrade with new AMD Ryzen chipsets

They pretty much cover all price segments

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Lenovo’s Legion lineup is known for its gaming capabilities and has garnered a fan following of its own. In the last handful of years, Intel has powered most of the computers ever built, but it always seemed to lag behind in the gaming department. With AMD’s Ryzen series, things are rapidly changing and Lenovo has accordingly updated their product offering.

Lenovo Legion 5

Starting with the Lenovo Legion 5, it comes in two display size options — 15.6-inches and 17.-3-inches. Both the screens have a 144Hz refresh rate and Full HD resolution. It is available in multiple configurations, with the top variant sporting Ryzen 7 4800 H-series processor and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 GPU.

It can house up to 16GB DDR4 RAM and 1TB of SSD storage. On the cooling front, it has Lenovo Legion Coldfront 2.0 thermals along with a TrueStrike keyboard that offers more keyboard travel.

Lastly, the company claims it can provide 7.5 hours of run time on a single charge. The base variant (17-inch) shall cost US$ 1089 and start shipping from September 2020. The 15-inch option will start atUS$ 1019 and ship from August 2020.

Lenovo Legion 5P

The Lenovo Legion 5P, on the other hand, gets a 15.6-inch display and sports the same CPU and GPU as the Legion 5. However, it runs Dual Burn support that leverages the CPU and GPU simultaneously to improve framerates. With Lenovo Q-Control 3.0, the user can quickly switch between performance modes.

It can sport up to 32GB DDR4 RAM and 1TB of SSD internal storage. Lastly, Lenovo claims it can deliver up to eight hours of usage on a single charge. However, it won’t be going on sale in North America.

Ideapad Gaming 3

IdeaPad Gaming 3 is an affordable gaming laptop has a 15.6-inch display, can support up to AMD Ryzen 7 4800 H-series processor, and optional 120Hz display. The GPU is bumped down to NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Ti, but it can house up to 32GB DDR4 RAM and 1GB of SSD storage. It’ll start at US$ 659 and start shipping from July 2020.

Lenovo Legion Tower 5

If you’re looking for a more powerful gig, the Lenovo Legion Tower 5 can get up to AMD Ryzen 93950X desktop processor with 16 cores. Coupled along is an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 GPU that can churn out 4K framerates. It can support 2x 1TB SSDs along with 2x 2TB hard drives and 128GB DDR4 RAM.

The side panels are transparent and LED lighting within the cabinet offers more customization options to the user. For cooling, a 150W CPU cooling fan is attached and one can opt for an optional 200W liquid cooling system. The base option shall cost US$ 829 and availability starts from October 2020.

IdeaCenter Gaming 5

Lastly, the IdeaCentre Gaming 5 desktop can offer up to AMD Ryzen 7 3700X processor along with NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 GPU. It has Dolby Audio support and can sport up to 32GB RAM. However, it won’t be going on sale in North America.

SEE ALSO:
Lenovo unveils new gaming laptops – Legion 7i, Legion 5i
Lenovo unveils new Legion Tower 5i, IdeaCentre Gaming 5
Lenovo launches Legion 7i, new Legion gaming laptops

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Gaming

Xiaomi now has a curved gaming monitor

With FreeSync and all that gaming tech goodness

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It’s safe to say that there’s no device category that Xiaomi will never explore. This time around they have unveiled the Mi Curved Gaming Monitor 34”.

It sports a WQHD 3440×1440 high-resolution display and 1500R curvature for that in-your-face immersive viewing experience. Its 21:9 ultra- wide display expands the aspect ratio by 30% compared to normal 16:9 displays. It also has a 144Hz game-level refresh rate and flicker-free technology.

It also has a 121% sRGB wide color gamut: Vivid colors are complemented by up to 300 nits of adjustable brightness and a 3000:1 contrast ratio for life-like picture quality.

Lastly, it has AMD FreeSync Premium technology. The monitor seamlessly synchronizes the graphics with the monitor refresh rate when there is a high frame rate output for smoother gameplay.

Global recommended retail price is EUR 399. Pricing in other markets will be announced once the product becomes available.

SEE ALSO: Xiaomi adds Electric Scooter Pro 2, Smart Band 5, TV stick to IoT lineup

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Gaming

Riot Games SEA partners with the Youth Esports Program

Preparing the younger generation of players for competitve esports

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Mineski Philippines created the Youth Esports Program (YEP) in partnership with the Philippine Collegiate Champions League. This new initiative aims to bring together students from all over the country with a passion for competitive Esports.

Particularly, the partnership aims to train and develop future Esports talents, while also providing career opportunities. One such opportunity was the World University Cyber League 2020.

Now, the youth program lands another massive partnership with a global game developer and publisher in Riot Games! This partnership with Riot brings additional resources for students to learn more about the industry and the competitive Esports scene.

Furthermore, Riot also brings some of its own initiatives and tournaments for its popular deck-building title, Legends of Runeterra.

Another effect is the formal entry of their rising team-based shooter in the competitive Esports scene. YEP’s national cross-campus Esports league will now host an official Valorant tournament, along with several other Esports titles. This will be on top of other Valorant-related initiatives, such as content contests.

Schools and student organizations interested in partnering with the Youth Esports Program may email them at [email protected] or message them on Facebook.

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