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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Gaming

Zelda: Breath of the Wild Sequel trailer breakdown

The trailer has fans guessing

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Remember Breath of the Wild? I don’t know. Just the single most amazing open-world game Nintendo published? Yeah, well, we’re all collectively getting a sequel come 2022 with Nintendo tickling us with their The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 (Not the official title yet, by the way) trailer.

Nothing screams new and improved like a new hair-do. The trailer features Link’s sweet new hairdo, abilities, enemies, and corrupted arm. 

Familiar place, new arms

After a shot of ominous red and black goop and a foreboding shot of Zelda falling, Link sky-dives between clouds into floating islands that look just like the last game’s Skyward Sword Skyloft. The scene cuts to him gliding into the Slyloft-like structure at night and him running on a floating islet at sunset.

A sneak peek into Link’s right arm appears from this falling and gliding sequence. Whereby, the arm is reminiscent of the classic Fullmetal Alchemist mechanical arm but with Sheikah technology.

New skills for familiar targets

Link’s new abilities are closely tied to his corrupted arm. And, Nintendo shows these new abilities off by first showing new targets. In the next scene, Link glides by Bokoblins hanging out in a fort built on top of a Stone Talus. Which, effectively combines two enemies in the previous game, into a hellish moving enemy target.

Nintendo then decides to tease us with a quick look-see of Link’s green-glowing corrupted arm. The scene skips to Link mid-climb with a group of enemies sending a spiky ball his way. He quickly reaches out with his corrupted hand; freezes the ball; and rewinds it back up the hill. All while taking out some Bokoblins along the way.

Sheikah Slate, who’s she?

Link’s new abilities build upon his Breath of the Wild skills. From freezing objects (instead of time) to a quick shot of a flamethrower arm, to swimming through obstacles.

We get an allusion to his new abilities with a drop of water ripple back into a droplet. Whereby the shot is of Link swimming through a stone structure and out the other end. We’ll have to wait to see if the arm augments other powers like Magnet, Remote Bomb, and Cryonis. But, so far, Link looks to be bending objects if not through them.

Nintendo is looking to release the sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild some time in 2022. 

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Razer announces the new Razer Blade 14

‘Ultimate AMD gaming laptop’

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Razer Blade 14

Razer is holding firm to its position as the maker of the world’s most powerful compact gaming laptop with the release of the brand new Razer Blade 14.

Powering this bad boy is the 8-core AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX. It also features up to the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Laptop GPU, and up to a Quad HD 165Hz display. These are all packaged into the world’s most compact 14-inch gaming chassis.

Elsewhere on the laptop is your usual Razer Blade things. There’s per-key Razer Chroma RGB backlighting, immersive THX Spatial Audio for dynamic sound, and an abundance of ports. These are: USB 3.1 Type-A port, USB-C port, an HDMI 2.1 port, and 3.5mm headphone jack.

Razer Blade 14

Despite all this raw power, Razer promises cool, quiet efficiency, with the new Razer Blade 14. They claim it can last you for up to 12 hours so you won’t have to worry about power outlet hunting when you’re out and about.

Going back to the display, there are two options: QHD 165HZ — the ultimate combination of resolution and refresh rate; and FHD 144HZ — focus is purely on speed, then secure that split-second advantage with an ultra-high refresh rate.

Price and availability

The all-new Razer Blade 14 starts at US$ 1799.99 and is available with RTX 3060, RTX 3070, and RTX 3080.

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Diablo II: Resurrected [Game Bulletin]

All updates and news related to Diablo II: Resurrected

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Diablo II: Resurrected gets a release date
Update as of 6/15/2021

Diablo II: Resurrected is coming to PC, and for the first time to the Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch on September 23.

The game supports up to 4K resolution and includes fully remastered 7.1 Dolby Surround audio. While Diablo II: Resurrected takes full advantage of today’s modern gaming hardware, it also preserves the timeless hack-and-slash gameplay that is as engrossing and enjoyable today as it was twenty years ago.

Of course, it comes with a few quality-of-life updates Diablo veterans have been clamoring for, such as a larger stash and automatic gold pickup. Players experiencing teary-eyed nostalgia as they relive fond memories of spinning hammers and exploding corpses can seamlessly swap between the modern graphics and the original 800×600 resolution experience with the push of a button.

Diablo II: Resurrected will be available as a standalone experience  or as part of the Diablo Prime Evil Collection which includes:

  • Diablo II: Resurrected
  • The Diablo III Eternal Collection, comprising Diablo III, the Reaper of Souls expansion, and the Rise of the Necromancer content pack
  • The Mephisto pet and Hatred’s Grasp wings for Diablo III

Diablo II: Resurrected begins first public test
Update as of 4/7/2021

Diablo II: Resurrected Single-player Technical Alpha is the first public test of the game available to a limited number of players, press, and content creators from around the world.

A limited amount of PC players who have pre-registered on the Diablo II: Resurrected website will be able to download the Technical Alpha. If you weren’t able to pre-register you may still participate in future tests. Here are the recommended PC specs:

  • Operating System: Windows® 10
  • Processor: Intel® Core i5-9600k/AMD Ryzen 5 2600
  • Video: Nvidia GTX 1060/AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT
  • Memory: 16 GB RAM
  • Storage: 30 GB
  • Internet: Broadband Internet connection
  • Resolution: 1920 x 1080

Here are some highlights:

Explore the first two acts of Diablo II in full  — Navigate perilous areas of eastern Khanduras, from the Rogue Encampment to the Monastery, and then head East to walk the sands of sunlit Lut Gholein.

Try out three beloved characters — Crush demons in fierce melee combat as the Barbarian, slay your enemies from afar as the Amazon, or master deadly spells as the Sorceress.

Test the single-player experience — While multiplayer will be a huge part of Diablo II: Resurrected upon release, we are focusing on testing solo play during this Technical Alpha

Play with mouse and keyboard or a controllerDiablo II: Resurrected will allow you to control the game the way you want it, and we will be testing both input methods in the Technical Alpha.

Internet connection required for testing only — To ensure security of the Technical Alpha, a constant online connection will be required during play. (A constant Internet connection will not be required for the final version of the game.)

English language-only for the Technical Alpha — When released, Diablo II: Resurrected will be localized in more than a dozen languages including English, French, Italian, German, European Spanish, Korean, Polish, traditional Chinese, Mexican Spanish, Japanese, Brazilian Portuguese, and Russian. Additional supported languages to be announced later.


Blizzard announces Diablo II remaster for 2021
Update as of 2/20/2021

To celebrate the original game’s 21st anniversary, Diablo II Resurrected brings the classic game to a new generation, complete with new graphics. During its time, the original game had crude, but reliable graphics laid over an isometric format. As shown in the short announcement trailer, Diablo II Resurrected features new graphics similar to that found in the third entry, Diablo III.

The HD remaster will launch sometime this year for the PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, and Xbox Series X/S. Notably, the PC version will allow cross-platform progression across the different console version.

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