Gaming

Step into androids’ shoes in Detroit: Become Human

How ready are we for a world filled with androids?

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The year is 2038. Androids — machines with human-like features, not the mobile operating system — walk among us. If it sounds familiar, that’s because this kind of story has been told and retold countless times in books, movies,and television shows like a sci-fi cliché.

However, what makes Quantic Dream’s interactive drama game Detroit: Become Human an outlier, as opposed to its many thematic brethren, is when it is set. In most iterations of the androids and/or robots narrative, they’re set in a distant future. This game takes place in 2038, a time that doesn’t seem too far off (that’s 20 years from now!).


So, think about it: Can a real-life Cyber Life — the company responsible for making these androids — rise up between now and then? It’s not too far-fetched of an idea. As early as now, we’re already worried about artificial intelligence (AI) taking over human jobs, not to mention stories tackling how AI-powered humanoids can take our place in the sack.

Androids line up on a shed to recharge

It’s a future that is both fascinating and terrifying. Sure, we might be ready for the logistical challenges it might pose, but how prepared are we as a society to take on the psychological, moral, and ethical issues that may arise when this future comes?

These potential realities are precisely what the people at Quantic Dream want us to face in this game. At nearly every turn, what you decide to do will lead to a different outcome. This component of the game could have you playing for hours on end. During the briefing, Co-Chief Executive Officer of Quantic Dream and Executive Producer of Detroit: Become Human, Guillaume de Fondaumiére, mentioned that the opening scene “The Hostage” alone already has six potential endings — all of which you can opt to go through.

Flowchart of the opening scene “The Hostage”

Multiple narratives

Another thing that makes Detroit: Become Human, in Fondaumiére’s words, “rather unique,” is that it’s not bogged down by a short running time because it’s a game. This allowed them and allows us to explore the many aspects of this potential reality.

“The great thing about Detroit is it can tell a story for 30 to 40 hours. That lets you explore a great number of themes,” said Fondaumiére. “And the other thing is that it’s a game. We give the player the possibility to tell his or her own story.”

This story is told through three perspectives, albeit all through android lenses. First, there’s Kara, a house help android, designed and programmed primarily for housekeeping chores. Then there’s Connor, a Cyber Life agent whose tasks involve helping solve the mystery of why and how certain androids appear to be breaking their programming. Lastly, there’s Markus whose owner is an accomplished but old and ill artist who encourages him to think for himself.

Kara with her light indicator turning yellow which means the situation could be escalating

How did they end up with three characters? Fondaumiére shares that as the story was being written, the game’s director and writer David Cage had more questions about this world that they were building, and it led them to the conclusion that “it didn’t make sense” for all these questions to be asked only through a single perspective.

“Using different characters gave [David] the possibility to get different perspectives and to be able to create the bedrock for these questions to emerge,” said Fondaumiére.

Connor and Lt. Anderson in the car right before examining a crime scene

Fondaumiére broke down the perspectives for each character: “Kara, I guess, we’re touching upon the emotional and social sides of these questions. With Connor, we’re investigating androids. What happens? What makes them become emotional? Sentient? And with Markus we’re centered around the question of freedom. What if, all of a sudden, these androids no longer want to be our slaves? What if they start to question their place in our society? What will they do?”

Markus administers medicine for his old and ill owner

Markus lives with an old, accomplished artist that influenced his views on freedom

Gripping story, stunning visuals

The idea is great and the execution, perhaps, even better. Playing Detroit: Become Human feels like binge-watching a Netflix series but with you at the helm. The cinematography in each shot feels well thought-out, the visuals are so captivating that some moments feel like you’re seeing live action actors. The best part is you’re involved. Every decision you make with each character affects how the people these androids are surrounded by react to you, therefore affecting the events that will transpire next.

Kara’s emotional bond with Alice pushes her to do things beyond her programming

There’s so much emotion that is effectively communicated through the combination of great camera work and fantastic acting. The game hooks you in as effectively as a TV series does and quickly makes you emotionally invested in the plight of the three main characters.

Markus administers medicine for his owner

What Fondaumiére repeatedly emphasized is how Detroit: Become Human is the player’s story, more than anyone else’s.

“Through gameplay, you’re going to ask yourself many questions, and it could change your attitude and how you decide. We give the player the possibility to tell his or her own story.”

Their role, he says, is to “show you the logical consequences.”

Connor is constantly in crime scenes caused by defiant androids

Fondaumiére hopes that after one playthrough, players go back and play again and really track how their initial decisions and the outcome that those produced affected how they played the rest of the game. He wants the players to be able to form their opinion on this potential reality so that when it comes — and he strongly believes that it will — we will all be ready.

Asked if he’s open to owning his own android, Fondaumiére set his answer up by saying how he’s a geek and is constantly fascinated by the advancement in technology, so in two words: “Why not,” adding that getting a few extra hours for himself because he can have someone else run his errands is an idea he can entertain.

Would you want to own an android?

Detroit: Become Human will be released on May 25, 2018. Pricing are as follows:

Standard Edition:

Philippines — PhP 2,799
Singapore — SG$ 72.90
Malaysia — MYR 229
Indonesia — IDR 729,000
Thailand — THB 1,890

Collector’s Edition: (Includes the full game, digital soundtrack, dynamic theme, and a physical art book)

Philippines — PhP 3,199
Singapore — SG$ 84.90
Malaysia — MYR 259
Indonesia — IDR 849,000
Thailand — THB 2,190

SEE ALSO: God of War: A must-play for 2018

Gaming

ASUS ROG Phone in China comes in many variants

So many options!

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ASUS made quite a splash after releasing the update to their gaming phone — the ROG Phone 2. While the rest of the world waits for pricing details, China is getting it ahead of everyone else.

In case you missed the initial reveal, the ASUS ROG Phone 2 retains most of the design of its predecessor. Why fix what’s not broken, right? The improvements, though, are easily noticeable.


You’re getting the world’s first 120Hz AMOLED display on a smartphone. It’s also the first phone to take advantage of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Plus processor.

The accessories have also been improved. Specifically, there’s the Kunai gamepad that makes the ROG Phone 2 look like a Nintendo Switch. You can also attach the controllers to the Kunai Holder and use them as you would a gamepad.

For more details on what is shaping up to be the ultimate mobile gaming device, make sure to watch our Hands-On video.

Pricing and availability in China

The ROG Phone 2 will come in different variants.

It starts with the Tencent Depth Customisation which has 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage that will retail for CNY 3,499 (US$ 509). The next variant is called Enjoy Peace in Beijing which has the same configuration but is priced at CNY 3,699 (US$ 538). The 12GB RAM and 128GB Storage for the same variants are priced CNY 5,999 (US$ 872) and CNY 6,199 (US$ 901) respectively. These are now available for pre-orders.

In a Weibo post, ASUS revealed that there are two more variants: A Zhizun version priced at CNY 7,999 (US$ 1173) and an Esports Armour version priced at CNY 12,999 (US$ 1890). Configurations weren’t revealed but some are speculating these will have 12GB RAM and 512GB of storage.

 

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Gaming

ROG Phone II Hands-on

Console replacement?

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Is there a place for gaming phones in 2019? ASUS believes so. In fact they’re so bullish about the mobile gaming industry that they’re giving their gaming phone an update!

For 10% off your first Squarespace website or domain, visit https://squarespace.com/gadgetmatch and use my coupon code: gadgetmatch


Special thanks to The Unlockr David Cogen for helping create this video.

If you are having trouble watching this video, click here.

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Gaming

ASUS ROG Phone II Hands-On: The ultimate in mobile gaming

With new and improved accessories too

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Is there a place for gaming phones in 2019? ASUS believes so. In fact they’re so bullish about the mobile gaming industry that they’re giving their gaming phone an update. This is our ROG Phone II hands-on.

At first glance, it’s not very different from last year’s model and that’s intentional. Their focus hasn’t been to rework the wheel but to make the original even better.


The phone is now taller, giving it that now popular 19.5: 9 aspect ratio. It’s built tough with a Gorilla Glass 6 display and is intentionally flashy with RGB lighting baked into the logo on its back with ROG’s trademark styling.

Best display on a smartphone today

The flat all screen display is edge-to-edge except for its top and bottom. ASUS said this is a design decision so that gripping the phone doesn’t get in the way of gameplay.

It also leaves room for the dual front firing speakers and a selfie camera. It’s strategically placed so game streamers can play and stream at the same time.

The panel itself is impressive possibly the best we’ve seen on a smartphone today. It’s the world’s first 120Hz AMOLED display on a smartphone with a super fast one millisecond response time.

It not only gives you buttery smooth transitions, but combined with ultra low touch latency, it’s supposedly also going to give you an advantage when pulling the trigger in a head-to-head shooting game. This HDR display is glorious. Colors pop and images are rich and vibrant. It’s my new favorite display and is perfect whether you’re watching videos or playing games.

Baked into the display is a fingerprint scanner which, based on our initial tests, is quick and snappy.

Performance fit for the most competitive gamers

When it launches, the ROG Phone II will also be one of the most powerful smartphones in the market today. Topping early benchmark tests versus other flagships including the Galaxy S10+ from Samsung and the OnePlus 7 Pro.

It’s powered by an updated version of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 — the 855 Plus which is even faster. Coupled with an updated Adreno 640, it’s promising a 15 percent GPU performance.

A completely souped up model will have 12GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. The phone promises to handle any power intensive game you throw at it with not only fast frame rates but also a commitment to sustained performance across long gaming sessions.

To keep its internals running at optimal condition the phone offers three steps of cooling: First with a 3D Vapor Chamber, second with a built-in heat sink and vents on its back cover, and third via an attachment called the Aero Active Cooler II. With all of these working together, ASUS promises unbeatable performance.

A battery that can handle all that power

So what about battery life? Surely all of this performance power will take a toll on battery life? Nope. The ROG Phone 2 will come with a massive 6000mAh battery. That’s 2000mAh more than most flagships these days.

ASUS is promising 7.1 hours of battery life when playing something like PUBG. What excites me the most is that non-gamers could potentially get two days of more than average use.

The phone also comes with fast charging support built in. A full charge will take one hour and 21 minutes.

More love for gamers

There is much more gamers will love about the new ROG Phone II. ASUS kept the Dual USB-C ports — one on the bottom of the phone and one on its side. This means you can charge the device and continue playing any which way you like.

I also particularly like the improved air triggers that let you control your game by tapping either top side of your phone in landscape mode. Along with an improved vibration motor, the phone feels more like a game controller than ever before.

It’s clear that this isn’t your average phone. It’s one built specifically for gamers. But having said all that ASUS says it’s not just the best gaming phone. It’s a great flagship too!

To ensure the experience is top notch. They gave the ROG Phone II the same impressive camera that’s on the Zenfone 6. Except for its flipping mechanism of course.

A 48MP main camera and a 13MP ultra wide secondary camera. Take a look at some sample photos.

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On the front of the phone is a 24MP selfie camera. Here are some selfie samples.

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The ROG Phone Ecosystem

Depending on how you like to play, ASUS attempted to cater to every game style with a range of accessories made specifically for the ROG Phone II.

The new Kunai gamepad comes with controllers that snap on to a bumper reminiscent of the Nintendo Switch. You can also attach the controllers to the Kunai Holder and use them as you would a gamepad.

The Twin View Dock from last year has also been updated making it lighter and easier to use. It can also be used in conjunction with the GamePad.

Other accessories include the Aero Active Cooler II, Aero Case, and the Lighting Armor Case. Older accessories like the desktop dock, Pro Dock, and the WiGig Display Dock Plus also support this new model.

Is the ROG Phone II your GadgetMatch?

Let me start by saying this phone isn’t for everyone. From the way it looks, to some of its standout feature, these are things that appeal to a very special kind of user.

If you’re the type who is serious about mobile gaming then it definitely is going to be a good investment. If you’re not a gamer but care about things like a great display and ultra long battery life this might be a phone worth considering also.

Representatives from ASUS tell me that once the phone rolls out globally this September there will also be an option to change its interface to the stock-like ZenUI for a more everyday smartphone feel. That’s good news too.

The ROG Phone II launches in China this week. The Global Version is coming first week of September – our review video will drop around the same time.

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