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 Zephyrus S is the slimmest gaming laptop available today

The thinnest gaming laptop of them all

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Alongside the 17-inch ROG Scar II, ASUS has announced a new ROG device that they claim to be world’s slimmest gaming laptop. The ROG Zephyrus from last year was already thin by gaming laptop standards, but the new ROG Zephyrus S is 12 percent thinner with updated specs.

The ROG Zephyrus S (GX531) still has the look and feel of the original Zephyrus but it’s now only 14.95 to 15.75mm thick. Those numbers might not sound as sexy as other super-slim notebooks, but the Zephyrus S has desktop-grade gaming performance with either an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q or GTX 1060 GPU inside its chassis.

Powering the Zephyrus S is the six-core Intel Core i7-8750H processor with up to 24GB DDR4 memory. Storage options are from 256GB to 1TB M.2 NVMe SSDs.

The laptop’s display is a 15.6-inch 1080p panel with a 144Hz refresh rate, 3ms response time, and 100 percent sRGB coverage. It’s definitely not the sharpest laptop display, but it’s one of the fastest for smooth gameplay. The display has a thin-bezel design as well, so the footprint of the laptop is just a bit bigger than your typical 14-inch notebook.

ASUS uses their Active Aerodynamic System (same as with other Zephyrus laptops) which opens a vent at the bottom of the laptop when the lid is lifted, and the vent stretches across the entire back of the body. This improves airflow by 22 percent over a conventional design as per ASUS.

Another distinct trait of the Zephyrus S is the keyboard. It’s still on the front of the device, which helps with cooling, but it might not be everybody’s cup of tea. The keys have 1.2mm of travel, N-key rollover, and RGB lighting via Aura Sync over four zones.

As for I/O, it has two USB-C ports (Gen1 and Gen2), two USB 2.0 ports, one USB 3.0 port, HDMI 2.0 at the back, and a headphone jack.

The ASUS ROG Zephyrus S (GX531) will become available starting September in the US and in October for the UK and Asia. Pricing starts at US$ 2,099 for the GTX 1060 model, while the higher-end GTX 1070 is priced at US$ 2,199.

SEE ALSO: ASUS’ new ROG Strix Scar II is world’s most compact 17-inch gaming laptop

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Gaming

ASUS’ new ROG Strix Scar II is world’s most compact 17-inch gaming laptop

Thanks to its super-slim bezels!

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After going hands on with the ROG Strix Scar II and reviewing the Hero II in full, we wondered what else could be done to improve this second-generation lineup. Well, it looks like ASUS just gave us the answer.

Discreetly launched today, the new 17.3-inch ROG Strix Scar II (model name GL704) is the most compact gaming laptop of its kind, according to ASUS. It’s basically a supersized variant of the already-available 15.6-inch version but with an even badder screen.

It may be worth the wait, because the color-accurate 17.3-inch 1080p display is able to fit into a chassis designed for 15.7-inch panels, effectively providing it a width of less than 400mm thanks to the slim bezels.

The wide keyboard and Aura Sync RGB lighting make a return, along with the fast 144Hz refresh rate and 3ms response time of the display.

In terms of specs, it can go up to an Intel Core i7-8750H processor with 16GB of memory and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 graphics chip. A 256GB SSD plus 1TB SSHD combo maintains the speed and fluidity of the system.

It’ll be available by the end of September in official ROG stores. Pricing begins at US$ 1,699.

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Crystal Dynamics sets up studio dedicated to Avengers game

And everyone in the MCU is in it

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Square Enix and Marvel Entertainment teamed up to bring Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to a gaming platform. The companies announced back in January that there will be an Avengers game, but has seen little to no developments as of late. Fortunately, the completion of a new studio for Square Enix’s US-based subsidiary Crystal Dynamics can change all of that.

The Avengers Project is going to tell an original story based on the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The game will feature the characters, environments, and storylines that loyal fans of the franchise will love and enjoy. However, after the announcement, not much news came up about the development of the game. People were expecting news during E3 2018, but sadly the Avengers Project was left out of Square Enix’s conference.

Square Enix and its subsidiaries are best known for their work on the Tomb Raider and Deus Ex series. Marvel executives wanted to partner with Square Enix as a way for the entertainment company to do things differently with their most popular franchise. Jay Ong, Senior Vice President for Games & Innovation at Marvel, noted that the game will “bring Marvel stories to life in ways our fans have never experienced.”

With the new studio called Crystal Northwest, Crystal Dynamics hopes to have some headway in the game’s development. The studio will put much of its attention on the technical and graphical aspects of the game to provide a unique gaming experience. Hopefully, more news and details on the project will surface in the upcoming months.

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