Gaming

God of War: A must-play for 2018

Like Kratos, this game has grown like fine wine

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I’ll try my best not to overhype this, but God of War is an easy, early entry for 2018’s game of the year.

Okay, I may have failed that hyping part, but that’s exactly how you’ll feel too after getting your ass kicked by the first semi-boss battle thinking this is the same game you conquered years back. After trying, and failing, to hack-and-slash your way through that battle, you’ll quickly realize how much more depth this game has compared to the God of War games that came before it.

The first thing that jumps out at you is the series-lead Kratos. He’s now bearded, looks older, and definitely acts wiser. Going through the first hour or so of the game, you’ll see that this is not the same vengeance-seeking beast that unleashed a vicious assault for one Greek god after another.

Kratos is now more measured. Retribution is no longer his single driving force. It’s more a sense of duty — duty to fulfill a promise to his wife who had passed and a duty to raise their son Atreus, who’s a key part both in the story and the gameplay.

Atreus is the man

The idea of a vengeful Spartan warrior fueled by rampage having a son seemed unimaginable at first, but bringing Atreus into the fold proved to be the perfect way to expand God of War. The passing of his wife leaves Atreus in his care; Atreus adds depth to Kratos.

At the beginning of the game, he teaches the child how to hunt. You can hear the frustration in his voice as the boy fails in his first attempt. Instead of going ballistic, he reigns himself in before providing stern and sound advice.

The interplay between father and son is present nearly the entire duration of the game. Their dialogue goes on not only in cinematic scenes but even as you go through the game whether you’re searching for clues, solving puzzles, or just trying to figure out where to go next.

Atreus aids you in battle. His arrow can stun opponents or take their attention off of you, and his proficiency and power grow as the game progresses. However, that’s not the only area where Atreus proves helpful. The boy is able to read ancient writings that provide clues on how you can solve puzzles or move on from a certain point.

One shot is all it takes

One of the biggest technical accomplishments of the game is how it’s a one-shot story, which means there’s absolutely zero loading screens. That’s a challenge both in game production and storytelling. From the get-go, it puts you right in the heart of the action being in the shoes of the central figures of the story. It makes for an ultra-immersive experience that will leave you invested in how their relationship develops.

It doesn’t feel like a straight-up tutorial, but the game uses the first 8 to 10 hours to show you the ropes. From attacking, using Atreus, upgrading your equipment, and many others. After that, it opens up to a slew of side quests that can be as satisfying as pushing the story forward. While it is by no means a true open-world game, it’s wide enough that it lets you explore, but not too wide that you feel overwhelmed by all the possibilities.

It’s still about Kratos

With all of that said, this is still a God of War game, meaning Kratos is still at the heart of it. In many ways, this new Kratos mirrors the game’s growth. In the previous era wherein he unapologetically laid waste to the Greek gods, Kratos seemed more one-dimensional. He had one goal and that was to exact revenge and the games’ hack-and-slash approach reflected that.

This older Kratos appears to have grown as he is forced into a situation where he has to care for his child. Fatherhood puts the Spartan warrior in an unfamiliar place. While there is still rage within him, he appears more subdued. At times he struggles with how to speak with Atreus and it’s that very struggle that shows a side of Kratos we likely have never seen before: a tenderness that’s somehow out of character.

Don’t let that fool you, though. There’s still plenty of raging Kratos here. What this game has masterfully done is retain the identity and history of the previous God of War games while infusing it with learnings from the games that have come during the franchise’s hiatus.

The easiest comparison you’ll see is how it’s a more casual-gamer-friendly version of Dark Souls. And while I did think that, the approach feels more derivative rather than a direct recreation.

Nothing communicates that experience better than Kratos’ new weapon: the Leviathan axe. Gone are the chain blades that devastated draugrs and gods alike. Kratos’ axe is infused with ice magic, able to stun opponents. One of the most badass parts of the game is how you can throw the axe and summon it right back. But don’t think for a second that Kratos will be helpless without the axe. You still have his shield and his bare hands, and that’s sometimes required to defeat certain foes.

The battle system still feels as satisfying as ever. It requires more thinking than straight-up slashing which should be a welcome challenge whether you’re a veteran of the franchise or you’re being introduced to it through this game.

God of War

Even though Kratos has aged, nothing about this game feels old. There’s still enough God of War oomph that endeared it to its long-time fans while adding elements that can easily be embraced by a newer generation of gamers looking to dig into the lore of the franchise.

This is by far the easiest single-player, story-driven game to recommend to anyone this year. If you have time to play only a handful of games on the PS4 this year, God of War should be on that list.

SEE ALSO: God of War: An older Kratos needs a wiser you

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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Gaming

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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Gaming

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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