Gaming

Here are the five best announcements from BlizzCon 2019

Diablo 4, Overwatch 2!

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Image source: Blizzard

You have to admire Blizzard’s guts. Despite all the controversy, Blizzard pushed through with its annual gaming extravaganza, BlizzCon. Amidst all the protests, BlizzCon 2019 was just as bombastic as the hype predicted. The gaming publisher revealed major announcements for almost all of its properties —  Overwatch, Diablo, World of Warcraft, and Hearthstone. Surprisingly, the company also issued another statement regarding its recent controversies with China.

Here are the top five announcements at this year’s BlizzCon:

Diablo 4

“Don’t you guys have phones?” Do you remember this infamous line from last year’s BlizzCon? Instead of launching the much-awaited Diablo 4, Blizzard announced the most insulting curveball in video game history: Diablo Immortal, a mobile version of the popular hack-and-slash game.

Finally, Blizzard has turned things upright. In this year’s event, the company has announced the fourth game in the demonic series. Diablo 4 will pick up years after the events of the previous game. This time, adventurers are hunting down a familiar devilish baddie from Diablo II, Lilith, mother of the very first nephalem.

Besides an announcement trailer, Blizzard has also confirmed three classes: Barbarian, Sorcerer, and Druid.

Overwatch 2

It feels like only yesterday when Blizzard launched Overwatch. Since then, Overwatch has grown into one of the most successful Blizzard titles ever. Even today, the game is still a burgeoning community all over the world.

Without stopping for a breath, Blizzard has announced the sequel to the beloved game. Overwatch 2 will finally feature a much-awaited PvE co-op story mode. Of course, the game will also bring back the acclaimed multiplayer mode featuring new maps, new heroes, and new abilities.

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands

As the company’s oldest ongoing titles, World of Warcraft is getting an all-new expansion, Shadowlands. In the new expansion, Sylvanas Windrunner takes on the current holder of the Lich King’s throne, Bolvar Fordragon. However, the undead elf doesn’t want the Frozen Throne’s power. Instead, she wants to take it apart forever.

The new expansion comes after the title’s recently launched Classic edition, a rerelease of the game’s vanilla mode. It also follows the latest expansion, Legion.

Hearthstone: Descent of Dragons

Naturally, Blizzard’s other Warcraft-inspired title, Hearthstone, is earning an expansion of its own, Descent of Dragons. Featuring new cards, the Dragon-themed expansion introduces a new mechanic called Invoke: a synergistic effect with Galakrond, the expansion’s most major card. It also introduces Side Quests, a mini-quest mechanic playable in-game.

Additionally, Blizzard has announced a new mode, Battlegrounds. Essentially, the new mode introduces an Auto Chess mechanic.

Blizzard’s second apology

Speaking of Hearthstone, Blizzard president J. Allen Brack took to the stage for a fresh new apology. In the statement, Brack finally says “I am sorry and I accept responsibility.” At the very least, the company is making an official apology.

However, the speech wasn’t exactly a direct response as it is a general promise to do better. As such, Brack does not mention China, Hong Kong, or Blizzard’s ties to the former. For all the company’s bombastic announcements, Blizzard is still in the mire of a PR nightmare.

SEE ALSO: Blizzard is banning pro-HK Twitch viewers

Gaming

Nintendo announces huge list of games for holidays

Titles like Kirby, Bayonetta, and a Nintendo Switch Online expansion

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The holiday season is here. Every year, the gaming industry gets a speed boost coming from annual holiday discounts, new games, and newly gifted consoles. Keeping with that trend, Nintendo has hosted a new Nintendo Direct in anticipation for the coming holiday season. Here are the biggest announcements from the event:

Nintendo 64, meet the Switch

Since the launch of the first wave of classic games, Nintendo Switch Online held the most promise for Switch owners. The subscription service offered games from decades past for free. Naturally, the growing catalog is working its way forwards, starting off with the NES and SNES generations.

In late October, the clock is moving even further. Nintendo is launching a massive booster pack, infusing the service with classic Nintendo 64 and Sega Genesis games. The launch lineup will include favorites like Super Mario 64, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Mario Kart 64, and many others. Further along, it will also add games like Pokémon Snap and Majora’s Mask.

Kirby is coming

After years of smaller games, Kirby is finally getting a major platformer release for the Switch. Kirby and the Forgotten Land takes the eponymous blob to a new post-apocalyptic world. As always, the hero can swallow different characters and enemies to claim their powers. It even features familiar characters like Link – at least according to the trailer.

Kirby and the Forgotten Land will launch sometime in Spring 2022.

More Animal Crossing

It’s a trailer of a trailer, but it’s worth mentioning. The popular island simulator Animal Crossing: New Horizons is getting a major update this November. Though the announcement was scant with details, it looks like the game is finally getting a café inside the museum. Nintendo will announce more in October.

Final Fantasy but Mario Kart

What would a famous franchise be without its own racing game spinoff? The long-running Final Fantasy franchise is getting its own racing game called Chocobo GP. Though the title features the iconic creature, the game will also have familiar characters from the series. It will launch sometime next year.

And a host of others

Aside from the main announcements, Nintendo also previewed some new titles, upcoming expansions, and remakes for the console. Headlining this crew is Bayonetta 3 which is due to come out next year.

Monster Hunter Rise, the Switch-exclusive entry to the series, is getting an expansion pack called Sunbreak is coming summertime next year.

Creators of the quirky franchise Nier are making a new spinoff to their series. Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars is card game coming to the Switch on October 28.

Finally, the classic Star Wars game Knights of the Old Republic is now on the Switch. It’s not a remake, too. It’s the original game, and it’s out already.

SEE ALSO: Nintendo Switch gets Bluetooth audio compatibility

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Gaming

Death Stranding Director’s Cut: Best game I don’t enjoy

Brilliant but tough to power through

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Death Stranding Director's Cut

Maybe it was already my mindset heading into this review. But I’d like to think I really gave it a chance. Despite that, every time I launched Death Stranding Director’s Cut on PS5, I felt burdened instead of excited.

That said, I don’t think this is a bad game by any stretch of the imagination. Full disclosure, due to the burdensome feeling I only managed to get to about 30-40 percent of the game. That, on top of other responsibilities for this publication.

So yeah, I think it’s a combination of things. The generally slow pace of the game, the premise of avoiding enemies you can’t see, and just the grind work of having to lug around packages — these all contributed to an experience that I cannot describe as fun.

You can say, that isn’t the point of the game. After all, it’s set in a post-apocalyptic America and you make your way around the open world wary of enemies you can’t see. But isn’t that something we’re already kind of going through. I guess I could just never wrap my head around my form of escape mirroring bleak real world situations a little too much.

Early game additions

Hard to see here, but the Support Skeleton is equipped

Death Stranding Director’s Cut goes out of its way to make sure players feel less strained. About five to seven hours into the game and you’ll gain access to two key additions: the Maser Gun and the Support Skeleton.

The Maser Gun is essentially a high-powered stun gun. It electrocutes MULEs (human enemies) you’ll encounter in deliveries. And immediately after acquiring it, you’ll also gain access to another addition in the Director’s Cut — the shooting range.

Death Stranding Director's Cut

At the shooting range, you’ll be faced with various challenges in taking down MULEs. Most importantly, you’ll be able to practice your aim while dealing with multiple MULEs.

Meanwhile, the Support Skeleton is as straightforward as it sounds. It’s equipped on your lower body to help with traversal. It’s an especially helpful tool early in the game when you don’t have access yet to vehicles and other support items.

Death Stranding Director's Cut

Oh and no more Monster Energy drink in this version

Overall good game design

Death Stranding pulls off many interesting ideas and presents them in ways that undeniably gives it the feel of a AAA (Triple-A) game. The character models and environments, as you may have seen on trailers, are brilliant and blockbuster-worthy.

In terms of gameplay, I was particularly impressed by how you can traverse every single element in the open world. Whether that’s a dirt road, grassy fields, and rocky terrain, the game doesn’t make any completely inaccessible.

Of course, sometimes you have to get creative. Crossing waterways and rock formations may require that you use ladders. You’ll also sometimes find yourself looking down on a cliff. Thankfully, you can also carry items that will let you rappel.

Social Strand System

But perhaps the most unique game mechanic is the Social Strand System. If you play online, this means you’ll gain access to ladders and other structures that other players have built. If any of these structures were particularly helpful for you, you can smash likes to show the other player your appreciation.

It’s such a creative way to include some form of community building in a single player game. It’s a fantastic idea and one I hope we see some iteration of in other games in the future.

In-game interface

If I had a bone to pick with the visual presentation, it would probably be the mail. The text is incredibly tiny, even if you choose the large option. It’s no fun having to read blocks of text and the game encourages you to read the emails as part of the story. I mean, I already read tons of emails daily. I don’t need that in games I play. I think this is another part of the game that really lowered the fun meter for me.

Other improvements

Death Stranding Director's Cut

Buddy Bot!

Death Stranding Director’s Cut also comes with plenty of the usual next-gen improvements on PS5 games. You get the usual upgrades in haptic feedback and adaptive triggers on the DualSense controller. Although, I would argue that they could’ve been utilized better especially for sensing BTs (the ghost-life figures you have to avoid) nearby.

I’ve already gushed about the visuals but playing this in 4K 60fps was really a treat for the eyes. I personally am not a fan of the graphics setting that prioritizes refresh rate. I’m always after a more cinematic feel which I think is what this game suits best. So my recommendation is to play the game prioritizing resolution.

Other in-game additions include the Cargo Catapult and Buddy Bot. Both will help you complete deliveries and quests faster. They are helpful tools that improve the pace of the game.

Should you play Death Stranding Director’s Cut?

Firing up this game felt like work after I’ve already done my work for the day. That just isn’t the experience I long for in games. But maybe, that’s just me.

I think most gamers know exactly what they want to play. But if you’re only now dipping your toes into Death Stranding Director’s Cut because you missed the first launch and you’re a Hideo Kojima fan, it’s definitely worth picking up. But my recommendation is to get the physical copy so you can flip it for cash as soon as you find that it’s not for you.

Death Stranding Director’s Cut is brilliant. However, it’s not for everybody.

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Gaming

Lenovo Legion X60 Intel gaming lineup announced

Now with better performance and optimized Lenovo software

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Lenovo is once again making big waves when it comes to their Legion gaming laptops. This time around, they’re not really looking at releasing anything new. Instead, they’re more on improving or upgrading their current gear with the latest hardware possible. It all starts with their new Lenovo Legion X60 Intel gaming laptops.

Basically, the Lenovo Legion X60 Intel gaming lineup features refreshed iterations of Legion laptops. At the heart of these laptops is an 11th generation Intel H-Series processor, which promises remarkable performance. Whether you’re gaming, streaming, or simply multi-tasking, these laptops will surely bring the power for whatever purpose. Along with this, these refreshed models also sport the latest NVIDIA RTX GPUs to keep up with insane gaming workloads.

Apart from these, the refreshed models will also come with Lenovo’s dedicated hardware and software technologies for any type of gamer. From Coldfront 3.0 to an improved TrueStrike keyboard, Lenovo built these laptops for either the casual or competitive type. Note that only the following models received the refresh:

  • IdeaPad Gaming 3i (PhP 59,995)
  • Legion 5i (PhP 72,995) and 5i Pro (PhP 124,995)
  • Legion 7i (PhP 169,995)

In terms of availability, these laptops in Legion Exclusive Stores, authorized retailers, and on the Lazada Legion Flagship Store.

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