Gaming

India’s PUBG alternative FAU-G is a national embarrassment

It practically feels like an interactive video

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FAU-G is a new game that intends to take on battle royale games like PUBG Mobile, Mobile Legends, and even Fortnite. But, the game is loosely based on the India-China border clashes of 2020, in which 20 Indian soldiers were martyred.

Following the conflict, India banned many Chinese apps and vowed to become more self-reliant. The clashes were met with massive outrage in India because the anti-China sentiment was consistently rising ever since the origin of Coronavirus was traced back to the Chinese city of Wuhan.

For the general public, the virus’s origin and China’s border aggression created a deadly combination. India’s Narendra Modi-led government has a soft corner for nationalism, and it wasted no time to hit back in its own way. Within a few days, India started its campaign to reduce dependence on China and become Atmanirbhar or self-sufficient.

India bans or restricts Chinese companies

TikTok was the first one to get crushed. Followed by hundreds of others. And then, it was time for PUBG Mobile. Indians love the game and were caught in a strange predicament — play a Tencent (Chinese) distributed game or stand with your country? The answer was clear. PUBG Mobile went off the app stores, and a few die-hard folks who couldn’t part ways with the game found turnarounds like VPNs and external installations.

This where a new game comes into the picture. An Indian developer based out of Bengaluru saw an opportunity, just like Instagram spotted an opening with Reels when the TikTok ban was announced in the US. Indian developers tried to grab the TikTok moment with indigenous apps, but Reels rained over their party and sealed their fate once and for all.

PUBG Mobile craze gets replaced by FAU-G

But nobody could bridge the PUBG Mobile gap quickly because making a game isn’t child’s play. However, Indian studio nCore Games has bigger ambitions and announced it’ll be launching a PUBG Mobile alternative called FAU-G (Fearless and United Guards) soon. In Hindi (one of India’s official languages), fawji literally means a solider, and the developer smartly ripped off the name from PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and added a nationalist twist to it.

FAU-G was supposed to launch in November but got delayed to December and then January. Finally, the developers chose the auspicious day of January 26 for launch, a national holiday because it celebrates its 75th Republic Day. The game had more than four million pre-registrations, Bollywood celebrities like Akshay Kumar endorse the game, and it was supposed to land a mighty punch to our violent neighbor, a message that we don’t need them.

The game has finally arrived, and I’ve played for an hour. Yup, I’m writing an in-depth review based on one hour of experience. Hold on, though, don’t judge me yet!

Gameplay

The game is straightforward. It only has a single-player story mode right now, and there are no guns, grenades, or vehicles. According to the campaign mode, you’re a soldier in the Galwan Valley, where Ind0-China clashes took place in 2020. You’re separated from your unit and are supposed to make your way through enemy camps and find your comrades.

This is where it gets more interesting because you’re expected to fight just with fists or a melee weapon. As soon as you’re near an enemy, just keep smashing the hit button, and you’ll be fine. There’s no strategy or aim required to win because the game’s difficulty level is close to zero. AI bots just stand close to you and wait for you to crush them like flies.

The soldier needs to rest near a fireplace to warm up every minute or so. Galwan Valley is one of the harshest battlefields globally due to altitude and ultracold climate, so they incorporated this challenge as a gameplay feature. It’ll help you regenerate your health.

The melee weapon is currently restricted to a wooden club that has nails attached to it. Similar stop-gap weapons were used in the real Indo-China clashes because the two countries want to avoid an escalation and restrict their armies from firing live bullets. To make things as realistic as possible, the developers decided to start with a melee weapon.

A lot of bugs are yet to be squashed, and FAU-G stopped responding a couple of times. The graphics are underwhelming, and the map is too small. You’ll most probably never open it more than once.

But, how does it fill PUBG’s void?

Well, it doesn’t. The game was clearly conceptualized to cash on the immediate PUBG: Mobile ban. They announced the game first and then thought of brainstorming how they’ll accomplish a PUBG killer. Right now, the game only has a single-player mode that’s called “Tales from the Galwan Valley.” The game mentions a 5×5 team deathmatch mode and free for all (possibly the battle royale), but they’re not available as of now.

Thankfully, the developers thought of earning some revenue from the game and added a store. It has skins for the character and melee weapons, and they can be bought using gold or silver coins. The gold coins have to be purchased, while the silver coins are earned as you progress in the game. There’s also an “Honour Road” battle pass that’ll let you make some free in-game cosmetic goodies.

As it stands, the game is far from being called a game as it lacks minimum gameplay. nCore Games says it’ll be releasing more features, maps, weapons, and game-modes in the future, obviously. But it’s safe to assume that the game failed to capitalize the PUBG Mobile vacuum.

Nobody expected FAU-G to be as perfect as the incumbents, but we did expect a slightly enjoyable game that can challenge international studios. In turn, we’ve received a hyper-national interactive video that gives little joy and maximum cringe.

Even if the developer adds a ton of features in the next few weeks, the initial damage is done. The game has a rating of just 3.0 out of 5.0 on the Google Play Store, and it isn’t available for iOS yet. The launch euphoria is now gone, and users realize there’s no use in wasting storage after a game that barely works.

What does the future hold?

FAU-G isn’t the first Indian alternative to disappoint. As soon as the TikTok ban was announced, many local developers tried to seize the moment by creating clones. But none of them are close to bridging the gap, and Instagram Reels has successfully taken over the mantle.

A prime reason behind their failure is their vision. Their goal is to become India’s PUBG Mobile or TikTok, and in the process, forget those giants are successful because they’re unique. They offer something nobody does, and that’s their forte.

Many Indian start-ups like Razorpay, Ather, Cred, Instamojo, and Khatabook are successful because they focus on the product, the idea, and its vast applications. These companies don’t need a marketing campaign around “being Indian” to attract users.

nCore Games still has a lot of time and should focus on the game as a product, not a PR campaign. We don’t need dialogues that indirectly suggest what’s happening in the game is a real depiction of what happened at Galwan Valley.

When I’m shooting at someone in a game, they’re just another player for me and not a Chinese soldier trying to cross the Indian border. And this is a thin line we must maintain. Younger generations should understand the real harshness and consequences of war. A game is a simulation, and we’re turning it into a toxic dose of unimaginative propaganda.

The bad news for nCore Games is that PUBG Mobile could return to India after severing distribution ties with Tencent. FAU-G can survive if it ramps up development and releases features soon, or PUBG Mobile never makes a comeback.

Gaming

Sony is releasing its own PlayStation PC launcher

According to Spider-Man’s code

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Spider-Man: Miles Morales

Sony’s recent influx of PC ports was always a win for gamers. Formerly an exclusive for consoles, these games brought the best of the best for the PC, inarguably a bigger population of gamers than console gamers. Of course, PC gaming has its own set of nuances, including an overwhelming barrage of launchers. It looks like Sony is giving its own games the same treatment through a PlayStation PC launcher.

Recently, Sony unleashed a PC port for its acclaimed Marvel’s Spider-Man. While the title is naturally making waves because of its gameplay, others have delved deeper into what makes the game tick. And apparently, the port’s code includes a reference to a PlayStation PC launcher. Gaming publication VGC has confirmed the code’s authenticity.

If you’ve played the best games recently, you would have noticed a startling requirement: You need to install another launcher. While some publishers are content to let their titles live on the main platforms like Steam (as in Ubisoft’s Uplay), some lock their titles to exclusive platforms (as in Epic Games and Fortnite). While the code confirms its existence, what we know of the PlayStation PC launcher does not indicate which form it will take.

Now, while the requirement can create some inconvenience for gamers, most publishers have some prerogative to do so. A launcher will allow them to circumvent fees set by Steam. And naturally, a launcher will also pave the way for more exclusive games coming to PC.

SEE ALSO: Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 with Venom coming to PS5

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Accessories

Samsung announces global launch of Odyssey Ark

New frontier in gaming

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Odyssey Ark

The next-level Samsung Odyssey Ark gaming screen is now official worldwide. Preorders are available starting on September 1 for Singapore and September 12 elsewhere.

It’s the world’s first 55-inch 1000R curved gaming screen. It features a 4K (3,840 x 2,160) resolution with a 165Hz refresh rate and 1ms response time (GtG). It’s also poised to deliver unrivalled picture quality and cinematic surround sound,

It sports Samsung’s Matte Display for anti-glare and anti-reflection, and has a Cockpit Mode and an exclusive controller called the Ark Dial. When activated, the Cockpit Mode allows the screen to rotate along with its height adjustable stand. You can tilt, and pivot for an entirely new dimension of immersed gaming.

The exclusive Ark Dial, meanwhile, lets users adjust the screen size, position, and screen ratio with just one touch, thanks to the Flex Move Screen function. Other settings include Multi-View, Quick Settings, and Game Bar which may all be toggled right from the dial.

When it comes to sound experience, the Odyssey Ark also has the Sound Dome Technology which features AI Sound Booster and Dolby Atmos for the best surround sound.

The screen itself has four speakers, one in each corner, and two central woofers. They deliver the best quality via a 60W 2.2.2 channel. It also has the lowest 45Hz notes of any gaming screen or soundbar.

Pricing, availability

The Odyssey Ark is priced at SG$ 4,999. The entire lineup will be available on the Samsung Online Store and major consumer electronics and IT stores.

From September 1 to 11, there will also be a pre-order promo where customers can enjoy free gifts such as a Galaxy Tab S7 FE 5G, 36-month warranty, and free delivery and installation.

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Gaming

Rollerdrome Review: Trick, shoot, repeat

Challenging, fun, and never boring

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Rollerdrome

The best way I can describe Rollerdrome to anyone curious about trying it is that it’s a cross between Tony Hawk Pro Skater and the shooting of Max Payne. You get shades of those two games in a unique art style along with a gameplay that demands hours to be mastered. 

The game has a pretty simple premise. You play as Kara Hassan making her way through the tough, violent sport called Rollerdrome.

The opening area tells you a little bit about the world Kara is in. But after that, it’s pretty much one challenge after the other. 

Basic tutorial 

Rollerdrome

Like any other game, you’ll be put through some relatively easy tutorials. You’ll first be taught the easy movements and then progress to more advanced ones as you beat each level. 

It’s a good idea to spend some time trying out the various trick combinations during the tutorial stages. Things can get quite hectic during the actual levels so, the more you’re familiar with the controls, the better chance you’ll have at getting high scores.

That’s not what I did. I took some of the tutorial stages for granted and had to learn on the fly. Not being too familiar with the controls while advancing through stages is hard as the game will really challenge you.

Advancing gameplay

Rollerdrome

Each stage has a number of different challenges you have to meet. This includes doing specific tricks on a trick marker, killing enemies a certain way, and having to do specific maneuvers on an area in the stage. 

There are also high score challenges which are the hardest to beat in each stage. These are the ones that require some level of mastery of the tricks and the shooting. 

The tricks and shooting are tied to each other. You only have a limited number of ammo and you’ll need to perform tricks to reload. So, the primary gameplay loop is having to do tricks while dodging enemy attacks, and then unleashing your own attacks all while transitioning to the next trick to reload. 

It’s easy enough to understand conceptually, but it’s in the execution where it can be extremely challenging. Enemies spawn in waves and they get tougher and more aggressive as you progress.

Precision required

Rollerdrome

My consistent thought throughout each stage is how I wished I had more time to be familiar with all the controls. I keep thinking back to how I just know NBA 2K controls by heart, having played it for years, despite a few changes here and there in the core gameplay. 

It was frustrating not being able to apply that same level of mastery. Especially since I had to go on a work trip in the middle of this review process so I couldn’t spend as much time with the game as I wanted. 

Regardless, it’s a game I’ll probably keep coming back to. More skilled players will likely have an easier time, but Rollerdrome does demand you put in the hours.

The controls are pretty tight and precise too. You won’t get through this by randomly pressing buttons. Your mastery of doing tricks while controlling the camera to properly aim will all be tested.

Overall presentation

Other than the gameplay, it’s the art style and its bombastic and frenetic animations that really caught my attention when the game was first announced. It simply looked fresh and unique.

There are instances where there is a lot going on during a stage. Other than the characters and items on screen, you also have markers alerting you if a sniper has you on lock or if you have projectiles tailing you. 

Despite this, the screen never gets too busy to a point where you no longer know what’s going on. The design of each stage makes it so you can easily tell which areas you can perform tricks on without it standing out too much from the rest of the stage. 

The soundtrack largely stays in the background but does a good job of not being distracting. Which is great because having something blasting too loudly could give you sensory overload with everything that’s going on. 

Overall, this game is stylish AF without going overboard. I’m personally a big fan of the art style and it works well in this kind of game. 

Is this your GameMatch?

Rollerdrome

Rollerdrome is a day one pick-up. If the preview videos intrigued you at all, I guarantee you’ll have a grand time playing. This is especially true if you’re fond of challenging yourself. 

Figuring out how to smoothly go from attacking, to doing tricks to reload, and dodge in the process can be really challenging. Unless you’re super skilled, there’s no way you’ll get all of it in one go.

But despite needing to repeat stages, it never feels stale because the core gameplay loop is engaging. It can get frustrating, sure, but the feeling of beating each stage all while crossing off specific challenges is extremely rewarding. 

Rollerdrome

Rollerdrome retails for US$ 29.99 both on Steam and the PlayStation store. But it will be discounted on both platforms until August 29, 2022.

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