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.

E3 2021

Razer unveils its new Raptor 27 gaming monitor

Higher refresh rate, and more RGB to boot

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During Day 3 of E3 2021, Razer kept their announcements simple and straight to the point. Apart from the new laptop and portable charger, the company also unveiled a new iteration of their gaming monitor. If you’re a big fan of RGB setups, the new Razer Raptor 27 might just be the monitor for you.

The new Razer Raptor 27 comes in a similar form factor as its predecessor, with an RGB base at the bottom. Unlike its predecessor, it now comes with a 165Hz refresh rate and a 1ms response rate. For competitive gamers, this is a huge plus to capture higher frame rates without missing a beat. Also, with a 95 percent DCI-P3 color gamut, you can expect more vibrant colors suited for creatives, as well.

Another feature that creatives will also appreciate is that the Razer Raptor 27 is now THX-certified. This means that the 27-inch IPS display will project stunning picture quality according to how creators intended them to. Along with Razer’s Synapse 3 software, you will also be able to control its settings for your preferred viewing experience.

The Razer Raptor 27 will be available early Q3 2021 at US$ 799.99.

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E3 2021

Nintendo announces the arrival of Metroid Dread

After sixteen years of lingering, Samus Aran is back

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Metroid Dread

Nintendo kicked off the final day of E3 2021 with a ton of game releases on deck. Apart from a couple of games getting ports for the Nintendo Switch, there were a handful of new releases to watch out for. One of these is a return to the old days of 2D-style movement and the return of Samus herself in Metroid Dread.

The game serves as the mainline series’ fifth installment, following Metroid Fusion. Although, it suffered through sixteen years of “development hell” since its inception in 2005. Originally, Nintendo planned Metroid Dread for a Nintendo DS release but the technology had its limitations at the time. Now, under both Nintendo and MercurySteam, it will return for the Nintendo Switch nineteen years after Fusion‘s release.

In this game, Samus sets on a mission to uncover a mystery behind the supposedly surviving X Parasites from the events of Fusion. Initally, the Galactic Federation dispatched a unit of E.M.M.I. robots to investigate, but disappeared upon arrival. Samus’ adventure rages on as Metroid Dread will be available on October 8, 2021.

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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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