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Gaming

Returnal: Should you play it?

A third-person shooter, psychological horror game

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Imagine the worst day of your life. Now imagine having to relive that day over and over until you find some sort of way out. That’s somewhat the premise of Returnal, except, this particular worst day is on a planet called Atropos and you’re literally fighting for survival.

If you thought that was anxiety-inducing, I’m right there with you. And the anxiety only grows and deepens as you playthrough.

So, this isn’t a review of Returnal. That would require me finishing the game or playing through at least 80 percent of it. But I’ve played enough to help inform you if this is a game that you should pick-up or not.

What is it about exactly? 

You play as Selene. An Astra scout that surveys planets, unexplored areas in space. In this game, you crash land in Atropos — a shape-shifting world. With her vehicle broken, she has no choice but to explore the area, find the source of some broadcast, and pray to goodness it leads her out of that world.

Returnal

Naturally, the whole endeavor is no walk in the park. She faces creatures and machines that will inevitably lead to her demise. But it isn’t the end. Each and every time she dies, she wakes up again next to her ship but this time taking bits and pieces of knowledge from her past demise. Every loop offers new challenges and discoveries but in familiar areas.

Atropos really feels alive

The game takes full advantage of the DualSense controller. The games that have been introduced on the PlayStation 5 thus far were only scratching the surface. Returnal takes the experience to exciting heights.

For instance, the L2 button has two levels of presses. Press lightly to lock in and really focus on a target. Press harder and it’ll trigger the special ability of your weapon.

There’s also the different ways the DualSense vibrates as you interact with certain surfaces and objects in the game. But what takes this even further is the fantastic sound design. The combination of the audio along with the DualSense really makes Atropos feel like a living environment.

Returnal

For these experiences alone, I can confidently say that it’s definitely a must-try if you’re one of what seems like just a handful of people who was able to snag a PlayStation 5. Absolutely fantastic job by Housemarque — the game’s developer.

Combat offers the right amount of challenge 

Expect to die. That’s part of the whole experience. But along the way you’ll also meet plenty of adversaries that are fairly easy to deal with.

Your weapons are primarily guns (if there are more, I simply have not gotten to that part yet). I was quite apprehensive about this at first since I’m not exactly good at shooters. But, the aiming and the movement isn’t all over the place that it made even someone like me actually feel competent.

Returnal

While engaging in the creatures of Atropos you can jump, dash, and jump and dash. These evasive maneuvers offer enough variety in tandem with the weapons you have that combat feels exhilarating.

It’s a visual treat 

Atropos looks drab and wasted. But the level of detail on the environment is insanely captivating. Especially the areas where light seeps in, you’ll see exactly how gorgeous the visuals are even if the place itself is ruined.

The creatures you’ll encounter also look astonishing. Sure, the way they jump and constantly stalk and assault you can be terrifying, but if you pause for a second they don’t actually look all that scary. It might be in how some of them glow, but the creatures here are quite a sight to see.

Returnal

The items and elements seem a lot to take in

I’m gonna chalk this up to having multiple work deadlines from when I received the code to the target date of publishing, but the items, elements, and what they’re supposed to be for completely flew over my head.

It felt, to me, like information overload. Normally, I’m able to quickly pick up on which item does what but it took me a while to get a better understanding of them in this game.

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Of course, it helps that they also come in different colors so you more or less get a better idea as you go along. I imagine this wouldn’t be the case for players who will have their full attention on the game as they play.

Should you play Returnal?

This game is brilliant. From the premise of the story, the gameplay, the incredible sound design, and the use of the DualSense controller, Returnal is an absolute banger.

Returnal

What gives me pause is the whole loop mechanic in this clearly terrifying setting. But I recognize that this has more to do with my in-real-life environment than the game itself. You see, waking up to a dreadful situation day after day is already something I have to deal with thanks largely to the pissful pandemic response by our government. I use video games to escape, and the anxiety-inducing nature of Returnal just isn’t good for my mental health right now.

Returnal

If you are experiencing anything similar at the moment, it might be prudent to wait until you’re in a better headspace before picking this up. Otherwise, this is definitely a must-buy if you’re curious how a fantastic combination of sound design and proper utilization of the DualSense can really elevate the gameplay experience.

Returnal will be exclusively available to the PS5 on April 30.

Gaming

Call of Duty announces a new anti-cheat system, Ricochet

Will this solve all the rampant cheating in game?

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Picture this: you just finished up a good amount of work for the day and you just wanna play video games. Specifically, you boot up your PC or console and play some good ol’ fashioned Call of Duty: Warzone. All of a sudden, even playing this game isn’t enjoyable because of all the cheaters in your server. It’s not fun, but the developers of Call of Duty have a solution for that with their new anti-cheat system, Ricochet.

Basically, Ricochet will serve as the game’s way of tracking and investigating any and all kinds of cheating activity taking place on the server. Apart from this, the anti-cheat system allows for tighter account security especially when playing on your PC. With a dedicated PC kernel driver, the system will assist users in identifying cheaters and cheating software present in their systems.

In terms of rollout, Ricochet will be available on Call of Duty: Warzone later in the year. Meanwhile, the anti-cheat will make its way to Call of Duty: Vanguard at a much later date.

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Nintendo Switch OLED Unboxing and Review

Should you upgrade?

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Michael Josh might have forgotten to pre-order the newest Nintendo Switch OLED, but that doesn’t stop him from lining up to the nearest Nintendo Store in New York.

After hours of waiting and shopping spree, he finally ordered not one, but two on the line!

Other than the classic red and blue Switch, there’s also a new white version available.

But should you upgrade? Or do you just need to keep your existing Nintendo Switch for now?

Head over to our Nintendo Switch OLED Unboxing and Review now!

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Apple reportedly working on a Nintendo Switch competitor

Only rumored at this point

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The Nintendo Switch is still the undisputed ruler of on-the-go gaming. With a dedicated TV dock, gamers can also plug in their Switches when they get home. Even amid the strong launch of the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X/S, the Switch is still the most versatile. However, a massive surprise entrant — Apple — is reportedly making its own competitor for the Nintendo Switch.

According to a rumor from iDrop News, Apple is working on both the console and games exclusive to the potential console. Much like the Switch, the console will work in both portable and docked modes. It can also work with Apple’s virtual reality technology. The same report also includes a rumor for a future Apple TV redesign. Having a console attached to the project would make sense.

Additionally, Apple is reportedly working with game studios to develop a “Zelda-like game.” When the Switch launched, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was one of the strongest launch titles that sustained the new console for months. A similar game might be the way to go for such a console. However, the report does not indicate who is developing the game or what it will be about.

That said, the potential console is still heavily rumored at this point. Plans for such a console might ultimately fall through. Still, it’s nice to speculate when the Switch finally gets another competitor in the hybrid console arena.

SEE ALSO: Nintendo Switch OLED: Pricing in the Philippines

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