Gaming

ROG Phone 2 review: Mobile gaming on steroids

Unapologetically a gaming smartphone

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I have said this countless times in previous reviews — I’m not much of a mobile gamer. But there are plenty of things about the ROG Phone 2 that made me enjoy playing.

When the first generation ROG Phone came out, I have to admit, I may have dismissed it right away. I really wasn’t into mobile games, the design was a little too “gaming” for me at the time, and the cameras were — in the words of other reviewers — craptastic.

A year later, ROG is back for a second playthrough. Armed with the experience and knowledge gained from its first turn, the company knew right away to strengthen its weaknesses.

Unequip: 4000mAh battery, Equip: 6000mAh battery 

In our review of the ROG Phone last year, we pointed out how the 4000mAh just didn’t have enough juice to support all of the bells and whistles of the phone. This is no longer the case.

The 6000mAh battery on the ROG Phone 2 performs as expected. Even with the 120hz refresh rate for the display turned on, the phone would last for nearly two days without charging. That’s moderate to heavy use on a mixed bag of tasks like answering emails, browsing on social media, playing a few rounds of Team Deathmatch on Call of Duty Mobile, and playing TWICE and LOONA songs on repeat.

It even messed up my charging routine because it just didn’t make sense to plug a phone that still has somewhere between 60 to 70 percent left at the end of the day. You’ll quit game first before the phone quits on you.

Charging is also fast AF thanks to ASUS’ HyperCharge technology. While this doesn’t boast of the wireless charging feature that many of its contemporaries at its price range has, it’s not something you’ll miss at all.

Discard: 12MP camera, Pick-up: 48MP camera

The sweeping statement that “cameras on gaming phones are bad” is no longer true. If anyone says this, they’re either misinformed or are just flat-out lying.

The ROG Phone 2 is now equipped with a 48MP lens accompanied by a 13MP wide angle lens. It’s a huge leap from the 12MP+8MP combo found on the first ROG Phone.

Photos taken with plenty of light look pretty darn good.

However, it does this weird JJ Abrams thing where there’s a lot of lens flare on some photos even during the night.

Speaking of the night, while the streets where I grew up in isn’t much to look at, I thought the ROG Phone 2 did well enough in capturing a fair amount of detail in low light situations.

P.S. the last photo in this set is clearly not from my hometown but I thought it was a good representation of the phone’s low light capabilities. Yes, I blurred parts of the image as it’s from an event of another brand. ✌🏼😆

The portrait mode even has this neat trick where you can adjust the level of blur after you’ve taken the photo. This means you can say goodbye to those photos where your subject looks like a sticker plastered onto a blurry background.

The selfie camera went from 8MP to 24MP and there’s plenty of improvement here as well. Although it does apply a noticeable amount of beautification even if you have the option completely turned off.

Unapologetically a gaming smartphone

The thing that might scare off most other buyers is also the very same thing that might attract the gamers who this phone has its crosshairs on. The phone’s design just SCREAMS gaming.

It does seem a little more toned down compared to the first generation, but the ROG Phone 2 is still without a doubt designed with the gamer aesthetic in mind.

This was the very thing that I didn’t like about the ROG Phone. And while I still prefer something that’s a little more subtle, I don’t find the ROG Phone 2’s design as appalling as the first one. Although that’s probably my taste changing more than anything else.

Other than how it looks, the ports, buttons, and camera placement are all geared towards gaming. You still get two USB-C ports. One where it’s usually placed and another for when you’re gaming in landscape mode.

The front-facing camera is also positioned in a way that it won’t be obstructed if you decide to stream your gaming session. A feature you can do thanks to the Game Genie that’s at the heart of this phone.

What kind of gamer are you? 

I was hesitant at first because I primarily do all my gaming on a console. Always have and, I thought, always will — that’s until I got to try the ROG Phone 2.

I really am not one to play mobile games. It’s not a knock on people who enjoy playing them. It’s just that for me, my phone has always been more a tool for work, communication, and media consumption.

But I had to play. I’m not exactly a fan of the more popular mobile games right now so I sought out other games — ones I think I would enjoy.

Before I move forward, I’ll be casually mentioning the accessories that come with the ROG Phone 2. Won’t go into too much detail. You can just watch our unboxing to see what the accessories are. You can check the pricing for each one on this link.

Okay. Let’s play. 

First up was FF15 PE — the mobile version of Final Fantasy XV. Role Playing Games or RPGs are really more up my alley. The game utilizes a lot of swipes and taps on the screen. Which is great if you’re not keen on getting the other accessories that come with the ROG Phone 2.

Next up, I tried Injustice 2. This is also another title that has a counterpart on consoles and PCs. The game is versus fighting and was adapted nicely to mobile phones. Like FF15 PE, it utilizes plenty of swipes and taps. It does have on-screen buttons that you can map on the Kunai Gamepad. I tried the screen and gamepad combo here but that didn’t feel like a natural way to play.

Instead of playing PUBG, I opted to try Call of Duty Mobile. This is perhaps the game I enjoyed the most. The Team Deathmatch mode feels like a throwback to my time playing Counter-Strike waaaaay back in the day. This game plays really well whether you’re just using the phone or if you have the Kunai Gamepad equipped. Quick note though, the right analog stick’s sensitivity is pretty bad for aiming, so I stuck with aiming on the screen instead of using the gamepad.

Next, I played Honkai Impact 3. It’s an Action-RPG and is probably one of the best use-cases for the Kunai Gamepad. The graphics is near-console if not already console-level, and all the buttons you need to press can all be mapped on the Gamepad. It was an absolute joy to play.

I also tried NBA Live Mobile. I’m too cheap to spend on NBA 2K20 and I’d rather play that on my PS4 so for mobile I went with EA’s free-to-play game. It plays alright and you can also get the most out of the Kunai Gamepad here, but I don’t see myself playing this for any other reason than for testing devices.

Lastly, I played Asphalt 9 which had direct integration with the Kunai Gamepad. This was hands down the best experience. The game detected the Gamepad right away and took me straight to a tutorial knowing the gamepads were equipped.

Takeaway? The whole experience is a mixed bag. That’s not to say it’s bad, but wouldn’t be better if the accessories just worked seamlessly with the games?

The one thing holding the ROG Phone 2 back is a wider support from a larger catalogue of games. It’s a tough ask. However, if ROG can get more game developers involved, that could take mobile gaming to another level.

You might have noticed I barely mentioned the other accessories. I think after the Kunai Gamepad, the next most useful one is probably the Mobile Desktop Dock. But that requires you to get a few more other peripherals if you don’t already own them.

The ASUS Wigig Dock can be helpful but if you’re a gamer and you own a TV, I’m willing to bet you also probably own a console. Personally, I don’t see the appeal of playing mobile games on a bigger screen. But that may just be me. If you enjoy it, that’s perfectly fine.

And then there’s the Twin View Dock II. It’s an interesting piece of tech and almost aligns with the foldables that came out in 2019. But like those other foldables, it still feels premature. As of writing, it only really supports two games. You may discover other use-cases for this but I find the price too steep for an experiment.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

To give the ROG Phone 2 a low rating simply because it’s not a smartphone that’s catered for the general public is criminally missing the point.

ROG knows who its market is. I’d like to think this phone was made specifically with them in mind. And if you think that market is small then you must have been living under a rock.

The gaming industry is worth billions of dollars. It’s attracting so many eyeballs that Netflix considers Twitch more of a competitor over other entertainment streaming platforms. That’s how big gaming has become.

So if you played any game, on any platform, for an extended amount of time at any point in your life, I would consider taking a look at the ROG Phone 2. That’s with or without the accessories.

At PhP 49,995, it’s priced right around other flagships that are built for a general audience — fancy cameras, multitasking, a little bit of gaming, and all that jazz. However, none of them are made for a specific set of people that’s steadily increasing in numbers. That’s where the ROG Phone 2 sets itself apart. For the people that this phone is made for, it’s absolutely perfect.

Features

How to git gud at Mobile Legends from Blacklist International

Bring out your notepads…

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School is in session. If you’re into Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, you know Blacklist International. The recent MPL PH Season 7 champion team has a decent rep in the mobile gaming world. So, if you want to get good, you’ll definitely get good-good. And, who better to give us the best tips than the QueenVee, Ohmy.v33nus, himself?

TIP #1 – Start small

When asked how to hit it right with the basics, Ohmy.v33nus answered with pretty solid advice saying: “When it comes to improving your gameplay, do it one step at a time. Players can try mastering one hero or one role at a time first. From there, you can best strategize how you plan to win your game better.”

TIP #2 – Know you to do you

Beginners are faced with almost as many daunting questions as ordering sugar and ice levels for boba when it comes to who to play. From characters’ skills, roles, and abilities in the grander scheme of the team game, it can get overwhelming.

So the best way to get better is to know who you want to play and what role suits your preferences. And like Ohmy.v33nus said, “Knowing the role that suits you is important, some players love playing heroes in melee combat, some in long-range or using magical powers.

TIP #3 – If you want to go pro, you’ve got to play harder

We asked what advice the team had for people who are starting out and want to maybe go pro in the future. He answered by saying, “what separates casual players from those wanting to take it seriously is ranking, so if players want to be noticed they can try to achieve a top global ranking.” And, while that’s a technical target goal you can work towards, Blacklist gave sage advice on how to get there.

TIP #4 – The grind

Ranking up to where you’ve proven you take the game seriously to be pro comes with time and effort. So, it’s no surprise when Blacklist followed up TIP #3 with this: “before you achieve that desired ranking, practice makes perfect. When there’s an opportunity to practice, do it. Never stop learning and discovering your battling strategy so you’ll be able to champion your way to the global competitions.”

When asked how often and for how long the team grinds to get to be as good as they are, they practice a minimum of 8 hours per day, extending to up to 10 hours. “This helps us build team dynamics better and strengthen our strategy,” Ohmy.v33nus said.

TIP #5 – Know the meta

If you’ve got all 5 down so far, you’re up for more technical know-how. So, given the ever-changing game meta it can be challenging to keep up. This is where noting patches and updates can be helpful. Keeping track of who has been nerfed, buffed, and adjusted. And, knowing little tweaks Moonton has made in-game can help players adjust and adapt.

It’s also good to note that this is where you’ll be returning to TIPS #1 – #5, where it rides on comfort and familiarity. So, whether you fully grasp the meta or not, you can play however you feel outside the world of going pro.

So, with the current meta, we had to ask Blacklist for their whitelist. Jokes aside, we had them recommend heroes for each role and they said, “Marksman: Granger, Tank: Tigreal, Support: Rafaela, Angela, Assassin: Ling, Fighter: X-Borg, Mage: Nana.” When asked about the top meta hero picks for ranked, they said that they weren’t quite sure with the recent patch. But, they think some of the best heroes last season kept their placement. “Like Mathilda, Yve, Granger, and Harith,” Blacklist said.

TIP #6 — Play on a gaming-capable smartphone

You know that highly-contested-on-who-said-it quote about how when you give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime? Well, think of getting the perfect gaming smartphone as equal to getting yourself a fishing rod to get started on learning how to fish. But, enough silly metaphors.

Ohmy.v33nus aptly said, “it goes without saying that your tools can make or break your game. You need a phone that has the processing power, battery life, storage space, and stunning display to give you long-lasting, smooth, and precise gameplay.”

When asked about particular phones and features the team liked, he said they loved OPPO’s A94 and its AI gaming features. Adding, “our favorite is the Gamer Mode which lets you block off interruptions and notifications so you can focus more on your battle.” Plus, when waiting on important messages, the phone features a Bullet Screen Message that allows users to instantly receive messages without blocking or interrupting the game.

TIP #7 – A gaming phone, stripped

Not all gaming features need to be game-centric. At the end of the day, it’s night. No, kidding aside, Mobile Legends: Bang Bang is a fun team game and if you’re stripping the game of its fun and the team, you’ve got no one to be or get good with. A gaming phone, stripped without games, are phones, and as good as the OPPO A94’s 48MP AI rear quad-cam matrix and 32MP ultra-clear front camera set-up was, we needed to know if Blacklist had much use for it.

So, we asked how important camera specs and features were to team members when picking out a gaming phone. Ohmy.v33nus replied saying, “a lot. We don’t only focus on gaming, as professional players; we also create content and stay active on social media for fans, family, and friends.”

The OPPO A94 Features:

Display — 6.43-inch FHD+ (2400 x 1080) AMOLED display, 90 Hz refresh rate, 409 PPI

Processor — MediaTek Helio P95 octa-core processor

Storage — 8GB RAM and 128GB internal storage

Camera — Quad rear cameras: 48MP F1.7 (primary), 8MP F2.2 (ultra-wide), 2MP F2.4 (macro), and 2MP F2.4 (portrait); Selfie camera: 32MP

Operating System — ColorOS 11.1

Battery – 4310mAh, 30W VOOC Flash Charge 4.0

Price and availability

OPPO A94 comes in Fantastic Purple, Crystal Silver, and Fluid Black. It has a price tag of PhP 13, 999 and can be purchased via OPPO Brand Stores nationwide, Shopee, and Lazada.

TIP #8 – Lastly, soft skills and heart

When asked for advice for aspiring pros on what they can work on, Ohmy.v33nus said, “since ML:BB is a team game, a crucial soft skill you can develop is communication. Being clear and precise with teammates not only helps in-game strategies but also helps strengthen the synergy between them and their teammates.” Going on to say, “keep your heart in the game. Keep practicing and play regularly to boost your skills to achieve top leaderboard spots.”


This feature is a collaboration between GadgetMatch and OPPO Philippines

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Gaming

PlayStation 5 is Sony’s fastest-selling console ever

Surpasses 10 million units sold

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Given how scarce the console is right now, it doesn’t feel like the PlayStation 5 is selling like hotcakes. Regardless, it’s still going really well for Sony. Despite seeming (and announced) shortages, the new console has already reached a milestone for the company, making the PlayStation 5 its fastest-selling console in history.

In an official release, Sony has confirmed that the PlayStation 5 has surpassed 10 million units sold all over the globe. Since the console was released less than a year ago (November 2020), the PS5 has already set the record as Sony’s fastest-selling console. It is currently on pace to outsell the previous generation, the PlayStation 4.

To further increase the hype for the console, Sony has also reiterated the list of exclusive titles that it is anticipating for the PS5: God of War Ragnarok, Horizon Forbidden West, and Gran Turismo 7. Besides this impressive roster, the console will also get a number of anticipated titles on the platform: Deathloop, Battlefield 2042, and Far Cry 6.

However, despite the push for a thriving PlayStation 5 ecosystem, the console is still a rare sight today. For one, the launch (and potentially even today) was plagued with an endless drove of scalpers sucking the well dry from eager gamers. Similarly, Sony has forecasted that an ongoing chip shortage might extend well into 2022.

Though the console’s performance is truly impressive, it might take a while before it reaches every willing buyer’s living room.

SEE ALSO: Why you should buy the PlayStation 5!

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Long-teased cat game Stray finally gets a release date

Plus a gameplay trailer

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For most followers of the industry, the gaming world often has holy grails, or games that have long been promised but haven’t seen the light of day yet. In recent history, the world’s most renowned holy grails are the doomed P.T. from Hideo Kojima, the mysterious GTA 6, and Elder Scrolls 6. However, in a smaller scale, an enigmatic cat game has enamored cat-loving gamers for years. Finally, Stray, after being announced in last year’s PlayStation 5 showcase, has a release date.

Last year, Annapurna Interactive shared a cinematic trailer for the upcoming game, teasing its arrival for the PlayStation 5. However, the game fell to silence for months. Finally, the publisher revealed a gameplay trailer for the cat simulator game.

As expected, Stray will be an action puzzle game, helping the main cat-tagonist survive an unfamiliar sci-fi world. At the start, the game shares the same mood as the Little Nightmares series: an oft-powerless character relying on their puzzle-solving skills to advance. However, the trailer reveals more progression coming in the form of cybernetic attachments which will give the cat more abilities.

At the end of the trailer, Blue Twelve, the game’s developers, confirmed that the game is coming to PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, and PC sometime in early 2022.

Stray remains one of the more anticipated small games of recent history. For years, the developer teased the upcoming cat simulator game through a short, short trailer. Hype has persistently seesawed back and forth from the same trailer without an update from the developer. Thankfully, that has now changed.

SEE ALSO: Death Stranding Director’s Cut set to arrive on the PlayStation 5

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