Gaming

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is the game fit for those who dare

A hands-on look at the story of the Shinobi warrior

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I have to admit: I hardly hear much about games that focus on the Eastern side of the world that aren’t Pokémon or Dragon Ball. But, I do like games that have some sort of historical background to them, say folklore or modern history. And wouldn’t you know it, FromSoftware and Activision pull out one from underneath all of us.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice dives into the world of a reimagined 16th century Japan, ravaged by countless wars. It is an open-world, action-adventure game made by the same guys behind Dark Souls. I got the chance to see what this game is all about, and here are some of my initial thoughts.

We start with an insightful backstory

I did appreciate that the first ten minutes of the two and a half hours worth of gameplay gave a good backstory on Sekiro and his humble beginnings. He started out as a simple boy, found at the crossroads of war. A samurai offered to nurse him in his early years, until he grew old enough to be a protector of his lord. However, gameplay picks up on a much older Sekiro, so playing through a childhood with lots of fighting didn’t seem to be that important.

The overworld of early Japan is breathtaking! FromSoftware really did a good job with the visual presentation of the whole game. What stood out to me the most was the detail not just on Sekiro, but also on all his enemies.

It plays well into the whole open-world aesthetic, in that it allows you to explore everywhere and grab as much as you can, including extra items to use for healing or fighting. And you probably want to do that to prepare for all the tough battles ahead.

Waking up a one “good” armed man

After 30 minutes of trying not to die, I arrive at this garden with a mysterious samurai who basically challenges Sekiro to a duel. After the duel you’re supposed to lose, the samurai not only takes your master but he also slashes your arm off. You then wake up in an old temple, and the first thing you gaze upon is a wooden arm attached to your shoulder.

That wooden arm is called the Shinobi Prosthetic, and you can actually do some crazy stuff with it. I was only able to try the prosthetic arm with a Grappling Hook that allows you to travel much faster. It’s a simple press of the L2 button on any “hook” you can sling onto, whether it’s a tree branch or a rooftop. It’s like being Spider-Man minus the webs!

Apart from the Shinobi Prosthetic, Sekiro also carries his trusted katana to slice and dice enemies. It’s his only form of defense, but at least it doesn’t break! Pressing R1 multiple times lets you continually attack opponents until they are too weak to fight back. On paper, combat looks easy to do, right? Well…

Nothing comes easy for a shinobi

Let’s be real: This game has a difficulty spike that rises faster than the sun does in Japan! Although, this isn’t necessarily surprising from the developers that brought you Dark Souls. The whole deal is having the right amount of aggressiveness when dealing with enemies. You use Circle to dodge incoming attacks and L1 to block strong attacks (mostly with weapons). But even that won’t stop your opponents from beating the living hell out of you if you don’t fight back.

Of course, you are alerted when the enemy is about to strike you heavily, giving you a chance to block the attack properly. It’s a healthy dose of combat, mind games, and reading the situation accordingly. I can’t even count how many times I’ve died, then resurrected but still died trying to fend off strong enemies. And some of them even have guns and cannons shooting at you, dealing heavy damage.

Is it worth playing through and through?

In the short amount of time I got to play it, I really think that Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is a great game. It’s got great visuals, fast-paced and aggressive gameplay, and an enjoyable open-world experience. But again, I really can’t stress enough that this game is difficult. If you enjoy a challenge, you will definitely enjoy this game.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice will be available for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. The game will be released on March 22, 2019, priced at PhP 2,799 in the Philippines, SG$ 69 in Singapore, MYR 219 in Malaysia, and THB 1,790 in Thailand.

Gaming

PUBG Mobile has a host of surprise gifts this Diwali

Burst in-game crackers!

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Diwali is a very auspicious festival in the Hindu calendar and is comparable to Christmas in India. With the onset of the festive season, everyone is on a shopping spree. Companies are gearing up to send out gifts and streets will be lit up with diyas and lanterns.

The country is also one of the largest markets for PUBG Mobile, and the brand intends to leverage the festive season this year. The game has announced a plethora of in-game offerings as well as physical gifts.

Starting October 19, ‘Diwali Dhamaka Event’ will go live in the game and players need to complete daily missions to collect ‘Diwali Sparklers,’ which can be used to ‘Burst Crackers.’ Bursting these crackers will get you ‘Gift Tokens’ that can be redeemed for exclusive in-game items.

For reference, bursting crackers has been a tradition during Diwali. However, everyone is urged to refrain from bursting actual crackers because it leads to massive air pollution. A virtual celebration is best for everyone.

Progressing up the ladder, there will be three levels and each will offer you up to 25 tokens. Once all the Gift Tokens are collected, players will get a Diwali special in-game item for free. Additionally, few lucky winners will also stand a chance to win physical rewards like TVS Apache Bike, OPPO Phones, gold coins, and more.

In-game offering currently includes a Kurta Pajama Set (traditional clothes worn during Diwali), Cricket Costume, Future Policewoman set, Lobster Set, AWM/M416 gun skins, Crate Coupons, and more. The festivities will be available in-game till November 4.

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Gaming

Blizzard is banning pro-HK Twitch viewers

Don’t say “Free Hong Kong”

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Image source: Twitch

The war against Chinese favoritism continues. Following a massive controversy a few weeks ago, Blizzard shows that it has not learned its lesson at all. The video game publisher is reportedly banning pro-Hong Kong viewers from its Twitch channel.

Blizzard’s games are particularly popular on the streaming platform. Thousands of streamers play World of Warcraft, Overwatch, and Hearthstone on Twitch daily. Naturally, Blizzard has capitalized on this trend. Blizzard’s official Twitch accounts broadcast sanctioned tournaments regularly.

This year, Hearthstone’s official account (PlayHearthstone) broadcasted the Master Tour, an international Hearthstone tournament. The most recent European leg is currently ongoing on the platform. That said, the stream’s chatroom was (and is) a huge minefield. Thousands of viewers typed in pro-Hong Kong messages in chat. The outpouring comes from both Hong Kong supporters and dissenters against Blizzard’s blatant pro-China stance.

However, Blizzard already has Twitch on lockdown. As reported by Dot Esports, anyone who typed “Free Hong Kong” automatically received a 24-hour ban from the chatroom. (Though they can still watch, banned users cannot participate in the chatroom for the allotted time.) Moderators also instantly deleted the “offensive” messages.

Image source: Twitch

At the very least, Blizzard isn’t using an automated program to control the chat’s speech. Days after a live match, PlayHearthstone rebroadcasted the same match on the channel. Apparently, a rerun did not warrant enough moderation from Blizzard. During the rerun, thousands of pro-Hong Kong messages flashed in the chatroom without deletion or banning. Blizzard is still taking things manually.

Regardless, the company’s recent censorship is another nail in Blizzard’s made-in-China coffin. Previously, Blizzard penalized the winner of a Hearthstone tournament for including pro-Hong Kong protests in his victory speech. After an ambiguous apology note, the company eased on the punishment and reiterated that China was not involved in the decision.

SEE ALSO: Blizzard is taking their other titles to your mobile

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Gaming

Alienware m15 arrives in the Philippines

Leaner and stronger

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Here’s an alien that’s more than welcome in this part of the world. Dell is bringing a new breed of Alienware to the Philippines — the Alienware m15.

This Alienware is leaner, more advanced and more powerful than its predecessor. Weighing under 4.7lbs, this is the brand’s slimmest and latest gaming rig. This is for gamers who prioritize mobility without compromise to performance.

You’ll get the best of Intel processors and NVIDA GeForce GPUs along with either a 144Hz or 240Hz refresh panel.

It also has the latest Alienware Cyro-Tech 3.0 that brings optimized thermal module design to improve cooling performance, increasing airflow by 20% over the previous generation of the m15.

Additional design features include an all-magnesium chassis, smooth-edge, narrow-bezel design, re-engineered keyboard, precision-point glass touchpad, SSD-only storage, and per key RGB LED AlienFX lighting.

There’s also a hyper-efficient voltage regulation or VRM feature. The VRM allows the system to hold GPU and CPU performance high for a longer sustained time than typical gaming notebooks.

The Alienware m15 will also come with the Alienware Command Center. It’s the central hub that allows gamers to customize all aspects of their experience including system and peripheral lighting, power management, thermal control, audio, and content organization.

This lean, mean gaming machine starts at PhP 149,990, and will be available on the week of October 2019.

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