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Xbox 360 Halo titles will now be going offline at the beginning of next year

by: Nathan -

All good things must come to an end and starting next year the online services for a number of Xbox 360 Halo games will be taken down on January 13th 2022, VGC reports. Originally the titles were going to be shut off in December but a revised statement was posted on halowaypoint.com

today we are announcing our intention to sunset our Halo Xbox 360 legacy services to fully focus on the future of the franchise. On January 13, 2022, online services for legacy Halo Xbox 360 titles will be discontinued. Owners of these titles will still be able to play these games indefinitely, however, certain online features and experiences, particularly online matchmaking, will be limited or disabled.??

Now it's important to note that these are ONLY for the 360 versions of these games. Almost all of these games now have some kind of re-release or updated version on the Xbox One / Series X. So if you are still playing these games on an Xbox 360, well maybe it's time to upgrade. 

Here are all the games that will be affected... 

  • Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary Edition
  • Halo Spartan Assault
  • Halo Wars
  • Halo 3
  • Halo 3 ODST
  • Halo Reach
  • Halo 4

 

Pimax announces the 12K QLED Reality Series

by: John -

This must be the month for $2000 VR headsets because Pimax is jumping into the fray with the Pimax 12K QLED Reality Series.

This is the second HMD announced in the past few days that will sporting a mini-LED display. Two 6K QLED displays will deliver crystal clear, bright images and the FOV is an amazing 210 degree horizontal and 135 degree vertical using some custom lenses that Pimax has developed. One of the things I want to see improved upon in the next generation headsets is FOV and the 12K QLED Reality Series seems to have done that and then some.

Something really unique about the Reality Series is the ability to be tethered to a PC, wirelessly streaming from the PC via Wi-Gig, or being a stand alone VR headset. But you say, the Oculus Quest 2 can do that. Yes, yes it can but it's using a USB-C connection which has lower bandwidth than what the other tethered headsets use and the wireless is only through 802.11n, which again is less bandwidth than Wi-Gig.

There's a Qualcomm XR-2 chip inside so you can use it completely standalone. My only thing is because of the extra resolution and FOV, can the XR-2 handle it even with reduced graphics fidelity. On the back of the Reality Series is a battery that can power the HMD as well as act as a counterweight.

The HMD also has gone inside-out tracking with four cameras to keep track of your view and controllers. But don't fret. There will be a replaceable faceplate to allow for SteamVR tracking like the VIVE Cosmos.

Speaking of cameras, eye tracking will be built in with automatic IPD adjustment, just like the Varjo Aero. And not only that, there's cameras to do full body tracking as well as cameras to track your facial expressions. So many cameras.

And yes, this is going to be an expensive VR headset. We're talking $2399 and it will be available in Q4 of 2022. So you got plenty of time to save up if you want to purchase one. Even if you won't be able to afford it, as a VR enthusiast, it's great to see all this high end headsets come out with all these awesome technologies. This will push others in the industry and I can't wait to see how well the 12k QLED Reality Series stacks up once it's released next year.

On the Road 96 documents the making of Road 96

by: Elliot -

In the video game Road 96 players, “Hitchhike your way to freedom in this crazy procedurally generated road trip.” Developer Dixiart wants people to know that no one players game should play out exactly the same. The game was released on August 16 for PC and Switch. And now a documentary, On the Road 96 about the making of the game has been released by Ravenscourt and DigixArt.

Financial issues, COVID-19, and deadlines show that making a game in the time of Covid was anything but easy.

"I wanted to document the team’s incredible journey throughout development as Road 96 became bigger than its original idea," said Yoan Fanise, CEO and Creative Director at DigixArt. “I hope this documentary video gives our fans a window into the passion that DigixArt pours into our games.”

 On the Road 96 is currently available to rent or purchase on Steam.

Praise the heavens, Halo Infinite's campaign trailer has released

by: Carter -

Earlier today, 343 Industries published the campaign trailer for Halo Infinite, which comes out in 44 days (but who's counting?). The video showcases Infinite's storyline, key characters, new weapons, combat mechanics, and expansive map -- as well as Master Chief's continued endangerment of marine lives through dare-devilish Warthog stunts. Enjoy six minutes and twenty seconds of Halo glory. 

 

Call of Duty boasts their war bonafides, but should they?

by: Rob -

So Call of Duty: Vanguard is quite proud of their next-gen visuals and realism they are striving through by means of taking full advantage of the latest advancements in lighting, textures, and processing power; and well they should be. But to show it off, they invited war photojournalists to go in-game and make some movie magic. I guess on the one hand, the fact that I do participate in war games and enjoy them makes me a bit hypocritical for even questioning this crossover, but at the same time - aren't we on shaky ground already by glorifying war through video games? Maybe this is a step too far, inviting those that actually see war and witness its horrors and human toll firsthand, to promote this genre of game? 

To be fair, Activision is using the proceeds from the photos to, well I'll let their words explain it:

Limited edition prints of the Call of Duty: Vanguard in-game photography will be available at www.BleeckerTrading.com and Bleecker Trading NY starting at 3pm ET on October 21. All proceeds from the photography sales will be donated to the Call of Duty Endowment. 
 
“This special collaboration presents a great opportunity to continue raising awareness and honoring our veterans as we further our mission to help them find high-quality jobs,” said Dan Goldenberg, Executive Director of the Call of Duty Endowment. 
 
The Call of Duty Endowment has funded the placement of more than 90,000 veterans into high-quality employment since its inception and aims to place 100,000 veterans into meaningful jobs by 2024. The Endowment’s 2020 cost to place a veteran was $515, providing employment at about 1/9 the cost of U.S. Department of Labor efforts.
 

So, I don't know. We're really starting to toe a line here and guess its for everyone to self-reflect on where they stand on this. I never thought much in the past about war games and their impact on de-sensitizing us all even if the though has nagged occasionally at that back of my mind. But as my young children get older I find things like this are starting to raise higher in my consciousness, about exactly what I want my own kids exposed to and how, things I took for granted in my own development. I know just the other day I denied my toddler some army toys at the store because I don't want him to idolize the military like I did at his age, having a better understanding of the slippery slope that might represent; but like all things parenting, what the hell do I know anyway? I'm just making all this stuff up as I go along. 

Call of Duty: Vanguard releases November 5th for PS4/PS5, Xbox One/X|S, and PC.

Latest Battlefield 2042 video brings specialist total to 10

by: Rob -

With five specialist already revealed and available for the Beta, the folks behind Battlefield 2042 are ready to lie the lid on the other half of the specialist classes. The video embedded below details the final five specialists: Navi Rao, Santiago “Dozer” Espinoza, Emma “Sundance” Rosier, Ji-Soo Paik and Constantin “Angel” Anghel. Specialists are inspired by Battlefield's traditional classes but each gets a "Specialty and Trait" to define their playstyle, and separate them from the rest of the pack. 

Speaking of that Beta, a few changes are immediately coming out of it from player feedback specifically for the Conquest mode on the Orbital map-, namely:

  • Increased the number of Tanks that you’ll experience on Orbital. It’s up from 4, to 8 on PC, Xbox Series X|S, and PlayStation 5.
  • Made changes to movement, adding strafe input to sliding, adding the ability to vault on moving objects, and toning down jump spamming.
  • A nearby Grenade Indicator has been added.
  • Entry and Exit animations are now shorter, with some being removed entirely.
  • Elevators have been fixed so that you see less funky behaviours with doors.

But loads more information was gathered and fine tuning undertaken, as detailed in the full blog write up about the Beta: https://www.ea.com/games/battlefield/battlefield-2042/news/battlefield-briefing-what-we-learned-from-open-beta

Battlefield 2042 releases November 19th on PS4/PS5, Xbox One/X|S, and PC. 

First Class Trouble out of Early Access, announced on PlayStation

by: Henry -

Social deduction game First Class Trouble is stepping out of Early Access on Steam for PC. First Class Trouble is a multiplayer deduction game much like Among Us that takes place on a luxury space ship where a malfunctioning AI is trying to kill the passengers. The game is played with 6 people, with 2 of them being Persanoids, killer humanoids that are sent by the AI to betray the other 4 players. Players will need to work together to complete different tasks in order to proceed.

First Class Trouble is also releasing on PlayStation 4 and 5 but will require PlayStation Plus in order to access the online multiplayer features. The game will feature cross play support between PC and PlayStation consoles. The game is available now on Steam for $14.99.

Check out the PlayStation launch trailer below:

Collection of SaGa Final Fantasy Legend now available on Steam and Mobile

by: Russell -

Veteran gamers familiar with the Final Fantasy series might be familiar with the SaGa series as well. As a kid I remember seeing Final Fantasy Legend and Final Fantasy Adventure for the Game Boy and being confused as to why there were two different Final Fantasy games on the Game Boy, let alone why one (Adventure) didn't play like a typical Final Fantasy game. Anyway, the SaGa series has seen some entries in the west including Romancing SaGa 3, SaGa Scarlet Grace: Ambitions, and SaGa Frontier Remastered. Last December Square Enix released Collection of SaGa Final Fantasy Legend on the Nintendo Switch which included Final Fantasy Legend, Final Fantasy Legend II, and Final Fantasy Legend III from the Game Boy, and now it's also available on Steam and Mobile devices. For just twenty dollars you can now (or once again) experience the first three titles in the SaGa series. As someone who didn't get the chance to play these when I was younger this has definitely piqued my interest.

Varjo's Aero VR headset is crystal clear and a sim lover's dream

by: John -

Varjo makes really, really high end VR headsets. I mean, REALLY high end. They have a ton of great technologies in there that I wish a lot of my other headsets have. Until now, there isn't a really affordable prosumer headset as Varjo announced the Varjo Aero which is made for home use.

Varjo had a launch event detailing the HMD, which you can view on Youtube. The hour video goes over a lot of the technology and what makes the Aero a top of the line VR headset.

When I say affordable, I guess I should have said more affordable. Coming in at $1999, it's double some of the more high end VR packages and this is just for the HMD, no controllers or lighthouses.

Let's start with the resolution. It blows everything out there away at 7762x3475. Compared to say the Valve Index at 3200x1440, you can see what a big difference it is. How about the HP Reverb G2? That headset displays at 4320x2160, which is still way below what the Aero can do.

Instead of LCD or OLED, Varjo went with the next generation display tech in mini-LED, two of them to be precise. I've seen mini-LEDs up close at various CES conventions and they are pretty fantastic. They are bright, sharp, and deliver an impressively high end image quality. 150 nits in an HMD will make every other headset seem dim. It's freaking bright. The 90Hz refresh rate might disappoint some people who are used up to 144Hz of the Valve Index with the Oculus Quest 2 going up to 120Hz as well. This might be the limit of the mini-LED panels for now, but 90Hz should still deliver a solid experience. My next TV will probably be a mini-LED one to replace my OLED and seeing it being used in a VR headset is really incredible.

The panels are great but so are the lenses. Varjo is using custom made aspheric lenses to deliver really clear images. Fresnel lenses used in most VR headsets today have some limitations such as god rays and artifacting but the aspheric lenses in the Aero suffer from none of this.

Field of view is stated to be 115 degrees, which is one area I really want companies to improve upon. I've tried higher FOV headsets like the Pimax and they are really immersive. Doing away with any of your vision being obstructed is a big step to increasing immersion, but unfortunately the Aero doesn't improve much in this area.

Each Aero headset will have eye tracking, which is pretty slick and they're using it in a really cool way. Most headsets have manual IPD adjustment so the lenses can be placed in that sweet spot to allow for clear visuals. Varjo takes it a step further using the eye tracking to automatically adjust the lens spacing for you. That means if you share your headsets with multiple people in your household, they just need to put it on and the software automatically adjusts to their optimal viewing settings. That's cool. But, if you're the only one using the headset, then this feature will be lost on you as you just set it once and you're done. I would've liked to have seen Varjo offer up one without the auto-adjustment to maybe cut down a little on the price, but I still think the technology is pretty cool.

The eye tracking will also allow foveated rendering to be applied meaning it will know where on the screen you are looking at and render that area sharper while saving GPU processing power to render the peripheral vision areas at lower quality. In theory, this should make it so you won't need as powerful of a computer to run the Aero. The eye tracking runs at 200Hz to quickly track you're looking.

Unlike Varjo's other professional headsets, the Aero will come with built in audio. I know some folks prefer using their own cans, but this is nice for people who just want to put on a headset and just go without having to put on a separate audio headset.

You can buy one now from their website and yes, as mentioned earlier, it's $1990.00. Again, you'll need to pick up controllers and lighthouses if you don't own some already so that'll add a lot more to the final cost. It seems like a HMD that would really take sims to the next level as well as other games and if I had that money, I'd definitely would be picking one up right now to add to my collection.

Killsquad Gameplay - a frenetic multiplayer twin-stick RPG dungeon crawling shooter

by: Eric -

There are a lot of terms that can describe Novarama's new game Killsquad, and they are all accurate; twin-stick shooter, looter-shooter, dungeon crawling RPG, bullet-hell-alien-contract-online-multiplayer-action-extravaganza. It all works.

Killsquad has been hanging around in Early Access since 2019, and it finally achieved "full release" status on October 21. I hopped in for a little bit on the 21st, but I didn't really vibe with the shotgun-based character I was playing, so I decided to try again. This time, I took the action-oriented sword lady, and I had a much better time. I also decided to stop trying to play solo, and enjoy the game it was meant to be played, with drop-in/drop-out multiplayer with a bunch of randos. 

My much-better second session is below. Somehow, I ended up with a copyright claim on this video (maybe the music?), so apologies for any commercials you have to suffer through. 

By the time I finished the above session, I was all in on Killsquad. I had a ton of fun doing the couple of missions I ran, and the loot grind got its hooks into me pretty strongly. I'm definitely going to be hopping back into this one.

Killsquad is now available on Steam, currently on sale for $16.99, which seems like a total steal.