For Honor Season 2

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Fog hangs low in Times Square, New York City

It is day 4 in my trip to New York City with my wife. While she goes to work, I remain alone, most of the time in our hotel room, where I spend most of my hours typing furiously into finishing the Red Whale. We’ll be here until next week, where we will move to an apartment space, thanks to Airbnb, and after a few more days we’ll be jumping on board a plane and fly back home.

Anyhow, once again my friends of Ubisoft has sent me a press release, again about “For Honor” and despite not having played the game yet, all the new content sounds really intriguing. I do hope to get a PlayStation 4 soon to catch up with all these blockbuster games.

Press release follows.

FOR HONOR SEASON TWO, SHADOW AND MIGHT, COMING MAY 16

Ubisoft announced that “For Honor” Season Two, Shadow and Might, will launch simultaneously across all platforms on May 16. Shadow and Might will bring new content to “For Honor” including two additional heroes, two extra maps, new customization items and gameplay updates. Maps and gameplay updates will be free for all players at the start of Season Two. New heroes, the lethal Shinobi and the fierce Centurion, will be available for free immediately for Season Pass holders on May 16, while all other players will be able to unlock them with their in-game Steel on May 23.

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In the war between the three deadly factions, Knights, Vikings and Samurai, two new Heroes enter the battlefield:

  • Shinobi (Samurai Assassin)
    – The Shinobi are silent warriors able to move with a dancer’s grace and kill with precision thanks to a lifetime of disciplined training. They wield the traditional Japanese Kusarigama.
  • Centurion (Knight Hybrid)
    – The Centurion sees the battlefield like a chessboard. Equipped with the reliable standard issue gladius, Centurions can bypass enemy defenses through strategic close-quarters combat.

The two new maps, Forge and Temple Garden, will expand upon the selection of multiplayer battlefields. Additionally, Season Two will introduce a new level of gear rarity – Epic gear – that will increase the maximum gear score along with a balancing overhaul for the entire gear stats system.

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Coinciding with the end of Season One, a new title update (Update 1.06) was released on Windows PC to improve network stability while introducing new gameplay changes and hero balancing. The update is planned to release on consoles very shortly. For Honor will continue to be supported post-launch with additional content and consistent gameplay balancing updates.

Developed by Ubisoft Montreal in collaboration with other Ubisoft studios,* For Honor offers an engaging campaign and thrilling multiplayer modes. Players embody warriors of the three Great Factions, the bold Knights, the brutal Vikings and the deadly Samurai, fighting to the death on intense and believable melee battlefields. The Art of Battle, the game’s innovative combat system that puts players in total control of their warriors, allows them to utilize the unique skills and combat style of each hero to vanquish all enemies who stand in their way.

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Ghost Recon Wildlands: Narco Road DLC

I’ve been pals with a few Ubisoft employees since 2015 and they’ve been kind enough to send me Ubisoft-related news materials for the broadsheet I write for, along with the gaming website I’ve cofounder. Figured it won’t cause any harm to post the press release here as well. 

I’ve never played “Ghost Recon: Wildlands” yet, but a friend of mine had claimed it was pretty good. She gave it an 8/10 out of her personal rating chart and that’s good enough for me.

Press release follows:

GO UNDERCOVER IN TOM CLANCY’S GHOST RECON WILDLANDS FIRST EXPANSION, NARCO ROAD, COMING APRIL 18 

Ubisoft announced that the first Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands expansion, Narco Road, will be available to season pass owners simultaneously across all platforms on April 18. Season pass owners will have access to Narco Road one week before it releases as a stand-alone expansion on April 25.

Narco Road tasks players with infiltrating three gangs of smugglers led by the elusive El Invisible. Players will have to work their way up the ranks and earn the trust of the mysterious leader if they have any hope of bringing him to justice. Reaching El Invisible will require gaining the trust of three new charismatic bosses:

– Eddie Escovado: The self-proclaimed social media star and adrenaline-addicted leader of the Kamikazes gang.

– Arturo Rey: The mysterious leader of the Death Riders, a gang of riders who worship Santa Muerte.

– Tonio Mateos: The arrogant leader of the Jinetes Locos, a gang specializing in racing muscle cars.

To earn the respect of these bosses, players will complete more than 15 fast-paced campaign missions. In addition to these new story missions, four new types of side missions and racing challenges offer adrenaline-fueled action. Completing these activities will earn players fame and followers. The more followers a player acquires, the more interest they will get from the gang bosses, and the closer they will come to bringing down El Invisible.

Narco Road also features four exclusive outfits, nine new weapons and four new vehicle types. Traverse the massive Bolivian map in huge monster trucks, nitro-boosted muscle cars, powerful motorcycles and aerobatic planes. 

Additionally, all players will gain access to a new game update launching April 12 on consoles and April 14 on Windows PC. The update will introduce weekly live seasons challenges in the form of solo, co-op and community tasks starting April 18. Players who complete these challenges will be rewarded with up to three unique rewards per week. Challenges will be available through multiple seasons, each of them lasting six weeks and featuring a specific theme. In the first season, The Rise and Fall of Unidad, players gather intel on Unidad’s operations and combat the threat to the country.

In Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands, players discover a fictionalized future Bolivia, a few years from now, in which players must take down the Santa Blanca drug cartel by any means necessary. Behind enemy lines, they hunt down targets and discover intel, using any of the more than 60 vehicles available, including cars, motorcycles and even helicopters that they can commandeer. To topple the cartel, players have to fight their way to El Sueño, Santa Blanca’s ruthless leader, by breaking down the Santa Blanca drug cartel’s operation piece by piece as they sever alliances between the drug lords and the corrupted government. A second expansion for Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands, Fallen Ghosts, will be available soon, as well as an all-new PvP mode in the coming months.

Let’s talk about the Predator 21X

A few days ago I actually got to play with Acer’s gaming monster, the Predator 21X. And this thing costs 9,000USD. If you want to be specific, 8,999USD. In the country where I’m taking residence at, it costs about 450K, half a million. Add another 500K and you have a spanking new Honda Civic 2017 . Choose your poison.

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When the Acer Predator 21X first landed in the office, I was surprised to find a luggage half my size. It was huge. It weighs eight kilos and while the laptop itself isn’t really heavy, the rest the stuff that comes with it are.

The Acer Predator has a 2K curved screen. The angle feels odd at first as the display being curved inward to you, but then, just give it a couple of minutes, and you may find yourself immersed as ever into whatever world you’ve plunged yourself into.

It has two Nvidia GTX 1080 graphics cards. Now, one of those things is more than enough to pretty much run any videogame today. Having TWO of those motherfuckers would give you an overkill impression. If you settle down for a bit. Is it really overkill? If you want to play over 60FPS at 2K, hell man, this is for you.

Boot up is amazing. That’s expected, having a 1TB SSD. And 64GB RAM tells us this thing can and will run over just about anything. And to cool this thing down? FIVE cooling fans. Holy shit, right? Surprisingly, the Predator was quiet.

Let’s take a look at some of the popular games’ recommended specs based from Steam and Google.

Doom: Intel Core i7, 8GB RAM, Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 4GB.

Dark Souls III: Intel Core i7, 8GB RAM, Nvidia GeForce GTX 970.

Grand Theft Auto V: Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, Nvidia GTX 660 2GB.

Overwatch: Intel Core i3, 4GB RAM with 768MB VRAM, Nvidia GTX 460.

League of Legends: Intel Core i3, 4GB RAM, Nvidia GeForce 8800.

If you compare, holy shit, right? You can practically play any game with the Predator 21X. If you’re a YouTuber, you can edit and render videos with this thing no problem – even though an Nvidia employee told me that the Nvidia Titan X is recommended for video rendering.

Anyhow, no doubt you can even compete in “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive” with this thing where every nano-second is essential to victory.

One of the more cooler features the Predator 21X has is the number pad. It attaches on the side of the keyboard via magnet. You can detach and flip it around for it become a regular touch-pad. It’s a small but really awesome thing. The Dolby sound is pretty rad as well. On 50% volume, playing Paramore and Van Halen music with and the office was ready to explode. I love it.

On the left side is the headphone jack and a port dedicated to microphones, which, will get you in touch with your teammates or whenever you’re recording commentary for your video. And finally, as for the mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX switches, I’m not sure what to feel about it. The clicks when pressing them feels satisfying but in some way I feel they’re a little too cramped together. Maybe it’s not designed to be a typing machine? Of course it isn’t and the keys being spaced so close would make it easier to hit skills buttons when playing.

A colleague had mentioned that hardcore gamers who has the buck will get this. Or someone who is about to dive into the hardcore gaming scene would. Look, I don’t know, I went into some soul searching, and I just thought that maybe, just maybe, a hardcore gamer would prefer to build his own gaming rig. It would be cheaper. And it would be your own piece of art. How I see it, the Acer Predator 21X is for people who has the buck, and just wants a really powerful laptop. If there’s one thing my colleague said that I’d agree, this thing is a more than capable desktop-alternative.

I wish I had more photos to share to prove that I’ve actually managed to play with it. But ah well.

One of my earlier posts, I said that I would buy this thing if I had the money. I kind of want to take that back. I don’t think 9K is worth shit. Especially I can build my own setup, choose exactly the parts I want. As purty as the curved screen is, I don’t really need it, a standard 2K flat screen is more than enough to satisfy my graphical needs. Now, if I had shit loads of money, like, a really lot, then, as how Acer put it, “Why not?”

The juggernauts of gaming notebooks

CES 2017 sure is a blockbuster of technology, eh? Companies are showcasing robots and smart cars, giving a strong focus on the Internet of Things, and throwing even more powerful hardware for us to burn through our wallets with.

Earlier today I saw a stellar lineup of OLED TVs from both LG and Sony. The W7 Signature OLED by LG is breathtaking, and I look forward to someday have one of those things in my living room. Equally amazing is the Sony Bravia A1 series. It’s Sony though, so the cost of it will definitely blast a crater, devastating enough to shatter my entire fragile bones.

Then I got an email from HyperX, telling me all about their new gaming mouse, the Pulsefire, which you can adjust the settings without installing software, and that’s kind of sweet since I somehow always lose my install CDs. lenovo-laptop-legion-y720-15-hero

Lenovo surprised the hell out of me with the Legion Laptops. The Y720 is a pretty solid start for Lenovo shifting gears up to compete with MSI, Asus, and Acer. The Y720 fires up with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti, which a bit lower than the more awe-inspiring 1060, 1070, and the amazing 1080, but it is freakishly better than the 980, which still has a strong presence in local markets.

razerBut what really blew the roof off my home was Razer. They introduced Project Valerie, a concept notebook that will have three screens. That’s right. Three freaking screens on a notebook. Why do gamers need three screens? Wider-angled viewing and multi-tasking, basically. Curved monitors can offer the same level of immersion these days. I think.

Then there’s the Acer Predator 21x. It’s priced at 9,000 USD. 8,999-if you want to be exact. Now, if I were to spend a lot of money to get a gaming notebook. This would be it. Sure, it’s not mobile. Money is better spent on building your own rig, or nab a Razer Stealth Pro, which is damn gorgeous already. But if I were to get a gaming notebook and I had the money: It needs to be the Predator 21x. Curved screen, two GTX 1080, up to 64GB DDR4. Oh yeah. It also has five cooling fans. That technically should keep the Predator pretty cool, or a little warm at least. I can’t say how loud it will be though.

 

Computex 2016

Alright, hello! I was in Taiwan until Thursday, checking out this year’s Computex, an exhibit where companies showcase their newest hardware PC components. It’s for hardcore techies. And I am no hardcore techie. Four years devoted as a technology journalist, and I still have no idea what the hell is a PCI card. (I had thought those things were extinct.)

Anyway, here are some of the crazy rigs that I saw.

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A Meteor-inspired rig with a Perfect Grade Gundam 00. According to the guy with me, the builder didn’t have a PG Freedom Gundam, so 00 was used instead. Also, there was supposed to be a mount where the Gundam was meant to be docked in the rig. Sad that didn’t happen. Still, this is one awesome PC.

 

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I wish I could list down the names and specs these PCs have. However at the time of the event, I was more concerned in talking to the right people and collecting business cards. It’s a failure on my part to be unable to multitask. Anyway, this photo here was inspired by the classic ’80s Ghostbusters.

 

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I… have no idea what this is. It looks like an alien spacecraft.

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BenQ is known for bringing out some nice monitors to keep your eyes healthy, among other things that I’m not completely aware of. But this is just nuts. These girls take like 15-30 minute breaks, but for the most part, they’re on the bike all day just to showcase BenQ’s new fitness stuff.

Thus far, the three biggest booths I’ve seen in Nangang Exhibition Center was Acer, ASUS, and MSI. There were other huge booths there too, but none as big as those three. While at Taipei 101, Gigabyte reigned supreme in there with a huge ass booth with a driving simulator. You’re required to wear a Gigabyte uniform and show the whole crowd how bad or awesome of a driver you are. They give you a can of Red Bull to wash off the shame.

Microsoft and Intel showcased some interesting cool stuff too, it’s just a little sad I wasn’t there to see it personally.

Insofar, the biggest deal about Computex was the gaming segment. How could it not, when e-sports is gaining huge traction. Actually, it’s already full speed speed ahead to whatever it is going. Millions of fans tune in on Twitch and YouTube just to watch other people play videogames. Of course this is going to be a huge market. Nvidia showcased the GTX 1070, which is budget-friendly, and powerful enough to run most of the latest games and supports VR.

Speaking of VR. It is the direction where everyone is going. Not just in the gaming segment. But businesses are using VR for architecture and engineering. VR isn’t a gimmick, it’s an option that people can select whenever needed.

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MSI is taking it to the next level. A Backpack PC for VR gaming. Like, holy shit mahn.

Now, taking it outside Computex. I was able to explore Taipei a little bit more. The people I was with, often left me alone, and I always crawled my way around to get back to the hotel. (The Computex Media Pass can be used as an electronic ticket for trains, for free, for 7 days.) What I really loved about this place, is how easy commute is. People were disciplined, no one shoved each other around in tight spaces, people prefer not to seat in trains – and based on my observation, are quietly reserved for elders when they enter the train. Bicycles are left on the street without locks – man, in Manila, even in friendly provinces with damn low crime rate, you can expect bicycles disappearing in the first 10 minutes when left unattended.

Finally, now that all the dust has settled, I will be able to get back to my WIPs. Sadly, my main project, Ashes, is stuck on a different computer. Therefore, I have began working on my second project. Since I’m superstitious with titles, for now, while it’s still in its early writing stage, it’s code named “Project Sherlock.” It’s not a detective, hardboiled, or a crime story. At least, it isn’t, as far as I’m aware of, but it could be.

I have only about 2K words in but I am already immersed into completing it soon. It’s a whiff of fresh air to write something lighter, compared to the grimdark of Ashes. The story will feature more action and an attempt to bring out a dynamic duo. More details in the following months.

On Nintendo going mobile

The Mobile World Congress is hardly interesting anymore these days.

I’ve only been in the tech business for a few handful years and already I am no longer thrilled upon hearing announcements and reveals of new phones.

What is there to expect anyway? Phones with bigger and brighter screens? Phones with more RAM and more processing power? Those things are expected. Now, if the newest Galaxy S phone ended up having 720p instead of 2K, then we’ll have something serious to talk about why that happened. Otherwise, it’s the same old thing year after year.

One positive thing here, we’re getting phones that are powerful enough to run original PlayStation games. We got “Grand Theft Auto III” in the whatever-app stores for years, and then we’re getting hit by other titles, notably “Final Fantasy VII” and “IX.” In no time, we’ll have most FF titles on-the-go.

If you check out Ubisoft, they have been making a ton of mobile apps and tossing them for download in the Play Store and the App Store. It’s good that more developers are considering mobile as their next biggest step, with VR and that, almost everyone in the world has a smartphone, which is where all the money leads to. So it’s natural the industry follows. Though I’m not saying consoles and PC gaming will go away, they will just have a reduced population.

Nintendo is starting their move to mobile, beginning with the “Miitomo” mobile app. It looks like they have joined the gold rush in mobile applications. If things go awry with the new console, then, at least Nintendo has built a small foundation to move to, at least, for the time being.

Even Konami is claimed mobile is the future. Though I think that’s just a smoke screen, what else can Konami do without Kojima anyway? None. That’s right. None. Kojima IS Konami. Besides, when Konami said mobile is the future, I think they meant mobile is Konami’s future, cause they no longer have a place in consoles and PC gaming. Anyway….

It’s also good that phone makers are taking notice too. Since the iPhone 6 and 6+, Apple has been dedicated in improving mobile gaming experiences. With games like “Monument Valley” and “Shadowun: Dragonfall,” more gamers, both casual and serious ones, are diving into mobile.

Going back to MWC, Samsung has announced that the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge will feature gaming capabilities. LG, as far as I know, despite mentioning VR, hasn’t really said anything too much about mobile games. They did however, introduced LG Friends.

If you haven’t heard, the LG G5 is a modular-ish device. A modular device allows its users to upgrade only certain components the user deems necessary. You can take out the G5’s bottom slider, which holds its battery. Separate the module from the battery and plug another module with a different function into the battery and slide it back in to the G5. The “Friends” part is the upcoming accessories and modules that will make the G5 experience flexible.

Now, this seems to be the perfect opportunity for Nintendo to start partnering with other companies. If they could co-develop new modules for the G5, they will be able to bring out the most out of their new platform.

For instance, Windows (and in extension, Xbox) is having the Oculus Rift, Vive, and HoloLens. PlayStation is getting their own PlayStation VR. What about Nintendo? We got zero information about their VR. In fact, they don’t seem interested to go into mobile for 1) They realize it will be a niche market, and their platform has already been niche as it is or 2) They don’t have the budget and unwilling to take too big of risks, which is a shame – considering Nintendo introduced VR in the ‘90s with Virtual Boy.

Mobile devices on the other hand, are getting a slew of VR headsets, the Gear VR and the LG’s own VR, seem to the most promising, until first four mentioned above take over.

If Nintendo plays ball for a while, they will have a decent market for VR. And even without all this VR stuff, it’s never going to replace standard gaming anyway, but a module that can play 3DS games will be gold. Though, that should require a lot of re-tweaking to accommodate from two-screen to single-screen. Modules that are compatible to Amiibo should make people feel their investment over these figures to worthwhile as it use continues to expand.

Then again, mobile users is a niche market. Not everyone will be interested to play Nintendo games. But, we’ll see. It looks like “Pokemon Go,” is among the first wave of experiments they are going to launch for the company’s hope.

There’s a lot of good stuff lying around for Nintendo to use. We need them to succeed. We all want to. Let hardware issues become someone else’s problem for a while. At least, this should give Nintendo some time to carefully evaluate their situation and how to tackle it. For a long time already, Nintendo has tried to turn their systems, particularly the DS, into social networking devices. Looks like they haven’t changed their plans about it, just switch platforms.

In any case, Nintendo is not giving up just yet in good old console gaming. We still have the NX to look forward to.

Random Rants

Yes, this post is going to be about a rant. But not all of it, I think, at least that’s what I think it wouldn’t be. Originally, earlier, I thought I’d just list down a couple of things I’ve learned, or thought, that no one would give a crap about.

On to business!

4K television is not worth it. Not yet, at least. There’s still a massive crevice that needs to be filled first by 4K content. From what I’ve seen, 4K is going to be cool, and literally big. A 12-minute video, turned out to be 39GB. A 30-minute video already cranked up to 100-something GB. Sometimes I think 4K is an anti-piracy trick. Who’d want to download 1TB of a single episode of Game of Thrones? Well, actually, some would want that. But it would only be possible for some people, and a little more in the future. Some countries will find it impossible. But I believe people will find ways around this. Or would rather stick to Full HD, cause, that’s like pretty fucking good already. ’nuff with the greed. Or, get a damn legit copy in your nearest – oh, wait, right, online streaming is the current thing. Also, while 4K TVs are currently damn expensive, we can expect by the time 4K content start flowing in, more affordable 4K TVs will follow. Save that extra sum, I suggest.

Following the lines of stuff not really worth it (for now, and in my most humble opinion), are the PS4 and Xbox One game consoles. In this country, when Microsoft’s gaming machine, it was equivalently priced at a fuckingly ridiculous U$D813. With, at that time, the mandatory Kinect 2.0, of course. And some people from the US had complained about its cost there. Now, Xbox One is priced at around U$D560. Still ridiculous. But a bit better. Get it less without Kinect. PS4, last time I checked, was priced the same as the lowered cost Xbox One, add a few more large sums into it, you get it bundled with the camera and a game exclusive. Now, going back as to what I was saying, I still think that it’s not worth getting either of these consoles, not yet. One reason, there aren’t enough games yet. Second, I’m pretty damn sure an upgraded version that is a bit cheaper, but less flashier looking, will come out. I’d rather wait for those two, than aesthetics, but that’s just me.

The Oppo N1 by far, has been the most innovative smartphone I’ve seen, thus far. Swiveling camera is hardly new, but it’s an interesting concept to explore, the rear touchpad is, well, useless to be honest, but it’s nice to have the option for whatever it will be used, and hopefully in the future, more practical uses of it would be available. We’re also very happy about the Xiaomi Mi 3, boasting mind fucking specs for a really affordable phone. But, in the long run, if it will hold up being one of the top dogs to go toe-to-toe against the big named flagship devices remains to be seen. Personally, price-wise, sure. While it’s a great option to have a smartphone with a souped-up specs sheet that is really stupid cheap, it won’t hold up popularity-wise, for the main reason that folks like Apple and Samsung are just too fucking big to ever compete with. Seven times out of 10, people on board a train will either have an iPhone or one of the thousands of Galaxy devices. Other players are barely hanging on. But if you ask me, I believe Mi 3 is the smarter choice. However, my personal favorites have yet to be staggered: HTC One, HTC One (M8) (such a horrible, horrible name), and the Sony Xperia Z1/2. Oh, vanity.

I realized I haven’t had my say for Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs. It’s not a terrible game, it’s mediocre at most. You got to love the overwhelming hype it received, which reminds me of the first Assassin’s Creed game. On announcement, it received overwhelming hype that didn’t meet expectations. It’s the same for Watch Dogs, hacking wasn’t what we expected, driving mechanics was odd – or maybe I was just too used to GTA V? Nonetheless, Ubisoft’s marketing scheme deserves much laud for managing to over hype over a slightly above average game. We can hope that it plays out similarly to Assassin’s Creed, with the second game receiving critical acclaim.

Welcome to Night Vale, remains one of the strangest, funniest, and scariest podcasts I’ve ever followed. It’s a massive inspiration to my writing, and we’re planning to spur a ripoff… I mean, an homage, to them, in the future.

Other random stuff:

So far, DC sucks making superhero movies. Man of Steal was kind of good, and we’d like to consider Christopher Nolan’s trilogy, along with Tim Burton’s Batman movies, as separate entities. But the TV series, Arrow and then the upcoming Flash and Gotham, are looking damn good. Also, most of the animated DC films, have been consistently superior.