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Top February Game Releases of 2017

The sheet number of titles scheduled for launch in 2017 makes this the best year yet in terms of game choices and February is just the start of a flood. Here’s a quick look at February’s top video game releases of 2017.

Please note that this is not an all-inclusive list of game title releases since some games were announced for February but no specific release date were given for them. Only games with confirmed release dates are mentioned in this list.

Fire Emblem Heroes, Feb 2nd

The game just launched for smartphone users and is available on both iOS and Android platforms. This particular edition of the franchise sees the player taking up the role of Summoner. You are required to call upon the services of various Fire Emblem Heroes throughout mankind’s history, which brings back characters from its previous installments. Using these heroes, you participate in turn based battles that occur over an 8 by 6 grid on your phone. The game relies on the same triangle weapon system and Players get to upgrade heroes plus call extra heroes to aid them in battle.

Poochy & Yoshi’s Woolly World, Feb 3rd

Designed exclusively for Nintendo 3DS, this game will include all levels present in the Wii U edition plus a few new levels where you can control the woolen Poochy. As Yoshi in game you can take the help of the Poochy Pups to find secrets.

Atelier Sophie, Feb 7th

Did you know that this will mark the 17th title in this franchise and while this particular edition has already made its appearance on PS4 as well as the PS VITA, it makes its way to the PC this February.

Nioh, Feb 7th

Exclusive for PlayStation 4, Nioh feels influenced from Dark Souls series though the major difference between the two is that the former occurs in feudal Japan with mythological creatures walking the lands along with ninjas and samurais. You play the role of a westerner in their society taking the shoes of William, who is suddenly thrown amidst the turmoil of this tumultuous land. The game is riveting and keeps you glued to your seat throughout thanks to the picturesque settings and the character interactions.

WWE 2k17, Feb 14th

Your usual package of wrestling available on your computer, releases on Valentine’s Day. Great for us single gamers but those in a relationship might have to wait till 15th to play their favorite smash-your-head-in title.

For Honor, Feb 14th

An original cross-platform game title from the stables of Ubisoft Montreal, this battle intensive medieval action game features total of three playable factions starting with the Vikings, Samurai and ending with the Knights. It is the multiplayer mode of this game titled, War of the Factions, that you should be interested in though it features a complete single player mode too. Good news though, the multiplayer mode too is cross-platform too.

Sniper Elite 4, Feb 14th

For those loyal Sniper Elite fans, the 4th installment releases on February 14th but those who haven’t ever played this title, be ready to be bored on purpose. Yes, the game is a lot of preparation and planning and very little action but for those who love to strategize and meticulously plan each and every move, this is a title worth having.

Berserk and the Band of the Hawk, Feb 21st

This game is based on a popular manga series by the name of Berserk but it gets its own spinoff world and warriors. You basically control the protagonist Guts and his merry band of fighters in a vendetta on the hordes of demons terrorizing the fictional lands.

Halo Wars 2, Feb 21st

Releasing this time around for Xbox One and PC, Halo Wars 2 is a strategy based real-time game with multiplayer put in it. The focus is more on card-based strategies and deck building rather than resource management and base building. There is a single player campaign too, complete with its own villain and mercenary band. The unique feature of this title is that a single license purchase allows you to play on Windows 10 as well as Xbox One.

Night in the Woods, Feb 21st

Proper cross-platform game that works not just on PS4 and PC but also Mac and Linux, this game follows a cat, Mae who has just returned to her rust-belt town from college. The dialogues are dense and the game presentation is enticing. There are several mini-games inside the main game plus loads of characters and upgrades.

Horizon Zero Dawn, Feb 28th

Developed by Guerilla Games, the new project titled Horizon Zero Dawn brings together a fantastical world where robots have overtaken the world and somehow made giant dinosaur copies of themselves. You are a hunter-gatherer who has to survive in this post-apocalyptic world now run over by robots.

Torment: Tides of Numenera, Feb 28th

Another cross-platform title this game will be available for Xbox One, PS4 as well as PC. It also is the only title on this list that gathered funding from Kickstarter about three years back. The game draws major inspiration from a classic RPG title called Planescape: Torment. However, that’s where the similarity ends because the game takes on a life of its own. The focus in this RPG game is more on conversations and how each sentence can affect future events.

Interested in any of the February releases scheduled or already available this year? If so, leave us a comment below and let us know which game you mostly look forward to playing and why. Also, if you feel we have missed any title out, do remember to remind us!

nvidia quadro gp100

$6000 For Latest Nvidia Graphics Card – What’s The Hype?

Nvidia has finally revealed the secret of its latest graphics cards and no we are not talking about the GTX 1080 Ti. While that graphics card is scheduled to come out soon, fact remains that it is a poorly kept secret and everyone knows it will make an appearance sometime in 2017. We are speaking of the GP100 Pascal architecture and the Quadro GP100 – first PCIe graphics card in the Pascal architecture for the Quadro range. Some might argue that the Tesla P100 is the first in the Pascal line-up but this isn’t a commercial card since it is only available on Nvidia DGX-1 server, which by the way costs a whopping $129,000.

For those of you unaware of the Tesla P100, this specific graphics card is proprietary from Nvidia and it works only on its own servers, more specifically the DGX-1 server. Now, the first editions of this card relied on custom NVLink mezzanine connectors from Nvidia instead of a PCIe slot. A little while later though Nvidia did introduce the PCIe variant but without any display output. If Nvidia can make a PCIe version of their proprietary graphics card, then it stands to reason that they can add display outputs and that is what the GP100 brings to the consumers. Think of it as a toned done version of the P100 Tesla that operates off a PCIe bridge and has its display outputs.

Where Tesla is predominantly a computing based solution, Quadro from Nvidia is geared more towards professional multimedia and graphics works such as 3D rendering, CAD/CAM, video editing and a lot more in between. Now while the region of overlap between graphics and multimedia work with gaming has grown, there is still a clear demand for the gaming series of graphics card as well as the QUADRO range of professional graphics cards.

Now the next question about the $6000 card is whether it trumps the previous version of QUADRO, the P6000 or does it come close to its performance? Let’s find out.

New Memory Module

If you were to create a Venn diagram showcasing the areas where the GP100 overlaps on the performance of the P6000, it would have a large area of intersection but the one place where it would stand far apart is in the memory module. The GP100 relies on HBM2 memory rather than GDDR5X and this gives it higher memory bandwidth. At 720GB/s, it is way higher than the P6000’s 480GB/s transfer rates. However, memory bandwidth isn’t the only thing that defines a graphics card and it is in other areas that the figures get a little confusing.

The Disparity

The P6000 features a fully functional GP102 GPU, which means it uses the complete 3840 CUDA cores at a clock speed of 1530 MHz thus producing around 12 TFLOPS. To do this it uses 24GB of GDDR5X memory. The Quadro GP100 however packs in only 16GB of HBM2 memory with 3584 CUDA cores operating at around 1430 MHz that together deliver around 10.3 TFLOPS of performance. Basically, you get greater memory bandwidth but less computing power and memory. Because of the tradeoffs though, the GP100 uses significantly less power as opposed to the P6000.

At present the P6000 Quadro retails for about $5000, which is a significant slash in prices from the original price of $7,000. It is safe to assume that the Quadro GP100 will perfectly slot into the $7000 price range though going by the initial stats, but considering the slight drop in overall performance, it is possible for a lower price tag. The P6000 on the other hand should continue to retail at around the $5000 mark even with the GP100 launch since it is still a quite capable card that matches the GP100 blow for blow, outdoing it some performance segments.

Now, being a gaming oriented website, all this talk of QUADRO is immaterial to us unless the GP100 technology is scheduled to make an appearance in the GTX commercial gaming series. Can it make an appearance as a Titan? Well, as it stands this seems highly unlikely. The Titan Pascal X is already giving phenomenal performance with its 12GB GDDR5X GP102 processor that produces around 11 TFLOPS. The need for higher performance of memory bandwidth at the moment is limited and companies that are interested in this sort of jump in memory performance are limited. In other words, GP100 might not receive a consumer variant anytime soon simply because the Titan XP performance is almost at par with it.

No graphics card article is ever complete without discussing AMD cards. Good news for AMD lovers, the Vega will release with HBM2 memory with 8GB in total. The reason for such limited releases in this particular memory technology is the price. More expensive than GDDR5 memory, AMD trying to keep true to its affordable nametag, packs in only two stacks of 4GB HBM2 memory. This does beg the question as to why Nvidia could not reduce its memory stacks on the GP100 for a slightly lower memory module with 8GB in total? This card could have outgrown the popularity of the P6000 with its lower price tag plus equal performance.

As it stands, Nvidia probably will not pump out another graphics card with HBM2 memory module at least until AMD comes out with its Volta model, which is scheduled for the later part of 2018.

Performance Of The P6000 And Why It Won’t Be Outdated Because Of GP100

Speaking in terms of pure gaming, professional graphics cards were never really designed with this intention. Yes, they have similar stats and at times even better parts but they are not game optimized – this is the number one complaint we hear from gamers. Well, if benchmarks are anything to go by, the P6000 blasts high end gaming GPUs to smithereens.

A popular choice among benchmarks, the NVIDIA TITAN X Pascal actually falls way behind the P6000 QUADRO in gaming benchmarks. This is not surprising though, since the TITAN X Pascal has only 3548 cores while the GP102 based card has all its CUDA cores enabled. When it comes to gaming parlance, the full gamut of cores and superior architecture together help the P6000 zoom past the Titan X Pascal in games.

  • Jonas
  • February 27, 2017
  • PC
lenovo y series gaming laptop

Next In The Y Series – Lenovo Now Taking PC Gaming Seriously?

For long, those in the gaming industry never really looked at Lenovo seriously as a gaming intensive manufacturer. They were always known for their Ideapads and office workstations, their servers, their smartphones maybe but as a serious gamer’s tooth fairy – never! Well, that all changed with the Y510p High Performance multimedia laptop as Lenovo put it. This particular model, while not at all aimed at gamers boasted of near gamer specifications and abilities. Soon after this model gained some momentum, we saw the Y50 series launch with the Y50-70 in particular earning a lot of praise for the design, performance and above all the affordability of these machines as opposed to the rest of the competition.

Now, Lenovo has taken the next stride in PC gaming and they are here with the newest two members of the Y series. With these two new launches, Lenovo hopes to settle the debate of their gaming stance once and for all. No longer does Lenovo only want to be known as a hardware manufacturer, they now want to be taken seriously in the gaming industry.

After decades of professional catering, workstations for multinational corporations and a more general audience, Lenovo’s gaming segment is now seeing major strides forward all thanks to their current gaming boss, Will Fu. The latest Y line-up is slightly different from its previous Y series offerings. The gaming section of Lenovo is now taking Y series quite seriously, ensuring that the features will entice hardcore gamers with loyalty towards other major gaming notebook makers such as MSI, Alienware and Asus ROG. It is no longer just a question of adding more processing power and a better graphics card but more of building long lasting relationships with the target audience.

In a recent announcement, Will Fu made these new directives known and also unveiled the Y520 laptop that will feature the GTX 1050 graphics cards. It is Fu’s ideology that any Lenovo Y series gaming product should last the consumer a good two to five years. This means better hardware, more stability and a proper gaming specific service contract.

In a first, Fu said that unlike the previous business model of Lenovo where customers and the parent company were separated by a sea of distributors, retailers and brand partners, now their focus is on reducing the gap. They don’t just want their customers to do a single business transaction with the company but want them to keep coming back for more. Hence, their ideology now revolves around improving the gaming product lineup by listening to their customers. Basically Lenovo Gaming is going the consumer centric way. In order to achieve this goal, Lenovo is starting a Lenovo Gaming Community.

This community will not be country specific or selective of its members. It will attempt to bring together likeminded folks who love games and whether they play them professionally or because they love playing games, everyone will be able to chip in and share their experiences. In return, this will allow the company to capture a larger market, spread its innovations and ideas plus interact with the customers, fix or resolve issues and better their future product line.

One of the very first things in Fu’s Lenovo Gaming plan is to increase Lenovo’s presence at various gaming events across the globe. Some of the major events they plant to be an integral part of this year include Gamescom, China Joy and the likes. In the past, Lenovo never really wanted to showcase or interact with its customers at these world events because they were more interested in B2B deals. However, with the steady growth in popularity of these world gaming events and with nearly million gaming fans showing up per event, it just does not make any sense not to attend them and give a strong showing especially when you are now entering the hardcore gaming market with a product like the Y520 and Y720.

The New Releases

So, the latest two entrants are the Y70  and the Y520. The latter is a virtual reality behemoth codenamed by Lenovo as the Legion. These new Y series no longer sport the IdeaPad moniker but feature a gamer centric logo for the Legion title. The entire specifications too get an overhaul with NVidia Pascal graphics coupled to Kaby Lake processors that together make the Y720 a virtual reality ready machine. All that remains is to double down and purchase a VR headset, which by the way Lenovo is currently in the process of fine tuning. If you want to try out their headsets, be sure to visit the next gaming convention in your country.

Now, back to the laptops. They retain the design of the Y50-70 series with a black-red color scheme but there is a slight difference in the overall finishing. The Legion now seems to be sharper at the edges, with the cuts and drops. In fact, it is slimmer than before too. Another great addition is the RGB keyboard lighting with four zones and optional lights for each. That and the central hinge are probably the reason why the new generation Y series looks much more badass than before. Consumers even get the option of taking a 17-inch version of the Legion that comes with an Xbox One wireless receiver built into it!

Coming to the actual specs that drive this beast, the Legion Y720 will be powered with the 7700HQ Core i7 processor and games will run off 6GB GDDR5 memory GTX 1060 NVidia graphics. The other specifications include maximum of 32GB DDR4 RAM capacity, PCIe SSD plus HDD, 60Whr battery and optional 4K display. Lenovo says, its top of the line mode can delivery battery backup of around 5 hours.

On paper and with the sneak peek available thus far from Lenovo, the new Y series sure does sound enticing. Question is, does Lenovo continue with its aggressive pricing policy or will it go the Asus ROG way and up its asking price because now it considers itself a gaming giant?

  • Jonas
  • February 6, 2017
  • PC
nvidia graphics card

NVIDIA’s Latest Graphics Cards – What Makes Them So Good?

The Titan X and GeForce GTX 10x series of graphics cards are the latest from NVidia, all of which are based on the new Pascal architecture. GTX 1080 is the standard for the series, with Titan X featuring at the premium range, whereas the likes of 1070 and 1060 offer systematic scaled-down versions without suffering on performance parameters. For this article, we shall focus on the marquee players i.e. 1080 and Titan X, but not before delving into some much-needed Pascal literature.

Pascal Architecture – The DNA Of NVidia GeForce GTX 10x And Titan X Graphics Cards

The GPU architecture for the 10x series graphics card is named Pascal whereas it was called Maxwell for the preceding 9x series. So, what’s in the name you ask? Well not much more than a collection of new feature(s) and/or improvements across baseline attributes that make the Pascal 10 times better if one were to go by NVidia’s claims.

Compared to Maxwell’s 28 nanometres (nm), Pascal GPUs have managed to cram up billions of transistors over a 16 nm FinFET manufacturing process. In layperson’s language, you got way more computational power on a given piece of silicon board than ever before. Plus, smaller architecture means efficient energy consumption, leading to less heating issues.

Pascal architecture variants churn out more than 5-teraFLOPS; up to 12 times more neural network training and seven times higher deep learning throughput. Without delving deeper into each aspect, its suffice to say, that the processing capability of Pascal GPUs is way higher than existing benchmarks.

But modern Graphics cards are a marriage between processing power and memory capabilities. And the simple thing with pairing memory with GPU until Pascal was that you could either increase capacity or you could increase bandwidth of the memory unit.

Increasing both capacity and bandwidth was a challenge, but it was a necessary challenge to overcome. Enter 3D memory on Pascal GPUs which offer 2.7 times the capacity and 3 times the speed, thereby leading to a holistic jump in overall performance attributes of the GPU.

Titan X Pascal – Simply Irresponsible Amounts Of Performance

In terms of performance parameters, Titan X’s Pascal version shreds its Maxwell counterpart to bits. Just to give you a perspective of the gulf in class, made from a 12 nm FinFET lithography on a die size of 471mm2, the GP-102 chip in the Pascal Titan X sports 12-billion transistors compared to 8-billion transistors on GM-200 chip of the Maxwell Titan X card.

The new Titan X with its 3584 CUDA cores and 1,417MHz of base clock speeds compared against its Maxwell counterpart (3,072 CUDA cores and 1,000MHz) is simply a phenomenal jump in graphic processing power. And even though the older version had similar memory capacity and bus i.e. 12GB and 384-bit respectively, the Pascal Titan X with its 48GB/s bandwidth accounts for 40% increase in that department.

As if past Titan X owners weren’t feeling miserable enough about their pricey card being trumped by the new GTX 1080 (on a price to performance scale obviously), the new Pascal Titan X has taken that gulf in class to a whole new level. The parameter numbers and benchmarks are all good, but the real test for the new Titan X was always going to be its performance on 4K resolutions. And here too, its proven more than capable.

For starters, this is the only single-GPU card that has been able to constantly pump out 60fps at 4K resolution for most games, a feat that was previously possible only through SLI. As for the games that it can’t, the bottleneck lies at the CPU level. So, if you really need to see what this card can do, then shift to a X99 platform with an eight-core CPU.

GeForce GTX 1080– The Gold Standard For 4K And VR

The GTX 1080 is the flagship of NVidia’s 10x GFX cards featuring the famed Pascal architecture. It is also the first card from the NVidia stables to take on the dual pronged challenge of 4K resolution display units and Virtual Reality gears.

The GTX 1080 uses the GP-104 GPU with 7.2 billion transistors, but for us gamers what counts is the CUDA cores and there’s 2,560 of them on this card. Compare that to GTX 980’s 2048, that’s a 25% more cores!

The clock speed is also higher – 1,607MHz to GTX 980’s 1,126MHz translating to 40% higher speeds. These two parameters alone offer ample evidence of the superior performance of the GTX 1080 against it’s previous generation counterpart and that too at a marginal increase in peak power draw.

There’s massive improvement on the RAM front too. Compared to GTX 980’s 4GB GDDR5 at memory clock of 7,000MHz, the GTX 1080 sports 6GB of GDDR5X RAM clocking at 10,000MHz. That means all that extended holding capacity for graphical data can be transferred at higher speed.

Ports wise, the Founder’s edition card offers connections for DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort (DP), where using the latter, 4K content can be pushed on to equally able display units at 120Hz and 5K at 60Hz. The 2.0b HDMI interface too can push 4K content but at 60Hz. So, all in all the GTX 1080 can be considered future proof in terms of the GFX hardware on offer.

On the software side, NVidia looks to have finally cracked the code to multi-monitor displays (4K), not to forget support for VR modules likes those on offer by Oculus and HTC. Apart from the basic software packages, one significant software feature is the asynchronous compute, which allows the GPU to work simultaneously with games and other GPU-intensive applications.

Now, you can play a game with a video compression software running in the background, without being bugged by those irksome frame freezes that were a constant pain with the GTX 980.

Verdict

The future of 4K gaming definitely looks a lot brighter with the Pascal based Titan X and GeForce GTX 1080 cards. At this point, there really aren’t that many games that can push the GTX 1080, and we doubt the Titan X will break a sweat with upcoming games.    

  • Jonas
  • January 30, 2017
  • PC

Windows 10 Game Mode – Gaming Revolution Or Storm In A Teacup?

Sometime towards the final week of December 2016, a few users who were testing out the latest Windows 10 developer build noticed a ‘gamemode.dll’ in the operating system’s DLL list. Once the word came out, the PC gaming community was abuzz about Windows finally doing more than paying lip service to hardcore gamers.

Microsoft too officially announced that it would reveal more details of Windows 10 Game Mode’s prowess over the coming weeks in the form of previews. The first bit of information that did come straight from Microsoft was that the new Game Mode was designed to finetune your PC and therefore push the performance parameters of the games being run on your system.

Furthermore, the feature would help both legacy Windows (Win32) games as well as the modern titles so that you can play them all without having to choose one over the other. And…end of transmission. Oh and this improvement won’t be immediately visible but instead will be pushed through when future releases of the OS come out.  

Sounds great, right? But then, we PC-gamers have already found turnarounds to these problems. So, is there any genuine reason to be celebrating this not-yet-released update? To answer that question, we need to take a more incisive look at Windows 10’s game-related attributes thus far.       

Windows 10 Game Mode vs GeForce Experience And Radeon Software

Any gaming rig features one or more graphics card(s) from either GeForce (NVidia) or Radeon (ATI). That means you automatically get the option to download GeForce Experience or Radeon Software depending on the GPU to maximize your gaming experience.

The question then arises that if GPUs already came with their own game performance optimizers then what is it that Windows 10’s Game Mode wants to add to the existing setup?

The answer lies in the long-drawn tales of Windows 10’s incompatibility issues with the aforementioned game-tuners. In fact, one common gripe with gamers who owned NVidia cards and had upgraded to Windows 10 was that the GPU drivers kept crashing frequently, to which NVidia responded by releasing a slew of driver updates (for older cards) and how-to hacks.

To be fair, Windows too did its part with the reconciliation bit but not before throwing another curveball. The OS would clash with either GPU’s customization software. So, while you could tweak the settings in-game, you weren’t able to optimize your games from the desktop screen.

Perhaps the ‘Game Mode’ could be the solution from Windows to customize game settings beforehand, just the way most of us gamers like it. Fingers crossed.

Windows 10 and Gaming

In terms of running games, Windows 10 isn’t that much different from its predecessor, Windows 8.1 apart from the introduction of DirectX 12. As for performance, Windows 10 provides as good if not better a performance as Windows 7 did.

But the great thing about Windows 7 was that you could run really old PC games over administrator mode. Similarly, in Windows 8.1, you had the compatibility mode that you could enable by right-clicking on the game icon and choosing the said option. The same is on offer in Windows 10 too.

So what’s the difference? Nothing and that’s exactly our point. While Windows 10 promised to be this lightweight, resource-intelligent OS, and it did too but mainly for main-stream applications. That bonhomie was absent when it came to games. To make matters worse, there was a dip in frame-rates when dual-GPU (Crossfire and SLI) setups came into the picture. Talk about spending a fortune to build a beast only to be hamstrung by the OS!

Thankfully, third-party candidates like GOG, who have in the past battled hard for DRM-free game environment. They have taken the pain to ensure that all those classic titles in their library run on Windows 10 without a glitch.

From its side, Windows 10 too has went ahead and asked testers to seek out incompatibility issues with games, both new and old. A list was compiled for each game and their respective compatibility verdict. It can be found here. But that has really been the extent of Microsft’s support for games.

Quite frankly, we don’t expect much from Windows 10 or its ‘Game Mode’ in this department, because lets face it, Microsoft was never historically interested in taking that responsibility. But then it never limited game and graphics hardware developers from running their own micro-environment within the OS ecosystem, the way Windows 10 has done and that too so vigorously.

Beam Live-Streaming: Is It Worth It

Beam was this start-up streaming service that allowed viewers to engage actively instead of just viewing a broadcasted game passively. That meant viewers could choose a feature like the next weapon that the player would use.

Microsoft having purchased Beam earlier this year, is showing it off as its central streaming platform for Windows. Looks like Window Game Mode is following on the footprints of its more successful Xbox One UX. And that’s excellent news for someone who’s new to the whole PC gaming scene.

However, these features were already available from both NVidia (ShadowPlay) and ATI (Radeon ReLive). What’s even better is that they directly interface with the hardware to optimize and prioritize resources. So, from an experienced gamer’s perspective, its really nothing new that Windows 10 is trying to offer in this department.

Final Verdict

So, there already existed this live capture feature called Game DVR on Windows 10 which by default remained on. Now if you wanted better frame rates, then you simply had to disable this feature. With the upcoming Game Mode, what we feel is that Microsoft aims to cut down on that resource loss when Game DVR is turned on.

In simple terms, this ‘feature’ isn’t exactly improving gaming performance but rather looks to stop another Windows feature from fiddling with your game-intensive resources. And it begs the question as to why Microsoft is so hell-bent on doing everything from the scratch. It could as easily team up with NVidia and AMD to make their existing ‘in-game optimizers’ compatible with its OS. We guess that’s something only Microsoft can answer!                     

  • Jonas
  • January 26, 2017
  • PC

GTA V Releases Its First Major Update For 2017

Grand Theft Auto is the real reason why people even know of Rockstar Games. These bad asses have given us titles that are gory, catchy and packed to the brim with hours of endless fun and mayhem. With GTA V, Rockstar managed to build on its reputation for endless gaming and RPG action when it announced that this would have an online multiplayer universe above and beyond its story mode. Nice move Rockstar, no wonder you guys currently top the charts worldwide for the most played RPG game at present.

In fact, if current reports are true then Rockstar Games has managed to sell over 70 million copies of GTA V. Instead of sitting on their laurels and working on future game title releases, the production house continues to toil away the hours building upgrades, new vehicles, expansion packs and what not. Latest in its series of rollouts is the new vehicles that just hit the GTA universe. This has already created a buzz around the GTA community with many even saving up virtual mullah just so they can get their shiny new dream machine.

The newest content available for download in the GTA 5 universe is the final piece of the 2016 packs and it is available on all platforms. The Dewbauchee Spectre sports car is now open for sale at Benny’s Original Motor Works shop with a price tag of $599,000. This is a two-door coupe that boasts of exclusivity and Benny will strip it down to the core and reassemble it into a super beast as per the player’s liking – as Rockstar describes the Dewbauchee Spectre on its official website.

Along with the release of this sports car, Rockstar has also added another game mode in the Adversary Mode, which they are calling Collection Time. The objective of this brand new mode is to pick through opponents in a defined sequence within a given time frame. This particular mode was long awaited but it was called “Pointless” at the time, or so the gossip columns suggest. Benny’s shop will now offer till 30th January a discount of 25 percent on any upgrade done to a new or old car. Finally, the Executive Upgrade will dole out more discounts on upgrades that players make in their personal garage.

Seems that the holiday spirit is lingering at the Rockstar studios. The developers aren’t happy with all the shiny new things they just gave us so they have decided to double the GTA$ and RP for Special Vehicle Works and Online Biker Clubhouse Contracts. This too will last till January 30th. A few other items too received a markdown such as Biker Business Properties, any import/export tattoo, Executive Garage renovations and also the Custom Auto Shop renovations.

As if all this wasn’t enough, Rockstar ended its tirade of upgrades and discounts by announcing yet another premium race that it dubbed, “Chiliad”. This being a stunt race, allows players to generate a whole lot of GTA$ by simply finishing in the top three. Outside the top spots though players don’t get any GTA$ but have to make do with RP.

Why Is Rockstar Actively Supporting GTA V

It truly is astonishing how hard the developers are working at keeping GTA V relevant. No wonder then that the fan base just keeps on growing. As per current estimates, the growth does not seem likely to stop for at least a couple more years even with the new titles, “Red Dead Redemption 2” and “GTA 6” scheduled for launch in the near future. If the folks at Rockstar had their way, they would continue keeping GTA 5 alive for another decade. All this is possible thanks to the online multiplayer mode. In fact, 95% of the updates rolled out periodically are aimed towards the multiplayer arena, some debugs while most giving level updates, add-ons, new vehicle packs and much more.

It makes a lot of sense too as to why Rockstar Games continues to invest in the upkeep of a released title. First, GTA V is still its major money spinner. Second, if it can keep the profits up from this title, the risks of its future title’s uncertain income are mitigated in the long run. In fact, current fan following for “Red Dead Redemption 2” isn’t all that great if you compare it to GTA V though there is a lot of hype surrounding this particular title. According to GTA 5 Cheats, the gaming community doesn’t seem that excited with the upcoming title and the chances of it ever overtaking GTA V in terms of popularity is slim.

Just recently GTA V Online was scheduled for a crucial update across all platforms. While this wasn’t particularly advertised, some players who witnessed a few glitches reported the servers showing them an “update is coming” screen. If it refers only to the vehicle pack that just came out, or if it is for a major overhaul/addition – only time will tell.

One thing is for certain though. Cross-platform popularity is priority for the developers as they have promised a final DLC content release this year. Take for instance the background scripts which are being tweaked by Rockstar Games. This has caused many players a lot of pain as they get booted out from the system and notified of a critical update which would be taking care of the issue.

samsung notebook odyssey

Samsung Makes Foray Into Gaming Laptop Segment, Announces The Notebook Odyssey

A week back, Samsung Electronics announced its Notebook Odyssey, a brand new entrant in the world of portable gaming PCs. Available in two models, Samsung provides the option to buyers of either a smaller screen of 15.6 inch or a larger screen of 17.3 inch. As of now though, the 15.6-inch model has its specifications clearly laid out by Samsung and it seems this unit will ship with a GTX1050 GDDR5 4GB graphics card.

As hardware differences between laptops and desktops begin to disappear, demand for portable gaming machines grows. Customers today are just as much interested in laptops with gaming capabilities as they are in building their own PC from scratch. The latest generation of graphics cards from NVidia has made it easier for laptop makers to market their gaming products as cutting edge. This was earlier a problem since laptop versions of graphics cards always underperformed as opposed to their desktop variants.

Samsung has taken this opportunity and the power of the 10 series GTX NVidia cards to enter the gaming market with its Odyssey segment. The Samsung Odyssey Laptop just won the innovation award at CES 2017 Las Vegas and is reported to sell for 1.8 million won, which is around $1528. Considering, the rave reception it received at the Las Vegas show, maybe it truly is worth the steep price on its head.

In the words of YoungGyoo Choi, the Senior Vice President for the PC Business Team at Samsung Electronics, “The Notebook Odyssey is exclusively designed keeping gamers in mind. It is equipped with features that will give users the best ever gaming experience from a notebook”. In the current age, gamers prefer a stylish, powerful and portable solution rather than a premium bulky and fixed unit. Samsung is confident that its newest entrant will be able to steal some of the market from existing big punters such as Alienware, MSI and the lot.

High Performance and Power

Keeping the desires of casual and intense gamers in mind, the engineers at Samsung have produced the unique body and cooling system for the Notebook Odyssey. The outer casing of this laptop features a HexaFlow Vent that basically provides better ventilation and cooling by guzzling in a lot more air and improving the airflow through the inside of the laptop. Additionally, if the customer wants to upgrade his machine, he can open the HexaFlow vents on the bottom panel to switch out the memory and storage device.

To ensure performance without a compromise in power, the Samsung Notebook Odyssey will come equipped with 7th Generation Core i7 Intel processors 45W. These processors will operate on both the smaller 15.6 inch and larger 17.3 inch models and shall use actual four cores rather than hyper threading.

Superior Display With Vivid High Quality Images

On the display front, these performance machines boast of a beautiful display that offers backlight as high as 300 nits on the 17.3-inch model and 280 nits on the 15.6-inch model. The high brightness should help gamers get superior clarity and crystal clear images. The screen is also treated to remove glare and reduce reflections as much as possible. As for viewing angles, the Samsung Notebook Odyssey brings life-like color contrast regardless of the angle you view from thanks to the wide-view angle display. Overall, the screen performance of the Odyssey series will outmatch any ever made by Samsung and knowing this company’s history with television panels and screens, it should be a real treat for the eyes.

Design Meets Function Through Usability

How can you provide superior functionality without compromising on the design aspects? The designers at Samsung must have spent several sleepless nights trying to pack the innovations, power and performance into a casing that won’t just look attractive but also justify its gaming ambitions.

The end result is an innovative design refined for optimal usability, stylish and yet highly functional. One key aspect where Samsung seems to have made improvements is in the portability. Up until now, most gaming laptop makers gave a lot of features and performance but failed in portability by making the machines big and bulky. Samsung has gone the opposite way by ensuring ergonomics is maintained as well as the weight of the complete package.

Samsung promises ergonomic curved keycaps that will provide better tactile performance and response in gaming scenarios. The keys are 0.5mm volcano keys on the 17.3-inch unit while the 15.6-inch unit will feature 0.3mm crater keys. Keys on the Samsung Notebook Odyssey 17.3-inch model will come with individual backlit color for keycaps thus providing customers the chance to customize their keyboard experience.

Moving away from the hardware and gaming features, the software package seems rather sleek too with the ability to share files with compatible smartphones, PC Gallery, PC Message and more.

The Inspiration

As seen in the teaser trailer for the Samsung Notebook Odyssey, the notebooks draw their styling and inspiration from the legendary dragon. This is in fact noticeable in the device features such as the front logo that bears close resemblance to the eye of a dragon while the vents instantly appear as scales of the magnificent beast.

While the teaser doesn’t reveal much else, what is evident is that the gaming laptop will be cutting edge in design and features. As seen in the recently held CES 2017, both models come feature packed and cleverly designed. As standard both will ship with 8GB DDR4 memory, 256GB SSD and Windows 10 as OS. The exact dates haven’t yet been revealed by Samsung but when they do finally begin commercial production, the Notebook Odyssey is sure to give stiff competition to existing market leaders.

  • Jonas
  • January 18, 2017
  • PC
overwatch nuking

Overwatch ‘Nuking’ Cheats Are Now Actively Hunted And Banned

Back in July 2016, Blizzard proudly reported over 15 million players worldwide with 500 million hours already been registered on its global servers. A runaway success, Overwatch continues to go strong across the globe and while the masters of online multiplayer gaming, Blizzard made a game that was enjoyable and easily acceptable beyond global borders and boundaries, it has recently landed itself in a bit of soup thanks to a new breed of players, more appropriately cheats who engage in the black arts of ‘nuking’.

As with any massive community based online game, the potential to exploit new updates, patches and releases is ever present. Blizzard only recently realized the phenomenon of nuking thanks to several official and unofficial message boards for Overwatch where players described a game behavior that eventually came to be called – ‘nuking’.

What Is Nuking

Imagine playing a match and suddenly you realize all your controls are lagging, you simply cannot do anything and it feels like your connection has either slowed to a halt or the server is facing an overload of requests. First few times, it is understandable as this happens periodically in almost all online gaming titles with servers suddenly getting overloaded with requests or your own internet connection bottoming out. However, when it happens too often and then you notice the frequency is directly proportional to the presence of specific player profiles – you know it isn’t natural. That is how nuking was discovered in overwatch.

In the practice of nuking, you bombard the opposing team’s IP with large number of packets. This basically brings the victim’s game down to a crawl allowing you to exploit the game and notch up kills and points while the victim team desperately tries to get back control over their match. With regards to the mechanism of Nuking, it is pretty close to DDoS attacks conducted on websites. In fact, if you look at the anatomy of nuking, it is practically the same thing except you are targeting specific user IPs rather than server IPs.

Why Does Nuking Suck

The problem with nuking is that it is difficult to report since your entire game has now crippled to a slow crawl. Those who notice the hack and are certain of it cannot report in-game because their system is now unplayable for the match. While almost all previous hacks were easy to report, nuking is difficult to report.

Other Dangerous Hacks

Aimbots is yet another dangerous hack but it is not limited to only Overwatch. Any multiplayer shoot’em up title suffers from this hack. Aimbots are automated scripts designed for Overwatch that help a player get kills quicker because they are automated and not user controlled. The fact is that while Aimbots exist, majority of complaints against users using aimbots boils down to sore losers who just cannot handle getting outplayed. Nevertheless, this hack is continuously being dealt with and it is much easier to tackle than Nuking because, it is easier to investigate such instances and more importantly, victims can instantly report the abuse to the game mod.

The Nuking Ban

After repeated complaints on various forums and discussion boards, Blizzard took the drastic step to ban over 10,000 players from South Korean servers who engaged in the black arts of nuking. Henceforth, Blizzard has also promised to keep a watch on the practice of nuking and ban any player or account that participates in this act.

According to Blizzard, the need for a pleasant gaming experience is key to ensuring longevity of Overwatch and thus increasing its player base. However, practices such as nuking and aimbot are detriments to their objectives as they turn away new and intermediate players as it is always impossible to compete against gaming cheats.

The Impact of the Ban

Some proponents of the ban suggest that it is impractical to impose such bans especially in a South Korea because it does not address the root of the problem. In South Korea majority of gamers do not invest into games. Instead they hop over to PC bangs, which are basically internet cafes where a customer can pay $1 per hour and enjoy any online game. PC bangs use special versions of Battle.net such that all Blizzard games are almost free to play.

Unfortunately, this method of gaming in Korea is the reason why a ban on profiles involved in nuking will not work. A banned player can simply create a new account and start playing from the beginning. He or she can then continue to practice the nuking hack until his account is once more banned. In fact, it is widely believed that several PC bangs in South Korea actually encourage their customers to engage more in the dark arts of nuking by pre-installing cheating clients on their systems!

Reddit user, TISRobins311 suggests that nearly 10% of all Overwatch Grandmasters use nuking and other hacks to maintain their position. While this is more of an educated guess, it isn’t hard to imagine this being true. With the numerous loopholes the ban presents, why would someone not indulge in this activity along with aimbots, especially if they happen to have access to PC bangs?

The good news for now though is that nuking as a practice hasn’t yet spread beyond South Korea but the popularity of this hack makes it only a matter of time before it does cross borders.

If You Are Nuked

If you are ever nuked in a match, stop trying to press the report button. Instead, immediately take down the name of all opposing players and then try to press the report button. Once you get back control of your game, immediately open a ticket to Blizzard and mention the match, opponent names and exact time that you experienced nuking.

Fact is, the ban is only a temporary solution from Blizzard to help control the outrage on forums and discussion boards worldwide. It is really only a matter of time before they come up with a permanent solution that prevents nuking. But, until then it is best to stay aware of what Nuking and Aimbot is, how you can help Blizzard and what to do if it happens to you.

  • Jonas
  • January 17, 2017
  • PC
PC gaming improvements 2017

6 Simple Improvements For PC Gaming in 2017

While 2016 saw many huge titles release, there was still a lot of room for improvement. Here’s 6 areas where we believe PC Gaming should improve in 2017.

Properly Testing Out Titles

Several major releases in 2016 left PC gamers wanting thanks to bugs, glitches and downright lack of PC testing. Major offenders for the past year include Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, Forza Horizon 3, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Dishonored 2 and Mafia 3. The biggest though according to us was XCOM 2. The final mission for some reason kept on degrading graphics performance the further you went towards the end of the game. At the end, it was barely running at 15 fps. A patch came much later that eventually allowed gamers to finish the stage but this could have been avoided with appropriate testing before release.

Yes, developers today have to account for several hardware configurations, consoles and what not but with the resources at their disposal plus the experience of making massive game titles in the past, this should no longer happen in 2017.

Why Go Exclusive?

Over the years, the allure for PC gamers has been the lack of exclusivity. Any game that launches for a PC is playable as long as your hardware meets minimum requirements. Unlike games that are made solely for Xbox or Playstation, majority of games are actually made with PC as an eventual platform if not the first. Even your choice of OS on a PC does not matter since now most games are released eventually to operate on the Mac or Linux.

Unfortunately, the exclusivity war has reached PC Games too with a huge divide going up between users of Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. While the latter relies on timed exclusives to allure users its way, the fact remains exclusivity is becoming commonplace. Take for instance the VR game, Arizona Sunshine with two game modes locked unless you had an Intel Core i7 CPU. The outrage on such exclusivity eventually forced the game developers to unlock the modes for all players but if this is a glimpse of what to expect in 2017, then we are all against exclusivity.

Allowing Modding in UWAs

As it currently stands, Microsoft’s Universal Windows Applications are safe from modding in any way. Basically, the API calls are completely secured and they cannot be modified in any manner. Unfortunately, because of this games cannot be modded after their release by developers. Players cannot create mods like before and this is a huge concern because it limits the life of a game. The moment a game stops making money, it has lost its place in the marketplace because of the lack of modding ability.

Previously on Win32 platform, players could tweak their games and make maps that kept the game alive much longer than its lifetime. We hope this comes back in 2017.

Thankless Roles in Team Cooperation

Ever since multiplayer gaming made its appearance, the onus has been on playing offensive. Hardly any player wants to be the defensive person. Why? Because game developers reward offense more than they does defense. Good to see though that Overwatch has made changes and Blizzard, its developer has downplayed the importance of kills/death ratio thus bringing in more value to support roles. This is evident from the number of players willing to take up support roles of Lucio and Mercy. If games are developed intelligently and reward more than just kills, they will become more community based and stay for longer. We just hope games of 2017 take cues from Blizzard’s Overwatch.

Preserve Dying Games

Games are dying a slow death and there is no way to preserve their legacy thanks to almost all titles going zero media route. Just recently Daybreak Games shutdown PlanetSide and soon Lineage’s western servers too will receive the same treatment. How then will these games be remembered? Only passionate hackers who build private server emulators will keep the names alive.

Best example of this problem is Diablo 2. If you ever feel the need to take a trip down memory lane, just throw in the disc and start playing but this won’t be the case with Diablo 3 when the day comes for it to get scraped. Because Blizzard does not allow offline play on it, it will simply be lost in videogame history.

In 2017, we hope to see more developers and publishers doing more to safeguard videogame history. Just because a game stopped churning in money does not mean it needs to be scraped forever. Take for instance the Everquest private server Project 1999 by Daybreak Games, why can’t more publishers go this route to preserve some gaming history?

Online only games should not be lost in oblivion once their craze dies down. They should allow players to build their own private servers, so that their history lives on.

Treat Workers Better

Contractors are always preferred by game developers and publishing houses because they need not be paid more. Besides, you don’t give benefits to contractors and they can all be fired easily the moment a contract is up. Unfortunately, this practice is so rampant in the gaming industry that employees are far and few in between. Those that exist have to suffer through unpaid overtime, which is just as rampant in the game development industry.

The film and television union has managed to overcome such situations but the game development world has yet to build its own union. It is appalling to see that publishers such as Electronic Arts, which rakes in millions per title will not agree for secondary payments or even options to SAG-AFTRA performers. The truth is that big name companies do not want employees to know just how much of the billions they make are actually owed to them.

Games in 2017 should begin sharing prosperity among employees and reduce the number of contractual employees rather than hoarding all the profits they make over the life of game titles.

  • Jonas
  • January 17, 2017
  • PC