To celebrate the launch of the SteelSeries Neon Rider peripheral range in Australia we've got a Sensei Ten Neon Rider Gaming Mouse and the extremely limited QcK Prism XL Neon Rider Edition pad to give away.
For your chance to win this neon goodness click on the image to be taken to our competition page.
Recently we had the awesome experience playing Microsoft Flight Simulator as part of a special preview event. We also put together some 4K videos set to the sweet chill musical vibes of Kbit (aka lil' ol' me). But, there comes a time when you need to strap in and get serious. Ask the important questions like, what happens when you fly over Area 51?
Which is exactly what we did. And the answer was... surprising. Spooky even.
From the preview build of Microsoft Flight Simulator. Where it's stunning use of AI-rendering, satellite data, cloud streaming, and cutting edge visuals pointed us in the direction of that place we've always wanted to fly over - Area 51. What happened next... was nothing short of freaky.
4K displays for PC haven't quite hit the sort of saturation that they have in the TV space. For gaming 1080p and 1440p are still the go-to resolutions, but that's not to say that you can have a great 4K gaming experience too. Case in point, the BenQ EW3280U 32" 4K HDR Entertainment Monitor.
Which although has a few shortcomings, is versatile and can handle both Microsoft Flight Simulator on PC one minute (we captured our stunning 4K footage on this display) and Ghost of Tsushima on PlayStation 4 Pro the next.
The BenQ EW3280U is something of an interesting release for BenQ in that it’s a 32-inch 4K IPS display, but its response time and refresh rate sits at 5ms and 60Hz respectively. So it sits there somewhere in the middle – a PC-like focus on colour accuracy and a detailed picture, but with the versatility of a display that has broader entertainment appeal – I mean, it ships with a funky little remote. From impressive picture modes (BenQ’s own HDRi tech is very cool) to in-built speakers, does it present the perfect middle-ground? Not quite, but it’s impressive.
There’s no doubt that one of the most impressive looking games (or digital things) for 2020 is the latest Microsoft Flight Simulator. Developed by Asobo Studio this Xbox Game Studios production sees the long-running simulator return in style. From its groundbreaking use of live satellite and cloud-based data through to its use of AI to correctly render buildings and other structures based on high definition images, trust us, you haven’t seen anything quite like this before.
The fact that you can hop in a cockpit and fly over any place on the planet… is to quote one of our favourite after-school programs from back in the day - Amazing. And thanks to the dual combo of an AMR Ryzen 3800X CPU and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti GPU we were able to capture and put together the following 4K 60fps Microsoft Flight Simulator videos.
Microsoft Flight Simulator - Around the World in a Day
As per the whole you can go anywhere on the planet hook that’s exactly what we did - visiting places from all over on July 26 - using live satellite info for things like weather and other conditions. It’s the sort of thing that not only appeals to the pilot in all of us but our appreciation for the planet too. Not to get all hippy but Microsoft Flight Simulator soothes the soul and presents a one world vision in a way that an all-star pop song never could.
Microsoft Flight Simulator - New York Landing at 0400
Another awesome thing about Flight Simulator is that with real-time weather and data (and you can turn this off to bring the pain, storm-wise, to any place you want) is it gives the chance to be in two places at once. This video was inspired by the simple rhetorical idea, ‘Hey, wouldn’t it be cool to land a plane in New York?’. The answer was a resounding yes, and with 6pm in Melbourne (the time of the flight) that meant a 4am New York skyline had a truly stunning orange glow.
Both videos were edited from footage captured thanks to access to a special Microsoft Flight Simulator preview. Music and direction by Kbit - aka Kosta Andreadis (me) - from an unreleased 2020 album currently in the works. For more Kbit jams, head here: https://kbit.bandcamp.com/.
At a recent digital preview sessions for the game, we put the question to the Microsoft Flight Simulator team: for those that aren’t familiar with sims and simply want to fly around – would that be possible? Their answer was surprisingly non-simulation heavy, and quite a breath of fresh air.
Recently we were lucky enough to attend a special preview event for Microsoft Flight Simulator (check out our in-depth write-up here), and even though we have some sim experience we were a little worried that the latest Flight Simulator might be a little too hardcore. That worry was mostly born from not being able to experience some of the stunning detail seen in the most recent launch trailer due to a high degree of complexity.
And that’s coming from someone who has no problem spending hours trying to improve traffic flow in Cities: Skylines. A flight simulator is a vastly different thing.
"Above all we did not want to dumb down the plane. It was always going to be a realistic simulation..."
Turns out it was a feeling that several members of the development team at Asobo Studio – including Jorg Neumann, the head of the Microsoft Flight Simulator team had once development began. “When we started this project, I thought back to the time before I started flying,” Neumann recalls. “With planes there are so many buttons and things. It is complex. For us it was asking ‘how was that going to work?’, but also asking how people would be able to fly... easily?”
“Back when I had my very first flight lesson with an instructor though, I was surprised at how easy it was.” Jorg continues. “And that was because the instructor took that deeper control away during the first lesson. All the complex stuff, the rudder, the checklist -- all I did was move the yoke around, and it felt like it felt like flying in a videogame. The feeling was, like, ‘this is easy. I can do this’. And with every lesson, the instructor added one more thing, another little thing to learn, and it built up from there.”
And it was this realisation that drove the approach to the latest, and most impressive, version of Microsoft Flight Simulator. Where the learning curve is modelled after real-world flying lessons, easing even the most awe-struck into the world of flying planes. The magic here being those first few moments feel like a videogame – with later lessons feeling more like flying in the real-world.
“That is how our training lessons are built, we train you how to use the software,” Jorg explains. “But at any time, you can turn on the co-pilot and they will handle the checklist for you. Assistance options go so far as to take away rudder control too. But rather than automate all the complex stuff, you delegate to the co-pilot. Above all we did not want to dumb down the plane. It was always going to be a realistic simulation.
“There’s never a moment when it’s a ‘fake’ aeroplane,” Jorg concludes. “By delegating, it makes the experience approachable to anyone, just like a real-world flying lesson.”
From Devolver Digital and Phobia Game Studio, Carrion more than lives up to its "reverse-horror" tag. By putting you in control of an alien "thing" (with tentacles and tendrils and all manner of fleshy bit) moving through rooms and structures is chock full of bursting through vents to take out a room of hapless scientists.
Movement is the first aspect of Carrion that impresses, where just like the many tendrils of your fleshy core looking for a hard-surface on which to anchor, it’s a flow born more from physics and bodily fluids than precise traversal or anything else we’ve come to associate with this style of game. In a very literal sense Carrion is somewhat alien to the genre on which its framework draws inspiration. No map, no clear indicators of where you might need an ability. No one to talk to and no plot involving exposition spouting characters. Just plenty of screams.
The true-to-art-and-craft Skater XL which takes most of its cues from EA's celebrated Skate series and expands upon the concept of "skateboarding as expression" (ie creating your own lines and landing everything no matter how long it takes), is out now in the wild, having hibernated most of its life in PC Early Access. We've been playing it and had a chance to chat with the devs and one of the game's pros, but as this is an in-depth near-simulation experience, we're taking the time to properly craft an in-depth review, especially because these types of game are my jam.
That doesn't mean you can't go out and grab it now, but if you like sitting on fences, our full verdict will be with you this week.
Dive into skateboarding paradise with levels that feature famous skate landmarks and environmental elements, including Downtown LA, the ginormous Big Ramp, Easy Day High, and community created maps like Grant Park, Hudland and Streets. Play as skateboarding pros Tiago Lemos, Evan Smith, Tom Asta and Brandon Westgate, or customise and create your own skateboarding legend with gear from more than 30 real skate brands. Explore digital skate zines, personal highlight replays and more from the Skater XL community that celebrates this new era of digital skateboarding.Features:
Freedom of Expression - Skater XL’s physics-based controls don’t have any pre-programmed tricks - only the movement through the thumbsticks. Each thumbstick is connected to the corresponding foot of the skater and as the player moves the stick, the board instantly responds. Much like a musical instrument, the player has complete freedom, whether it be pushing to nail a line or skating free form.
Real Life Iconic Locations - Skater XL levels are all inspired by real-world skate areas and designed to ensure a constant flow of skate lines. From the DTLA Map with skateboarding landmarks around the Staples Center and LA Convention Center to Easy Day High School’s sprawling campus of iconic skate spots like the Wallenberg Big 4 and the ‘Leap of Faith’, to the humongous ‘Big Ramp,’ where skaters can soar higher than a hawk.
Play As Real-Life Skate Pros - Select from renowned pros Tiago Lemos, Brandon Westgate, Evan Smith, and Tom Asta, all with their own distinct gear that fits their style.
Customisable Characters - The possibilities are endless to personalise the Skater XL experience. Players can customise their entire look, including their skater’s gear with different tees, hoodies, hats and shoes from over 30 of the most recognised skate brands like Vans, Santa Cruz, DC Shoes, Independent, Lakai and many more.
Thriving Community - Dive into a passionate community with more than 100,000 members in Discord (the biggest Discord in the World for reference is Fortnite at 500k, amazing given that Skater XL was in Early Access!) who create online zines, video parts, fake skate brands, and hundreds of mods.
Legit Soundtrack - Modest Mouse, Getter, Interpol, Animal Collective and Band Of Horses headline the distinctive music that blends well with the Skater XL’s West Coast vibe and fluid physics-based control mechanics.
Check out the game's launch trailer embedded below.
You may have year of CrossFire, you could be one of the hundreds of millions of players that have dipped their FPS toes into its tactical multiplayer shooting over the years. With South Korean developer Smilegate, bringing an enhanced 4K-version of the game to Xbox later this year, it's also been collaborating with the masters of storytelling over at Remedy for the single-player campaign.
And we had the chance to sit down with the team over at Finnish studio Remedy - Tuukka Taipalvesi (Executive Producer), Mikko Kinnunen (Art Director), Thomas Puha (Head of Communications) - to discuss all things CrossFireX.
With the deal first made public back in 2016, one that would see the studio behind Max Payne, Alan Wake, Quantum Break, and most recently Control, collaborate and work within an already established IP; part of the announcement highlighted that Smilegate specifically chose Remedy to develop CrossFire’s single-player content.
“The good thing was that Smilegate approached us,” Tuukka Taipalvesi, Executive Producer at Remedy explains. “They were stepping into territory that was not familiar to them and they sought our help. When we started to pitch them ideas, and I'm not saying that we had an easy time getting things through, we had a very good starting position to present how we saw this play out.”
With CrossFire’s popularity across Asia the team at Remedy dove headfirst into the vast amount of lore, narrative and story already circulating within, and around, the CrossFire universe. “Our initial step was to construct a timeline, and from there find an anchor point to lay our foundation,” Tuukka continues. “After knowing that timeline and all the historic events we started to design our characters, whose eyes we will see the world through.”
A host of Rare diehards would have been disappointed the veteran studio didn't reveal anything starring one Joanna Dark, but as Microsoft's Matt Booty said at the close of the showcase, they intend to have more announcements to make later this year for other Xbox Series X games. In the meantime, new Series X cladding on your Sea of Thieves ship's hull (and more), alongside the absolutely gorgeous Everwild should be enough to sate your Rare needs.
First, here's what's happening with Sea of Thieves at Series X launch:
Sea of Thieves, the award winning and best-selling new IP from Rare, is a shared-world multiplayer game that provides freedom, adventure and excitement, and is the quintessential pirate experience. Sea of Thieves will launch alongside Xbox Series X, taking advantage of its advanced hardware, supports Smart Delivery, and is available day-and-date with Xbox Game Pass.
So not much really beyond a visual overhaul and presumably new content.
With Everwild, while the original X019reveal trailer for the game looked to be running in real-time in-engine, today's "cinematic trailer" for Everwild could be going either way. But it's statements like that that are kind of cool at the moment, and if this is indeed a cinematic from the game's engine, then we're in for an absolutely stunning adventure. Here's the very little they revealed ahead of the trailer embed:
Inspired by the beauty of the natural world around us, Everwild is a brand-new game in development from Rare where unique and unforgettable experiences await in a natural and magical world. Play as an Eternal as you explore and build bonds with the world around you. Everwild will be available on Xbox Series X, Windows 10 PC and Xbox Game Pass.
Again there's no release date on-hand for the game, so we're expecting sometime next year at this stage, but as Nintendophiles from way back when, we're kind of used to the long waits for Rare titles.
And with both Jack Black and Tim Schafer wearing Brutal Legend t-shirts, the mind wonders what might be in store for everyone's favourite Roadie, Eddie Riggs. But ahead of any further hope speculation, we got a seriously trippy look into what Black's role in Psychonauts 2 is, and can now add this game to our "cant wait" book.
Here's the story skinny:
Razputin Aquato, trained acrobat and powerful young psychic, has realised his life long dream of joining the international psychic espionage organisation known as the Psychonauts! But these psychic super spies are in trouble. Their leader hasn't been the same since he was kidnapped, and what's worse, there's a mole hiding in headquarters. Raz must use his powers to stop the mole before they execute their secret plan--to bring the murderous psychic villain, Maligula, back from the dead!
Watch the new trailer that premiered overnight for Psychonauts 2 embedded below. Currently there are no firm details on a specific release date, but like everything shown at the Xbox Series X Games Showcase 2020, it will be available from day one on Xbox Game Pass.
Recently we sat down with Hangar 13 president and chief creative officer Haden Blackman to talk about remaking the original Mafia with Mafia: Definitive Edition, the technological advancements that have come from the past 18 years, and how those lovable features from the original like obeying speed limits will be presented in 2020.
“The first thing we did was sit down and look at the original and then identify what we thought was the heart of the game,” Haden Blackman tells me. “That benefited from the fact that people on the team worked on the original, and we have several folks that have worked on all three Mafia games within Hangar 13. We knew we wanted to keep the narrative spine intact, stay true to the characters, and that it was a relatively linear, narrative-driven experience.”
That bit has been a Mafia talking point for decades. Although visually dated now, at the time the sheer detail in the city of Lost Heaven created the impression that it was a game akin to GTA. With Mafia: Definitive Edition that tradition will be kept alive thanks to the incredible detail seen across the environments and characters. Bringing to light just how far we’ve come in 18 years. And by we, we mean the talented team over at Hangar 13.
“Setting it in a world that felt rich and full of atmosphere and authentic to the time-period, which was a huge part of that game, was important,” Haden continues, adding the team were also aware that recreating moments and missions would lead to some of more out-there aspects of Mafia. “We've all fallen in love with games that might have been a little rough around the edges. The police system for example, is one thing that over time as we've evolved game design, may not create today. But it’s something that we can look back on fondly. In addition to capturing some of the big, memorable set pieces, we’ve also brought back a few of the quirks too.”
Our very own Nathan Lawrence was lucky enough to be called up to put on his space helmet, swear allegiance to the Emperor and then hop into a TIE-fighter to take out some Rebel scum. In other words he got to play a bunch of Star Wars: Squadrons, the upcoming space-sim and spiritual successor to X-Wing vs TIE-Fighter.
Oh and we've got gameplay too. Here's some highlights from the Dogfight mode.
Even glancing at the control layout gives you a sense that EA Motive is lightsabering a line in the Tatooine sand that has enough depth for old-school X-wing vs TIE fighter devotees but also not such an intimidating layout that it’ll deter new recruits. Those newbies may be put off by the lack of third-person view – it’s fixed in first-person perspective, the way Lord Vader intended – but there’s no denying how incomparably immersive this design decision is.
The sound design, in particular, is nerdgasmly awesome in how EA Motive has spliced the familiar Star Wars soundscape with an appropriate boom for how a shields-melting cannon should sound inside the cockpit of a starfighter.
The prologue will familiarise you with the basics of shifting power between cannons, engines and, if you’re Rebel scum, shields.