Apple AI director reveals self-driving car tech is accelerating

Apple AI director reveals self-driving car tech is accelerating

When it comes to its self-driving car project, Apple has always been somewhat mysterious. Despite rumors swirling for a long time, it was only in June that Tim Cook confirmed the company is working on software that could be used in self-driving cars, among other things. 

At a recent talk, Apple’s director of AI research, Ruslan Salakhutdinov, actually gave some insight into what kind of capabilities this software might have and various projects that have been worked on in recent years. 

One project Salakhutdinov’s team has worked on involves on-board cameras that are able to identify objects even in unfavorable conditions. For example, in heavy rain when water would be covering the camera lenses, the system would still be able to detect other cars, pedestrians and which lanes on the road are driveable. 

Cameras on the road

Even when pedestrians are walking on the sidewalk, partially obscured by parked cars, Salakhutdinov explained the software would still be able to detect their position. 

As well as taking the data it’s being fed to react to its surroundings, Apple’s software will also use it in other ways. For example, a technique known as SLAM will use a combination of mapping and localization to allow the software to understand which direction a vehicle is moving. When used in combination car sensors, it’ll be possible for the software to use this data to build detailed 3D maps.

While we now have a better understanding of the kind of technology and research that’s being undertaken by Apple, how they will fit into its car project is still unclear. Whether or not Apple will commercialize this technology in any way hasn’t been confirmed, but it seems increasingly unlikely that Apple is considering a physical car to house the self-driving brains it’s working on. 

Though licensing its technology out to others isn’t really known as the Apple way, the fact that the company is being more open about what it’s working on in this area could be considered a sign that it’s a route that’s being considered. 

At the very least it shows an awareness that significant advances in the technology won’t really be possible unless large research teams from Apple, Google, Facebook and others are open about their developments.

Source: http://www.techradar.com/news/apple-ai-director-reveals-self-driving-car-tech-is-accelerating

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The Last of Us 2 release date, news, and rumors

The Last of Us 2 release date, news, and rumors

Updated: Though it remains a tough watch, fans of The Last of Us part 2 have been poring over the recent Paris Games Week trailer to uncover some hints about where the game might be set

Previously, it was suggested that the game could be set in Seattle, Washington, after some real-life locations were spotted in concept art. Once again, signs continue to point towards this. Highlighting a rusting road sign and a police car that looks like those of the Seattle PD, fans believe that the most recent trailer takes place on the I-5 highway. This is just over a mile from the locations suggested by the game’s concept art. 

All of this is, of course, complete speculation and the game’s location is yet to be confirmed.

Original story continues below…

Despite its fairly finite name, it turns out The Last of Us wasn’t the last we’d see of The Last of Us. Considering the first game has been continually hailed as a masterpiece thanks to its excellent, emotional story and engaging life-like characters, the decision to develop a sequel isn’t actually all that surprising.

Naughty Dog first announced The Last of Us 2 at PlayStation Experience in 2016 alongside a teaser trailer but noted that it was still in early development, no doubt to stop fan expectations running too wild. 

We’re now almost one year on from that point and the only additional information we’ve had in that time is another, longer, trailer at Paris Games Week 2017.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The sequel to the critically acclaimed post-apocalyptic game The Last of Us
  • When can I play it? It’ll be a while from now, maybe late 2018 to early 2019
  • What can I play it on? PlayStation 4

Trailers and screenshots

The most recent trailer for the game was shown at Sony’s press conference during the 2017 Paris Games Week. This trailer is around 5 minutes long, focusing on conflicts between the human factions in the game. It shows part 2 is going to have a dark story, perhaps even darker than the first, and the trailer is fairly harrowing to watch. 

Visually impressive though it is, do note that it’s gory before you watch it for yourself below. 

The first look at the game came with its announcement at PlayStation Experience in 2016. Despite the fact that the game is early in development, the trailer showed a full (non-gameplay) scene that features both Ellie and Joel. You can watch it below:

Release date

As Naughty dog has said the game is still in the early stages of development, we imagine it’ll be a while before we get to play The Last of Us 2. 

We don’t even have a rough release window yet, though considering Naughty Dog has seen the bad side of promising a solid release date and missing it before it’s hard to blame them for not committing at this stage. 

What we know so far

Story

Although it was no slouch in the gameplay department, it was the story told by The Last of Us that stuck with us for months afterwards. Naturally Naughty Dog had to give us some kind of hint about where the sequel would go. 

At the moment we know The Last of Us 2 will take place five years after the end of the original game, with a 19 year old Ellie taking the starring playable role. Joel will still appear in the game but if the teaser trailer is anything to go by, he could be a much more passive presence. 

This time around, Ellie is extremely angry about…something. From what we saw from the teaser trailer she wants revenge, which to her appears to be a dish best served deadly. 

She does, after all, promise to “kill every last one of them.” It’s not clear who “them” is but it could signal that the Fireflies, the first game’s well-meaning but morally grey antagonists, will make a return. Anger, hate and revenge are going to be key themes this time around so expect to be in for an emotionally heavy ride. 

As Joel is such a passive presence in the trailer there’s been speculation that he’s actually dead, appearing in Ellie’s mind’s eye, and Ellie’s anger and vengeance will be directed at those who caused his death. This isn’t entirely unlikely but it’s purely speculation at this point. 

In the trailer for the game shown at Paris Games Week in 2017, we got a look at how dark the game is likely to be. The trailer focuses on the opposing relationships between human characters in the game and features some seriously cringe-inducing violence. 

It doesn’t tell us much about any new characters of how they’ll relate to one another but it does confirm that we’re going into a dark game world in The Last of Us part 2. 

Ellie is one of the most real and refreshing characters we’ve seen in gaming so it’s exciting that Naughty Dog are going to take her story further and put her in center stage. 

The creative director of the game, Neil Druckmann has said that the story will be about Ellie and Joel’s relationship and that though the story would be complementary to the story of the first game, it would be much larger. 

Hopes are particularly high for this larger story as it’s been revealed that one of the writers of Westworld, Halley Gross, will be co-writing the game’s story. Having someone who’s written scripts for such an incredibly popular and successful show should be a boon for the game’s story. 

Gameplay

Not much is being said about gameplay at the moment. Neil Druckmann said at a PSX Panel that there would, however, be some differences as a result of Ellie being the playable character rather than Joel. 

“Ellie plays differently than Joel […] Some things are evolution, some things are reinvention, but there will be a gameplay reveal down the road.”

It’s hard to glean much from this, but if Naughty Dog take the approach that’s frequently taken with playable female characters, Ellie will probably be more swift on her feet than Joel was but perhaps less able to take damage. 

This won’t be the first time we’ve had the chance to play as Ellie, after the first game put us in her shoes for a short mission, but here the purpose of the mission was to make her feel weak in comparison to Joel. We can only hope her abilities will be expanded for the sequel. In the Paris Games Week trailer she certainly looks far physically stronger than she did in the first game. 

What we’d like to see

A new setting

Given that time has moved on 5 years from the end of the first game, it’d be nice to see Joel and Ellie in a new location too. It doesn’t necessarily have to be far from the setting of the first game but considering we have the two lead characters and their relationship to keep us tied to the first game, it’d be nice to play in a new location to keep things feeling fresh and make the introduction of new characters feel more plausible. 

Druckmann has said that this game’s story will be larger than the story of the first game and we imagine this necessitates a slightly more expansive setting.

More frightening enemies

The infected in the first game are terrifying and threatening and we want to see more of that. Things don’t have to change too much but new classes of enemy, new character designs and new ways to defeat them would be excellent. 

Considering we’ll be playing as Ellie now rather than Joel we imagine players will have to learn to take a different approach to combat anyway as it’s been said she’ll play differently.

It’d also be great to see more human enemies as well as the infected. We saw more than a few morally grey factions make an appearance in the first game so to expand on this and maybe introduce some more elements would be interesting. 

The exploration of the morality of humanity in post-apocalyptic scenes is always interesting, particularly considering in games you’re interacting with it directly and feeling its impact more strongly than in most mediums. 

The Last of Us 2 has the chance to make a real emotional impact through the human areas it presents us with.

The return of multiplayer

Multiplayer in The Last of Us was surprisingly good so we wouldn’t be averse to seeing it return here. If the game’s main story is going to be as heavy as we expect, it’d certainly be nice to have the option to break free for a while without leaving the game world and connect with others online. 

Source: http://www.techradar.com/news/the-last-of-us-2-release-date-news-and-rumors

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PlayStation Experience 2017: all the livestreams from Sony’s extravaganza

PlayStation Experience 2017: all the livestreams from Sony’s extravaganza

Despite the fact that it was only at E3 in June, it feels like an age since Sony revealed the dates for its fourth annual PlayStation Experience. After a long six months the event is finally here. 

Sony has been busy hyping fans up for the event which kicked off with a presentation on Friday December 8 and will run through to the end of Sunday December 10. 

Through some recent blog posts it’s been teasing the huge number of games that will appear at the show and releasing the schedule for the panels that will take place. 

Watching from afar

Not everyone has been lucky enough to attend the show in person, but thankfully most people will still be able to watch all the panels that are taking place via livestreams. 

There aren’t any huge announcements to be expected at this year’s show but if you’re excited for what Sony has announced for 2018 thus far, it could very well be worth tuning in for some potential updates. 

There are several sources for watching the show: you can use the PlayStation site itself, or stream via Twitch, YouTube and Facebook

Wondering what you’ll be able to watch? Well, it looks like quite a lot. We’ve laid out the full schedule below (and included links to the presentations that have already taken place) so that you can decide what presentations and panels you’re going to drop in on as well as catching up on what’s gone before. 

Friday December 8

Opening Presentation – 8pm PT (4am GMT and 3pm ACT on Saturday)

Saturday December 9

This is a day packed full of panels and you’ll be able to find out more about a variety of upcoming games from the developers currently working on them. A link to watch the day’s livestreams has been embedded  below, or scroll down for a complete list of what’s taking place. 

PlayStation VR Game Panel – 11am PT/ 7pm GMT/ 3am ACT 

The first panel of the day will focus on PSVR and will feature a conversation between two well-known developers who will share the VR titles they’re currently working on and the lessons they’ve learned.

Media Molecule Presents Dreams – 12:30pm PT/ 8.30pm GMT/ 4.30am ACT

After it was first revealed to be in development in 2013, Dreams has remained something of a tantalizing mystery. This panel will bring together Media Molecule’s studio directors and offer a look at the game’s development so far.

IGN Ranks the Top 10 PlayStation Games of all Time 2pm PT/ 10pm GMT/ 6am ACT 

IGN is bringing its Podcast Beyond team to PSX to try and narrow down the ten best PlayStation Games from the past 20 years. This is one where you’ll be asked for your own thoughts so prepare to get involved in the chat.

Ghost of Tsushima: From Concept to Reveal – 3:30pm GMT/ 11.30pm GMT/ 7.30am ACT

This is the most recently announced PlayStation exclusive – we only found out about its existence at last month’s Paris Games Week. Excited by fan reactions, developer Sucker Punch has decided to bring a little more information about Ghosts of Tsushima to PSX. This panel will feature the game’s creative director, art director, and associate producer to talk about what made them decide to make this game and the efforts going into creating it.

Uncharted 10th Anniversary Celebration – 5pm PT/ 1am GMT/ 9am ACT 

It’s kind of hard to believe that Uncharted is ten years old but this panel will celebrate that very thing. Expect to see the game’s cast who will come together to reminisce about working on the games. 

The Last of Us Part II: Meet the Cast 6:30pm PT/ 2.30am GMT/ 10.30 am ACT 

It’s one of the most highly anticipated games of 2018 and this panel will bring together the developers and cast of The Last of Us Part 2 to discuss the controversial Paris Games Week trailer and the process of creating the game itself. 

Between each panel there will be interviews, game updates and previews so it’s a full schedule. We’ll update here with any other viewing information as it’s announced. 

Source: http://www.techradar.com/news/playstation-experience-2017-all-the-livestreams-from-sonys-extravaganza

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Death Stranding release date, trailers and news

Death Stranding release date, trailers and news

Update: At last night’s Game Awards we were treated to a new trailer for Death Stranding. Tonally the trailer is consistent with what’s come before, featuring a combination of fantastical elements and more realistic military characters all wrapped up in Kojima’s trademark weirdness. 

You can watch the new trailer below:

Original article continues below…

To say there’s a buzz around Death Stranding would be an understatement. It may be a confused and excited buzz, like the kind you would hear from a hive of bees that have suddenly found their extinction is in reversal, but it’s a buzz nonetheless.

This is largely because Death Stranding is set to be the first title from Kojima Studios, the company set up by revered Metal Gear Solid creator, Hideo Kojima. 

After his well-publicized departure from Konami, Kojima announced Death Stranding at Sony’s E3 2016 presentation and made something of a massive impression. 

We don’t know much about the game at all at the moment but there are enough clips, small details and rumors out there that we’re interested and keen to know more.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? Honestly, who really knows. It’s the debut title from Hideo Kojima’s new studio Kojima Studios.
  • When can I play it? Sometime in the next 2 years. Maybe.
  • What will it cost? Likely to be around $60/£45/AU$59
  • What can I play it on? PS4

Trailers and screenshots

The reveal trailer that was shown at E3 in 2016 may have been more than 3 minutes long, but it didn’t reveal much about the game at all other than that it would star The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus.

A second even longer and 4K trailer was shown at The Game Awards at the end of 2016. This trailer starred Hannibal’s Mads Mikkelsen and Guillermo Del Toro and although it didn’t give us any more of an idea of what the game will actually even be about (in fact leaving us more confused than we were before) it did send expectations soaring. 

From what we can guess, the events of the second trailer take place before the events of the first, since the baby being transported in the incubator (in the second) is almost certainly Norman Reedus (as seen in the first trailer). They have the same handcuff and stomach scars. 

As for what this means we have absolutely no idea. Bear in mind Kojima has, in the past, been a fan of including footage in trailers that never made it into the final game. Anyone remember the ‘Grand Theft Auto’ exchange from the first MGS3 trailer?

Release date

There’s no definite release date just yet but Kojima did tell fans during the 2016 Tokyo Game Show that Death Stranding would be out before 2019.

What do we know so far?

Gameplay

At the moment, we don’t know all that much about Death Stranding other than that it’ll be an open world action title starring Norman Reedus and Mads Mikkelsen. 

It’s not likely, however, to be the standard open world action fare we’ve grown used to, not that we’d expect anything standard from Kojima. 

According to Kojima his first title with Sony is going to be “slightly more edgy” and in an interview with IGN he stated that though he wants “to create something that’s what people expect” he also wants to bring “something new that people haven’t seen before.”

Unfortunately, this raises more questions than it answers. 

It seems most likely that Kojima is planning to do something different with the game’s mechanics. Kojima told IGN his plans for the mechanics of Death Stranding were inspired by a Japanese short story. 

In the story it’s stated that the first tool mankind creates is a stick for protection but that the second tool mankind created was a rope to keep things close and secure. “Most of your tools in action games are sticks” Kojima explained, “You punch or you shoot or you kick. The communication is always through these ‘sticks.’ In [Death Stranding], I want people to be connected not through sticks, but through what would be the equivalent of ropes… But of course you will be able to use the sticks too.”

Unfortunately we haven’t seen any gameplay that would give us a better insight into how this rope approach will actually work. 

In an interview with The Telegraph, Sony Interactive Entertainment America’s President, Shawn Layden, admitted that he’s played Death Stranding and that the game is, indeed, “up and running.” 

After Hideo Kojima appeared at this year’s E3 without any new information about, or footage from, Death Stranding, rumors began to circulate that the game is in for an extremely drawn out development process.

However, the mysterious game is apparently far enough along that Layden has played some prototype levels, though he admits “I couldn’t explain to you what the game is…”

When asked if the game is as revolutionary as is being promised, Layden says it’s “all that and more!” after what The Telegraph calls a “thoughtful pause.”

Layden isn’t the only person that’s struggled to get to grips with Death Stranding; at a Q and A session at the E3 Coliseum, Kojima himself said that his own team didn’t understand the game: “I started explaining a year ago to the team what I wanted to make. No one got it!”

Before this, the game’s star Mads Mikkelsen admitted he “got lost” when Kojima tried to explain the game’s plot to him. 

Though it’s comfort to know that the game has gotten to the point in its development process that Layden is able to get hands on with it, it’s less comforting that so many people close to Death Stranding are so perplexed by it. Or maybe that’s exciting?  We have to say we can’t wait to find out more. 

Sporadic details

Though Kojima has been coy, he’s given some nice teases into what we can expect from Death Stranding in terms of tone and gameplay modes.

At the Tokyo Game Show, Kojima told fans the game would have a female protagonist and would feature online co-op play.

We know the game will run on the Decima engine which was created by Horizon: Zero Dawn developers, Guerilla Games. Kojima praised this engine during PSX 2016 as being an excellent engine for creating open world games, something that Horizon: Zero Dawn’s reception suggests has an element of truth to it. 

Though its unsettling trailers suggest otherwise, Kojima has said that Death Stranding won’t be as dark as some fans are expecting. It’s certainly not a horror game, he told Glixel, and it would have comedic moments which isn’t entirely surprising considering the overarching tone of the Metal Gear series. 

What could it all mean?

Though the game’s trailers don’t tell us much about how we’ll eventually play Death Stranding, they do reveal some important thematic elements. 

Quotes from William Blake, the repeated appearance of ruined dolls, and the inclusion of what looks like oil (but could very well be ink) and dead sea creatures suggests Kojima will be exploring the fractious relationship between man and the natural world and the impact it has on us and future generations.

The littering of dead crabs on beaches and tanks with definitely living tentacles coming out of them suggests to us a post-apocalyptic world over-run with robotic sea creatures which would certainly be interesting. After all, Kojima is working closely with Guerilla Games whose Horizon: Zero Dawn game focused on robotic dinosaurs.

There’s also a curious mix of futuristic technology and elements of the past in the game’s various trailers. 

In the second game trailer though Mads Mikkelsen is wearing a modern army uniform and appears to be using some kind of cable, the undead soldiers around him are wearing WW2 era uniforms and the game world outside of the tunnel he’s in is almost certainly from the second world war time period. 

Whether this mix of past and future will manifest itself as time travelling or simply alternate universe science fiction isn’t clear. 

Safe to say, as a Kojima title, there’s a lot of mystery and symbolism at play here and fans online are tearing through what little materials there are to try and find out more information about the game. 

We’ll keep updating as more solid information becomes available.

Source: http://www.techradar.com/news/death-stranding-release-date-news-and-rumors

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Far Cry 5 trailers, release date, news and features

Far Cry 5 trailers, release date, news and features

Update: Looks like the wait for Far Cry just grew by 30 days. Ubisoft announced that the game will need an extra month in development and has now pushed the release date back to March 27 2018 – one month after the initial release date of Feb 27.

Why is it getting pushed back? According to a post on Ubisoft’s blog, “Ubisoft Montreal [needs time] to make some additional improvements that will bring the best, most ambitious Far Cry experience in line with the team’s original vision.” 

Original article continues below…

Far Cry 5 is the latest game in Ubisoft’s chaotic first-person open world shooter franchise and thus far it’s looking like it may be the most controversial title to date.

Following on from the prehistoric and unexpected Far Cry Primal, Far Cry 5 is returning players to the modern day, this time in America. Specifically, a rural area known as Hope County, Montana.

Hope County has been taken over by a cult of religious fanatics and the game tasks the player with liberating the residents of Hope County and restoring peace and order to the area. Using violence.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The next installment in the open world first-person shooter franchise
  • What can I play it on? PS4, Xbox One and PC
  • When can I play it? March 27 2018

Far Cry 5 trailers

At its PlayStation Showcase at Paris Games Week 2017 Sony showed off a brand new trailer for the game focusing around its co-op gameplay. It looks like the multiplayer mode will preserve every bit of the mayhem of single-player, allowing you to play through the whole campaign with a friend. 

You can watch the trailer in its entirety below, or read on for everything else we know about the game – including more details on that co-op gameplay. 

At this year’s Ubisoft E3 conference, we were treated to two new trailers for Far Cry 5, one of which featured more controversial and thematically-revealing cinematics, while the other depicted actual gameplay. You can watch both of them for yourself below:

Alongside the game’s initial announcement trailer, Ubisoft released a series of character trailers which give details on some of the interesting NPCs players will meet in Hope County and have the chance of recruiting to their resistance when playing the game. 

Mary May: The Barkeep

Pastor Jerome Jeffries

Nick Rye: The Pilot

Our first look at Far Cry 5 came on Monday, May 22 when Ubisoft dropped the first teaser trailer for the game. 

The 40-second trailer didn’t offer much of an idea of when the game is going to be set, but it did tell us where: Hope County Montana. 

Far Cry 5 release date

The game’s announcement trailer revealed that the game would be available from February 27 2018 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. 

News and features

What’s the story?

The game will this time revolve around a religious cult in the USA called The Project, which rises up to take control of the town of Hope County when your character arrives in town. 

You’ll play a deputy sheriff trying to take them down. The leader of The Project is Joseph Seed, who calls himself The Father, and he resolutely believes that the end of days is coming and it’s up to him to save the town whether they like it or not. 

Gameplay

This will be an open world adventure like previous Far Cry titles with a range of vehicles you can use to explore, ranging from trucks and sports cars to gun-equipped planes and boats. 

Hunting and driving

According to Ubisoft, vehicles and weapons will be customizable (more than they’ve been in any previous Far Cry game) so it’ll be interesting to see what we’ll be able to do with them. 

Hunting will also make a return, with players able to fish and shoot at wild animals they encounter while exploring.

Guns for hire

There will also be a guns for hire element to the game. 

Each of these recruitable characters has their own back story and motivations so the player will have to interact with them and form relationships to convince them to help rather than have immediate access to them. 

Once they’re on your side, you’ll be able select these companions to join you in the game world. Each of them has a distinct skill to offer and it’s up to you to decide which one compliments your play style most. 

When they’re fighting alongside you, you can direct them using simple d-pad controls, instructing them which enemies you’d like taken out without having to do the work yourself. 

It’s an interesting and game-changing feature for far cry as it adds some much-needed variety to the otherwise not-much-changed combat. 

Character creation

We’ve been told that players will be able to create their own character in Far Cry 5 with a choice of gender and some degree of appearance customization. 

Co-op

Far Cry 5 will have a fully integrated co-op mode which was revealed at Paris Games Week 2017. Pretty much as soon as you complete the game’s initial tutorial you’ll be able to play the entire campaign with a friend online, who will appear as a Friend for Hire. 

You’ll be able to share ammo and health packs and if you’re feeling brave you can switch on friendly fire and run the risk of shooting one another in chaotic shoot-outs. There won’t be any random matchmaking here – you can only play with people already on your friends list.

When you do play together only the host player will be able to accept missions as well as recruit and lead any additional Guns for Hire. The second player, however, will still be able to retain their player progression (not their world progression) and retain all money, guns and perks they might earn. 

Hands on impressions

In the E3 demo for Far Cry 5, the very first thing we encountered was by far the biggest addition and change to the franchise in a while – guns for hire companions. 

Before we started our mission we were given the choice of three companions: Grace Armstrong, a sniper able to provide accurate long-distance cover; Nick Rye, a pilot who can swoop in with his plane to drop bombs and spray devastating machine gun fire; and Boomer, a dog well-suited to stealthy take downs and a genuine sense of in-battle companionship.

Though we were tempted to go for Boomer (because who doesn’t love a canine companion in a video game?) we went for Nick, certain that he was the most capable of causing chaotic and widespread damage. We were not wrong.  

Choose your companion

Once our companion was selected we were dropped into Fall’s End, a town in Hope County overrun by the game’s villainous religious cult and in desperate need of our help. You start the level from an advantageously high position and we were able to survey the chaos and devastation the people of Fall’s End were experiencing at the hands of the cult.

This was probably a good move as it made us feel a little less guilty about the bombs we were planning to rain down. 

After scrolling through the weapon wheel to select our preferred weapon (the biggest and most dangerous-looking one, obviously) we jumped straight into the thick of the action and started firing bullets. 

Unsurprisingly, the cult members reacted immediately and started running for cover, firing back. It was at this point that we started to question our decision to jump straight into killing every enemy in sight, a self-doubt that was exacerbated by the Ubisoft representative who delicately reminded us that a more stealthy approach was also an option.

It was at the point where we were cowering behind the shell of a truck, however, that we decided to employ the skills of our companion Nick Rye. Targeting one of the cult members in the center of the town, we pressed the button that would direct Nick to fire from his plane. Moments later, a satisfying explosion took place and we were saved the trouble of disposing of several enemies at once. 

Knowing Nick was there for back-up made it much easier to take the brazen but exhilarating combat approach of walking straight into the open and shooting down enemies with abandon.

Creating safe spaces

Because of this, we were able to liberate Fall’s End fairly quickly, after which it became a safe place we could explore and interact with NPCs. After chatting to another possible companion, the barmaid Mary May, we made our way down to see Nick Rye to try out another form of combat in the game: aerial dogfights.

On the way to see Nick, we came across a woman being harassed by members of the cult at the side of the road. Random encounters like this in the game will be common and though you won’t have to stop and intervene to help every towns-person you see, it’s hard not to. 

Aerial combat

When we finally took to the skies, we found Nick’s plane fun if slightly dizzying to use. The sheer amount of guns the thing is kitted out with make you feel invincible but chasing another plane through the sky in first person left us looping through the air for far longer than our sense of balance was comfortable with. 

It became frustrating that we couldn’t zoom out for a wider view of the sky to find our enemy more quickly, though perhaps if we’d been more willing to slow the plane down we may have found the whole experience less stressful.

Familiar combat

Aside from its new guns-for-hire feature and the controversial setting, Far Cry 5 doesn’t really do much to change up combat. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing and there’s definitely a sense of ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.’ There was never anything wrong with Far Cry’s first-person controls. 

With the addition of companions, things have been made a little more interesting as you feel like you have a powerful trick hidden up your sleeve when combat feels like it’s becoming overwhelming. 

In addition to this, it’s an easy way to add diversity to combat – it’s up to you to pick the companion that suits your play style most and depending on who you choose could genuinely affect the way you decide to tackle a particular area. Had we taken sniper Grace as our companion, we wouldn’t have been nearly so gung-ho as we were with Nick. 

Forming relationships

Aside from what we experienced, we were told by the Ubisoft representative that recruiting companions and forming relationships with them would be a big and interesting part of the game. It’s up to you, then, to secure the companions you’d most like to have on your side and, more importantly, keep on your side. 

Aside from using companions in single-player mode, players will also be able to bring their friends into the game to fight alongside them in co-op mode. 

Far Cry 5 will also feature the hunting elements we’re used to seeing in the franchise and wild animal encounters will again be another danger in the game world, as well as religious fanatics. Players will be given the chance to create their own character at the beginning of the game, determining gender and appearance. 

From our brief time with the game we got the sense that Far Cry’s controversial new narrative, combined with the more varied combat enabled by the new guns for hire feature, has the potential to breath fresh air into the long-running series. 

Source: http://www.techradar.com/news/far-cry-5-release-date-news-and-rumors

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Amazon Prime Video has finally landed on Apple TV

Amazon Prime Video has finally landed on Apple TV

Around six months after it was first promised to be coming “later this year” by Tim Cook, the Amazon Prime Video app has finally arrived on the Apple TV. It is indeed still “later this year” but barely. 

On the iTunes store, the iOs app has been updated to version 5.0, bringing support for the iPhone X as well as universal search. Most notably, though, the tvOS app is now available on Apple TVs from the third generation and later. 

This is something of a boon for the Apple TV – having Amazon Prime alongside other popular streaming platforms such as Netflix and Hulu means it’s more in line with the competition and more of an attractive streaming proposition to Amazon Prime subscribers. 

Prime viewing

It’s also excellent news for Apple TV 4K owners as the addition of Amazon’s streaming service means the library of 4K content available to them has increased significantly.

The arrival of Amazon’s app on Apple TV suggest a significant improvement in relations between the companies and makes it more likely than ever that we could see the Apple TV return to Amazon store listings. 

The Apple TV hasn’t appeared for sale on Amazon since October 2015 after Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said his company wouldn’t sell the streaming box unless it supported the Prime Video app. 

It would, he explained, be disappointing for Amazon customers to purchase a product from its site only to find it didn’t support Amazon’s services. 

Now that this problem has been solved, perhaps that situation will change. 

Source: http://www.techradar.com/news/amazon-prime-video-has-finally-landed-on-apple-tv

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Best Christmas gifts for gamers 2017

Best Christmas gifts for gamers 2017

At first glance, the gamer in your life seems like the easiest person to buy for – just get them a game. And then Christmas draws closer and you realise there are a lot of games. And they already have a lot of games. And hardware is incredibly expensive but they also have most of that anyway. So where does that leave you? Panic buying a 4K TV they probably don’t need, that’s where.

Before it gets to that stage, let us help you. From key accessories, to thoughtful subscriptions, to fun tie-in merchandise, there are so many gaming gifts out there that aren’t actually games. We’ve picked out a wide range of options that will suit stockings big and small and coin purses full and empty. 

Headset

HyperX Cloud Revolver S

Fantastic performance at a reasonable price

Fabulous sound
Dolby 7.1 Surround Sound
Easy to set up
Quite large for small heads
No as robust as other models

Whether the gamer in your life loves playing online with others or they simply enjoy playing their games at a volume the neighbors can’t bear, a headset is always a much appreciated gift. 

Whether they’re on PC, Xbox or PlayStation, we recommend the HyperX Cloud Revolver S. With this headset you’re getting high-end and well-rounded stereo sound for a mid-range price. Though slightly on the chunky side, the headset looks good and has a reasonably understated and stylish finish. The Dolby 7.1 surround sound is the cherry on top, particularly for those that enjoy first-person shooters as it’ll make it possible to pin-point off-camera enemies.

As far as the microphone is concerned, it’s noise-cancelling so all communication should be crystal clear. Even better, it’s also detachable so these headphones can even be used away from the PC or console.

Our guides to the best console gaming headsets and best PC gaming headsets contain our other top choices. 

Keyboard

Logitech G413 Carbon

Sleek, cheap and responsive

Sophisticated, refined design
Full-on mechanical switches
No dedicated media buttons
Slow USB 2.0 pass through

When it comes to PC gaming, a good keyboard is essential for victory – even the most adept gaming hands need the right keyboard to support them. Conveniently for Christmas, they’re around the right shape to fit neatly inside a large stocking. Less conveniently, they can cost an incredible amount. 

For a keyboard that performs well and doesn’t break the bank, we suggest the Logitech G413 Carbon. This is a study magnesium alloy-framed keyboard with a refined, pared down design. With its lighting-fast actuation point of 1.5mm combined with Logitech’s quiet and excellent mechanical Romer-G switches it stands out as one of the best affordable options on the market.

Our guide to the best gaming keyboards contains all our top recommendations in the area. 

Gaming chair

Noblechairs Epic

A leather-clad beauty

Extensive adjustabliity
Premium quality
Easy to set up
Plastic arm rests
Large size for small rooms

Now that games are getting longer and more involved than ever, a comfortable gaming chair is a must for those extended play sessions. 

If you’re looking for one to gift, you pretty much can’t go wrong with the Epic line from Noblechairs – in the Game of Thrones, this is the throne of games. While some gaming chairs opt for gaudy colors and plastic finishes, the Epic chair offers something a little more luxurious with detailed embroidery, comfortable high-density foam, and real leather. 

For any vegans, there’s also a vegan-friendly faux leather option which looks just as good and actually costs less.

If you’re looking for chairs at different price points, our guide to the best gaming chairs has everything you need. 

Games console

SNES Classic Mini

A plug-and-play classic

Two controllers in box
Great selection of classics
Controller cords could be longer
Hard to find
No AC adapter in UK box

Want to take a gamer back to the Christmas mornings of old? Consider buying them a SNES Classic Mini. Where the NES Classic was the gift of choice last year, the SNES is taking its place. 

You don’t need to worry about any Christmas morning set up woes, either. This console comes pre-loaded with 21 classic SNES games including Super Metroid and the never-before-released Star Fox 2 and as it plugs straight into your TV you can get started with minimal mess and no fuss.

As was the case with the NES console before it, stock has been somewhat hard to come by with the SNES Classic. We’d advise that you keep an eye on stock and not to purchase it for inflated re-sell prices – bear in mind its initial selling point was £79/$79.

Customized controller

Xbox Design Lab controller – prices starting from £69.99/$79.99

Although we’re not at a stage where there are more color options for game controllers than ever before, none of them feel particularly special. Sure you can pick up your favorite block color, but chances are you’ll quickly come across someone that’s done the exact same thing and it goes back to just being any other controller. 

To make things a little more special when they pick up their controller for a long day of play on Boxing Day, why not get the gamer in your life a custom controller? 

Xbox gamers are lucky in that they have Microsoft’s dedicated Design Lab where it’s possible to design an Xbox controller using more than a billion color combinations. We can take you through how to use the store step-by-step. These controllers will also work on PC with the purchase of a USB adapter (sold separately).

Though Sony doesn’t offer the same service in-house, PS4 players don’t have to miss out as third parties such as Custom Controllers and Controller Shop offer completely customization Xbox One and PS4 controllers that will allow you to choose their favorite color, or a pattern featuring their favorite pop-culture characters. You can even throw a message or their gamer tag on there to make it extra personal. Prices start from £69.99 or $79.99.

Subscription Box

Lootcrate subscription – prices starting from £28/$39.95

Can’t narrow your gift selection down to just one thing? Don’t worry, there’s actually a single gift that can pack in a handful of gaming goodies – a LootCrate subscription. These boxes are delivered every month, containing a range of cool gaming collectibles and clothing.

Each box has an overall content value which outstrips the price you pay for it, and thanks to the themes that change every month you can be sure they’ll get something new and exciting each time. It’s completely up to you how long you wish the subscription to go on for – there’s a one-time option or you can sign up for three, six, and 12 month plans. 

Simply pick the box and subscription plan you want, the gender and T-shirt size of the recipient and let Lootcrate know where you need it to send your gift. Then sit back and take the praise.

Magazine subscription

Gaming magazine subscription @ My Favourite Magazines

If you think they’d rather read about their favorite games than collect memorabilia related to them you could purchase a year-long magazine subscription. 

Physical publications have become something of a luxury treat and on My Favourite Magazines it’s possible to purchase subscriptions to a wide range of gaming publications including Edge, PC Gamer, Official PlayStation and Official Xbox. 

You can chose between physical and digital subscriptions (or get a bundle that includes both) so that they can read about all their favorite games in their favorite publications each month in the way that suits them best.

[Disclaimer: These magazines are produced by Future Publishing, which also owns and operates TechRadar]

Apparel

Unisex Pokemon Starter T-Shirt – £22/$25 @ InsertCoin

It’s a point of contention – what was your go-to starter Pokemon in the Kanto region? Water-type Squirtle, fire-type Charmander, or grass-type Bulbasaur? If you know a Pokemon fan, you can show just how well you know them with a T-shirt emblazoned with their favorite starter. These unisex T-shirts from InsertCoin run in sizes XS to 3XL.

Unisex Destiny 2 Raid hoodie – £45/$51 @ InsertCoin

Have you barely seen your giftee since Destiny 2 was released? Show them you care with a Destiny 2 Raid hoodie. This is an understated design that will be immediately recognizable to other fans without the need for any overt Destiny 2 text.

There isn’t really any better time to receive a hoodie than the freezing cold middle of winter. Even better when it’s related to your favorite game. 

Insert Coin is an online store that offers a range of apparel inspired by a wide array of games consoles and franchises and ships them internationally. If you’re not sure exactly what they’d like, you can always pick up some gift vouchers.

Home decor

Rapture tin sign – £14.99 (around $20) @ GameTee

One for any BioShock fans out there, this will bring the wonder of undersea Rapture to any home without the less pleasant Big Daddies and civil war ruin.

Nuka Cola tin sign – £14.99 (around $20) @ GameTee

Rapture not your post-apocalyptic bag? Why not think about a Fallout aesthetic? A subtle nod to the Fallout drink of choice, Nuke Cola, this sign is an understated nod to a beloved game world.

When it comes to gaming merchandise, subtle probably isn’t the first word that comes to mind but it is actually possible to find gaming-inspired home decor that won’t make your eyes bleed. Created by GameTee, the tin signs above offer subtle nods to gaming tropes and franchises. There are many more signs in this vein as well as some lovely framed prints for art that’s a little more classic and candles to bring your favorite game world to life. Warm Skyrim sweetrolls anyone?

Mugs

Crash Bandicoot mug £13.99 @ PlayStation Gear

Sure, it goes against all natural instincts to drink from something marked TNT but for Crash Bandicoot fans this is a treat.

Donkey Kong Barrel mug – $5.99 @ GameStop

Are they a bit like Donkey Kong before they get their morning coffee? Then this mug is the perfect gift. It’s on offer at GameStop just now too, down from $11.97.

A mug is the perfect stocking filler and it’s a great option for those problematic Secret Santa rounds too. Relatively cost but highly useful, you’re guaranteed picking the right one will bring a smile to any gamer’s face and brighten their morning coffee. 

If you’re not sure where to pick one up, the official store pages for Nintendo and PlayStation are a good start. Xbox is sometimes a little more difficult but retailers such as Game, GameStop and Amazon are likely to fill the gaps. 

Source: http://www.techradar.com/news/best-christmas-gifts-for-gamers-2017

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Ghost of Tsushima: release date, trailers and news

Ghost of Tsushima: release date, trailers and news

First announced at 2017’s Paris Games Week, Ghost of Tsushima is a brand new IP from Sucker Punch which will be exclusive to PlayStation 4. 

Tell me about…

Though Sucker Punch is largely known for the inFamous games, the developer is departing quite significantly from the inFamous formula with this new game. Saying so-long to high-rise cities and neon superpowers, Ghost of Tsushima will be a historical open world adventure that will take players back to Feudal Japan.

There’s not an abundance of specifics released about the game just yet but this is everything we know so far.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? A brand new PlayStation exclusive IP from Sucker Punch 
  • When can I play it? No release window just yet 
  • What can I play it on? PS4 

Release date

Though we know development of Ghost of Tsushima is well underway and we’ve seen some in-engine (though not in-game) footage at Paris Games Week, there’s not been any inkling of a release date just yet. 

Sucker Punch hasn’t even put a release year on this game, never mind a window. The studio has said that more information on the game will be released in the coming months, but whether or not a release window will be a part of that is unclear.

Trailers

Thus far, the only footage of Ghost of Tsushima we have is the announcement trailer that was released at Paris Games Week.

Though it was captured in the game engine, it doesn’t feature much in terms of gameplay. What it does show, however, is the game world we’ll be playing in and it’s clear that Sucker Punch is aiming for a stunning aesthetic. You can watch it for yourself below:

News and features

Most of the details we have of the game thus far have come from its announcement at Paris Games Week and the trailer that accompanied the news. 

It’ll be set in Feudal Japan 

As revealed by the game’s announcement trailer, Ghost of Tsushima will be set in 13th century Japan – the time of the Mongol invasions. In the year 1274, the Mongols made their first stop on the island of Tsushima. You’ll play one of the last of the samurai on the devastated island, determined to quash the invasion and push the Mongols out despite the odds being stacked against him.

There will be an open world and you’ll play in the third-person

Though it’s very different from Sucker Punch’s previous games in many ways, Ghost of Tsushima will bear one similarity to inFamous with its third-person perspective.

The game will have a huge open world. Specifically, the setting will be the large island of Tsushima, located off the coast of Japan. Tsushima is a geographically diverse place and the game’s trailer shows that players will be able to travel from lush forests, to rugged mountains and towns filled with interesting characters.

Judging by trailer footage it looks likely that the player will do the majority of terrain traversal on horseback. 

Gameplay

We’ve seen very little of gameplay thus far, but given the setting and overarching storyline it has the potential to be interesting. Playing a samurai unsurprisingly means there will be both action and stealth elements but there seem to be some plans to mix up the formula. 

The samurai the player will take control of, for example, is the one of the last of his kind and as a result he’s forced to shed traditional samurai tactics and form a new method of fighting call the ‘Way of the Ghost’. 

While we don’t know what this Way of the Ghost actually involves, we’re interested because it’s an entirely new method of fighting necessitated by there being only one samurai facing an entire army. All of this together makes us think there will be a heavy emphasis on tactical stealth and the use of enhanced (perhaps mildly supernatural) powers. Playing an unfolding legend has potential.

There will be a range of weapons 

Naturally weapons will be key in this game and from the trailer we can see that there will be a wide range of them. Alongside the traditional samurai katana, we also glimpsed long bows, armored horses and plenty of fire.

The villain will be interesting

Alongside an intriguing protagonist, we’re also anticipating a villain of substance. The player will be facing the Mongol Empire, known for its advanced horseback and archery skills as well as its ferocity. 

The leader of this army will be the player’s main enemy and Sucker Punch has described this leader as being an “uncomfortably reasonable killer.” How this will manifest itself in the game is unclear but it suggests an engaging story line and hero/villain dynamic.

We’re expecting to hear more about Ghost of Tsushima at this year’s PlayStation Experience taking place in early December. Keep checking back here for more updates!

Source: http://www.techradar.com/news/ghost-of-tsushima-release-date-trailers-and-news

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Nintendo teams up with Nvidia to bring Wii and GameCube games to China

Nintendo teams up with Nvidia to bring Wii and GameCube games to China

Nvidia is bringing the Shield to China and it’s teaming up with Nintendo to make it a platform for Wii and GameCube games in the country.

The announcement was made by Niko Partners analyst, Daniel Ahmad, who tweeted that the Shield would have a focus on games in China, and will be capable of running popular PC and Nintendo titles. 

Already, Nvidia has confirmed that The New Super Mario Bros Wii and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess are available to play on the Shield in remastered 1080p with other titles such as Super Mario Galaxy planned for the future.

New markets

Ahmad also posted footage of titles running on the Shield, adding that the device costs RMB 1499 (£169 / $226 /AU$300) while Nintendo games cost RMB 68 (around £8 / $10 / AU$13). We’re not jealous at all. 

It’s unlikely that the partnership will ever expand beyond China as it’s simply a fast and low risk way for Nintendo to enter the Chinese market and give its games a foothold. 

Given that the Shield runs on the same Tegra chip as the Nintendo Switch, it’ll be interesting to see whether Nintendo eventually allows recent Switch games to be emulated on the Shield in China if these older emulations prove to be popular.

If it did, it’s even more certain that the ports would never expand beyond the localized Chinese Shield store. Because of the similar components between the Switch an the Shield this does, however, give further precedent for a virtual console on the Switch that will play these older games.

Source: http://www.techradar.com/news/nintendo-teams-up-with-nvidia-to-bring-wii-and-gamecube-games-to-china

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Facebook has created a Messenger app just for kids

Facebook has created a Messenger app just for kids

Facebook has announced that it’s launching a messaging app just for kids, confirming that the days of walkie talkies and tin cans with strings are far behind us.

Called Messenger Kids, the app is designed to allow users from the ages of 6 to 12 to communicate with friends and family on mobile devices without the need for any kind of phone number or Facebook account. For example, kids who have a tablet or iPod without any kind of SIM card will be able to use Messenger Kids with a WiFi connection. 

As it’s illegal for children under the age of 13 in the US to have a Facebook account, the Messenger Kids app won’t require children to set up any kind of Facebook account. Instead, it’ll be tied to an adult’s Facebook account and it’ll have parental controls included.

User pipeline

Upon downloading the Messenger Kids app (yes, it is yet another standalone Messaging app for your device’s storage to content with) parents will be asked to authenticate it with their own Facebook account. 

After this they’ll be able to set up a user within the Messenger Kids app that uses their child’s full name. None of the details entered into the app will be publicly searchable and Facebook has confirmed that it’s entirely ad-free, making us only slightly envious.

The parental gatekeeping doesn’t stop here, though – it’ll be up to the responsible adult to decide who their child is able to connect with on Messenger Kids as contacts are added through Facebook itself. 

If, for example, a child wants to message a friend from school it’ll be up to the parents to befriend one another on Facebook and link their children’s Messenger accounts. Connections have to be mutually agreed before the kids can start talking to one another.

If you or any of your family members you’re connected with on Facebook want to message your child, it’s possible to do so through the ordinary Messenger app.

Kids will have some controls over their Messenger account – they’ll be able to report and block other users (though parents will get a notification when they do so) and Facebook has said it has a dedicated Messenger Kids team who’ll look into these reports.

The Messenger Kids app is fairly similar to the adult Messenger app in terms of overall interface, although it’s much brighter. It seems likely that Facebook is using the fact that children are accessing technology at much younger ages to familiarise them with Facebook applications and create something of a user pipeline. 

It will, after all, be natural for a child that’s been using the Messenger Kids app from the ages of 6 to 12 to create a Facebook account of their own at the age of 13 and continue to communicate with the messaging app they’re familiar with. 

Rather than encouraging text chat, Messenger Kids places heavy emphasis on real-time video calls which allow them to use emoji, selfie frames and stickers. Rather than taking these stickers from the main Messenger app, Facebook has created art that’s age-appropriate and in some cases intended to educate. 

The app is still in the early stages of its release and is currently in a preview-only state in the US for iOS users. Later this month it’ll be rolled out to Android users though there’s no word on any plans to extend the app to any more countries at the moment.

Source: http://www.techradar.com/news/facebook-has-created-a-messenger-app-just-for-kids

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