Call of Duty: WWII Trailer & Release Date

Activision’s Sledgehammer Games studio is responsible for 2017’s Call of Duty, and they’ve put out the first trailer for their return to World War 2.

Call of Duty: WWII is to be released on November 3rd for Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. It looks like PS4 gets the DLC first again. The Call of Duty blog has more details on the campaign and multiplayer.

PlayerUnknown’s BattleGrounds

Multiplayer shooters are changing. What was a field dominated by arena free-for-all shooters and then samey-military combat games where the most significant change was the switch from World War 2 to the modern military aesthetic and then to the future has now become forked down the path of realism mixed with the old arena combat.

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds takes a bit of survival games like the eternally unfinished Day-Z and combines it with battle royale books and movies to turn the game into a brief survival arena combat experience.

Battlegrounds is a modern-military shooter set on an island where up-to 100 players parachute in. The game gives them just their fists to start, all other weapons are scattered around the limited rural towns and buildings that make up the human settlements of this island along with clothes and kevlar and ammo and apparently kitchen implements.

The hundred players have just one life each to squander as they choose. As you glide to the ground you’ll see other players picking their starting spot. Landing near buildings at the start can help you get armed, but you might have more competition.

Landing on the southern-most detached island is stupid because there are two bridges off of it and you’re going to die.

If the game stopped innovating there, everyone would be wise to just camp in buildings. That definitely still happens, but the brilliant change versus Day-Z and other survival games is that Battlegrounds forces players together by enclosing a slow moving force field on a timer around a randomly picked circular section of the map. At the same time, a player count is ticking from 100 down to 1 and you hope to be the last person left alive.

As the playable area of the map shrinks, players are forced out of camping into taking risks like running through open fields to reach the newly smaller playable zone.

Unlike most other shooters, this take on a multiplayer battle royale is the only way to play Battlegrounds. There’s no capture-the-flag. No team deathmatch. Just trying to stay in a shrinking circle on an in-game map where each minute alive adds more value to your character and leaves behind only the most skilled players hunting each other down to be the last one standing.

I thought it would be much more terrifying to lose a character after 10 minutes, the game gently rewards you at the end of every match with some in-game currency to unlock new character customization options and tells you how many players were left when you perished.

At that point you’re almost guaranteed to have found a few nicer weapons and modified them with better scopes and found a bigger backpack.

The force field that might bring players running into your field of view.
Most modern shooters limit players to just a few weapons on their person at any time and Battlegrounds isn’t different there. You get two long guns, a pistol, and some grenades if you’re lucky enough to find them. Even better is finding a vehicle that can feel like your ticket to the top ten until the playable zone shrinks to the point where you’re forced on foot.
Managing that inventory is a bit fiddly and I wish it were simplified so that it wasn’t such an incredible risk to manage it while playing.

Battlegrounds also puts you into negative scenarios unintentionally.

Once, when I was playing with a group of three, we had been surviving for about 30 minutes and we reached the outskirts of a set of a factory buildings. One of the team was separated from us as we clambered down a hill into the valley. We knew that we couldn’t do anything for him at our new lower vantage point.

Now down to just two survivors, we found a multi-story building on the lot stocked with weapons and vantage points to snipe from. It was almost in the center of the playable circle on the map, so we set up shop. Switching jobs between watching the stairs and peeking out of the windows for any survivors trying to move on our building. This felt perfect as we watched the player count dwindle down from about 50 to under 20.

As the force field closed in we realized we were going to have to give up our safe house and run for the new playable area, but Battlegrounds had a new trick. We were stuck against the side of a mountain. There’s no way to climb, so we were quickly sapped of our health by the force field in third place because we didn’t think to look for an escape route.

I don’t know yet if the gameplay is going to get tiresome without the progression of other post-Modern Warfare shooters to level your character and unlock new guns and accessories. All you can unlock now with the coins rewarded after a match are clothing items for character customization.

A lot can change, the game has all kinds of bugs as it is still in Steam’s Early Access program, but it is refreshing to play something new and different in Battlegrounds. Already the game takes great moments from my favorite survival games like Day-Z and packages then up into a more streamlined bite-sized chunks. Scavaging for items. Lying in wait for multiplayer foes. It’s thrilling to get these scenes condensed into a new experience.

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is $30 on Steam for Windows, and the developers say that the price won’t increase after the game exits Early Access.

Classic Adventure Full Throttle Remastered Rolls Out


Today must be a day to talk about remasters. Double Fine has released Full Throttle Remastered, it’s the classic 1995 adventure from Tim Schafer and co at LucasArts available for anyone who didn’t get a chance to play it, or hasn’t seen it in 20 years.

It’s on a bunch of digital platforms for Windows (Steam, gog, Humble) as well as the Playstation 4 for $15.

Starcraft: The Original, And Brood War Free

Blizzard is working on a remastered version of their sci-fi RTS progenitor, Starcraft and the expansion beloved for competitive multiplayer, Brood War, but first they’ve gone and made the original versions of the games free as their patch notes for version 1.18 of the almost 20 year old game spell out. Those patch notes also contain links to download the game for Windows and macOS.

The remastered versions of Starcraft and Brood War are planned to be released this summer. When they are, they’ll support widescreen modern resolutions, cloud saves for the campaign, and other modern goodies from Blizzard’s gaming network that was once called Battle.net but is now just called Blizzard. The Starcraft website has more information on what’s coming in that remaster and screenshots of what it’ll look like.

Classic Nintendo

What happens when Nintendo launches a very successful and cheap console a few months before releasing the Switch hybrid console/handheld? Jose Otero:

Nintendo will discontinue the Nintendo Entertainment System: NES Classic Edition and the last shipments will go out to retailers throughout this month.

I bet that Nintendo looked at the Classic as a mistake. It was too cheap and attractive to players as a $60 machine that got hacked immediately to enable playing every NES game anyone ever wanted. The Classic also served as a distraction for buyers from the Switch and its inevitable virtual console online shop selling you the same 30 games at $6 or $10 a pop instead of about $2.

Nintendo has never done a good job with serving their old games up on their new consoles, why start now?

“I’m upset that you changed the password to the PSN account I stole from you”

Seriously crazy stuff going on with PSN account resellers in this article from Patrick Klepek:

A few weeks ago, Mic Fok got a weird email. The person writing it claimed they’d been playing Overwatch on a PlayStation Network account for more than six months, but the password had changed recently. But why would Fok know anything about this random dude’s account? As it turns out, they’d “purchased” Fok’s account through a website called PSN Games, one of many businesses trafficking in the selling of cheap games by sketchy means.

The individual who bought Fok’s account was an Overwatch fan named Bennett Eglinton.

“Hello I purchased overwatch from psngames.org and this email was used as the account info,” reads an email from Eglinton, sent in early March. “However the password I was given for the PlayStation Network sign in no longer works. Did you happen to change it? Can I get the new info.”

As Patrick mentions in the article, this is a great reason to use unique passwords everywhere with a password manager. I use and recommend 1Password despite them switching from standalone purchases to a subscription. You should also use the free Have I been pwned? service to check all of your email addresses for public account credential leaks.

Apple Releases Clips App

It’s the Ken Burns effect but for millennials. Joanna Stern has a guide to Clips on the WSJ:

Hang-gliding over the Swiss Alps, or just cleaning your dryer’s lint tray? Either way, the titans of tech want you to record a snippet of it. Then they want you to slap on some emojis and text. Then they want you to share it with the world.

Snapchat started it. Instagram copied it. Facebook really copied it. Even Microsoft’s doing it. And now… Apple. Available Thursday for the iPhone and iPad, Apple’s Clips app lets you shoot, edit and share mobile-friendly mini-movies. If you have iOS 10.3 (the latest version), you can download it from the App Store.

Xbox Scorpio Tech Details

I’m Hank Scorpio

Eurogamer’s Richard Leadbetter has technical details of Microsoft’s goofy Project Scorpio. Unless Microsoft adds or changes something significant about the functionality of the console before it is launched, it just means a more expensive and more technically powerful Xbox console:

Combining smart design with sheer horsepower, Project Scorpio hits the six-teraflop target set for it as E3 last year, thanks to a custom GPU that has been designed from the ground up for optimal performance on today’s game engines – and that runs at an unprecedentedly high clock speed for a console. The GPU is paired with 12GB of fast GDDR5 memory and a custom eight-core CPU, and the whole thing is housed in a compact body with integrated power supply and, for a console, state-of-the-art cooling.

Performance is remarkable. We saw a Forza Motorsport demo running on the machine at native 4K and Xbox One equivalent settings, and it hit 60 frames per second with a substantial performance overhead – suggesting Scorpio will hit its native 4K target across a range of content, with power to spare to spend on other visual improvements. And while 4K is the target, Microsoft is paying attention to 1080p users, promising that all modes will be available to them.

It’s interesting to me that the upgraded hardware is so similar to the Playstation 4 Pro, although the Scorpio has bigger numbers and will perform well, this re-emphasizes a theme that Microsoft has gone with since the original Xbox of promoting the technical specifications of their hardware over the games that take advantage of that hardware.

Just like with the Playstation 4 Pro, nobody should buy an Xbox until more details of the Scorpio are available like a price, a launch date, and if a game they actually want is upgraded by this hardware revision. I bet there will be a lot of used Xbox One S’, and disappointed people who bought them last year, right before this thing launches.

What a bizarre time we are in where Microsoft pre-announced the Scorpio last year before launching their Xbox One S in order to remain competitive with Sony’s Playstation 4 Pro.

Eventually, if these upgraded consoles sell well enough, it could be that new games don’t support the original revisions of the Playstation 4 and Xbox One.

One other point in the article I wanted to quote, talking about the upclocked CPUs of the Scorpio:

On the CPU side, there’s been much conjecture that Scorpio would feature AMD’s new Ryzen technology – something we thought unlikely, owing to manufacturing timelines, not to mention Microsoft telling us last year that the new console would feature eight CPU cores. All signs point to the upclocked Jaguar cores we find in Xbox One, and Scorpio’s CPU set-up is indeed an evolution of that tech, but subject to extensive customisation and the offloading of key tasks to dedicated hardware.

“So, eight cores, organised as two clusters with a total of 4MB of L2 cache. These are unique customised CPUs for Scorpio running at 2.3GHz. Alluding back to the goals, we wanted to maintain 100 per cent backwards compatibility with Xbox One and Xbox One S while also pushing the performance envelope,” says Nick Baker.

I don’t for a second believe that Microsoft couldn’t upgrade the architecture of the Xbox and retain backwards compatibility. Even if AMD’s new Ryzen platform introduced new CPU instruction, it would still have the old ones. This isn’t like going from a Power PC to x86 processor, or even as big as the 32bit to 64bit, change.

It reminds me of the time when I was still listening to Larry Hryb’s podcast where he and his guests were talking about HDMI and saying that it wasn’t an upgrade over component cables before the 360 had HDMI connections.

In this case it isn’t clear if the idea is a miscommunication of Leadbetter’s or that Baker actually was responding to a question about Ryzen and Leadbetter should have called it out, either way it is total bullshit and stymies an otherwise fine article.

Speaking of things that should have been called out, there is also this choice quote:

During his presentation, Del Castillo literally constructed a pre-production Project Scorpio unit in front of us. Bearing in mind the advanced manufacturing techniques on show here, there’s a very simple, elegant, modular design that makes the most of the space. We saw the hard drive fit into place on dampeners designed to absorb vibration, reducing error rates in and ensuring optimal data throughput.

You know what’s really elegant? Not using a spinning-disk hard drive with fragile platters in 2017. Nobody buys a computer with those anymore. They only continue to persist in consoles. Nothing is advanced or elegant about dampening the vibrations of an old hard drive. It will be a real upgrade when we can get to solid-state drives everywhere.

The Witness Giveaway


The Witness was one of my favorite games to play last year while my son was busy sleeping, and I’d like to start giving away extra Steam keys I end up with. This is not at all in collaboration with Thekla, Inc, I just have an extra Steam key to give away. Enter on this page, where there will be other give aways every so often.

This is the first time I’m trying out this software for running a give away, so there might be issues with this first one.

New Mac Pros Some Day

Gruber:

Apple is currently hard at work on a “completely rethought” Mac Pro, with a modular design that can accommodate high-end CPUs and big honking hot-running GPUs, and which should make it easier for Apple to update with new components on a regular basis. They’re also working on Apple-branded pro displays to go with them.

Sounds great, what’s the catch?

These next-gen Mac Pros and pro displays “will not ship this year”. (I hope that means “next year”, but all Apple said was “not this year”.)

Well, I guess at least “they’re working on it.” Is better than cancelling the Mac Pro and continuing to sell the 4 year old version at the same price.