Hands-on: Middle Earth: Shadow of War gets more creative with Tolkien’s universe

middleearthshadowofwar screenshot1 resized+

A lot of time and effort will be spent discussing Middle Earth: Shadow of War’s improved Nemesis System between now and probably about a month after release. And for good reason—the Nemesis System was the only thing that elevated predecessor Shadow of Mordor from another me-too Assassin’s Creed clone into a technical wunderkind.

Leaning into that aspect for the sequel is probably a good call, especially since we’ve failed to see similar tech make its way through the industry. The dynamic characters that made Shadow of Mordor such a joy are still, three years on, a novelty.

But I had 20 to 30 minutes of hands-on time with Shadow of War during E3 and to be honest, the Nemesis System was the least of my concerns. There was a bit of been-here-done-that to the proceedings, sure—but more problematic is the time investment required to see the Nemesis System in action. The entire concept only flourishes when it’s your cast of characters, when it’s your army of orcs following you into battle against another army of orcs you’ve come to systematically despise.

That’s the whole premise, right?

Middle Earth: Shadow of War

Middle Earth: Shadow of War

So I captured the fortress Monolith had prepared for the demo. I scaled walls, rode the backs of various beasts, hurled poison at foes, leapt hundreds of feet through the air to assassinate an unwary foe. I captured the courtyard, then the outer keep. Lost a few commanders along the way. Killed more than a few of the enemy’s commanders. I made it to the center of the fortress, fought a monstrous troll-enemy while poison spurted from the floor.

It was very similar to the Shadow of War demo we saw back at GDC. The impression I get is still just “Nemesis System, but expanded.” And that’s fine, and I’m sure it’ll be an interesting bit of tech to watch in action when the game releases in October.

Let’s talk about the story, though. Or, rather, the risks Monolith gets to take with the story this time around. That’s what got me really interested last week.

The original Shadow of Mordor’s story wasn’t anything to write home about—it seemed like a barebones scaffolding for an extensive Nemesis System tech demo, as if Monolith came up with this amazing idea and then slapped a license on it. Shadow of Mordor could’ve been an Arkham game, a Suicide Squad game, a Justice League game, another interminable Lego adventure, or any other WB license.

But it wasn’t. It was Lord of the Rings, sort of.

GAMING
Shadow of War gameplay

And so Gollum popped up at one point, there were various bits of fan service hidden in scraps of lore around the world, and what have you. It was ever-so-carefully crafted. Almost too carefully, as is the case with many “Extended Universe”-type stories. Like Tron: Legacy or Star Trek: Into Darkness, an insistence on too-obvious callbacks mixed with hesitance to deface what came before left Shadow of Mordor feeling like a very extensive fan-fiction.

This awkward reverence was everywhere, from our hero Talion acting as poor man’s Aragorn to Marwen’s life force being sucked away by Saruman the same as Theodin’s. Predictable, at best. Boring, most of the time.

Shadow of Mordor spent so long lulling the player into a sense of complacency that when its story finally did go to some weird places—right at the end—it came as a sharp left turn. For 20-odd hours you’d been fed a generic tale of revenge, and then suddenly Monolith decided to upend Tolkien’s whole universe and create a (paradoxical) second One Ring.

Then the game ends.

Middle Earth: Shadow of War

Middle Earth: Shadow of War

The sequel sees Monolith picking up and fleshing out that story, as Talion and his ghost-elf buddy Celebrimbor struggle to take over Mordor as the “Bright Lord.” This plays into the whole Nemesis System of course, with Talion dominating orcs and forcing them to swear fealty to the Bright Lord, conquering entire regions in the name of the Bright Lord, and the like.

But it’s also indicative of a freer hand for Monolith’s writers, an impression that was reinforced when I played one of Shadow of War’s story missions. We followed some orcs into a swamp reminiscent of the book’s Dead Marshes, an eerie fog-filled nightmare full of brackish water. Normal enough for Mordor, and a typical set-up for Shadow of Mordor—take something familiar, then reskin it.

Some orcs imprisoned in elaborate vine growths came as a surprise though, as did the relative calm of the nearby wildlife—creatures that usually attacked Talion on sight simply watched us walk deeper into the swamp.

That’s when the forest spirit approached. Dryad, nymph, or some other Lord of the Rings-centric term I don’t know, what came out of the woods was a 20-foot tall woman made from vines. She then transformed into a warg made from cast-off bark, then into a wooden troll, and finally into a massive wooden dragon, each of which we had to defeat in battle.

Shadow of War

Daniel Masaoka

It’s far more audacious than pretty much anything I saw in Shadow of Mordor. This isn’t just some retread of the films. This is an entirely new creation, a whole new force at play in Middle Earth. Sure, you could draw some loose parallels to the Ents, but the correlation isn’t nearly as 1-to-1 as the various creatures and beings in Shadow of Mordor were.

And for good reason. A Monolith developer was observing as I went through the demo, and I asked about this forest entity, why she seemed so much more creative than what we saw in Shadow of Mordor. His answer was pretty simple—with the success of the first game, the writers were given considerably more freedom this time around. Expect a more daring story, or at least more daring moments as Monolith experiments more within the Lord of the Rings lore.

That’s an interesting prospect, at least to me. If it’s bad? Well, just write it off like the first game, or like any other fan-fiction.

I’d much rather Monolith try something new though. I want a reason to play Shadow of War that isn’t just “Well, the underlying technology is cool.” Especially with the game reportedly many times the size of Shadow of Mordor, the story hook needs to actually hook this time.

We haven’t seen much yet, and I doubt we’ll see much more before the game releases in October, but I came away from the E3 demo feeling more charitable than I did at GDC. Sure, the core of the game is still just “The Nemesis System, but bigger,” but maybe this time the surrounding framework won’t feel quite so skeletal.

That’s the hope, anyway.

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Pokemon GO Datamine Suggests More Gen 2 Additions

Pokemon GO Datamine Suggests More Gen 2 Additions

The dataminers at Silph Road are back at it again, this time unveiling code that suggests that Pokemon GO will be getting more Gen 2 monsters in the near future.

Pokemon GO might not have made many people’s list for the best games of 2016, but it was ubiquitous in gaming discussions for what seemed like the entire year. Niantic’s mobile killer app proved that a little brand recognition can go a long way in the mobile gaming industry, and Pokemon GO quickly became the fastest selling and most profitable game on iOS and Android devices.

The shine on the game may have dulled in recent months after Pokemon GO‘s developers failed to address a number of core issues fans had with the mechanics behind the title, but it has nevertheless held onto its status as the mobile app to beat in 2017. One of the biggest weapons Pokemon GO has available to it in order to maintain its relevance is the anticipation that the features fans have been clamoring for will inevitably be added, as evidence by Pokemon GO‘s latest update file. Pokemon GOdataminers have been uncovering potential updates with each patch release, and this one is no different – according to the dataminers from Silph Road, Pokemon GO will be getting more Gen 2 Pokemon in the near future.

Pokemon GO‘s latest update contains new data for evolutionary items, and although they haven’t been implemented yet, their presence within the code indicates that they likely will be soon. The five evolutionary items present in the code are the King’s Rock, Metal Coat, Upgrade, Sun Stone, and Dragon Scale items, each of which made their first appearance in Pokemon games in Pokemon Silverand Pokemon Gold.

Those items would make a lot of sense for inclusion in Pokemon GO, as Niantic has demonstrated that, while the developer is willing to slowly introduce new Pokemon to the game, it would much prefer those Pokemon to be related to ones that are already in-game already. The evolutionary items present in the code indicate that gamers should be seeing Bellossom, Porygon2, Kingdra, Steelix, and the mighty Slowking in the coming months, and all of them are related to first-gen counterparts.

 

 

[Source:- GR]

 

200 More railways stations to have free Wi-Fi facility by 2017

After the successful completion of the free WiFi project for 100 railway stations, Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu wants to have another 200 stations to go WiFi by 2017.

“More trains would also be provided with Wi-Fi next year,” Prabhu said. “The objective is to have Wi-Fi facility in all railway stations in small cities and towns,” he added. The Minister said steps were also on to construct escalators in stations.

At a function in Thiruvantapuram, the railway minster said, the target is to “double the number” by next year. He also welcomed the Kerala government’s decision to sign a Joint Venture with Railways for development projects in the state. He stated that the merger would lead to cohesive development in the state. About the resources spent he stated that it would be in addition to the funds earmarked in the railway budget.

Prabhu admitted that there was a lack of railway investment in Kerala, and stated that NDA is rooting to reverse this trend. Referring to remittances to the state from Non-Resident Keralites, he said even they could invest in railway projects. “They can develop a railway station”, he said, adding that the key objective was to join hands for development.

Among the presence of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and G Sudhakaran (PWD minister), Prabhu said that the Railways is also looking into the possibility of converting its hospitals to medical college hospitals.

 
[Source:- Techrader]

 

Alcatel seems to confirm plans to bring Idol 4s with Windows 10 to more markets

The Idol 4s with Windows 10 is one of the most most powerful Windows 10 Mobile handsets on the market right now, trailing behind the HP Elite x3. Alcatel have build an excellent device with the Idol 4s, bringing a premium design to Windows 10 Mobile along with VR support and more.

First spotted by WindowsBlogItalia (via Neowin), Alcatel France posted the following tweet confirming its plans to bring the Idol 4s to more markets, listing France as one of those markets.

It’s also worth noting that Microsoft recently updated the Windows Device Recovery Tool with support for an Alcatel Idol 4s with Windows 10 for open-markets, furthing confirming plans to bring this device to more markets. This is great news for Windows phone fans across the globe who are still waiting for a good, consumer-friendly replacement to the Lumia 950.

[Source:- windowscentral]

Destiny: Rise of Iron Will Make Iron Banner Event More Rewarding

Destiny: Rise of Iron Will Make Iron Banner Event More Rewarding

New details emerge for Iron Banner and how the event is getting reinvented to be more rewarding for players once Destiny: Rise of Iron launches next month.

Destiny is nearing its second anniversary, though the game has evolved quite a bit from what it it was when it first launched. Thanks to numerous updates, fixes, and expansions like The Taken King, Bungie has continued to improve the experience in many ways. Iron Banner, the monthly PvP event that enables level advantages, has also been tweaked quite a bit over the years with more rewards and adjusted gameplay. With the new Rise of Iron expansion on the horizon, Bungie appears to be planning some big changes to the event.

According to Bungie, Iron Banner in Destiny: Rise of Iron will be a reinvention, placing 4 new maps into rotation and completely adjusting how reputation works. The first big change is that the tempered buff, which previously granted additional experience for each day the event was live, is going away. Now, players will need less reputation overall to reach rank 5, meaning those who participate earlier in the week won’t find things as much of a slog to level up as it was previously. The change aims to incentivize players to complete bounties and rank up earlier rather than holding on to everything later in the week.

Bounties are also receiving a significant changes as well. Thanks to player feedback, some of the more difficult or frustrating bounties such as getting a 10 kill streak or getting top overall score are going away. In addition, instead of getting rewarded only at ranks 3 and 5, a weapon or armor piece will be rewarded each and every time a player completes a bounty.

The goal of these Iron Banner changes are to make the event more accessible and fun for players, while rewarding everyone regardless of time spent in the mode. At the same time, Bungie continues to dangle that carrot on a stick for the hardcore players as well by keeping around the rubberbanding effect of increased experience across multiple characters for players who have already hit level 5 with one character.

While Bungie had been slowly dripping news about the upcoming Destiny expansion, the floodgates were opened entirely yesterday thanks to Game Informer. Digital subscribers to the magazine were able to read up on many of the new details including an increased light level that now caps at 400, the return of many class exotic weapons including Thorn, and unique artifacts that enhance players with new abilities. The new Raid known as Wrath of the Machine, was also given a release date on September 23, just three days after Rise of Iron launches.

What was your favorite reveal from yesterday? Are you excited for Rise of Iron or is there something else you’re waiting to hear about? Let us know in the comments.

 

[Source: GR]

PC Games Summer Sale Offers Big Price Cut on The Division & Thousands More

PC Games Summer Sale Offers Big Price Cut on The Division & Thousands More

The GMG Summer sale has come to an end. While those deals are over, you may be interested in a few new deals in the GamesPlanet PC Gaming Summer Sale. Full sale breakdown hereor below are our best picks in US Dollars.

If you enjoy window shopping, we’ve got a treat for you today. Earlier this morning we entered the “encore phase” of GMG’s 2016 Summer Sale. For the next 48 hours a little over a thousand of PC games were added to the discount menu. A breakdown of the sale in terms of top editor’s pick can also be found here. You’ll also find a similar, more succinct list below.

Perhaps the best deal in the sale is a new low on Tom Clancy’s The Division – seeing its first price break under $40. Since its March 7th debut, the MMO has rarely come below $50, but is now 36% off falling to $38.29. Other notable discounts include 43% off the February released Street Fighter V and 42% off the Grand Theft Auto V. Finally, Warhammer Vermintide at only $13 is also a great pick. you might say this GMG sale is not a bad way to pick up recent co-op titles on the cheap.

GMG is a little tricky on displaying discounts. For everyone they will display a public discount, but in order to see the best discount you’ll need to be logged into an account (or just create one). Logging in or creating a new account will display member prices, which we’re listing below for some of their best deals today:

 

[Source: Gamerant]

Microsoft just made Windows 10 more secure

Microsoft just made Windows 10 more secure

Windows 10 is making considerable efforts to tighten up on the security front, and Microsoft has just announced changes to how it vets drivers for the operating system – all of these must now be digitally signed by Redmond.

As Betanews spotted, it was actually last year that Microsoft announced that all kernel mode drivers would need to be submitted to the Windows Hardware Dev Center portal in order to be digitally signed.

But at the time, Microsoft didn’t enforce this as a rule – due to various ‘technical-readiness’ issues, it was only implemented as policy guidance.

However, from now on, starting with installations of Windows 10, version 1607, this will be fully enforced and any drivers not signed off by the aforementioned Dev portal won’t be loaded by the OS.

Fresh installs

Note that this doesn’t apply to old drivers, just to new ones going forward. Also, the new policy only applies to fresh installations of Windows 10, so systems upgraded from previous versions of Windows will still allow the usage of cross-signed drivers.

The idea of the new policy is to make users less vulnerable to rogue drivers potentially laden with malware, as Windows 10 obviously won’t accept any driver that isn’t signed off by Microsoft in the future.

Redmond is also making a number of improvements to security with the incoming Anniversary Update, including enhancements for Windows Hello, and fresh anti-malware measures for Windows Defender. The update starts to roll out tomorrow.

 

 

[Source: Techrader]

Microsoft claims area supplies 70% more battery life than Chrome

Microsoft’s edge browser has been trailing in terms of adoption and utilization, even as home windows 10 has received increasing market percentage. The corporation has released an legitimate document documenting the energy efficiency advantages of the usage of aspect, the brand new browser it debuted with home windows 10, partially in the wish of convincing greater users to spend time with the utility. Now, Redmond is claiming that aspect can supply as much as 70% more battery lifestyles than Google Chrome.

The group behind the metrics posted a blog publish in which they detail how Microsoft conducts its assessments, as well as facts on its energy checking out criteria and facts on the way it modifies structures to degree instant power consumption. The video evaluating energy intake the usage of streaming video is under:

if you study over different weblog posts, you’ll be aware that exceptional scenarios present specific contrast metrics for Chrome, facet, Firefox, and Opera. every browser’s overall performance varies depending at the specifics of the workload, but according to Microsoft, aspect is usually the regular winner.

Browser strength

obviously, Microsoft is scarcely a impartial birthday party on this front, but facts from different parts of the net as a minimum indirectly backs up the corporation’s claims. tests performed at BatteryBox from remaining 12 months confirmed that Chrome become regularly a battery hog on OS X as well. several years ago, Google fixed a Chrome “feature” that set the machine interrupt timer to tick at its lowest possible cost throughout the whole working gadget. This had a substantially negative impact on windows battery existence. manifestly other issues remain unresolved, and more than one articles have mentioned that Chrome doesn’t run specifically properly on systems with enormously low-cease hardware.
velocity and responsiveness versus battery existence

The battle among responsiveness and energy consumption dates lower back at the least as a ways because the creation of Intel‘s SpeedStep generation. Early SpeedStep structures could lower their working speeds to lessen strength, but the first iterations of the technology may be thrown off and refuse to spin up its clock velocity properly (or to reduce it whilst applicable). strength control on modern computer systems is now state-of-the-art enough that even the “Low electricityoption is frequently acceptably responsive (though this can vary depending on how many programs you juggle and what your use instances are).

In this point in time, the browser is the software that simply every user runs on a each day foundation, and therefore the unmarried maximum crucial utility when it comes to decreasing basic device power intake. Chrome has constantly been architected with speed and responsiveness in mind. That proper the browser extraordinarily properly whilst it become a young upstart tough mounted systems like Firefox or internet Explorer. primarily based on battery trying out from more than one assets, Chrome honestly does use greater battery life.

whether this may bring about any modifications to Chrome, alternatively, remains to be visible. Microsoft didn’t get severe about fixing issues with internet Explorer 6 till Firefox had already seized 13.five% of the browser marketplace percentage (based on net programs’ reporting at the time). Chrome’s superstar has been ascendant for some of years, on the fee of its competition at Redmond and Mozilla — till that stops being the case, Google might also feel it has no purpose to reply to these allegations. alternatively, given how critical battery life is these days, the organisation could be foolish to ignore such an obvious overall performance problem.

4 Ways to Get More “Now-ism” Into Your Social Media Strategy

4 Ways to Get More “Now-ism” Into Your Social Media Strategy | Social Media TodayIn business, we’re told to plan for every eventuality. And although this makes good business sense, when it comes to social media, all of the planning, strategy meetings, update meetings and brainstorming sessions can, at times, get in the way of us getting stuck in and actually achieving our key objectives. When considering the immediacy and rapid pace of the social news cycle, it may be worth taking a leaf out of Facebook’s book, whose mantra throughout it’s formative years had been “move fast and break things”?

WHAT IS “NOW-ISM”?

Simply put, “now-ism is the practice of jumping in and having a go without over excessive analysis and too much planning”. Businesses often get caught up in creating the perfect strategy and forget the importance of being reactive. This is where “now-ism” comes in, encouraging spontaneity, taking chances and real-time marketing.

WHY IS “NOW-ISM” IMPORTANT FOR SOCIAL MEDIA?

Although a business can have the most carefully laid plans, it’s important to be reactive. This is even truer when it comes to social media marketing.

It’s easy to stay exactly where you are, to play it safe, or carefully plan and wait for everything to be perfect before you make your next move. But in 2016, is that the best approach? Technology’s changing at such a rapid pace that businesses need to run just to catch-up. Competition’s also getting stronger, so it’s important to stay ahead of the game. Sometimes, the best time to take action is now.

That’s not to say that planning’s not important – we don’t suggest for a minute that you should always jump in and give things a go without thinking it through first. In fact, Facebook’s mantra’s recently been refined to “move fast with stable infrastructure”. Although this might not have the same ring to it as their last one, it points out that moving fast is crucial to success, but it’s also important to have a solid strategy at the heart of your actions. Perhaps many other businesses could benefit from this approach too.

4 Ways to Get More “Now-ism” Into Your Social Media Strategy | Social Media Today

HOW CAN BUSINESSES EMBRACE “NOW-ISM” FOR SOCIAL MEDIA?

Small businesses are in a great position to be reactive, with much more freedom and flexibility. However, as businesses get bigger, in some cases, part of their spontaneity unfortunately dissipates. For example, social media posts may need to be created weeks in advance so that they can be approved by various people within the business, before being published to Facebook.

Here are some simple suggestions, to help you bring some “now-ism” to your own social media:

1. GET AGREEMENT FROM MANAGERS

Ensure you have backing from managers to be more reactive. You can still have an approved posting plan, but get permission to add to it, as required. To give more assurance, you could consider creating clear social media, branding and tone of voice guidelines, to follow when creating ad-hoc content.

2. JUMP ON THE BACK OF TRENDS

Whatever your business, make sure you monitor current trends. There may be something that your business can jump on the back of and create a post about (also known as ‘newsjacking’). Trending topics tend to have a very short lifespan though, so it’s important to react quickly. Twitter’s a great place to start looking for trends, but be careful – just because you can, doesn’t mean you always should. Ensure that anything you post is appropriate, relevant to your business and is creative. A good example of newsjacking gone wrong is when England’s royal baby was born and every marketer jumped on the bandwagon, which led to negative reactions from audiences.

3. BE ON STANDBY

Whether you’re running your own business event, or there’s a big event in the calendar, don’t leave your social media accounts unattended. Make sure someone is on stand-by (even out-of-hours), to research and react to the event, along with your audience. Oreo is the perfect example of this – they were quick off the mark with their clever blackout post during the 2013 Super Bowl.

4. TRY NEW TECHNOLOGIES OUT FOR YOURSELF

Although your company may not be happy for you to experiment with new social media features straight away on their business accounts, why not test out new features or ideas on your own personal channels? For example, you could try out Instagram’s longer 30 second videos, investigate Snapchat with your friends or experiment with Facebook Live. Test the features out and then if they could have benefit to your business, then pitch them to your boss.

 

[Source:- Socialmediatoday]

 

Microsoft’s Messaging feature gets a bit more refined in Windows 10 Insider build 14316

In 2014, Apple introduced its Continuity feature to its line of Mac and iOS devices in a rather impressive demo at its World Wide Developer Conference. Before that, Google made a seemingly similar play with cross-device communication in its Babel service that was later renamed to Google Hangouts in 2013.

In early 2015, Microsoft held an event for the unveiling of upcoming Windows 10 features and among them was a native messaging service that would span devices (mainly Windows Phones and Windows 10 enabled PCs) that would act similar to both Google Hangouts and Apple’s Continuity. With the release of Windows 10 Insider build 14316, it looks like Windows users are inching closer to a reality of Messaging Everywhere being enabled on devices.

The idea behind Microsoft’s messaging service was simple: begin a conversation via SMS (text) on your mobile device and pick up that same conversation on your PCs desktop without hiccup or interruption. Part of Microsoft’s pitch for the messaging service leveraged its popular in-house video messaging service Skype. With Skype’s cross-platform and cross-device architecture, Microsoft would be able to deliver a truly “Messaging Everywhere” experience for Windows 10 users.

Skype-Messenger-on-Windows-10-1024x574 Microsoft's Messaging feature gets a bit more refined in Windows 10 Insider build 14316

SMS on Windows 10

Since the January 2015 announcement, the company has gone relatively dark on its development or a time frame on which Windows 10 and Windows Phone users could hang their hat on regarding the feature.

However, in today’s release of Windows 10 Redstone Insider build 14316, the Windows makes an explicit call out to the feature’s continued development as well as hinting at an early implementation of it coming soon.

Messaging Everywhere Preview Coming Soon: We will soon be enabling a preview of the “Messaging everywhere” feature in Windows 10 that allows you to send and receive text messages from your phone directly from your Windows 10 PCs. You will see options for this feature in the Messaging app on PC. However, an update is required for the Messaging app for Mobile for this experience to work. More to come on this when the experience is live.”

Presumably, when the latest Windows 10 Mobile build drops or the Message App on Mobile gets updated, Insiders will finally get their hands on the long-awaited Messaging Everywhere experience. Up until recently, the Windows team had been briefly experimenting with moving text messages across mobile devices to PCs with some relative success. Perhaps, the new Messaging Everywhere Preview builds upon that with better functionality and newer features. We’ll just have to wait and see.

To get your PC and mobile device ready for the new Messaging Everywhere Preview, head over to the Windows Insider website and sign up for free to become a Windows Insider. Set your rigs to Fast Ring (presumably) and allow the Windows team to do the rest.

 

[Source:- Winbeta]