Gaming/VR Tech


VR Launch Liteboxer Celebrity-backed at-home fitness claims stake in the Metaverse

Meet Liteboxer, the celebrity-backed at-home fitness company that’s about to claim its stake in the Metaverse with their new VR launch happening on January 5th, 2022. Brought to market in 2020, Liteboxer combines patented hardware, hit music, game dynamics, and expert training to create the world’s most immersive workouts. Liteboxer is designed to make high-intensity workouts as fun as playing a video game while building cardio, strength, and mental acuity.

Liteboxer will be an exhibitor at CES 2022 from January 5th-8th, 2022 (booth: #54111, Sports Technology), located in Tech West at the Venetian Expo, Halls A-C. The brand will be displaying all its current models, including the Floor Stand, Wall Mount, and the brand-new VR offering, each available for demo. Also, we invite you to talk to founders Todd Dagres and Jeff Morin, as they will be on-site to discuss Liteboxer and new developments in the future of tech and wellness.

Liteboxer combines patented hardware, game dynamics, hit music, and expert training to create the most immersive workouts to date. Liteboxer’s maiden VR fitness experience will be available on Meta Quest 2, featuring real in-app expert trainers with new workouts daily. Liteboxer VR will also offer motivation-based competition and an extensive music library in partnership with Universal Music Group, bringing music that ranges from Lady Gaga to YG into the virtual ring.

VR workouts connect people in a way that’s deeper than a 2D screen. You can work out anywhere in the world, with some of the best trainers in the world, without leaving your living room. No additional hardware is required, just a VR headset and your will to win. Liteboxer VR is built to be fitness-first and champion a sports-at-home experience, unlike other VR fitness offerings. You will see a Virtual Liteboxer in front of you- you will see the shield and runway lights and be immersed in the Liteboxer VR world. Liteboxer VR uses hand tracking so that you can exercise with or without controllers. Liteboxer is launching the next generation of VR fitness today, equipping its users to enjoy an intense workout experience with sleeker hardware. Simply download the app from the Quest Store to access Liteboxer’s ever-growing workout platform.

Liteboxer VR will be available for purchase by consumers in the Quest Store beginning on March 3rd, 2022, enabling users to step into the ring for a full sensory fitness experience that evokes an emotional response formerly unique to sports. Regularly priced at $18.99/month (7-day free trial) for first-time Liteboxers, Liteboxer VR will be free for those who already own Liteboxer’s innovative Floor Stand or Wall Mount models and subscribe to Liteboxer’s membership program.

(Visited 3 times, 3 visits today)

Last modified: January 4, 2022

About the Author:

Tom is the Editorial Director at

VR Launch Liteboxer Celebrity-backed at-home fitness claims stake in the Metaverse Read More »

haste arcade’s instant leaderboard payout system-uses-blockchain-technology-to-reward-players

Haste Arcade’s Instant Leaderboard Payout system uses blockchain technology to reward players

December 31, 2021 by

Blockchain and gaming start-up Haste has announced that it will be exhibiting the Haste Arcade at CES 2022. The recently funded startup will be part of the Bitcoin SV booth at the world’s leading technology conference and will be displaying its revolutionary Instant Leaderboard Payout (ILP) technology.

Says co-founder Keith LaForce, “We were extremely excited when the Bitcoin Association invited us to be a part of the BSV booth. CES is the best tech conference in the world and we can’t wait to introduce our platforms to the mainstream.”

Haste uses blockchain technology to give gamers the ability to earn micropayments by placing on leaderboards for games within the Haste Arcade, the company’s first product. For example, a gamer can spend $0.01 in Bitcoin SV (BSV) to play a game, and if they make the game’s leaderboard, the gamer then earns a percentage of every subsequent gameplay until they are no longer on the leaderboard. Gamers can choose game levels that range from a fraction of a cent to hundreds of dollars per play depending on their spending appetite.

The Haste Arcade’s ILPs offer a new form of “Play to Earn”, in the sense that all games within the arcade are skill-based and allow gamers to get better with practice. The arcade also includes a Software Developer Kit (SDK) that allows third-party game developers to implement ILPs into their games. The benefit for the developers is that they get an output from each gameplay, thus introducing a new revenue stream. Add LaForce, “Our team has built several of the games in the arcade, but our long-term goal is to have experienced game developers and studios using our SDK within their games. From what we’ve seen so far, ILPs are an incredible engagement tool and they generate a lot of extra revenue for the game devs.”

Along with the Haste Arcade, Haste has also released an alpha NFT auction platform Take It, which adds a fun and engaging element to traditional NFT auctions.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Artist lists a collection of NFTs and sets the floor price
  2. A bidder “takes it” and pays the floor price to hold the NFT
  3. Once the NFT has been taken, the price automatically increases by 30%
  4. If another bidder takes the NFT from the current holder, the current holder gets what they paid back, plus an additional amount from the 30% price increase
  5. Once a bidder holds onto the NFT for an allotted amount of time, without any new takers, the NFT is sent to their wallet and can no longer be taken by other bidders

The beauty of Take It is that a bidder either earns more than they spent to take the NFT, or wins the NFT, which creates an additional incentive to bid on items. The original artist earns a percentage of every bid, thus increasing the amount of potential revenue their NFT generates them.

Haste launched the Haste Arcade in October and Take It in November. The company is backed by gaming industry experts Thomas Vu, the co-head of franchise development at Riot Games, as well as Anthony Borquez, a director of the clinical entrepreneurship program at USC as well as the founder of several gaming companies. Other prominent investors include San Diego-based startup accelerator LogicBoost Labs, and blockchain experts Jack Liu and Unbounded Capital. The company will be part of the Bitcoin SV booth and will be exhibiting alongside renowned esports organization Built By Gamers.

Haste is the parent company of the Haste Arcade and Take It, two platforms that utilize blockchain technology to enable people to earn from activities they are already doing. The company is focused on developing additional blockchain-related products with a key focus on utility as opposed to speculative trading.

(Visited 4 times, 2 visits today)

Last modified: December 27, 2021

About the Author:

Eric is the Editor-In-Chief at

Haste Arcade’s Instant Leaderboard Payout system uses blockchain technology to reward players Read More »

Nimble 35W Universal Travel Adapter charges your devices exceptionally fast

Go further while carrying less when you have the Nimble 35W Universal Travel Adapter. Combining all the must-have features of an adapter in one, this small and compact device will be your faithful companion anywhere you go. Capable of powering six devices at once, this 35W travel adapter works in over 150 different countries. Along with the main outlet, Nimble sports three USB ports as well as two USB-C ports. If simply plugging in more conveniently wasn’t enough, Nimble also offers Quick Charge and Power Delivery. With Quick Charge, you can top up your devices efficiently so you can be on your way. With Power Delivery, Nimble can assign power to be given to one device from another, speeding up the charging process. In fact, Nimble can charge an iPhone XS up to 50% in just 30 minutes. And don’t worry; this universal travel adapter is armed with a two-fuse design to handle it all with ease. Even with all this power and convenience, Nimble is impressively compact and packs exceptionally well. Take to the office, your next business trip, or across the world for seamless power.

Nimble 35W Universal Travel Adapter charges your devices exceptionally fast Read More »

IceBRKR Bone Conduction Audio Ski Mask also has an intercom function

Don’t let the slopes get in the way of superior audio. Instead, use the IceBRKR Bone Conduction Audio Ski Mask. Armed with bone conduction technology, this ski mask doubles as an audio system so you can listen to anything from playlists to podcasts. Unlike a headset, IceBRKR won’t get in the way of your gear. Instead, it is your gear. Likewise, it means you can still hear what’s going on around you. Along with audio, IceBRKR uses Bluetooth 5.0 technology for seamless phone calls, intercom communication for up to 18 people, and voice activation systems. Plus, with magnetic interchangeable lenses, you can choose the style that suits you on any given day. The lens is also outfitted with an anti-fog aeration system. Along with all this, IceBRKR has bendable arms as well as three layers of foam for the perfect and most comfortable fit.

IceBRKR Bone Conduction Audio Ski Mask also has an intercom function Read More »

Lazelight Mini LED Remote Control Light helps you see the buttons on your television remote

It’s nice to have the lights off when you’re watching a movie at night, but it’s frustrating when you can’t see the buttons on your remote. Thankfully, the Lazelight Mini LED Remote Control Light offers a solution to that. The Lazelight is a small device that attaches to the remote control using its magnetic stick plate. The light comes on automatically when the LED panel swivels into position. The small light elevates above the remote, providing ample light so that you can see the buttons clearly, no matter how dark the surroundings may be. The battery is also rechargeable via micro USB. A single charge can last for weeks at a time, depending on how often the light is used. Another feature of the device is that it glows in the dark with the aid of the luminous strips on its sides which will help you easily find an attached remote or item in the dark. This mini torch also suits everyday carry for lighting up devices and dark spaces anywhere.

Lazelight Mini LED Remote Control Light helps you see the buttons on your television remote Read More »

DreamGlass Air Private AR Screen is like having a personal movie theater

Experience your very own augmented reality with the DreamGlass Air Private AR Screen. Totally portable and practical, this incredible system provides you with a stunning 100-inch 2.5K screen to dive into your content. Lasting five hours on a full charge, DreamGlass Air is like having your own private movie theater that you can watch at any angle. It’s also compatible with all the most popular devices including PS4, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, iPhone, Android smartphones, PC, Mac, and so much more. Plus, it delivers high-definition, immersive content complete with vivid colors and exceptional detail. Compact and comfortable, DreamGlass Air keeps your hands totally free. Never again will you have to crane your neck or lose feeling in your arms while you prop up your smartphone. This all comes with zero latency for high-quality content. In addition to the wireless design, you can also plug and play via HDMI or USB-C. From using at home to while you’re traveling, DreamGlass Air provides an impressive 90° field of view.

DreamGlass Air Private AR Screen is like having a personal movie theater Read More »

Close to the Sun Review – Not Close Enough

Close to the Sun likes to label each of its chapters based on Greek mythology, mentioning characters like Icarus. So let me get a bit posh here and chat about Icarus, too. You’ve probably heard the story: Icarus is the son of Daedalus, the designer of the famous Labyrinth where the Minotaur dwelt. The tale goes that Minos imprisoned Daedalus and Icarus in a tower to keep the secret of the maze safe. The two prisoners used feathers and wax to create wings, and leapt from the tower. Daedalus told his son not to fly too high or else the sun would melt the wax holding his wings together, and not to fly too low which would wet the feathers. But because Icarus was a fucking moron he flew too Close to the Sun (HA!) and his wings melted, thus he fell into the sea and drowned. The end. Close to the Sun tries to fly up to the narrative heights of brilliance but its wings start to melt. So it tries to fly down to the cold depths of horror and nearly drowns. And so Close to the Sun never does find its balance. It never soars high in the sky, nor skims the waves. Jesus, this has turned too philosophical. I need a beer or something. Let’s just review this thing, yeah?

Although the developers have clearly said that this isn’t the case it’s hard not to see BioShock in Close to the Sun. Whereas Andrew Ryan decided to build an underwater city where the elite would be free to do elite stuff, in Close to the Sun Nicola Tesla opted to construct the Helios, a massive ship to house the world’s greatest minds who could work toward bettering humanity. Entering the Helios evokes some of the same feelings from BioShock, the art style and architecture of the Helios immediately triggering memories of the art-deco style of the underwater city.

Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, PC

Reviewed On: PC

Developer: Storm in a Teacup

Publisher: Wired Productions

Review code provided by the publisher.

Nicola Tesla is one hell of a historical figure, his tale filled with intrigue and mystery at almost every point. In reality, he was unable to pay the mortgage on his Wardenclyffe laboratory and it was demolished before it was even finished. His ideas about wirelessly transmitting power across the globe would never come to fruition, his contributions to science and technology greatly overlooked. In Close to the Sun’s timeline Nicola Tesla has become the richest man in the world, his Wardenclyffe company supplying electricity to half the globe. With his riches Tesla constructed the Helios where the greatest minds could be free of limitations. This hasn’t exactly gone well with the rest of the world, with newspaper headlines claiming that the Helios has been hunted by military vessels.

This is a video game involving science so naturally things go horribly wrong aboard the Helios. Main character Rose Archer (journalist extraordinaire, at least so we are told) gets a letter from her nerdy sister asking her to come aboard the Helios to catch up, but once Rose arrives its clear that things have gone well and truly fucking downhill on the absurdly vast ship. Blood covers the floors, there are bodies everywhere, writing on the walls and some nutcase is wandering around with a knife and mumbling to himself. It’s just another typical day in the life of a video game protagonist.

Except that unlike most first-person games and indeed unlike Bioshock you don’t get any weapons in Close to the Sun. Rose has no means of fighting back against the dangers aboard the Helios. Not even a good old kick to the head or bitch slap.

Most of the interaction between the small cast is handled via radio communication. The relationship between Rose and her sister Ada is great, and I found myself wishing that they got to share a lot more dialogue. Instead, the most conversation occurs between Rose and Aubrey, a man trapped in a section of Helios with the body of his dead best mate who needs help to escape. As enjoyable as the relationship between Rose and Ada is, Aubrey is without a doubt the stand-out character in the game. He’s fantastically voiced and even brings a couple of darkly funny moments. My personal favourite was came when he was asked if he was okay. In a pitch-perfect tone Aubrey replies, “I’m using the dismembered arm of my best friend as a back scratcher, of course I’m not okay.” Great stuff.

Close to the Sun absolutely nails its atmosphere. There’s a strong horror element to the game, and the developers spend a long time building up the tension through environmental storytelling. Created on the Unreal Engine Close to the Sun looks absolutely stellar, delivering loads of detail and some great lighting. There were plenty of moments where I stopped and just soaked in the world that Storm in a Teacup have conjured up. The only hiccups in the graphics are the rare occasions when a living human shows up. Character models look…er, weird. The proportions are a little off, the animation is clumsy. It doesn’t look right. But otherwise Close to the Sun looks superb.

Mind you, that does come at a cost. Close to the Sun is a tricky game to run. With my Ryzen 1600 CPU, 16GB of RAM and GTX 1080 Ti I was struggling to hold steady frame rates at 1440p. At times 60 FPS wasn’t a problem, but during certain sections that would drop, sometimes hitting as low as 15 FPS. Thankfully for the most part this isn’t a game that needs fast reflexes, so lower framerates are not as big a problem as they could be. Still, I’d like to see some updates to smooth performance out a bit.

Be warned; there are a lot of jump scares in Close to the Sun. Now, there’s nothing wrong with jump scares when they’re used sparingly, but for my tastes they do get overused here. There are even spots that have a few jump scares in quick succession.

Sadly I think the game struggles to hold on to the tense atmosphere that it so wonderfully weaves within the first hour or two of the 5-8 hour journey. That’s mainly because the realization that there is no danger outside of the pre-defined chase sequences hits you. The creepy noises, strange shadows and jump scares become less effective when you know that almost all of them lead to nothing. And that’s all Close to the Sun has in its arsenal: jump scares and chase sequences. It’s limited in its horror vocabulary.

Speaking of the chase sequences, they don’t really evoke terror as they probably should. But the big issue with them is that when it comes to obstacles the game asks you to click on the icon. However, during chases I found these were frequently unresponsive and a few times I was caught and killed due to them. Other than that, provided you don’t make any genuinely stupid mistakes – like running head first into a wall – you’ll always be safe. This also resulted in another unfortunate side effect: I used the look back button more often and thus wound up laughing at the clumsy animations.

The other area where the game’s horror falters like an elderly grandmother that’s been in t

Close to the Sun Review – Not Close Enough Read More »

Patch Notes: Borderlands 3 Microtransaction Confusion & Valve’s New VR Kit

Hello, and welcome back to Patch Notes! As always I grab a few bits of news from the past week and discuss them. This week we’ve got Borderlands 3, a mini-meltdown from Randy Pitchford and Valve’s brand new VR unit that will not just break your bank, but also leave it crying in a small heap.

Borderlands 3 Is Real!
Borderlands 3 officially exists! The gameplay event reveal happened this week and so we got our first official look at third game in one of my favourite franchises. To be honest, not much as actually changed but I feel like that’s a good thing. Its keeping true to its roots by focusing on the glorious, juicy loot! Normally I’d want a little more change and innovation, but quite frankly I’m happy with a visual upgrade, new classes and loads more guns.

Still, there are some tweaks to the formula. Alternate fire modes for weapons, for example, opens up a bunch of fun possibilities. And now in co-op everyone will get their own loot, finally stopping arguments over who gets the nice gun that just dropped.

Oh, and one of the new characters is an Irishman called Zane. That’s me sold right there.

Anyway, check out some gameplay from Eurogamer below.

Borderlands 3 Microtransaction Confusion
Right, now for some Borderlands 3 confusion. During the gameplay reveal event this past Wednesday Randy Pitchford clearly stated that it, ” “won’t have microtransactions” or “microtransaction-y, free-to-play junk.” It was also confirmed that there would be plenty of skins and heads for customizing the characters. This got a nice cheer from the audience. However, Creative director Paul Sage told Game Informer during an interview that, “We’re selling cosmetic items, but we’re not going to nickel and dime players,”

Right. Bit of confusion there, but no big deal. I mean, it sucks donkey bollox that there will be microtransactions but…

No, wait, here comes an angry Randy Pitchford. After Game Informer put out a simple Tweet stating, “Despite Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford’s comment about ‘no microtransactions’ in Borderlands 3 during today’s livestream, we’ve been told cosmetic items are still purchasable” Gearbox’s Randy Pitchford proceeded to chastise Game Informer. He replied to the Tweet by saying: “Come on guys – shitty clickbait headline. Literally seconds before I said that, I made it very clear we’re going to do more cosmetic stuff like we did in Borderlands 2. You know I was talking about premium currency and loot boxes kind of stuff NOT being in our game. ”

Pitchford continued his rant, Tweeting ” Why you guys would fuck me on this is beyond me… thanks a lot. ” To be clear, Game Informer’s headline simply read, “There won’t be loot boxes in Borderlands 3.”

Things got dumber, though. A Twitter user by the name of Dan Sapossnek replied to Pitchford by saying, “You said no micro transactions. Paying small sums of money for cosmetics is micro transactions. You lied. Not having loot boxes is a big plus, but be honest in how you’re monetizing a game that already costs $60.” This angered Pitchford further who replied to Dan and Game Informer by saying, “See @gameinformer – this is what your fuckwitted tweet is doing! Please correct your bullshit. This user believes and has called me a liar because of your incomplete context click bait bullshit here. You are better than this.”

Since then there have been loads more Tweets and heated words from Pitchford. Game Informer themselves have even stepped into the conversation and to their credit have remained calm. They correctly point out that nowhere did they claim Pitchford had lied nor do they say anything negative. They simply reported the facts to clarify the situation for everyone.

Pitchford, though, was still pissed off. He has attempted to claim that Game Informer took what he said completely out of context and that by publishing something saying that there would be no microtransactions (which were his words) they had confused people.

So, let’s examine exactly what he said. ” “we’re gonna do some kickass campaign DLC, and I’m sure we’re going to do all kinds of fun customizations like heads and skins. But we’re not doing any of that free-to-play junk. There’s not going to be any microtransactions, there’s not going to be any of that nonsense.” To me, what he said was quite clear: there will be downloadable campaign content, presumably paid-for, and there are going to be heads and skins. And no microtransactions. In this I believe Game Informers article was spot-on. They initially reported that there would be no microtransactions based upon Pitchford’s words, then later clarified things. Meanwhile, Pitchford seems to believe that Borderlands 3’s cosmetics are not microtransactions and that things like loot boxes do not come under the heading of microtransactions.

Pitchford has had problems with the media in the past, especially in regards to Aliens: Colonial Marines. He was accused of blatantly lying about aspects of that game. And over the years he’s proven volatile, quickly angering at even the smallest things. This just seems to be another example of that. Game Informer did what their job requires of them – they reported on something they deemed interesting, and then later published information which clarified Pitchford’s statement. They didn’t paint Pitchford or Gearbox in a negative light or even offer an opinion on the matter. Randy Pitchford, though, attacked them regardless.

Valve’s New VR Headset

So, it seems that while VR sales aren’t as high as I’d personally like Valve seem to think there’s still plenty of opportunity there. This week they announced their brand new Index VR system which retails at a whopping £919 for the whole thing. Apparently despite the epic price pre-orders were sold out within 30-minutes in the US.

So surely for nearly a £1000 this should be the next step in VR? Well, no. Not really. Things like eye tracking and being wireless are true steps toward the next generation of headsets. The new Oculus Rift S, for example, doesn’t need external sensor stations.

What exactly does the Index offer, then? For starters there are two LCD screens providing 1440×1600 resolution per eye. According to Valve these custom LCD screens will provide 50% more subpixels than OLED and thus is intended to combat the screen-door effect which is when players can discern pixels due to how close their eyes are to the screens. A 140Hz refresh rate should help give the Index a smooth feeling which is vital in VR. Comparatively the new Oculus Rift S is running at 80Hz.

Oddly Valve have so far not confirmed the field of view that the Index will sport. What they have said is that it will be 20% greater than that of the Vive which has a FOV of 110-degrees.

The front of the headset has two front-facing cameras that allow you to see the real-world while wearing the headset. This opens the door for augmented reality uses, and if nothing else means you’ll be able to grab something off your table with floundering around like a moron.

There’s also new controllers which are worn instead of just held. Because of that you can properly open up your hands with 87 sensors per controller tracking the movements. During hands-on time with the headset people reported getting to play Aperture Hand Labs where they were able to shake a robots hand and even open a letter by pinching the tab. These new controllers could definitely allow for a much greater sense of immersion.

Finally, there are the new basestations which will offer a wider tracking range and a general increase in accuracy.

Now let’s chat about the pricing. £919 is the cost for the complete package, but there are cheaper options if you already own a Vive or Vive Pro. You can pick up the Index headset and controllers for £689, or pay £459 for the headset. Grabbing the controllers on their own costs £259. This is because both the controllers and the headset are fully compatible with existing Vive and Vive Pros. The Index’s basestations, though, are not backwards compatible.

Right, so what do we think of this? Well, personally I don’t think the Index is offering a true next-gen VR experience, rather its a refinement of what we have right now. Provided everything is as Valve claims then the Index should take the spot as the number one VR headset available in terms of pure quality and performance. But man, that pricetag is one hell of a barrier for entry. As amazing as the Index sounds I don’t think I could justify upgrading from my Oculus Rift. It’s certainly not a price likely to bring in VR noobs, either, rather the Index seems to be aimed at people who already own a VR headset, are sold on the idea and now want the best version possible.

Patch Notes: Borderlands 3 Microtransaction Confusion & Valve’s New VR Kit Read More »

Weekend Whammy: Thoughts On The Long Night & Days Gone

My weekend has been filled with violence courtesy of my little niece who firmly believes that beating up her uncle is the greatest thing in the world. Man, five-year-old little girls can seriously do some damage. Jeez.

This week I chucked out my review for Close to the Sun, an intriguing game set in an alternate timeline where Nikola Tesla has become the richest man in the world. With all that wealth he constructed a huge ship called the Helios and then packed it with the greatest minds in the world. Of course, things go wrong, people die and we get to explore the ship in order to find out what went wrong.

All said and done I really enjoyed Close to the Sun, but the ending left me feeling entirely unsatisfied and the tension that was so well concocted early on fizzled out. Go check out my review for the rest of my thoughts.

I also put out another Patch Notes, this time talking about Randy Pitchford having a small meltdown and Valve’s brand new VR headset.

So I’ve been putting some time into Days Gone and so far I’d have to say it’s pretty damn good, though the opening couple of hours don’t do it any favours. But what I wanted to talk about here is what’s up with the bikes? Or my exactly, why is everybody on bikes and why are they all choppers? I mean, I’m totally on-board with having a bike in a zombie apocalypse, but a chopper is the worst choice possible. They’re clumsy, hard to move around and suck for off-roading. Yet everyone is riding them, with not a dirt-bike in sight. Weirder is how the roads are littered with cars and especially chunky 4x4s that would be superb for mowing down Freakers. Why does nobody drive those as well? I don’t think the game ever tries to explain it, either. Huh.

My Mortal Kombat 11 review should be up in the next few days, so I won’t say too much about it. I’ve actually had to re-write a chunk of the review due to some of the recent updates, which is a good thing because the game has been improved.

I’d also recommend checking out Kasual to Kompetitive, a handy guide to the game that you can find below. There’s a series of these videos, and once you’ve watched this one you should go and look at their combo guide.

Obviously last week Game of Thrones aired the third episode in the final season. Its fair to say that opinions were somewhat divided. I’m going to offer up some quick thoughts on it, so be warned we’re going into spoiler territory.

First, let’s tackle the Night King himself. I agree with the general feeling that after 8 seasons of build it was a shame to see him go out so…quickly. I’m not upset about Jon Snow not fighting him head-on, though. While it would have been cool to see, it wasn’t something I assumed would happen. Plus, we don’t even know if the Night King was any good with a blade. We never saw him fight, and he seemed disinterested in doing so. He shrugged off Jon’s challenge earlier in the episode, after all. He may never have had to properly fight one-on-one. He has no reason to.

With that said, Arya was a bit of a surprise, but a welcome one in my eyes. I like how they used the episode to remind of us of her various skills. I really enjoyed the library sequence and how she was shown to be so quiet that it was a drop of blood that eventually gave her away. The callback to her to move against Brienne from last season was also superb, and I liked that she snuck up on Jon in the exact same place the episode prior.

But man, the Night King needs to get himself some better bodyguards. The white walker generals kind of suck. At everything. Not only do we never see them do anything, they failed to protect their master from the small blur of a girl.

Speaking of useless, what the fuck Bran. Just…man, you’re useless.

A lot of people are unhappy with the idea of Cersei and the battle for the throne being the final boss fight in Game of Thrones, assuming that the Night King story is actually over. I think I’m okay with it because I had always figured that the battle for the throne would probably be the finale. Game of Thrones, at least the TV show, has always been about two storylines: winter coming, and political backstabbing. Realistically, the threat of the walkers had to be dealt with first. Although I have to admit that having the North tackle Cersei first then trying to hold off the Night King with a shattered army would have been cool.

As for the rest of the episode, I did notice that a lot of people found it too dark. It’s a valid complaint, I reckon, but personally the darkness worked for me. I loved that you couldn’t see the undead until they were right on top of people. It gave the battle a horror tinge.

I also thought they did a fantastic job of taking a 90-minute battle and keeping it interesting. They constantly changed the pace up, from chaotic war to character moments to creepy sections and sombre sequences. The entire piano and slow motion sequence toward the end sent chills down my spine.

In the midst of all that chaos, though, it was a bit strange that none of the major characters died. I think Game of Thrones has fundamentally changed since the show caught up with the books. One of the defining aspects of the books and show, to me, was that characters would die in believable ways. If they made poor decisions in the game (of thrones) or found themselves in tough situations it usually resulted in death. But since diverging from the books it feels like characters are able to get away with a lot more. Jon Snow and co. being surrounded in the middle of the lake from last season is a prime example. In earlier Game of Thrones at least a few of the big characters in that episode would have died. But thanks to Gendry being a champion runner they pulled through with only one minor death. Going back to The Long Night we had multiple characters being completely surrounded or inept yet surviving. Sam is a character I love, but he should have gotten killed several times over. Likewise, we saw Brienne, Jaime and Podrick all being squashed by dozens of walkers but by time we come back to them they’re fine again.

And then, of course, we have the strange Dothraki charge. I’m still not sure why they were at the front, or why the catapults were also right on the front line and did practically nothing. It seems like the Dothraki were sacrifices or something, though, because none of them appeared to be wielding dragonglass weapons that I could see. Maybe we’ll get some sort of crazy explanation this week as to why they all went charging off to their deaths. But man, at least the scene with all the fiery swords going out was awesome.

Weekend Whammy: Thoughts On The Long Night & Days Gone Read More »

Mortal Kombat 11 Review – Flawless Victory?

Fighting games are like some sort of detox. After playing game after game where I’m living a power fantasy playing a fighting game can be a slap to the face, a reminder that I’m not as good as I think. One on one there are no excuses. Failure needs to be owned. Lessons must be learned. Inventive swear words must fill the air like so many angry, foul-mouthed bees. And my favourite fighting game series in history is Mortal Kombat. I’ve been playing them since Mortal Kombat 2, and now we’re up to the 11th numbered game in the series. For a while things were rough, but then NetherRealm made an epic comeback in 2011. Since then, Mortal Kombat has been better than ever. But Mortal Kombat 11…well, it’s a little trickier.

The Story & Characters
The story mode is lavishly made with detailed cutscenes, awesome fight sequences and even some strong voice acting in places, provided you don’t count the awkwardness that is Ronda Rousey voicing Sonya Blade. We open with Raiden having gone off the deep end. Determined to keep Earth Realm safe he’s now willing to go to any lengths to achieve that. Unhappy with the way things have gone a character by the name of Kronika pops up and starts messing with the timeline. Suddenly earlier versions of the Mortal Kombat cast start popping up. Young, cocky Johnny Cage is interact acting with his older, wiser self. Cassie Cage has to deal with meeting the earlier versions of her parents. It’s prime material for some klassic Mortal Kombat cheesiness.

Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PS4

Reviewed On: Xbox One X

Developer: NetherRealm

Publisher: Warner Bros.

Do be warned, though; if you can’t help but nit-pick stories then Mortal Kombat 11 might just drive you crazy. The thing that typically bothered me the most is how both heroes and villains would knock their deadly opponent’s out and then just leave them there. In a game that features incredibly violent killing animations, loads of blood and more violence than an average Saturday night in Glasgow it’s strange that so many lethal threats are left alive.

In short, there are a lot of plot holes involving the time -travelling shenanigans, but the story is surprisingly good fun. The only real complication is that keeping track of the Mortal Kombat timelines requires a college degree. This is the second sequel to the 2011 Mortal Kombat which served as a reboot for the series. Mortal Kombat X bumped the storyline along 25-years, thus introducing characters like Cassie Cage, the daughter of Johnny Cage and Sonya Blade. Throw in time travel and lots of references to prior games and you’ve got one confusing mixture.

Time travel also gives the developers an excuse to mix up their character roster. Old classics make a most welcome return, such as Sub-Zero, Scorpion, Noob Saibot, Liu Kang and Johnny Cage. Then there are the newer members like Cassie Cage and Erron Black. Finally, there are a selection of characters introduced in Mortal Kombat 11. There’s Geras, the hulking servant of Kronika, and Citrion, the daughter of Kronika who can wield the elements. It’s a good mix of characters, and the roster will only get expanded. But with that said, holding Shao Kahn back as a pre-order bonus was a dick move.

Fighting Mechanics & Changes
Look, I’m no expert at fighting games so this isn’t going to be a review that approaches the combat from a technical perspective. This is just going to be from the view of someone who likes punching virtual opponents in the face. On the surface this is still the typical Mortal Kombat experience where you dial combos and special moves and watch the blood fly. Hits feel impactful, the controls are responsive and the game looks fantastic.

Probably the most obvious change is that running has been ditched entirely, so the intense rushing of Mortal Kombat 10 is thankfully gone. Instead, its back to dashing, though players have already found an insane method using dashing that lets them hop across the screen in seconds. Despite the intense on-screen violence the pace actually feels more thoughtful and methodic.

Then there’s the inclusion of Krushing Blows, painful slow-motion moves that show of your opponent’s bones and organs being decimated. Every character has access to a few of these, but the way they’re triggered varies. Sometimes they need to be used as a counter, for example. Each one can only be used once in a fight, so to get the most out of them you need to vary attacks. I like these, because at first I didn’t even think about them and only occasionally hit one by accident, but over time knowing how and when to use them became more important.

Perhaps the most divisive tweak to the way fights play out are Fatal Blows. When your health is low a quick pull of both triggers activates a Fatal Blow, which is basically a super attack animation complete with spikes going through eyeballs, ice-axes being driven into chests and so much more gloriously over-the-top forms of violence. They’re fun the first time around, but after that the lengthy animations disrupt the flow of a fight and each character only has a single Fatal Blow animation. They can also just feel like a cheap way of balancing out fights, so that someone getting hammered can suddenly pull of an immensely damaging move. However, the wind up for a Fatal Blow does give the opponent a good amount of time to block. Plus, a Fatal Blow can only be used once per fight.

I have to say, though, that Fatal Blows in the story mode are hilarious. In the opening scenes you play as Cassie Cage and must battle her mother Sonya Blade to prove she is capable of leading a squad. Mid-way through the fight I activate Fatal Blow and suddenly loving daughter Cassie Cage proceeds to break Sonya’s jaw, put a bullet through each of her knees and then finish up with several rounds into her gut. Then the match ends and both people act like all they had was a demonstration bout. Only in Mortal Kombat.

Mortal Kombat 11 Review – Flawless Victory? Read More »

Patch Notes: Randy Pitchford In Trouble Again, A John Wick Game & Problems At NetherRealm

Once again I have returned to bless you all with some random snippets of news from the past week and my horrendously worded opinions about them! Huzzah! This time Randy Pitchford is in the news again, Ubisoft have announced a new Ghost Recon, John Wick is getting a video game and NetherRealm are investigating accusations of horrible working conditions.

Randy Pitchford vs Claptrap Actor David Eddings
Oh look, Randy Pitchford is in the news again. Jesus Christ, would someone just disconnect his internet already?

Actually, to be fair, this story is a little more complicated and ultimately boils down to Randy’s word versus someone else’s.

Things start with David Eddings, the original voice of Claptrap for Borderlands, Borderlands 2 and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. Eddings posted a Tweet stating that he wouldn’t be reprising his role. Eddings replied to a Twitter user asking if he would be voicing Claptrap, saying “No. For the first time, I insisted on getting paid for my performance and all of a sudden they couldn’t afford me. Now I’m not telling them how to run their business but maybe next time they should put the $12M payment from 2K in the Gearbox bank account instead. Just sayin’… “

I was fine moving on after Gearbox. But when my former boss starts mouthing off about various aspects of my employment including “how highly compensated” I was and how “generous” he is, I feel obligated to correct the record.— David Eddings (@davideddings) May 7, 2019

In the previous games Eddings was working at Gearbox and voiced the character for free. According to Gearbox they offered the chance to voice characters in their games to all of their employees, but it was never mandatory. When approached to reprise his role Eddings was no longer working at Gearbox (having left in 2017) and thus asked to be paid for his work.

Eddings comment about the $12-million payment is referring to an ongoing lawsuit in which Randy Pitchford is accused of having pocketed a $12-million payout from 2K that was intended to go directly to Gearbox as a whole.

Randy Pitchford later stated:

Mr. Eddings was paid very handsomely during his employment. After his employment he was made a relatively generous offer to reprise the role. Unfortunately, he turned that opportunity down.— Randy Pitchford (@DuvalMagic) May 3, 2019

According to Pitchford, Eddings was offered 2x the standard industry rate but no agreement could be reached. After a quick bit of research it seems standard union rates for voice-over work is about $400 per hour, thus Pitchford is saying that Eddings turned down about $800 per hour.

However, Gearbox’s official Twitter account says that they offered him industry standard rates, contradicting what Pitchford said. So far, so confusing.

Eddings also stated that, “I ultimately offered to do it for “free” in exchange for past royalties owed plus an apology for something I’ve never spoken about publicly until now: Randy physically assaulted me in the lobby of the Marriott Marquis at GDC 2017. “

In regard to royalties Eddings previously mentioned that Gearbox employees take lower salaries with the promise of royalties to come. Presumably said royalties were going to amount to a large sum if Eddings and Gearbox couldn’t reach an agreement. According to another Tweet from Eddings he would have lost money accepting the job, which was unacceptable especially as he has a lot of responsibilities.

Then there are the serious physical assault accusations. I recommend reading Eddings interview with Newsweek for a proper breakdown of events. In short Eddings was informed that someone inside of Gearbox was attempting to get a price on the company. Eddings told Randy Pitchford who responded angrily and then shoved Eddings. Eddings believes that Randy Pitchford was already aware of the person trying to get a price on Gearbox and was somehow involved, and that Pitchford merely wanted him to tattle on his source. As a result Eddings said he was fired by Pitchford the day after the assault, though Eddings did also report the incident to Human Resources.

This is a hell of a story, and honestly trying to piece it together feels impossible. Most of it has come from Tweets, so trying to get a clear timeline is awkward and questions regarding specific details remain unanswered. At this point I’m not even sure if Eddings was actually offered payment. Given Pitchford’s history of lying and his volatile temper I’m inclined to believe Eddings in this case, but this is an example of “he said, she said” with nothing but words. The only exception is that Gearbox co-founder Landon Montgomery says he did witness Randy getting angry and shoving Eddings.

Finally, I can’t even figure out how this started. There doesn’t seem to be an inciting Tweet that I can track down. I have no doubt that there are huge chunks of this story missing, so judgement should be reserved for the moment. In the meantime, I appreciate Eddings also pointing out that his problems are with Pitchford and that he views Gearbox as a terrific company.

Patch Notes: Randy Pitchford In Trouble Again, A John Wick Game & Problems At NetherRealm Read More »

Weekend Whammy: Days Gone Is Great, Moon Nazis & God of War

Against all laws of probability I’ve somehow managed to catch yet another bloody cold. Annoyingly it’s just a few days before I’m due to go visit my sister and little nephew, so hopefully I can just inject some Lucozade straight into my bloodstream and let that sort everything out. I’m pretty that’s a medically sound idea, right?

On that topic, though, I thought I’d share a picture of my wee nephew pulling his best pose for the camera. Cheeky little sod.

This week I reviewed the gruesome Mortal Kombat 11 and had some quite mixed feelings about it. Ultimately, though, the core fighting mechanics were bloody awesome and I’m still having good fun with it. The progression system is still rather naff, but I’m enjoying learning different characters and getting my ass whooped online.

I’m still playing Days Gone as well. And yes, I do still plan on reviewing it. I’m just taking my time with, savoring it as much as I can. Because I like to review as much as I possibly can I find myself rushing through games. It’s nice to just sit back and take my time with a game.

Anyway, I’ve read most of the major reviews for Days Gone and have to say…they’re kind of right. The combat is clumsy, the movement is clunky and the opening hours don’t do the game any favours. It’s a game that really hits its stride 10 hours in, and that’s not a good thing. But I think it shares a lot in common with Red Dead Redemption 2 in that its flaws can be overlooked. Once you deal with the issues and learn how to work around them Days Gone becomes so much fun. There’s a strong story with a great lead character, great bike riding and an interesting open world.

And taking on the massive swarms of Freakers is just a blast. The first one I encountered was a crazy affair involving me running madly around trying to lure them into death-traps. Great stuff.

In terms of forthcoming reviews, I’m not to sure at the moment. I’m probably not going to be covering Rage 2 as it simply doesn’t interest me. I do have a pile of tech reviews to do, though. That includes some awesome new Star Wars licensed gear from Razer. But I’ve also got some HyperX reviews coming, plus the Rig 500 headset.

I also put out a little piece chatting about episode 4 of Game of Thrones, season 8. There’s a lot I wanted to say and the piece rambles on a bit, but to put it simply yes, the show has gotten weaker and the writing shakier, but I’m still enjoying it.

You could also go read my Patch Notes where I tackled Randy Pitchford being in the news yet again, a John Wick game being announced and more.

This week I watched the sequel to Iron Sky, a barmy film involving evil Nazis on the moon. The sequel, titled The Coming Race, is absolutely terrible. And fantastic. Like Iron Sky it’s not meant to be taken seriously. This is a film that involves humans living on an ex-Nazi moonbase, a hollow Earth, an ancient reptilian race and an army of dinosaurs. I mean, if that doesn’t make you want to watch it then I don’t think you deserve to be alive.

I also watched the 2-hour long God of War documentary that pretty much blew my mind. The passion, detail and sheer talent that went into forging God of War anew is simply breathtaking. It’s a lengthy watch, for sure, but I’d highly recommend you find the time to kick back with some snacks and drinks and watch the story of how one of the best games of this generation came to be.

Other things I’d recommend checking include this lovely little piece from Martin Robinson over on Eurogamer about how it’s time for Ubisoft to bring back Splinter Cell. I couldn’t agree more and it would be a nice change of pace for Ubisoft to go back to a more linear game. Open world games are nice and all, but I miss being Sam Fisher sneaking my way through a tightly designed maze. The previous entry in the series, Blacklist, was fun but probably would have done better without the Splinter Cell name attached to it.

Weekend Whammy: Days Gone Is Great, Moon Nazis & God of War Read More »