BioWare discusses Anthem loot overhaul

Major improvements are coming to Anthem.

What you need to know

Anthem is a third-person action game from BioWare.
It garnered poor reviews at launch due to its story and technical issues.
BioWare is working on an overhaul of the game and just reveal new details about loot.
Anthem is part of EA Access.

Many months ago, rumors were floating around that BioWare was planning a massive overhaul of Anthem. The game’s launch didn’t go smoothly because of the convoluted and incomplete story and performance issues. Since then, the team has fixed the technical issues, but the overall problems with gameplay remain.

Today, Christian Dailey, the Studio Director for BioWare Austin, discussed the Anthem revival and how the team wants to change loot. You can read the entire statement on the BioWare Blog.

Loot

A good player experience depends on the loot system being extensible and robust, and a lot can go wrong. A lot did go wrong. We fell short here and we realized that building something new from the ground up was going to be required – starting with taking a long look and understanding the best in class of the many great games that inspire us… Increase the frequency of Loot Drops. Loot is viable more often… You can pursue specific loot without relying on randomness alone… Reveal and equip loot right away.

Power Level

Your power cap can be easily increased, and the loot system scales accordingly. Advanced telemetry data allows us to identify trends and make meaningful balance changes.

Gunplay

Gunplay is overall more responsive with enemies reacting to hits near-instantly with improved client-side prediction, we are looking into the role of melee items and builds, and of course, being able to spend skill points to unlock new types of equipment and synergies.

It’s unclear what the timeline for the Anthem overhaul is, but it may be towards the end of 2020 or beyond. What do you want to see from the game’s overhaul? Let us know.

Fight for the dawn

Anthem

$12 at Walmart

Join the Freelancers

Anthem is BioWare’s new franchise, allowing players to pilot powerful armor suits that come in four different varieties and can be tweaked and customized endlessly.

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BioWare discusses Anthem loot overhaul

Beyond Good and Evil film from Detective Pikachu director in the works

No word yet on Beyond Good and Evil 2 though.

What you need to know

Netflix announced Friday that it’s developing a Beyond Good and Evil film with Ubisoft.
Rob Letterman, the director of Detective Pikachu, is attached to direct the live-action / animation hybrid.
This is the second Ubisoft adaptation project to hit entertainment outlets this week; Variety reported on a Splinter Cell anime adaptation.

Beyond Good and Evil fans will have to wait a bit longer for an update on Beyond Good and Evil 2, but there’s something else in the franchise in the works.

A feature film adaptation of the first game is in development at Netflix. The announcement was made from one of Netflix’s official Twitter accounts Friday afternoon.

?????? Some good news for Beyond Good & Evil fans ??????A Netflix feature film adaptation of @Ubisoft’s epic space pirate adventure is in development! pic.twitter.com/H5uMIXhir6— NX (@NXOnNetflix) July 31, 2020

The Hollywood Reporter also had some exclusive details, including that it’ll be directed by Rob Letterman, who directed Detective PIkachu and Goosebumps. The movie is set to be a live-action / animated hybrid in the vain of the very successful Detective Pikachu.

The film is also reportedly in very early development and is also currently seeking out writers.

The game, which came out in 2003, is about Jade, a reporter and martial artist who works with a resistance to stop an alien conspiracy. It did well with critics but sold poorly and became a game with a cult following. The plan was for it to be a trilogy, but fans heard nothing but rumors until Ubisoft unveiled a look at Beyond Good and Evil 2 at E3 2017.

This is the second Ubisoft adaptation news we’ve gotten this week. Earlier, Variety reported that a Splinter Cell anime adaptation is also in development at Netflix, with Derek Kolstad, the writer on the John Wick franchise attached as executive producer and writer. Neither Netflix or Ubisoft commented on the situation. Coincidentally, this is also another instance of a long-brewing franchise getting the adaptation treatment.

Ubisoft has been helping to produce adaptations of its games in house since it was founded in 2011. It helped get the Rabbids Invasion cartoon off the ground, and of course, the Assassin’s Creed film starring Michael Fassbender. It also helped to produce Mythic Quest, the Apple TV+ show starring Rob McElhenney (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia), although that’s not based on a previous franchise. The company also announced a Skull & Bones TV adaptation in 2019.

Beyond Good and Evil film from Detective Pikachu director in the works

Halo 3 is getting new cosmetics in the Master Chief Collection

Look pretty while you kill noobs.

What you need to know

343 Industries announced that weapon skins and other cosmetics will be coming to Halo 3 on the Master Chief Collection.
Additionally, some weapons from Halo 3: ODST will be coming to Halo 3, such as the Silenced SMG and the Brute Plasma Rifle.
The content will come with the Collection’s third season, which begins when Halo 3: ODST launches on PC.

Halo developer 343 Industries has announced in a blog post that Halo 3 on the Master Chief Collection will be receiving new cosmetic unlocks when the third season for the Collection begins. These unlocks include weapon skins, visor colors, and more.

In addition to the new cosmetics, players will also be able to use weapons from Halo 3: ODST in Halo 3 that were not in the game originally. These include guns such as the Silenced SMG, SOCOM Magnum, and the Brute Plasma Rifle.

The third season for the Master Chief Collection has also been stated to begin when Halo 3: ODST launches fully on PC. When exactly that will be is unclear, but the first test flight for the game begins in the first half of August.

Overall, we’re pretty excited to see Halo 3 get some cool new content. Let us know what you think down below! Also, if you haven’t gotten it yet, we highly recommend Halo: The Master Chief Collection. It has all of the pre-Xbox One Halo shooters in one bundle that has an awesome $40 price, meaning it offers amazing value. It’s available on Xbox One and PC (both Steam and the Windows 10 Store). Halo 3: ODST and Halo 4 haven’t fully released on PC yet, but Halo: Reach, Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Halo 2: Anniversary, and Halo 3 are all available to play on PC.

Finish the Fight

Halo: The Master Chief Collection

$40 at Microsoft (Xbox One)
$40 at Microsoft (PC)
$40 at Steam

Experience the entirety of Halo history

The Master Chief Collection is a collection of every Halo shooter from the pre-Xbox One era, offering incredible value at an incredible price.

Halo 3 is getting new cosmetics in the Master Chief Collection

Even as cloud infrastructure growth slows, revenue rises over $30B for quarter

The cloud market is coming into its own during the pandemic as the novel coronavirus forced many companies to accelerate plans to move to the cloud, even while the market was beginning to mature on its own.
This week, the big three cloud infrastructure vendors — Amazon, Microsoft and Google — all reported their earnings, and while the numbers showed that growth was beginning to slow down, revenue continued to increase at an impressive rate, surpassing $30 billion for a quarter for the first time, according to Synergy Research Group numbers.

Even as cloud infrastructure growth slows, revenue rises over B for quarter

Free-to-play Halo Infinite multiplayer: Good or bad?

Is free multiplayer a good idea or will it lead to severe problems?

Recently, a listing on the Smyths Toys website suggested that Halo Infinite’s multiplayer experience might be free-to-play. Assuming that this is indeed the case, this new direction is a bold one — and one that will potentially come with both benefits and drawbacks.

Here’s how we think the Halo franchise could benefit from a free Halo Infinite multiplayer, as well as some of the concerns we have about such a system.

The Good: No barrier to entry, high player count

The most exciting thing about Halo Infinite’s multiplayer potentially being free would be that the barrier to entry would be non-existent. This would enable anyone interested in the game to give it a shot without worrying about cost. This is great considering that Halo Infinite is coming to PC, a platform where players have never had a chance to try a modern Halo gameplay experience and will likely want to dip their toes in to test the water.

On top of this, Halo Infinite’s esports scene would most likely flourish since players of all skill levels can get involved easier. If the Forge mode (a branch of the multiplayer experience) is free as well, Halo’s map-making community will grow, too.

It’s also important to note that Halo Infinite multiplayer being free would no doubt swell the active player count to a number well beyond what it would be if it cost money. If the game turns out to be good, then so many people talking about and playing the game will help bring it, and Halo in general, some much-needed popularity. Halo’s multiplayer has struggled to grab the gaming community’s attention for more than a few months from Halo 4 on, but a free-to-play model can help Halo Infinite climb that hill.

The Bad (potentially): Microtransactions, issues with cheaters

Whenever discussing the cons of free-to-play games, microtransactions always come up first and for good reason. Free games are often plagued with things like intrusive paid loot box systems that hinder the overall experience, reducing the experience to something akin to gambling. Worst of all, some games have been reduced to pay-to-win models.

Thankfully, we know this specific form of microtransaction won’t be in the game based on comments made by 343 Industries Studio Head Chris Lee. However, that doesn’t mean that other forms of microtransactions won’t be in the game. Ideally, 343 Industries should create a system with two goals in mind: no pay-to-win advantages in any game mode whatsoever, and the preservation of the ability for players to unlock cosmetics through reasonable amounts of gameplay. A system where players can choose to pay for cosmetics they want is fine, but restricting the player’s ability to earn them by playing or allowing players to get an in-game edge over others would be problematic.

Secondly, Halo Infinite being a free-to-play game on PC naturally raises concerns about cheating. If cheaters don’t have to worry about spending money on a new copy of Halo Infinite’s multiplayer after being banned, it will be signficantly easier for them to resume their antics. Destiny 2, which went free-to-play in late 2019, stands as a perfect example of how cheaters can run rampant when there isn’t a monetary incentive to discourage cheaters from hacking. Players constantly complain about hackers ruining the gameplay experience in competitive Crucible modes like Survival and Trials of Osiris, and despite Bungie’s best efforts, the issue still persists far into 2020.

It should be noted, however, that this problem can be rectified with extensive anti-cheat systems. For instance, Valve’s hit tactical shooter Counter-Strike: Global Offensive went free-to-play in 2018, and the developers have managed to stay on top of cheating ever since.

Conclusion: Exciting, but only if supported properly

Ultimately, the prospect of a free Halo Infinite multiplayer is an exciting one. However, if it doesn’t have the proper systems to support it, things could quickly fall apart. Halo Infinite would benefit greatly from sky-high player counts and the lack of an entry barrier, but intrusive microtransaction systems could ruin the progression experience for fans and cheaters may damage the integrity of the game on PC. It would be awesome if Halo Infinite’s multiplayer was free, but we don’t want it to happen unless 343 Industries takes the necessary steps to make it work.

Halo Infinite is expected to launch on Xbox Series X, Xbox One, and Windows 10 PCs during the Holiday 2020 season. For more on the game, don’t miss our article on five gameplay details you might have missed from the official gameplay reveal.

The next adventure in the saga

Halo Infinite

See at Microsoft
See at Steam

A new Great Journey awaits

Halo Infinite is nearly upon us, and it’s sure to be an incredible game filled with wonder, adventure, and more.

Free-to-play Halo Infinite multiplayer: Good or bad?

TikTok may soon come under Microsoft's wing (yes, really)

Cue up the Steve Ballmer dance.

What you need to know

The Trump administration is rumored to be preparing an order for Chinese company Bytedance to divest its U.S. portion of TikTok.
Microsoft is reportedly in talks to buy the app from Bytedance.
There’s no word on when the order, or sale, might come down.

CONFIRMED; sources say @Microsoft in talks to buy https://t.co/1q4Y8HRbjG— Charles Gasparino (@CGasparino) July 31, 2020

Developing

TikTok may soon come under Microsoft's wing (yes, really)

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Is the Dell XPS 15 (7590) available with a touchscreen 4K display?

Best answer: Yes, but it’s not listed in the United States. The Dell XPS 15 (7590) has a touch version, but it’s not on Dell’s website in the United States. Some international outlets still have the touch version in stock.

Old but still good: Dell XPS 15 (7590) (without touchscreen) (From $1,715 at Dell)

Getting in touch

The Dell XPS 15 has several display configurations, but certain ones can be difficult to find as the 7590 is an older model. You can grab a less expensive version of the XPS 15 (7590) with a 1920×1080 screen, but if you want the best picture quality, you’ll want a 4K UHD (3840×2160) version.

The display of the XPS 15 is 15.6 inches, has relatively small bezels, and is a very nice display. It’s also anti-reflective, which helps you see the contents of your screen even in sunlight. Unfortunately, there isn’t a touch version of the XPS 15 (7590) on Dell’s website in the United States. Dell UK lists one, but it appears as if Dell no longer keeps them in stock in the United States.

There used to be a touch display option that cost an additional $50, but Dell’s website in the United States doesn’t list that option anymore. You might be able to find one from another retailer, but they don’t seem readily available.

Check out the latest model

Before you consider grabbing the XPS 15 (7590) with or without touch, make sure to check out the XPS 15 (9500) that we recently reviewed. It’s a significant refresh of the XPS 15 line and includes a new display with thin bezels and improved internals.

The new XPS 15 (9500) has multiple options with a UHD+ (3840 x 2400) display with touch support. The display is also anti-reflective and can reach a brightness of 500 nits. The cheapest new XPS 15 (9500) with touch support starts at $1,470.

If you want to save some money or touch isn’t that important to you, the older XPS 15 (7590) is still a solid laptop.

Our pick

Dell XPS 15 (7590) (without touch display)

From $1,715 at Dell

A powerful laptop with a gorgeous display

The latest Dell XPS 15 has an option for a 4K UHD display but doesn’t have an option for touch in the US anymore. It’s still a solid laptop if touch isn’t essential to you or if you want to save some money.

Is the Dell XPS 15 (7590) available with a touchscreen 4K display?

NVIDIA buying Arm is a really bad idea

As much as I would love to see what NVIDIA could do with Arm’s design team, I don’t want it to have control over the industry. Neither should you.

Update, July 31 (9:50 am ET): Bloomberg reports that talks between NVIDIA and SoftBank have progressed and a deal could be reached in the next few weeks.

I’m an NVIDIA fan. The company is best known for making uber-powerful GPUs that almost single-handedly drive the gaming industry, but it also makes things like machine learning servers, self-driving cars, robots, and the best Android TV box ever made. I think all of their products are great and even enjoyed using NVIDIA-powered phones before Qualcomm drove the company out of the industry.

I’m Team NVIDIA for most things. Not this thing, though.

Call me a fanboy, call me whatever, but I like the company and the things it makes. But I hate the idea of NVIDIA controlling Arm, the company that makes the reference design that every phone chipmaker uses to build processors.

This is all just a rumor, and like a lot of rumors might not even be remotely true. But we do know that SoftBank — the Japanese firm that has control over Arm Holdings — isn’t afraid to buy and sell other companies. Hearing a SoftBank executive publicly say that the company was considering selling Arm Holdings would not surprise me one bit.

It’s also not surprising that NVIDIA would be interested in acquiring Arm. When you think of NVIDIA, you probably think about graphics cards. The company also makes a really good ARM CPU-based chip that combines a fast processor with GPU cores for computing and it’s one of the most powerful ARM-based chips you can buy today. Forget powering a phone or tablet, something like a Jetson Xavier NX can run a server or power a self-driving car.

The problem is that Arm Holdings (the company) licenses ARM (all caps and the name of the design Arm makes) CPU design to, well, everybody. ARM cores are at the base of every chip in every mobile device made today as well as millions of servers, scientific devices, hobby boards like the Raspberry Pi, and Internet of Things devices like a Nest Mini or the Nest Wifi.

NVIDIA would still license ARM designs to everybody, but those designs would slowly change.

NVIDIA could still license the design if it were in charge and would because it’s lucrative. Forcing whoever buys Arm to continue the licensing program will surely be one of the stipulations of sale regulators in the U.S. and U.K. — Arm is based in Cambridge — place on any acquisition. I’m not worried that NVIDIA would cut off Qualcomm or Apple or Samsung from making CPUs based on ARM designs.

I’m worried about the designs themselves. NVIDIA — or any other company that makes ARM chips today — would want future designs to benefit its current development. I think NVIDIA makes a heck of a chip, so that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but Apple and Qualcomm also make a heck of a chip and those companies wouldn’t be very happy with changes that force them to work around issues.

This would definitely happen if any company building ARM-based chips were to buy Arm Holdings, not just NVIDIA. That’s why we should be against it and regulators need to not allow it. If ARM designs were to slowly favor NVIDIA’s chip development preference, any innovation that may have come from Qualcomm or Samsung would be stifled. This is how you stagnate an industry that already is highly dependent on one product: ARM CPUs.

A neutral company that doesn’t build chips needs to buy Arm and pump it full of cash.

As much as I would love to see NVIDIA able to design and build a full chip package from the ground up, and as great as I think that chip might be, I just don’t want to see it happen. It’d be bad for technology as a whole, which is more important. NVIDIA should keep building amazing graphics adapters and legendary Android TV devices but not start designing the reference that every technology company in the world depends on.

Update, July 31 (9:50 am ET) — Bloomberg reports talks between NVIDIA and SoftBank have advanced.

According to an unnamed source via Bloomberg, talks between NVIDIA and SoftBank have been ongoing and the two companies are close to working out a deal. It’s also noted that, according to this source, NVIDIA is the only company currently interested in buying ARM.

Representatives from NVIDIA, SoftBank, and Arm Holdings declined to comment when contacted by Bloomberg.

NVIDIA buying Arm is a really bad idea

If you're having trouble with Grounded on Windows 7, install this update

Windows 7 is still alive.

What you need to know

Grounded, the latest project from Obsidian Entertainment, just came out in Early Access and Game Preview.
The game is already a ton of fun, but is suffering from lots of early bugs and issues.
One issue has players on Windows 7 playing through Steam unable to log in to Grounded.
Grounded’s first hotfix is rolling out now to resolve this specific issue, with more updates coming in the future.

If you’ve been trying to get into Grounded through Steam on your Windows 7 gaming rig, you might have run into an issue with logging into the game. This is a known issue in Grounded’s Early Access and Game Preview, and Obsidian Entertainment is rolling out an update to resolve the issue right now. Any players running into this bug should go and install this update right away.

Hello players, we are pushing out an update that should resolve login issues for players playing through Steam on Windows 7. If you are on Windows 7, have updated your game, and still experience this login issue, please contact us here: https://t.co/ICTZACiFnF pic.twitter.com/Ceb9RIakHN— Grounded (@GroundedTheGame) July 31, 2020

This update marks the first of many expected for Grounded, especially with the long list of known issues and bugs that currently plague the game’s early access. The small team behind Grounded are undoubtedly working night and day to resolve these issues, while continuing to update the game with new content and features.

Related: All of the known issues, bugs, and upcoming fixes for Grounded

If you continue to run into an issue with logging into Grounded while playing on Windows 7, please be sure to let Obsidian know on their support website so they can keep track of any unresolved issues with the game.

Microscopic survival

Grounded

$30 at Microsoft
$30 at Steam

It’s a big(ger) world out there.

Obsidian Entertainment makes its exclusive debut on Xbox One and PC with Grounded, a unique survival experience that literally makes all of your problems much, much bigger. Join your friends as you’re shrunk down to the size of an ant and are forced to survive in a dangerous backyard.

Grounded

Grounded: Everything You Need to Know
Grounded: Is it good?
Grounded: Beginner’s Guide
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If you're having trouble with Grounded on Windows 7, install this update