Remember RTX? It’s in a video game now

Remember RTX? It’s in a video game now

If you’ve purchased an Nvidia RTX graphics card, you can finally enjoy your fancy new GPU’s namesake feature. All you have to do is update a handful of programs and join Electronic Arts’ premium subscription service.

Battlefield V is officially the first game to support real-time ray tracing. This feature enables light to reflect off surfaces like windows and puddles in a hyperrealistic way. The game can use this feature if you meet a number of requirements. Most important, you need to run either an Nvidia RTX 2070, 2080, or 2080 Ti. And as you might expect, the bigger the number of your GPU, the faster it’ll handle this computationally expensive feature.

Remember to keep your software up-to-date

In addition to the video card, you will also need a subscription to Origin Access to download the game, the Nvidia GeForce 416.94 drivers, and the latest Windows update. That is the Windows 10 October 2018 Update, which Microsoft actually pulled due to bugs last month. It’s back, and it still supports the DirectX Raytracing (DXR) graphics API necessary to enable RTX.

If you have all of the updates and the appropriate hardware, you should see “DXR Enabled” in Battlefield V’s video settings. Or that’s my understanding, I haven’t been able to try this yet. I have Windows 10 updating on my machine right now, and it looks suspiciously like it’s locked on the “do not reset your PC” screen.

So is RTX worth it?

I’m going to dive into RTX soon. I’m looking forward to determining if it lives up to Nvidia’s hype. Right now, I don’t know. My guess is that in certain circumstances, it’s going to appear quit beautiful. But I also think that most people may want to turn it off if the jump in fidelity comes with a significant hit to performance.

But again, I don’t know if that’s going to happen. I’m excited to see what Battlefield V looks like. It’s already a stunning game, and maybe RTX could put it over the top.

Read More

Google Maps just turned into a messaging app with this new feature

Google Maps is in the midst of pulling off a pretty interesting evolution these days, going from being a simple navigational tool that helps you get from Point A to Point B and into the app equivalent of a Swiss Army knife.

It’s now packed with tons of features that include a Yelp-like ability to do some quick research on a restaurant as well as the ability to share your ETA with friends and family. And because Google very much wants you staying in the app as long as possible and using it to interact with businesses you’re trying to find, it’s also just become yet another messaging app.

Google is rolling out an update that involves swiping in from the left and tapping the “messages” option, which now gives you some new uses for the app. Say you’re on the bus, Google imagines, and you don’t want to make a call to the bakery to order the cake you were supposed to pick up. Or if you want to check and see if a shoe store has your size in stock. Now you can simply message the business right there from Google Maps.

“Now you’ll see your messages with the businesses you connect with via Business Profiles within the Google Maps app, where you’re already looking for things to do and places to go or shop,” Google explains in a company blog post. “You’ll find these messages in the side menu of both Google Maps for Android and iOS.”

Image Source: Google

Google’s post goes on to note that you can message a local business that has enabled messages, and the way to find that is to check for the “message” button on a business’ profile on Google Search and Maps. “On the flip side,” the post continues, “businesses that want to accept messages from customers can install the new Google My Business app from Google Play or the App Store to sign up and enable messages. The new Google My Business app makes it even easier for businesses to stay in touch with their customers in real-time and on the go.”

As we noted just a few weeks ago, this adds to a slew of other features that have come to Google Maps, like the ability to “follow” businesses within Maps a la Facebook, the same way you can asymmetrically “follow” a business’s page there. You just tap the follow button within Maps and you then can start getting news, updates and even details about offers from a business in the app’s new “For You” tab.

Image Source: AP/REX/Shutterstock

Read More

Fallout 76: My First Day Out Of The Vault

Fallout 76: My First Day Out Of The Vault
Screenshot: Kotaku (Fallout 76)

Fallout 76 is out today, three years after the last game in the series, Fallout 4. Unlike its predecessor it’s not a single-player open world role-playing game, but an online multiplayer one. It also went through a lengthy beta period, with players’ progress from those sessions carrying over into official release today. As a result, the game’s official release feels most like another milestone on the difficult journey to predict what the game will become. The more I explore the far corners of the map, trying to decode mysterious radio signals and collect better Power Armor pieces while steering clear of its dangerous threats, the more unsure I am whether to hate Fallout 76 for its stockpile of small frustrations or to love it in spite of them.

After 15 hours with the game across its beta and today’s release, I expected my feelings about the game to come into stronger focus, but it’s been the opposite. While it feels increasingly like Fallout 4.5 with multiplayer, I’m increasingly less sure about what the implications of that might be. Is the fact that another player can try to kill me at any moment a distraction from the rest of the game or one of the most important factors undergirding it? It’s still too early to say.

Here’s something I’ve experienced in the game more than once. The sun’s just gone down and it’s dark out. I can barely make out what’s in front of me on the mountain path I’m following toward my next objective marker. Then a howl, followed by a second and third. All of the sudden I’m surrounded by wounded dogs I can’t really see. I try to shoot them, but the game’s stiff controls make it impossible. I true to use the V.A.T. system, which is supposed to let me spend AP in exchange for auto-aiming, but now I’m suffering from thirst and hunger and I don’t have any points left.

The edges of Fallout 76’s map constantly taunt you with questions about what lies just over the horizon and how fast it will kill you.
Screenshot: Kotaku (Fallout 76)

I search my inventory, while being repeatedly bitten, in hopes of finding a good melee weapon, but they’re all busted because I’m still missing one of the four ingredients needed in each case to repair them. So I try to karate chop the dogs with the butt of my 10mm. Repeatedly and haphazardly I smash the right shoulder button. But often nothing happens, or the attack occurs on a delay. A minute goes by and I’ve only killed one of the dogs. Finally, after much frantic flailing and two stempacks later, they’re dead.

I loot the bodies for meat and decide now would be a good time to fast-travel back to my campsite so I can cook some food and get rid of my hunger. The game says I can’t because there are still enemies around. I look for them. Nothing. Listen for them, still nothing. I twirl around searching my compass for any sign of a red dot representing said enemies. Nothing. Finally, after walking half the distance to my camp, the game says the coast is clear and lets me teleport.

This is just one example of the nonsense in Fallout 76. Of course, there’s been similar nonsense in previous Fallout games, but here there’s no quicksave, pausing, or magical V.A.T. system to help grease things along. Instead there’s even more friction, with survival and crafting mechanics to manage as well as a messy perk system that feels more like playing spider solitaire than navigating a traditional skill tree.

While it’s early days for the full game of Fallout 76, a lot of people have already made up their minds. Some spent the greater part of this morning review bombing the game on Metacritic, writing things like “Basically it’s an asset flip of Fallout 4, minus real quests, plus multiplayer.” Others were pitched against Fallout 76 as soon as it was announced, feeling that rather than building on the series’ grand single-player legacy, Bethesda was planning to flog it for microtransaction cash by turning into a battle royale-esque online shooter. Reactions from vocal minorities like this aren’t new, but they feel especially ill-suited to a game with so many different sides to it that’s still in its infancy.

You run into people infrequently enough in Fallout 76 that when it does happen, at least for now, people usually stop and try to connect in some way.
Screenshot: Kotaku (Fallout 76)

At times Fallout 76 feels like any other modern Fallout, just with random strangers with weird names above their heads occasionally running by. There are audio logs to find, mutants to kill, and computer terminals to hack, most of which can be done without every dealing with another human being. There are only 24 players to a server, and since the map is roughly four times bigger than Fallout 4’s, the game can feel surprisingly but refreshingly lonely at times.

Some of my favorite moments with the game so far have simply been exploring a dilapidated house or factory building alone, picking through containers while the game’s soundtrack of beautiful forlorn violins hum softly in the background. At times Fallout 76 has the emotional resonance and narrative slow burn of a walking simulator, in which environmental storytelling through found objects and audio recordings do the bulk of the heavy lifting.

At the same time, the concessions the game makes in order to accommodate multiple humans is hard to ignore, even if other players are rarely present. Timed events pop up on the map at regular intervals, pulling you to some far corner of the map to team up with other Vault dwellers in the hopes of getting the resources your survival depends upon. Usually this means fighting off a horde of enemies together which, even when repetitive, fosters a slight sense of flourishing together or not at all. Most of the time, quests are doled out by robots and pre-recorded tapes hooked up to automated machinery. In this regard the world is more like a post-apocalyptic fun house to scavenge through than a living, breathing world, but there are still small but vibrant pockets of civilization humming along.

Narratively, Fallout 76 takes place prior to the rest of the series. Set in the beginning of the 22nd century, not long after the bombs fell, the game’s players are supposed to take on the role of homesteaders taking back the wasteland. One consequence of this design choice is that Fallout 76 relies on each server’s players to provide the storylines, cultural subtleties, and violent confrontations that normally drive the arc of a Fallout game.

Screenshot: Kotaku (Fallout 76)

That means that while you can play Fallout 76 like a single-player game, you won’t get the Fallout experience unless you go out of your way to be social. So far, most people have been busy looking for their first gun or simply trying to find enough food and water to keep from starving all the time. That means most of the multiplayer storylines haven’t had time to properly emerge yet, and likely won’t for a least several more days, if not weeks.

However, a small but noticeable subset of the game’s more veteran players decided to celebrate Reclamation Day, the day when residents of Vault 76 leave to find fame and fortune in the land above, by helping brand new players out. Some players have out helpful starting equipment or simply said hi by adding a beer to their inventory. I’ve had a number of people come up to me during my travels and greet me with a thumbs up emote before asking me if I want to trade. It’s early enough in the game’s life that neither of us have much to offer the other, but on more than one occasion I’ve exchanged various types of ammunition, just for the hell of it. If nothing else, it’s a testament to how eager players are to create meaningful human interactions where none are fabricated in the game itself.

These types of interactions are what I’m interested to see develop, especially as they become augmented by end-game activities. Throughout my journey so far, everything I’ve already accomplished has increasingly felt like a tutorial for something bigger: an eventual carnival of player vs. player faction wars, raid-like co-op bosses, and nuclear code arms races. Fallout 76 might have released today, but it still doesn’t feel like it’s gotten completely started yet.

Read More

Black Friday Xbox One Deals: Best Place To Buy Xbox One X And S Consoles

Black Friday Xbox One Deals: Best Place To Buy Xbox One X And S Consoles

It’s still over a week away, but Black Friday deals are officially rolling in. There are plenty of games that you’ll be able to get for cheap, but here, we’re focusing on how you can save a few bucks on Microsoft’s consoles this year. Xbox One S and Xbox One X consoles are seeing some price drops, so if you’ve been eyeing either system, you may want to take advantage of these deals. We’ve compiled what’s been revealed as of now for Xbox One’s family of consoles.

Kohl’s will be offering a 1TB Xbox One S Minecraft Creators Bundle and $60 in Kohl’s Cash for $200. The Xbox One X 1TB bundle with PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and $120 in Kohl’s Cash is going for $400. Kohl’s deals begin Monday, November 19 at 12:01 AM CT online and Thursday, November 22 at 5:00 PM in stores.

Walmart is going to offer the 1TB Xbox One S Minecraft Bundle for $199 and a 1TB Xbox One X for $400. Additionally, all other Xbox One X bundles will be $70 off and Xbox One S bundles will go for $230. Sales begin Wednesday, November 21 at 10:00 PM ET online and store doors open Thursday, November 22 at 6:00 PM. Sam’s Club, which is associated with Walmart, will also have the $199 Xbox One S offer.

Best Buy will offer one of the better deals with a 1TB Xbox One X Battlefield V Special Edition bundle that comes with an extra controller for $430. It’ll also be selling the 1TB Xbox One S Minecraft Creators bundle for $200. Best Buy is dropping deals everyday online, but kicks off its in-store sales Thursday, November 22 at 5:00 PM. Members of My Best Buy can hop on “early access” sales which start Sunday, November 18 for Elite Plus members, Monday, November 19 for Elite members, and Tuesday November 20 for all other members.

Target will have the same 1TB Xbox One S Minecraft Creators Bundle for $200 as well, but it’s also advertising $70 off all other Xbox One consoles, though its not entirely clear how this affects bundles. Some deals will start at an unspecified time online, but Target’s doors open Thursday, November 22 at 5:00 PM.

It’s still early, so we’re continually tracking Black Friday sales as they pop up and updating our list as we go. You should note that retailers may run out of stock at any point during sales. Retailers are also only offering certain deals in-store, so be sure to check the conditions for sales you’re interested in. Lastly, stores opening times may vary by location, so check with your local retailer.

Best Black Friday Deals

All The Game Deals

Xbox One S

Kohl’s

  • Xbox One S 1TB Minecraft Creators Bundle + $60 Kohl’s Cash — $200

Walmart

  • Xbox One S 1TB Minecraft Creators Bundle — $199
  • Xbox One S Bundles — $230 (each)

Best Buy

GameStop

Target

  • Xbox One S 1TB Minecraft Creators Bundle + $20 Target Gift Card — $200
  • Xbox One S Consoles – $70 off

Microsoft Store

Sam’s Club

Xbox One X

Kohl’s

  • Xbox One X 1TB PlayUnknown’s Battlegrounds Bundle + $120 Kohl’s Cash — $400

Walmart

  • Xbox One X 1TB — $400
  • Xbox One X Bundles — Prices May Vary ($70 off)

Best Buy

GameStop

  • Xbox One X Bundles — $70 off

Target

  • Xbox One X consoles – $70 off (unconfirmed)

Microsoft Store

Read More

Command & Conquer and Red Alert are getting remasters

Command & Conquer and Red Alert are getting remasters

Electronic Arts announced today that it is remastering the original Command & Conquer and Command & Conquer: Red Alert, along with their expansion packs.

EA is partnering with Petroglyph Games, which is made of many former employees of Commander & Conquer creator Westwood Studios, to work on the games. Electronic Arts purchased Westwood and the Command & Conquer series in 1998. It closed Westwood in 2003. Some employees moved to EA Los Angeles, which continued to work on the franchise. EA Los Angeles is now Dice Los Angeles. Petroglyph Games created the 2006 RTS Star Wars: Empire at War and the original sci-fi RTS Grey Goo in 2015.

Command & Conquer first released for PC in 1995. It was one of the first major real-time strategy games. While Warcraft, which came out a year earlier, focuses on a fantasy setting, Command & Conquer has a more contemporary military theme. Red Alert takes place in an alternate history in the series’ story. Both became their own subseries in the larger franchise, with the original getting three direct sequels and Red Alert having two successors.

The last Command & Conquer game, Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight, came out way back in 2010. It’s been a long wait for fans of the series, which resulted in frustration earlier this year when EA announced a Command & Conquer mobile game. Blizzard got a taste of this backlash earlier this month when it announced a Diablo mobile game.

Remastering the series’ classic entries will be a more popular move with fans. Real-time strategy games are a rare breed in 2018, but the most popular titles in the genre are regularly getting updated releases. Blizzard released StarCraft Remastered in 2017 and announced Warcraft III: Reforged earlier this month.

Read More