Rocket League pioneers full cross-platform play between all gaming systems

In a news announcement made by Psyonix today, Rocket League now includes PlayStation 4 among the list of platforms you can play seamlessly between. Gamers on PSN, Xbox One, Steam and Nintendo Switch can now join in random matchmaking with or against each other, enabling even faster loading times to get into the game. This marks a big achievement for cross-platform play, as Sony is known to tightly safeguard its platform in multiplayer gaming. Enabling Rocket League to be included in the PS Cross-Play Beta program is also a huge step towards integrating seamless multiplayer between various systems, with more games to hopefully follow in the future.

Cross-platform play in Rocket League is available across all online game modes, regardless whether you play casual and competitive. All one has to do is have the feature enabled in Gameplay options tab, but it is usually available by default. Psyonix are also working to integrate cross-platform parties in their first update this year, which will allow players “to partner up with friends on any platform with the push of a few buttons.” Online multiplayer is already quite fast to get into, so now with more players available across the world, it will be an absolute breeze to join online matches across all game modes.

Ring of Elysium Early Access review

Developer: Aurora Studio; Publisher: Tencent Games

Released: September 19th, 2018; Reviewed on: PC

Testing specs: Core i5-6500 3.2GHz, 16GB RAM, GeForce GTX 1070

Available via: Steam

The battle royale genre has seen an unprecedented surge in popularity over the course of 2018, spawning countless titles vying for gamers’ limited funds and attention. Whereas the frontrunners PUBG and Fortnite have further established themselves as the kings of the genre, there’s now plenty of alternatives to consider if you’ve tired out from the biggest two. For every newcomer to the genre then, the chief concern becomes to introduce enough unique elements to set itself apart from the heavyweights. It is otherwise impossible to compete with PUBG and Fortnite in the playing field, hence Ring of Elysium throws in a few twists to the standard battle royale formula. Released by Tencent Games, the same company behind the mobile port of PUBG, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’ve loaded into yet another match of PUBG, although it’s quickly obvious they’re not the same titles despite similarity in graphics and gameplay design. Available through Steam Early Access, Ring of Elysium is a surprisingly polished battle royale entry, bringing a mixture of familiar and brand new elements to the table where it’s hard to capture gamers’ extended attention.

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Best local multiplayer games on PC

image source: Amazon

Any game becomes instantaneously more fun when you’re playing with a friend or a group, especially if you’re sitting in the same room. Whereas consoles enjoy a larger suite of titles multiple people can play at once, the case becomes much less so when looking at the PC platform. While most PC gamers indeed prefer having a desk setup, there are those who like to have a high-end gaming station hooked up to their TV set, myself included. This makes the lack of extensive split-screen options in PC gaming a challenge when trying to find titles one can enjoy with friends, and few developers choose to include the feature across the platform, even if it may be present in a console version. Looking at Steam’s split-screen releases, there’s little to find between the many LEGO games and low-quality indie releases, so I’ve rounded up a list of picks that qualify to deliver a fun and rewarding experience for multiple individuals. LEGO games aren’t bad either, although their appeal is limited to a much younger audience than most of the hardcore PC gamer base. The options aren’t broad, and one will see quite a few racing games included, but these are the titles I’ve had the most fun with playing alongside friends.

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Razer expands its accessory lineup with a new gaming monitor

image credit: Razer

In recent time, it seems like every gaming brand is trying to get the biggest slice of the market by expanding their lineup to include as many and diverse related products as possible. Especially Razer. The brand has grown significantly over the past few years, coming out with their own mobile phone in 2017 (and subsequently the Razer Phone 2 in 2018), a range of accessories to go along with them, and now they announce their first gaming monitor. Razer Raptor is a 27” WQHD screen with 144Hz support and a few neat design tricks, incorporating the brand’s signature black slate look with a Chroma light strip at the bottom. It may just be the most impressive unit on the market, although its eventual release will tell us if it can truly stand apart among the high-end competition.

Apart from RGB lighting that we never needed a monitor to have, the Raptor 27 has some interesting build elements that I’ve yet to see from other similar products. First off are its ultra-thin bezels around the screen, measuring in at just 2.3mm wide to maximize the screen estate. This not only makes the display look fantastic, but also sets the brand apart from majority of its competition. Gaming monitors typically don’t prioritize that feature, so it is nice to see Razer build on that along with exceptionally solid specifications. Second, there is a built-in cable management system along the back, with plenty of space to route all your gaming peripherals if you’re the type to care for exceptionally clean desk space. The presence of an RGB strip doesn’t add much to the design, and frankly, the industry’s need to shove these light strips has gotten out of proportions, but at least the Raptor 27 will match along nicely with all your other Razer accessories.

image credit: Razer

The detailed spec sheet shows some impressive numbers, although has much of the same component structure to high-end gaming screens from the likes of Asus ROG. The panel is a 2560×1440 WQHD IPS display, and Razer claims it has up to 178° wide viewing angles. Of course, the refresh rate here wouldn’t be your typical 60Hz, with Razer aiming for ultra-smooth precision performance with 144Hz enabled through AMD FreeSync. The color range is a “95% DCI-P3, wider than sRGB for cinematic quality” and gets an HDR400 certification. Razer seems to be going full blast here to create what they call an “ultimate esports gaming monitor,” and the Ultra Low Motion Blur technology employed here provides a further 1ms response time. Connecting ports include HDMI 2.0a, USB-C and 2 Type A USB 3.1, so you could even charge your phone from the Type C slot when gaming.

The Razer Raptor 27 is certainly an impressive display on paper, and packs the latest technology to please e-sports gamers who require absolute precision from their screens. Incorporating some interesting design elements such as the cable management system, the Raptor 27 further guarantees a desk free of wire clutter, and adds Razer’s signature Chroma lighting to have more RGB around your setup than you’ll ever possibly need. Launching at $699.99, you’re certainly paying a high premium for a computer screen, but so far, looks like Razer’s entry into the market will be quite worth it.

Sunset Overdrive PC Review

Developer: Insomniac Games; Publisher: Microsoft Studios

Released: November 16th, 2018; Reviewed on: PC

Tested on: Core i5-6500 3.2GHz, 16GB RAM, GeForce GTX 1070

Available via: Steam

The release of Sunset Overdrive on PC in 2018 came as a pleasant surprise, injecting some much needed over the top fun into a relatively tame gaming year. While blockbuster releases certainly delivered hundreds of hours of quality content, nothing in the past year especially grabbed me as an experience purely aimed at unwinding after a long day. With complex storytelling arcs and heavy exposition, the likes of Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey and Shadow of the Tomb Raider offered engaging narratives and superb gameplay design, yet didn’t manage to grab as much of my attention as some of Insomniac Games’ best work. Sunset Overdrive is an exciting and colorful adventure, unhindered by much story development, and takes full advantage of its quirky tropes to deliver a non-stop action experience. It’s a game you could lose hours in simply exploring its vibrant open world, engaging in random events, and come back with far more memorable reflections than any major release of the past fall.

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You should check out the SHIFT watch collection by Giorgio Piola

credit: GiorgioPiola

The world of racing-inspired timepieces is perhaps the most wondrous subset of the watch industry, aiming to translate fascinating car designs and raw performance into a fashion statement you can wear on your wrist. Covering a diverse array of motorsport disciplines, these products draw in racing fans from all over the world, and show some of the most intricate watch building. The product to catch my immediate attention is an upcoming SHIFT line of watches, created by none other than the well-renowned Formula 1 Journalist Giorgio Piola. His tech drawings that document the evolution of Formula 1 designs throughout decades demonstrate unparalleled attention to detail, which has translated nicely into not just the SHIFT, but other collections available from Giorgio Piola. Drawing inspiration from the intense discipline that is F1 racing, the SHIFT collection arguably offers some of the most beautiful visuals you’d see from its category, provided you like the style of course, and especially appeals to me as a racing fan and a watch enthusiast. Currently funded under Kickstarter, these watches are available at more than reasonable prices, with $350USD pledge getting you one of the timepieces sometime around March 2019. If you have passion for the world of motorsports, the SHIFT collection shouldn’t be overlooked, and its solid spec sheet makes it one of the best options to be had in the price range.

credit: GiorgioPiola

As more and more smaller brands flock to the online direct-to-consumer model, which has also proven to be very successful, Giorgio Piola similarly sells timepieces through the company website, with the SHIFT line being crowdfunded before production. This process eliminates the need for boutique retailers, driving down costs for high-quality Swiss timepieces to increase availability for consumers. If you look at Piola’s other racing designs, these Swiss Made watches retail for about $500USD, and offer impressive hardware for the price you’re paying. With a modified Swiss Ronda 5040.D chronograph movement, capable of measuring in tenths of a second, the SHIFT collection can be grabbed early for an even lower cost. It unfortunately doesn’t seem to be available beyond Kickstarter, limited to about 250 units, with few quantities remaining, but Giorgio Piola may release more units for the public. As of January 5th, 2019 the campaign reached of about $185000 (CAD), well over the target of $40K so pledgers are guaranteed to receive their new watch in the mail once production begins.

credit: GiorgioPiola

The SHIFT collection is available in blue, green, red and black dial models in a stainless steel case, and further equipped with a matching rubber strap. Design-wise, it will not appeal to everyone, but for those with passion for track racing and sporty designs will find a lot to appreciate in the complex dials of SHIFT watches. These are the most intricate representations of Formula 1 racing in a traditional watchmaking form, showcasing the complex work that goes into creating the high-speed machines for the sport. Like with all race-inspired watches, the case features a rotating tachymeter bezel, however what really sets the SHIFT line apart is Piola’s technical artwork etched into the case back. Depending on the color, you’re going to get different designs, but this adds some nice touches to make the collection unique. Measuring in at 46.5mm wide and 15 thick, the SHIFT will have significant presence on the wrist like most  sporty timepieces, although only rates at 100m depth which is slightly disappointing. Keep in mind though that this is a watch you probably won’t wear for swimming. The dial further features chronographs for seconds and minutes, as well as a subtle date window located at 5 o’clock to make the package complete.

credit: GiorgioPiola

The Kickstarter campaign runs until January 26th, after which the limited-run models will be put into production, offering four reward tiers depending on the amount you’re willing to pledge. $350USD gets you the watch and one poster autographed by Giorgio Piola, with rewards increasing along with the price. Going higher, one can get up to 4 watches in total along with many neat accessories related to motorsports. The higher tiers are mostly aimed at race clubs and the like, where their clients can be awarded the SHIFT watch, but if you have the money to spare, getting the entire collection for $1120USD doesn’t sound like a bad deal either. Kickstarter really works as a platform for micro watch brands to initiate interest in the product while keeping costs down through direct-to-consumer model to make high-end watches more widely accessible than in the past.

credit: GiorgioPiola

Supporting this project will allow the collection to reach consumers, and for the brand to increase its global reach and engage a larger audience. Backers not only get the SHIFT timepiece, but also a further 20% discount on other collections by Giorgio Piola, as well as an autographed copy of the man’s career renderings. If you’re any kind of race fan, this is an exciting value proposition, where you get a limited-run collector watch at more than affordable pricing. It may not feature a high-end mechanical movement, but the SHIFT watch collection nonetheless bears the “Swiss made” designation, which entails superb design and build quality in the world of modern watchmaking. With few spots remaining to back the product, you should head over to Kickstarter to check this collection out and grab a piece for yourself. For the rest of Giorgio Piola’s watch-related work, one can also check out his website for more racing-inspired timepieces.

Darksiders 3 Review

Developer: Gunfire Games; Publisher: THQ Nordic

Released: November 27th, 2018; Reviewed on: PC

Tested on: Core i5-6500 3.2GHz, 16GB RAM, GeForce GTX 1070

Available on: Steam

When it comes to moment to moment combat of hack and slash RPG games, Darksiders 3 excels at delivering a fast-paced fluid gameplay experience that few titles can match in its genre. It doesn’t shy away from feeling familiar if you’ve played the previous installments, despite the new overhead publisher, yet its moment to moment gameplay remains some of the strongest in the genre. At the same time, however, this supposed revival of the series plays it much too safe in delivering little innovation, and further stripping down the things Darksiders 2 attempted to experiment with, leaving few things to engage in outside of combat. The series was never known for complex game design or deep storytelling in the first place, but Darksiders 3 clearly shows some wasted potential in its flawed execution. You won’t get the worst action RPG experience, and it’s moment to moment gameplay feels engaging enough to enjoy parts of it, but the simplistic execution ultimately leaves Darksiders 3 unable to break the ceiling of mediocrity.

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