News + Features
At some point or another, we all had our gateway drug. That first time we picked up a controller or jabbed at a keyboard and realised we could actually control what was happening on-screen. For a lot of people who’ve been used to entertainment as a totally passive experience, whether that’s watching TV or listening to music, it’s incredibly intoxicating to find something you can interact with in this way.
Look, lower your pitchforks and turn off those chainsaws, hear me out first. The inexorable rise of microtransactions in games has been nigh-on unstoppable ever since I stupidly forked out £5 for my Oblivion horse armour, kick-starting a trend which would ultimately prove incredibly divisive.
And so we come to a particularly thorny and well-contested issue - are eSports really sports? It’s a complex topic, but one which can be eternally discussed and only gains greater prominence as eSports continues to gather more traction worldwide. There are tournaments and leagues taking place practically every week with hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars up for grab. It’s a massive business, and the best in the world only get there with thousands of hours of dedication and training, but there’s a big question mark over whether we should consider them athletes.
A couple of weeks back, you couldn’t move for all the chatter about real-time ray tracing (RTX), with both AMD and, in particular, Nvidia, pushing the photorealistic lighting system hard. The tech demos we saw ranged in quality, but the Star Wars one, in particular, was incredible. Photorealistic textures can be a breeze these days, but it’s the lighting and highly detailed models which can let the overall image quality down. Right then, Nvidia gave us a glimpse of our photorealistic future. But is it the be all and end all of these mighty graphics cards we’ve got lurking in our PCs?
 We're on the eve of a major hardware reshuffle. AMD is launching its next generation of Ryzen 2000 Series processors on April 19th, designed to go toe-to-toe with Intel's finest 8th-Gen Coffee Lake chips. The prices and specs are now out in the wild, but which CPU is the best buy for gamers in 2018?
The existence of microtransactions in Red Dead Redemption 2 is almost totally assured. Now, I don’t own a gold claim, but if I did, I’d stake the whole thing on the online component being absolutely riddled with them. Grand Theft Auto Online is our canary down this particular gold mine. GTA Online is a pay-to-win game in practically its purest form. Players can put in real money and buy the best weapons, vehicles, businesses, and apartments.
Okay, so there’s still a way to go, but E3 crazy season is almost upon us. With Far Cry 5 out the door, AAA multiplatform releases have pretty much dried up for the next few months; the decks are clear and the gaming world is primed for announcements. The likes of EA, Microsoft, and Bethesda have all already put their cards on the table and announced press conferences for the weekend before E3 2018 (June 10th), while Sony and Nintendo will surely follow suit soon enough. And now it’s just the waiting game.
Nvidia’s GeForce Partner Program (GPP) has certainly lit the proverbial fire under PC gamers’ arses. The program, which Nvidia brazenly suggests “better serves gamers”, aims to unite AIB partners under Nvidia’s great green banner. Add-in-board manufacturers can sign up to become GPP partners in order to get their hands on the latest innovations, work with Nvidia’s engineering teams, and also engage in cross-brand marketing. You scratch my silicon, I’ll scratch yours. As Nvidia puts it, “Partners are signing up, fast. They see the benefit of keeping brands and communication consistent and transparent.”
This week, Tomb Raider jumps, scrambles, and a climbs its way into cinemas across the globe. It’s the latest attempt at bringing one of the most successful game franchises of all time to the big screen and, well, the fairly tepid reviews may have put you off. However, it may surprise you to hear that with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 50% fresh, Tomb Raider (2018) is the most critically acclaimed movie adaptation of a video game EVER.
This week a rumour emerged that both Nvidia and AMD are considering slowing down their graphics card release cycles in order to generate greater profits from each generation. To my surprise, I discovered most folks in the comments were actually supportive of investment in new technology being lessened, pointing towards the fact they wouldn’t be required to upgrade as often. This could save PC gamers hundreds of dollars a year, particularly those who just can’t resist the allure of a new GPU generation.
With the news this week that State of Decay 2 will be launching on May 22nd on PC and Xbox One, it’s brought into sharp focus a key issue for Microsoft these days - the dreaded Windows 10 Store. While it’s often easy to avoid the Windows Store entirely, Microsoft is finally beginning to ramp up its game production; between State of Decay 2, Sea of Thieves and Crackdown 3, there are now plenty of reasons to be buying PC games from the Windows Store.