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Captain Jack Sparrow swaggers to Sea of Thieves as the crossover update launches
by Pulasthi Ariyasinghe
The crew of the Black Pearl, Davy Jones, and other familiar faces from the Pirates of the Caribbean have sailed into the Sea of Thieves as part of the A Pirate’s Life mega update. The collaboration between Rare and Disney was only announced last week during the Microsoft E3 showcase. The update brings a five-part storyline as part of the crossover, as well as new regions, threats, the third season of content, and much more.
Getting the biggest feature drop out of the way first, the five new Tall Tales has pirates taking along Captain Jack Sparrow for a brand-new adventure filled with "puzzles, pitched battles, surprises and rewards." Players will be exploring the Sea of the Damned, the underwater Sunken Kingdom, as well as iconic places from the movies.
Players can jump straight into the new Tall Tales, which are instanced so no other pirate can disturb the sessions, via the starting menu or by heading to the Castaway’s Camp of an Outpost and speaking to a new arrival.
As can be seen in the trailer, the old Skeletons have now been joined by Phantoms, Ocean Crawlers, and Sirens as new emergent threats in Sea of Thieves, which can appear both above ground and underwater. To fight back a little easier, players can now find the Trident of Dark Tides, a new type of weapon that fires energy bubbles.
Just like with every new season, Rare has brought in new cosmetics to earn via the battle pass, fresh server-wide game events to tackle, plus a whole load of premium cosmetic items that include garments, emotes, and ship customizations all inspired by Captain Jack Sparrow and his vessel. There is even a new pet dog variant available for purchase resembling a certain prison dog.
Sea of Thieves A Pirate's Life has now come ashore as a free update to all players across PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox Game Pass, and cloud play. Head over here to find the complete patch notes of today's update.
By Usama Jawad96
Facebook ads for Oculus Quest face major setback as developer opts out due to backlash
by Usama Jawad
Last week, Facebook announced that it will begin testing in-headset ads for the Oculus Quest soon. It stated that it will kick off the process with Resolution Games' Blaston and a couple of other unnamed developers. Today, Resolution Games has backed out of the trial in a major setback for Facebook considering no other developer willing to participate in the test has been revealed yet.
The move to introduce in-headset ads in Blaston faced some pushback particularly because it is a paid game with a $9.99 price tag, so players obviously did not take kindly to the announcement and showed their displeasure by leaving negative reviews on the store listing. In a statement to The Verge, Resolution Games' CEO Tommy Palm has announced that the company is reversing course following feedback from players, saying that:
The executive has hinted that it may decide to continue the in-headset ads trial in one of its free titles like Bait! in the future, but those plans haven't been finalized yet either. It remains to be seen how Facebook does damage control in this recent development and potentially tap some other major developer who is willing to show in-headset ads in their Oculus Quest game.
Source: The Verge
Gamers rejoice, graphics cards are finally getting cheaper
by Sayan Sen
Unless you have been living under a rock for the last one year or so, you are likely aware of the exorbitant prices that GPUs have been selling for during this time. However, according to a new report by German media 3DCenter, prices for graphics cards, and especially Nvidia GeForce ones, are starting to fall after nearly six months.
The report has been prepared using data from the major German retailers like Mindfactory, Caseking, Computeruniverse, and more.
The graph above shows the movement of the average prices for graphics cards in those shops. As mentioned above, it seems the price of Nvidia GPUs is taking a noticeable dip after it had peaked in May at +204% over MSRP. Although it must be noted here that it is still 91% higher, or nearly twice, over MSRP. If the trend continues, then we expect the RTX 3000 series cards to continue getting cheaper and they could reach MSRP levels around Christmas.
Radeon RX 6000 series cards however are showing a somewhat mixed trend. The prices had actually fallen around the end of last month but have begun to creep up again.
Aside from the global chip shortage, the RDNA 2-based RX 6000 series GPUs have struggled to meet demand as they are built on TSMC's 7nm node that has a lot of buyers. Nvidia cards, on the other hand, utilize a more abundant Samsung 8nm process but became scarce due to the high demand for GPUs from Ethereum miners.
Source and image: 3DCenter
Cyberpunk 2077 is back on the PlayStation Store, but with a warning for PS4 players
by Pulasthi Ariyasinghe
Over six months after being ejected from the PlayStation Store, Cyberpunk 2077 has now returned, finally giving back PlayStation players the choice of purchasing it digitally. Sony pulled out the CD Projekt RED-developed game from its store only a week after the launch as major gameplay and performance issues became apparent, especially on old-gen base consoles.
The developer has so far released a multitude of updates to the game across all platforms aimed at improving stability, performance, and fixing scores of bugs. The latest major update, Patch 1.23, landed only last week with another serving of fixes.
While Sony has deemed the game ready to be let back into the PlayStation Store, there is still a warning attached for prospective buyers. Both CD Projekt RED and Sony have stated the base PlayStation 4 will experience performance issues with Cyberpunk 2077, and the PlayStation 4 Pro and PlayStation 5 are the recommended systems for playing. Updates will continue to drop with more optimizations.
CD Projekt RED is also developing a dedicated next-gen version of Cyberpunk 2077, alongside a Witcher 3 upgrade, and that is still slated to land sometime in the second half of 2021. All current owners of the game on Xbox and PlayStation consoles will receive the upgrade for free.
Microsoft Weekly: A round of Windows leaks, Xbox mini fridges, and hybrid work
by Florin Bodnarescu
In the last seven days we’ve seen the set of E3 2021 announcements from Microsoft – including the Xbox Mini Fridge -, the leaking of a Windows 11 ISO, and a number of other bits of news. You can find info about that, as well as much more below, in your Microsoft digest for the week of June 13 - 19.
A round of Windows leaks
The week started in what the Redmond firm could call not ideal conditions, since screenshots of the yet-to-be announced Windows 11 emerged. A little later that same day, the situation got even more interesting as an ISO of build 21996.1 made its way onto the web.
Naturally, we got our hands on it and have chosen to highlight a number of the OS’s new features – like the Windows 10X-esque centered taskbar icons, rounded corners, or the translucent UI (in some places) – via either screenshots of the desktop UI, the OOBE, the new window snapping UI, the new set of wallpapers, and more.
It does seem that out of all, the Home version requires an internet connection to complete setup, but luckily there’s a workaround. In case you want to test this out yourself, you might want to be quick as Microsoft is already issuing DMCA complaints to take down the leaked ISO.
We won’t have long to wait until an official announcement though, with the dedicated set of events scheduled for June 24 at 11AM ET and June 24 at 3PM ET (the latter of which is aimed at developers). On that day we might also see the performance boots that the OS brings, especially for big.LITTLE x86 CPUs – as shown in a set of tests.
Xbox mini fridges
As is tradition, Microsoft held its annual E3 event on the Sunday just before the event’s kickoff, and on this occasion, it was joined by the Bethesda folks (the parent company of which it finalized the acquisition of this year).
To further emphasize the above, the showcase even started with Starfield, Bethesda’s first new IP in years. Powered by the Creation Engine 2, the title showcased an in-game cinematic sequence and perhaps more surprisingly, a release date as well.
The sci-fi game is coming November 11, 2022 (exactly 11 years after the release of Skyrim) and yes, it will be exclusive to Microsoft platforms.
While we’re on the subject of Bethesda, there was also some new ESO and Fallout 76 content announced, along with the fact that Game Pass is getting a number of the missing titles from the publisher, alongside titles like the entire Yakuza series, and even Turtle Rock’s Back 4 Blood on day one. Also in the Bethesda camp was a new IP from Arkane Austin, dubbed Redfall. The co-op vampire hunting game is coming summer 2022, unsurprisingly also to Game Pass day one.
We’ll touch on the fact that Injustice: Gods Among Us and Shadows Awakening are now free to claim, and that there’s in fact a rather good selection of Deals with Gold to peruse, while also mentioning that game stories is now a supported feature in the Xbox app and that the June update for the console has brought party chat accessibility options, among other things.
Speaking of other things, Battlefield 2042 gameplay was shown off during the game showcase, as was an interspersed story / gameplay trailer for S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl (which lands April 28 next year, also in Game Pass), a cinematic announce trailer for co-op Xbox exclusive Contraband from Avalanche Studios, a cheeky meta cinematic announce trailer for The Outer Worlds 2, and more.
Alternate-universe sci-fi RPG Atomic Heart got yet another trailer at the event – sans release date -, Diablo II: Resurrected made an appearance too – showcasing its launch day of September 23 -, and Age of Empires IV got its long overdue launch date of October 28, available across PC and Game Pass.
In additional unexpected news, Sea of Thieves got a Pirates of the Caribbean crossover, bringing Jack Sparrow, Davy Jones and crew to the game thanks to a new original story dubbed A Pirate’s Life, which is coming for free to the tile on June 22.
Another game that got a release date was Flight Simulator, which lands on Series X|S consoles on July 27 – and has just gotten its World Update V, with a free Top Gun expansion coming this fall -, as well as Forza Horizon 5. The latter is set in Mexico and rather unexpectedly, lands on November 9 this year.
Of course, after the advent of Craig memes from last year, it was expected that 343 would show an updated look at Halo Infinite, complete with Joseph Staten on stage, a highlight of the game’s story and multiplayer, and an announcement that they will launch together this holiday. Infinite’s free-to-play multiplayer is also adding personal AIs for players, among other things.
Finally, the option to make your controllers more personal is now back, as Microsoft has relaunched the Xbox Design Lab with support for the new controller. That said, it’s not the only hardware announcement that the company made at this event.
After rumors of a streaming stick started circulating, folks assumed that the ‘one more thing’ at the end would be this. However, the Redmond giant leaned heavily into the memes and has announced it’ll make an Xbox Mini Fridge (shaped like the Series X).
Yes, it’s real, and yes, it’s coming holiday 2021 – even outside the United States.
Slotting just between the Xbox E3 showcase and the Windows event next week was a virtual presentation focused on hybrid work.
At this event, Microsoft has announced new Teams Rooms features like a “front row” layout for meetings, improved video layouts across multiple screens, new Together Mode scenes on the Surface Hub, and much, much more. Naturally, these features will be rolled out to Insiders first.
On the subject of Teams, the firm has additionally integrated Headspace for mindfulness exercises and to boost personal wellbeing in remote work situations. Worthy of mention is also the fact that inline chat message translation is now available for Teams on Android.
Last but not least, Whiteboard has received a redesign, which aims to help folks collaborate better in hybrid environments.
Edge Dev build 93.0.916.1 is now out, with a number of bug fixes. Better sharing and file picking were among the enhancements that arrived to OneDrive in May. Microsoft has elected Satya Nadella as chairman of its board of directors. Visual Studio 2022 Preview 1 is now available for Windows. Logging off
We end with a bit of an interesting bug related to the newly added News and Interests taskbar widget.
For folks running one of the various flavors of Windows 10 that have this feature, (1909 and up), there are instances in which the News and Interests text and icon appear blurry.
The issue has now been acknowledged by the firm as occurring on “certain display configurations”. Of course, which ones these are is set to remain a mystery. What’s also going to remain a mystery is when Microsoft plans to fix it, as the only time frame indication given was that it’ll happen in an “upcoming release”.
If you couldn’t care less about the widget, it can thankfully be turned off.
Missed any of the previous columns? Be sure to have a look right here.
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