Tech News

Ratan Tata to invest in electric two-wheeler startup Tork Motors

Latest Tech News - Tue, 10/15/2019 - 23:30

Ratan Tata, the former chairman of Tata Sons is going to invest in Tork Motors, an electric two-wheeler startup based out of Pune.

Tork Motors is going to unveil its flagship electric bike, the Tork T6X in the coming months. It is an entirely indigenously developed electric vehicle, and will be one of the first ones available in India when it comes later this year.

Tork Motors was founded in 2009 by Kapil Shelke, who himself has a history with bike racing and off-roading. Following that passion, the T6X is a sports bike that has a top speed of 100 kmph and a range of 100 km per charge. The lithium-ion batteries can be charged up to 80% in just an hour. Proprietary charging solutions will also be set up across Pune at the time of the launch. 

All the components from the chassis to the motor and even the PCB are designed and manufactured in India. Only the batteries are currently imported. They expect to have about 5,000 T6Xs on the streets of streets by the end of this year.

Bharat Forge, the biggest automobile component manufacturer in India also acquired a stake in Tork Motors in 2018 to help them with expertise as well.

Ratan Tata is known to invest in passionate and promising startups. Before finalizing the partnership, his office representatives audited Tork Motors' factory, understood the concept and checked the viability of the electric bike.

Speaking on the occasion, he added, “In the last few years, there has been a sea of changes in the attitude towards electric vehicles. This industry is changing rapidly and I place value on the sound logic and the approach that the team at Tork Motors has taken. Overall, I am very impressed and feel that this is the kind of spirit that should be present in every Indian entrepreneur.

Categories: Tech News

Safari users can bypass paywalls with new private browsing mode

Latest Tech News - Tue, 10/15/2019 - 21:39

Getting users to subscribe to sites is already difficult enough for publishers but now the latest version of Apple's Safari browser is enabling users to read content locked behind a paywall for free.

The latest update to the browser, which began rolling out to users at the end of September, prevents sites from detecting when Safari users have the browser's private browsing mode enabled.

Just like Google's incognito mode, private browsing temporarily prevents publishers from reading or writing cookies to a user's smartphone or computer and this makes it impossible for a paywall to detect how much content a reader has consumed. Since the paywall is unable to verify how many articles a user has read, it simply allows them to access premium content without a subscription.

Publishers had previously implemented a number of countermeasures to prevent users from visiting their sites while in incognito mode but unfortunately, Safari's private browsing feature is able to bypass these measures.

Private browsing mode

Despite the popularity of Apple's iPhone and Mac products, far fewer Americans use Safari to browse the web and instead prefer to use Google's Chrome browser. According to Statcounter, Safari controls just nine percent of the US desktop browser market.

However, Safari users are more likely to pay for news and for many news outlets, they often represent a majority of their subscribers.

SVP of strategic initiatives at the News Media Alliance, Danielle Coffey explained to DIGIDAY that while private browsing mode helps protects users' privacy, its hurting news organizations, saying:

“This will lead to a hard paywall for all readers and also make it more difficult to monetize content. While we’re interested in protecting our readers’ privacy, we still need a return on our investments to sustain quality journalism.” 

As the companies behind popular web browsers focus on privacy to both appeal to consumers and stay ahead of regulators, expect more media companies to begin locking their content behind paywalls as the practice of using cookies to let people read a few of their articles is no longer possible.

  • Protect your privacy online with the best VPN services

Via DIGIDAY

Categories: Tech News

Cybercriminals deploy malware to make ATMs spit out cash

Latest Tech News - Tue, 10/15/2019 - 19:33

New details regarding a series of jackpotting attacks on ATMs in Germany that took place in 2017 have been uncovered thanks to a joint investigation conducted by Motherboard and the German broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk (BR).

Jackpotting is a technique in which cybercriminals use either malware or a piece of hardware to trick an ATM into ejecting all of the cash it contains. A stolen credit card isn't required to launch a jackpotting attack and those behind these attacks usually install the malware onto an ATM by opening a panel on the machine to gain access to a USB port.

Motherboard and BR's investigation revealed that while jackpotting attacks have decreased in Europe during the first half of this year, multiple sources have said that the number of attacks in other parts of the world have increased.

The US, Latin America and Southeast Asia have all faced jackpotting attacks recently and banks as well as ATM manufacturers have been impacted across the financial industry.

Jackpotting

Back in 2010 at the annual Black Hat cybersecurity conference, the late researcher Barnaby Jack showed of his own strain of ATM malware live on stage. Once the malware was successfully deployed to the ATM, the word “JACKPOT” was displayed on its screen as the device spit out bank notes.

When it comes to the jackpotting attacks which occurred in Germany during 2017, prosecuting attorney Christoph Hebbecker revealed to the joint investigation that 10 incidents took place between February and November in which attackers were able to steal 1.4m Euro. However, now jackpotting has made a comeback as cybercriminals look to illegally earn funds in the real world.

One of the main issues with ATM security is that many ATMs are essentially aging Windows computers that are very old and slow. ATM manufacturers have made security improvements to their devices over the years but unfortunately that doesn't necessarily mean that all ATMs across the industry are up to the same standard.

Executive director of the ATM Industry Association in the US, Canada and Americas, David N Tente explained to Vice how banks can better protect their ATMs from jackpotting attacks, saying:

"In order to execute a jackpotting attack, you have to have access to the internal components of the ATM. So, preventing that first physical attack on the ATM goes a long way toward preventing the jackpotting attack."

In the world of cybersecurity, attack methods that fall out of favor with cybercriminals are often revived later on and that certainly seems to be the case with the recent wave of jackpotting attacks.

Via Vice

Categories: Tech News

Roku TVs and players can finally access Apple TV content

Latest Tech News - Tue, 10/15/2019 - 17:33

Despite being one of the most open platforms for streaming services, Roku has always struggled to crack Apple’s walled garden - until earlier this year when the pair announced that they would bring the Apple TV app to Roku for the first time. 

Months later, the fruits of that partnership have ripened. Roku TV and Roku player owners can now download the Apple TV app on most Roku devices, including the new Roku Express and Roku Ultra, but excluding the oldest models in the lineup.

To download the app, go into the featured section of the channel store or search Apple TV by name through the Roku voice remote or Roku app on your mobile device. Once it’s downloaded, you can log into the app by either entering your information on your Roku or by using a QR code to log in through your mobile device, and then access any shows or movies you have in your collection.

While the app is currently limited to content you either already own or want to rent from the iTunes Store, the Apple TV app on Roku will soon support Apple's new streaming service, Apple TV Plus, after its arrival on November 1.

That said, if you want to start streaming your iTunes shows and movies, the Apple TV app is available to Roku users for free starting today in the US and UK, as well as Argentina, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, France, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru and Republic of Ireland. 

Categories: Tech News

Workers trust AI more than human managers

Latest Tech News - Tue, 10/15/2019 - 16:56

Workers place more trust in robots and AI than their managers according to the second annual AI at Work study conducted by Oracle and Future Workplace.

To compile the study, the two firms surveyed 8,370 employees, managers and HR leaders across 10 countries to find that AI has changed the relationship between people and technology in the workplace and is reshaping the role HR teams and managers need to play when it comes to attracting, retaining and developing talent.

In contrast to common fears that AI and robots will take workers jobs, the AI at Work study found that employees, managers and HR leaders across the globe are reporting increased adoption of AI in the workplace and many are welcoming the emerging technology with enthusiasm.

AI is becoming more prominent in workplaces with 50 percent of workers currently using some form of AI at work compared to only 32 percent last year. Workers in China (77%) and India (78%) have adopted AI over two times more than those in France (32%) and Japan (29%). However, the study also found that men have a more positive view of AI in the workplace than women with 32 percent of male workers optimistic versus 23 percent of female workers.

Who to trust?

Increased adoption of AI at work is having a significant impact on the way employees interact with their managers and as a result, the traditional role of HR teams and managers is shifting.

Of those surveyed, 64 percent said they would trust a robot more than their manager and half have even turned to a robot instead of their manager for advice. Workers in India (89%) and China (88%) are the most trusting of robots over their managers, followed by Singapore (83%), Brazil (78%), Japan (76%), the UAE (74%), the US (57%), the UK (54%) and France (56%). Once again though, more men (56%) than women (44%) have turned to AI over their managers.

When asked what robots and AI can do better than their managers, respondents said robots are better at providing unbiased information (26%), maintaining work schedules (34%), problem solving (29%) and managing a budget (26%). However, workers said that managers are still better at understanding their feelings, coaching them and creating a work culture.

SVP of the human capital management cloud business group at Oracle, Emily He explained why organizations should work with their HR departments when implementing AI at work, saying:

“The latest advancements in machine learning and artificial intelligence are rapidly reaching mainstream, resulting in a massive shift in the way people across the world interact with technology and their teams. As this study shows, the relationship between humans and machines is being redefined at work, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to successfully managing this change. Instead, organizations need to partner with their HR organization to personalize the approach to implementing AI at work in order to meet the changing expectations of their teams around the world.” 

Categories: Tech News

Cyberpunk 2077 release date, trailers, gameplay and news

Latest Tech News - Tue, 10/15/2019 - 16:16

Cyberpunk 2077 will be hacking into our digital lives in only a few months – but the more teasers, trailers, and gameplay we get to see, the less sure we can wait that long before CD Projekt Red's massive dystopian RPG actually comes to our screens.

Landing on Xbox One, PC, and PS4, Cyberpunk 2077 looks set to be a vast open-world game, draped in dizzying neon colors and futuristic gadgetry, and packed with more branching storylines than you could shake a high-tech drone at.

In both an extended trailer and in our hands-off demo at E3 2019, we saw a bit more of the metropolis of the future, where body modification has become an obsession, and you play a mysterious outlaw in the sleazy underbelly of the city.

Here's all the news, trailers, and announcements we've had on Cyberpunk 2077 so far. Or, if you can't take the anticipation ahead of the game's 2020 release, check out our thoughts on the Cyberpunk RED tabletop role-playing game instead.

UPDATE: There have been some more photo mode teasers and discussions around how CD Projekt Red plans to monetise its post-launch content. Read on to find out more. 

Cut to the Chase
  • What is Cyberpunk 2077? A brand new IP from CD Projekt Red starring Keanu Reeves 
  • What's the Cyberpunk 2077 release date? April 16, 2020
  • What systems will Cyberpunk 2077 be released on? PS4, Xbox One and PC
  • Will it come to next-gen consoles too? We think it's likely, though there's no official word so far
  • Is it not coming to Switch? Sorry, Nintendo – while the Witcher III is somehow being ported to Switch, it seems unlikely the hardware could cope with what Cyberpunk is promising
What is Cyberpunk 2077?

Cyberpunk 2077 is a neon cyberpunk game that has The Witcher 3 developer CD Projekt Red moving from a gritty, high fantasy world to an equally gritty, science fiction world metropolis. It's based off the pen-and-paper RPG of the same name, but plays a hell of a lot like The Matrix game we've always wanted.

We caught our first peek at the game behind closed doors at E3 2018 – you can check out what we saw in the 48-minute walkthrough video below (in the trailers section).

Cyberpunk 2077 is a game that looks vastly different from its developer's The Witcher series, with towering neon skyscrapers, bionic enhancements and a focus on vertical movement rather than wide open plains. It's also all in first-person.

At E3 2019 we learned a lot more about the plot of the game, which features the one and only Keanu Reeves. Reeves plays a character named Johnny Silverhand who's embedded in a biochip that's placed in the main character's brain. 

In order to unlock the secrets to the biochip, what basically becomes the main thread of the game, Silverhand will guide you to Alt Cunningham, the most legendary net runner of all-time. The only problem? She’s dead. But her consciousness lives on the web and you’ll need to do whatever it takes to track her down – including, but not limited to, befriending or eliminating leaders of the biggest gangs in Night City. 

Cyberpunk 2077 trailers

The latest Cyberpunk 2077 trailer is a 15-minute deep dive into the game's lore, world, and gameplay. If you don't mind spoiling some of the visual treats in store – including what it's like to actually step into cyberspace – check out the video here.

E3 2019 gave us an incredibly slick trailer, with a look at some new characters, weapon-play – including Keanu Reeves, who will be playing the rock star Johnny Silverhand. Get your fix in the trailer below.

In March 2019, we got yet another video, this time of the development team gearing up for the E3 2019 showcase event. Those hoping for a 2019 release may want to start to brace themselves however – though the game remains without a release date, the suggestion of the video below is that development is still in full swing, and a release date may be some time away yet:

After a veritable truckload of hype, CD Projekt Red released 48 minutes of gameplay footage, based on the demo journalists saw at E3 2018. 

In it, you'll see what gunplay looks like, character creation and backstory assignment, plus how you'll upgrade yourself via cybernetic enhancements. You'll meet some of the characters in Cyberpunk's seedy crime circuit and explore the city on foot and in vehicles. (Quick warning: the trailer contains nudity, violence and swearing.)

We were treated to a Cyberpunk 2077 trailer during E3 2018 which you can watch below:

Cyberpunk 2077 release date: April 16, 2020

In the game’s first official teaser trailer, it was stated that the game will be coming “when it’s ready,” but now we have an official release date: April 16, 2020, care of the E3 2019 trailer.

This is despite an investor call in early 2016 that suggested that Cyberpunk 2077 would be released before June 2019. It was also said in this call that CD Projekt Red is planning to release two new triple A RPGs before 2021. 

It was later clarified in forums that Cyberpunk 2077 would be the first of these games to arrive and work on the second would not start before Cyberpunk 2077 was finished. 

Image Credit: CD Projekt Red

Considering The Witcher 3 took around three and a half years to develop, a 2019 release didn't seem unmanageable for the studio. But the scale of the development, as well as rumors of the game being a cross-gen Xbox Two and PS5 title, it makes sense that the game has taken longer than initially anticipated.

Cyberpunk 2077 news and features

Post-launch content

We're still a long way away from any kind of post-launch content for Cyberpunk 2077 but fans have been thinking about how CD Projekt Red may consider monetising it. Well, the studio doesn't seem to have locked down any definite path just yet but it is being considered and the most likely scenario appears to be that the game will follow in the post-launch content footsteps of The Witcher 3.

In an interview with GameSpot at PAX Australia, the head of CDPR's Krakow office, John Mamais said “I think it’s a bad idea to do microtransactions after you release a game. It seems like it’s very profitable, though. It’s probably a hard decision for the guy that runs the business to decide if we should do it or not. But if everyone hates it, why would we do something like that and lose the goodwill of our customers?”

As far as Mamais is concerned, the Witcher 3's model which saw free DLC launched with big paid expansions was "a good model" which "worked pretty well." As a result, Mamais added "I don’t see why we wouldn’t try to replicate that model with Cyberpunk 2077. We’re not talking about that yet, but it seems like that would be the smart way to go.”

Photo mode?

Let's face it, we all want to take pictures of Night City and there have been hints that this may be possible when the game launches. The developer told fans previously that there were plans to include a photo mode in the game and a recent video posted to Twitter has suggested that may still be the case. 

The video shows a scene of the Night City skyline while the symbol of a camera shows briefly. The hashtags on the tweet itself read Capture Cyberpunk and Photos From Night City. This makes a photo mode seem very likely and given it's a feature found in most big budget games these days that may not be entirely surprising. However, the game's first person perspective may present some challenges if CD Projekt Red wishes to allow players to take pictures which will include their fully-customised avatars. 

No Reeves romance for you

We know, you're devastated. We all are. But it's now been confirmed that Keanu Reeves is not a character you'll be able to romance during Cyberpunk 2077 (via PCGamer). 

What about multiplayer?

After repeatedly stating that multiplayer elements were in R&D but saying nothing more, CD Projekt Red has confirmed on Twitter that it's definitely in the works. So far, the plan appears to be to release the game in April as a single-player experience and then follow this up with various single DLCs that will be free to download and play, after which players will begin to be invited for "some multiplayer action." Multiplayer is, then, slightly down the road but it is coming. 

Character creation will be gender fluid
In an interview with Metro, senior concept artist Marthe Jonkers clarified that players would be able to customize their characters's gender expression in a much more fluid way than traditional RPGs – with two masculine / feminine body types and voices you can mix and match as you please.

Jonkers said that "you don’t choose your gender anymore. You don’t choose, ‘I want to be a female or male character’ you now choose a body type. Because we want you to feel free to create any character you want."

GTA-style radio
You can listen to some music GTA-style while cruising about in your vehicle.

Coming to Stadia
Cyberpunk 2077 has now been announced for the Google Stadia streaming service for games.

Spin-off card game
Forget Gwent—Cyberpunk 2077 is getting its very own spin-off card game called Afterlife that will launch sometime in 2020. The game is being made in collaboration with board game publisher Cmon, whose listing for the game reads:

“The game thrusts players into the dark alleyways of Night City, where ruthless gangs clash with corporations in an endless war for money, power, and control.

“In Cyberpunk 2077: Afterlife, players become Fixers, the data brokers and masterminds in Night City that recruit cyberpunks, equip them with gear, and send them out on missions. But nothing's free in Night City. Players need to balance between what they want and what they can actually afford. Using an innovative drafting mechanic and special dashboard, players must decide which cards they want to buy, and which to sacrifice for funds in order to purchase new ones.

Each successful mission raises the player's Street Cred, with mission survivors becoming Veterans, imparting their knowledge and experience to newer recruits. In this chrome-infused world, Street Cred is the only currency that truly matters.”

Hardcore mode that says goodbye to UI In an interview with Wccftech, CD Projekt Red’s Alvin Liu discussed hardcore mode, revealing that it will get rid of the game’s UI to provide a “real challenge” for players. That means there’ll be no markers or indicators telling you where things are or what level of enemy you’re going up against. It’s real immersion in Night City and the desert beyond with the potential for real frustration. 

Of course, it’s not just the hardcore players that are being catered to in Cyberpunk 2077; Liu revealed that there will also be modes for those who are less experienced with first person games and shooters and wish to enjoy a more laidback experience. 

“If you want to play more casually for the story and maybe you’re not experienced with shooters, which was a real big concern for us. We want to tell a story and maybe you’re a big fan of The Witcher and you’re not comfortable playing a shooter, we have settings available for that.”

Liu explains that as well as settings for less experienced players, there will also be weapons. The smart gun, for example, will help players to aim. Though it comes at the cost of the smart gun being a weaker and slower weapon. It will, however, be a good start for those looking to get to grips with the aiming system. 

For those unfamiliar with first person games, there’s also going to be a Field of View slider. Making more of the game world visible through the eyes of the avatar should alleviate that sense of tunnel vision that comes from trading third person view for first person and the potential for nausea this can cause some players.

Environmental hazards In an interview with Wccftech, UI director Alan Liu revealed Cyberpunk 2077 will feature dynamic weather such as acid rain and other environmental hazards.


Settings available for those uncomfortable with FPS
The game includes a number of difficulty levels for those who may struggle to adjust to playing an RPG in the style of an FPS.

Cyberpunk 2077 will look just as good on console as PC
In an interview with Wccftech, UI director Alan Liu was asked about the challenges of optimizing Cyberpunk 2077 for low-end hardware. 

"Actually no, we have a very custom engine, the RED Engine," Liu responded. "And actually, we’re targeting consoles as first-class platforms and it looks amazing there. So obviously, if you spent, you know, $2,000 building your PC rig, it’s going to look better on that. But the graphics are quite amazing for what you’re going to get from Cyberpunk 2077 on consoles and low-end PCs."

Could we see a movie adaptation in the future?
In an interview with VGC at E3 2019, Pondsmith admitted that Keanu Reeves' involvement in the game has made the possibility of a Cyberpunk movie adaption much more likely.

"I can’t really say anything on that," Pondsmith told VGC in response to whether he is optioning the Cyberpunk movie rights. "But with Keanu Reeves being tied up in things, it’s become much more of a possibility."

"At this point we are teaching people about this new kind of cyberpunk. My favorite film is Blade Runner, but I recognise inherently that it’s a cerebral film and 2049 was even more cerebral. A cerebral film is not necessarily going to allow other people to enter that space and understand it, but at the same time you don’t want to do it totally action."

Keanu Reeves' band gets its first single
If the appearance of Keanu Reeves in Cyberpunk 2077 as a rock star wasn't enough, punk band Refused are creating the music for his in-game band (named Samurai). And if that wasn't enough, Samurai have released their first single, Chippin' In – presumably something to do with microchips – so you can start getting a sense of Night City's soundscapes already.

There may or may not be three games in development
Polish news site Bankier reported that CD Projekt President Adam Kiciński had confirmed the existence of yet another AAA game set in the Cyberpunk 2077 universe, likely being the planned follow-up to next year's game – with a secondary team apparently working on a multiplayer mode too. CD Projekt has refuted the claims, while refusing to be drawn on whether a sequel could appear down the line. To be fair, they're probably focused on getting the main title out first.

Take your pick of protagonists
Instead of a set lead character like the Witcher, it sounds like we'll have a few options to choose from. Cyberpunk 2077's lead quest designer, Paweł Sasko, has commented that "The player in Cyberpunk 2077 can create a custom character that has one of three origin stories, that we call Lifepaths," each with their own "starting location and story background that are strongly connected with the origin story" (via VG24/7). The three choices are Street Kid, Nomad and Corporate.

There will be romance
Fans of The Witcher 3's romantic sub-plots will be happy to hear that CD Projekt is bringing something similar to Cyberpunk 2077. In an interview with GamesRadar, the game's Quest Designer, Mateusz Tomaskiewicz, confirmed that players will be able to have relationships with different "entities", all of whom will have their own stories, goals and ideas for you to engage with. He stopped short of confirming just how many romance threads players will have the option to pursue and whether or not one of them will be with Keanu Reeves. It seems unlikely, though.

There will be no morality system
Players won't be constrained by any kind of morality system in Cyberpunk 2077 it has been confirmed by Mateusz Tomaskiewicz in an interview with GamingBolt. Given the complex nature of the decisions players made in The Witcher 3, this decision to favor the grey probably won't come as much of a surprise. This means that if you want to play through the entire game without killing anyone you absolutely can. Or if you want to be the next Angel of Death you can do that too. You just have to invest in the right in-game skills to do so. 


There's more than Night City
From what we've seen so far, the setting of Night City in Cyberpunk 2077 looks like a mighty impressive, expansive and very neon place to explore. But it won't be the only location in the game to explore. In an interview with VG247, the Lead Quest Designer, Pawel Sasko, revealed that players will be able to go beyond the walls of the metropolis and explore an area known as the "Badlands". Largely desolate and populated by Nomads, this area will have its own quests. You can even start the game as a Nomad and begin your story outside of the city. 

Multiple Endings
In an interview with CD Projekt, YouTuber Yong Yea got confirmation that Cyberpunk 2077 will have multiple endings. It's not been confirmed just how many there will be but this ties in with the expansive image of the game that's being presented and the idea that players are crafting a highly personal story.

New Cyberpunk 2077 gameplay shown at E3 2019, but not playable
At E3 2019 we got the chance to see Cyberpunk 2077 at a behind-closed doors demo centered around Pacifica – the southern-most region of Night City – and Keanu Reeves' character, Johnny Silverhand. The weirdest part? Keanu may in fact be the key to immortality. Yes, you read that correctly.

Inside Pacifica, two gangs – The Animals and The Voodoo Boys – are fighting for supremacy. In order to meet Bridgitte, the head of the Voodoo Boys, you'll have to first deal with her lieutenant Placide, who wants you to infiltrate The Animals' hideout. Your goal, at least you're told, is to find a high-tech van that's monitoring all the network traffic in Pacifica. 

To get to this van, you'll have to make your way past The Animals' crew. The reason they're called The Animals, it turns out, is because they take a drug that enhances their muscle mass. To get through them you'll either need to fight your way through – a risky proposition – or sneak your way into the hideout.

Image Credit: CD Projekt Red

Customization: perks, skills and attributes
You’ll customize your character’s look; you’ll customize their backstory; you’ll customize their base skills and you’ll give them perks that make them who they are. If you want a ninja samurai who came from the streets and is skilled in firearms and hand-to-hand combat, you can make that. If you want a net runner super hacker that can take over turrets and jack into enemies, you can make that, too. 

The choices are vast, and while they're not completely limitless, CD Projekt Red doesn’t want to confine you to a single play style or set path.   

The reasoning behind that, it seems, is to better mirror the game’s source material – a 30-year-old tabletop role playing game called Cyberpunk (however, there was also a later edition called Cyberpunk 2020). 

Behind all of the hacking and gunplay lies a fairly complex RPG – the perks screen we saw during our demo had more than 20 perks to choose from and level up. These perks impact how your character plays, but can also impact what choices you have in conversations with the world’s NPCs. 

Image Credit: CD Projekt Red

Vampire Bloodlines and Deus Ex were inspirations for the game
Given it’s based on a tabletop roleplaying game and Cyberpunk is already a massive sub-genre in science fiction, we knew Cyberpunk 2077 hadn’t been totally pulled from the ether without any kind of influence. But we’re always interested to find out about some of the more subtle influences on the game and the way it plays, some of which Quest Director Mateusz Tomaskiewicz has revealed in a recent interview with gaming publication AreaJugones.

Tomaskiewicz said that games such as Deus Ex, Vampire Bloodlines and Elder Scrolls had influenced him in his work on Cyberpunk 2077's quests. He cites the original Deus Ex as a particular influence and praises the ways in which it gives players the freedom to complete missions in multiple ways. This suggests we can expect a great deal of freedom and complexity and non-linearity in Cyberpunk 2077’s missions as well as in the protagonist you'll be using to cause havoc in the game world which is something quite different from the tight gameplay-loop found in The Witcher. 

CD Projekt Red is working on two AAA titles – both to be released by 2021
CD Projekt Red has confirmed it still plans to release two AAA titles by 2021. While we know one of these titles will definitely be Cyberpunk 2077, we're still in the dark about what the second title could be.

This release window was reaffirmed on the official CD Projekt Red forums, with moderator Donata Popławska confirming the studio is sticking to its original roadmap.

"As far as the strategy of the CD Projekt Capital Group for 2016-2021 is concerned, its plans to release the second AAA game by 2021 remain unchanged," the moderator wrote (translated via Resetera user Antiax). 

However, Popławska did not expand on what the second AAA title to be released in this time frame could be.

"We are currently focusing on the production and promotion of Cyberpunk, so we do not want to comment on further projects," they continued.

Lady Gaga could be making an appearance?
According to french site ActuGaming, Lady Gaga and CD Projekt Red are collaborating for Cyberpunk 2077 and the artist has already visited the Polish studio to take part in motion-capture – suggesting she will have a character role in the game itself.

In addition ActuGaming claims the collaboration will be officially announced at E3 2019, with Gaga rumored to be making an appearance at the gaming convention.

Last year Gaga tweeted a strange mix of letters and numbers, which the official Cyberpunk 2077 Twitter account replied to with "Of course! Of course we will!", suggesting the A Star is Born actress would be involved with the game in some way or another.

E3 2018 confirmed features
We got to spend some time watching a demo of Cyberpunk 2077 during E3 and we learned some interesting things about the game. 

It's a first person RPG set in a huge open world known as Night City – a metropolis split into six districts, each offering a different environment to explore. During the demo we only saw a small part of one of them. 

Players can create their own character called V and embark on their journey to crawl up from the criminal underbelly. This is a dark game and though The Witcher series is mature, this takes it to a new level. 

As you'd expect, the game lets you augment your body using various bits of tech – illegal or otherwise – and you can use drugs to enhance your combat, or a kind of digital brain-hack called 'Braindance'. We know weapons are wide ranging and seriously creative, with smart guns and bullets as well as terrifying Mantis Blades for melee.

There are no loading screens in Cyberpunk 2077 and the story and side quests are branching and numerous, and your choices genuinely impact the outcome. You can read more about how impressed were were by what we saw.

E3 2018 secret message
CD Projekt RED used the Xbox Showcase to show its latest trailer for Cyberpunk 2077. But it's more than just a trailer. Spotted by Polygon, there's a moment in the trailer with hidden text with more information on the game which is revealed when you enhance the image.

In the message CD Projekt first apologises for "staying silent longer than we planned" but following the release of The Witcher 3 Blood and Wine the developer wanted to wait until it had "something meaningful and substantial" to show.

It goes on to say that the vision for Cyberpunk is "an alternative version of the future where America is in pieces, megacorporations control all aspects of civilized life, and gangs rule the rest." This game will, CD Projekt says, be a "true single player, story-driven RPG" where you'll be able to create your own character.

At the moment the developer isn't ready to confirm any kind of release date and asks for more patience. It also says it has "no bloody clue" about how big the game is but does say it's "seriously big."

Image Credit: CD Projekt Red

It could be on the next generation of consoles
CD Projekt Red has hinted that Cyberpunk 2077 could be developed for both current and next gen titles. GamingBolt has reported that during a presentation at the Pareto Securities Gaming Seminar 2018 event, the studio's CFO Piotr Nielubowicz and CEO Adam Kiciński mentioned Cyberpunk 2077 hinted that it may be being developed for future hardware. The slide in question stated the team was developing the title for “current and next-generation technology”.

Given the game's current timeline, it's possible it could launch on current systems in April (PS4, Xbox One) and then next-gen systems (PlayStation 5, Xbox Two) later in the year.

It will be on Steam
Good news Steam fans: Cyberpunk 2077 will definitely be coming to the platform. At the Pareto Securities Gaming Seminar (via PCGamesN) the studio’s CEO Adam Kiciński gave a presentation in which he confirmed that the game would not be exclusive to GOG. There's been a lot of furore over the Metro Exodus being 'removed' from Steam and onto the Epic Games Store, but it looks like CD Projekt Red is steering clear of that minefield.

It’s going to be bigger than The Witcher 3
It would have been a pretty safe guess to say that Cyberpunk 2077 is going to be a big game, but in an interview with MCV in 2015 visual effects artist Jose Teixeira said it’s going to be “far, far bigger” than anything the studio has ever done. 

In fact, he said that The Witcher 3 was being treated as a learning experience and that they could do better. To do better, the studio has doubled in size with studio head Adam Badowski saying that after The Witcher 3, Cyberpunk 2077 needs to be “even better, even bigger, even more revolutionary” than what had originally been planned. 

Image Credit: CD Projekt Red

You’ll be travelling on more advanced tech than boats and horses
So, we know the game map is going to be intimidatingly big. How will we get around it, then? Well fortunately, moving out of the high fantasy realm gives CD Projekt Red a little more freedom when it comes to creating vehicles.

Don’t expect horses and basic boats here – a job listing for a Senior Vehicle Artist for the studio said they’d be expected to work on “incredibly complex vehicles, planes, bikes, robots and mechanics.“

There may be multiplayer
It was confirmed years ago that the game would have multiplayer elements but what exactly they’ll be is unclear. It was said, though, that the game would mainly focus on single player. 

The company president said in March 2018 that these elements are not on the table right now, so it's possible that they'll be introduced after the game's release in a sort of online world like GTA Online. 

There will be online
As well as multiplayer, CD Projekt's CEO has confirmed that there will also be online elements to the game. In an interview with Polish tech site Strefa Inwestorow Kiciński stated that “Online is necessary, or very recommended if you wish to achieve a long-term success. At some point, we have mentioned that there will be a certain online element related to Cyberpunk.”

Whether or not the online elements will feed into the multiplayer is unclear.

But there won't be microtransactions
The studio also tweeted to quell fears over microtransactions in online components, stating that Cyberpunk 2077 will be "nothing less than" the Witcher 3, adding that players will "get what [they] pay for" with "no hidden catch."

It appears that while many studios are feeling the need to move to a service model to ensure their titles make money, CD Projekt is staying committed to the story-driven single player experience with Cyberpunk 2077, one which served them very well with The Witcher. 

Categories: Tech News

The Last of Us 2: release date, news, and rumors

Latest Tech News - Tue, 10/15/2019 - 15:45

You read that right: The Last of Us 2 is nearing the end of development and will be in our hands in 2020.

As endings go, The Last of Us's was pretty conclusive. But as it turns out, that hasn't stopped The Last of Us developer Naughty Dog from cranking out a sequel in the form of The Last of Us 2 – or, The Last of Us: Part 2 if we're using its proper name. 

Given the first game was hailed by players and critics alike as a masterpiece with excellent, emotional storytelling and engaging, realistic characters, we have to admit that the decision to release a follow-up isn't particularly shocking. We'd probably have been more surprised if there wasn't one. And yet, when The Last of Us 2 was first announced, we'd be lying if we said our hearts didn't skip a beat. 

The Last of Us 2 was first announced by Naughty Dog at PlayStation Experience in 2016 alongside a teaser trailer but it wasn't until September 2019 that we were finally told the game's release date during a State of Play livestream. Now we know for sure that we'll be joining Ellie on her next adventure in February 2020. 

[Update: Now that the release date is confirmed, Neil Druckmann has been talking more openly about The Last of Us 2 and its two discs (!). Read on to find out more.]

Cut to the chase
  • What is it? The sequel to the critically acclaimed post-apocalyptic game The Last of Us
  • When can I play it? February 21 2020
  • What can I play it on? PlayStation 4
The Last of Us 2 trailers 

The most recent trailer for The Last of Us 2 is also its release date announcement trailer. Shown during the September 2019 State of Play stream, it confirms the game will be coming on February 21 2020 and shows Ellie in action as well as a glimpse at Joel. 

The Last of Us 2 was shown during E3 2018. This trailer finally gives us a look at Ellie in an intimate scene before cutting away to some of the brutal but stealth-based combat we can expect to see in the game when it's launched.

The gameplay sequence gives us a look at Ellie fighting for her life in the wild. Success in a fight appears to require the right balance between stealth and all out attack as damage seems to have a more realistic impact. Ellie can move quietly between areas, taking weapons from bodies and crafting, before bursting out and taking down her enemies. It's a different creature in many ways to the original The Last of Us but it looks like something to look forward to, with more advanced enemies to challenge us and more complex gameplay to thrill us. 

See the gameplay for yourself below.

The Last of Us Part 2 had another trailer drop during PSX 2017. During a panel it was confirmed that the game will be set in the city of Seattle and the darker themes we know are coming were touched upon. You can watch the panel for yourself below:

Another trailer for the game was shown at Sony's press conference during the 2017 Paris Games Week. This trailer is around 5 minutes long, focusing on conflicts between the human factions in the game. It shows part 2 is going to have a dark story, perhaps even darker than the first, and the trailer is fairly harrowing to watch. 

Visually impressive though it is, do note that it's gory before you watch it for yourself below. 

The first look at The Last of Us 2 came with its announcement at PlayStation Experience in 2016. Despite the fact that the game was early in development, the trailer showed a full (non-gameplay) scene that features both Ellie and Joel. You can watch it below:

The Last of Us 2 release date

After hoping, praying and speculating we finally got confirmation during the September 2019 State of Play that The Last of Us 2 will be released on February 21 2020. 

What we know so far

Neil Druckmann Interview

In an interview with the official PlayStation Blog, Neil Druckmann has been casting some light on what we can expect from The Last of Us Part 2 when it’s released in 2020. 

Rather than throw in new enemies just because they can, Druckmann says that the studio has carefully considered new Infected additions like the Shamblers. These new enemies emit clouds of burning acid and will force players to consider how they approach combat in a different way, especially when they’re appearing alongside the fast Runners and powerful Clickers.

Human enemies are also more dynamic. According to Druckmann, every human enemy in the game will have a unique name so that when they die their comrades might scream out their name in grief. Human enemies can become emotional and unpredictable, making combat more dynamic and realistic. 

Fans of visuals will also be happy to know that The Last of Us 2 will be making the most of the power of the PS4 like The Last of Us did with the PS3 before it. This means, according to Druckmann, that the game is “able to have much wider environments, sequences with a horde of infected, several squads of enemies looking for you in big spaces.”

Similarly, this has made it possible to give Ellie and all of the other characters a new animation system called motion mapping making their movements more responsive and more realistic:

“The fidelity we can get in the faces and the motion capture — we can better translate what the actors are doing on stage into the game, and get these nuances so we can rely more on the way someone blinks or the way they squint instead of lines of dialogue. It allows the writing to be much more nuanced than it’s been before.”

Two Discs

The Last of Us 2 is going to be an ambitious game. So ambitious that the adventure will be split across two discs. Following Sony’s State of Play livestream where the game’s release date was confirmed, it was confirmed in retail listings that Ellie’s adventure will be sold in two discs. At the very least you’ll be getting them together and not years apart. 

Allies

There are few things more frustrating than a completely incompetent ally in a combat scenario when you're playing a game and, fortunately, it seems that won't be a concern with The Last of Us 2. In an interview with GameSpot, the game's co-director Anthony Newman said that the team took criticisms with regards to allies in the first game on board and are looking to rectify them in the sequel. 

“In the past in almost all of our games, the allies have done kind of fake damage, where you see them shoot enemies and it's a little bit theatrical—like their bullets are clearly doing way less damage than yours,” Newman said. 

For The Last of Us 2, however, ally bullet “do exactly as much damage as yours do" so players can count on the AI to help them. 

September PlayStation Events and Multiplayer

The Last of Us fans finally got confirmation that The Last of Us 2 will launch on February 21 2020 during the September State of Play alongside a brand new trailer that features plenty of action and a look at Ellie and Joel.  

Over the course of the event, it was also confirmed that The Last of Us 2 will not launch with a multiplayer element. In a tweet, Naughty Dog stated that its main focus for the game's launch is its single player which is "far and away the most ambitious project Naughty Dog has ever undertaken". 

That doesn't mean, however, there will never be any online element to The Last of Us 2. The tweet goes on to clarify that at some point in the future an online element for the game will be launched when it's ready. 

Any online element will be worth the wait, however, according to series co-creator Bruce Straley who left the studio in 2018. Taking to Twitter, Straley noted that the online multiplayer is "extremely ambitious" and that any delay is for "good reasons" and that fans are "in good hands". 

GameStop Conference

Some brand new The Last of Us 2 footage was apparently shown behind closed doors during the recent GameStop managers conference in Nashville. The footage, which will be available to the wider world "soon", was short and showcased some of the game's stealth aspects, including how clickers can be used to your advantage. 

When this "soon" that the footage will be released is isn't yet known but one opportunity for Sony and Naughty Dog to show some new footage would be during Paris Games Week in October if it doesn't drop even sooner.

More from Troy Baker

The teasing for The Last of Us 2 continues at Manchester Comic-Con. Troy Baker, voice of Joel, has once again been talking about the game and this time he’s said:

“There is nothing about this game, nor the reveals, that hasn’t been 100% carefully crafted and methodically curated. All I can tell you is that as much as you’re clamoring for it, you’re not ready.”

If that’s true then the careful curation possibly extends to Baker’s excellent hyping here. What that tells us is that we’re not going to hear anything about this game’s release date until Sony and Naughty Dog want us to and it could be a little while longer before we do. 

Troy Baker shedding some light

Things have been a little quiet around The Last of Us Part II lately so Troy Baker, the voice of Joel, has caused some excitement merely by mentioning the game. During Manchester Comic-Con, Baker was asked what can be expected from the sequel and wasn't able to give away much. What he did say, however, was that "it's hands down the most ambitious game that Naughty Dog has ever done for sure. It's far larger than I thought was going to be possible." That's a pretty big statement to make and one guaranteed to leave fans salivating. 

When it came to the release date, though, Baker wasn't able to make any announcements. Not because he didn't want to (though obviously and understandably he didn't) but because he and his fellow cast members don't know the release date just yet. "Last time we announced, we slipped," he explained, "And they don't want to do that again." 

(Via PlayStationLifestyle)

Rumors of a delay

There was much excitement on May 29 as a result of PlayStation exclusive Death Stranding finally getting its release date confirmed as November 8 2019. This has, however, had a ripple effect which is concerning fans of The Last of Us 2.

With Death Stranding now slotted in as PlayStation's big exclusive release for the holiday season of 2019, it's been rumored (by Kotaku's Jason Schreier among others) that The Last of Us 2, also originally said to be looking at a late 2019 release, will now be pushed into early 2020.

This has not been confirmed by Naughty Dog or PlayStation so it remains nothing more than rumor at the moment. It's also worth pointing out that The Last of Us 2 has never had a set-in-stone release date anyway. 

However, an early 2020 release date for The Last of Us 2 does not seem impossible at this point as PlayStation having two such huge releases close together at the end of 2019 would be a surprise indeed.

A recent interview with Ellie actress, Ashley Johnson, has also added to those early 2020 rumors as, when asked by the interviewer when the game will release, she appears to begin to say February. However, nothing has been confirmed by Naughty Dog just yet so everything stands as rumor only at the the moment.

Into the final stages

News around The Last of Us 2 has been hotting up recently as the game inches closer towards completion. Naughty Dog has now confirmed that the final scene for the game has been shot and the game’s co-director, Anthony Newman, has tweeted out a recruitment call as the studio begins to “close out” the game’s development. 

As promising as these announcements are, they don't reveal anything about whether or not we can expect to see The Last of Us 2 this year or next. Regardless, development has reached a critical stage and though Sony won’t be attending E3 2019, that doesn’t mean it can’t make some announcements around the time of the show. In fact, recent rumors have suggested that we will see some kind of news around this time. Hopefully we’ll see a confirmed release date in the coming months. 

Mocap is underway

Things have been quiet on the official news front for The Last of Us 2 but we've been glad to see some studio insiders and actors from the game posting images on social media which show that the game's motion capture is well underway. Actors Ashley Johnson and Shannon Woodward have both posted images of themselves wearing mocap suits. They didn't give much away but the fact that Naughty Dog is this far into the motion capture process suggests we might at least be closer to hearing about a possible release date. 

Troy Baker is impressed

The Last of Us 2 is still in the works, but we now know that one of its lead voice actors, Troy Baker, has had an in-depth look and he thinks the game is 'awesome'. It's not clear whether Baker just saw some gameplay or had the chance to go hands-on himself but according to GameRant he said during MCM Comic Con at Birmingham “It’s a fantastic story. It’s a fantastic game. We just finished a playtest. It’s looking awesome. I can’t for it to be on shelves.” Though we can't be sure where exactly in the development process it is (during PSX, it was said that Naughty Dog had reached around the 50 to 60% mark) this playtest is an encouraging sign. 

Directors

With Neil Druckmann having been promoted to Vice President of Naughty Dog, The Last of Us 2 now has two confirmed directors. Druckmann will, of course, still be heavily involved in the creation of the game but it's now being headed up by Anthony Newman and Kurt Margenau, both of whom were lead designers on Uncharted 4. 

Story

Although it was no slouch in the gameplay department, it was the story told by The Last of Us that stuck with us for months afterwards. Naturally Naughty Dog had to give us some kind of hint about where the sequel would go. 

At the moment we know The Last of Us 2 will take place in the city of Seattle, five years after the end of the original game, with a 19 year old Ellie taking the starring playable role. Joel will still appear in the game but if the teaser trailer is anything to go by, he could be a much more passive presence. 

This time around, Ellie is extremely angry about...something. From what we saw from the teaser trailer she wants revenge, which to her appears to be a dish best served deadly. 

She does, after all, promise to “kill every last one of them.” It’s not clear who “them” is but it could signal that the Fireflies, the first game's well-meaning but morally grey antagonists, will make a return. Anger, hate and revenge are going to be key themes this time around so expect to be in for an emotionally heavy ride. 

In the trailer for the game shown at Paris Games Week in 2017, we got a look at how dark the game is likely to be. The trailer focuses on the opposing relationships between human characters in the game and features some seriously cringe-inducing violence. 

It doesn't tell us much about any new characters of how they'll relate to one another but it does confirm that we're going into a dark game world in The Last of Us part 2. 

In a recent panel at PSX both Druckmann and Gross said that though the game's story will indeed be dark and there'll be a focus on the theme of hate, "there is hope" and there will be "lighthearted moments." 

We can't pretend we're not relieved to hear this after the game's controversial Paris Games Week trailer which, Druckmann said, was intended to highlight the game's exploration of the pursuit of justice.

Ellie is one of the most real and refreshing characters we’ve seen in gaming so it’s exciting that Naughty Dog are going to take her story further and put her in center stage. 

The creative director of the game, Neil Druckmann has said that the story will be about Ellie and Joel’s relationship and that though the story would be complementary to the story of the first game, it would be much larger. 

When asked at a PSX panel whether or not Joel or Ellie may die, Druckmann responded that "no one is safe" highlighting that the game's story really could go anywhere. 

Hopes are particularly high for this larger story as it’s been revealed that one of the writers of Westworld, Halley Gross, will be co-writing the game’s story. Having someone who’s written scripts for such an incredibly popular and successful show should be a boon for the game's story. 

Gameplay

E3 2018 brought us our first proper look at the gameplay in The Last of Us Part 2. Given Ellie is now the leading playable character, it was expected that things would be a little different from the first game and the presentation at the show made this fairly clear. 

Ellie will have some moves similar to Joel but there are some things she'll be able to do that are completely different. For one thing she can jump - the new jump button should make the world of The Last of Us Part 2 more complex and more enjoyable to traverse. It also has the potential to make combat more interesting. Speaking of combat, Ellie doesn't really throw punches as her first form of attack, she has a stealthy knife. Melee combat generally appears to offer a little more than the original game, with evasions and an environment that can help as well as hinder your fighting.

Not only has Ellie matured as a character, the enemies she faces have developed and they're more realistic than ever. The Infected in The Last of Us Part 2 are smarter and more reactive than their predecessors, making them a tougher foe to face. AI has improved, allowing enemies to communicate with one another and to look for Ellie when she's hiding. Expect some tense moments to arise from this. 

Categories: Tech News

Fable 4 is coming: here's everything we know so far

Latest Tech News - Tue, 10/15/2019 - 15:38

Despite Fable being one of Microsoft's most-beloved exclusive IPs, we haven't seen a mainline instalment since Fable 3 was released way back in 2010 - that's nearly a whole decade without a follow-up.

Image Credit: Lionhead

Of course it hasn't been all quiet on the Fable front. There was an unsuccessful attempt to pivot to an online games-as-service model with Fable Legends. But that was followed by the eventual closure of original developer Lionhead Studios, which meant many thought we’d never experience another traditional single-player Fable adventure.

However, when Xbox boss Phil Spencer said in early 2017 that the series wasn’t dead and still had places to go, hopes were understandably raised. More recently, reports have emerged that Playground Games, the developer behind the Forza Horizon series, is working on the fourth Fable game. 

Now it looks like we have a bit more to go on than rumors after an alleged Fable 4 leak found its way into the wild and the details were published on Reddit

We’ve put together everything you need to know regarding the news and rumours about Fable 4, as well as what we'd love to see from the next instalment. 

[Update: There are rumors that Fable 4 will have some impressive writers behind it. Read on to find out more.]

Cut to the chase
  • What is it? The fourth game in the Xbox exclusive open-world RPG series 
  • What can I play it on? Xbox and PC most likely 
  • When can I play it? Nothing confirmed but, even if it is, it’ll still be some time
Release date

Given that Fable 4 hasn’t actually been confirmed yet, and we sadly don't have the prophetic powers of the games' soothsaying Theresa, it’d be hard to pin down any kind of release date for Fable 4. 

However,  back in 2018, Eurogamer posited that development on the game was in its very early stages, with rumored developer Playground Games still hiring to boost team numbers up to around 200. 

Of course that news feels a little old now, but it's all we have to go on at the moment. So, taking it with a grain of salt, we may not see the next Fable game until 2021, 2020 if we're being optimistic.

 Image Credit: Lionhead 

News and rumors

Though Microsoft hasn’t officially confirmed Fable 4 is on the way, there have been signs that the franchise hasn’t been abandoned. 

We've collected together all of the top rumors and news below, take each with a grain of salt and remember that some of these are years old now - we're keeping them here to show you the full development of Fable 4. Fingers crossed the wait will be worth it.

Writing chops

If the rumours that Playground Games is indeed the studio tasked with developing the next Fable game are true then things are looking positive for the game’s story. 

Recently (via VGC) senior scriptwriter Kim MacAskill joined the studio’s as-yet-unannounced RPG team from Rocksteady to work alongside fellow Rocksteady and Batman: Arkham Knight writers Martin Lancaster, who is now a narrative director, and Craig Owens, principal scriptwriter. 

It remains unconfirmed that Playground Games’ RPG project is Fable 4 but if it is then the game will have some narrative chops thanks to the Arkham Knight alumni. 

Reddit leak

On June 3, 2019, Reddit user LagSwag 1 published details of an alleged Fable 4 leak. The details come from a video that's since been removed (and which we haven't seen ourselves), which details a few key features of the fourth installement, including both first and third-person perspectives, an in-depth character creator, no guns, the option to ignore the main quest, the option for players to build towns, multi-player and running on Unreal engine. Wow, that's a lot to take in.

If that wasn't enough to throw your head in a spin, two more details have emerged from the leak. The first is that the land of Albion (where the game is set) could be no more, with different worlds and planets to explore. And to access these planets? There could be a time travel element, via a Demon Door. 

This is clearly a huge departure from the original Fable games, but it sounds ambitious and exciting too. We also expected nothing less given past iterations of the game made huge leaps time-wise between each installment. Jumping possibly centuries into the future to a time when time travel tech is around makes a lot of sense.

However, that's porting over old ideas of how the game progresses onto the new idea. Maybe this will take us back to the past of the first game but with time travel elements added in? The leak suggested the reason for the new planets is that someone got control of the magic Spire and used it to destory the planet (!), which means we might not be in the future at all? These are all just guesses, of course, but it's fun to speculate where the game might be taking us next.

 Image Credit: Lionhead 

Peter Molyneux talks Fable 4

Though Peter Molyneux is no longer actively involved in the Fable 4 franchise, rumors of the next title have reached him and in a recent IGN interview he had some comments to make on where he'd like to see it go, as well as what he regretted in games gone by. 

Molyneux said that he regretted the massive time jumps between the mainline games and that he'd like to see the next game be a prequel: “Fable story hinted at a dramatic time before Fable 1 when the Guild was founded, this would be a perfect setting for Fable 4, the land of Albion would be much more primitive, the magic much more attuned to nature, the combat much more brutal. The story would follow the founding members of the heroes guild, why it was set up."

Finally, he wants to see a more organic morality and character progression systems, where players will affect their alignment through their actions rather than choosing a class at the beginning of the game. Find yourself stealing lots of stuff and making use of stealth? You'll quickly become known as a thief. 

The Eurogamer report

In January 2018 Eurogamer said that according to sources close to the project, a brand new high-budget Fable game is in the works. 

This news comes less than two years after the closure of Lionhead Studios, and the report says that UK developer Playground Games, best known for its work on the Forza Horizon series, will be the new developers for the series. 

Eurogamers sources say that a team of more than 200 will be working on Fable from the team’s new offices in Leamington Spa, though development is still in the very early stages. 

Just what kind of Fable might Playground be working on? Well, the report says that the game is planned to be an open world world action RPG with a focus on character and story.

Image Credit: Lionhead

The game that Playground will reportedly be working on sounds rather similar to the vision Lionhead had for Fable 4 before its pitch was rejected and the studio was shut down. Prior to its closure, Lionhead had been working on Fable Legends, a free-to-play service game with a heavy emphasis on online multiplayer.

This was quite a departure from Lionhead’s previous Fable titles and the studio hoped that it would be able to return to creating single-player story-driven adventures when development of Legends was complete. This didn’t happen.

Fable co-creator Simon Carter told Eurogamer that the news left him with “mixed” feelings. Though he said it was great news for the UK games industry and he’d be pleased to return to Fable as a “punter”, he added that it’s “curious” that Microsoft would get rid of a development team that knows the franchise inside out. 

He doesn’t doubt, however, that the team at Playground is “very talented” and will do a “fantastic job.”

It is somewhat curious that Microsoft has taken this sudden shift in attitude towards the Fable franchise. According to Eurogamer, it’s the result of the success of Guerrilla Games’ Horizon: Zero Dawn, This single-player story-driven game was a hugely beneficial exclusive for PlayStation and a sign that the future isn’t just exclusively for service-based online games. 

 Image Credit: Lionhead 

Playground is a studio that has done fantastic work for Microsoft with the Forza Horizon series so it’s understandable that the company would turn to them in the hopes of another exclusive success. 

Microsoft has yet to comment on these rumors so Fable’s return remains unconfirmed. 

The Xbox Live API Leak

Before Eurogamer’s report, in early January 2018 an Xbox Live API leak suggested that a Fable project with the codename Wisdom is being worked on by a UK-based developer.

The Lionhead tweet

Not long after this, a former Lionhead Lead Engine Programmer called Don Williamson posted on Twitter that he’d worked out which studio was working on Fable 4, stating that he believed it to be an interesting choice. This has since been deleted though it was captured by WCCFTech.

When asked by WCCFTech if the studio working on the game was based in Brighton, Williamson replied that there was no Brighton-based studio big enough to take on the task. With the knowledge gained from the Xbox Live API Leak, WCCFTech surmised that it must be Playground Games working on Fable. 

The studio had been recruiting developers to work on a Triple-A open world RPG before this point, which ties in neatly with these suspicions. Given that Playground Games is best known for the Forza Horizon titles and hasn’t worked on an open world RPG before, it’s unsurprising that Williamson believed the studio to be an interesting choice. However, given the degree of hiring going on we imagine the team is trying to get developers with the necessary expertise. 

 Image Credit: Lionhead 

Phil Spencer

Our very first sign that the Fable franchise would one day return came from Xbox’s own Phil Spencer. In early 2017 Spencer tweeted that though Microsoft had nothing to announce at that time, there were “plenty of places” the IP could go. 

It wasn’t much to go on but it added weight to reports that emerged in the aftermath of Lionhead’s closure that Microsoft had turned down offers to buy the studio as it wanted to keep hold of the Fable license.

What we want to see

An exciting story

Albion is a world with serious potential and we’d love to return to it in style. Previous Fable storylines haven’t always been groundbreaking and the story in Fable 3 was really very disappointing. However, the history of heroes and guilds has always been an interesting one and the Fable universe is far from short of interesting and well-written characters to jump off from.

If more recent rumors are true, we may have to make peace with the Fable universe in a literal sense. We'll be sad to say goodbye to Albion, of course, but we're also confident that if the game is taken to different places, and even different planets, it'll make sense to the experience as a whole. Each iteration of the game has always felt like a big change - Fable 4 is likely to be no exception.

A great soundtrack

Without fail, every single Fable game has had a soundtrack that’s stuck in our heads. Every track manages to create an atmosphere and a real sense of fairy tale fun. We’d love to see this commitment to sound and music make a return in any new instalment.

Multiplayer

One of the biggest recent rumors is that the game could be getting a multiplayer mode. We're not entirely sure how this will work, but it's an option that will add a new twist on the classic game that we're excited to try for ourselves - and with everyone we know.

Image Credit: Lionhead

That sense of humor

Alongside its soundtrack, the Fable franchise is recognisable for its sense of humor. It’s a little bit silly, occasionally a little bit dark and always individual. Though it’ll be a hard thing to replicate exactly, we’d love to see the new game take that same approach of not taking itself too seriously. It always helped Fable stand out from the other RPGs on the market and it would undoubtedly continue to do so - no other game has yet to strike the balance in quite the same way. 

More choices and consequences

Peter Monyneux always had a grand vision when it came to Fable’s morality system but sadly it never quite lived up to his vision. It’s been a long time since the last numbered Fable title and the power of consoles has come a long way. Greater power means vastly improved AI and we really hope the new development team will use this to create a far deeper morality system. 

Rather than simplistic good and bad choices, we’d love to see more complex decisions and far-reaching consequences. Especially the chance for your character to be a more neutral presence in the Fable universe. Recent rumors suggest you don't have to necessarily become the hero to play the game anymore, so we're hoping for more nuance in character development here. 

The thought of Fable returning is exciting and given the criticism Microsoft has received with regards to its lacklustre exclusive offerings on Xbox, it’d make sense for the company to revive one of its most beloved worlds.  

However, the main thing to remember here is: nothing is official. But, we have everything crossed that will all change during Microsoft's E3 2019 conference where more details - as well as an official announcement - could well be revealed.

  • Although Fable 4 might, finally, be on its way, there's still a long wait ahead. In the meantime, check out our selection of then best Xbox One games to play right now
Categories: Tech News

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019) release date, trailers and news

Latest Tech News - Tue, 10/15/2019 - 15:31

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019) is something of a reset for the bestselling FPS franchise – removing the frills of zombies, jetpacks, double-jumps and futuristic gadgetry for a grounded take on what military engagement actually looks like in the 21st century.

The name is no coincidence, either; 2007's Modern Warfare was a landmark entry in the Call of Duty series, and it looks like Activision is looking to recreate what made the game of the same name so successful.

It’s all about the gritty realities of war this time out, with the ‘modern’ of the ‘Modern Warfare’ title referring to the gear, weapons and gadgetry being used today in the Middle East and Russia, rather than the far-flung fantasies of science fiction.

With the battle royale genre taking up many shooter fans’ spare gaming time, Call of Duty’s crown as the king of competitive shooters has slipped in the past few years. Can a return to its most-popular roots bring it back to glory?

With Activision having outlined recommended specs on PC, we know it will be a demanding game, and those after a breezier experience also have the COD: Mobile game which is landing on October 1 for iOS and Android.

But if you're after the latest Call of Duty: Modern Warfare news, trailers, or beta updates, we have everything you need below.

[Update: Call of Duty Modern Warfare has a brand new trailer and we now know the PC requirements. Read on to find out more!]

Cut to the chase
  • What is it? The sixteenth Call of Duty game
  • What can I play it on? PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC
  • Is there crossplay multiplayer? Absolutely
  • When can I play it? October 25, 2019
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare release date

Announced right before E3 2019, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare leaked ahead of the event but a trailer gave us our first glimpse and a variety of details for the game.

It included the release date, which is set for October 25, 2019. You're already able to pre-order the game on the official site too.

Call of Duty Modern Warfare screenshots Call of Duty: Modern Warfare trailers

It's not long until the game's release and we now have a thrilling launch trailer to enjoy. Watch it for yourself below:

PlayStation's State of Play showcase saw the debut of several fantastic trailers for some highly-anticipated games, with a new story-focused Call of Duty: Modern Warfare trailer being a particular highlight. You can check out that trailer below.

At Gamescom 2019, Infinity Ward released a new trailer revealing Modern Warfare's ray tracing in action. Check it out below:

Not had enough footage of Modern Warfare multiplayer? Check out the 24 minutes of multiplayer footage released by Infinity Ward in August 2019 below. 

The latest multiplayer trailer has been revealed for what's being claimed to be Call of Duty's most immersive multiplayer to date.

Infinity Ward has confirmed a brand new multiplayer mode for Modern Warfare called Gunfight and released five whole minutes of crisp 4K gameplay to give players a better idea of what to expect from this fast-paced, 2v2 mode. Watch it for yourself below.

The first trailer for Modern Warfare was the release trailer that debuted on May 30. 

In it, we can see series protagonist (and all-around badass) Captain Price light up, and some intense - and dare we say great-looking - nightvision sequences. 

You can watch it below:

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare news

Loot boxes

There have been some worries among Call of Duty fans about what the monetisation plans around Modern Warfare may be, with loot boxes looming large in the minds of many. Studio art director at Infinity Ward, Joel Emslie, has stepped forward on the game's subreddit to say that the game will not have loot boxes. 

Under the thread title "Current Events" Emslie wrote in no uncertain terms:

"Sigh. There continues to be misinformed and incorrect info being pushed about Modern Warfare. What I can say right now is that we are definitely NOT working on any kind of supply drop or loot box system. Also, functional stuff is unlocked through GAMEPLAY. Stay tuned, we're planning to release info this week."

It looks like those feeling concern will be waiting for bated breath for more news before the game's release. 

PC Specifications

Ahead of Modern Warfare’s release, the game’s PC specifications have been revealed. And they’re pretty hefty. 

The game will, according to Battle.net, require a massive 175GB hard drive space. The space required on consoles has not yet been revealed but it will be interesting to whether 4K consoles will need something similar. 

Minimum requirements

OS: Windows 7 64-bit or Windows 10 64-bit

Processor” Intel Core i3-4340 or AMD FX-6300

Video” NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 or AMD Radeon HD 7950

Memory: 8GB RAM

Storage: 175GB hard drive

Recommended

OS: Windows 10 64-bit

Processor: Intel Cire i5-2500K or AMD Ryzen R5 1600X

Video: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660, AMD Radeon R9 390, or AMD Radeon RX 580

Memory: 12 GB RAM

Storage 175 GB hard drive

Special Ops

We now know more about Modern Warfare’s Special Ops mode thanks to an official blog post. According to the post, Special Ops (completely separate to the PS4 timed exclusive mode Special Ops Survival) can be played by up to 4 players together and the main aim is to work together to “stop and sever a global terror organization’s access to weapons, funds, intelligence, and hardware.”

Special Ops is divided into two game modes: Missions and Operations. Operations are multiplayer only matches that feature unique objectives and a certain amount of freedom in terms of how you approach it. 

Missions, meanwhile, can be played with others or solo. These missions will be less sprawling than Operations and more focused on testing your skills with certain weapons or tools. On completing a mission your performance will be given a star rating. 

Cross-progression between online multiplayer and Special Ops has been enabled so you’ll be able to carry your items and progress between modes. 


COD: Mobile edition
If you can't wait until October 12, a free-to-play COD: Mobile game will be launching October 1 for iOS and Android, joining the likes of Fortnite mobile for on-the-go FPS multiplayer. There'll be a host of maps and game modes adapted from mainline COD games, including a version of the battle royale Blackout mode.

Crossplay
Modern Warfare will have console-PC crossplay and in a blog post Activision has confirmed that "most" of its post-release content will launch across all platforms simultaneously. So new maps, modes and missions will be available to everyone. When Activision says "most" we're not entirely sure what they mean, however, as they've said they'll announce more details closer to the game's October release. We know that PlayStation players will have "an exciting day one advantage" but what this is has not been confirmed. 

Battle royale possibilities
There have been rumors that Modern Warfare could very well be getting a battle royale mode, but that it will be launched as a free standalone option in 2020 rather than alongside the main game as a multiplayer mode. 

The rumors are unconfirmed but they do come from YouTuber LongSensation, a source with a fairly good track record. However, until Infinity Ward confirms or denies we can't be sure. 

PC optimzation

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare will be fully optimized for PC players, according to recent reports, complete with some PC-specific features as well as cross-play with consoles. 

As reported by DualShockers, the PC version of the game will have an uncapped frame rate as well as a slider for Field of View so that you can decide how much of your surroundings you want to see in your peripheral vision. 

Ultra-wide monitors will be supported with the ability to configure monitors to suit your needs. For any console players concerned about mouse and keyboard advantages in cross-play scenarios, matchmaking will be done according to peripherals so it's down to you whether or not you play with those using a mouse and keyboard. Infinity Ward is already ahead of those ultra-sneaky players who might think about changing their peripheral mid-match; you can't, it's locked in. 

Multiplayer reveal

As promised, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare's multiplayer reveal took place in August. Fans have already seen the brand new 2v2 mode, Gunfight, but now there's a bigger picture that suggests a truly reinvigorated Call of Duty multiplayer experience to look forward to. 

First up, there's cross-platform multiplayer between consoles and PC as well as a free season pass, showing Infinity Ward is taking a cue from popular multiplayer titles like Fortnite and is making efforts not to split up its playerbase.

Further to 2v2 fights in Gunfight, there are 6v6, 10v10 and 20v20 matches though the real surprise is a new mode called Ground War which will support up to 100 players, though there's no footage of that just yet. With this expansive multiplayer offering, it seems that Infinity Ward is looking to appeal to all kinds of shooter fans. Watch the multiplayer trailer for yourself below.

Killstreaks are back

Ahead of the full multiplayer reveal scheduled for August 1, Activision has confirmed that Killstreaks will make a return in Modern Warfare, making it the first game in quite a while to include the feature. 

As players rack up kills, they'll be able to unlock weapons and armor. Some of the killstreaks have been revealed on Twitter already including the intimidating Juggernaut suit from Modern Warfare 3, the light infantry assault vehicle and, most unpleasantly, the controversial White Phosphorus.

More information on the game will be revealed on August 1. 

Female multiplayer options

Infinity Ward has been drip-feeding multiplayer news ahead of the full reveal on August 1st. The latest announcement has come from a Reddit post in which communications manager, Ashton Williams, has confirmed that there will be playable female models in Modern Warfare's multiplayer. 

Multiplayer intro

In addition to that confirmation of playable female characters, Infinity Ward has also revealed some footage of what the short cinematic preceding a multiplayer match will look like to Twitter ahead of the full multiplayer reveal. Like in Call of Duty: WW2's War Mode, the cinematic will show players in a scene heading towards their drop point.

Full Multiplayer Reveal
While fans have had a first look at Gunfight, Modern Warfare’s new 2v2 multiplayer mode, a more full reveal has been announced for August 1. On a Twitch livestream, Infinity Ward is expected to show how the game’s story will continue into its online play and how progression across modes will play out.

Gunfight
Infinity Ward gave fans their first peek at multiplayer gameplay via Twitch followed by a five minute long 4K trailer. Four players streamed Modern Warfare live on the streaming platform, debuting Gunfight, the brand new 2v2 multiplayer mode that will be in the game. 

Gunfight is a mode for four players where two teams will play in “multi-round cage matches” across three small custom maps. Every two rounds, teams will swap to opposite sides of the map. All four players will have the same loadout which will typically be comprised of a primary and secondary weapon as well as a tactical Grenade and a piece of Lethal Equipment. The first team to win six rounds are the winners. 

This is going to be a mode for players that like fast rounds, with each round counting down on a 40 second timer. If one team hasn’t wiped out the other by the time the 40 seconds is up, a flag will appear on the map. The first team to control the area around the flag for more than three seconds is them the winner of the round. Each round, overall, will last for around a minute so speed is key. 

Aim Down Sight reload
Infinity Ward has confirmed in a blog post that Modern Warfare will have Aim Down Sight reload, the first time the feature has appeared in a Call of Duty game by default.

Aim Down Sight reload will mean that, while aiming down the sight of your weapon, your view won't be pulled away to watch an animation when you reload. Instead, you'll stay on target.

Animation director Mark Grigsby offered some details on the feature in the post:

“One other thing we added this year is the ADS [Aiming Down Sight] reload. In the past, if you're ADS, and you're shooting and you reload, the weapon would go off to the side, and you'd have to retrain to get to your target. This time if you reload, it stays on the target, so you can stay in the battle.”

"Ripped straight from the headlines"
We watched a behind-the-doors demo of the new Call of Duty during E3 2019 - and it wasn't for the feint-hearted. The demo (which was cut short from other press demos earlier in the week) firstly showed a cutscene of a terrorist incident at London's Piccadilly Circus before launching into gameplay from a mission called 'Hour of the Wolf'. 

This mission sees you tracking down the instigator of the terrorist attack (AKA The Wold) to a townhouse in North London. As a member of the SAS, the player creeps up a ladder and into the back of the dimly lit home where they methodically assassinate the plain-clothes terrorists occupying the residency. There's even an unsettling situation involving a woman using her baby as a shield. 

It's pretty rough but Infinity Ward claims the new Modern Warfare sees missions "ripped straight from the headlines" and investigated the "civilian collateral damage" that comes hand-in-hand with war.

What was peculiar was that our presentation was shorter than those who had attended earlier in the week. We were only shown the London townhouse mission, whereas other journalists were shown an extra - more controversial - segment which seen players taking on the role of a child soldier in an unspecified war-torn country. 

Image Credit: Infinity Ward

Is this a reboot of the classic Modern Warfare?
Not exactly. If you want to relive that Call of Duty 4 experience you'll want to dust off your PS3 or Xbox 360, or play the recent remaster of that game.

Instead, Infinity Ward is using the Modern Warfare name here to evoke a similar feeling, and some of the same characters will return but this is an entirely new storyline set in a different timeline. 

It's totally separate to what we've seen in the previous games as here those events haven't occurred. We'll still follow Captain Price in this different timeline, and it may mean we see over returning characters throughout too.

Price features heavily in the trailer above, and he ends it by saying there's a team of his "old comrades" so it may well be that we see the return of other fan favorite characters such as Soap or Gaz.

This new timeline is also why the game isn't called Modern Warfare 4. It should mean it's a good place for new entrants to the series to pick up the game, but there's sure to be a few nods to the original series for die-hard fans.

Narrative director at Infinity Ward, Taylor Kurosaki, also noted that the game's storyline is still being tweaked but it's anywhere between five and nine hours long. 

That means it's not set to be very long, but at least this time there is a storyline. Call of Duty: Blacks Ops 4 opted to drop the storyline in favor of focusing on online play, which is something we've heard very little about so far for this game.

Image credit: Activision/Infinity Ward

No zombie mode...
Zombie mode might be a staple of the over-the-top Black Ops entries into the Call of Duty series, but the undead horde will not be being reanimated this time around in Modern Warfare according to Campaign Gameplay Director Jacob Minkoff.

In an interview with PlayStation Lifestyle, Minkoff said that the team's goal is to create something on par with today's battlefields - which, unfortunately, don't include any undead wandering around.

"We don't have the flexibility to do something like put zombies in the game. That would compromise the feeling of playing in a world that feels realistic and authentic and relative to today's conflicts and things we face," Minkoff said.

If you want Zombies, you'll just have to wait for the next Black Ops game.  

Image Credit: Activision / Infinity Ward

A whole new engine
This title will be the first to use a whole new engine for the series, and that should allow for some drastic graphical improvements over previous titles including Black Ops 4. It's the first time the games will use a new engine in 14 years.

We've yet to learn the name of the engine, but we know that the franchise has been working on it for five years.

We expect to learn more about it in the coming months, but we can expect some more detailed environments, improved volumetric lighting and ray tracing technology too.

Expect controversy
According to ComicBook.com, the game be "heavy on troubling, realistic emotions, very much inspired by the controversial 'No Russian level" 

That mission is in Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2. It was highly controversial at the time for depicting an undercover CIA agent who takes part in a mass shooting of civilians.

The trailer suggests other terrorist attacks may feature in the story, and children also feature so it may be these elements are used to stir up controversy.

Categories: Tech News

The best cheap fitness trackers in India: Top affordable sports bands

Latest Tech News - Tue, 10/15/2019 - 14:44

Wearables have come a long way from being glorified step counters to being useful health accessories. From letting you track your activities to offering advanced features like keeping a track of your heart rate and more, the wearables space has matured a lot.

These latest generation activity trackers can help one track steps, calories, distance travelled and monitor heart rate and sleep. Apart from helping you stay fit, activity trackers also double up as a smart accessory that can replace your regular watch on most occasions. What's even better is that there are several high quality and yet cheap fitness trackers in the market, you will be spoilt for choice.

Here are the most affordable fitness trackers that you can buy in India right now.

The Mi Band series has been quite popular in India for a while now. Like most things Xiaomi, the Mi Band fitness trackers offer great value for money while still being quality products. Xiaomi has taken it a step further this year with the Mi Smart Band 4 that comes with a colour display for the first time in the Mi Band series.

In addition to the colour display, the Mi Smart Band 4 also lets you track your heart rate, steps, sleep and more. The Mi Fit app lets you connect the Mi Smart Band 4 to your iOS or Android device, so platform compatibility is not an issue either.

Read our full review: Mi Band 4

The Honor Band 5 was launched in India recently, giving customers more options in the sub-Rs 2,500 price range. Loaded with several fitness tracking features and adequate customizability, the Honor Band 5 matches other fitness trackers in terms of features in its price segment.

Huawei's TruSleep, TruSense, swim stroke recognition and always-on heart rate tracking make the Honor Band 5 a noteworthy option when it comes to the cheapest fitness trackers in India.

Garmin took the Vivofit 3 and added a colour display that is always-on and visible in direct sunlight. Despite this, you still get year-long battery life that the Vivofit 3 offered. Core fitness tracking features like like steps, distance, calories and sleep are covered, in addition to the automatic activity detection thanks to the Move IQ system.

Thanks to the Garmin Connect app you can also customize the display, while setting timers and alarms directly from the wrist. Best of all the Vivofit 4 it also 20 per cent cheaper than the Vivofit 3’s 2015 launch price. Of course you’ll miss out on premium features like heart rate tracking and GPS, but that’s to be expected at this price.

Read our full review: Garmin Vivofit 4

Want the cheapest fitness tracker on this list? It's here and it's called the Mi Band 3, and it's not a completely useless device. In fact, the Mi Band 3 can do a lot considering how much it costs.

It comes with a battery life that should last around a whole month depending on how much you'll be using it, and there is tons of fitness tech built-in. There's no GPS, but it comes with a heart rate monitor and tracking tech for your daily step and workouts too.

It's not the most attractive fitness tracker you can buy, but it has a slimline design and it's light so you won't really notice you've got this on your wrist. The screen can show you stats for your workouts, and it's much bigger than the one on the Mi Band 2.

The launch of the Mi Smart Band 4 means that the Mi Band 3 is now even more affordable.

Read our full review: Xiaomi Mi Band 3

Samsung debuted its latest fitness trackers in the Galaxy Fit range earlier in June, offering two options to customers in the form of the Galaxy Fit and the Galaxy Fit e. While the Galaxy Fit is a full-fledged activity tracker, it costs a lot more than the Fit e.

The Galaxy Fit e comes with various features like auto workout tracking, with the ability to detect three activities - walking, running and dynamic workout. It can also keep a track of your heart rate, and lets you wear it while swimming, thanks to its 5ATM (50-metre) water resistance.

Fitbit has a long history when it comes to activity trackers, and there’s a reason it is still going strong today - it works. And in the case of the Fitbit Flex 2 it works well, has a lot of features for a low price.

The Flex 2 will do all the usual step, distance and calorie burn tracking using its motion sensor smarts, but it goes further. You can also track sleep and even do exercises that the band will automatically detect and track. The entire tracking data gets synced with Fitbit's smartphone app, giving you a great visual presentation of your activities.

The Flex 2 is also swim-proof, comes in different styles and uses LED lights and vibrations to notify you about calls and texts from a connected smartphone. All that and it should last five days before needing a charge.

Read the Fitbit Flex 2 review

If you are in the market for a fitness tracker that looks unique and stylish, the Misfit Ray is a noteworthy option. It stands out from the crowd of dull, boring fitness trackers and brings some sass to your wrist.

There are plenty of muted color options to pick from and each features the same anodised aluminum central device with LED lights. There’s also a smart button that can be set to control aspects of your smart home, for example.

The swim-proof wearable uses replaceable batteries for a charge-free six months of constant use. That includes step and sleep tracking plus vibration alerts for calls, messages, reminders and alarms.

Read the Misfit Ray review

While the Misfit Ray is a stylish option, the Misfit Flash is its opposite. Some might even find it a little too cartoony, but hey, if price is your main focus, you may want to opt for the Misfit Flash.

We originally gave the Misfit Flash a three star review, which isn't very good, but since the price has dropped we think this tracker is a lot better value now and worth picking up if you're looking for something very simple to track your steps.

It won't be able to do a lot of what the other trackers on this list can do though, so if you want much more than a glorified pedometer you should look elsewhere.

Read our Misfit Flash review

Categories: Tech News

Windows security might be about to get a huge upgrade

Latest Tech News - Tue, 10/15/2019 - 14:41

Microsoft has announced that a new Microsoft Defender antivirus feature called Tamper Protection is now generally available.

The new feature works by preventing malware and other third-party apps from disabling Microsoft Defender (formerly Windows Defender) features without a user's knowledge.

According to a blog post from Microsoft, Tamper Protection will prevent malicious apps from disabling virus and threat protection, disabling real-time protection, turning off behavior monitoring, disabling Defender's antivirus components including IOfficeAntivirus, disabling cloud-delivered protection and removing security intelligence updates.

The software giant says that Tamper Protection “essentially locks Microsoft Defender” and prevents security settings from being changed either by third-party apps or using methods such as configuring settings in Registry Editor on a Windows device, changing settings through PowerShell CMDlets, and editing or removing security settings through group policies.

Tamper Protection

The free version of Microsoft Defender that ships with Windows 10 will be getting the new Tamper Protection feature and it will also be rolling out to the commercial version of the software, Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP).

Microsoft first began work on Tamper Protection in December 2018 when the feature was made available to Windows Insiders for testing. In March of this year, the company rolled out Tamper Protection for even more tests on Microsoft Defender ATP before its release today.

Beginning today, the feature is now available for all Microsoft Defender users and it will be enabled by default for all users in the coming weeks as part of a multi-stage rollout.

However, if you don't want to wait, you can now enable Tamper Protection manually by turning it on in the Windows Security options page.

  • Protect all of your devices from the latest cyber threats with the best antivirus software

Via ZDNet

Categories: Tech News

Pay later for your shiny new Samsung gadget with new Karna collaboration

Latest Tech News - Tue, 10/15/2019 - 13:33

A new collaboration that allows customers to buy gadgets from Samsung.com but pay using Klarna means it will be easier to spread the cost and without any interest.

Klarna will allow you to pick a few payment options to spread the cost of your shiny new Samsung TV, Samsung phone deal, Android tablet, smartwatch, or whatever you like the look of. This works very simply as you buy immediately and get your gadget sent right out.

What happens next depends on the cost of your purchase:

  • Items up to £250 - pay 30 days later with no fees or interest
  • £250-£1,000 - pay over three monthly payments with no fees or interest
  • Over £250 - choose to spread the cost over up to four years with 0% finance for 6-24 months or 9.99% for 30, 36 or 48 month options

One great way this works is on phones, allowing you to get, for example, a Galaxy S10 deal, as you pay monthly over 24 months with the Klarna Spread the Cost plan. You're then invited to the latest Samsung Galaxy upgrade yearly as it get released. This also means you're free to get a SIM only network so you're not locked into a contract and can always be getting the best SIM only deals for data, minutes, texts and benefits.

Nick White, online director at Samsung UK & Ireland, said: "At Samsung, we never shy away from big ideas and innovation, so it was only right that we partnered with a payments company that shares our values and vision.

"Klarna does exactly that - and its exceptional user experience for both new and existing customers will allow us to give online shoppers the most seamless experience possible."

With Black Friday 2019 just around the corner, flexible payment options couldn't come at a better time.

Categories: Tech News

Smart home devices are being hit with more cyberattacks than ever

Latest Tech News - Tue, 10/15/2019 - 13:25

New research from Kaspersky has revealed that cyberattacks on IoT devices are booming with 105m attacks on IoT devices (originating from 276k unique IP addresses) detected during the first half of this year alone.

This figure is seven times higher that the number found in H1 2018 when only around 12m attacks originating from 69,000 IP addresses were detected.

Consumers and businesses have continued to purchase smart, network-connected devices such as routers and DVR security cameras, despite the weak security measures included by manufacturers. Cybercriminals are now capitalizing on the weak security of IoT products and have increased their attempts to create and monetize IoT botnets.

To learn more about IoT attacks and how to prevent them, experts at Kaspersky set up honeypots to attract cybercriminals and the cybersecurity firm recently released its findings in a new report called 'IoT: a malware story'.

IoT attacks

By analyzing the data collected from its honeypots, Kaspersky found that attacks on IoT devices are less likely to be sophisticated but more likely to be stealth-like as users may not even notice their devices are being exploited.

The Mirai malware family was behind 39 percent of the attacks the firm detected and this malware is capable of using exploits which means that botnets based on it can slip through old, unpatched vulnerabilities to devices and gain control over them.

The second most widespread malware family, Nyadrop employs password brute-forcing to gain control over IoT devices. Nyadrop was seen in 38.57 percent of attacks and the malware is often used to download Mirai onto devices. Finally, the third most common botnet threatening smart devices is called Gafgyt and it was responsible for 2.12 percent of attacks while also employing brute-forcing.

Kaspersky's researchers were also able to locate the regions that became source of infection most often in H1 2019. China took top place with 30 percent of all IoT attacks occurring in its borders, followed by Brazil at 19 percent and Egypt at 12 percent.

Security researcher at Kaspersky, Dan Demeter provided further insight on the report's findings, saying:

“As people become more and more surrounded by smart devices, we are witnessing how IoT attacks are intensifying. Judging by the enlarged number of attacks and criminals’ persistency, we can say that IoT is a fruitful area for attackers that use even the most primitive methods, like guessing password and login combinations. This is much easier than most people think: the most common combinations by far are usually “support/support”, followed by “admin/admin”, “default/default”. It’s quite easy to change the default password, so we urge everyone to take this simple step towards securing your smart devices” 

Categories: Tech News

Astros vs Yankees live stream: how to watch ALCS 2019 baseball online from anywhere

Latest Tech News - Tue, 10/15/2019 - 13:19

Two of the most well-supported baseball teams in the MLB are facing off in the 2019 ALCS - the New York Yankees and the Houston Astros. Both will be desperate to make the World Series and you can watch every pitch and home run by reading our guide on getting a Astros vs Yankees live stream from pretty much anywhere in the world.

So far the 2019 ALCS series is beautifully poised at a game apiece as the players head to New York City.

The Yankees went big in Game 1, with second baseman Gleyber Torres putting five RBIs against his name. While it was a sorry day for Cy Young Award-winning Astros starter Zack Greinke who gave up seven hits in the first six innings.

But the Stros turned things around a day later in a nerve-jangling game at the Minute Maid Stadium that went to an eleventh innings. Carlos Correa was the hero of the hour with a collosal match-winning home run. Although Aaron Judge's two-run homer earlier in the game reminded everybody of what a threat he'll continue to be as the series progresses.

Whether you’re shouting for the Yankees, love the Astros or just a huge fan of baseball, we have the information you need for watching the 2019 ALCS series online and from anywhere. Read on to see how to live stream Astros vs Yankees baseball on your TV, computer and even on your mobile devices.

How to watch the 2019 ALCS online from outside your country

We have your viewing options below if you want to watch the baseball from the US, UK or Canada, including the routes you need if you don't have cable access - you can see how to live stream Cardinals vs Nationals 2019 NLCS with our dedicated guide.

However, try watching your usual online coverage when you're abroad and you'll soon discover that you can due to broadcasters' geo-blocking. No, we don't suggest you go running to Reddit to see where you can stream a dodgy, illegal feed. It's by utilising a VPN - or Virtual Private Network - that allows you to change the IP address of your laptop or mobile to one in a different state or country which does have the stream so that you can watch the series from anywhere in the world.

How to watch Houston Astros vs New York Yankees in the US 

It's Fox's turn to host the coverage of the ALCS in the US, with games shown on either Fox or FS1. That's where you need to head if you have cable.

If you have a subscription to MLB.tv, you can also stream it on MLB.tv so long as you get an authentication code from one of the cable providers. If you don't have a subscription to MLB's streaming service, now would be a great time to consider getting on board as you can watch every World Series game and even get ready for the 2019 season with MLB.TV's Postseason package for just $24.99.

Not a cable subscriber? Don’t worry as we’ll explain all of the other ways you can watch the baseball online down below.

  • Sling TV $25 or $40 - Sling TV is an inexpensive way to watch baseball though you’ll be missing out on games shown on the MLB Network.  The service splits its content into two different TV packages which does make things cheaper though to stream MLB you’ll need to sign up for both.  Sling TV is compatible with Apple TV, Roku, Xbox One, Chromecast as well as lots of other devices and its easy to get started with a 7-day free trial
  • Hulu with Live TV $45 - Hulu with live TV includes ESPN, ESPN2, Fox, FS1 and TBS but does not come with the MLB Network.
  • DIRECTV NOW $50 per month - DIRECTV NOW gives users all the channels needed to watch MLB online and also comes with some extra channels as well.  If you want a lot of content to choose from and don’t mind watching the games live as the service doesn’t include cloud DVR, then DIRECTV NOW’s 7-day trial will let you test out the platform.
  • fuboTV $19.99 for the first month - fuboTV has a low introductory price though after that the price goes up to $44.99 a month and includes 70 channels. Unfortunately it does not have ESPN, MLB Network or TBS though it does offer strong local coverage and 30 hours of cloud DVR storage.  fuboTV does has a free 7-day trial available so you can test out its functionality for yourself.
  • YouTube TV $40 per month - YouTube TV includes ESPN, ESPN2, Fox, FS1, MLB Network and TBS. Google’s service includes all of the networks that carry national baseball broadcasts though you’ll have to check out its welcome page to see which local networks and regional sports networks are available in your area.

- Discover our pick of all the US's best sports streaming sites

How to stream Yankees vs Astros live in the UK 

UK baseball fans will be able to watch this season’s games on BT Sport which is included in BT’s TV bundles. If you aren’t a BT Sport subscriber, you can sign up for the BT Sport app for £10 a month with the first three months free or subscribe via Sky TV or TalkTalk TV for £29.99 a month.

If BT Sport’s monthly prices are too high for you, remember that MLB.TV is also available in the UK.

How to watch the 2019 ALCS in Canada

There are a number of ways to watch MLB in Canada. Baseball fans with a cable subscription will be able to watch games on Sportsnet, TVA Sports, TSN and RDS.

Don’t want to pay for a premium cable subscription just to watch baseball, don’t worry as MLB.TV is available in Canada (with no blackouts).

Categories: Tech News

Google Pixel 4 deals are here - pre-order now to get a free Chromebook and more

Latest Tech News - Tue, 10/15/2019 - 13:04

We've waited eagerly for the new Google Pixel 4 and, now it's been officially unveiled, we couldn't be happier. Not because of the awesome dual-sensor rear camera or the promise of Android 10 - but because of the sensational Google Pixel 4 deals already available to pre-order!

We must admit that we were fearing the worst in the lead up to launch, but the Pixel 4 is actually cheaper than the Pixel 3 was on release. You can get it for £669 for the 64GB version - down from the 3's £739 starting RRP - while the 4 XL will set you back an iPhone 11 Pro and Samsung Note-10 smashing £829.

But that's not all, as the majority of major retailers have a extra little sweetener on board. Just like on the Pixel 3a release earlier in the year, if you pre-order the Pixel 4 before it's physically released on October 24 you can also claim a FREE Chromebook. That's a fantastic freebie for fast, simple home computing that's worth over £200. There's a list of the main participating retailers below.

Still not happy? Then maybe this will convince you...Carphone Warehouse will also chuck a tasty little voucher at you if you pre-order Pixel 4 deals from the retailer. Get a £50 giftcard for Currys PC World, Google Play, Just Eat or a pre-paid Mastercard if you order on contract, or £25 value for Currys PC World, Costa, a pre-paid Mastercard or a Now TV Sky Sports 1 Month Pass if you're buying SIM-free.

Where to buy Google Pixel 4 pre-order deals:

If you want to pre-order the Pixel 4 (or, indeed, the Google Pixel 4 XL), then you can do so immediately from the following retailers and claim that free Chromebook:

Read more:

Categories: Tech News

Google Nest Mini vs Google Home Mini: what’s new with the latest Google smart speaker?

Latest Tech News - Tue, 10/15/2019 - 12:47

The Google Nest Mini has officially been unveiled as the successor to the company’s most affordable smart speaker, the Google Home Mini. 

Launched in 2017, the original Google Home Mini delivered all the smarts of Google Assistant in a compact form, allowing it to act as a cheap hub for your smart home, as well as nifty little speaker. 

While popular, the Google Home Mini did have its issues; namely poor audio quality, which the tech giant is hoping to rectify with the new Nest Mini. 

So how does the new model stack up against its predecessor? While we haven’t had the chance to test the Google Nest Mini extensively yet, we’ve poured over the specs to compare Google’s cutest smart speakers.

Google Nest Mini vs Google Home Mini: price and availability 

One of the most attractive aspects of the Google Home Mini is it’s low price; at just $49 / £49 / AU$79, it’s one of the most affordable smart speakers on the market. 

Happily, the new Google Nest Mini is exactly the same price, so you won’t be paying a premium to get your hands on the newer Google Assistant speaker. 

The Google Nest Mini will be available to buy from October 22, and it’s not clear whether the original Google Home Mini will be discontinued to make way for its successor. 

Either way, we can expect to see the original Mini discounted over Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so if you’re in the market for a cheap speaker, it’s worth keeping an eye on our best Black Friday deals page for updates from the massive sales event.

The original Google Home Mini

Google Nest Mini vs Google Home Mini: design

Design-wise there’s not a huge amount of difference between these two smart speakers; they’re exactly the same size and shape, with the same chic fabric grille and four-LED display. 

However, the Google Nest Mini’s fabric grille is now made entirely from recycled plastic bottles, while the external enclosure is made from “at-least 35% post-consumer recycled plastic”, according to the company. 

Like the original Google Home Mini, the new Nest Mini comes in Chalk, Charcoal, and Coral, as well as a new color, Sky (in case you hadn’t guessed, this is a light-blue shade). 

Both speakers feature capacitive touch controls, which allow you to control your music playback, while a microphone switch enables you to turn off active listening, stopping Google Assistant from constantly picking up your voice.

New to the Google Nest Mini is ultrasound technology; this means that when audio is playing, the LEDs will light up as you approach the speaker to help you see the volume buttons. According to Cnet, it does this by emitting tiny inaudible chirps that “bounce off objects in the environment, reflect back to the microphones and tell the device if someone is near”.

You can also now play/pause your music by tapping the top of the Google Nest Mini. 

Unlike its predecessor, the Google Nest Mini is wall-mountable, making it a cool design focal-point for your home, as well as a hub for all your smart gadgets. 

Google Nest Mini vs Google Home Mini: features

As they’re both powered by Google Assistant, you’ll find the Google Home Mini and Google Nest Mini share many of the same features, allowing you to control your smart home devices hands-free with your voice. 

The things Google Assistant can do are incredibly varied; the powerful voice assistant is capable of anything from answering your general knowledge questions, to checking your emails and appointments. 

It’s getting smarter all the time, using artificial intelligence to learn and adapt, maturing and becoming more useful with every passing day

For example, both speakers can place calls for free in the US, a feature that's also recently launched in the UK, as well as stream music through an assortment of music apps like Pandora, Spotify, YouTube Music, iHeartRadio and more. The new Nest Mini has been updated to support Bluetooth 5.0, which offers a stable connection when playing music wirelessly from your device.

Thanks to Google Assistant, the Home Mini and the Nest Mini can also send requests to pull up a YouTube video over to your Chromecast-enabled TV and control Internet of Things (IoT) devices like smart lights, smart security cameras, and more. 

One new feature that’s coming to the Google Nest Mini (and all other Nest smart speakers and displays), is the ability to use it as an intercom; this allows you to talk to anyone in your home using your phone or another Nest speaker.

Google Nest Mini vs Google Home Mini: sound

Audio fidelity was never the Google Home Mini’s strong point, but as a desk buddy, the audio works just fine. Its 40mm driver won’t exactly blow you away with powerful bass and the 360-degree sound that Google promised back in 2017, but this mini speaker can get fairly loud.

Google says that the new Nest Mini has twice the bass power of the original Home Mini, with “a richer and more natural sound that allows you to hear more detail and is authentic to the artist’s intent”.  

This boosted bass is made possible by a custom 40mm driver that’s designed to bring those bass frequencies to the forefront of the soundstage, while the company’s proprietary tuning software helps to “perfect the sound”. 

Need a bigger sound? Both speakers can be grouped with other Google Home or Nest speakers to fill your entire home with music. New to the Google Nest Mini is the ability to pair two speakers for true stereo sound, bringing it in line with the third-gen Amazon Echo Dot.

Google Nest Mini vs Google Home Mini: takeaway

Without having thoroughly tested the Google Nest Mini, it’s difficult to say whether it will represent a huge improvement over the Google Home Mini. However, Google has introduced a few quality of life features that are sure to make using the Google Assistant speaker easier than ever before. 

Subtle design changes, like the ability to wall-mount and the use of eco-friendly materials are a step in the right direction, while ultrasound technology makes the Nest Mini smarter than its predecessor. 

We can’t exactly speak to the audio quality without listening to the Nest Mini, but Google certainly sounds confident in the sonic changes its made – whether they make a tangible difference to the bass response of this diminutive speaker remains to be seen.

Categories: Tech News

Project xCloud public testing is live – sign up to stream Gears 5 (and more) to your Android phone

Latest Tech News - Tue, 10/15/2019 - 07:02

Microsoft’s Project xCloud has kicked off with public testing of the game-streaming service, as was promised last month.

Four games will be available initially to be streamed to your Android device, and Phil Spencer, head of Xbox at Microsoft, announced that the public preview has launched on Twitter.

Invitations are now rolling out to those who have previously registered their interest. Testers are being drawn from the UK and US, as well as Korea, and you can still sign up to participate as per this blog post.

As Spencer noted above, invitations will roll out gradually over the coming weeks, so you may have to wait a little while to get your chance. Keep those fingers crossed as ever…

Previously, Microsoft has only tested Project xCloud internally, so now is the time to see how it performs out in the real world, which will obviously be quite a different kettle of streaming fish compared to in-house testing.

So what games do you get to play? As already stated, the preview of the game-streaming service will allow testers to partake of Gears 5, Halo 5: Guardians, Killer Instinct, and Sea of Thieves.

And naturally as time goes on, more games will be added to the public preview, but the above four games represent a good starting point.

Hardware requirements

You might be wondering what hardware is needed to get on board with Project xCloud. Your phone or tablet must be running Android 6.0 or better, and your device must support Bluetooth 4.0 in order to hook up a Bluetooth-enabled Xbox One Wireless Controller. You also need a Microsoft account.

Streaming can be achieved over Wi-Fi or cellular connections. Microsoft says it will be working with T-Mobile in the US and Vodafone in the UK throughout the public test to learn more about how gamers play on mobile networks, and presumably to better optimize the experience – but you can play using any mobile carrier.

The project is still in its early stages, but at least some of the feedback filtering onto online forums seems to be favorable, albeit noting some latency (though we have to take any comments with a suitably heavy dose of caution for now).

One post on Reddit described the experience thus: “If I could compare, the input latency would be like streaming your own console to a local PC.”

Via The Verge

Categories: Tech News

Fortnite Chapter 2 news, updates, maps, trailers, and download sizes

Latest Tech News - Tue, 10/15/2019 - 06:45

Fortnite Chapter Two is a phrase you'll be hearing a lot this week – here's why.

What a time to be a Fortnite player. The immensely popular battle royale game has made quite the storm this week, after plunging the Fortnite island on all of its servers into a massive black hole and leaving players without warning, assurance, or confirmation of what’s to come next. Apparently, it was the end.

It wasn’t the end, of course – Fortnite is a huge money spinner for Epic, and what enabled the developer to build its Epic Games Store. We expected a new Season at some point after the events of the current Season 10, after all – but Fortnite Chapter Two is a lot bigger than the usual update, with a visual overhaul and even a brand new map to explore.

Here’s everything we know about Fortnite Chapter Two – pieced together from 48 hours of leaks, speculation, staring into the abyss, and our first time playing the updated game.

UPDATE: Fortnite Chapter Two is now live and available to play! You can also view the first cinematic trailer for Fortnite Chapter Two below.

What is Fortnite?

Fortnite is one of the biggest video games of all time – and that’s not hyperbole. Since its launch in 2017, millions of players have tuned in to the free-to-play battle royale game, which sees 100 players duke it out to be the last one standing.

All battle royale games take place on the same map – known as ‘the island’ – though Epic Games tends to tweak its exact features and geography for each new Season, or for timed events and alternative game modes.

With a fun, cartoon style, blend of shooting and building mechanics, and accessible gameplay – with a fiercely competitive goal for each 1 v 100 game – it’s not hard to see why Fortnite has been so popular and permeated pop culture so broadly, with hordes of young’uns, teenagers, and adults all chipping in to give the game a try. Yes, even Drake plays it.

There’s a campaign mode called Save The World, though it’s not usually what people refer to when they talk about Fortnite.

What is Fortnite Chapter Two?

Fortnite is has had a reboot of sorts. Players were given a rude awakening to this on Sunday 13 October, when a massive black hole destroyed the island map and shut down all of the battle royale servers. If it wasn’t clear, this was intentional.

It comes at the end of a long-winded sci-fi plot that will likely only make sense to players who have been with the game for a significant amount of time – but what’s important is that the game is gone, and will be coming back at some point. Fortnite Chapter Two has replaced the expected Season 11 update players had been waiting for, marking more of a refresh than an iterative update.

It’s a bit disappointing that Epic hasn’t communicated more with its players, though – from what we’ve seen on Twitter, many have been staying up all night for the past two days waiting for the black hole on the Fortnite website to change. It’s all well and good for the game’s hype, but couldn’t you let your gamers sleep, Epic?

The game is now available to download, though you'll need to download the game afresh. In the meantime you can watch a group of streamers below testing out the game's new island map and Battle Pass.

When will Fortnite Chapter Two start?

You can download and play Fortnite Chapter Two now! The download file appears to be 5.27GB for mobile, 13GB for consoles, and 14.9GB for PC.

Fortnite Chapter Two: new map, gameplay and BOATS

A whole new world – to swim in?
We expected a new map after the previous island was destroyed by that pesky black hole – and we were right. There's a brand new island to play around in with 13 different areas, which seem to feature a lot more mountains and water features (rivers, lakes, beaches) along with brand new swim and dive mechanics. You can even eat fish to refill your HP, for some reason.

Boats boats boats
There's also now motorboats for zooming and shooting around in, giving a number of new ways to navigate the island. Sections of the island also remind us a bit of the Savage map in PUBG – which also had boat-based warfare a while before Fortnite thought of it.

Level cap is gone
Other new additions include the removal of the level cap, meaning those of you at Level 100 can continue earning XP and transcending to the Fortnite master you always knew you could be. We're not currently sure what the new cap is, but 200 seems the most obvious choice.

Do you even lift?
You can also lift and carry friends to safety, or even pick up foes to take them away from it (yes, really).

Shoot health at your friends!
One incredible addition is a new health bazooka that will revive your fallen squad members, putting friendly fire in a whole new light.

Where can I play Fortnite?

Fortnite is a free-to-play game available to download on Android and iOS mobile, Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

Epic makes it money through optional purchases of skins and customizable items, though they are purely cosmetic and won’t improve your chances of winning – notwithstanding the ability of your sick outfit to intimidate other players.

Fortnite Season 10 update news and patch notes
  • What's new? Before it was so rudely interrupted, Fortnite Season 10 had been extended an extra week for its events to wrap up – and now we know why.

Out of Time

Fortnite Season 10 has been extended by a week and Epic is bringing in a new event called Out of Time which will begin on October 8 and run until the season's end on October 13. Over the course of the event, players will have the chance to complete objectives and earn rewards including XP, cosmetics and a loading screen. 

Zone Wars

There were four Limited Time Modes available, all created by users. You can play through them either solo or with your team, all you have to do is select the Solo or Party playlist and you'll be entered into one of the four Zone Wars maps at random. The four available are:

Colosseum which involves an open-island setting that demands fast-paced building abilities; Desert, set in a small town with a diverse range of weapons at your disposal; Downhill River in which you have to stay out of the reach of the storm while moving downriver; and Vortex with a challenging mountainous terrain. 

Weapons and items

The Flint-Knock pistol has been unvaulted alongside the Bouncer.

Batman crossover

To celebrate the 80th anniversary of Batman, Fortnite introduced a Batman crossover event which ran until October 6. This event saw Tilted Towers transformed into Gotham City, with players given their very own Batman capes and Glider Redeploy abilities – as well as a Grapnel Gun, Explosive Batarang, and other themed outfits / items available for purchase. 

Read the patch notes for this update in full on the official Epic website to find out more about bug fixes and smaller changes.

Can I play Fortnite on mobile?

Yes you can! Well, maybe. After months of waiting, Fortnite is finally on both iOS and Android, though you'll need a phone that can actually run the game.

iOS users can download straight from the App Store. As long as you're using iOS 11 on iPhone 6S/SE, iPad Mini 4, iPad Air 2, iPad 2017, iPad Pro devices or later you'll be fine. Oh, and you'll need an internet connection, naturally.

Fortnite also hit Android phones and finally came out of beta in October 2018. You can see the full list of phones – and how to find the Fortnite Installer – on our Fortnite on Android page.

Is it the full game?

It is the full Fortnite game. There are some small differences: it’s not quite as visually impressive as it is on more powerful devices, the controls are touchscreen, and a lot of audio cues have been made visual so you can play comfortably in public without the need for headphones. But you won’t be missing out on any key features.  

What's the deal with cross-play?

A sweet deal is what it is. While previously Xbox One and PS4 owners couldn't play the game together, Sony's U-turn on the matter means that now everyone across Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch, iOS, and Android can all take part in the crossfire.

So if you've got friends that prefer PC, others that prefer console and you're off on holiday with your mobile, that's no reason for the fun to stop.

There's also cross-progression. So, if you're logged into your Fortnite account on mobile and you later log into your console to play there, everything you did on mobile later that day is carried over.  

Sounds great, how do I get it?

We have a guide on how to get Fortnite on mobile on TechRadar and we're constantly updating it with the latest rollout news. If your device isn't there yet, keep checking back and one day it probably will be.

What's a Fortnite Battle Pass?

The Battle Pass is a purchasable item in Fortnite that gives you access to exclusive in-game rewards. 

As players complete daily challenges and level up their rank, they earn Battle Stars which can then be used to unlock Tiers in their Battle Pass. Each new Tier you unlock will bring both Free and Premium rewards. Season 10 has also seen the introduction of missions to the battle pass. These are thematic objectives that span the island and on completing them you'll unlock additional rewards. 

Everyone who has a Battle Pass will get the Free reward they unlock, but only Premium Pass holders will get the Premium reward. Battle Pass Premium can only be purchased with in-game V bucks and not with real money.

You can purchase a Battle Pass for around £7/$10 in the Battle Pass tab of the game’s menu. 

Twitch Prime benefits

Those who use Twitch Prime and play Fortnite will be glad to know that they have access to free loot right now. Those with a Prime account can claim the Fortnite Twitch Prime Pack and the Fortnite Twitch Prime Pack 2 which include a host of cosmetic items and are available across all platforms.

The first pack includes two exclusive gliders and outfits: the Havoc Outfit and Back Bling, plus the Sub Commander Outfit and Slipstream Glider.  The second pack contains three exclusive items for Fortnite’s Battle Royale mode including the camouflage-heavy Trailblazer Outfit, the True North Back Bling, and the Tenderizer Pickaxe. There’s also a brand new dance emote for those that like the dance floor as much as the battleground. 

The packs can only be claimed on a single platform, but they can be shared across PC/console and mobile as long as you use the same Epic account across these platforms. You can’t however, share your loot across PS4 and Xbox One even if you are using the same Epic account. 

Categories: Tech News

Fortnite Chapter 2 is available to play – though you'll need to download it first

Latest Tech News - Tue, 10/15/2019 - 06:27

Fortnite Chapter 2 has begun! The next chapter for the battle royale Fortnite is now available to download for PC, consoles, and mobile – ending the stressful two days of waiting and staring into the abyss of a black hole for the millions of Fortnite players worldwide.

To download on iOS or Android (mobile), you'll need the APK launcher from the Epic Games website – though you can find all that info in our Fortnite mobile guide. Fortnite Chapter 2 will require a 5.27GB download, compared to 13GB on consoles and 14.9GB on PC.

If you can't stand waiting for it to download, then the official Fortnite Twitter account is currently live streaming a playtest of the refreshed Fortnite Chapter Two game on a brand new island map, which you can watch in the video below – or on the DrLupo Twitch stream. And from the looks of it, Fortnite Chapter 2 has come with a bit of a visual upgrade – with DrLupo saying in the stream that "The graphics genuinely makes it look like a brand new game".

While the quick four-person game is over, the streamers are now looking through the refreshed item screens and Battle Pass to see what's on show – with a host of new character skins and items to gawk over.

What's all this about?

Epic has a history of letting high profile streamers gain access to certain modes and Fortnite events before the general gaming public. 

Dr Lupo is the only streamer currently visible in the live stream, though the Twitch stream shows he's also playing with a number of other streamers: "DrLupo is Squad Streaming with CouRageJD, SypherPK, JordanFisher". You can see the full squad's third-person views in the Squad stream here.

And if you haven't been following the Fortnite news, then what you need to know is that a massive black hole blew up the old Fortnite island map, and servers have been down for two days.

The stream shows off the new island map, which is a lot more water-themed with various beaches, rivers and lakes – and the newfound ability to swim! We'll be updating this piece and our Fortnite Chapter 2 guide as we learn more.

Categories: Tech News

The human cost of cybersecurity attacks

Latest Tech News - Tue, 10/15/2019 - 06:27

Email attacks are on the rise. Our recent global email security report, which surveyed 660 IT stakeholders at organisations around the world, discovered over the past year, 82% of organisations have faced an attempted email-based security threat. Moreover, 74% would describe email attacks’ impact on their organisation as significant.

In the aftermath of an email attack, the focus often centres around the resulting financial and reputational damage companies face. Its effect is usually measured by dollars and pounds. 

Sometimes, it can be easy to forget cyber security’s human cost. However, a 2018 survey found people working in technology actually reported a 78% increase in mental-health related illness compared to the previous year. While it can be hard to pinpoint root causes, it’s hard to imagine the recent increase in cyber attacks has helped this issue. 

EMEA is suffering under the weight of email attacks

Given that, according to Verizon, 90% of cyber attacks enter via email, we wanted to investigate the effects of email attacks in particular on the wellbeing of IT teams. Interestingly, the impact of email threat attacks is bigger among organisations in the EMEA region. 

The pressure starts as soon as emails are flagged as suspicious. EMEA IT teams receive far more suspicious emails than the global average (even though the majority of these turn out to be false alarms), with 7% receiving over 50 per day and a third (32%) receiving between six and 50 per day. 

The time taken to identify and respond to email reports on this scale is taking its toll on IT teams’ productivity and stress levels. 81% admitted spending over 30 minutes investigating and remediating each email attack, while 47% spend over an hour.

Understandably, this has had a detrimental impact on stress and anxiety levels, with over a third - 38% - blaming email attacks for higher levels of stress felt at work. Senior IT leaders were most likely to suffer this impact.

Worse still, the pervasive effects of email attacks also affect IT professionals outside the workplace, with 38% worrying about email attacks outside of working hours and 16% cancelling personal plans due to an attack. Additional stress comes from the potential reputation damage that comes from successful attacks, which 32% admit is a concern.

And why is this particularly felt in the EMEA region? Well, organisations based here are most at risk to spear phishing attacks, with nearly half - 48% - of companies from the EMEA region falling victim to spear phishing attacks in the past year. 

The impact of spear phishing attacks on the reputation of organisations in EMEA is much higher compared to other regions too; 39% of EMEA respondents reported damage to their reputation over the past year, compared to the global average of 27%.

Are email attacks your organisation’s Achilles heel? 

A lack of faith in their company's security levels threatens to further reinforce IT professionals stress levels. Despite email being utilised by organisations since the 1990s, a massive 94% of respondents confessed that it is still the most vulnerable part of their company’s security posture. More than half - 52% - of EMEA respondents claimed that the security in their organisation is unlikely to have improved in the last year, compared to the global average of 63%. 

This stress was compounded by a lack of security awareness training. 29% of respondents stated they received security training just once a year, with 7% claiming that they had never received training or that they weren’t sure. 

Without adequate training proceedings, email attacks are destined to continue to succeed. Successful security requires a combination of innovative technology and effective training.

A brighter future

The stress and anxiety felt by IT teams is further compounded by the current cyber skills shortage. Not only are IT teams constantly on ‘red alert’, but they are also spread thinly, due to the demand for security professionals outstripping the supply.

The answer? Invest in your IT professionals and cyber security posture, and they will invest in you. Be it the right tools, the right training or more, it’s clear EMEA organisations have far to go to bridge the gap and turn their employees into an effective line of defence as part of a wider holistic email protection strategy.

Companies that invest in an email protection strategy that includes both technical solutions, such as automated incident response tools, as well as a regular and in-depth security awareness training, will benefit from a happier and more productive IT workforce.

 

Chris Ross is the SVP International at Barracuda Networks.

Categories: Tech News

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