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Microsoft rides the cloud

Posted by poisoN 2 weeks ago, 57 views Software  
Microsoft’s third quarter 2022 financial results are here, and the company’s posting double-digit growth yet again: revenue of $49.4 billion and net income of $16.7 billion. Revenue is up 18 percent, and the profit represents an 8 percent jump year over year. Microsoft is crediting a chunk of this quarter’s growth to the cloud, with server and cloud services revenue up 29 percent specifically, and Microsoft Cloud up 32 percent to $23.4 billion.

There was plenty of reason to suspect Microsoft would still sport a smile this quarter. While the PC industry has started to decline from its pandemic highs, it was flagging Chromebook sales — not Microsoft Windows machines — that were responsible for the entirety of the recent dip. Meanwhile, the Xbox just had its best sales in 11 years, handily beating the relatively supply-constrained PS5.

Sure enough, Microsoft says its “more personal computing” business, including Windows and Xbox, was up 11 percent to $14.5 billion in Q3 — and “Windows OEM revenue growth,” which should include the price manufacturers pay to put Windows 11 on the laptops and desktops you buy, was up 11 percent specifically. “Enterprises are adopting [Windows 11] at a higher pace than any previous release,” said CEO Satya Nadella on the earnings call.

Xbox hardware revenue was up 14 percent, with a 4 percent jump for Xbox content and services revenue “driven by growth in Xbox Game Pass subscriptions and first-party titles,” for an overall 6 percent boost for gaming revenue to $3.74 billion. Nadella boasted about taking gaming market share on the earnings call as well, and says 10 million people have now streamed games from Microsoft’s cloud — one of the first concrete numbers we’ve had for cloud gaming’s popularity, since Google Stadia doesn’t share numbers and Nvidia’s GeForce Now numbers include anyone who’s ever used its free trial. PlayStation Now had 3.2 million subscribers as of last May, but Sony recently decided to roll it into a larger subscription service.

Xbox Game Pass subscribers also played 45 percent more over the past twelve months, said Nadella — adding up to “billions of hours” across the year.

We were also eager to see if Microsoft’s big Office and cloud businesses also stayed rosy as some employees return to physical offices, and the answer is definitely yes: 17 percent revenue growth in “Productivity and Business Processes” segment this quarter, with Office up 12 percent and 11 percent in the commercial and consumer divisions, respectively. Office 365 is now at 58.4 million consumer subscribers, up 2 million over last quarter and up 8 million since this time last year. “Intelligent Cloud” revenue was up 26 percent overall to $19.1 billion.

And LinkedIn is still experiencing dramatic growth, up 34 percent this quarter, after growth of 37 percent, 42 percent, and 46 percent the three previous quarters, respectively.

Microsoft’s Surface devices are also seemingly doing well at a 13 percent revenue increase after its revenue surprisingly increased 8 percent last quarter (surprising because the company previously warned of a dip). 2022 is the 10th anniversary of the Microsoft Surface, and we expect the company has more up its sleeves than the lackluster Surface Laptop SE and this fascinating and fancy teleconferencing camera.

Microsoft’s purchase of Activision Blizzard, which is set to make Microsoft the “third-largest gaming company by revenue, behind Tencent and Sony,” didn’t feature in these earnings — the deal isn’t likely to close until next year.

Next quarter, Microsoft says to expect more revenue growth — though now single-digit growth in some businesses — with “roughly a $110 million impact on revenue and minimal impact on operating expenses” from the war in Ukraine, and a note that Chinese production shutdowns might impact Windows, Surface and Xbox hardware. Gaming revenue should actually decline, said Microsoft CFO Amy Hood, because of “lower engagement hours year over year as well as constrained console supply.”
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FIFA 22 cross-play mode

Posted by poisoN 2 weeks ago, 32 views Games  
FIFA 22 will see a test of cross-play functionality in the “near future” between players on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and S, and Google’s cloud-gaming service Stadia, EA has announced. Cross-play will be limited to Online Seasons and Online Friendlies game modes, the developer says, letting you play against friends on other platforms, or climb Online Seasons Divisions against a cross-platform playerbase.

EA says it’s limiting cross-play to these two modes in an attempt to limit the chance of the feature “introducing new issues into the game.” Cross-play can be enabled or disabled from a menu available in the bottom-right corner of the game’s main menu, and there’s also the option to opt in or out of it in the Matchmaking Options menu. Indicators will appear during online matches when a player is on another platform, but otherwise EA says the test shouldn’t have “any direct impact on the gameplay of FIFA 22.”

The game’s cross-play support could have the biggest impact on Stadia players. With an install base much smaller than either PS5 or the Xbox Series consoles, players on Google’s cloud gaming service often have a much smaller pool of potential competitors to be matched up against. FIFA 22 launched on Stadia last September, alongside Microsoft and Sony’s platforms.

The announcement of the test for FIFA 22 follows reports that EA is planning to include cross-play support in FIFA 23 later this year.
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AMD promises ‘extreme gaming laptops’

Posted by poisoN 2 weeks ago, 44 views Hardware  
A funny thing happened in 2020: AMD won the gaming laptop for the first time ever. Until the Asus Zephyrus G14, we’d never seen a laptop with an AMD CPU and AMD GPU run circles around the competition. Since then, we’ve repeatedly seen that “AMD laptop” no longer means cheap. But now, AMD is setting its sights higher than mid-range gaming machines — it just revealed it’s building a new CPU aimed at the “pinnacle of gaming performance” with the “highest core, thread and cache ever”.

The new CPU line is codenamed “Dragon Range,” and they’ll live exclusively at 55W TDP and up — enough power that they’ll “largely exist in the space where gaming laptops are plugged in the majority of the time,” says AMD director of technical marketing Robert Hallock.

The slide above shows they’re aimed at laptops that are at least 20mm (0.78-inches) thick, while the 35-45W “Phoenix” line are aimed at machines thinner than that same mark. Both are part of the same AMD Ryzen 7000 series, based on the same Zen 4 architecture, and unfortunately, it appears both won’t arrive until 2023 — Zen 4 will begin its life as the desktop exclusive “Raphael” later this year, according to the chart.

AMD says that Dragon Range will take up the “HX” suffix for CPUs — a tier above the Ryzen 9 4900HS that impressed us at 35W in that 2020 Asus Zephyrus — but hinted that we shouldn’t take the higher TDP as a sign that they’ll totally be ditching power efficiency for performance. They’re estimated to be “notably more power efficient than other laptops in that competing timeframe,” says Hallock.

AMD wouldn’t provide more details today, and it’s not clear what the new CPUs might bring to the table that gaming laptops necessarily need, given that graphics chips, not CPUs, are generally where most of the gaming oomph comes from these days. Still, CPU speed does matter, particularly when you’re trying to feed a high refresh rate monitor (which may soon go up to 500Hz) with lower-resolution frames — and the kind of gamer who buys an “extreme gaming laptop” might care about even a slight advantage in FPS.

Hallock says the new chips are an opportunity the company thought it could pursue alongside thin-and-light gaming. “The performance per watt story you’ve been hearing from us will continue into the future as well,” he says.

AMD also told journalists today that, starting next quarter, it will break out gaming into its own financial segment, with revenue from semi-custom parts like PlayStation, Xbox, and Steam Deck chips joining desktop and laptop Radeon graphics — all part of a single gaming business. It sounds like Ryzen may not be part of that segment though, but rather a “Client” one: the company will explain more at an analyst day in June.
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Nvidia GeForce Now 4K streaming

Posted by poisoN 2 weeks ago, 32 views Software  
Nvidia kicked Google’s butt last October with a huge upgrade to its GeForce Now cloud gaming service — but only those with the company’s Shield TV streaming gadgets could experience the pricey RTX 3080-tier of the streaming service in glorious 4K. Today, Nvidia is fixing that by adding 4K to its native apps for Mac and Windows PC, including a newer version for Macs with Apple’s M1 chips.

In addition, Nvidia’s expanding its high-refresh-rate 1080p 120Hz mode to Samsung’s flagship phones, including the Samsung Galaxy S22, S22 Ultra, Galaxy Z Fold 3, Z Flip 3, and also the OnePlus 9 Pro. Previously, it was only available on Samsung’s S21 models, the Note 20 and S20 FE, the ASUS ROG 5 Series and the Google Pixel 6 Pro.

Back to 4K: those new 4K60 streams are only for native PC apps, not the web version of GeForce Now, and your LG and Samsung Smart TVs will still be stuck at 1080p until further notice — spokeperson Jordan Dodge says there’s no update there. Also, while this might sound obvious, you may need a 4K monitor for it to make sense. And you’ll need to be paying for Nvidia’s RTX 3080 tier of GFN, of course, which costs $20 a month or $100 for six months (buy five, get one free?)

Most PC gamers are still rocking a 1440p or 1080p display, and while Dodge says you should now have the option to force 4K in the GeForce Now client, it’ll have downsides. Not only will your hardware downscale the image, but you’ll be using loads of data, while giving up the ability to use Nvidia’s 120Hz high-refresh-rate mode. (4K60 is the limit today.)

But I would try forcing 4K anyhow if you don’t have a data cap — I found GFN’s streaming quality much better at 4K than at 1440p, because it forces Nvidia’s servers to render at higher resolution, and I’d expect to see some improvement even if your computer downscales it afterwards. Still, I haven’t gotten to test this PC update myself. I’ll get my first look at it later today.
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Nvidia pays $5.5 million

Posted by poisoN 2 weeks ago, 24 views Hardware  
Nvidia will pay $5.5 million to settle charges that it unlawfully obscured how many of its graphics cards were sold to cryptocurrency miners. The US Securities and Exchange Commission announced the charges and a settlement with the company today. Its order claims Nvidia misled investors by reporting a huge boost in revenue related to “gaming,” hiding how much its success relied on the far more volatile crypto market. Nvidia isn’t admitting to wrongdoing as part of the settlement, but it agrees to stop any unlawful failures to disclose information.

The charges stem from Nvidia’s fiscal year 2018 financial reports. The SEC notes Nvidia saw an explosion in crypto mining-related sales in 2017, when the rewards of mining Ethereum grew dramatically. Crypto mining was widely reported as a cause of GPU scarcity, and Nvidia launched a separate CMP line specifically for mining, attempting to prevent shortages for gamers. But employees apparently acknowledged that many gaming GPUs were still going to miners. “The company’s sales personnel, in particular in China, reported what they believed to be significant increases in demand for Gaming GPUs as a result of crypto mining,” the order says.

Given the boom-and-bust nature of cryptocurrency, this meant Nvidia’s sales numbers didn’t necessarily indicate reliable future growth, making investing in it riskier. “NVIDIA’s analysts and investors were interested in understanding the extent to which the company’s Gaming revenue was impacted by crypto mining and routinely asked senior management about the extent to which increases in gaming revenue during this time frame were driven by crypto mining,” the SEC alleges.

Despite this, Nvidia didn’t mention mining-related sales as a factor in its gaming division’s success. Meanwhile, it mentioned crypto as an important factor in other markets, which suggested to the SEC that it was being deliberately deceptive. And investors’ anxieties turned out to be well-founded. A crypto crash in late 2018 (along with a weakening Chinese market) led it to slash its quarterly earnings projections by $500 million and spurred a shareholder lawsuit.

“NVIDIA’s disclosure failures deprived investors of critical information to evaluate the company’s business in a key market,” says SEC Crypto Assets and Cyber Unit head Kristina Littman. “All issuers, including those that pursue opportunities involving emerging technology, must ensure that their disclosures are timely, complete, and accurate.”
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Call of Duty cheaters

Posted by poisoN 4 weeks ago, 47 views Games  
Call of Duty: Warzone and Vanguard's anti-cheat system is preventing cheaters from seeing other players.

Earlier this week, the Call of Duty anti-cheat team published a brand new blog post, detailing its latest efforts to thwart cheaters in both Call of Duty: Warzone and Vanguard. Beginning right now, cheaters detected by the anti-cheat software won't be able to see opposing players, hear their footsteps, or see their bullets flying towards them.

"Legitimate players, however, can see cheaters impacted by cloaking," the blog post reads, explaining that they themselves can dole out in-game punishments and serve justice to the cheaters. Additionally, the new blog post reveals that anyone banned for cheating in either Warzone or Vanguard will automatically be deleted from all in-game leaderboards.

Finally, the blog post announces that a further 54,000 players have been banned across both Warzone and Vanguard. The Ricochet team doling out bans to cheaters around the world has been incredibly well documented over the last year, with the team announcing milestones such as 500,000 cheaters banned as of the middle of last year.

The Ricochet software itself first launched late last year for Call of Duty: Warzone, and it's finally arrived in Call of Duty: Vanguard. It definitely feels as though there's been a decline in reports of cheaters among both games over the last few months, which can only be a good thing for the player base at large.
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Rocket League is getting a battle royale mode

Posted by poisoN 4 weeks ago, 38 views Games  
Carcinization describes the evolutionary process in which a crustacean will eventually and inevitably evolve into a crab. Battle royale-ification is this process happening in video games. Rocket League, the game with the simple-yet-elegant premise of “what if soccer was soccar,” will undergo battle royale-ification with its new game mode Knockout Bash.

Starting on April 27th, Knockout Bash will pit eight players in a free-for-all to be the last car driving. Knockout Bash will feature the hallmarks of a typical battle royale mode: perma-death (in this case, instead of infinite respawns, players get three KOs before a game over) and an encroaching danger zone with an ever-shrinking battle arena.

Rocket League will add new actions and enhance existing abilities to increase Knockout Bash’s destruction derby feel. Players will be able to grab opponents and throw them into hazards. Double jumps will now become triple jumps and will launch players higher, attacking cars will knock players away further, a well-timed block will fend off those attacks, and players will be able to dodge four times in the air before the ability resets. If a player is knocked out of the arena, they’ll have a few seconds to return to the safe area before getting KO’d.

Knockout Bash starts on April 27th and will last until May 10th. May the odds be ever in your carburetor.
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Valve upgrades its Steam Deck

Posted by poisoN 4 weeks ago, 46 views Hardware  
Valve has quietly updated the specs to its still-unreleased official dock for the Steam Deck handheld gaming PC, as reported by Review Geek. The Steam Deck tech specs page originally said the dock would have one USB-A 3.1 port, two USB-A 2.0 ports, and an Ethernet port for networking, but the page now says that all three USB-A ports will use the much faster 3.1 standard, and it now specifies that the Ethernet port will actually be a Gigabit Ethernet port.

According to the Wayback Machine, Valve’s Steam Deck tech specs page listed the original specs as of February 12th, and the accompanying diagram of the dock pointed to an “Ethernet” port for networking. But by February 22nd, the specs were updated to list the three USB-A 3.1 ports. And by February 25th — the first day Valve began selling the Steam Deck — the dock diagram was updated to show the three USB-A 3.1 ports and a Gigabit Ethernet jack.

(The Wayback Machine’s February 25th archive is also the first time I see Valve using the header “Docking Station” instead of “Official Dock.”)

The upgrades seem like good ones for the dock and I’m looking forward to picking one up for myself. I’m envisioning a future where I can use the dock to play Steam games on the TV in my living room. Unfortunately, I don’t know exactly when I’ll be able to do that, as Valve has only provided a vague late spring 2022 release date for the dock, and the company hasn’t shared how much it might cost. Valve didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment.

If you don’t want to wait for Valve’s official dock, the company says you can use other USB-C hubs instead, like my colleague Sean Hollister did in his review. But I’ve waited long enough for the Deck itself, what’s another couple months for the dock?
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Diablo Immortal is launching on Android, iOS, and PC

Posted by poisoN 4 weeks ago, 38 views Upcoming Games  
We already knew Blizzard is working on a new entry in the Diablo series that is designed for mobile devices. And today, timed to coincide with Activision Blizzard’s Q1 2022 earnings report, the company announced that Diablo Immortal will release on Android and iOS on June 2nd — and, surprise, on PC, too, in open beta.

According to the developers, Diablo Immortal will have cross-play and cross-progression with controller and keyboard support on PC.

Set after Diablo II: Lord of Destruction, Diablo Immortal is a free-to-play MMORPG. The game will be online-only, and, according to the development team, it will introduce new characters, storylines, and additional content as part of a “living, breathing, and constantly evolving experience.”

Players are able to pre-register ahead of the June 2nd release date here.

Blizzard has lately been a firehose of information on new games and a long list of highly anticipated but constantly delayed titles. It’s working on a World of Warcraft mobile experience (with the earnings update saying it’ll release more details on that in the coming weeks) and a brand new survival game. Elsewhere in the Blizzard ecosystem, Overwatch 2 will enter closed beta starting April 26th, with internal testing on Diablo IV underway.
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Overwatch 2 new ping system

Posted by poisoN 2 months ago, 112 views Games  
In the wake of the Overwatch 2 beta date announcement and an apologetic video from game director Aaron Keller promising the team would give more consistent updates on progress, the Overwatch 2 news floodgates have officially opened. In this latest update, we’re offered a glimpse of Overwatch 2’s overhauled ping system.

“We wanted to create a system that would enhance voice communication as well as provide alternative ways to share information with your team,” systems designer Gavin Winter says in the blog post.

New features include character-specific callouts in which, when a player makes a ping, their teammates hear that notification in that player’s hero’s voice. The blog gives an example: “if you’re playing Tracer and ping an enemy Reaper, your teammates will hear Tracer call out that Reaper’s location.” The blog goes into further detail about how pings will show the last-known location for moving enemies, giving players more information on how to move through maps without worry of getting ambushed. There’s also a new feature that’ll ping a teammate’s location on the mini-map and allow players to respond to pings based on choices made in a new communication wheel. Now, whenever a team’s Genji starts spamming “I need healing,” the game will actually show friendly healers that Genji’s location on the mini-map so they can heal and thus shut him the hell up.

An improved ping system has been a long-time ask from Overwatch players. Not only does it improve a team’s ability to communicate, but it’s also an important accessibility tool for players who can’t (or won’t) participate in voice chat. The developers did note that the new ping system is a work in progress and subject to change as the game’s closed beta nears.
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GTA Online adding new subscription

Posted by poisoN 2 months ago, 94 views Games  
Rockstar Games has announced it’s offering a new subscription service to GTA Online players. Dubbed GTA Plus, the subscription service grants players exclusive perks for $5.99 a month. According to the announcement:

Being a GTA Plus member gets you a recurring monthly GTA$500,000 direct deposit to your Maze Bank account, plus the opportunity to claim properties in and around Los Santos that unlock gameplay updates you may have missed out on, special vehicle upgrades, Member-only discounts, GTA$ and RP bonuses, and more each month.

Notably, this membership is only available for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series S/X players, with no word on if the service will come to previous-gen systems or PC.

Here’s a full list of the first month’s rewards:
  • GTA$500,000 delivered automatically to your Maze Bank Account.
  • The Principe Deveste Eight — along with a complimentary Hao’s Special Works upgrade for it before it is made available to purchase by the general public — plus the HSW Orange Trip and HSW CMYK Glitch Liveries.
  • The Auto Shop located in La Mesa introduces an assortment of gameplay updates from Los Santos Tuners. Current Auto Shop owners can relocate to La Mesa at no additional cost.
  • Waived LS Car Meet Membership fees. Current LS Car Meet members with GTA Plus will be reimbursed GTA$50,000 during this event period.
  • Yacht owners can upgrade to the Aquarius Super Yacht at no additional cost.
  • The Gussét Frog Tee and Broker Prolaps Basketball Top and Shorts are automatically added to your wardrobe.
  • The Conveyor Livery for the Mammoth Avenger, HVY APC, and TM-02 Khanjali.
  • A selection of free paints and emblems for the Auto Shop.
  • 3X GTA$ and RP on Hao’s Special Works Race Series.
  • 2X Car Meet Rep on the Street Race Series.

GTA Plus joins Fortnite Crew and Fallout 1st as one of the new game-specific subscription models. Though all three offer similar monthly rewards, GTA Plus is half the price of a both subscriptions. It’s been a little over a week since GTA V launched on PS5 and Xbox Series S/X after a delay pushed it from its original November 2021 release. GTA Online was also a part of this launch and is now a stand-alone game on current gen, no longer requiring a copy of GTA V to play. Rockstar has also announced work is underway on the next entry in the Grand Theft Auto series. GTA Plus launches on March 29th.
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Steam Next Fest kicks off in June

Posted by poisoN 2 months ago, 99 views Steam  
Valve’s next Steam Next Fest, an event where players will be able to try out demos of upcoming PC games right from Steam, will take place from June 13th through June 20th, the company has announced.

Valve is promising there will be “hundreds of demos” this year, and while it hasn’t shared what might be playable for the upcoming event, there were some notable games featured last June, including Sable and Toem. It seems likely that Valve will promote games that are great for the Steam Deck, and hopefully by that time, many more people will have gotten their highly-anticipated reservations. (Sadly, my projected Q3 order availability means I’ll very likely miss out, at least when it comes to trying games out for the handheld.)

The mid-June scheduling means Steam Next Fest will be timed right around when E3 usually happens. While E3’s organizers have said the trade show won’t be in person this year due to “the ongoing health risks surrounding COVID-19,” they haven’t announced specific dates for the event.
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Intel unlocked Core i9-12900KS

Posted by poisoN 2 months ago, 85 views Hardware  
Intel has officially announced its new Core i9-12900KS processor, an unlocked version of its flagship Core i9-12900K that ups the maximum boosted clock speed even higher to 5.5GHz for what the company claims is “the world’s fastest desktop processor” and “the ultimate gaming experience.”

The Core i9-12900KS has a lot in common with its predecessors’ hardware, including the same 16 cores (split up between eight Performance-cores and eight Efficient-cores) and 24 threads and 30MB of L3 cache memory. But Intel has boosted the base power from 125W to 150W and allowed the Core i9-12900KS to run unlocked, allowing it to hit up to 5.5GHz on up to two cores (compared to the maximum 5.2GHz speed on the regular i9-12900K).

For those keeping track at home, AMD also recently claimed the title of the “world’s fasted gaming CPU” earlier in March when it announced the availability for its new Ryzen 7 5800X3D processor. Like Intel, AMD is offering a souped-up version of its older model (in this case, the Ryzen 7 5800), although AMD’s differs by introducing a new, 3D V-Cache technology to deliver speeds that it claimed would be able to top the Core i9-12900K.

The Ryzen 7 5800X3D is significantly cheaper than the Core i9-12900KS, with a $449 price tag compared to Intel’s $739 sticker price. But Intel does AMD solidly on sheer processing frequency — the Ryzen 7 5800X3D only touts a maximum boosted clock speed of 4.5GHz, compared to the 5.5GHz maximum speed on Intel’s new chip.

How the Ryzen 7 5800X3D stacks up again the newly announced Core i9-12900KS, however, will have to wait until both chips arrive in April and can be put to the test head to head. AMD will also get another shot at the crown later this year, too, when its Ryzen 7000 desktop chips arrive in the second half of 2022.

The Core i9-12900KS will be available starting April 5th for a recommended consumer price of $739. That marks a significant increase over the recommended $589 price tag for the Core i9-12900K, which itself is almost impossible to find at Intel’s recommended price (most retailers charge at least $600, if not more, for the Core i9-12900K today). In other words, you should probably expect to have to shell out some extra cash beyond that $739 number for the Core i9-12900KS when it arrives next month.
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Apex Legends next-gen console

Posted by poisoN 2 months ago, 89 views Consoles  
Respawn Entertainment has confirmed that Apex Legends upgrades for the PS5 and Xbox Series X / S consoles will launch tomorrow with the new Warriors collection event. Until now, the battle royale shooter has shared versions across the console generations. But when the update is released — usually around 1PM ET — console players will finally be able to join those on PC with support for natively rendered 4K (except on the Series S), HDR, better shadow maps, and greater level of detail distances.

All versions on consoles are still limited to 60Hz, with 120Hz gameplay listed as an upgrade coming in the future (however, once the PS5 supports 120Hz output, it will be able to force it even on games that don’t have support built-in if you want to give it a try). When I talked to the developers before the launch of the current season, Defiance, they said that we would see new next-gen features roll out throughout the year with the new seasons. Other features confirmed in the works are adaptive trigger and haptic support for the PlayStation 5 DualSense controller.

The other area where the systems differ is how players will get their updated versions. On Xbox Series X and Series S, the Smart Delivery tech Microsoft uses means that your console should automatically download the correct version without any intervention once it launches. On PlayStation, it’s a little more complicated. If you have the game installed on a PS5 already, you’ll find the title in your Game Hub, select Options instead of Play Game, and then tell it to download the PS5 version. If you don’t have it installed but have played it before, you’ll just find the game in your library, and make sure to choose the PS5 version when prompted.

Across all consoles and PCs, the second half of season twelve includes many fixes to stop things like hackers who enabled dual-wielding weapons and various glitches that could be used to exploit weapons with a charge mechanic like the Rampage LMG or Sentinel sniper. There’s also, of course, a new assortment of cosmetic upgrades to buy and a new heirloom that players can acquire to use with the character Crypto.

The Warriors event will also bring back the Control limited-time mode for another two weeks, with a few improvements and a new map. It was well-received by players last time around, but there’s no word yet on whether we can expect it to become a regular part of the game or if we’ll see even more ways to play that get away from the standard battle royale setup.

One thing that wasn’t mentioned at all in the update was last week’s massive leak of content that revealed new characters, skins, weapons, and emotes that the developers are working on. The extent of the leaks claimed to stretch over the next couple of years for the game, but based on the changes we’ve seen, I think there may be more Apex Legends surprises that haven’t been uncovered yet.

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Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 Ti

Posted by poisoN 2 months ago, 87 views Hardware  
Nvidia is launching its $1,999 GeForce RTX 3090 Ti today. After a mysterious delay following a January announcement, the “fastest GPU on the planet” will be available from Asus, Colorful, EVGA, Gainward, Galax, Gigabyte, INNO3D, MSI, Palit, PNY and Zotac in stores today. Nvidia has also created a limited edition Founders Edition board that will be available from Best Buy online.

The RTX 3090 Ti is the familiar-looking triple-slot design we’ve seen on the RTX 3090, and both cards look identical at first glance. Nvidia is really maximizing what its existing 8nm GA102 chip is capable of inside the RTX 3090 Ti, coupling it with 24GB of GDDR6X running at 21GB/s. That’s the same amount of VRAM as the RTX 3090 but with a nearly 7.7 percent faster memory clock resulting in a total memory bandwidth of 1008GB/s.

Nvidia says the RTX 3090 Ti will also include 40 teraflops of GPU performance, with a base clock of 1560MHz, and a boost clock of 1860MHz. That’s a bump over the 36 teraflops on the RTX 3090, the base 1395MHz clock, and 1695MHz boost clock speeds. The RTX 3090 TI also includes 10,752 CUDA cores, 78 RT-TFLOPs, and 320 Tensor-TFLOPs.

In terms of gaming performance, Nvidia claims the RTX 3090 Ti will be on average 64 percent faster than the RTX 2080 Ti, and nine percent faster than the RTX 3090. While Nvidia marketed the RTX 3090 heavily at 8K gaming during its launch, the company is really positioning the RTX 3090 Ti for creators, professionals, and anyone else who really wants the fastest GPU for gaming or creative tasks.

The RTX 3090 Ti is designed for big projects inside apps like Blender, Maya, or Cinema4D, or for research systems for data scientists that use large data sets. Developers and CG animators working with big sets, high resolution textures, and detailed models might also find the RTX 3090 Ti useful for certain projects.

The real tradeoffs here will be the price and power requirements. The RTX 3090 Ti starts at $1,999, which means we’re going to see plenty of partner boards well beyond the $2,000 mark. It’s the first time we’ve seen a GeForce “gaming” card priced at nearly $2,000 retail, despite RTX 3080 and RTX 3090 cards trading at these kinds of prices throughout 2021.

The RTX 3090 Ti will also have some hefty power requirements. You’ll need a power supply capable of delivering 850 watts at the minimum, as the card uses as much as 450 watts (with some boards likely to exceed that). That’s up from the 350-watt draw of the RTX 3090 and 750-watt power supply requirement. Nvidia has also ditched its 12-pin connector in favor of the 16-pin PCIe Gen5 power cable. Most power supplies don’t ship with the native cables for this, so Nvidia is supplying a dongle that will require three 8-pin connectors.

The pricing will naturally put many off the RTX 3090 Ti, particularly for gaming as it’s a 30 percent markup over the RTX 3090 with promises of only a nine percent performance bump. Still, if you want the bragging rights of owning the “world’s fastest graphics card,” then Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3090 Ti is available now starting at $1,999.
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Fortnite introduces new Zero Build mode

Posted by poisoN 2 months ago, 115 views Games  
As part of its latest season, Fortnite removed building, one of the game’s most iconic features. And now, developer Epic appears to be making the change a more permanent part of the experience with the introduction of Zero Build mode. As the name implies, the mode is a combat-focused option where players can’t gather resources to build defensive structures; Fortnite recently introduced a new shield and more mobility options to make up for it, making for a faster-paced experience.

Zero Build is available to play across solo, duos, trios, and squad modes, and it joins an ever-growing list of ways to play Fortnite, including Creative, Impostors, and the violence-free Party Royale. However, at the time of this writing, the standard battle royale mode isn’t accessible in the game. The existence of a Zero Build option suggests that building will be making its way back into the experience in a separate mode, but Epic has yet to specify how or when that might happen.

In the meantime, you can check out the full list of changes to Fortnite here, including the addition of a big rocket launcher.

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