Tag Archives: beta

Modern Warfare’s 64-Player Mode Feels Like Call Of Duty, Just Bigger

Image: Activision

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’s recent cross-play beta brought platforms together for large-scale, 64-player multiplayer matches. While it feels quite different from Battlefield, the new style of gameplay worked quite well.

The “Ground War” mode itself is not new, but in previous Call of Duty games it just meant a slightly increased player count of 12 to 18 players on standard multiplayer maps. Modern Warfare goes much bigger in this new 32v32 mode with a five-flag Domination objective, featuring the chaos of tanks, helicopters, and ATVs.

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Karst River Quarry was the only Ground War map available for the beta, but it really showed that Infinity Ward has put a lot of thought into map design. I’ve made some complaints about the maps encouraging players to camp too much, and how Modern Warfare maps have a shit-ton of doors, but I do appreciate that each map is designed for specific modes.

Just like how its smaller maps are tailored specifically for the 2v2 Gunfight mode, Karst River Quarry was designed for large-scale multiplayer, with every play style in mind. There are steep cliffs where snipers can prey on the players rushing between objectives, clusters of buildings that provide close-quarters gunfights, plenty of places to mount a light machine gun and defend, and just enough road to be a nuisance in the tanks.

I’m not saying the map design is perfect. Karst River Quarry is a large map by Call of Duty standards, but it doesn’t quite compare in size to Battlefield’s, so the Domination points are much more condensed. The quarry’s five capture points are also fairly linear, and the buildings at B,C, & D points got really congested. I’d love to see other Ground War maps have more staggered objective points to make better use of the full layout.

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Much like Battlefield, Ground War also gives players the option of where they want to spawn. You can choose to spawn in a friendly tank, on a squad mate, a capture point that’s occupied by your team, and more. There were some spawning issues uncovered during the beta. Some players spawned under the map, while others awkwardly spawned in the air and fell to their deaths. I didn’t personally experience these extreme issues with the spawns, although the game would occasionally ignore my spawn point of choosing and send me back to the home base, away from the action and often an inconvenient place to spawn.

Spawning on your squad can also be an awful experience, especially if you’re risky enough to spawn on a random squad mate. Ground War will not hesitate to spawn you in a room surrounded by the opposition or even in the line of gunfire. This feels worse than the spawning in Battlefield, but the condensed layout of Karst River Quarry probably factors into that. I quickly learned to ask my friends if they were safe before choosing to spawn on them.

Despite all the comparisons, Ground War still feels like you’re playing Call of Duty, and this opens up options for people who want more action than the standard multiplayer can provide. The buildings aren’t destructible here, but you can go for those massive Call of Duty killstreaks. Facing a 32-player opposition allowed many players to earn the game’s highest killstreak, “Tactical Nuke,” which is earned by accumulating 30 standard kills in a single life.

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I played the beta on a PlayStation 4 Pro, and the performance was generally pretty solid for me. There were occasional hiccups where my gun would freeze up in the reload animation, or times where I would be running through high-traffic areas and experience a significant frame drop. These issues were minimal and didn’t impact my enjoyment of large-scale Call of Duty. However, some players reported blue screen errors and crashes across all platforms. Hopefully Infinity Ward can make some positive tweaks to the spawns and improve performance before Modern Warfare launches on October 25.

Source: Kotaku.com

Apple Arcade Is Live In The iOS 13 Beta And It’s A Lot

While the $5-a-month Apple Arcade subscription doesn’t officially launch until Thursday, iOS 13 beta testers can sign up right now and dive into new games from some of the best indie studios on the planet. With nearly 60 games on the service so far, it’s an overwhelming amount of entertainment, all at once.

Last week Apple dropped a short list of games coming to Apple Arcade for iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and Macs. It contained 15 or so games, including new games in classic franchises like Rayman and Pac-Man, an RPG from the makers of Bravely Default, and a bunch of other cool-looking stuff. It was an impressive list, but it’s nothing compared to the tidal wave of titles washing over early Apple Arcade players right now.

I spent much of yesterday afternoon excitedly typing game names into our work Slack. Oceanhorn 2! The first part of the new Shantae game! Square Enix’s Various Daylife! Mini Motorways, a new game from the makers of Mini Metro! Assemble With Care, a new narrative puzzle adventure from UsTwo, makers of Monument Valley! Klei’s Hot Lava, an action game I’ve been waiting for since 2016! Earthnight, that cool dragon-running game from the Nintendo Switch indie direct! Many, many exclamation points were used.

When I loaded the iOS 13 beta yesterday afternoon, there were 53 games available to download and play. As of this writing, there are 59. Apple plans on having more than 100 available in the coming weeks. Thank goodness for my 512 GB iPad Pro. I have so many good things to play right now I don’t know where to start. I’m just going to play everything and see if I can’t come up with some sort of guide to help folks navigate the already crowded service once it launches wide later this week.

Source: Kotaku.com

The Best iOS 13 Tricks You Haven’t Tried Yet

Photo: David Murphy

I’ve been playing around with iOS 13 since the developer beta first launched—bugs and all. Since it’s now available for public consumption, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite new tricks so you can get excited while you wait for the beta to install on your device.

Switching wifi networks without using Settings

For those who need a little more manual control over the wifi networks they connect to, I’m pleased to report that you’ll never have to open the Settings app ever again—hopefully—to connect to a wifi network. Instead, open your device’s Control Center.

Screenshot: David Murphy

Press and hold on the wifi icon to expand the view, like so:

Screenshot: David Murphy

Press and hold again on the wifi icon to pull up a list of all the wifi networks your device detects. Pick whichever one you want to use.

Screenshot: David Murphy

Deleting apps you no longer need (before you update them)

I have a lot of apps on my device, and I tend to forget about them—but still update them constantly, because that’s how the process works. You would think that seeing a giant update chug through for an app I haven’t touched in six months would prompt me to delete it, but then I’d have to go find it in my device, and that takes too long, too.

Screenshot: David Murphy

To address this, Apple is making it a lot easier to delete apps in iOS 13. Now, whenever you see a pending app update on the App Store (or have already downloaded and installed one), swipe left on the app. You’ll see the familiar red “Delete” button, which you can tap to remove the app from your iPhone or iPad. You’ll never have to spend precious minutes hunting through your folders to find and remove an app ever again.

Tell Siri to add multiple items to lists

This one is fun. Fire up Siri and tell it to add things to a list, but make sure you use the word “and” to connect them all together. When you do, iOS 13 will split each item into a separate listing instead of lumping them all together into one reminder, like so:

Screenshot: David Murphy

Share your ETA with friends

You can now share your estimated time of arrival with your friends when you’re using Apple Maps to get somewhere—an especially useful feature if you’re also connected to CarPlay. Your device will automatically message them with your current travel time, and it’ll also send them another message when you’re really close—so they can come outside and hop in the car, instead of forcing you to honk your horn or send a “where are you?” text.

Screenshot: David Murphy

If you always want to let certain people know about your ETA to a particular location—say, when you’re driving home from work each day—add it to your list of favorite locations in Apple Maps. While you’re in the Details screen, you can tap on “Add Person” under “Share ETA” to automatically notify them whenever you’ve pulled up directions to that location.

Screenshot: David Murphy

Finally, a great way to stop robocalls

I’ve saved the best for last, and it truly is one of the greatest, simplest features to ever hit iOS. With one little addition to your Settings app (technically, the Phone option within your Settings app), Apple has killed robocalls—or, at least, made it impossible for them to harass you. And this is a much better solution than paying your carrier for some kind of spam-blocking feature.

Screenshot: David Murphy

Pull up the Settings app, and then tap on Phone. Look for the “Call Silencing and Blocked Contacts” section, and enable “Silence Unknown Callers.” Any number that isn’t in your Contacts, Mail, or Messages won’t ring or appear on your device. It’ll go directly to voicemail instead.

While this poses problematic for times when you want to receive a phone call from an unknown number—say, the hospital, or a job interview, et cetera—you can always disable this feature temporarily if you know you’re expecting a call. It’s a lot less annoying than the alternative, which is having your phone ring four times an hour from some bullshit spammer.

What are your favorite iOS 13 features?

There’s plenty more to like about iOS 13—like the ability to remove any location information from photos you’re sharing with others (via the “Options” setting when you tap a picture in Photos, then tap the Share icon). What are some of your favorite features you’ve discovered? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll profile the best ones in a future post.

Source: Kotaku.com

The Easiest Way to Install the iOS 13 Beta

Screenshot: David Murphy (Apple)

Apple recently released the second (developer) version of the iOS 13 beta. That means features plenty of bug fixes and new features. like sorting for your Notes checklists (to move completed items to the bottom), new Animoji stickers, a slider for adjusting the intensity of Portrait Mode lighting, and a prompt that asks you if you also want to unsubscribe from subscription apps you delete.

That’s all well and good, but the best part of the iOS 13 developer beta 2 is that it’s now a lot easier to install the beta on your iPhone or iPad. And while Apple still cautions against doing so until the iOS 13 public beta, this new iteration of iOS 13 already feels less buggy (and a little speedier) than the very first version. You probably shouldn’t use it on your primary device just yet, but the temptation is stronger.

Installing the iOS 13 developer beta profile

Unlike last time, where you had to go through the slightly more complicated process of downloading an .IPSW file and restoring your iPhone or iPad in iTunes using that image, you can now simply install the iOS 13 developer beta profile. In doing so, you’ll be able to update your device to iOS 13 (developer beta 2) directly from your System app, which is a lot easier (and doesn’t require you to restore all of your apps and settings onto your device).

Screenshot: David Murphy

In fact, this is the only way you’ll be able to automatically receive iOS beta updates going forward if you did things the trickier way the first time. Since you didn’t install the beta profile then, your device won’t ping Apple for updates since, technically, it doesn’t think you’re in the beta (even if you’re running iOS 13).

To get started, pull up Safari on your iOS device and head on over to betaprofiles.com. Look for the big “iOS13 + iPadOS” section, and click on the blue download button. Your device will have you approve the beta profile you’re about to install, and it’ll then ask you for a quick reset. Once you’re back in business, you’ll be able to go to Settings > General > Software Update to download and install any new versions of iOS 13. It’s that easy.

Source: Kotaku.com

World Of Warcraft Classic Beta Players Are Reporting Bugs That Are Actually Just Features From The Past

Screenshot: Blizzard (WoW)

World Of Warcraft is an old game that has changed a lot since it was first launched back in 2004. Many players might have forgotten just how the game worked back then and as a result, players with access to the new classic version of the game are reporting old features as bugs.

World of Warcraft Classic is currently in beta, which means some players are getting a chance to experience a much older version of the MMO ahead of its release. WoW Classic is based on how WoW played in August 2006, back around update 1.12. Back then, things were different. Tauren hitboxes were much larger, sitting could cause certain combat effects to not trigger and completed quests were marked with dots and not question marks. Strange days.

These differences and classic features are causing some confusion among beta testers, who are submitting bug reports based on features that are working as intended. For example, creature spawn rates are much lower and slower in this version of the game. That’s not a bug, that’s just old World of Warcraft.

In response to these false bug reports, Blizzard has released a “not-a-bug list.” This list contains about dozen different things that aren’t broken or wrong, but working exactly how Blizzard wants them too. There is an actual bug list of real problems, but that is very different than the list below.

It seems Blizzard feels some players have incorrect memories of how WoW used to work and made this list to help gently remind players that World of Warcraft was a much different game back in the day.

One player said in a comment posted in response to the list, “Yeah people don’t realize the sheer enormity of game system evolution WoW has gone through since release. I’m not the biggest fan of BoA by any stretch, but I’ve played since closed beta vanilla, and I doubt I’ll be going back to classic. Leveling was painful. Experiencing these old systems once was enough.”

Source: Kotaku.com

Anthem’s ‘Day-One’ Update Fixes Some Things And Breaks Others

Anthem’s “day-one” patch dropped last night, and while it addresses a host of performance issues, bugs, and other frustrating problems, the update has also broken the game’s frame rate for many players on PC.

One of the most prevalent criticisms of BioWare’s new loot shooter during its early release period has been its grueling loading times. The long wait can be annoying in any game but especially in Anthem, where load screens occur mid-mission as well as every time you go to load up your inventory. Since yesterday’s 5 GB update went live, lots of players, including myself and other Kotaku staffers, have noticed significant improvements in this department. Unfortunately, the new patch has introduced other problems, including noticeable hits to the frame rate on PC and more instances of rubber-banding.

Where I was getting a frame rate consistently in the high 50s on medium settings, it now frequently dips below 30. Even weirder, the frame rate isn’t capped during load screens now, so it sometimes hits over 1,000, making the GPU sound like a wind tunnel. Kotaku’s Jason Schreier, who had been getting 70-80fps prior to the patch, said Anthem started running closer to 50 following the patch until he lowered some of his graphics settings. Kotaku’s Mike Fahey said he also noticed a dip, and it’s clear from the game’s subreddit and official forum that other players have as well.

Mark Darrah, the game’s executive producer, wrote on Twitter that for some people the issues appeared to be related to Nvidia changing their settings as a result of the update being installed. Meanwhile, someone on Reddit claimed to have fixed their performance drop by changing the default format for their audio down to 16 bit 441000 and messing around with the texture filtering options in Nvidia. Needless to say, people’s mileage has varied and this isn’t the type of thing most people want to be trying to diagnose after a big patch.

Some of the update’s improvements have worked out. Colossus Javelins can now revive fallen comrades while holding their shield up, something that has rescued my squad on a number of occasions already. Weapons and gear now also have numbers next to them showing how much their stats have been boosted by accompanying modifiers, making it easier to compare and contrast different Javelin builds.

Other fixes haven’t worked as planned, at least in my personal experience. While loot is supposed to drop from bosses at the end of Stronghold missions now, I still haven’t seen it happen. Not that it would matter a whole lot if it did, since the mission completion timer often starts at three seconds or less, sometimes whisking me away before I even realized a fight was finished. The warnings for not being in the right mission area don’t appear to have changed much either. I still routinely find myself flying close to squadmates on our way to fight some enemies only for the game to flash a timer counting down to when we’ll be transported to the objective. It really defeats the purpose of embarking on adventures in a big open world.

The day-one patch even removed a significant feature from the game. As confirmed by Darrah on Twitter, quickplay for Stronghold missions is not an option at the moment. “We will reenable it once several issues are resolved,” he wrote. Quickplay is basically Anthem’s way of loading you into a mission started by someone else to fill in any gaps left by departing players. Doing so nets you bonus experience, which can add up to a lot when it comes to Stronghold missions. At various points in the game it can be one of the best ways to grind.

In all, these problems have really put a damper on what otherwise appeared to be an update full of worthwhile improvements. While BioWare said in a livestream yesterday that this week of early access for EA subscribers on PC and Xbox One has provided valuable feedback that’s reflected in this patch and will shape future ones, it’s clear at this point the game would have benefited from even more time before release.

Source: Kotaku.com

Dreams Beta Players Are Building Jupiter’s Moons And Beautiful Fried Eggs

The surface of Europa as imagined by a player in Media Molecule’s upcoming PS4 game Dreams.
Screenshot: fahran1979 (Twitter)

Dreams, Media Molecule’s sandbox for people to create, share, and play one another’s games, has been in closed beta since December 2018. Now that the non-disclosure agreement for that initial beta has expired, Dreams beta players can finally give everybody else a better look at what the game actually is, and it looks pretty damn cool.

An early build of Dreams was first shown back at PlayStation Meeting 2013, which was the event announcing the PS4. In a tech demo, the studio’s developers crafted a band in-game to play music together. A teaser for the actual game then followed in the summer of 2014, with Sony not officially announcing Dreams until E3 2015. A beta was due out in 2016, but it got delayed twice. The beta didn’t finally get underway until late last year, with the release of the game itself getting pushed into 2019. In short, it’s been a while.

During that time, developers have offered up interviews, previews, and even hands-on demos of Dreams, and while the buzz has been positive, it’s also been hard to glean what the game is actually like. The complex and confusing nature of this game that’s about making games made it hard for the people who had tried the game to clearly convey why they liked it. Keza MacDonald said as much in her own preview of the game last month for Kotaku.

Now that the beta NDAs have run their course, the ongoing trickle of videos and screenshots of player creations has finally helped illustrate how this game works. Even prior to the NDA sunsetting, some interesting creations had been leaking out, including a remake of Kojima Productions’ psychological horror game, P.T. Lots of people have remade P.T. since Konami took it off digital store shelves, but no one had made it within another PS4 game with anything close to that level of fidelity. Dreams trailers often highlight the whimsical, surreal things that can be created in it, but the fidelity of the P.T. prototype also shows just how robust the game can apparently be.

One of the other stunning recreations that made the rounds recently was a short walk through the bridge of a spaceship inspired by Dead Space. The similarities are impressive, but what’s most striking about the demo is how the light from a nearby sun shines in through the skylights and main viewer.

One of the most appealing aspects of Dreams is that you don’t have to learn every one of the game’s design tools to create and share stuff. People can work on just making music or designing a particular character. Other players can then take these individual components and incorporate them into something more complex. One of my favorite creations so far is this person’s fried eggs. They look glorious, on par with foods you can prepare in something like Final Fantasy XV, except in Dreams they can be shared, augmented, and repurposed over and over again for whatever wild idea pops into someone else’s head.

The eggs dreams are made of.
Screenshot: DirtyHarolds (Reddit)

Some of the other cool stuff people have been making recently in the Dreams beta includes a super-detailed and brooding recreation of a metro station that was designed for a shooter someone else had made in the game. There’s also this a platforming level of a pea trying to make its way around a kitchen to get into a pot of water to boil itself. People have already started testing out games specifically designed for speedrunning. And someone recreated the icy surface of Jupiter’s Europa moon, and I want to go to there.

Dreams still doesn’t have a release date, but for a more in-depth look at some of the games people have already started making in it, you can check out this recent video by Media Molecule recapping some of the creations submitted for the recent Dreams Global Game Jam.

Source: Kotaku.com

Anthem’s First Demo Weekend Was A Mess

Screenshot: Kotaku (Anthem)

Anthem, BioWare’s upcoming online loot shooter, has some cool ideas. Unfortunately, the game’s demo last weekend was so busted, it was hard to get a good feel for the game.

The problems started as soon as the demo went live on Friday, January 25. Many, myself included, were greeted by an error message that read, “We’re sorry, but the EA servers reached max capacity. Please try again later.” In some instances it was possible to get as far as selecting a male or female character in the opening menu before the game would automatically restart. Later in the afternoon, the connection issue spread to EA’s other games and services, including people’s ability to log into and post on EA Help, the company’s official customer support site.

Those issues eventually subsided, only for a whole host of other problems to crop up. Chief among them was an infinite loading screen. Whether trying to load the game or leave Fort Tarsis, the game’s main hub area, the loading screen bar would fill up to around 95% and then stall out indefinitely. Sometimes restarting the game helped. Sometimes the same thing happened. Sometimes it happened after finishing a mission and trying to go back to Fort Tarsis, with earned loot or XP sometimes disappearing in the process.

I spent way too long staring at screens like this.
Screenshot: Kotaku (Anthem)

Rubber banding, in which game sequences slow down, stutter, or even repeat, was also a problem throughout the weekend. By Saturday night, on Xbox One at least, the game was more or less impossible to play even when I managed to successfully avoid getting trapped in loading screens. Some players also experienced enemies disappearing mid-combat only to randomly re-appear later on. Other players still had trouble accessing the demo, or never got the link for a special code that could be used to invite up to four friends to play the game with them. There were also problems with new Javelins not unlocking after players leveled up. Though BioWare eventually fixed the issue, late Sunday just before the demo was set to end, the studio decided to unlock all four Javelin classes for every player.

Despite playing very much like a beta testing session, the weekend wasn’t pitched as one. Instead, the demo was marketed as a “VIP” bonus for people who pre-ordered Anthem or were either paid EA Access or Origin Access subscribers. Everyone else would have to wait until the “open” demo is available the weekend of February 2. Michael Gamble, the game’s lead producer, also announced that the game had gone “Gold,” meaning it had passed certification for things like bugs on both Xbox One and PS4, just a couple days prior to the demo going live. The confusion over whether or not players were signing up to get a sneak peak at a finished game or test out the server load wasn’t helped by the fact that many EA games now have multiple release dates, Anthem included. It officially launches on February 22, but is actually available on February 15, three weeks from now, for anyone who subscribes to EA Access or Origins Access.

BioWare’s head of live service, Chad Robertson, published a post on the company’s blog late Saturday apologizing for the demo’s problems, stressing that contrary to speculation on social media and the game’s subreddit, none of them stemmed from a lack of servers. “We appreciate everyone’s patience and sincerely apologize for those who have had issues getting into the game,” he wrote, calling out the overall connectivity issues, bugs preventing people from gaining access to the demo, and infinite load screens in particular. According to Robertson, the studio had only seen the infinite load screen problem in isolated cases previously and thought the issue had been addressed. “Unfortunately, the problem is exacerbated in the real-world where differences with player’s ISPs and home networks introduce new behavior,” he wrote, adding that it would be a “difficult one” to fix.

BioWare has also said that the demo was an older build of the game that didn’t include some of the bug fixes the team has made in recent weeks. Late Sunday night, BioWare announced on Twitter that details on improvements coming to the game in time for next weekend’s demo would be announced sometime on Monday.

Source: Kotaku.com