Tag Archives: polygon

Mech added to No Man’s Sky for exploration and combat

Hello Games keeps rolling out free content for No Man’s Sky. The latest is a giant mech suit that players can build for exploration and combat. It’s called the Minotaur, and it’s live right now, part of the Exo Mech Update.

After a controversial launch, No Man’s Sky hit its stride with the Beyond update, which launched in the summer of 2019. Since that time Hello Games has focused on continuous improvement. The new Minotaur is quite an upgrade, and is even fully compatible with the game’s virtual reality mode on PC platforms and PlayStation VR.

The Minotaur mech features a jetpack that allows it to jump and slide, an immersive cockpit with multiple active display panels, and has optional top-mounted tools and weaponry. You can even call it down from your orbiting freighter, just like in the first-person shooter Titanfall. Best of all, it’s immune to all planetary hazards. That should dramatically expand the survivability of players looking to explore strange new planets and live off the land once they touch down.

The Exo Mech Update also includes additional new exocraft features, including solar panels for recharging their engines and improved scanning. It’s now live on all platforms.

PS VR Mega Pack Bundle

The Mega Pack includes a PlayStation VR headset, PlayStation camera, and download codes for Astro Bot Rescue Mission, Everybody’s Golf VR, PlayStation VR Worlds, Skyrim VR, and Resident Evil 7.

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Source: Polygon.com

The creator of Tales from the Loop hopes his sci-fi series will ease viewers’ loneliness

When Legion writer Nathaniel Halpern got the greenlight from Amazon Studios to produce Tales from the Loop, his dreamy science-fiction series about a small town experiencing mysterious phenomena due to underground experiments, he had no idea how different the world would look by the time his series premiered on April 3.

Inspired by an extensive series of lonely, thrilling paintings by Swedish artist Simon Stålenhag, Tales from the Loop centers each episode on a different character who’s experiencing something odd — time travel, portents of the future, parallel worlds, and so forth. The phenomena are all linked by the work going on in The Loop, a bunker dedicated to exploring the potential of strange objects like The Eclipse, seen in the first episode.

Stålenhag’s original paintings suggest a world where rural simplicity has collided with some form of ancient technology. Rusty robots and high-tech, alien-looking gear stand in forests and fields, dwarfing the human characters around them. Mysterious artifacts that look like low-tech sculptures sit in the open, slowly decaying, while fierce-looking metal people loom in ponds and corners. In Stålenhag’s three art books (2014’s Tales from the Loop, 2016’s Things from the Flood, and 2017’s The Electric State), the science-fiction elements feel oppressive and threatening as often as they feel benevolent or abstracted. But in Halpern’s show, the unknown seems more ineffable — not easily grasped or explained, but not harmful to humanity, either.

“I found Simon’s work poignant and emotional, and I recognized myself in some of it, in spite of the science-fiction elements,” Halpern tells Polygon in a phone interview. “I tried to carry that forward and really think about universal feelings, that people in their own walk of life encounter in their own ways. I tried to have every episode address something that I felt on some level was universal. I was almost trying to treat the show like an empathy delivery device, where everyone could recognize something and say, ‘Oh, I know how that feels.’ That certainly was the approach to the types of topics or themes that ended up in the show itself.”

A boy in a bright red shirt uses an old-fashioned manual camera to take a closeup picture of a bright yellow flower as an older white-haired woman stands behind him and watches. Photo: Jan Thijs/Amazon Studios

The show’s gentle form of escapism — its sense of wonder and comfort — feels particularly suited to a moment of worldwide anxiety, where millions of people are isolating themselves at home to flatten the curve of coronavirus infection, and millions more have lost their jobs. As streaming services see an immense jump in demand for entertainment and escapism, Halpern recognizes that Tales from the Loop might be headed to a wider audience than he expected. He says he “doesn’t want to come off like I’m trying to take advantage of the moment,” given the real difficulties people are facing. But he does acknowledge that his show might have a particularly warm message for people who are feeling alone.

”Obviously people are going through some very hard times right now,” he says. “With that said, I think what’s fortunate in terms of our timing is, these stories for me are about people searching for connection. As we all find ourselves unfortunately isolated, I hope people can take a bit of comfort from that. A lot of TV deals with fear and anxiety and anger, but here, there’s a little bit more of a tenderness to the emotion. Hopefully people can feel a bit of connection, and take a bit of comfort from these stories.”

Halpern says that roughly speaking, he mapped the show’s individual episodes to individual emotions. “I would look at a painting of Simon’s and think, ‘What is the story here? What is the universal quality? What is the feeling I’m getting from that painting?’ And then we’d figure out a character who could go on a journey with that feeling.”

In a painting by Simon Stålenhag, an adult leads a young child along a muddy path through the snow toward a vast rusty segmented metal sphere sitting in a hollow in the woods. Image: Simon Stålenhag via Tumblr

As an example, he points to episode 4, “Echo Sphere,” directed by Pixar director Andrew Stanton, who also helmed Finding Nemo and WALL-E. The episode centers on an older man (Brazil star Jonathan Pryce) who was instrumental in beginning the town’s experiments on a strange artifact. When he introduces his grandson to a rusty sphere that indicates how long its visitors have to live, he realizes he himself is dying.

“I started with, ‘Well, what is the function of the sphere in this painting?’” Halpern says. “And then all of the sudden it became an episode about mortality, and how it’s a part of life, but that doesn’t have to destroy you. Having these stories end with a sense of hope was always important to me. It’s not a sentimental mode of storytelling — I think it’s rather truthful about how life can be hard and rather lonely. But it was never my aim to tell stories that were doom and gloom. It was always about getting to this point of hard-earned hope, vs. the easy answers of a more sentimental story.”

The tone of Tales from the Loop is an unusual mixture of melancholy and warmth, which Halpern says he drew directly from his own impressions of Stålenhag’s work, and from looking at the films of Ingmar Bergman, Krzysztof Kieslowski, and Andrei Tarkovsky. The latter was particularly helpful as a model — his films, Halpern says, use science fiction to explore humanity, and his distinctive storytelling in films like Stalker and Solaris was an inspiration.

Asked whether viewers should expect Tales from the Loop to rapidly solve the mystery of where objects like the Echo Sphere and The Eclipse, Halpern he’s “just not interested in creating a mystery show or a puzzle.” He says mystery series tend to lose the characters’ emotions amid the question of what’s going on and what it means. “The audience just becomes obsessed with finding answers. Here, it was important to me that I wasn’t playing that game.”

A young black main in jeans and a button-down shirt sits in the forest with his back against a tree, while a dopplegänger version of him in a darker shirt sits against the other side of the same tree. Photo: Jan Thijs/Amazon Studios

“So in the first episode, I wanted to go right underground and say, ‘Here it is, and it’s as simple as this: Everything above ground is a result of experiments going on in this facility. That’s the lump sum of it, and now we can move on.’ And now it’s about the fascinating encounters these characters have, and the emotional journeys they go on, rather than any kind of conspiracy or mystery to solve, which I find to be a colder way to engage. I wanted an empathetic, emotional engagement with these stories.”

Stålenhag’s paintings have also inspired a well-regarded indie role-playing game that expressly draws on the “kids with bikes” era of film entertainment. The game echoes the modern hit Stranger Things, where a bunch of children become aware of an alien force in their midst, and deal with it on their own, in spite of adult interference. Both the game and Stranger Things were inspired by a 1980 subgenre of entertainment, popularized by Steven Spielberg’s 1982 movie E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial — and possibly to a lesser extent by Stephen King’s 1986 novel It, which explores similar themes in a much darker way.

Halpern’s series also has some of the “kids with bikes” feel, particularly in the opening episode. But any similarities with Nils Hintze’s RPG come from the fact that it was drawn from the same source material. Halpern says his development process ran parallel to Hintze’s, and that he never looked into the game.

Instead, he used Stålenhag as a resource, both in discussing “the feeling of the world he created, and that aesthetic he dreamed up,” and in asking him for further visual design when the series ventured into territory not covered in Stålenhag’s paintings.

Two children kneel at the end of a dock by a frozen lake full of mysterious numbered devices that look like the conning towers of submerged white submarines. Photo: Amazon Studios

“It was quite wonderful, actually,” Halpern says. “From early on, Simon and I just saw eye to eye. We both agreed the stories here are more about the people and the feeling than the robots. And using that as a starting point, he was very encouraging and supportive of me telling the stories I wanted to tell. And then because he’s a wonderful artist — several elements were invented for the show, and he helped design them. I’d just go to him and ask, ‘What would this look like within your aesthetic?’”

“So for instance, there’s a character with a bionic arm. So I asked Simon, ‘What would a robot prosthetic look like in your world?’ and he generously designed that arm. He has such a fascinating way of mixing materials in color. And then my visual effects team built the arm to his specifications. There were several instances like that throughout the show, where I would have been a fool not to try and draw him in to contribute to the aesthetic.”

Stålenhag contributed in other ways as well, designing poster art and key art for the show, and creating new paintings inspired by looking at the show’s design. “When Simon visited the set, it was fun to see him taken aback to see something he had painted, now standing in front of him,” Halpern says. “And then he painted it … There was a wonderful circular quality to the collaboration.”

The first eight-episode season of Tales from the Loop is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

Fire TV Stick 4K

Amazon’s Fire TV Stick 4K is an all-in-one streaming device with apps for most major streaming services, 4K streaming and a voice remote powered by Amazon’s Alexa.

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Amazon / $34.99 Buy

Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. For more information, see our ethics policy.

Source: Polygon.com

Adam Sandler and Jimmy Fallon duet to remind you not to touch your grandma

Adam Sandler was back on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon this Monday with another song about adjusting to life in the time of COVID-19. This time, Jimmy Fallon joined in to sing about how even though we all love our grandmothers, now is not the time to hug them, kiss them, or let them squeeze your cheeks.

Last week, Sandler joined Fallon to sing an ode to healthcare workers. Who knows what the future holds for the Sandler-Fallon collabs? Hand-washing ballads? Rock songs about only making essential trips? Love songs about being apart from your boo during quarantine?

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon has evolved from celebrity guests in the studio to celebrity guests calling in via video chat. In addition to Adam Sandler, Lady Gaga joined on Monday night (though she did not sing), along with Andy Cohen. Also making an appearance and singing was Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong with a cover of Tiffany’s “I Think We’re Alone Now.”

Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. For more information, see our ethics policy.

Source: Polygon.com

Disco Elysium is coming to the Nintendo Switch ‘soon’ say developers

Mind-bending role-playing game Disco Elysium is heading to the Nintendo Switch. The announcement comes directly from art director Aleksander Rostov during an interview with the BBC.

Disco Elysium is the story of a hard-boiled detective, with gameplay that focuses on character building over combat. In Polygon’s review we called it “a pure role-playing experience that feels wondrous and unique compared to its peers.” The game has since received multiple industry awards, the most recent of which came courtesy of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. On April 2 it took home honors for the Debut Game, and Music categories as well as the Narrative category, where it beat out Life is Strange 2, Outer Wilds, Control, and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.

Originally released in October 2019 on PC platforms, the game is also expected on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. No release date or price for the Nintendo Switch version was offered.

Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. For more information, see our ethics policy.

Source: Polygon.com

Chris Hemsworth reunites with the Russo brothers in Netflix’s Extraction

There’s a small Marvel reunion happening in Netflix’s new thriller Extraction, which stars Chris Hemsworth as Tyler Rake, a mercenary, and boasts Anthony and Joe Russo brothers as producers, with the latter having written the script.

The new trailer for Extraction reveals there’s more to the film than meets the eye, as Rake, whose latest job is to rescue the kidnapped son (Rudhraksh Jaiswal) of an imprisoned international crime lord, discovers extraction isn’t the end of the job. In fact, it only puts him and his target at the center of more crosshairs than before. Rake and the young boy are forced to learn to trust each other in order to survive.

Directed by Sam Hargrave, the stunt coordinator for Avengers: Endgame, Captain America: Civil War, and Atomic Blonde, the film also stars Golshifteh Farahani and David Harbour in supporting roles.

Extraction hits Netflix on April 24.

Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. For more information, see our ethics policy.

Source: Polygon.com

Lego Super Mario starter kit, Bowser castle expansion revealed

Nintendo and The Lego Group will launch the Lego Super Mario line on Aug. 1, the companies announced Tuesday. Pre-orders for the Lego Super Mario Starter Course — which is the base for the Lego Super Mario world — opened today. The starter kit will cost $59.99, and Lego is offering a Monty Mole & Super Mushroom expansion set for those that pre-order. The starter kit includes 231 pieces.

The Lego Super Mario Starter Course is essentially at the center of the new line, which lets players build levels and move Mario through them to defeat different enemies. The Mario figure has built-in screens, a speaker, and an accelerometer to give the set it’s game-like feel. Players will be able to build onto the starter kit with different expansion sets, two of which were revealed on Tuesday: the Piranha Power Slide Expansion Set and the Bowser’s Castle Boss Battle Expansion set. Details on the Monty Mole & Super Mushroom expansion set, included with starter kit pre-orders, remain limited.

Nintendo showcased the two expansions in a video posted to Twitter. The Piranha Plant Power Slide is a smaller kit for $29.99, which adds the iconic plants to the Lego world. Bowser’s Castle Boss Battle kit is exponentially larger and more involved — it’s a boss battle, after all — and will cost $99.99. In previous videos, Lego and Nintendo have shown off other characters, like Bowser Jr. and Yoshi.

Lego said the full line is launching on Aug. 1, but pre-orders are only open for the starter set.

Switch Lite

Nintendo Switch consoles are often sold out, but you can still pick up the handheld-only Switch Lite, which is perfect for portable gaming.

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Target / $199.99 Buy

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Source: Polygon.com

Valorant beginner’s guide and tips

Valorant is Riot Games’ newest shooter. Unlike Call of Duty or Overwatch, Valorant is a tactical shooter, closer to Counter-Strike. This means that accuracy is key, teamwork is critical, and every bullet has the potential to be lethal. If you’ve never played a tactical shooter before, or just want some refreshers on what separates Valorant from the rest of the shooter genre, we’ve got a few tips to help you before you dive in.

Valorant basic match rules

Each match has two teams of five players. Before a match begins, every player selects a character (called an Agent) with a unique set of abilities. Each team can only have one of each Agent. Matches have rounds, and the first team to win 13 rounds wins the match.

One team starts as the Attackers and one team starts as the Defenders, and after 12 rounds, the two teams switch sides. The Attackers’ goal is to plant a bomb (called the Spike) on one of several bomb sites around the map. The Defenders’ job is to, well, defend, either by defusing the Spike after it’s planted, or preventing the Attackers from planting the Spike within the round’s time limit. Either team can also win a round by eliminating the other team, as there are no respawns during a round.

At the beginning of each round, every player in the match will get money (called Creds) that they can use during a Buy Phase to purchase weapons, armor, and abilities. The amount of Creds players get is determined by their performance in the previous round. Actions like planting the Spike, getting kills, and winning or losing a round will grant extra Creds.

Tip #1: Walk, don’t run

Every time you run in Valorant (which is the default movement speed), your footsteps make noise, and any enemy nearby can hear you. Running is so loud that there’s even a little circle that appears on your minimap to show you how far the sound of your footsteps is traveling. The solution to all that noise is to walk instead of run by holding Shift. Walking is slower, obviously, but it also makes you more accurate should you need to shoot quickly before you can stop — and it makes you impossible to hear, letting you and the rest of your team sneak up to enemy positions.

You should be walking almost everywhere you go in Valorant unless (A) you know there are no enemies near you, (B) the enemy already knows where you are, or (C) you have to get somewhere in a hurry. If you are confident that enemies aren’t around and you need to move quickly, switch to your knife, as it’s faster than running with a gun out.

A crosshair pointed directly at a player in Valorant as the player runs by Image: Riot Games via Polygon

Tip #2: Don’t run and shoot

With the tip about walking in mind, you should know that shooting accurately and running don’t mix in Valorant, so you should try to avoid it at all costs. If you’re running and you see an enemy you want to shoot, try to stop moving entirely before firing. It takes a while for your aim to settle, but as you get used to it, you’ll get a better idea of when your shot will be accurate and when it won’t be. The reticle growing and shrinking will even give you a hint of your accuracy.

It will take practice to get this skill down, but running and shooting at the same time, then wondering why their bullets didn’t hit, is probably the most frequent mistake that new Valorant players will make.

What about walking and shooting? When you’re walking — again, by holding the Shift key by default — your first few shots will remain accurate, just like if you were standing still. So if you’re walking and see an enemy, you can immediately start firing. But after the first few shots, your aim will start to veer off target more aggressively than if you were standing still.

Tip #3: Know when to save your Creds

When you’re new to Valorant, it can be tempting to buy weapons and abilities before every round, spending whatever Creds you have. But you shouldn’t do that. Instead, you should save your Creds for better buys and to sync with your team. For example: You probably can’t win a round if you’re the only one on your team who bought a gun and everyone else is stuck with the basic pistol. But if you save for a round or two and let your teammates get some Creds as well, then the five of you with guns and armor will have a better chance of winning that round — and carrying that gear forward.

Any time you survive a round, you’ll keep the weapons you ended the round with — so if someone drops a better weapon, grab it before the round ends. If you die, you’ll need to buy new weapons, regardless of whether your team wins or loses. Abilities will carry over from round to round if you don’t use them, and any armor that doesn’t get destroyed will also go with you to the next round (again, if you survive).

There are a few different types of rounds that you should think about when you first start playing Valorant. You can let your teammates know what you’re planning to do in each round over voice chat, or you can use one of the helpful buttons that Riot included on the buy menu that say things like “Save,” or you can let your teammates know that you have plenty of money.

Save Rounds

Everyone buys very little in hopes of saving for the next Buy round. This might mean you don’t buy anything at all, or that you only buy a pistol and one ability.

Full Buy Rounds

Everyone on the team buys weapons — usually either rifles or sniper rifles — as well as armor and whatever abilities they need.

Force Buy Rounds

You don’t have enough for a Full Buy Round, but you and your team buy anyway, getting the best weapons and armor you can. You might do this to catch the enemy off guard, or because you need a win here to start a comeback and can’t afford to wait for more money.

Partial Buy Rounds

This means that one or two people on the team might buy a weapon, but everyone makes sure they’ll have enough Creds for a Full Buy Round next time.

A Valorant player getting shot Image: Riot Games via Polygon

Tip #4: Buy armor

Guns are the most exciting thing to buy in Valorant, but guns are only good if you’re alive to use them. That’s where armor comes in. Buying armor doesn’t feel like the cool thing to do, but it’s almost always the right decision. Without armor, your 100 hit points won’t last long — one or two bullets could kill you.

Armor should always be part of your Full Buy Rounds, and you should prioritize it over the best weapons if you can’t afford both. There are two types of armor: one that costs 400 Creds and gives you 25 extra health, and one that costs 1,000 Creds and gives you 50 extra health. Both types of armor absorb 70% of damage taken.

Tip #5: Keep your reticle at head height

The less you have to move your mouse, the faster you can aim and shoot. When you’re walking, you should always try to keep your aim at the same height at which an enemy’s head would be. Most players — in all shooters, not just Valorant — have a tendency to keep their reticle pointed toward the ground. But if you run into someone while aiming down, you’ll have to shift your aim up. If your aim is already around their head, it’s a smaller movement to find the sweet spot, and therefore a lot faster.

A nice way to practice is to keep your gun at the head height of your allies before each round begins. This gives you a nice starting point to get used to.

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Source: Polygon.com

Valorant guide: List of weapons and when to use them

No weapon in Valorant is strictly good or bad (except for maybe the free pistol). Each gun has its own unique circumstances that it excels at and understanding them can help you make the most of your Creds. Whether you’re flush with cash or picking up a cheap weapon to surprise the enemy team, here’s everything you need to know about when to choose which weapon in Valorant.


Characters shoot at one another in Valorant Image: Riot Games

These guns cost at least 2,700 Creds and they can kill enemies in one headshot from most distances. Each of these rifles has their own pros and cons. Which one you use comes down to personal preference.

Bulldog — 2,100 Creds

The Bulldog is an automatic weapon that turns into a burst rifle when you aim down sight. It stands up well in a fight, but does less damage than the other rifles, which is why it costs less. If you need a rifle and can’t afford the other three, this is your best and only option.

Vandal — 2,900 Creds

This is the go-to rifle for many players. It has high damage-per-bullet and very little damage falloff at range, making it one of the game’s most effective and deadly guns. If most of your shots are accurate this is a great gun for any round you can afford it. But because of its slower rate-of-fire it punishes inaccuracy a little bit more than the Phantom. If you’re playing a little slower and expecting to fight enemies over long hallways rather than rushing in, you should think about picking it up over the Phantom.

Phantom — 2,900 Creds

The Phantom fires faster than the Vandal, and its recoil can be a little easier for some players to control. It has a shorter ranger, though, and its damage falls off at longer distances. If you’re rushing into a site around tight corners and short angles, but still want the firepower of a rifle, then this gun will have the leg up over the Vandal.

Guardian — 2,700 Creds

The Guardian is a semi-automatic rifle, meaning it only fires once every time you click. You have to be accurate with it, but it does more damage and costs less than other rifles. If you’re confident in your accuracy, this gun is perfect, but if you find yourself often needing three shots to secure a kill, then you should stick to the Vandal or Phantom.

Sniper rifles

A player getting a sniper rifle kill in Valorant Image: Riot Games via Polygon

Marshall — 1,100 Creds

This sniper is cheap and efficient. It’s a one-shot kill to the enemy’s head, even if they have armor, and it’s quick to fire and bolt so you can shoot again. Missing the head, though, is trouble. If you face an enemy straight on and only hit their body, they’ll fire back before you have a chance at another shot. If you plan to aim at one specific angle and try to snipe anyone that walks through, the Marshall is excellent. Just don’t miss the head.

Operator — 4,500 Creds

Also known as the Op, this sniper rifle is a one-shot kill if you hit enemies anywhere but the leg, even if they have armor. This gun is the most expensive in Valorant, but its one-shot kill potential makes it one of the best weapons in the game. While it struggles at close range, there’s no better weapon for holding down a point or fighting long range engagements.


A revolver from Valorant Image: Riot Games

Every round players spawn with the Classic, a basic pistol that doesn’t do much damage but can still get the job done. You can use that pistol when you’re forced to, or you buy another option if you’re trying to save some money while still being deadly.

Shorty — 200 Creds

This is a small double barrel shotgun. If you’re up close it can be a one-shot kill, but it loses its effectiveness as soon as you move a few feet from your enemies.

Frenzy — 400 Creds

As an automatic pistol, the Frenzy does low damage per bullet, but is the only pistol capable of spraying its way through a crowd of two or three enemies. If you’re rushing into a site, it might be a good idea to let the lead player pick up a Frenzy to try to get a few shots into the closest players.

Ghost — 500 Creds

The Ghost does solid damage with headshots and fires quickly, but it loses its accuracy the more you fire. If you’re confident in your shots, this is a great pistol for when you’re low on Creds.

Sheriff — 800 Creds

This pistol fires slowly but is a one-shot kill if you hit the enemy in the head. It’s high risk, high reward, and if you’re confident in your aim, it can be as good as any short-range weapon in the game.

Submachine guns

A submachine gun from Valorant Image: Riot Games

These are cheap weapons that can provide a good rifle alternative on rounds where you can’t afford a full kit.

Stinger — 1,000 Creds

The Stinger does low damage and isn’t very accurate, but if you’re close enough to the enemy that won’t matter, you can just spray and hope you hit them with enough bullets for a kill. If you want something cheap that can fire lots of bullets, this is your gun.

Spectre — 1,600 Creds

This SMG does good damage, especially with headshots, and is accurate at short range. It isn’t exactly a rifle replacement, but if you’re low on Creds it’s the next best thing to a Phantom rifle.


Shotguns are situational and can be fantastic if you take them into short-range fights.

Bucky — 900 Creds

This pump-action shotgun fires very slowly but the hits are devastating. This weapon is best used if you know you’re going to be getting close to individual players. If you’re in a group of enemies though, the best you can hope for is one kill before the rest of them wipe you out.

Judge — 1,500 Creds

The Judge is an automatic shotgun that can fire very quickly. It’s perfect for defense if you’re holding a tight angle and might catch two or three players who didn’t check their corners well enough. If you’re point blank, the Judge will do massive damage to enemies, with or without armor, but it’s also at least okay at short range if you have no other options.

Machine guns

A character in Valorant with a light-machine gun shoots down a hallway Image: Riot Games

These weapons are pretty situational, but they’ve still got their uses. Machine guns are excellent at holding down points on Defense as the enemy is rushing toward you. Or if your accuracy isn’t the best you can buy one of these and hope that one of their dozens of bullets hits its mark.

Ares — 1,700 Creds

The Ares can almost be a replacement rifle if you’re strapped for cash, but its main purpose is to fire lots of bullets to help you hold down a point. It requires a brief ramp up time to fire quickly, unless you aim down sight, in which case it fires instantly.

Odin — 3,200 Creds

The Odin shoots a lot of bullets really fast and can be one of the best guns in the game at staving off a particularly aggressive push when you’re defending a bomb site. It does, however, require a long spin-up time, so you’ll need to start shooting early.

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Source: Polygon.com

Valorant guide: What to buy with Creds during the Buy Phase

Learning Valorant’s economy is one of the most important pieces to understanding the game. At the beginning of every round there’s a Buy Phase where you can purchase various items using in-game money, called Creds, that you earned during the previous rounds.

There are all kinds of factors that go into deciding what you should buy at any given time. To help you make sense of the game’s economy we’ve put together answers for a few basic questions about how Creds and buying works in Valorant.

How do I earn Creds in Valorant?

Every action Valorant gives you a set amount of Creds. If your team wins a round, everyone will get 3,000 Creds, while losing a round gets everyone 1,900. After two losses in a row, the team gets an additional 500 Creds for that round, and for three losses in a row, there’s a bonus of 1000 Creds for that round. So basically, if you lose four rounds in a row, everyone in the team will get 2,900 for the last round (which is the maximum for a single round).

Individuals can also earn Creds by getting kills (at 200 Creds per kill). If you plant the bomb, you’ll earn 300 Creds. Creds are awarded at the beginning of each round, right before the Buy Phase.

What can I purchase during the Buy Phase?

You can buy weapons, armor, and abilities during the Buy Phase. Weaker weapons cost less than stronger weapons, naturally. Armor comes in two amounts: 25 Armor (for 400 Creds) and 50 Armor (for 1000 Creds). Ability costs vary based on the character.

You can also buy items for teammates if they request them during the Buy Phase (by right clicking the item) then you can buy it for them with the “Buy” button on the left side of the screen near their name. If you want to request an item from a teammate, just right click it.

Buy Button in the Valorant Buy Menu Image:: Riot Games via Polygon

Should I buy items every round?

No, you should probably not buy items during every Buy Phase. The point of buying things is to help you win a round and you should think about how each purchase gets you closer to that goal. While it may sound counter intuitive to go into a round without a gun or some armor, sometimes it’s worth potentially sacrificing one round to have a better chance at winning the next one.

The first thing to look at is your team’s total Creds. If your team has plenty — enough to buy armor, and abilities, as well as guns — then you and your team should buy. For instance, it’s the third round of a match, and your team won the first two, then you should buy rifles and armor, because the other team likely doesn’t have enough money for those items yet and you’ll have a huge advantage.

If only one person on the team has enough Creds to buy, then you probably shouldn’t. It’s possible one player could carry your team off the back of just a rifle, but it’s unlikely especially if the other team has a full buy with rifles and armor. And if you lose, everyone on the team is going to be worse off for the next round, when most of the team would have enough Creds to buy, but now one player’s too poor to buy a gun.

Instead, it’s better to wait until everyone on the team has enough Creds for a full buy. This way you can go into the round with the same weapons the opponents have and if you win, you might reset their economy, so that they have to save next round just like your team saved the previous round.

With those basic rules in mind there are certain times when you can change things up. For instance, when things are looking dire and your Creds are low, your team might decide to go for a “Force Buy.” This means that you’re buying things with the knowledge that your loadout won’t be complete. Most players in a Force Buy will only have SMGs or 25 armor. And if a team that Force Buys loses, they’re definitely going to be poor next round, but it might help catch the other team off-guard if they expected to face off against pistols instead. You could also do a “Partial Buy,” where one or two people buy cheap guns, with the knowledge that even if you lose they’ll have enough to buy again next round.

Any time you survive a round, you’ll keep the weapons you ended the round with — so if someone drops a better weapon, grab it before the round ends. If you die, you won’t have anything but the basic pistol, regardless of whether your team wins or loses. Abilities will carry over from round to round if you don’t use them, and any Armor that doesn’t get destroyed will go with you to the next round (again, if you survive).

How do I know how many Creds my team or the enemy has?

Enemy Creds on the Valorant scoreboard Image: Riot Games via Polygon

The scoreboard will give you a live look at your team’s Creds. You can also see how many Creds the enemy team starts a round with, but you won’t get a live update as they spend it. That means you know what they could buy, not what they actually bought. All this is information that you could keep track of in your head if you wanted to, but putting it on the scoreboard removes an unnecessary complication.

How do I know how many Creds I’ll have next round?

Money next round in Valorant’s buy menu Image: Riot Games via Polygon

This number will update as you spend, so you always know how this round’s buys will affect next round’s economy.

Can I sell items?

You can sell any item you bought during a particular buy phase with no penalty. This is useful if you buy the wrong thing, or if your team changes strategies and you realize you need one weapon or ability instead of another.

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Source: Polygon.com

Tabletop RPG gamemasters can learn a lot from Pixar’s Onward

Pixar’s new movie Onward, which debuted on Disney Plus on April 3 after an interrupted theatrical run, features something gamers don’t often see in mainstream tentpole media: role-playing games portrayed as a positive, even crucial hobby. Unlike Stranger Things, which foregrounds characters actually playing Dungeons & Dragons, or the various D&D films and shows set in a D&D-inspired world, Onward is a hybrid, where fantasy gaming exists in a world that’s essentially an RPG setting. Magic has largely been forgotten in Onward’s world, but when elf brothers Ian (Tom Holland) and Barley (Chris Pratt) have to make a crucial spell work, Barley’s gaming manual gives them insight into actual historical spells, and his RPG obsessions tell him what components they need, and how to acquire them.

Onward eventually turns into a classic D&D quest, complete with a dungeon, a dragon, and a series of episodic adventures on the way to a final goal. But the story’s lessons aren’t just for the characters. Onward has a lot of potentially valuable insights for tabletop GMs running Dungeons & Dragons, or virtually any gaming system. Here’s what game masters could stand to learn from Onward.

[Ed. note: spoilers ahead for Pixar’s Onward.]

A widely grinning, stout blue-skinned and blue-haired elf stands with his hand proudly on the hood of a rusty purple van with a crescent-moon-shaped side window and a flying pegasus painted on the side. Image: Disney/Pixar

Give your setting specificity and history

The little background details are a big part of Onward. So much of the audience’s attention is on Ian and Barley that it can be easy to overlook how intricately designed the locations around them are. As they race along the highway on their quest, the camera lingers briefly on the skyline, and the buildings shaped like castles. Those towers and battlements are then reflected in the iconography of the highway signs. It’s similar to the ways America’s highway system relies on sign motifs like shields; those are carryovers from the classical architecture used in official government buildings. The same highway scenes contrast that iconography with the inside of Barley’s van, Guenivere, which is festooned with medieval shapes.

These similar, repeated forms mean different things in different contexts, but they all contribute to the sense that this world has its own entirely unique history. In a similar way, GMs should take the time to layer in that kind of history with the settings they create for their players. Players don’t have to go crawling through a generic dungeon — when was it built? Who designed it? What sorts of shapes and symbols would have been important enough for them to carve into stone?

Reading through your average campaign book, there’s lots of flavor text that your players will likely never see. Use that as fuel to create a vision for the world that you’re creating at the table, and get in the habit of using themes and motifs in different ways to signal each era of that world’s history.

Alternate who’s steering the story

Players complain about railroading GMs, who’ve laid out a story in advance and aren’t interested in player deviation from that path. GMs complain about pushy players, who derail a perfectly good story to focus on seemingly trivial things. The best campaigns, though, leave some room for what everyone’s excited about. In Onward, Barley stands in for the GM role, laying out facts about the world and trying to dictate the path the story should take, what kind of encounters it should have, and exactly what Ian should be learning along the way. But Ian has a different perspective, and keeps pulling toward paths Barley didn’t predict or doesn’t like.

In the end, the story works better when they try both routes. Barley gets to shape an overall story that makes sense. He touches on the tropes he’s excited to explore, like danger and adventure. The story he wants to experience has a logical sense of build and expansion. Sometimes Ian goes along with his plans, and gets a bigger variety of experience than he expected. But when Ian also gets to dictate some of their path, he feels more invested and more heard by his brother. And when he makes a bad choice, like getting on the freeway, the story takes him on exciting, unexpected adventures instead of having Barley shut the idea down entirely.

Also, Ian gets to see how badly his idea works out, which moves him to appreciate Barley’s planned path forward. If a GM did that punitively — “Fine, we’ll do it your way, and it’ll suck for you” — it could lead to hurt feelings and a bad game experience for everyone. Instead, letting Ian direct the story for a while leads to some extra action and useful new lessons, without actually shutting down the option to explore the more dangerous road Barley wanted to travel.

Nervous-looking, skinny blue elf Ian cringes awkwardly after badly blowing a social cue at his high school. Behind him, out of focus, some of his classmates — satyr and elf girls, a troll and cyclops boy — stand together, watching him curiously. Image: Disney/Pixar

Ground stories in the characters’ emotions, and make them urgent

Onward plays out as a series of mini-quests — find the Manticore, rescue the map, cross a chasm, evade pursuers, and so on. But none of them would have any particular impact without the driving force behind the story: Ian’s desperate need to complete a spell that will let him meet his dead father. All of the story’s emotional impact is locked up within that need, which simultaneously sets the story up for a powerful cathartic ending, and lets writer-director Dan Scanlon and his team get away with any nonsense they want to throw in along the way, from a miniature sprite motorcycle gang to an encounter with a gelatinous cube. There’s certainly room in tabletop RPGs for stream-of-consciousness storytelling, and series of random encounters that don’t fit a bigger theme. But players are a lot more likely to tolerate whatever interaction the GM is in the mood for if they also feel like they’re pursuing goals they authentically care about.

And Onward operates on a deadline — Ian and Barley only have 24 hours to finish summoning up their father before the spell he left them permanently elapses. That lends a tremendous intensity to the otherwise scattered chases, fights, puzzles, and social encounters. For GMs, listening to what players really care about and want to pursue is helpful for crafting story hooks the characters will jump on without hesitation. Building a story around the urgent need to pursue those goals now will keep them invested and focused.

Blue elves Barley, Ian, and their mother all gape at a written message Ian is holding in Pixar’s Onward. Image: Disney/Pixar

Always have a clear next goal ahead for the players

If a GM has gone to the trouble of crafting a detailed setting and an interesting world, it’s often worth letting players have enough downtime to explore it. That might mean letting the characters spend a session hanging out with some particularly interesting NPCs, or do something mundane and head-clearing, like shopping for a new outfit or visiting a local festival. But any downtime is less enjoyable when the players are only holding off on the next steps because they can’t figure out how to pursue their goals. An awful lot of RPGs bog down because the GM is expecting the players to know exactly what to do next — what rumors or hook to follow to get to the next adventure. And if the players feel aimless or lost instead, they’re going to lose their sense of connection to the game.

That doesn’t mean not giving players any choice about how to move forward. (See the section on railroading, above.) It just means that if they’re supposed to find an artifact, solve a murder, or travel to a specific place, and they’re obviously having trouble figuring out why that matters, or whether it’s possible, they’re likely to get restless. Even GMs running pure sandbox games, whether every story is dictated by player choice, still need to throw out enough clear options that players don’t feel like they’re up against a wall.

Onward has plenty of moments where Ian and Barley lose the thread — they expect the Manticore to give them a map, but she destroys it; they make it to Raven’s Point and don’t immediately find the gem they’re looking for. But those frustrations are always brief, and they feel like resolutions for mini-arcs rather than points where the story slams to a stop. When they take some downtime for a dance party with their magic half-a-dad, it’s because they’re ready for a break, not because they have no idea where to go next. It’s generally a great idea for GMs to have some patience with players who want to take some time out of the story to express themselves and explore their own idea of fun. Having a next goal doesn’t mean glaring at the players until they take the next expected step.

Blue elf mom Laurel and the Manticore confront an elf cop in Pixar’s Onward. Image: Disney/Pixar

Foreshadow what’s coming

Onward seeds hints of what’s coming up because stories are more satisfying if there’s payoff — for instance, the way the dragon mascot is foregrounded early in the film. Nothing about the early shots of that school mural suggests the characters will eventually wind up fighting an animated rubble-dragon, but the audience gets the image early on, and the camera lingers on it long enough to suggest that it means something. When it comes back around later in the story, the specific form of the payoff is unexpected — but it still feels like a payoff rather than an out-of-the-blue surprise. Dropping clues throughout a game — rumors from NPCs, glimpses of things that will turn out to be more significant than they seem, a peek into an old story or history that seems to be repeating — can make a game world feel more consistent and real, and give the players a sense that they’re operating in a larger world that isn’t being made up as you go along.

Mix up tones and encounter styles

Some RPGs have this dynamic built into them, with a potential for action sequences or battles, but also with rules for social struggles, puzzle encounters, or skills challenges that take the emphasis off fighting. Other systems are simpler, and assume players are only going to engage in one kind of combat. But even in games where the rules don’t directly support it, giving players a sense of variety will keep them alert and invested. Bringing a serious or frightening moment into a mostly humorous game gives players a reason to need their usual humor more than ever. Lightening the tension of a grim game with a momentarily silly situation feels more natural, given how people tend to joke about even the most horrible subjects, and it resets the tension so it can build to bigger heights. In Onward, the story moves from reckless, silly chases to the life-threatening chasm crossing to a heartwarming moment of family connection, and all those pieces inform each other and help develop the characters and the world.

Look for unexpected ways to give players what they want

Onward’s most unexpected plot beat comes in the way Ian gets what he’s wanted all along — but not in the form he was expecting. And the twist in the story winds up being a more satisfying payoff than if he spent the whole story asking for one thing, then got exactly that. Unpredictability is a great boon for any kind of story, and not being able to see the ending coming always makes that ending more exciting.

If your players think they want one simple thing, like defeating an adversary or getting a big payoff for a risky mission, think about ways to complicate the story so they get less than what they want, and have to chase their goals in new ways. Or better yet, give them more than what they want, and use that to complicate the story. Onward is ultimately about finding something satisfying in an unexpected place. It’s a terrific feeling when a GM can pull that off for players who don’t see it coming. And in the end, running an RPG is about collaborating with other people to tell a great story — one the players wouldn’t have thought to tell on their own. The payoff should be more than they imagined it could be.

Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. For more information, see our ethics policy.

Source: Polygon.com