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Destiny 2 Xur location and items, March 15-18

If you played Destiny, you may be familiar with Xur, the weekly Exotic item merchant. In Destiny 2, he’s back, and he now appears all over the map. This week, he’s on Titan. You can find Xur hanging out to the east of The Rig’s landing zone, taking shelter from the rain.

Destiny 2 Xur Titan Bungie/Activision

Xur’s inventory this week consists of the following:

  • Crimson, Exotic hand cannon: 29 Legendary Shards
  • Orpheus Rig, Hunter legs: 23 Legendary Shards
  • Wormgod Caress, Titan gauntlets: 23 Legendary Shards
  • Chromatic Fire, Warlock chest: 23 Legendary Shards
  • Isochronal Engram: 97 Legendary Shards
  • Invitation quest: 9 Legendary Shards

Xur’s inventory should cap out at 681 if you’re 700. He also offers specific rolls on each armor piece each week, giving out different perks for the same pieces. We’ve highlighted any great rolls below.

Crimson

The Crimson hand cannon arrived in Destiny 2 with the Curse of Osiris downloadable content. However, Destiny players may recognize it as an offshoot of the fan-favorite weapon Red Death. Its first exotic perk is Banned Weapon, which causes it to fire in three-round bursts. Its secondary perk. Cruel Remedy, causes Crimson kills to heal the player. If they’re precision kills, the magazine is instantly refilled.

Crimson is an awesome hand cannon, capable of some real destruction in the right hands. This is one of those weapons that players will either love or hate, depending on their preferences. If you enjoyed Red Death in Destiny or just love pulse rifles (which also fire in bursts), this is an awesome weapon. If none of that sounds appealing to you, you can probably skip it.

Orpheus Rig

Orpheus Rig is also one of the best exotics in the game. Its main perk, Uncanny Arrows, generates additional Super energy for each enemy tethered with Shadowshot. The Moebius Quiver variant also gains more shots. With Orpheus Rig, a well-placed Hunter Super can quickly start regenerating your Super. This is extremely helpful in a few different endgame scenarios, including Nightfalls and Raids. These did get significantly nerfed in Forsaken, but are still very potent. If you like Nightstalker, you have to get these legs.

This week’s roll:

Slot 1: Fusion rifle dexterity, hand cannon dexterity, outreach (class ability use reduces melee cooldown)

Slot 2: Scout rifle scavenger, special ammo finder

This is actually a pretty decent roll on a pretty great exotic. However, that’s only if you intend to use hand cannon dexterity and special ammo finder. (Outreach can be pretty useful as well, considering how often Hunters can dodge.) Those perks together can be very useful, and you shouldn’t underestimate them — even in the packed Hunter exotic landscape.

Wormgod Caress

This is actually a campaign exotic from Warmind, so almost everyone should have it, as long as they’ve beaten Xol with a Titan. Its exotic perk is Burning Fists, which causes melee kills to increase melee damage for a period of time. You can extend the duration of this effect with more melee kills.

These gauntlets are fine if you enjoy playing up close. But when the Synthoceps exotic exists, it’s difficult to think of a time where you would use these instead.

This week’s roll:

Slot 1: Fusion rifle loader, hand cannon loader, impact induction (melee damage reduces grenade cooldown)

Slot 2: Sniper rifle scavenger, machine gun scavenger

Hand cannon targeting is great for a lot of players, as is Impact Induction. Machine guns are also really powerful right now, which makes machine gun reserves pretty potent. This exotic isn’t too great in most situations, but the roll is decent enough that you should pick it up if you’re a Titan fan.

Chromatic Fire

Chromatic Fire is a new Warlock exotic added in Forsaken. Its exotic perk is Crystalline Transistor. Getting precision kills with your Kinetic weapon creates an elemental explosion — like the Dragonfly perk — based on your current subclass. This perk is useful if you’re fighting large groups of enemies at once, or need extra elemental help against enemies.

This week’s roll:

Slot 1: Unflinching bow aim, unflinching fusion rifle aim, unflinching Kinetic aim

Slot 2: Scout rifle reserves, special ammo finder

This roll benefits this exotic especially well. Unflinching Kinetic aim is a perfect perk for Chromatic Fire. If you’re looking for something to wear that’s subclass agnostic, this chest is fantastic.

Invitation

Xur invitation bounty quest Bungie via Polygon

This item starts the Invitation of the Nine quest. This week, Xur offers The World. It’ll cost you nine Legendary shards.

Source: Polygon.com

Building lightsabers at Disney’s Star Wars land sounds incredible

Earlier this month, Disney CEO Bob Iger announced that its two Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge theme park lands would open earlier than expected. The announcement followed a torrent of new information about the twin lands in California and Florida. Today, an article in The Orange County Register adds new details about how guests will be able to build their own lightsaber.

Of course, you’ve been able to build your own lightsaber at Disney parks for years. Back when I visited Disney World about a decade ago you could wander into Tatooine Traders at Hollywood Studios and pick from various parts. Their selection included multi-colored plastic blades and different hilts — all the fixins’. But the set-up looked more like the plumbing aisle at your local hardware store than a high-end experience, and the results were a bit clumsy.

These new lightsabers sound a lot more elegant, complete with modular components and metal parts. There will also be an interactive building experience on par with Olivanders wand shop at Universal Studios.

Lightsaber samples from Savi’s Workshop, a new retail location expected to open at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
Lightsaber samples from Savi’s Workshop, a new retail location expected to open at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
David Roark/Disney Parks

Galaxy’s Edge is set during the current Star Wars trilogy, on a new planet called Batuu, and at a backwater starport called Black Spire Outpost. Hidden somewhere in the Outpost is Savi’s Workshop, where guests will be able to pay a premium for an intimate 20-minute building experience. Each session will be limited to 14 participants and their families.

According to the Register, Savi is a scrapper who has collected bits of old lightsabers from all around the galaxy. Concept art, released last year, shows a dimly-lit facility with a selection of parts set on top of shipping containers in a kind of backroom black market setting.

Guests will be able to choose from four different lightsaber themes. Those include Peace and Justice (Republic era), Power and Control (Sith style), Elemental Nature, and Protection and Defense. The latter two styles are somewhat mysterious. Multiple outlets report that they include fictional components such as Brylark trees, Cartusion whale bones, Rancor teeth, and mysterious inscriptions that even Disney staff are unable to read.

Concept art for Savi’s Workshop.
Disney Parks

What’s clear, however, is that these components will be much higher quality than what was previously available at the parks.

Four colors will be available: purple, blue, green, and red. Illumination will be provided by a simulated Kyber crystal, which guests will add to their creation using a custom process designed by Disney Imagineers.

“We’ve tried recently to start to blur the lines a little bit more and more on what we consider an attraction or a merchandise experience,” Walt Disney Imagineering executive creative director Chris Beatty told the Register. “That’s an exciting thing that we’re starting to see within the Disney parks. It promotes play. It promotes a sense of agency. We’re going to see more and more of this in the future.”

According to a previous article published by Entertainment Weekly, saber hilts will start at $109. Optional detachable blades will be an additional $49. The Register report contradicts this claim, saying that lightsaber pricing is still being sorted out.

Source: Polygon.com

The World Showdown of Esports wants to create events friendly to new fans

Esports has grown from humble tournaments to a spectacle that packs stadiums and draws multi-million dollar franchising fees. ESP Gaming’s new series, the World Showdown of Esports, challenges some of the notions of what makes an ideal arena for esports. As the field continues to grow, the WSOE offers an alternate perspective on what esports can look like, and how to solve some of the problems organizers and players are currently facing.

Some esports, like Dota 2 or Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, have players competing in ongoing events in order to quality for larger events. Dota 2, in particular, has players competing for a massive prize pool, which makes for an emotionally charged tournament but a feast-or-famine ecosystem.

Ongoing leagues, like Riot Games’ League Championship Series or Blizzard’s Overwatch League, are the primary way that esports are breaking into the mainstream. While these have a powerful appeal in that they mimic the consistency and draw of traditional sports, there are drawbacks as well, including long training schedules that can induce player burnout, mental health concerns, and continuous pressure on players.

“I want to do for esports what UFC did for MMA,” Christian Bishop, the commissioner of the WSOE, tells Polygon.

Mixed martial arts was an industry that spent time underground before slowly gaining mainstream appeal and popularity. In the early days of the sport, events were held in states without rigorous speculation on athletic competitions. The Ultimate Fighting Championship slowly refined the sport over time, creating a more ethical, popular, and marketable version of the competition.

“We know we have to innovate,” Bishop says. “Sometimes you can alienate esports’ old guard, but if we want to provide a new product and add value to the greater ecosystem, we had to be different.”

The venue for a World Showdown of Esports Rocket League event Drew Amato/ESP Gaming

The WSOE, which takes place in Las Vegas and Los Angeles, started near the end of 2018 with a $100,000 prize pool Dota 2 tournament. The events are streamed on Twitch, and there are different games for each event. Unlike, for example, the LCS and League of Legends, the WSOE hosts events for most popular esports titles. Those events crown champions, and those champions carry their titles over to future events.

The format still focuses on competition and the skill inherent to esports, but there’s more emphasis on the spectacle of the show and the players behind the screens. Bishop notes that they try to showcase the “most exciting games” first. Sometimes that manifests in a women’s-only Hearthstone tournament; other times it’s focused on the frenetic action of Fortnite Battle Royale.

Being able to adapt to games and hosting different events is a major strength. It gives the WSOE flexibility, and, if all goes well, a theoretically infinite lifespan.

“We’re agnostic when it comes to publishers and platforms,” says Bishop. Fortnite was chosen because it was riding a high tide of popularity, while Rocket League is a lower-tier game that has remained consistently viable as an esport due to its strong fundamentals.

“If any esport makes it into the Olympics, it’ll be Rocket League,” says Bishop.

Players prepare for another round on stage. ESP Gaming

This can cause complications when publishers hold strongly guarded rights to a title. However, it also means that the WSOE can keep an eye on upcoming titles and pivot to them as their star rises, while older titles can bow out when their player base wanes.

Secondly, it can be a better deal for players. While Bishop says that WSOE events are a high stakes event, and explains that it can be a full day of pressure on players, it’s much more of a sprint than a marathon. Even watching a full docket of matches as a fan for the competitive leagues of OWL or the LCS can be exhausting; being a player is a far more difficult task.

Bishop says with a laugh that he doesn’t think anyone in esports can stop players from sitting down for hours, but the WSOE focuses more on short term sprints of play time over a prolonged marathon of maintaining a standing. ESP Gaming maintains an ethics board and puts resources into hospitality and travel costs, but the standard of upkeep is lower.

Potentially the most difficult hurdle the WSOE must clear if they intend to achieve their goals is making their tournaments an effective onramp for new fans to get into esports. Bishop states that they want to make esports something a family can watch together, and they are specifically aiming for parents and grandparents.

“When it comes to a title like Dota 2, we need to take responsibility for making it clear and understandable,” says Bishop. A top-down MOBA or a fast-paced shooter can be visually incoherent for new fans, and esports is often laden with jargon and lingo that makes it sound like another language altogether.

ESP Gaming is expanding their tools to make spectating easier, with Bishop citing augmented reality and Twitch chat participation as upcoming priorities in the future. However, part of being “the MMA of esports” goes beyond the format and the narrative focus. The WSOE is looking to create a sustainable circuit that continually welcomes new fans and keeps them hooked. It makes for an intriguing alternative to the current franchised league format we see in so many other esports. Time will tell whether ESP Gaming can succeed, but the idea of champions, title fights, and emotionally charged showdowns has already seen success in wrestling and MMA.

Source: Polygon.com

Bart Simpson becomes an esports star in next episode of The Simpsons

The next episode of The Simpsons will send Bart, Homer, and the rest of the Simpsons clan to Korea for an esports-focused episode. Bart will complete in a League of Legends-like game in the episode titled “E My Sports.”

“As Bart begins to excel in video game competitions, Homer discovers a passion for coaching him,” the episode’s official description reads. “Lisa attempts to bring Homer back to reality, but the plan causes chaos…”

Bart will actually be playing a game called Conflict of Enemies, according to a tweet from The Simpsons writer and showrunner Al Jean. But the writers reportedly tapped League of Legends creator Riot Games for some help in the show’s take on esports. According to esports writer Rod Breslau, Riot’s esports division consulted with The Simpsons’ creative team to create an “accurate representation of video games in the episode.”

Based on a promotional still from the episode, in which Bart has acquired a legit gaming chair and an unkempt wisp of a mustache, Riot and The Simpsons’ writers pulled off that accuracy.

Bart Simpson plays at his gaming PC in a still from The Simpsons. Fox

Bart will compete alongside his classmates Nelson Muntz and Martin Prince, as well as Sophie Krustofsky, daughter of Krusty the Clown, in the new episode.

“E My Sports”, episode 17 of The Simpsons’ 30th season, will air on Sunday, March 17, at 8 p.m. on Fox. Guest stars include Natasha Lyonne as Sophie and Ken Jeong as a Korean monk.

Source: Polygon.com

Dead or Alive 6’s free-to-play version is already here

Koei Tecmo and Team Ninja released on Friday the free-to-play version of fighting game Dead or Alive 6 on PlayStation 4, Windows PC, and Xbox One. Called Dead or Alive 6: Core Fighters, the game includes four playable characters: Kasumi, Hitomi, Diego, and Bass.

Additional characters can be purchased for $3.99 each, and Koei Tecmo is already selling a handful of character bundles. Dead or Alive 6’s nine male fighters can be purchased for $33.99; the game’s 11 female fighters come in a separate bundle for $39.99; and all 20 characters can be purchased for $49.99.

Dead or Alive 6: Core Fighters offers access to the game’s versus, arcade, time attack, training, and DOA Quest modes, as well as online ranked battles. An introduction to DOA 6’s story mode is also part of the free package, but if you want to unlock the full thing, that’s a $19.99 add-on.

Koei Tecmo offered a similar free-to-play version of Dead or Alive 5: Last Round. That Core Fighters version of DOA 5 was a major content effort for the company; more than 1,100 add-ons, including characters, costumes, modes, and bundles are available for that version of the game.

Team Ninja has also updated the main version of Dead or Alive 6 to add support for new costumes, and to alter the way that players earn credits toward built-in costumes. Previously, as noted in our review of the game, the way credits were doled out for costumes was random; players earned points in various game modes, but those points went to random characters’ unlockable skins. Now, points are applied to the character you’re playing in modes like ranked battles, arcade, time attack, and survival. Koei Tecmo and Team Ninja have also extended a promotional period that maintains the point multiplier for costumes at 100 times the normal rate.

Source: Polygon.com

No Man’s Sky Beyond update brings ‘radical new’ multiplayer component this summer

Hello Games today announced plans for the next chapter in its space-faring adventure. No Man’s Sky: Beyond will be released this summer.

According to Hello Games’ managing director Sean Murray, the free update will include three main components. The first is No Man’s Sky Online, which brings major changes to the game’s current multiplayer mode.

“It includes a radical new social and multiplayer experience which empowers players everywhere in the universe to meet and play together,” Murray wrote in an email to Polygon. “Whilst this brings people together like never before, and has many recognizable online elements, we don’t consider No Man’s Sky to be an MMO. It won’t require a subscription, won’t contain micro-transactions, and will be free for all existing players.”

No Man’s Sky allows players to explore an infinite universe of planets, collecting resources, building bases and fighting enemies. When the game launched back in 2016, it received mixed reviews, mainly because of its grinding mechanics and samey worlds. Since then Hello Games has launched several updates that have either fixed or mitigated the game’s problems.

Last year’s update, Next, was warmly received. It included options to play along with small groups of friends. Presumably, No Man’s Sky Online will broaden and deepen multiplayer options and gameplay.

Murray did not address the other two components of No Man’s Sky: Beyond.

“We will talk more about each of the three major components of Beyond when we know we can be precise, and look forward to sharing more in the coming weeks,” he wrote. “Beyond will be our most ambitious chapter so far, and something we’ve been working ridiculously hard on. We’ll continue to support No Man’s Sky in this way for the foreseeable future.

“To some, Next may have felt like a natural end-point for our journey, but for us it was another step on a longer voyage.”

An information-light teaser trailer was released today. No Man’s Sky is available for PlayStation 4, Windows PC, and Xbox One.

Source: Polygon.com

Hearthstone’s new Rise of Shadows expansion lets the bad guys win

Hearthstone, Blizzard’s digital collectible card game, loves to explore alternate takes on the lore of World of Warcraft. Sometimes, this means all of our favorite heroes die and come back as Death Knights or we get to revisit an in-game zone with a new twist. This time, it means that we take the role of a bunch of Warcraft baddies and siege Dalaran, the magical floating city that serves as a base of operations for the world’s benevolent mages.

The League of EVIL brings back a cast of villains from Hearthstone’s past, including Dr. Boom and Hagatha the Witch. Rise of Shadows will also introduce a host of new cards (135 of them), including legendary takes on lore characters like Kalecgos and Chef Nomi.

There are two new mechanics that will exist on cards in the Rise of Shadows expansion. The first, Twinspell, applies to spells. Upon casting a spell with Twinspell, you get a copy of that spell in your hand, allowing you to cast the same ability twice. Unlike Echo, you can hold onto your Twinspell for a later turn.

The new expansion will also have lackeys, cards which are generated by other Rise of Shadows cards. You can’t put these five lackeys (one for each villain in the trailer) in your deck, but you can play them in the battlefield once they’ve been created by another Rise of Shadows card. They’re weak, with 1/1 stats, but they have powerful battlecries to disrupt the field.

We’ll also be getting a mechanic called schemes. Scheme cards are spells that start weak, but the longer you hold them in your hand, the stronger they grow.

Finally, Rise of Shadows will use mechanics and keywords from past expansions, helping to create a more unified — and potentially deadly — set of meta cards. It’s thematically appropriate, considering that the villains we’ve bested from the past are coming back … and bringing their most powerful abilities.

Rise of Shadows will launch a single-player campaign in May that will offer the most campaign content yet. The first chapter will be free, with the following four chapters costing 700 gold a piece (or $19.99 for all four). The five chapters will give players 15 Rise of Shadows packs, a golden classic pack, and Shadow Cloak, which unlocks one of the five new decks corresponding to the five lore villains at random.

There will be pre-purchase tiers that unlock Rise of Shadow card packs, an exclusive card back, a golden legendary, and a new Madame Luzul Priest hero portrait with voice lines and sound effects.

Rise of Shadows is set to release on April 19, and will be the first expansion of Hearthstone’s Year of the Raven. Check out the first cards from Rise of Shadows in the gallery below.

Source: Polygon.com

Captive State is a rich but challenging alien invasion movie  

“I don’t know who I’m rooting for!” and “who is the protagonist?” are notes a screenwriting professor gives when handing you a C- grade. (I don’t advise responding with “why aren’t you selling scripts instead of working as adjunct faculty?” unless you want that C- to turn into an F.) Guidelines like these exist for a reason; if your movie doesn’t conform to certain conventions, its subversive agenda is likely to undercut its entertainment value. Your movie usually ends up interesting instead of good.

I’m telling you this because sometimes a filmmaker rolls the dice on rule-breaking and ends up with boxcars. Rise of the Planet of the Apes director Rupert Wyatt and co-writer Erica Beeney have done just that with Captive State, a political treatise about alien occupation that feels like the type of underground, anti-authoritarian movie the Wachowskis saw and, when mixed with their love of martial arts and cyberpunk, begat The Matrix.

Captive State isn’t just a burst of youthful rage; it’s also a sly jigsaw puzzle with an aha! final shot worthy of the recent movie version of John le Carré’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Yes, there are stretches in this movie where you may feel completely unmoored, like when the main character just kinda disappears for 20 minutes. But have faith in the master plan. Your act of doing so will, in a weird way, mirror that of the characters.

John Goodman as Mulligan and Ashton Sanders as Gabriel star in Rupert Wyatt’s CAPTIVE STATE Parrish Lewis/Focus Features

Ashton Sanders (Moonlight) stars as Gabriel, a young man coming of age in a colder, grayer Chicago nine years after “first contact” with a powerful alien race known as the Legislators. The first scene of the movie plays out that historic day, showing the futile escape attempt made by Gabriel, his older brother Rafe (Jonathan Majors), and their parents. The (truly) terrifying aliens with pointy protrusions and weird bone structure pull out their weapons and — FWOOP — turn the parents into blood mist.

Though I try to maintain an air of professionalism at the movies, I emitted a legitimate “holy shit.”

The info-dump prologue goes quick. First contact led to world unity (good), then rampant economic turmoil, the swift erosion of civil liberties, and an unprecedented economic divide (bad). A collaborationist class working with the Legislators built “closed zones,” and, for wealth and privileges, aided the aliens in the wide-scale slurping up of our natural resources. Resistance groups were ostensibly wiped out (the Wicker Park neighborhood was a stronghold, but has been flattened), yet rumors of an insurgency persist.

Rafe is a martyr to this cause, and Gabriel is leaning toward joining the cause. For now, though, he works in a collaborationist data upload/deletion center, where he strips files from confiscated phones and then destroys them. The implication is that he got the sweet gig through Mulligan (John Goodman), a rumpled suit of a detective, galumphing his way through life and trying to keep his head above water. Mulligan was Gabriel’s father’s old partner, and seems kind, but he’s also working to chase down and snuff out all final embers of the insurgency.

an alien from Captive State Focus Features

The disconnect is fascinating. Every moviegoing bone in our body wants to like the weary cop, especially when he’s played by John Goodman. But his end goal seems to be to roll over for these spiky alien bastards that killed nice Gabriel’s parents and are actively sending the planet to its doom. How can both sides of this struggle seem right?

The conflict is something you’ve got to see through on your own, while Captive State asks us to puzzle over other ethical dilemmas: Should we actively root for a terrorist cell? A set-piece with a suicide bombing at a rally at Soldier Field sure seems that way. Less morally fraught is simply grooving on how a band of, let’s call them “freedom fighters,” communicates in a pre-networked environment. While the State has access to all the technology of today (plus surgically implanted trackers that move around in your throat, ew gross), our guys are using classified ads in the (print!) newspaper, playing coded songs over pirate radio, and using pay phones. Life, and the suppressed political underclasses, find a way.

Visually, Rupert Wyatt isn’t afraid to challenge his audience. This movie is ugly. Intentionally so. There’s nightmarish and uncomfortable-but-dazzling (Dark City comes to mind), and then there’s “ugh, I need a vacation.” The washed-out, dismal gray palette is what the the story needs, but it makes for an uncomfortable sit. While the aliens and ships aren’t hidden, they aren’t fetishized, either. We catch glimpses during action; a glance on the run. It adds to the terror.

One leaves Captive State agog at its whiz-bang ending, but it wouldn’t mean as much if the film weren’t such a rich ethical pretzel. It’s fundamentally xenophobic, something of an anti-Arrival. But while it suggests that alien visitors will only bring doom, it offers hope that here on Earth, there might still be enough humanity to save us.


Jordan Hoffman is a writer and member of the New York Film Critics Circle. His work can be read in The Guardian, New York Daily News, Vanity Fair, Thrillist, and elsewhere.

Source: Polygon.com

The Division 2 feels more alive, filled with NPCs and challenging combat encounters

The Division 2 has been one of my most-anticipated games since it was first announced, and after about a dozen hours with the game over several days, I’m extremely impressed. I’m nowhere near the endgame content yet, and I’m not in any hurry to get there. The single-player game has my attention thanks to an intensity and a pace that feels exceptional.

I played hundreds of hours of the original Tom Clancy’s The Division, a game that came out in 2016. In many ways, it was quite a bit ahead of its time. Ubisoft was trying to follow up on the MMO-cumFPS model pioneered by Bungie with the original Destiny. But, with a launch plagued by bugs and raids that many felt were repetitive and dull, the bulk of its audience seemed to drift away by early 2017.

But I went back to Ubisoft’s vision of New York City over and over again, ferreting out every collectible and running down even the most obscure bits of its storyline. I spent a lot of time in there, and I’m here to tell you that The Division 2’s Washington, D.C. feels completely different.

Navigating NYC in The Division was a bit like walking through a deserted amusement park in a horror movie. The refuse of a collapsed city was all around you, piled up in layers of environmental storytelling. Every once in a while, something scary would happen involving guns. But, all too often, my only companions were orange-colored holograms, in-fiction recreations of historical events captured by a network of surveillance cameras.

An early encounter around the base of operations in The Division.
The Division
Ubisoft/Massive Entertainment

Simply put, The Division was lonely. By contrast, the opening few hours with The Division 2 are teeming with life.

For one, roving bands of allied militia members are a common occurrence. My HUD informs me that they’re out on patrol or scavenging for food. Often I’m able to jump in and help them to push back armed thugs and other undesirables. But it feels like there are more enemies as well. They even seem to travel in larger packs. Even low-level engagements can be challenging, and fights are often multi-dimensional firefights that swirl around me.

In The Division 2 I’m not working a firing line and pushing down a street like I was in The Division. I’m continuously advancing and retreating, moving from cover to cover. What was a familiar cadence of aim, shoot, and move has turned into a kind of improvisational staccato on my DualShock 4, and I’m really enjoying it.

But the environments have texture to them as well, texture that goes well beyond grimy floors and piles of trash. It’s not just endless empty streets and the occasional green space, either. Unique environmental features, especially enemy strongholds, give each region of the game world its own flavor. Landmarks are often co-opted as enemy strongholds, places that these same thugs have fortified with heavy weapons and claimed as their own. To root them out, I’m able to send up a flare and my friends in the militia come running, more than capable of supporting my assault.

More problematic, however, are The Division 2’s ad hoc multiplayer features.

The Division 2
Ubisoft/Massive Entertainment

Just last night, in the hour between dinner and the start of my weekly Dungeons & Dragons game, I had an hour to kill. So I booted up The Division 2, picked out a side mission, and got to work.

About 20 minutes in, I hit a difficulty spike. The final boss and I were having it out again and again, and every time they were getting the better of me. So, after one particularly grating death, I tapped a button on the screen to call for backup.

Sending a backup request sends out a ping that other players in the vicinity can hear. But it’s so common, and so annoying, that one of the biggest search topics right now is figuring out how to turn it off.

So I sat there for another 30 minutes, screaming into the void and asking for help. No one came to my aid.

In addition to the complexity of the maneuvers required to take down a boss-level encounter in The Division 2 — all the sticking to cover and releasing from it, all the leaping between levels of elevation, all the aiming and hiding and running and reloading — in addition to all that, the boss encounters are really quite hard. It’s possible that the developers built some of that difficulty into these encounters in order to encourage players to team up. But, if the system that’s being used is so annoying that people switch it off, that could be upsetting the game’s balance.

Or I’m simply attempting encounters that are too challenging for my abilities.

Either way, I’d love for some changes to be made, for it to be easier and more enjoyable for me to find other players casually in the open world. I’m not interested in partying up with a group for a longer period of time. I just need a little help now and then.

But that’s small potatoes, when it comes down to it. The Division 2 feels full, both of content and non-player characters. And that’s a change for the better.

Source: Polygon.com

Valve’s new Steam Link update lets you stream anywhere

Valve is offering a new way for Steam users to stream their games from a home computer. An update for Steam Link, dubbed Steam Link Anywhere, now lets users stream games from their gaming PC to another device over an internet connection.

Previously, streaming games via Steam Link required both the PC and the device it was streaming to to be on the same home network. Steam Link Anywhere, now in beta, moves streaming of Steam games outside of the home.

There are some restrictions, of course. The Steam Link Anywhere update currently supports the dedicated (and discontinued) Steam Link hardware, a Rasperry Pi running Steam Link software, and Android devices via the Steam Link app. “A high upload speed from your computer and strong network connection to your Steam Link device are required to use Steam Link Anywhere,” Valve said.

Valve’s move to expand PC game streaming via Steam Link comes as Google is expected to announce a major game streaming effort at next week’s Game Developers Conference; and shortly after Microsoft showed off a new demo of its Project xCloud streaming service in an episode of Inside Xbox.

Source: Polygon.com