There’s a storm brewing over the impending release of Microsoft’s Fable Legends later this year, but this tempest’s focused on the wrong issue.
Furor erupted online when Lionhead’s social media coordinator confirmed on Twitter than the game—a showcase for the new DirectX 12 graphics technology and Windows 10/Xbox One cross-play capabilities—will be on Windows 10, but not on Steam, implying that it’s exclusive to Microsoft’s Windows Store. MCV first reported the news.
The digital masses immediately grabbed pitchforks and torches. “What do you mean a Microsoft game will be exclusive to Microsoft’s digital store??!!” the crowd collectively howled, invoking the specter of Games for Windows Live. “This is what Gaben and Notchwarned us about!!1!” they wailed, conveniently forgetting that Dota 2 and Left 4 Deadrequire Steam, Battlefield 4 runs on EA’s Origin, and Assassin’s Creed forces you to use Ubisoft’s disastrous uPlay client.
But all the misplaced sound and fury obscures a very real issue with Microsoft locking full-blown games like Fable Legends and (probably) Gears of War Ultimate Edition to the Windows Store. The Windows Store doesn’t offer an easy way to change where apps and programs are saved.
Sure, it’s the epitome of first world problems, and yeah, there are registry hack workarounds you can use to change the save location, but it’s still a major issue now that full-fat games are poised to start rolling into the Windows Store. A slew of PC gamers plunk their titles on secondary, mechanical hard drives in order to make the games easily portable—and to keep them from hogging all the space on a primary SSD boot drive. Modern PC games gobble dozens of gigabytes at a time!
Services like Steam and Origin make it easy to change where your games are saved. The Windows Store makes it impossible. If you head to Settings > System > Storage in Windows 10 the “New apps will save to” option is literally greyed-out. And when you head to your installed app list via Settings > System > Apps & features, there’s a Move option that’s similarly greyed-out.
This needs to change before Microsoft starts wooing serious PC gamers. There are plans to allow Windows 10 devices to save apps to an SD card one day, but there’s no indication whether or not the future update will also allow you to select a secondary internal drive as a save location.
The huge PAX Prime gaming event is being held this weekend, and Dell seized the occasion to reveal a new addition in its hardware lineup: Its first-ever dedicated gaming monitor, the 27-inch Dell S2716DG. That alone would be newsworthy enough, but one tidbit really caught the attention of PC enthusiasts on the web. Dell claimed the S2716DG packs Nvidia’s “G-Sync Gen II” technology.
What magic is this? Nvidia’s never announced a follow-up to its sublime G-Sync game-smoothing solution. There’s a reason for that: It doesn’t exist.
When PCWorld emailed for comment, Nvidia’s Bryan Del Rizzo said “No, it’s not [accurate]. There is no version 2.”
Shucks. And here I was getting all excited.
There’s still plenty to get excited about in the Dell S2716DG, though. It still supports G-Sync, just the G-Sync we’re already familiar with, and G-Sync can make PC games buttery-smooth for owners of Nvidia graphics cards. The S2716DG rocks a 2560×1140 resolution display humming at a stellar 144Hz with 1ms response times. You also can use the monitor’s tilt, pivot, and swivel options as well as its height-adjustable stand to get the viewing angles just right.
Dell’s post doesn’t mention whether the monitor’s using a TN or IPS panel, however.
Connectivity-wise, it rocks a single DisplayPort 1.2 connection (required to use G-Sync), HDMI 1.4a, four USB 3.0 ports, USB upstream, and both headphone- and audio-out. Look for it to hit the streets on October 20 for $800—just not with G-Sync Gen II.
The latest instalment to shared world shooter Destiny: The Taken King appears to be an online exclusive to Flipkart.
Right now, the e-commerce giant is the only site with a listing for the disc version of the game called Destiny: The Taken King Legendary Edition. This was further compounded by retailers being instructed by World Wide CD Roms, the game’s distributor, not to sell the game online.
“Yes we have got a notification from the distributor that it will be coming to stores. But we have also been told that we’re not allowed to sell it online,” a game store owner told us.
Flipkart didn’t have the best experience being the sole online retailer selling Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. It sold around 7,000 units of its allotted quantity of 10,000 units before trying to offload the rest in flash sales at the beginning of the year. Now it simply places order with the distributor a day or two prior to a game’s release depending on how strong pre-orders have been.
(Also see: Flipkart aka WS Retail to Exit the Gaming Retail Business: Sources )
“They said they will put games up for pre-order but will only let us know how much they would be buying from us a week before release. It’s not something we can support because order numbers for games are locked in a few months in advance,” a business development executive at a distributor divulged when it was known that Flipkart was planning to exit the games category.
In the case of Destiny, Amazon had complete retail exclusivity over the game when it hit last year. This did not work out too well for the company either. You can still buy the base game with its pre-order DLC indicating that it was nowhere close to selling out. And no, Destiny: The Taken King Legendary Edition is not listed on the site.
Nonetheless, while wider distribution of Destiny: The Taken King is a welcome move, one can’t help but feel that the always online and heavy bandwidth consuming nature of the game will make it a tough sell regardless of the store. World Wide CD Roms and Flipkart did not respond to a request for comment.
The Legendary Edition will be out on September 15. It comes with the base game, The Taken King, Destiny Expansion I: The Dark Below and Expansion II: House of Wolves for Rs. 4,299 on PS3, Xbox 360, PS4, and Xbox One.
XCOM 2, the sequel to 2012’s stellar XCOM: Enemy Unknown has been delayed. The game was due for a November release this year, however, Firaxis, the studio responsible for the game, has now announced a February 5, 2016 release date for this PC-only title. The studio says the reason for this is so the game can ship with the best possible quality.
“We’ve set a high bar for the sequel and the entire team has been working hard to make sure we deliver a great follow-up to Enemy Unknown. We just need a little more time to make it the best possible game,” a post on the XCOM website said.
(Also see: XCOM 2 Promises to Bring Calculated Dread One Turn at a Time)
“With XCOM 2, we want to have more depth, more replayability, and more investment in your soldiers and this extension will give us the time we need to deliver on our promise to you. We appreciate your patience and continued support as we move towards February.”
Throw in the fact that Fallout 4, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Star Wars: Battlefront, Need for Speed, and Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 are out in November makes the decision to postpone XCOM 2 to February a wise one.
At Gamescom 2015 we checked out XCOM 2 behind closed doors and were surprised with how good it was. But unlike other genres, flaws in strategy games tend to show themselves after the appeal of great visuals and production values wear off. Extra time to ensure that everything in-game is as it should be is welcome.
Last year Nintendo announced the Super Mario Maker much to the delight of Mario fans. It lets gamers create their own Super Mario levels, which can be shared and played. You could create the next Mario masterpiece. So if you want a Wii U, here’s a bundle you might be interested in.
Walmart has announced that it will be taking pre-orders for the Super Mario Maker Wii U bundle now. The bundle contains the Super Mario Maker itself which can be downloaded via a code and a black Wii U deluxe console, along with an 8-bit amiibo.
So how much will this bundle cost you? The bundle is priced at $300 so if you’d like to get your hands on it, just head on over to Walmart’s website for the details on how to place your order. The bundle is expected to be released on the 11th of September. You will have a lot of fun creating your own Mario levels with this game.
The game will release on the same day if you don’t need another console. I know that many fans have dreamed of making their own Mario levels and at last we now have a way to do it.
With PAX 2015 kicking off today in Seattle the PlayStation Underground has created a preview YouTube video of what you can expect to see during the next few days and provide a good overview of what to check out if you are attending the event over the weekend.
The PlayStation Underground team highlight four games that will be showcased at PAX Prime this weekend in the form of Dungeon Defenders 2, Skytorn, digital board game Armello and Stories.
Joining us today is Trent Kusters from League of Geeks, who not only brought along the beautiful digital board game Armello, but also provides his own thoughts on three other games making an appearance at PAX. Dungeon Defenders 2 fuses action RPG and tower defense together, Stories builds a dynamic narrative for every player, and Skytorn celebrates pixel art with action-packed platforming.
These four games represent a small taste of what’s to come this weekend at PAX, so please join us. Our own Nick Suttner makes many egregious puns throughout for added… value, and Underground veteran Saul Villegas makes his long-awaited return.
The launch of YouTube Gaming seems to have ruffled a few feathers at competitor Twitch.
11,000 streamers who have signed up with Twitch are locked out from streaming on YouTube Gaming thanks to an exclusivity clause that states that live streaming cannot take place on rival services, according to VentureBeat.
“I asked partner help last night to be sure, and I was told that most contracts have an exclusivity clause where all gaming related streaming must be done on Twitch,” said Reddit user TheXseption.
(Also see: YouTube Gaming, Google’s Twitch Competitor, to Launch Wednesday)
The clause does not block uploads of pre-recorded footage to YouTube or seem to endanger non-video game content. Nonetheless, how stringent Twitch plans to be with ensuring partners honour the agreement remains to be seen. The company has been vague about the situation leading some to believe that streaming on YouTube is fine as long as it is not done on Twitch at the same time. Reason being, no cease-and-desist notices have been issued or reported by Twitch’s partners for streaming on YouTube.
While YouTube Gaming gives content creators and end-users some much needed choice, it also puts pressure on Twitch to protect its territory as the de facto choice for those looking to share their game sessions with the world and an exclusivity clause seems to be a step in that direction. With YouTube Gaming looking to roll out Android and iOS apps gradually we won’t be surprised if this is the first of many clashes between these video giants
Size, power, or noise: When it comes to graphics cards, you typically get to pick two at the expense of the third. But AMD’s looking to shake things up with its powerful, yet pint-sized Radeon R9 Nano, a premium graphics card designed for itty-bitty mini-ATX builds and home theater PCs. The R9 Nano won’t quite make the August launch promised earlier this year, but the company’s revealing the card’s full list of features and design details ahead of a September 10 release date.
And hot damn does it look intriguing. This card could, theoretically, transform a mini-ITX PC into a 4K gaming powerhouse without any of the usual compromise.
“We look at the Nano as sharing the halo or flagship status with the R9 Fury X,” AMD’s Victor Camardo said in a press briefing. “Similarly to how we announced the Fury X and the Fury—one has a liquid cooling solution for those who want to push the cards to the limits, and the Fury for those who wanted a more traditional form factor—we’re introducing the Nano… for those people who want the greatest amount of power efficiency and care about form factor and size.”
Under the hood of the AMD Radeon R9 Nano
We’ve known some basics about the R9 Nano ever since its unveiling at E3 in June. The 175W card measures a mere 6 inches in length, but packs up to 30 percent more performance oomph than AMD’s pre-Fury flagship, the Radeon R9 290X.
Now we know how.
The Nano’s Fiji GPU packs a full 4096 stream processors—more than the air-cooled Fury cards that meet or beat Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 980, and the exact same number found in AMD’s top-of-the-line Fury X, which itself featured a shortened board length. The Nano, like the Fury and Fury X, also boasts 4GB of revolutionary high-bandwidth memoryclocked at 512GB/s and delivered over an ultra-wide 4096-bit bus. (The R9 Nano wouldn’t exist without HBM’s dramatic space savings over the traditional GPU/memory combo, actually).
“In no way is this a cut-down, low-speed, ‘value’ product,” says Camardo.
Of course, stuffing all those stream processors into such a tiny package—and one that’s air-cooled, unlike the Fury X—does require some finessing. While the Fury X hits core GPU clock speeds up to 1050MHz, the R9 Nano dials that back to 1000MHz tops. More aggressive PowerTune settings, which keep the card pulling around 175W, mean you’ll more often see clock speeds around 900MHz during gameplay.
In practice, Camardo said, you can expect to see performance levels around the same as the air-cooled Fury, which hit maxed-out 1440p or solid 4K gaming performance. “There’s nothing else in [the mini-ITX form factor] class that can drive a 4K display” in gaming, Camardo boasted.
AMD Radeon R9 Nano design
If you wanted to push things even further, you could move the card’s power target higher and overclock its core (but not memory) speed—but in doing so you’ll be negating some of the Radeon Nano’s key features: Its paltry 175W power requirement, and its quietness. AMD says the card runs at a mere 42 decibels, or the same relative ambient noise level as a library. That’s a full 16 decibels softer than the Radeon R9 290X’s noise under load.
AMD paid attention to complaints about the horrid coolers on reference card designs for the R200-series graphics cards, too. The Nano aims for a 75C temperature while gaming, or 20 degrees less than the R9 290X. And that’s with an air cooler and a six-inch length!
That sort of efficiency can be chalked up partly to Fiji’s vastly improved power handling—AMD boasts it offers up to twice the performance per watt compared to the 290X. Camardo says the company placed a lot of thought into the Nano’s cooling design as well.
“We spared no expense, we left no stone unturned, and we really pushed our engineering teams to do their utmost,” Camardo said of the Nano’s cooling.
The card features a copper heart pipe dedicated solely to cooling the voltage regulator module. “I don’t believe anyone else in the industry is doing something like this,” Camardo said. “I know [other companies] have plates that go over VRMs, but never actually a dedicated heat pipe just for voltage regulators as a separate, standalone cooling solution.”
AMD intentionally arranged the heat sink’s fans to run horizontally across the Nano, the easier to blow hot air out of the case rather than down at the motherboard. Underneath, the GPU’s cooled using a hybrid flattened heatpipe/vapor chamber solution. There’s no backplate on the card, in order to help facilitate air circulation to the board, and the fan itself is integrated into the card’s shroud—which means you won’t be able to 3D-print your own Nano front plate, as you can with the Fury X.
Aesthetically, the Radeon R9 Nano takes its design cues from the Fury X, with a brushed-aluminum finish, metal shroud, and matte-black PCB. That’s nothing but a good thing, as the gorgeous Fury X absolutely screams “premium” from every pore.
And if you disagree, well, you’re out of luck: The Nano will only be available in its reference design at launch, though Camardo says you may see custom variants from board partners late in the year, at least three months after the Nano’s launch. If those do come to fruition, they’ll be visual tweaks only—under the hood, custom variants will pack the same configuration as AMD’s reference Nano.
More with less (volume)
AMD’s keen to point out just how far 4K gaming PCs have come in such a short time. Just last year, playing games at 4K resolution required the use of multiple high-end graphics cards in a massive PC tower. Earlier this year, the launch of graphics cards likeNvidia’s beastly GeForce GTX 980 Ti and AMD’s Radeon Fury X finally enabled true single-GPU 4K gaming. And now, mere months later, the Radeon Nano is promising to bring ultra-high-resolution gaming into itty-bitty mini-ITX boxes even smaller than AMD’s radical Project Quantum PC.
Well, if AMD’s power and performance claims hold true in real life, that is.
“There’s really nothing else in this class,” Camardo said. “For anyone who wants to build a small form factor chassis capable of playing 4K, the Nano is really interesting and that’s exactly where we targeted it: For those people who want power efficiency, who want high-performance, who want a good overall gaming solution that’s optimized to take advantage of all aspects of the product, and not just push one curve or the other to the max.”
We won’t know for sure if reality matches the promise until we get our hands on the Nano, but the song AMD’s singing sounds pretty darn enticing in theory. And AMD knows just how unique this card is: the Radeon R9 Nano will retail for $650, the same price as the water-cooled Radeon Fury X and Nvidia’s GTX 980 Ti, when it hits stores on September 10. Look for independent reviews to land around the same time.
Alienware is largely credited for kicking off the micro-tower revolution three years ago with the original X51.
The concept was simple: Take the typical business small-form-factor box, pull the PSU out of it and make enough room—just enough room—to shove an off-the-shelf graphics card inside. The result was a truly compact tower system that could sit on a desk or next to a television, yet still play games with reasonable performance.
The X51 was a success. Soon, most other PC makers were copying Alienware’s micro-tower concept—and surpassing it in capability and performance, too.
Well, Alienware is back with its third-generation model, putting more pep into the X51’s stride. The most obvious update to the R3 version is Intel’s 6th-gen Core i7-6700K Skylake chip inside. That’s tied with DDR4 support, and this particular box I touched has 16GB of it.
Alienware also took the opportunity to address the cooling of the Skylake chip. While not horribly loud, the X51’s CPU was noticeable under heavy loads with its air cooler. On the R3, Alienware taps Sankyo Denkin for a nifty little liquid cooler. It’s incredibly tiny and doesn’t take up much more room than a stock heat sink and should help dampen the acoustics.
Liquid cooling also means Alienware is going to ship the X51 from the factory with an overclock option in the 4.4GHz range. Not bad. Alienware officials did say that overclock won’t be on all cores. But then, they never promised you a liquid nitrogen-cooled rose garden either.
Space has always been a premium in the X51, and Alienware is still shackled by capabilities of its chassis design. For example, the first-gen X51 could run a 3.5-inch hard drive or SSD, but not both simultaneously. The second-gen kinda sorta addressed that with a combo adapter that took a 2.5-inch laptop hard drive and a 2.5-inch SSD. The problem with that approach is the limitation of the laptop hard drives in capacity.
With the third gen, Alienware again kinda, sorta fixes the situation by putting in a full-size 3.5-inch hard drive and moving the SSD to an M.2 in a nearby slot. This seems like the best of both worlds, but the SSD in my hands-on unit was Samsung’s PM851. I initially thought it was Samsung’s SM951, a true PCIe-based M.2 drive capable of 2GB/s reads and 1.5GB/s writes (yes, I said it wrong on video), but it’s actually a standard SATA M.2 drive that’s really no faster than a SATA SSD.
The good news is, Alienware officials say the unit supports booting from a PCIe-based M.2 SSD and there will be an option so, um, I was right after all in my video.