November 23, 2016

Microsoft Reveals Minimum Specs For Affordable VR Headsets

Posted on November 23, 2016 by Rae Michelle Richards

Remember those sub $300 USD virtual reality headsets that Microsoft announced would be manufactured by partners like Hewlett Packard and Dell last month? The tech giant has now shed some light on the minimum requirements that a users systems will have to meet in order to use the Windows Holographic Shell on one of these devices.

Unlike gaming focused headsets like the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, these new headsets will not require 8GB of system memory or a beefy GeForce 970 in order to power the Windows Holographic Shell. During the Microsoft “Windows 10 Creator’s Update” presentation from last month on-screen graphics pictured these new headsets tethered to a laptop, and it seems like that may indeed be realistic.


Here are the minimum specs as originally reported by The Verge:

– 4GB Ram
– DirectX 12 Compliant Graphics Card
– One USB 3 Port
– Quad Core Processor

These minimum specs come on the same day that Microsoft announced that Xbox One game streaming will be supported on PCs that supports the Oculus RIFT. Xbox One VR game streaming will be released in a free Xbox VR Streaming app that will be available via the Oculus Home storefront, the app will support popular titles like Gears of War 4, Halo 5: Guardians and Forza Horizon 3 (which is also available on Windows PC).

In part, here is what Microsoft said about their on-going partnership with HTC:

“Today marks an evolution in our ongoing partnership with Oculus, as Rift owners will be able to stream their Xbox One library to Rift with the new Xbox One Streaming to Oculus Rift app, including fan favorites like “Gears of War 4,” “Forza Horizon 3” and “Halo 5: Guardians,” the biggest sports games,  indie darlings, Backward Compatible Xbox 360 games, and more titles coming in 2017. The Xbox One Streaming to Oculus Rift app is available for free in the Oculus Store on Dec. 12.

With all of this VR excitement Microsoft also released a brief CG demonstration of what it is like to use the Windows Holographic Shell. More information on the Windows 10 Creator’s Update is expected to be release prior to its March 2017 release.


Call of Duty Infinite Warfare Multiplayer Review

Posted on November 23, 2016 by Rae Michelle Richards

Call of Duty Infinite Warfare’s multiplayer will feel very similar to series veterans that find themselves purchasing the yearly editions of the military shooter, like I have. This is because Infinity Ward’s latest entry in the series does very little to differentiate itself in terms of core game design from last year’s Black Ops III. Rather then continue to innovate or tweak the existing formula ever so slightly towards a more arcadey / MOBA-esque feature set like Black Ops III and Advanced Warfare before it, IW opts for what feels like an almost a complete copy & paste of last year’s mechanics with some of the extra interesting flair and aesthetic choices removed entirely.

I don’t feel like whenever I boot up the latest iteration of Call of Duty that I am expecting a fundamental shift in how the game functions – this is a series that has made its bread & butter out of a simple to pick up twitch shooter formula: you chose your load-out, aim down the sights and hopefully decimate your opponents (or get killed five thousand times if you’re me playing this year’s installment for the first time). Unfortunately for Infinite Warfare it copies these mechanics from last year’s entry almost to a fault – you’ll chose one of three “rig suits” which allow for extra perks & a super weapon that charges over time, the standard expected gun attachments, kill-streaks and ancillary tactical grenades. Infinite Ware’s class creation system bring absolutely nothing new to the table and while the inclusion of Black Ops II’s “Pick 10 System” is a welcomed inclusion, it is not a fresh approach to load out creation. Player movement also feels near identical to Black Ops III’s improvement upon Advanced Warfare‘s EXO-Suits. Soldiers are able to dash with four degrees of two dimensional movement and can use a built in thruster for wall jumping and accessing vertical sections of the map.

Compared to Black Ops III and Advanced Warfare before it, Infinite Warfare actually offers players less choice when it comes to their in-game avatar and the special abilities that they are able to wield. Upon choosing one of three starter RIGS your character’s appearance will change in accordance with your choice- you can be an armored dude, another armored dude or a robot. Contrast this with Black Ops III which provided players an “unlock token” upon leveling up, which they could use to chose a brand new multiplayer character – each with their own personality, aesthetic and choice of special power-up. These characters could be further enhanced with the player being presented the choice of spending another unlock point to earn a second special power-up. Going back a couple of years. Advanced Warfare offered players the ability to customize their avatars with sliders for skin color, gender, optional accessories, patches, outfits and more. Sadly BO III‘s MOBA style heroes are missing in action and so is Advanced Warfare‘s much more in-depth customization options and in their place are DUDE, other DUDE and ROBOT WITH GUN.

Call of Duty Infinite Warfare offers the standard suite of modes that you’ve come to expect from the franchise. The venerable Team Deathmatch and Free For All modes that have been with the franchise since Call of Duty 4 make their obligatory appearance in this year’s title and it is my opinion that like in years past , these two modes will probably be the ones with the highest population. Kill Confirmed from Modern Warfare 3 also returns – a mode where players drop a set of dog tags upon death and the team that collects the most dog tags in a match before the timer expires wins. Hardcore variants of these modes plus others like Search & Destroy and a new alternating attack/defense mode round out the offerings. Like the rest of its’ multiplayer suite Infinite Warfare gives us exactly what we’ve come to expect from a Call of Duty title without any of the pleasant surprises.


Possibly the most egregious thing about Infinite Warefare’s multiplayer isn’t the removal of customization character with their own unique gender & aesthetics or the lack of innovative multiplayer modes but the sheer determination for which Activision is gunning for player’s wallets with this latest edition. Leaving aside the fact that the Legacy Edition (which in fairness contains two complete Call of Duty titles) costs $109.99 CDN, but rather the return of micro-transactions that began life as reward boxes containing aesthetic items all the way back in Advanced Warfare.

Infinite Warfare continues the tradition of offering randomized loot boxes in the form of “Supply Drops” which can be either purchased for real world currency via Steam, PlayStation Network or Xbox Live or by using in-game “keys” which are earned at a rate of 1 – 1.5 keys per match. A “common supply drop” which contains 3 “common” rarity items, and if you’re lucky and have prayed to the RNG gods possibly a rarer item, can be had for ten keys. A “rare supply drop” costs 30 keys and is guaranteed to either give you a rare skin or “scrap” for use in Infinite Warefare’s new crafting system.


Crafting? In a COD game? How could that possibly work? Well, once you’ve either paid real world currency or spent between 2 – 15 hours per box earning enough keys to collect the scrap that you will need to upgrade each individual gun a number of times. Each weapon has its own progression tree, offering soldiers ever increasing small bonuses for increasingly larger amounts of scrap, which can only be acquired through the supply drops. As if this type of micro-transaction grinding wasn’t prevalent enough in non premium priced titles, the last unlocks for some of the standard weapons give them permanent statistics upgrades. This means that your fully crafted assault rifle might have no fall of range for damage or other stat bonuses. Yup, forget game balance – if you’ve got enough time or money you can literally unlock more powerful versions of the base weapons everyone else has.

Overall Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare‘s multiplayer mode provides those looking for a fast paced experience with more than enough unlocks, perks, weapons and other trinkits to stay entertained until the next huge AAA shooter comes along to claim COD’s throne. For players, like myself, looking for some innovation in their yearly COD experience – Infinite Ware sadly will not deliver on these expectations. Going into IW‘s multiplayer it is best to think of this year’s entry as an expansion pack to last year’s Black Ops III – the base mechancis remained almost unchanged, although some of the cooler flair is lacking. RNG boxes and crafting new weapons might leave a sour taste in the mouth of those who favor balance over the pay-to-not-grind psychology that RNG supply boxes encourage. At it’s core Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare’s multiplayer is a solid entry that gives players more of what they love.

Activision Publishing provided Broken Joysticks two Legacy Edition copies of Call of Duty Infinite Warfare for our consideration, review and content creation.


OSVR Support Officially Comes To Steam

Posted on November 23, 2016 by Rae Michelle Richards

Support for Open Source Virtual Reality hardware – an initiative known as OSVR, which allows a wide range of hardware manufacturers and developers to contribute to a open VR ecosystem for Windows PC, Linux and Mac– is finally coming to Steam officially.

Today’s announcement means that OSVR supported content will is now visible on the Steam Store alongside content made specifically for the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. Users can now sort via preferred supported platform within the store and a special OSVR badge will be displayed alongside the other platforms within the store interface.


Razer’s OSVR Lead, Christopher Mitchell, had this to say in the announcement made by the OSVR Consortium:

“This is a great milestone for VR, giving users access to more hardware and content and driving Valve’s and OSVR’s shared vision of totally open VR content to everyone”

OSVR allows both professional and amateur developers to tie a number of discrete hardware platforms together for use in a unified VR platform. High profile examples include the PSMoveServices which allow use of the PlayStation Move controllers on Windows or the OSVR Fusion plugin which allows input from a number of different pieces of hardware including Wiimotes and the Microsoft Kinect.

The Razer HDK V1.4 is my preferred VR platform and it continues to evolve with the support of some great community members and corporate partners. For more OSVR content make sure to check out my Guide to Setting Up An OSVR HDK. You can also join in on the community discussions with the Official OSVR Reddit which is a great way for community members, players, developers and corporate reps to discuss the future of this platform.


Chase: Cold Case Investigations ~Distant Memories~ | REVIEW

Posted on November 23, 2016 by Jason Nason

This is going to be a quicky review, which is appropriate because the subject of this review is a quicky game. While Chase: Cold Case Investigations ~Distant Memories~ is listed as a puzzle adventure game, is really isn’t either. Chase is a very linear visual novel game with very limited interaction coming from the player. It’s mostly a visual novel with the illusion of choices.

The game takes place at the Cold Case Unit of the 3rd Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department. Two detectives work in the cold case unit that never steps outside. One is an eccentric, Shounosuke Nanase, and a self-proclaimed elite, Koto Amekura. Wasting away their hours with nothing to do was a regular occurrence, when suddenly they received a phone call.

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