Review: Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: the Black Order is a fun, glitchy, gaming experience

Sometimes, I play video games to get out of my head for an hour or two. A bit of gaming allows me to numb myself after a stressful day at work or to relax through a bout of insomnia once I become too damn tired to read but not sleepy enough to drift off. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: the Black Order for the Nintendo Switch offers just the right amount of a dumb plot, decent graphics and button mashing to scratch my escapist itch.

For the past few years, everything in Marvel’s cinematic universe and many of their comics have revolved around the Infinity Stones. You’ll find no exception here. If you’ve seen a trailer for Avengers Endgame, you’ve got the broad strokes of this game’s story. Infinity Stones are powerful. Infinity Stones are bad. Bad people want them. It’s a plot that a wee kid could follow, which I suppose is Disney/Marvel’s plan. And why not? It’s a story that’s proven capable of printing its own money.

As you progress through the game’s various levels, you’ll take on progressively tougher foes with a team of four heroes of your choosing. Your roster of potential teammates grows as you bop along. There’s no earning new members... it just kind of happens. I’m a few hours into the game. Disappointingly, the amount of customization allowed for your heroes by the last two iterations of the game appear to be largely absent. There’s no costumes to unlock. No accessories that your heroes can mix and match to enhance their power set: just points and drops that allow you to power up in one way or another. Read the rest

This tiny Nintendo Switch TV dock looks amazing

I like to take my Nintendo Switch with me when I travel for work—being able to game in my hotel room is lovely. You know what would be even better? Being able to play some Mario Kart or This is The Police on my hotel's television. Sadly, the Switch's ginormous TV dock takes up too much space in my carry-on for it to be practical.

Happily, it looks like Human Things, the folks that brought us this neat bluetooth dongle for the Switch a while back, may have a solution. They've designed and are currently Kickstarting a wicked tiny combination HDMI/USB C charger that fits into a wall wart around the size of a 10-Watt iPad charger. Did I mention it has an additional USB port for charging your smartphone or a Pro Controller? Welp, it does.

The only catch, as I pointed out earlier, is that it's only being offered as part of a Kickstarter campaign. Normally, that'd make picking one of these up a non-starter for me. I've been burned too many times in the past by hardware that took years to drop or simply disappeared into the mists of time. However, as Human Things has come through in the past with I'm willing to some cash at them. If you feel the same, you can do so, here. Read the rest

The Outer Worlds is coming to the Nintendo Switch

I'd kill to see Fallout: New Vegas, Fallout 4, or any of the Borderlands games come to the Nintendo Switch. They're some of my favorite titles to turn to at the end of a long, stupid day when my brain is in desperate need of a bit of numbing. Sadly, so far as I know, there hasn't been a reliable peep on the possibility of a port for any of them. Happily, Engadget plopped out some news today about a game that could be the next best thing to the titles on my wish list.

From Engadget:

Obsidian had already revealed its Fallout-esque sci-fi RPG The Outer Worlds will debut on PC, Xbox One and PS4 October 25th. Sometime after that, it'll land on Switch too. Nintendo's console is less powerful than Sony and Microsoft's ones, and won't pack as much punch as a typical PC, so it remains to be seen how well The Outer Worlds will run on the hybrid.

For this version, Obsidian is teaming up with Virtuos, which has helped bring the likes of Dark Souls Remastered and Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age to Switch. There's no firm release date as yet for The Outer Worlds' arrival on Switch, but the UK eShop pegs the release date for sometime this year.

Obsidian was responsible for Fallout: New Vegas. From what I've seen in the trailer for The Outer Worlds, much of the humor of that old chestnut has made it alive into their space game. Read the rest

Pillars of Eternity is coming to the Nintendo Switch this August

Despite the user interface issues with games like Wastelands 2 and Phantom Doctrine on the Nintendo Switch, I've still waited like a mook for Obsidian's Pillars of Eternity II to break cover for the console since late last year. The last time I checked on Amazon, it wasn't going to be available until New Year's Eve, 2019. So that sucks. In the meantime, Obsidian is throwing gamers a bone: if you didn't have the opportunity to play the original Pillars of Eternity a few years back, you'll be able to pick it up for the Switch, early next month.

The announcement was made by the company in a tweet, late last week:

I played the original when it was released for Mac, a few years back. It was pretty good! But I never got around to investing in the additional content that came out for the game. As Obsidian is releasing Pillars of Eternity as a complete edition for the Switch, I might be persuaded to pick it up to play through and see how it feels on a handheld.

Image via Flickr, courtesy of BagoGames Read the rest

If you are planning on buying a Nintendo Switch, wait until next month for the new model

Here's a tip: if you're thinking of getting a Nintendo Switch -- skip the current model (HAC-001) and wait for the HAC-001(-01), which offers significantly improved battery life. Read the rest

Review: Phantom Doctrine lacks the fun of XCOM

I want XCOM 2 on the Nintendo Switch. I'm waiting for it. Hoping. It has yet to come, be announced or even rumored by its developers. So, of late, I've found myself looking for other ways to get my turn-based combat fix. I completed Wasteland 2 some time ago. Japanese games seldom hold my attention and, even Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle has lost its charm. A couple of days ago, despite its mediocre reviews, I downloaded Phantom Doctrine, for $20. It's so close to being pretty much what I'm looking for. Sadly, it's held back by a number of issues.

In the game, you're in charge of a cell of cold-war era spies who bop around the world collecting intelligence, killing members of a shadowy opposing faction and trying not to get captured or liquidated in the process. What are they collecting intel on? It's hard to say. Unlike XCOM, which has a solid story that leads you from one plot point to the next, in Phantom Doctrine, it's hard to keep track of what why you're doing what you're doing. The game's story is paper thin and even when it becomes a little more clear, still isn't all that compelling. Mission briefings inform you that you're supposed to collect an informant or, in some cases, kill someone who recognized one of your agents. You base is always under threat of being exposed. Your spies are always run the risk of having their covers blown. It's run-of-the-mill stuff.

As with XCOM 2, your team members gain experience from every encounter they survive. Read the rest

Nintendo Switch Lite finally unveiled

Nintendo finally unveiled the long-rumored Nintendo Switch Lite. Besides the compact size, the biggest difference is a classic D-pad control. Due out in September, it will retail for $200. From The Verge:

Nintendo says the Lite features “slightly” improved battery life — the company wouldn’t get any more specific than that — due to a more power-efficient chip layout, as well as the lack of additional batteries in the built-in controllers. The Switch Lite also does away with the device’s controversial kickstand...

The Lite comes in multiple colors at launch — yellow, grey, and turquoise — as well as a special light grey Pokémon Sword and Shield edition, and they all have a pleasant matte texture that feels great to hold....

The new device has a 5.5-inch touch display, compared to 6.2-inch for its predecessor. If you take a single Joy-Con off of an original Switch, you’ll have a good idea of the size of the new version.

Read the rest

Valve killing Steam Support for some Ubuntu users

A few years ago the announcement that Steam would begin supporting Linux was a big deal: it meant that anyone who preferred to rock an open-source operating system over Mac OS or Windows 10 would have instant buy-it-and-play-it access to a large catalog of game titles that would have otherwise taken a whole lot of tweaking to get up and running or wouldn't have worked for them at all. For some, at least, the party may be coming to an end.

From Engadget:

If you're a Linux gamer who prefers Ubuntu, you might want to look for another distribution in the near future. Valve is dropping official support for Ubuntu in Steam as of the operating system's upcoming 19.10 release, which will cut 32-bit x86 components. The Steam crew aims to "minimize breakage" for existing Ubuntu users, according to Valve's Pierre-Loup Griffais, but it'll shift its attention to another distribution in the future.

So, in short: no 32-bit support means no Steam support. Given that the many of the games available on Steam can only be had by buying a license, this news sucks in so many ways. That said, as noted by Engadget, at some point in the future, it could be possible to switch to a different distribution that'll allow you to undertake some, glitch-free fragging. However, for the time being, Canonical and Valve haven't made any announcements of which distribution will best serve gamers, moving forward. When that announcement will come down the pike is anyone's guess. Read the rest

Good deal on a new Xbox One controller

There is a pretty good deal running on my favorite gaming controller.

I use this with my Xbox, Nintendo Switch and MacBook Pro. It is more durable than the more expensive 'pro controllers' and works just as well.

If you've been waiting for a replacement this is a pretty good price.

Microsoft 4N6-00001 Xbox Controller + Cable for Windows via Amazon

Previously:

The best controller for a Nintendo Switch is the latest model Xbox controller Read the rest

Telsa's In-Car Gaming System Looks Kinda Meh

If you've been holding off on buying a Telsa Model 3 until you found out whether the car's arcade functionality was worth the electric ride's asking price, wait no more.

In this video, The Verge breaks down its experience with the Model 3's in-car gaming system. From what I can see, you can have damn near the same player experience with an iPad and some duct tape in the drivers seat of a 1998 Volkswagen Jetta. Read the rest

Witcher III: The Wild Hunt is coming to Nintendo Switch

When Witcher III: The Wild Hunt was released a few years ago, everyone lost their minds over how great it was. Because my aging 2015 MacBook Pro lacked the guts to even consider running it, I never had the opportunity to take the game for a spin. It looks like the Nintendo Switch--the best port machine ever created--will finally give me a chance to step into Geralt of Rivia's shoes.

From Nintendo:

The Complete Edition contains every piece of downloadable content released for the game, including two massive story expansions: Hearts of Stone & Blood and Wine. It's the perfect opportunity to enter this world for the first time or relive the adventure — on the go! Coming to Nintendo Switch in 2019.

The lack of a firm date for the game's release sucks, but it's not surprising. I suspect it'll be pushed out once the port is damn well good and ready. Being as I've gone this long without playing the game, I suspect I'll survive a little while longer without it.

Image via Flickr, courtesy of BagoGames Read the rest

My On-the-go gaming set-up

Mostly for use during extended camping trips in my Volkswagen camper, I'm running a docked Nintendo Switch and 13.3" 1080p IPS monitor all off of power banks.

Spare me the horseshit about how awful it is I or my kid might play video games inside our camper van while camping. We like to play video games and we're spending a lot of time in our Westy this summer. I wanted my kid and her cousins to be able to play Mario Kart. I like to play Fortnite. This system is getting us hours and hours of playtime.

Nintendo is sensitive to the order in which these devices are plugged together. Failure to follow the correct order frequently results in starting over. I plug a stock Nintendo power supply into this 20,000 mAh AC Outlet bearing power bank. The power bank is rated to 100W and has some internal fans to cool down if it gets too hot. Thus far the Nintendo doesn't force it to cool very often. The Nintendo USB-C power supply evidently will draw a max of 39W and this battery should be more than capable of providing hours and hours of power. Playtesting has shown it to run down about 10% in an hour.

I plug the Nintendo power supply into a Nintendo Switch dock. I then plug an HDMI Cable into the dock. The other end of the cable connects to my 13.3" 1080p IPS display. I use an HDMI to HDMI-mini cable that came included with the monitor. Read the rest

Xbox-branded deodorant and other personal hygiene products

Microsoft and Unilever's Lynx brand have partnered on a line of Xbox personal hygiene products including deodorant, body spray, and shower gel. Whatever gets them to use it, I say. Unfortunately for now, the products will only be available in Australia and New Zealand. From Gamespot:

The official description is simply delightful:

"Lynx Xbox is a fresh scent of pulsing green citrus, featuring top notes of kaffir lime and winter lemon, aromatic herbal middle notes of mint and sage, and woody bottom notes of patchouli and clearwood. Containing a range of natural essential oils, the Xbox Lynx range comes with a sleek new look and features a body spray, deodorant, and shower gel."

Xbox ANZ boss Tania Chee said in a statement that users can spray or wash themselves with Xbox Lynx to "power up" before heading out the door in the morning.

Read the rest

Stephen Colbert plays D&D with Matt Mercer for Red Nose Day

There are so many things to love about Stephen Colbert. For me, his unapologetic nerdiness is high on that list. His obviously large and tender heart is, too. These two impulses come together in this Critcal Role video, done as a fundraiser for Red Nose Day, dedicated to the fight against childhood poverty in America.

In the 52-minute one-on-one D&D adventure, Matt Mercer does a masterful job of taking Stephen, as the half-elf bard, Capo, and his bee sidekick, Eric, on a harrowing adventure in search of the Crimson Sphere of Generosity.

Besides the fun D&D adventure and the do-gooder intent of the episode, we also get to see Stephen play D&D for the first time in some 30 years. His joy and sense of wonder are palpable. He even has to stop to tell Matt how much he's freaking out as childhood memories of playing with friends overwhelm him. "I can feel the chest hairs growing as we speak," he jokes. At one point, Stephen laughs at one of Matt's colorful descriptions of a gory encounter with an undead beast. "I haven't heard the word ichor in over 30 years."

We also learn more about the origins of Stephen's gaming past. He was a Metamorphosis Alpha player before D&D and he got in on D&D early. He even says that he went to GenCon the year that the first AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide was released. And he admits that he still has his friend's copy (they got switched at the con) which was signed by Gary Gygax. Read the rest

Gen Xers, and their kids, play Fortnite together

Fortnite Over Forty has become a booming little community of mature video game enthusiasts who are positive, supportive and inclusive. Mostly we play Fortnite.

A while back some friends and I were looking to play squads in Fortnite that were not populated by random children screaming terrible slurs at us. I am sure the kids are no more friendly to one another, but playing outside a group of trusted friends seems a sure path to learning the latest colloquial epithets. We gave up on random squads and posted here, on Boing Boing.

Now, almost any time I'd like to play Fortnite with some really friendly, completely supportive folks, there is probably a squad or two of players from Fortnite Over Forty online. We have a solid contingent of EU/UK players, NA-East and NA-West going. The Discord is community monitored and other than kicking out SPAMMERS, we've never had a single issue I know of. We take our aggression out on the opposing teams. Many of the parents in the group have gotten comfortable enough that we will sometimes use our children to fill squads or act as ringers. The kids are all super polite and often comically talkative.

There seems to be a solid dislike of the banana skin, however, which has me worried.

No one checks ID, if you'd like to play duos or squads with positive folks, jump on in! Read the rest

Riot Games employees walk out to protest forced arbitration for sexual harassment lawsuits

'League of Legends' developers and others at Riot Games walked out of work en masse on Monday, protesting the company's use of forced arbitration to settle sexual harassment lawsuits. Read the rest

Donald Bell reports on the DIY game goodness from the alt.ctrl showcase at GDC

Our friend Donald Bell put together an excellent little tour of some of the game designs from the alt.ctrl showcase at last week's Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.

And here's a handy link list that Donald provides to the game projects covered:

HELLCOUCH: A Couch Co-op Game (Carol Mertz, Francesca Carletto-Leon) Continuum Bacterium (HNRY) Machinaria (Black Mamba Studio) HOT SWAP: All Hands On Deck (Peter Gyory, Clement Zheng) More details on Mechamagnets More on Alt.Ctrl Game highlights of Alt.Ctrl 2018 Make: Coverage of Alt.Ctrl 2019 Read the rest

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