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Call of Duty WWII Review

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Reviewed on: Playstation 4 Pro | Developer: Sledgehammer Games | Publisher: Activision | Retail Price: $59.99 | Final Score: 8.5

Review Note: Call of Duty WWII was reviewed using a retail PS4 copy provided by Activision, and it was played on the Playstation 4 Pro model. 

I think it’s fair to say that Call of Duty is one of the most divisive franchises among gaming communities today. While the series is responsible for shaping major FPS mechanics we see in contemporary shooters, the lack of innovation during the last generation split the fanbase right down the middle. One part of the gaming community started swarming Metacritic’s user review section with scorn, meanwhile the other half continued embracing every annual release.

It’s been fourteen years and fourteen main Call of Duty entries across more than ten different platforms, including mobile. Ensuring a franchise feels fresh for such a long time is no easy task, and Activision deserves credit for keeping the series alive and pertinent through so many generations.

Developers Treyarch, Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer have all been tasked with the impossible over the years, namely keeping old fans happy while branching out toward new players. I too have felt disappointment with COD’s stagnancy, but I am happy to report that the fourteenth installment takes a major turn away from jetpacks and robots toward more grounded infantry combat reminiscent of the early COD titles. Call of Duty WWII is undoubtedly the best COD in a long time, and while it’s far from perfect and introduces a host of new issues (loot boxes and a crappy social hub), it also brings back some of the long lost spark.


"Call of Duty WWII is undoubtedly the best COD in a long time, and while it’s far from perfect and introduces a host of new issues (loot boxes and a crappy social hub), it also brings back some of the long lost spark."

Call of Duty WWII once again boasts three major modes: Campaign, Multiplayer and Zombies. When it comes to value, COD remains jam packed with content that’s presented with pristine polish. Like last year’s entry, the single player portion is stronger than anything COD has delivered in recent memory. Brett Robbins of Dead Space and Dennis Adams have done an admirable job in creating a B-Movie style campaign that injects personality into the characters and script.

There’s an honest attempt at focused storytelling and character dynamics. The war itself isn’t the center point here, rather the friendships and personal conflicts between American soldiers of the 1st Infantry Division. Solid voice acting and impressive visuals help gravitate the narrative toward an enjoyable journey that’s worth a handful of trips. Brett Zimmerman, Jonathan Tucker and Josh Duhamel offer some of the best performances the series has seen so far.

The plot is more focused and boasts much better pacing, but the general campaign is still a giant on-rails shooting carnival. Gameplay remains heavily directed with little opportunity for venturing beyond the mission borders. Thankfully, the level designs are fantastic, and the addition of solid stealth segments helps break up the constant barrage of explosions and gunfire.


"Rank progression and rewards are handed out liberally, and I’ve never felt like I’ve hit a grind when leveling up."

The Call of Duty WWII Zombies is possibly the best iteration of this bonus mode to date. The setting is a vastly expanding city that hosts layers upon layers of hidden pathways and other unexpected surprises. I have personally never enjoyed the Zombies mode that much, but I was completely hooked this time around. The general mechanics haven’t changed, but everything has been refined and broadened resulting in an immensely satisfying distraction between main multiplayer matches.

This year’s Multiplayer mode is a throwback to the series’ classic entries. Verticality has been reduced to only a handful of carefully positioned areas around the map, and you’ll find yourself gunning on the ground most of the time. This franchise semi-refresh tosses the lazer-tag style shooting of COD’s futuristic entries and takes several steps back towards slower, more strategic PVP combat.

The Multiplayer is loaded with diversely designed maps that keep the pace exciting. The create-a-class system has been replaced with Infantry, Airborne, Armored, Mountain and Expeditionary divisions that boast unique characteristics and weapon types. Rank progression and rewards are handed out liberally, and I’ve never felt like I’ve hit a grind when leveling up.


"Call of Duty WWII is a visual powerhouse thanks to a new engine that rarely breaks a sweat under pressure. I played the game on our PS4 Pro with exceptional performance results."

The amount of modes is equally generous. There’s a combination of classic capture-the-flag and team deathmatch offerings to a more "narrative-driven" mode titled War. While the mode itself isn’t unique (it’s basically a series of different objectives), it’s the way the mode is structured and presented that makes it an absolute standout. Each match begins with a cinematic to get you pumped for the action, and depending on the map, you engage in a series of offensive and defensive tasks that include blowing up tanks, storming the Beach of Normandy, planting explosives on enemy weaponry, and so on. The best part is, the K/D ratio doesn’t really matter here. It’s all about teamwork and sticking to the objectives. Think of it as a small scale version of what Battlefield has to offer. It’s excellent!

But there are a few minor annoyances with the multiplayer. Between matches, you can walk around in a Destiny-style social hub that’s located right on the Beach of Normandy. This place is so bizarre as it feels like a giant DLC kiosk. Everywhere you turn, loot boxes drop from the sky while you're surrounded by barb wire and trenches. I’m not sure whether the developers have stepped back and analyzed the scenario from an ethical perspective, but the whole lootbox beach hub combo should be nixed for all future entries.

Call of Duty WWII is a visual powerhouse thanks to a new engine that rarely breaks a sweat under pressure. I played the game on our PS4 Pro with exceptional performance results. The dynamic resolution goes up to 2880×1660 with HDR and remains a relatively locked 60fps. Drops are rare and only happen during the most intense moments. In my 20+ hours of gaming, I only encountered two small 20fps drops, but that was it. It’s a great looking title that boasts immensely detailed environments and superb special effects.

Conclusion: Call of Duty WWII is a welcome return to classic COD. The game feels both fresh and familiar in the best way possible. I despise the new lootbox system, but to be fair, it has never interfered with my overall enjoyment of the game. The shooting mechanics are exhilarating, the visuals are top notch and there’s enough continent here to keep players busy for a long time. COD, it’s good to have you back!

Final Score: 8.5

Sennheiser GSX 1200 PRO Audio Amplifier Review

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Virtual surround sound can be a real hit or miss experience depending on the audio engineering and device, and it’s easy to get lost trying to find the right gear when the offerings are so confusing. I personally enjoy a high-quality 5.1 or 7.1 headset/amp setup when gaming competitively, but outside of multiplayer-specific scenarios, the audio frequency breakdown when using virtual surround sound doesn’t translate well across other media. Even when playing titles that specifically benefit from virtual surround sound, I’ve never been able to enjoy the sound design in its fullest because there’s always a channel or two that performs poorly as the audio drivers try to emulate depth and distance.

All of this changed when I tried the phenomenal Sennheiser GSX 1200 PRO Audio Amplifier—one of the most impressive audio devices I’ve tested in a long time. The GSX 1200 PRO is an eSports oriented amp that boasts one of the best, if not the best, virtual 7.1 surround sound implementations I’ve ever experienced. Sennheiser’s audio engineering is transformative, and the near flawless audio spatial positioning is just one of its many useful features.


"The GSX 1200 PRO is an eSports oriented amp that boasts one of the best, if not the best, virtual 7.1 surround sound implementations I’ve ever experienced."

The Sennheiser GSX 1200 PRO Audio Amplifier retails for $249.95 and it can fit in the palm of your hand. The amp is designed with portability in mind, and it takes mere seconds to set up and get going. Aesthetically, the GSX 1200 PRO looks stunning. The modern and minimalist design approach serves as a real treat when displayed on a work/gaming desk, and I absolutely adore the smartly designed touch screen that lights up the device info in one place.

The back panel is a hub for all the connectors, including a mini USB port, speaker and headphone jacks, as well as Chat-link 2.3 mm A & B connectors that allow you to cascade up to 8 GSX 1200 PRO units. There are no external drivers or firmware updates necessary as everything that’s needed comes packaged in the device itself and is ready for use.

For my review setup, I connected a pair of Audioengine HD3 speakers for regular stereo performance testing and the Audio Technica ATH-M70x monitor headphones for everything else. All sound settings are accessed via the practical Display & Touch control panel that also serves as a volume dial. There are six main features that individually offer three levels of adjustments: headphones and speakers switch, equalizer settings, surround amplification positioning, stereo vs surround toggle, sidetone level adjustment and three levels of reverb.


"The GSX 1200 PRO performance has left me speechless. Imagine seeing an OLED display with HDR capabilities for the first time in your life. It changes your experience, it changes your expectations, it changes everything. The GSX 1200 PRO has such an effect, but with audio!"

The best part about the GSX 1200 PRO is the device’s fantastic out-of-box performance. The audio is exceptional both with EQ enhancements turned on and off. There is no need for advanced frequency tweaks as the GSX 1200 PRO delivers perfectly calibrated channels. It’s also worth noting that the EQ presets work surprisingly well. Music, Story and eSports are individual presets that emphasize certain channels depending on your media. I find the Music EQ preset to work especially well across all media as it provides a very clean balance between crisp mids and deep lows.

The Reverb and Surround Amplification settings are more of a luxury than a necessity. Increasing reverb has some pleasing effects that add immersion in certain open world titles, but its shortcoming (echoey sound) are evident as soon as you find yourself in narrow environments—so it’s best when left on Neutral. Surround Amplification lets you choose between increased virtual front speakers, increased virtual back speakers or balanced. Aside from a vew experimental scenarios, I’ve found little use for directional amplification and opted for the balanced setting for the remainder of my testing.


"Every crunch of gravel, every ricocheting bullet, every sigh and every growl during an intense online match is heard with laser-sharp clarity and an equally impressive bass punch."

The GSX 1200 PRO performance has left me speechless. Imagine seeing an OLED display with HDR capabilities for the first time in your life. It changes your experience, it changes your expectations, it changes everything. The GSX 1200 PRO has such an effect, but instead of delivering an enhanced visual fidelity, it provides an evolutionary step in audio engineering!

The first game in queue is Dirty Bomb. This multiplayer shooter serves as the perfect testing ground for surround sound due to its energetic and enveloping audio design. The constant barrage of explosions and air strikes can be tough to pinpoint when using stereo, but with the GSX 1200 PRO, I am not only able to identify the precise direction of incoming attacks, I’m actually able to hear their exact distance. This is the kind of thing you see advertised across every audio product that carries the 7.1 surround label, but Sennheiser’s GSX 1200 PRO genuinely delivers on that promise. The surround sound accuracy here is nothing short of a miracle. My match performance in Dirty Bomb improved significantly over the past few weeks of playing with the amp as I felt more “present” in the game’s world.

Superb accuracy aside, the GSX 1200 PRO‘s frequency channels with surround mode turned on remain flawlessly balanced regardless of what is happening in the environment. Every crunch of gravel, every ricocheting bullet, every sigh and every growl during an intense online match is heard with laser-sharp clarity and an equally impressive bass punch. The sound is such a colossal improvement in virtual surround technology that going back to my current gear, including my favorite devices, is utterly jarring.

After being completely blown away by the immersive surround sound experience in Dirty Bomb, I moved on to something subtler, namely horror games. Amnesia and Outlast are two titles that I’ve beaten numerous times, but journeying through the same worlds with the GSX 1200 PRO is worth a dozen journeys more. The atmospheric and orchestral sound of both titles reaches new depths when 7.1 is engaged. The first time you hear the distant shrills of mental patients in Outlast is outright chilling. The improved sound has made stealth segments in both titles much more immersive. The way the character’s breath sounds like it’s coming from my own mouth as I try to remain hidden in a closet is both a terrifying and ecstatic experience.


"Amnesia and Outlast are two titles that I’ve beaten numerous times, but journeying through the same worlds with the GSX 1200 PRO is worth a dozen journeys more."

Continuing down my Steam library, I threw countless titles at the amp for further testing, but one of the most notable highlights was Project Cars 2. The Cars’ roaring engines are simply outstanding with Sennheiser’s surround engineering. You can feel the engine’s gut punch as you take corners at lightning fast speeds.

Even with all the settings at your fingerprints, there’s an added function for saving individual presets for even faster mode switching. Each corner of the device has four thin stripes that serve as memory storage slots. Settings are simply changed by touching the corresponding corner after making your changes, and the settings are registered onto the device automatically.


"The Sennheiser GSX 1200 PRO Audio Amplifier is easily one of the best AMPs currently available for gamers."

After weeks of drooling over the surround mode, I switched over to stereo testing with equally satisfying results. Switching to my external speaker system with stereo engaged is as simple as touching the corresponding menu controls on the touch pad. No need to access any menus or re-plug any chords, everything is controlled via Sennheiser’s practical audio hub. The music performance on the GSX 1200 PRO reaches audiophile levels. Again, the out-of-box performance is unmatched, and there’s no need for separate channel tweaks. The simple EQ presets are more than enough to get the kind of results you want, and I applaud the designers for adding so much emphasis on the user experience.

Conclusion: The Sennheiser GSX 1200 PRO Audio Amplifier is easily one of the best AMPs currently available for gamers. The audiophile performance across both stereo and virtual surround sound modes is outstanding. Even though two hundred fifty bucks isn’t considered cheap, the GSX 1200 PRO is a great value given the technological leap it provides to virtual surround sound in gaming.   

Final Score: A+

Mobile Suit Gundam Wing Blu-ray Collections 1 & 2 Review

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If you’re a 90’s kid, there’s a good chance that the Gundam anime was a big part of your childhood. The franchise’s cultural and commercial impact was inescapable at the time, and it continues to stretch to this day with new Gundam-related products being released every single year. 2017 is looking particularly exciting for Gundam fans. Not only is there an excellent new game on PS4, Mobile Suit Gundam Wing is getting a Blu-ray release for the first time in the US.

Today, we are looking at the quality of both upcoming collections released by Right Stuf, and how well the show holds up after all these years. As with most of our recent anime reviews, we now largely focus on the technical aspects of the release to determine overall quality. Especially when it comes to re-releases of popular franchises, going into narrative specifics is best reserved for independent discussions. Gundam Wing’s plot has been dissected in more detail than I’ll ever be able to summarize, so instead, I want to see how much the move to Blu-ray  impacts the experience.


Overview & Highlights:
Mobile Suit Gundam Wing Collection 1 and Collection 2 will release on Nov 7, and the pre-orders are now live on the RightStuf site, as well as Amazon. Prices are currently reduced and sit between $42.89 (Amazon) and $48.74 (Right Stuf). Considering that the base price is $74.99 per set outside the sale, this is a superb value! Each collection ships with 4 discs, and both collections equal to a whopping 1225 Minutes (or 20.4 hrs) of viewing time. 

Both collections display in 1080p at their native 4:3 ratio. Mobile Suit Gundam Wing Collection 1 contains episodes 1-25 and collection 2 has episodes 26-49. Set 1 features clean openings 1 & 2 and a clean ending, while set 2 has clean openings 3 & 4 and a Japanese commercial collection. Both collections have Japanese LPCM Stereo, English LPCM Stereo and English subtitles. The cover flipside has additional art and episode listings for an easier overview.

Image & Audio Quality:
Mobile Suit Gundam Wing originally aired in 1995. Twenty two years is a very long time, but the series’ timeless mecha designs and charismatic artstyle hold up wonderfully, and the Blu-ray version delivers impressive benefits for both longtime fans and anyone who’s been curious about Gundam’s 90’s era. The 4:3 ratio is an undeniable distraction for video purists, but thankfully, the near-flawless transfer quality gives the series new life.


"Noise and artifacts are reduced to a minimum here, and it’s nice to see that none of the clean up work has affected the organic nature of the hand-drawn linework."

Colors are rich and vibrant with inky blacks giving outer space scenes a great sense of depth and visual pop. The animation doesn’t hold up particularly well in 2017, but it’s important to remember how quickly these episodes were animated back in the 90’s. The necessity for shortcuts is particularly evident in action scenes that shift to outer space and are void of much environmental detail, basically the majority of the second half.

Noise and artifacts are reduced to a minimum here, and it’s nice to see that none of the clean up work has affected the organic nature of the hand-drawn linework. The move to HD is an unquestionable improvement in presentation that genuinely improves the experience.


"Twenty two years is a very long time, but the series’ timeless mecha designs and charismatic artstyle hold up wonderfully."

The audio is a little tricky here because US dubbing in the 90’s was pretty disastrous, and while the Blu-ray release of Gundam Wing introduces much cleaner-sounding voices, the poor English dialogue is still difficult to stomach. The Japanese voice acting is on another level, and it completely transforms the show into something much more engaging. The LPCM Stereo is crisp and clear, and watching the show with a modern sound system is a colossal improvement over the crappy CRT TV most of us grew up with over two decades ago.

Extras:
Both collections are slim on extras. Aside from clean openings and closings, the only other extra feature is a collection of Japanese commercials on the second set. I’m surprised there aren’t any interviews or art galleries as it would have made both collections a more complete package.

Conclusion: The two Mobile Suit Gundam Wing collections on Blu-ray are the most enjoyable way to experience the series, whether you’re a fan or newcomer. The Blu-ray quality is excellent, albeit conservative on extras, and it’s currently being sold at an unbeatable price!


"The two Mobile Suit Gundam Wing collections on Blu-ray are the most enjoyable way to experience the series, whether you’re a fan or newcomer."

I know that everyone has their favorite Gundam series entry, but I think it’s fair to say that Gundam Wing is the perfect blend between the Yoshiyuki Tomino’s original 80’s masterpiece and the newer-generation Gundam 00. The important thing here is to keep your expectations in check. The show’s age is immediately apparent, but its charisma and style remains timeless.

From a purely technical perspective, both collections are a wonderful addition to Right Stuf’s impressive anime lineup. I wish there were more extras for longtime fans like myself, but it’s still nice to have a focused and impressively remastered collection of one of the most influential anime series in the world. Just make sure you stick with the Japanese dialogue because the English voice acting is far worse than I remember it.

Final Score: A-

Audioengine HD3 Wireless Speakers Review

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I don’t consider myself an expert audiophile, I’m more of an all round hobbyist, but I care enough about the quality of my media that I always opt for the best audio devices that I can afford. As such, I don’t normally turn to wireless options unless I’m casually gaming on consoles or using exercise earbuds. For the last few years, I used Edifier’s R2000DB (a gargantuan pair of very capable bookshelf speakers) on our office desktop because I wasn’t willing to sacrifice any quality while listening to music and gaming. But while the sound quality never failed to impress, the speaker size and cable overflow eventually became a hindrance.

Thankfully, Audioengine’s HD3 speakers prove that wireless audio in a compact size isn’t just reserved for casual listening, but has its own place among audiophiles. The HD3 are a stunning pair of wireless speakers that impress with their rich sound performance. I didn't expect these tiny speakers to match the sound of Edifier’s monstrous drivers, but the HD3 are arguably superior in everything but the bass. Thanks to the built-in 24-bit DAC and wireless receiver, the HD3 deliver a powerful kick straight out of the box.


"The HD3 are a stunning pair of wireless speakers that impress with their rich sound performance."

The speakers are elegantly designed and boast a luxurious, or as Audioengine calls it Retro-Forward, aesthetic that complements the premium price tag. At $399, the HD3 aren’t a cheap investment, but when you experience the crisp and clear audio for the first time, it’ll feel like money well spent. The speakers come in three different finish options: Satin Black Paint, Cherry Wood Veneer and Walnut Wood Veneer. We received the cherry unit and the color is simply sublime. These speakers will look fantastic regardless of your setup, and thanks to their practical size, they can easily fit in snug corners.

The HD3 speakers are unique in that they offer both wireless and wired connections. The USB input makes it easy to connect the speakers to any compatible device if Bluetooth is not an option. Since the USB input bypasses your PC’s built-in low-quality headphone jack, you’ll also benefit from improved headphone performance if you decide to use the HD3’s front-facing 3.5mm output. Bluetooth pairing is fast, and my Spotify was up and running via my iPhone in seconds. If neither options suit you, the provided mini-jack stereo cable can be used for a more traditional connection.


"The speakers are elegantly designed and boast a luxurious, or as Audioengine calls it Retro-Forward, aesthetic that complements the premium price tag."

Most speakers I’ve tested in the past carry all of their primary connections on the right speaker, but the HD3 mixes things up. The right speaker is passive with only the left speaker input on the rear panel. The left unit is a powered speaker that houses the input/output hub, Bluetooth antenna, as well as the upsampling PCM 5102 DAC that helps push for a higher signal-to-noise ratio and lower noise floor. The headphone AUX port on the front is powered by a separate amp and it works surprisingly well whether you’re using standard headphones, or a high-end model like the Audio Technica ATH-M70x.

A small problem with having the main connections on the left speaker is accessibility for PC user. Most PC users have their case on the right side of the desk, oftentimes on the floor, so having the main speaker far left on a large desk can make it difficult to opt for the wired USB connection due to the short cable. Thankfully, I had “just enough” space to stretch the cable across the table to my case, but anyone with a larger work/gaming setup should be aware of the organizational limitations. This is not a problem if you’re strictly going for wireless.


"I don’t know what kind of wizardry has gone into designing and constructing the HD3, but the Bluetooth audio is simply out of this world."

Despite their compact size, the HD3 pack a hefty bass. There’s a bass reduction switch that allows users to toggle the strength of the bass between normal and reduced, but I found the normal setting to be perfectly balanced as it delivers just enough punch without creating auditory distortions or vibrations. It’s exciting to experience such impactful audio from speakers that are almost  as small as a Kleenex tissue box.

I’ve tested plenty of wireless speakers in the past, but it’s always been easy to differentiate between a wired and Bluetooth connection. I don’t know what kind of wizardry has gone into designing and constructing the HD3, but the Bluetooth audio is simply out of this world. Yes, the USB connection delivers a crisper and wider sound stage, but the Bluetooth signal comes frighteningly close in quality.


"Moving onto other music genres, the HD3 continue to blow every wireless speaker I’ve ever tested out of the water."

Doomtree is my go-to group for analyzing overall speaker music performance. Dessa, Mike Mictlan, Paper Tiger, Cecil Otter, Lazerbreak, P.O.S. and Sims all bring a unique voice to their performances, and their music serves as the perfect testing ground for a new speaker set. The HD3 recapture Doomtree’s poetic energy beautifully and their balanced frequency levels keep the beats dynamic and rich without ever overpowering the vocals. Whenever Dessa hits her solo, her voice strikes through with great clarity while the accompanying rhythms spread evenly across the room. Most of my listening takes place directly in front of a computer, but even when I distance myself from the speakers, the audio never loses its breadth and impact.

Moving onto other music genres, the HD3 continue to blow every wireless speaker I’ve ever tested out of the water. Lindsey Stirling’s violin performances sound phenomenal on the HD3. From classical music to pop, rock and electronic dance music genres, Lindsey’s music covers an impressively wide spectrum of styles. Her main theme for The Dark Knight Rises has filled my entire office with rich sound with the volume dial barely reaching the middle. The HD3’s power is a true testament to Audioengine’s expertise with audio engineering.


"The Audioengine HD3 are truly exceptional, and they’re some of the most impressive wireless speakers I’ve tested in the last five years."

I even used the HD3 during my gaming sessions, and the experience has been flawless. Thanks to the HD3’s strong bass and clean mids, FPS titles and racers that boast intense volumetric shifts sound fantastic without a hint of distortion. Survival horror titles like Alien Isolation or Outlast sound particularly great because the HD3 handles lows with delicacy and precision. 

Conclusion: The Audioengine HD3 are truly exceptional, and they’re some of the most impressive wireless speakers I’ve tested in the last five years. Their versatility, design, and audio performance is unmatched. The HD3 are one third in size next to my Edifier R2000DB, but their sound quality crushes them thanks to a wider soundstage and cleaner sound. The asking price isn’t an easy pill to swallow, but their flexibility and impressive high-end features makes them an absolute necessity for anyone who wants audiophile quality in a compact size.

Final Score: A+

5 Reasons Why We're Excited for Assassin's Creed Origins

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Assassin's Creed Origins Cover

The Assassin’s Creed franchise has always excelled at portraying an engrossing fictional history of real world events.Even the worst entries in the series delivered impressive world design that meticulously captured significant historical junctures. This attention to detail remained one of the main reasons I kept coming back for each new release. But, even as a diehard fan I started to feel sequelitis fatigue. Thankfully, things are about to change. After the lukewarm sales and reception of Unity and Syndicate, Ubisoft made the wise choice of giving the series time to breathe.

Assassin's Creed Origins is turning out to be the kind of game fans have wanted since the original AC laid out the foundation for the franchise. Shifting towards a more RPG-oriented gameplay system, Assassin's Creed Origins has the potential of becoming the series’ most defining entry. Here are 5 reasons why we’re personally excited for Ubisoft’s greatest comeback.

Assassin's Creed Origins Romance

5.  A New Beginning
Assassin's Creed Origins is marketed as a soft-reboot. Since the story details remain unclear at this point, we can only speculate what this new direction really means. Based on the trailers and gameplay footage, we can see that the dreaded Animus plot is nixed. I think it’s fair to say that most fans wanted more emphasis on the actual historical narrative, and it looks like our cries have been heard. With more freedom to flesh out a singular storyline, the writers should have greater opportunities to enrich the Assassin’s Creed lore further.

Assassin's Creed Origins Horse Combat


4.  RPG-Style Mechanics
Assassin’s Creed has always been classified as a third person action game, but the developers have decided that in order for the series to feel fresh again, some fundamental elements needed to change in AC Origins .The shift toward an RPG-oriented system is precisely what this series needed, and I applaud the devs for taking bold steps to diversify the formula. I am personally excited to have the ability to grow my character because I was getting very tired of the stagnant-feeling progress of previous entries.

Assassin's Creed Origins Queen

3.  Educational Mode
I know very few players do this, but I always read the historical fact-sheets that AC is infamously known for. For anyone willing to read through the walls of text, you’re rewarded with interesting historical facts and some snarky humor tossed in for good measure. The newly announced Educational Mode seems like an evolutionary step of that basic idea. The ability to simply explore the world without having to worry about enemies or plot seems like an exciting new way to experience the AC universe. I really can’t wait to see what this mode has to offer.

Assassin's Creed Origins Combat

2.  Improved Combat
Judging by the gameplay footage alone, Assassin's Creed Origins appears to boast a much heavier combat system that’s even been compared to Dark Souls. While I always enjoyed AC’s theatrical combo finishers and rhythmical button mashing, the lack of any real challenge severely hampered the experience. This new approach looks more tactical and less systematic. Facing more than two foes is now genuinely challenging, which is very refreshing and welcoming at this point.

Assassin's Creed Origins Horse Racing

1.  Egypt
Feudal Japan and Egypt have been one of the most fan requested settings. Ubisoft is now giving us Egypt, so who knows what the future holds. Egypt is shaping up to be one of the most visually stunning sandboxes to date. The environmental detail that’s brimming with wildlife is absolutely mind boggling. Ubisoft’s greatest strength has always been world building, and Egypt may very well set a new standard for the genre.

Assassin's Creed Origins releases on October 27th across Xbox One, Playstation 4 and PC platforms. Are you as excited about the new Assassin's Creed direction as we are? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!

Gamdias HERMES M3 RGB Review

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Gamdias has built their brand identity around Greek Mythology and a heavy dose of Heavy Metal, but the company is going through a significant transformation with their latest Hermes lineup. While Gamdias’ core values remain the same, the visual style now favors a more contemporary aesthetic. The minimalist and sleek approach is a notable deviation from their past products that emphasized an industrial approach wrapped in an eccentric theme. Personally, I’m a big fan of this decision and I feel that the company's new releases catapult Gamdias right up there with some of the finest brands in the industry.

There are five new Hermes models that focus on different user preferences and that come in varying sizes. Last week, I had the pleasure of testing the low-profile HERMES M3 RGB. This model is designed with compactibility in mind, and it’s probably the most unique offering from the lineup. The HERMES M3 is an elegantly designed mechanical keyboard that stuns with its thin frame and high-quality build materials. The M3 boasts a 32bit ARM CortexTM-M3 microprocessor, N key rollover, 100% anti-ghosting and 2 dedicated macro keys with 6 profiles.


"The HERMES M3 is an elegantly designed mechanical keyboard that stuns with its thin frame and high-quality build materials."

The M3 is a real looker and makes an attractive first impression. Measuring at only  354 x 128 x 25 mm, the M3 serves as an excellent solution for gamers who prefer a clutter free desk. The keyboard frame is coated with dark, brushed aluminum, which gives the M3 a premium look and feel. The entire body has a pleasing, matte coat that helps hide fingerprints and dust. Wrapped around the keyboard frame is a thin, silver line that provides a nifty visual accent when the RGBs reflect off the surface.

The entire design is a pleasant surprise. The M3 doesn’t scream “gaming gear” like so many products in this industry, which makes it suitable for varying uses. Techies who prefer a minimalist work/gaming environment will appreciate Gamdias’ simplified direction.


"Techies who prefer a minimalist work/gaming environment will appreciate Gamdias’ simplified direction."

The HERMES M3 has quickly become my favorite keyboard for daily use thanks to its superb, all round performance. Typing on the M3 feels smooth and fast. The keys are super responsive and there’s just enough resistance to prevent unintentional keystrokes while providing improved tactility. The overall performance is comparable to Razer’s low-profile keyboard offerings. This is great news for gamers who enjoy Razer’s engineering but want something a little cheaper. The Hermes M3 retails for $139.99, and while it’s not exactly a budget item, M3’s quality rivals keyboards that are typically in much higher price brackets.

I tested a handful of titles across different genres, including: Overwatch, Black Desert Online, Dota 2, Battlefield 1 and StarCraft: Remastered. The M3 excels regardless of content. The ergonomic design makes the keyboard very adaptable regardles of preferences, and I found myself completely in sync with the M3 after a couple of minutes.


"The M3 feels sublime whether you’re typing or gaming, and I genuinely hope Gamdias continues on this new path for all of their future gaming peripherals!"

Due to the slim design, dedicated media buttons have been nixed in favor of a leaner profile. Thankfully, all media controls can be accessed with the Fn key in combination with the secondary F-key controls. For further customization, you can access the Gamdias Hera software where you can manage macros, assign keys, adjust keyboard luminance, set timers and edit the sound file. There’s also a practical GAME key that let’s you toggle Caps, the Windows key and the Scroll Lock. The features are standard and nothing out of the ordinary, but the Hermes M3 has everything you need to personalize your gaming experience.

Conclusion: The HERMES M3 RGB is a new and evolutionary direction for Gamdias. I have yet to test the P3 and M2 models, but as it stands, the M3 is one of my favorite keyboards that Gamdias has released so far. As a big fan of lean tech engineering, the M3 is precisely the kind of keyboard I’ve been seeking for our studio. The M3 feels sublime whether you’re typing or gaming, and I genuinely hope Gamdias continues on this new path for all of their future gaming peripherals!

Final Score: A+

The Overwatch: Anthology Volume 1 Is out, and It's Phenomenal!

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Writer: Matt Burns, Robert Brooks, Micky Neilson, Andrew Robinson, Michael Chu, James Waugh
Penciller: Joe Ng
Artist: Nesskain, Bengal, Gray Shuko, Jeffrey ''Chamba'' Cruz, Miki Montllo, Joe Ng
Inker: Joe Ng
Colorist: Espen Grundetjern
Cover Artist: Miki Montllo
Price: $15.94

The Overwatch: Anthology Volume 1 released today, and I am in absolute awe! This hardcover release by Dark Horse Comics combines the first set of Blizzard's digital comic books based on the popular Hero Shooter. The print quality is fantastic, and the stunning illustrations look even better in person. Don't get me wrong, I love reading my comics digitally, but there's something very special about holding a high-quality print in your hands.

I've taken a few teaser pics to show you just how wonderful the interior pages are. Even if you've never played Overwatch before, this release is an absolute must for comic book fans, and anyone who appreciated good art!





There's even a dedicated Sketchbook section in the back of the book. There are several pages detailing the process behind a selected number of pages. It's always exciting to see gorgeous and complex comic book layouts go from concept to fruition!



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