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Faction rallies are gone, Guardians. We know you'll miss earning those faction tokens at breakneck speed, but it's time to get busy with another weekly reset. A new Nightfall, and a new order for th Leviathan raid are upon us. Dive in and see what you can expect this week.

Nightfall - The Inverted Spire

A familiar strike for the Nightfall this week. Guardians should have run this one many times by now, so even with modifiers this should be no trouble for experienced fireteams.

Modifiers

  • Attrition - Health and shield regeneration slow down, but killing foes may create wells of light that restore health and charge your super.
  • Timewarp: Killing Time - Defeat enemies to extend the mission timer, up to a limit.

Challenges

  • Speed of Dark - Complete the Nightfall with at least five minutes remaining.
  • Unbroken - Complete the Nightfall with fewer than three deaths.
  • The Floor is Lava - As a fireteam, do not get hit by Protheon's fiery ground attack before defeating it.

Flashpoint - Titan

Not my least favorite place to have a flashpoint. Titan is small, and there are only three public events you can count on, but they are very easy to complete. There are lots of chests and resources to keep you busy while you're waiting for the next activity to kick off.

Leviathan Raid Order

The Leviathan raid order has yet to be discovered. Be sure to study our Leviathan raid guide, as well as our guide on the Leviathan raid underbelly codes to help you avoid repeated trips to the Castellum. That place sucks.

Leviathan Raid Challenge

Once we know the Leviathan raid order and challenge, we'll be sure to update this article with those details.

Faction Weapons for Sale

The only thing worth buying on that list is Nameless Midnight from Zavala. If you don't have it, pick one up for sure. You can skip the rest, as none appear to be part of the weapon meta in Destiny 2 right now.

  • Devrim Kay - Complex Solution Legendary Sword
  • Asher Mir - Berenger's Memory Legendary Grenade Launcher
  • Sloane - Negative Space Legendary Sword
  • Failsafe - Mos Epoch III Legendary Rocket Launcher
  • Commander Zavala - Nameless Midnight Legendary Scout Rifle
  • Lord Shaxx - Swift Solstice Legendary Sidearm

Gunsmith Inventory

  • Weapon: Legendary Void Damage Mod
  • Hunter Cloak: Void Paragon Mod
  • Leg Armor: Legendary Solar Impact Mod

Eververse Inventory

  • Legendary Emote: Shoulder Dance - 700 Bright Dust
  • Rare Emote: Victory Taunt - 400 Bright Dust
  • Legendary Sparrow: Ridgerunner Rex - 600 Bright Dust
  • Legendary Ship: Rubente Dextra - 500 Bright Dust
  • Exotic Weapon Ornament: Down to Business (Sweet Business) - 800 Bright Dust
  • Exotic Weapon Ornament: Veist Silver (The Colony) - 800 Bright Dust
  • Exotic Hunter Ornament: Tiamat - 2072 Bright Dust
  • Legendary Ghost: Abacus Shell - 400 Bright Dust
  • Rare Transmat Effect: Guardian White - 450 Bright Dust
  • Legendary Shader: Metro Shift - 40 Bright Dust
  • Legendary Shader: Watermelon - 40 Bright Dust
  • Fireteam Medallion Legendary Consumable - 50 Bright Dust
  • Gleaming Boon of the Vanguard Legendary Consumable - 350 Bright Dust
  • Gleaming Boon of the Crucible Legendary Consumable - 750 Bright Dust

That wraps it up for the Destiny 2 weekly reset for January 23, 2018. Not much to see here, but we'll see you in another week regardless. Visit the Shacknews Destiny 2 complete strategy guide for everything you’ll ever need to be a great Guardian.

Posted: 23-01-18

The insanely busy holiday season has passed us by and a new year of games is breathing down our necks. One of the biggest titles on the upcoming docket docket is Ubisoft’s Far Cry 5. The open-world shooter series has been a mainstay of gaming for years, but Far Cry 5 was not always going to be an open world experience like its predecessors. The Far Cry will make its in-game debut on American soil and we are only two months away from release. As that time draws near, Ubisoft has officially announced the PC requirements for Far Cry 5, along with some mention of the PC-centric features to expect when the game arrives March 27.

With the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X ensuring that even console games offer differing levels or visual fidelity and performance, Ubisoft has provided several system requirement lists so that players can make sure they meet their performance goals.

Far Cry 5 PC Specs and System Requirements

MINIMUM CONFIGURATION:
OS: Windows 7 SP1, Windows 8.1, Windows 10 (64-bit versions only)
PROCESSOR: Intel Core i5-2400 @ 3.1 GHz or AMD FX-6300 @ 3.5 GHz or equivalent
VIDEO CARD: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670 or AMD R9 270 (2GB VRAM with Shader Model 5.0 or better)
SYSTEM RAM: 8GB
Resolution: 720p
Video Preset: Low

RECOMMENDED CONFIGURATION (60 FPS):
OS: Windows 7 SP1, Windows 8.1, Windows 10 (64-bit versions only)
PROCESSOR: Intel Core i7-4770 @ 3.4 GHz or AMD Ryzen 5 1600 @ 3.2 GHz or equivalent
VIDEO CARD: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 or AMD R9 290X (4GB VRAM with Shader Model 5.0 or better)
SYSTEM RAM: 8GB
Resolution: 1080p
Video Preset: High

4K 30 FPS CONFIGURATION:
OS: Windows 10 (64-bit version only)
PROCESSOR: Intel Core i7-6700 @ 3.4 GHz or AMD Ryzen 5 1600X @ 3.6 GHz or equivalent
VIDEO CARD: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 or AMD RX Vega 56 (8GB VRAM with Shader Model 5.0 or better)
SYSTEM RAM: 16GB
Resolution: 2160p
Video Preset: High

4K 60 FPS CONFIGURATION:
OS: Windows 10 (64-bit version only)
PROCESSOR: Intel Core i7-6700K @ 4.0 GHz or AMD Ryzen 7 1700X @ 3.4 GHz or equivalent
VIDEO CARD: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 SLI or AMD RX Vega 56 CFX (8GB VRAM with Shader Model 5.0 or better)
SYSTEM RAM: 16GB
Resolution: 2160p
Video Preset: High/Ultra

It is interesting that Ubisoft has included a requirements list for 4K 30fps on “High” settings. PC players can expect to meet these requirements if they are looking to match the experience provided by the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X versions of the game.

As far as PC-specific features, Far Cry 5 will support adjustable FOV, Ultrawide monitors, FPS locking, an internal resolution scaler, and multi-GPU configurations. For the video card performance nerds, Ubisoft is including a built-in benchmarking tool. This tool will let users who love to tinker get useful data on how their PC is working with the game engine and how the different setting will affect performance.

Far Cry 5 is just around the corner, arriving March 27. You can pre-order the game for the PS4, Xbox One, or PC right now and be ready for the fight.

Posted: 23-01-18

Xbox Game Pass launched in June 2017 and Microsoft has been working hard to add value to the subscription service. They have expanded it to more regions internationally and today they have made a huge announcement, new game releases from Microsoft Game Studios will now be included in the Xbox Game Pass subsciption. This means Sea of Thieves, Crackdown 3, State of Decay 2, and other new releases will all be available to Xbox Game Pass subscribers on launch day.

Check out the message from Head of Xbox Phil Spencer.


Today, we’re excited to announce plans for a major expansion to Xbox Game Pass that underscores our commitment to deliver our fans the ultimate gaming subscription service.

Moving forward, we plan to release all new Xbox One exclusive games from Microsoft Studios into Xbox Game Pass on the same date as their global release. This means that when Sea of Thieves launches on March 20, it will be included in Xbox Game Pass to all members.

This plan to bring new games timed with their global release into Xbox Game Pass not only includes announced titles like Sea of ThievesState of Decay 2 and Crackdown 3 but future unannounced games from Microsoft Studios including new iterations of our biggest Xbox One exclusive franchises such as Halo, Forza and Gears of War, on the same day they launch.

Our fans have also asked for more choice in the subscription offerings available for Xbox Game Pass. As part of today’s library expansion, we are also pleased to announce that we are working closely with our retail partners, such as GameStop, to offer a 6-month Xbox Game Pass subscription card for those fans who look for a variety of ways to purchase and enjoy new games and services. The 6-month Xbox Game Pass subscription card will be available at select retail partners for $59.99 beginning March 20. By working closely with retail partners, Xbox Game Pass will have valuable ambassadors in popular destinations for gamers to discover new and exciting games and enjoy community.

With the addition of more great games, new blockbuster releases and a new subscription offer, we are giving fans more choice and value in how they discover and enjoy games – purchase games for their permanent library or play through Xbox Game Pass for one low price.

We’ve only scratched the surface of the opportunity this new model brings to the industry and what we can deliver to our fans. We firmly believe Xbox Game Pass will be a catalyst to create new opportunities for game developers and publishers to innovate in the way games are developed and delivered, leading to entirely new ways to play.

We’re truly humbled by the incredible response we’ve received to date for Xbox Game Pass, and we look forward to offering an unprecedented choice and value with Xbox Game Pass this spring and beyond.


This is massive news for Xbox One owners and is definitely a needed shot in the arm for Microsoft. The company also announced a 6-month Xbox Game Pass subscription option available at select retailers for $59.99. Today's announcement definitely makes the price way more palatable.

Speaking of increasing value to subscribers, did you know that our 'Rocket Jump' Book Now Available in EPUB and MOBI Formats for Shacknews Mercury Subscribers? Talk about a value add!

Posted: 23-01-18

Kratos is coming back soon to PlayStation. This time he will be kicking some but in a new realm of Norse mythology. Sony just announced the release date for the latest God of War game on their social media outlets. 

God of War out April 20 on PS4: https://t.co/zFcJ0ZHpGU New trailer, plus full details on Collector’s Edition, Stone Mason Edition, preorder bonuses and more pic.twitter.com/PGvlk98qF9

— PlayStation (@PlayStation) January 23, 2018

That's right, Shackers. We will all be able to blaze one with Kratos this 4/20. Clearly this is a response to the Nintendo Labo release date

Sony has been pretty cagey about the game, but check out everything we know so far about God of War for PS4. Looks like this Spring is going to be a busy one!

Posted: 23-01-18

Assassin’s Creed Origins has received its first piece of DLC, The Hidden Ones, and would-be assassins are diving at the chance to unravel more plot and intrigue in ancient Egypt. But before you can start unlocking new armor, weapons, and reaching new levels, you must first start The Hidden Ones.

How to Start The Hidden Ones

Before you can begin playing The Hidden Ones, you will need to ensure you have it purchased and downloaded. If you’re not sure whether you own the DLC, go to the store on your console and check whether it has been purchased, or check your recent download history.

Once you have successfully installed The Hidden Ones, you will need to load up (or reboot) Assassin’s Creed Origins, depending on whether you were playing at the time of download. If you’re already playing, you may be prompted to return to the title screen.

Load up your game save and you’ll immediately receive a Letter from Tahira in your inventory and Assassin’s Creed Origins will inform you that Sinai is now available, as is The Hidden Ones content. Keep in mind this is end-game content and it’s advised that you reach Level 40, though you can get away with being a couple of levels below.

With that sorted, you can open your quest log and track the Main Quest called, “The Hidden Ones”. This is a Level 38 mission that begins in Memphis near the docks. Upon talking to a man, the game will prompt you that this takes place four years after the conclusion of the main story, so it’s a good idea to have at least completed the storyline before continuing.

When you reach Sinai, the only way to get back to mainland Egypt is to use the new Atlas feature in the map menu. Good luck out there assassins! Check back with us as we cover the release of The Hidden Ones. In the meantime, take a look at some of our other Assassin’s Creed Origin guides, such as all tomb locations and the Incoming Threat side quest.

Posted: 23-01-18

In one of the more ridiculous stories of this young year, The Hollywood Reporter is reporting news that WWE Superstar John Cena is in talks to play the role of his life, Duke Nukem. You read that, apparently Michael Bay's production company Platinum Dunes is producing a movie based on my buddy Duke. 

Duke Nukem 3D is touted as one of the most important first-person shooters of all-time, but the franchise had fallen out of favor after the response to the long-awaited Duke Nukem Forever sequel. Apparently Paramount has acquired the movie rights to Duke Nukem from Gearbox Software after a previous deal with Dimension Films lapsed. 

This news is baffling considering the Duke Nukem franchise is truly in disrepair and Duke's irreverant and politcally incorrect escapades don't exactly mesh well with the current "Me Too" Hollywood landscape. Platinum Dunes is known for The Purge and Ninja Turtles films that they previously produced for Paramount. John Cena has also found a movie home at Paramount appearing in Daddy's Home 2 and in the upcoming Transformers spin-off Bumblebee. Perhaps this rumor is true, but this all seems unnecessary and stupid. 

We last saw a glimpse of our good buddy Duke Nukem in the trailer for Ready Player One, but it would make more sense to see a Duke Nukem game return the King to his throne before taking on Hollywood. We will be sure to follow this confounding story as it develops.

Posted: 23-01-18

Looking for a new way to listen to your favorite music? AfterShokz’ bone conducting headphones is quite the intriguing way to change up how you hear your beloved tracks. Greg Burke was on hand during CES 2018 to chat with AfterShokz about their bone conduction technology and how it’s different from typical headphones and earbuds.

The tiny bones of your ear already use this process to process sound, but AfterShokz products create sound with mini vibrations that begin at your cheekbones and go all the way to your inner ears, so your eardrums are spared the volume and possible damage while listening to louder music. Plus, they’re a lot more comfortable than regular headphones, and other people can’t hear them. Check out the interview about this new product below!

Posted: 23-01-18

French startup Blade is looking to finally get things right when it comes to cloud gaming services. It hopes to learn from where OnLive failed and improve upon current selections like Nvidia’s GeForce Now and Sony’s PS Now, but it’s got its work cut out for it. Greg Burke was on hand during CES 2018 to chat about the Shadow cloud-based PC streaming service, and it sounds pretty promising.

When the service rolls out, users will be able to play via PC, Mac, and Android devices with “high-end” graphics card and tech that should allow you to play just about any game out there, simply via streaming. It sounds like the future is here, so if you're looking for a gaming solution, Shadow may well be what you need to try out next! You can check out Greg's interview from CES 2018 below. 

Posted: 23-01-18

There's been a fun little mobile game titled BlockQuest kicking around the Google and Apple app stores for a few years, and it's a sort of a cross between traditional RPGs and slimmed-down platformers like Crossy Roads. The game has been a hit for developer WOnderland Kazakiri, so much so that the studio was able to release an updated version of the core concept with Dungeon of Gravestone, which released just last year. And since that game too was able to find its own success, the team is now gearing up to release a fresh and overhauled take on genre mashup in the all-new mobile title Block Quest Maker.

Block Quest Maker will play out in a similar manner to past games from the developer, but the core mechanics have been tweaked to focus on user creations. In essence, players will be able to create their own dungeons, play through them, and then share those creations with others. Players will be able to use the game's Dive mode to jump into other users' dungeons, which will not only provide them with various loot, but will also provide the dungeon's creator with a set amount of gold.

This concept turns Block Quest Maker into sort of a social network for its creators, with users earning currency both for themselves and for others simply by playing the game. The whole thing looks very interesting, too, with loads of different environment blocks as well as items and traps to keep adventurers guessing. Check out some of the game's action in the new trailer, featured below.

Wonderland Kazakiri is planning to release Block Quest Maker as a free-to-play title with several different in-game purchase options for players who might want to expediate the usual processes. Playing dungeons will also require coins, the likes of which can be bought with real money, earned by watching ads, or even by charging other players to romp through specific creations. It's a fairly unique concept, and players will be able to check out all that the game has to offer when Block Quest Maker releases for iOS and Android devices on January 24.

Posted: 23-01-18

First details for this year's collegiate Heroes of the Dorm tournament for Blizzard's Heroes of the Storm have been revealed. This will be the fourth year of the college tournament's existence and will have a few noteworthy additions.

This year's Heroes of the Dorm will introduce regional play, which is set to begin on February 6 and conclude with regional championships on March 11. The regional competitions will help shape up the 64-team bracket, which is set to be revealed on March 19. The round of 64 will conclude the month of March, with the Heroic Four taking place towards the end of April into early May.

Look for defending champions UT Arlington to be among the schools competing, with over $500,000 in scholarships on the line. More details, including how to register, can be found on the Heroes of the Dorm website.

Tespa is also throwing a few more additional college tournaments on top of Heroes of the Dorm. The Hearthstone Collegiate Championship will feature $150,000 in scholarships across a seven-week regular season and playoffs. Meanwhile, the Tespa Collegiate Series - StarCraft will offer up $35,000 in scholarships for its 16-team series that will unfold over an eight week regular season.

Posted: 22-01-18

Rocket Jump: Quake and the Golden Age of First-Person Shooters, my 500-page feature that delves into the FPS franchise that sent tremors through id Software and the gaming industry, is now available in MOBI and EPUB formats for Shacknews Mercury subscribers.

To download Rocket Jump, you must subscribe to Shacknews Mercury. If you're not a subscriber, open your Settings and click the Mercury tab to subscribe. For $5 a month, you'll receive an ad-free browsing experience plus access to Rocket Jump and other premium content to be announced in the future.

Once you've subscribed, open Rocket Jump then use the Table of Contents to browse to the Epilogue. (Only Mercury subscribers are able to read past the first two chapters.) At the bottom, you'll find links to MOBI and EPUB downloads. Kindle devices use MOBI files, while virtually all other devices can load EPUBs.

The quickest and easiest way to start reading Rocket Jump on the device of your choice is to download one or both eBooks, email the file(s) to yourself, then open the download on the device of your choice. For example, if you read Kindle books on an iPad, downloading any MOBI file should automatically open your Kindle app.

For Rocket Jump, I interviewed dozens of developers including John Carmack, John Romero, Tim Willits, Sandy Petersen, American McGee, Jennell Jaquays, and more. Beyond the history of the Quake franchise, Rocket Jump includes "Side Quest" chapters that explore the making of other FPS games from the 1990s including Half-Life, Team Fortress, and Duke Nukem 3D.

Posted: 22-01-18

There was a time in gaming where the two biggest names on players' minds were Sonic and Mario. Many a playground scuffle was sparked by debating the individual merits of either mascot, and while Mario would eventually enjoy a much more significant reign, there are still plenty of retro-minded gamers who absolutely adore Sonic the Hedgehog. Creating that sort of gaming icon takes talent, and in this case the talent game from now-legendary game programmer and developer Yuji Naka, who handled programming for the original Sonic the Hedgehog and would go on to work with Sonic Team for many years. Now it seems Naka has a new home, as he revealed just earlier today that he's joined forces with powerhouse game development and publishing studio Square Enix.

Just a quick note to let you know, I joined SQUARE ENIX in January.
I’m joining game development as before, and strive to develop games at SQUARE ENIX.
I aim to develop an enjoyable game, please look forward to it.

— Yuji Naka (@nakayuji) January 22, 2018

This is great news not just for Sonic fans but for general game fans alike: Square Enix has been behind some of the biggest hits in gaming across the last two decades, with both Squaresoft and Enix releasing massive hits for the Super NES back when Naka was still cranking out 16-bit Sonic titles for the Sega Genesis. If ever there were a studio that would be worthy of the man's talents, Square Enix seems like a good fit.

Aside from being involved in video game development, we can't say precisely what Naka's role will be at the new studio. Square Enix handles a lot of different properties — far too many to list here — and Naka could essentially find work with any of them. Humble as ever, all we have to go on is Naka's own aim "to develop an enjoyable game." While more concrete details wouldn't go unappreciated, we certainly look forward to seeing where he goes from here.

Posted: 22-01-18

Assassin's Creed Origins, the latest release in the iconic history-bending series, has been spinning inside player's systems for about three months since its release last October. Even in a game big as this one, three months is plenty of time to get a look at most of what is on offer; fortunately, it's also just enough time for players to work up an appetite for fresh story-based content.

Enter The Hidden Ones, Ubisoft's first major DLC release for Assassin's Creed Origins. The expansion is set four years after the events of the main campaign, with story content promising to reveal more details regarding the history of the Assassin Brotherhood. Events of the DLC will also take place in the all-new Sinai Peninsula territory, where players will be caught up in a conflict between Roman forces and a local rebel alliance.

By now, the wait for the Hidden Ones DLC is nearly over, as players will be able to make their first nosedives into the expansion when it releases for major consoles tomorrow. Until then, Ubisoft has provided one last trailer to give players a taste of what's to come with the new content, the likes of which we have featured above.

The future wait time between bouts of new content will be shortened with the upcoming The Curse of Pharaohs DLC: instead of three months in this case, the Curse of Pharaohs DLC will release about two months from now on March 6. Both DLC packs will be offered together as part of the season pass or for sale individually, with The Hidden Ones costing $10 and Curse of Pharaohs costing $20.

Posted: 22-01-18

Assassin’s Creed Origins’ first piece of DLC, The Hidden Ones, is just around the corner, and to prepare you for a new adventure, Ubisoft has added a new quest for you to complete. Called, Incoming Threat, the side quest tasks you with defending Siwa once more.

Incoming Threat Quests

Upon loading up Assassin’s Creed Origins, you may notice a new icon has appeared on the world map. This orange quest icon heralds the Incoming Threat side quest, a level 35 activity that begins in the city of Herakleion, in Herakleion Nome.

The Threat Incoming side quest description is as follows:

“Siwa appears to be once again under threat. Bayek must head off the looming incursion and learn about where it came from.”

Once you reach the marker, a servant will approach you with a letter from Otis, who details a threat against Siwa. As it turns out, a Roman general has come to Siwa to seek out some artefacts, and it’s up to you to prevent him from massacring the town.

Head to Siwa, and search for the Saragina Camp located to the north in the mountains. The camp contains a Captain, Commander, and two treasures to loot. Your task is to kill every single soldier in the camp and loot their bodies.

The second part of the Incoming Threat side quest will task you with finding several carts filled with luxurious goods. The carts’ locations will be placed on your map, so all you need to do is find them and break them to pieces. Though this part is straight forward, the carts are often in highly-fortified locations that contain a lot of enemies. If a cart is in a fort, sabotage the signal fires to prevent any extra enemies coming in and interrupting you. With all the carts broken, you will need to head to Otis to inform him of your success.

The Incoming Threat side quest is fairly easy, but it does path the way for the next major threat that Bayek will need to take care of. Be sure to check out our other Assassin’s Creed Origins guides, such as where to find all papyrus treasures or all Phylake locations.

Posted: 22-01-18

The 2017 Hearthstone competitive season has come to a close. The Year of the Mammoth will come to an end in just a few short months. And after an exciting World Championships that saw Chen "tom60229" Wei Lin leave Amsterdam as the king of the Hearthstone world, the question becomes what's next for the game's competitive element.

Shacknews recently had the opportunity to watch the Hearthstone World Championships first-hand. During our time in Amsterdam, we spoke to Hearthstone Esports Global Franchise Leader Che Chou. Among the topics hit were the future of Hearthstone esports, the changes set to take effect next season, the future of Wild tournaments, and the return of the Hearthstone Global Games.

Shacknews: How do you feel the Hearthstone esports year has gone overall? What were some of the positive and negative experiences the team has had over the course of the season?

Che Chou, Hearthstone Esports Global Franchise Leader: It actually takes a world championship event like this for my team and I to take a step back and look back at all that has happened this year. If nothing else, 2017 has been a crazy roller coaster for us as a team, but also, hopefully, for our audiences that have been following the storylines. In 2017, I joined the Hearthstone esports team with the charter of taking it into the future. When I joined, my counterpart on Team 5, Matt Wyble, who was managing esports at the time with through the dev team, they had set up a super ambitious plan for 2017 that included things like, 'Hey, we're going to start doing championships and tournaments worldwide. We're going to go to all these different places, we're going to do live events, we're going to create audience experiences.' Those are all things that Hearthstone as an esport had not explored before outside of BlizzCon. That was super ambitious and, to be honest, the team... we frankly didn't know what we were getting ourselves into with that ambition.

We also worked with a brand new production partner, 441. We got a hold of them, because these were the guys who created the World Series of Poker. So the thought at the time was that if we really wanted to ramp up our production values and make HCT our premiere esport, how do we do that from a production standpoint? Why not go straight to the guys that put card games on the map for the mainstream? I think it's been a wonderful partnership. I'm really proud of the quality we've brought to our broadcasts from 2016 to 2017. Obviously, there's lots more to do there, but I'm pretty happy with where we are there.

But my favorite thing out of 2017, besides all the travel and the events, has been what we've done, how much we've invested in, and how much we've nourished the competitive Hearthstone community. I think that sub-community of the larger Hearthstone community is still in its infancy right now. There's a big Fireside Gathering community, there's a big overall player base. But when it comes to the Hearthstone esports community, I feel like we're just getting started. The dream, for me, I want to create a whole new breed of Hearthstone influencers who are just competitive players. It's great to see some of our competitive players like Pavel and Ant, just based on the success of their tournament results, start to gain a following. They've earned their stripes from winning tournaments, as opposed to just being a personality. I would love to see more influencers/players make that transition.

So overall, I think 2017 was an important year for us to be grounded and establish ourselves as an esport. And 2018, it's kind of our "grow up" phase. We're entering adolescence. 2017 and 2016 were definitely our growing years and now we're all in. We're going to try to create a pro Hearthstone lifestyle and start recognizing teams, start doing team invitational type stuff, so I think there's a lot that we're planning right now.

Shacknews: What are some of the big changes you're planning for 2018, particularly when it comes to the point system?

Chou: It's pretty simple. At its core, not a ton has changed, but we've done two significant things.

The first thing is, and this is big, we got a lot of feedback that qualifying for playoffs was a bit of a guessing game. Really, what we were saying was that we're going to take the top 64 point earners and if you tied for 64th, we're going to take everyone and let in the Tavern Hero guys. That was the system and with that system, people were like, 'Hey, I don't know if I'm Top 64, honestly.'

We wanted to take the guessing game out. Season 1 is 45 points to qualify? If you hit 45 points, either through ladder points, tour stops, etc., you qualify. We set a point threshold that allows our most serious players to plan out how they plan to qualify this season.

The other thing we're doing is that we're formally recognizing performance results over the span of time, as opposed to previous Hearthstone seasons where making playoffs or making World Champs or making Seasonal Champs depended on whether or not you got to quarterfinals. You could make it really far, you could make it to the round of eight, but if you didn't make the quarterfinals, you missed the jackpot. So what we're saying is, winning matches is still important, but at the same time, let's say you're a high-performing player, consistently making Top 8. If you miss quarterfinals, you don't just reset back to zero. We're going to start recognizing you over the course of three seasons and based on your performance each season, we're going to add it all up and that grants you the status. We anticipate that by the end of Season 2, start of Season 3, we're going to start seeing the first players moving into the Masters system and that's when I think things get interesting. That's when they hit the status, we recognize them as a master player, they start getting benefits, etc. One of those benefits is an inviation to the playoffs each season if they're at three stars. We're a couple of seasons away from players getting to that stage. Right now, for me a lot of the storytelling is, who's going to be first? Who are the players that are on their path there?

Really, it comes down to point threshold and recognizing performance over time. You could say a third significant thing is, with the Challenger system, we've removed that pro element from Tavern Heroes and online cups. Players who are less experienced with HCT and haven't qualified for playoffs before, they are now playing in a field that is not going to have the sharks come in and try to qualify that way.

[For Season 1] 35 points feels attainable. It's a little conservative, but we want to start conservative and see where players land in terms of results. If we find that Masters is too unattainable or qualifying with 45 points is unrealistic, we will adjust.

Shacknews: You've mentioned some of the changes to Tavern Hero and the Challenger system. We've seen a lot of new faces this year. Are there other ways in which you're to bring in even more new faces to the Hearthstone esports world?

Chou: Yeah, we had a couple of cool Tavern Hero stories in 2017. It's always great to see those guys come into playoffs through a different avenue. Great to see Tavern Hero guys make it into Top 16. We've also seen new faces, like uya from Japan who made it into the Summer Championship as a school teacher, who plays on a train on his way to work.

I think we will see new faces through Challenger, for sure. Those guys will be more authentic as Challengers. At the same time, because Hearthstone is a game that's mobile, accessible, always in your pocket, and everything else, we are going to continue to see new faces, just because of the open nature of the game. We're definitely going to see new faces this year. Another thing I'd definitely love to see is more women play Hearthstone and compete. There's no reason why they shouldn't or can't.

Shacknews: Will you also be branching out into new countries or new regions, such as the Middle East, for Hearthstone players?

Chou: We have a lot of tour stops planned for the HCT and I think one of the goals with tour stops is to be in as diverse a region as possible in terms of our coverage for the different regions: Asia-Pacific, Europe, and the Americas. We want to make sure hit all of those places.

In terms of eligibility of countries to play HCT, I think a lot of that is purely based on how available Hearthstone is in that country for the population there. We can definitely allow new countries to join. I think it just requires us to sit down and have that discussion and work with our legal department.

Shacknews: We heard about the return of the Hearthstone Global Games. What are some of the lessons the team learned with the first HGG and what are some changes we'll be seeing for the new season?

Chou: We haven't announced a ton of details, except that it is coming back. I'm really excited about the Finals. We're doing cool things this year. And we're still going to do the whole regional team voting mechanic from last year.

In 2017, HGG was definitely one of the highlights. It started off as an idea of "How do we do the World Cup for Hearthstone?" That started the thinking around it making sense that it's team-based. So it was our first official team championship for Hearthstone, from a Blizzard production standpoint. I know that we also have the Trinity Series. For us, it was like, we want to try teams, we want to activate national pride, we want to hit on all these different beats, and actually pulling it off and seeing countries and countrymen and all that excitement for us at Gamescome last year and people showing up with flags was so awesome to see.

One big piece of feedback that we had internally from ourselves and also from talking with others, is that we recognize that it ran too long. I think 15-16 weeks of competition was a little harder to tell that story. So we're going to make adjustments to address that this year with a more truncated, more compressed season. It's going to be more succinct, so we can tell a tighter story. So I think it's going to be about 9-10 weeks. We're going to tell a tighter story and we're going to work with our production partners to build more content and tell more stories for the broadcast itself.

We see HGG also as a cool place to experiment. This past year, a lot of HGG was very experimental for us. We're going to continue to plan for those things this year. At the end of the day, we're doubling down on what makes it special... teams, personalities, unlikely bedfellows and competitors from the same country on the same team.

Shacknews: I mentioned this to Matt Wyble at the Summer Championship and now I'll toss this question to you. Wild is going to be a lot more interesting with everything that's set to rotate out in just a few short months. Are there plans to throw more Wild tournaments?

Chou: The answer is yes. We don't have anything to discuss right now, because we're still working on it. It is being designed right now. We're discussing with partners on how to do it. I definitely want to do more Wild tournaments this year.

Shacknews: And lastly, do you feel moving the World Championship to January has been successful or do you feel that it's missing that raucous BlizzCon atmosphere?

Chou: BlizzCon without Hearthstone esports this year, there were ups and downs. I personally missed having esports at BlizzCon, though I loved what the team did with the Inn-vitational and all the new things that we tried there. The Inn-vitational as an experiment was really interesting and successful.

But when it comes to the World Championship as its own event. We recognize that if we take it out of BlizzCon, we'd better make it pretty epic. Hence, Amsterdam. And next year, based on the seasons and timing, the World Championship is actually going to be much closer to March, which will be much closer to set rotation.

January, it is what it is. We all came back from New Years scrambling to finish up production, so it's been interesting.

Posted: 22-01-18

Shacknews has been moving around the 2018 Consumer Electronic Show sampling all the wares on offer, and one of the most impressive pieces of tech we got to check out was the Nvidia BFGD 65-inch monitor. The BFGD stands for “Big Format Gaming Display”, but we’ve all played DOOM, we know what it actually stands for.

The Nvidia Big Format Gaming Display (BFGD) is a monstrously large monitor for PC gaming enthusiasts everywhere. The monitor has some impressive specifications, including 4K resolution and HDR 10 support, 120Hz refresh rate, ultra-low latency, voice assist that can talk with your other home devices, and some impressive LED tech.

Above you can see Pete from the Hewlett Packard Omen Display Group talk about the Nvidia BFGD’s 1,000 nits of brightness, local dimming, and matrix LEDs that won’t affect one another – no bleeding!

There’s currently no price point for the Nvidia BFGD monitor, but we do have a release window of Fall 2018.

This new hardware comes right off the back of Nvidia’s press conference where they showed off a whole lot of improvements to computing. Drive Xavier, the world’s first autonomous machine processor, was one such announcement that was coupled with a video of an 8-mile journey of a vehicle being driven autonomously. It’s looking like 2018 is going to be a pretty big year for Nvidia – big screens, big graphics cards, and big advancements in AI. Now we just need to wait for the BFGD to show up on the Nvidia shop.

Posted: 22-01-18

Originally released way back in early 2016, Ubisoft’s loot shooter The Division arrived on the scene with cutting edge graphics, sound, and gameplay, but it left a sour taste in many player’s mouths due to the absence of endgame balance and content. The game saw several major updates from its season pass content, along with several large patches. The Division’s endgame was never able to hold on to gamer’s attentions the way it did for the initial campaign and leveling progressions and it had severe PvP balance problems (some of which still exist).

Thankfully, Ubisoft and developer Massive continued to work on The Division, culminating on patch 1.8. The 1.8 update arrived on December 5, 2017 and word began to spread slowly throughout the gaming community that The Division had finally reached its potential. A major improvement in virtually every measure, the new update added lots of meaningful endgame content and fixed many lingering issues that had plagued the game since launch. For the first time in ages, the game’s player base is once again growing as more people are discovering the gem that took Ubisoft and Massive almost 2 years to get perfect.

As new and returning players continue to fill the frozen streets of New York City, anticipation is building for The Division’s next Global Event. Listed below is everything you need to know about the Global Event and how to get the most out of your play sessions in the coming week.


When Does The Division Global Event #4 Start?

The Global Event begins for players on Xbox One, PS4, and PC on November 23 at 12PM eastern (9AM pacific). The event is scheduled to run throughout the week and will conclude January 30 at 12PM eastern (9AM pacific). You can find Ubisoft’s official Global Event Dev Blog here.

Players looking for the newest Classified gear sets or interesting gameplay modifiers will have one full week to soak in all the action during Global Event #4.

What Is The Division Global Event?

Global Events are week long events, that will add modifiers to your normal Division experience. Created with the idea of changing the way you play The Division, these events take place over the course of one week and feature a brand new currency, Tokens, as a reward that can be spent on items such as Global Event Caches. These Caches can be bought from the Global Event Vendor in the Terminal. Currently, Tokens are capped at 10,000 and can be carried over from one Global Event to the next.

Each Global Event has a specific story behind it, that is also tied in with one of the enemy factions. For example, the first Global Event, “Outbreak”, added a challenge with toxic NPCs, so all missions that revolve around the Cleaners will also had the additional modifiers, while the other missions just had the Global Modifier.

Every Global Event has a number of Commendations attached to it. These can be unlocked while you are doing the Global Event activities. Your Progression will be reflected in the Global Event Leaderboard that gives you information about how you are doing. These Leaderboards can be seen in the new Global Event Area in the Terminal.

What are the Global Event #4 Modifiers and Missions?

Global Event #4, also known as “Ambush”, contains several modifiers

  • Ambush - Always active; agents deal increased damage while stationary.
  • Covert Ambush - Ambush behaviour, plus damage then health diminishes while moving.
  • Strategic Ambush - Covert Ambush behaviour, plus damage diminishes when close to allies.

These special missions for Global Event #4 will offer Token bonuses for completion.

  • Queens Tunnel
  • Time Square
  • Broadway Emporium
  • Police Academy
  • Dragon's Nest

What Classified Gear Sets Can You Get From Global Event Caches?

During the Global Event period, players will complete activities and be rewarded with Global Event Tokens. These Tokens are spent in the Terminal to purchase Global Event Caches. These caches offer the best chance at containing Classified gear set pieces, the rarest and most powerful items in the game.

4 new Classified gear sets are being introduced with the Global Event. Only these set pieces can be found inside the Global Event Caches.

  • AlphaBridge
  • FireCrest
  • Hunter’s Faith
  • Tactician’s Authority

Acquiring 6 pieces of any Classified gear set will allow for the most powerful endgame builds possible in The Division. So make an effort to complete events that reward you with the most GE Tokens possible.

What Are The Global Event Token Rewards for Each Mission/Activity?

Caches

  • Last Stand caches give you 85 GE Tokens each
  • Survival caches give you 170 GE Tokens each

Missions - Global Event Bonus

  • Normal +50 GE Tokens
  • Hard + 75 GE Tokens
  • Challenging + 125 GE Tokens
  • Legendary + 175 GE Tokens

Incursions - Global Event Bonus

  • Challenging + 125 GE
  • Heroic + 175 GE

Mission/Incursion named bosses

  • Normal: 17 GE Tokens
  • Hard: 25 GE Tokens
  • Challenging: 38 GE Tokens
  • Legendary: 58 GE Tokens

HVTs
For the weeklies:

  • 23 intel = 400 GEC
  • 25 intel = 650 GEC
  • 29/35 intel = 550 GEC
  • 37/45 intel = 750 GEC

For the dailies:

  • 5 intel = 100 GEC
  • 10 intel = 175 GEC
  • 15/19 intel = 225 GEC

New and returning players should get the game installed or patched up so they can be ready to participate in the global event and snag those Classified gear sets. Good luck to all Division Agents and happy hunting on those cold NYC streets!

Posted: 22-01-18

There are a lot of collectibles to find in Assassin’s Creed Origins, and a lot of places to visit, but one that offers the most immediate reward are the Hermit locations. Though there are only five, each Hermit locations grants you an ability point – so long as you can find the right place to sit.

All Hermit Locations

The five Hermit locations are fairly easy to find, but some can be tedious to reach, such as the one in the Black Desert. It’s a good idea to spend some time uncovering the map and unlock fast travel points before you hunt down the Hermit locations.

Qattara Depression – Aquifier Oasis

There is a Hermit location you can find in the Qattara Depression called Aquifier Oasis. If you’ve already found all the Stone Circles in Assassin’s Creed Origins, you can easily find this by going just south of the Osiris Stone Circle.

You can find a hint in the tent by the water, which reads: “Pure water. Pure power. Something in the two are connected.” To find the resting spot, head to the water and look for the three torches. Sit in the middle of the torches to receive your free ability point.

Herakleion Nome – Demesne of Sekhem

To find this Hermit location, travel to Herakleion Nome and head east. You will need to cross a river to reach the closest and largest island. On this island is a run-down hut by itself.

The hint can be found in the hut and reads: “My house is now one for the travellers. Share your stories with me to grow your soul.” You can rest and gain an ability point by finding the dead body outside, near all the flowers and candles. At the body’s feet are a collection of candles, stand in the middle and interact.

Faiyum – Eremites Hideout

The Hermit location in Faiyum can be found directly across from Krokodilopolis, and to the south of Euhemeria (a small city on the western bank of the Faiyum body of water). The Hermit location looks like it might have been a stone temple at some point.

You can find the hint up the stairs and to the left, close to an archery target. It reads: “My secret to make getting ahead is simple. I but rest on the gods’ shoulders” To find the resting spot, look for the two large statues of pharaohs. Climb the statues to reach the sandstone block above them, which is where you’ll find a red piece of fabric to rest on.

Black Desert – Ra-Horakhty Mountain Top

This next Hermit location is located at the very top of a large mountain in the Black Desert, close to the east near the Isolated Desert boarder. Making your way to the top of the mountain will also unlock the “I Can See My House From Here!” Achievement. Unfortunately, there aren’t any fast travel points in the Black Desert, so you might have a long way to ride. The best fast travel point to use is the one in the south-west of the Isolated Desert, from there, travel west.

The hint can be found just near the broken boardwalk at the top of the mountain and reads: “If you look at the vastness of the world, or even the majesty of these mountains you realize something… I am but a grain of sand, but I am part of it all.” To find the resting spot, follow the cairns with the red ribbons further up the hill – look for the red cloth and interact with it.

Paraitonion – Ogdamos

The final Hermit location can be found in Paraitonion, relatively close to the center of the area. The easiest way to find it is to use the only fast travel point in the region and travel straight north.

The hint is outside one of the hovels and reads: “This village has been reclaimed, finally, by the most sacred of animals. Uniting with that animal allows one to truly channel true might.” The resting spot is further up the stairs from the hint, look for the candle and enter the nearby house to find a carpet to sit on.

Resting at all five Hermit locations in Assassin’s Creed Origins rewards you with the “Words of Wisdom” Achievement. If you’re looking for some more ability points to flesh out your ability skill tree, it’s certainly worthwhile finding all the Hermit locations.

Be sure to check out our Assassin’s Creed Origins guide on the Sundial Puzzle as well as the location of all the tombs in the game.

Posted: 22-01-18

Shacknews headed to the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show last week to gallivant around in a world of new and emerging tech, and among them were some intriguing new products for our furry friends. Among them was Petcube’s all-in-one Wi-Fi pet camera that has a special treat dispenser. You can log in remotely while staying late at the office, and serve up a delicious treat for your fur baby even when you can’t be home to do it yourself.

Greg Burke chatted with Petcube about the Petcube Bites cam and its various applications at CES 2018, and it’s a great idea that anyone who’s away from home a lot with roaming buddies at home can use. You can even check in on Rover to see what he’s gotten up to from the moment you lock the door and set off on your commute. Check out the interview in the video below!

Posted: 22-01-18

In the exhibition halls at CES 2018, you can find just about anything electronic and get a glimpse of the future. Fitness aficionados are also included in the target audience for some of technology’s newest advancements. Black Box VR is designed to be a full-fledged resistance training experience built to take advantage of the newest VR headsets.

Black Box VR was founded by Ryan DeLuca & Preston Lewis, some of the minds behind Bodybuilding.com and some of the most popular workout and fitness app for mobile devices, and allows VR users to gamify their workouts using the immersiveness provided by the HTC Vive. Initially, Black Box VR will be available at gyms and other public facilities, but there are plans to move the experience into your home in the future. The folks at Black Box VR claim that this system can replace an entire home gym.

To get a detailed look at what has gone into Black Box VR and how it all works, Shacknews’ own Greg Burke got a chance to speak with Ryan DeLuca on the CES show floor. Check out their chat below.

Those interested in Black Box VR can also check out the official website for even more information.

Posted: 22-01-18

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