OCC TECH NEWS
August 5, 2014
When Assassin's Creed Unity was announced for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, word got out that a last-gen Assassin's Creed game was also in the works, codenamed Comet. Today, Ubisoft has officially announced Assassin's Creed Rogue, coming to PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 worldwide on November 11 (two weeks after Unity). Whereas Unity takes place in 18th century Paris during the French Revolution, Rogue concludes the North American trilogy, transporting us to new locations across North America during the Seven Years War, also in the 18th century. These locations include "the frozen North Atlantic, the Appalachian River Valley and New York," and the game will feature a naval component with a new ship called the Morrigan.
Assassin's Creed Rogue marks the first time players will be able to take on the role of a Templar. "After a mission for the Assassin Brotherhood goes terribly wrong, Shay Patrick Cormac leaves the Order, prompting his former brothers to make an attempt on his life. Of course, what doesn’t kill you turns you into a hunter. Now Shay is on a path of vengeance, tracking down the Assassins and systematically eliminating them. Assassin’s Creed Rogue will be the darkest chapter in the franchise as you take off your Assassin hood and step into the role of a Templar."
Assassin's Creed Rogue is being developed by Ubisoft Sofia, in collaboration with Ubisoft's Singapore, Montreal, Quebec, Chengdu, Milan, and Bucharest studios. Pre-ordering grants you the Ultimate Hunter Pack (an exclusive collection of Templar weapons and items) and The Siege of Fort de Sable Mission (a bonus fort-raiding mission). The standard edition is priced at $59.99. A collector's edition will also be available with an art-book, three lithographs, the original soundtrack, and two additional single player missions, but pricing was not disclosed. Of course, the real question is, how long before an "HD Version" comes to PC, PS4, and XBO? We all know it's going to happen eventually; it's a matter of when, not if.
Source: Press Release and UbiBlog
An easy way to extend the battery life of devices like smartphones is to turn off their wireless radios. Broadcasting signals is an energy expensive process, which is one of the reasons we have not yet achieved an Internet of Things that will connect non-traditional devices. Researchers at the University of Washington though have developed a technology that drops the energy required for wireless data transfer to negligible levels by taking advantage of the signals already there.
Traditional wireless communication relies on a transmitter to put out a signal for a receiver to pick up. Previous research has demonstrated that the energy of those signals can be captured and used to power some small devices, but typically the power acquired this way is not enough to send a signal. The Washington researchers solved this problem by not sending signals but by using Wi-Fi backscatter, which alters signals already in the air, instead of producing new ones. Doing this is so much simpler that the device using this technology would not need a battery to communicate.
So far the researchers have demonstrated communication at 1 Kbps with a two meter distance between devices, which they hope to increase to 20 meters. While that is a relatively slow connection, the idea here is not to download webpages and videos but to provide simpler data, like temperature information on a room or your workout statistics to an online spreadsheet.
Source: University of Washington
We are moving right along with August, with plenty of items for you to check out. There is the ASUS R9 270 Direct CU II OC video card, which may not have as high stock clocks as a 270X, but that custom cooler could easily help surpass those numbers. If you're into water cooling and reside on the NVIDIA half, we have a look at the EKWB ASUS GTX 780 Ti DCII OC full cover water block that also comes with a rear plate for maximum cooling. To house your computer, and have it look good while doing so, there's a review on the Phanteks Enthoo Luxe, a fancier version of the Enthoo Pro. Thecus' N2560 Dual-Bay NAS gets put to the test to see how well this affordable option performs. If you need a new mouse pad, maybe the XTracGear Ripper is the one for you. Rounding out today's assortment is the ASUS MeMO Pad 7, an Android tablet powered by Intel.
ASUS R9 270 Direct CU II OC @ Madshrimps
EKWB ASUS GTX 780 Ti DCII OC Full Cover Water Block @ Madshrimps
Phanteks Enthoo Luxe @ ThinkComputers
Thecus N2560 Dual-Bay NAS @ PC Perspective
XTracGear Ripper @ Benchmark Reviews
ASUS MeMO Pad 7 @ TechSpot
Last month, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment (WBIE) and NetherRealm Studios surprised nobody by revealing that franchise mainstay Raiden would be in Mortal Kombat X. Today, WBIE released a new video narrated by NetherRealm Studio's creative director Ed Boon, describing Raiden's character variations and play styles, along with some new images:
- Thunder God — "The Thunder God Variation enhances Raiden's lightning attacks. This allows him to extend and perform combos that are unique only to this Variation. Thus giving Raiden the potential to do more damage."
- Displacer — "In his Displacer Variation, Raiden gains the ability to teleport to multiple attack zones. This tactic can be used to move into close range, attack from behind, or even escape rushdowns, making Raiden difficult to contain and significantly more mobile."
- Storm Lord — "The Storm Lord Variation gives Raiden the ability to create lightning traps. These traps can be used defensively or as a method to corner opponents. They can be used to affect wide areas, allowing Raiden to control the entire battlefield."
Mortal Kombat X will be coming to PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 in 2015.
Source: Press Release
Sound waves can be described as vibrations in a medium, whether that is air, water, or another material. Though you cannot see it with the naked eye, those vibrations can be translated to objects like bags, aluminum foil, and the surfaces of water. Researchers at MIT, Microsoft, and Adobe have recently developed an algorithm that can identify these vibrations in a video and recreate the sounds that caused them.
For the most accurate reconstructed audio, the video needs to have a frequency greater than the audio signal, so the researchers employed high speed cameras to film at 2000-6000 frames per second. They were also able to use video from more typical cameras that record at just 60 FPS by exploiting how some sensors will actually record a row of pixels at a time, instead of recording a full frame. This means that quick movements can be seen as an object moves between recording one row and the next. To overcome the very small size of the vibrations, which are smaller than the size of a pixel, the algorithm watches for color shifts, indicative of a border moving in the image. The pixel covering the border would be a blend of the colors on either side of the border, so if the border moves, the color will shift one way or the other.
As it is now, this technology can capture intelligible audio signals from video of some objects, or provide information concerning how many people are speaking, and their identity. Naturally there are possible applications in law enforcement and forensics, but like any new technology, it could have a variety of uses not yet imagine.
August 4, 2014
Walmart has just launched a redesigned version of its online storefront thanks to Walmart Labs, its research and development team located in Silicon Valley. The new design incorporates many improvements that were based on input received directly from Walmart customers. These improvements include a mobile-based layout, an improved personalized search engine that utilizes past purchases and search history, and more in-depth product pages. Additionally, larger buttons and a larger search box are now featured on the Walmart website. Overall, the new design is tailored towards making Walmart more competitive against other online retailers such as Amazon.
According to Walmart, the new personalization feature is currently available to roughly half of all its customers, though plans are in place for it to be rolled out to all of its customers by the end of this month.
In an effort to limit its use of foreign technology, China has excluded anti-virus vendors Kaspersky Lab and Symantec Corporation from its approved vendor list. At this time, only five anti-virus brands are approved for use, all of which are developed within China. The announcement from the state-controlled People's Daily shows that Beijing is intent on using domestic information technology products, which is no doubt related to documents that were released by Edward Snowden last year that unveiled United States surveillance programs. Although Symantec officials were not available for contact, Kaspersky spokesman Alejandro Arango noted that the company is working closely with Chinese authorities about the exclusion of its software.
Kaspersky Lab and Symantec are not alone in this challenge to be listed as an approved vendor, as companies like Cisco, IBM, and Microsoft have all reportedly faced challenges with China since the release of documents pertaining to United States surveillance programs. China has even banned governmental use of Microsoft’s latest operating system, Windows 8, for personal computers.
The Battle Dragon Edition Power Bank is the latest accessory from the Tt eSports line from Thermaltake. It carries up to 8,800 mAh of charge and can power multiple mobile devices on a single charge. A high efficiency design provides for up to 90% power conversion to provide the fastest charging times. Four LEDs indicate the amount of charge remaining on the device and a pair of USB ports provide for normal charging or fast charging through a 2.1A port. The Battle Dragon Edition Power Bank will retail for $39.99 and is available now.
Source: Press Release
Two-dimensional materials have been of great interest since their discovery, as they can possess many interesting mechanical and electrical properties. Sometimes those properties will not translate to 3D forms of the material, but other times they will. Researchers at Rice University have recently devised a way to grow foam made of graphene oxide and white graphene that could find possible use as electrodes and structural components.
Graphene is an atom-thick sheet of carbon, with graphene oxide (GO) being a close relative that is actually easier to produce. White graphene is not related to either material though, except by having the same flat, hexagonal structure, as it consists of boron nitride. Because both GO and hexagonal boron nitride (h-BN) have the same structure, they can form seamless connections, creating a hybrid material many researchers are investigating. Those at Rice discovered that they could combine the two with certain catalysts and then freeze-dry the mixture to create a foam of the 2D materials. The structure resembles an office building with multiple floors and walls supporting them.
When stress tested, the researchers found the foam stood up very well to compression and stretching. How well it survived depended on the ratio of GO and h-BN, which the researchers intend to optimize through additional experiments, while also testing how large a sample they can grow.
Source: Rice University
ECS first announced the LIVA Mini PC early last month and the small form factor system has "received all the positive feedback from users as well as many awards from media globally." ECS has decided to expand the line with a white version of the system with a 64GB eMMC storage capability. The eMMC storage option represents an upgrade over the previous model and was intended "to fulfill the high storage requirement and to enjoy the quick Read/Write Speed."
Source: Press Release
If you're like me, you only really care about the Create A Sim and Build Mode tools, but for those of you that actually want to "play the game," The Sims 4 is chock full of emotions. I'm not talking about the sadness you feel when your favorite sim dies or the satisfaction you get when you trap a sim in a burning building (I won't judge...). No no, I'm talking about the sims themselves, as displayed in this "New Emotions Official Gameplay Trailer":
The Sims 4 is coming exclusively to PC on September 2, with pre-orders currently available for the standard Limited Edition ($59.99) and the Digital Deluxe Edition ($69.99).
Source: Official Site
Graphene is an unusual material with its amazing electrical, optical, and mechanical properties. This makes it of particular interest to many people for use in electronics and sensors, but we are still learning new things about it. Researchers at MIT have recently found that the way graphene interacts with light depends on it electron concentration, which serves to explain contradictions in some previous studies.
When a short, bright pulse of laser light strikes a semiconductor, the pulse increases its conductivity, while the same pulse will decrease the conductivity of a metal. Graphene, an atom-thick sheet of carbon, has been observed to both increase and decrease conductivity under laser pulses, despite the fact that it is typically a metal-like conductor. The MIT researchers discovered that the behavior depends on the electron concentration of the graphene, with a low concentration causing its photoresponse to be like a semiconductor and a high concentration causing it to behave like a metal. To find this result, the researchers placed the graphene on top of an insulator with an electrode beneath it, and then used one laser to provide the pulse and another to measure the conductivity. This all-optical, non-contact approach allowed for the electrical response to be measured within a trillionth of a second.
Now armed with this information, researchers can develop and improve advanced, highly sensitive light detectors made of graphene. These detectors could have ultrafast response times and respond to a broad spectrum of frequencies.
Last week, despite Rust still being in Early Access, developer Facepunch Studios unveiled a new project codenamed Riftlight. In a follow-up post, Facepunch founder Garry Newman explained that the studio actually had "three other prototypes being worked on." In a new blog entry posted by Facepunch's Ian James, we now know one of those additional prototypes: "an arcade style tennis game with a focus on unique characters and courts."
Referred to as Deuce and described as tennis meets Street Fighter, it appears like any other isometric tennis game on the surface, but with special moves. Four such special moves that currently work in the prototype build "to some degree" include: Ice, which freezes the opponent on returning the ball; Tornado, which sends the ball flying in a random direction; Teleport, which switches the ball position mid flight; and Fireball, which isn't described but appears to be a fast, powerful shot. Balance is a large concern for James though, as the current iteration of Tornado "is almost impossible to return." He's also iterating on ideas about how and when to trigger the special moves and how "in position" a player has to be to be able to return the ball. He's even coded his own physics system instead of simply using Unity's built-in physics engine, allowing for backspin, topspin, or curving along a spline for some of the special moves.
Aside from the special moves, the other unique aspect of the game will be its characters. James plans on a large roster of playable characters, each with their own move set, and each with their own look that's atypical of a tennis player. James and his team "want to build a selection of characters that could star in their own games in the future or perhaps play different sports." Each character will also have a matching location just as you'd expect from a fighting game like Street Fighter, and James is "toying with the idea that elements in the court environment will come in to play during a match."
As with Riftlight, there is no release window provided for Deuce, but the core game is already functional, as is both local and online multiplayer. James plans on providing weekly updates to keep us informed.
Source: Deuce Devblog
On the small, personal scale, batteries have enabled many technologies, and on the large scale, they could do the same. One of the outstanding issues of solar and wind panel is their variability throughout the day, which massive batteries could address, but such batteries are expensive, dangerous, and do not always survive long. Researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory however, have found a way to ease these problems for one class of battery.
Sodium-beta batteries are massive batteries the size of cargo containers that use pure sodium as the negative electrode, with a solid, ceramic membrane made of beta alumina separating the electrodes. Ideally the sodium will completely coat the beta alumina, but molten sodium resists the ceramic if temperatures are below 400 ºC, so the batteries operate at 350 ºC. While this is necessary for operation, it also shortens the lifespan of the batteries, and poses a fire risk. The PNNL researchers found a solution by changing the electrode from pure sodium to a sodium-cesium alloy that will wet the ceramic at lower temperatures.
The new battery has an operating temperature of just 150 ºC and keeps the 420 milliampere-hours per gram capacity of traditional sodium-beta batteries. That capacity last longer in the new battery as well, as one hundred cycles only brought it down to 97%, while pure-sodium batteries are at 70% after sixty cycles. Also the reduction in temperature would allow cheaper materials to be used for the battery, as steel could be replaced by polymers.
Source: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
It's the start of a new week, and that means some new items for you to check out today. There is a review on the AMD A10-7800 Kaveri APU, a new model meant to fill in some of the gaps in AMD's Kaveri line. It is similar to the A10-7850K, just it has nearly half the power usage to make it a prime candidate for an HTPC build. Our other item for today is a giveaway, as you can enter for a chance to win a Phanteks Enthoo Pro case and PH-TC14CS CPU cooler.
AMD A10-7800 Kaveri @ LanOC Reviews
Win a Phanteks Enthoo Pro Case & PH-TC14CS CPU Cooler @ ThinkComputers
August 1, 2014
Many systems in Nature try to achieve a low state of energy, which can be quite useful by keeping things simple. In quantum mechanics though, simple rarely happens, including when a particle in a superposition just tries to get from one point to another. Finally though, researchers at Washington University in St. Louis and University of California, Berkeley have designed and completed an experiment to actually track the path a quantum particle takes, without destroying its quantum nature.
Quantum mechanical phenomena are typically very fragile with observations causing them to collapse down to classical physics. This is true of superposition, which is the phenomenon of a particle existing in multiple mutually-exclusive states at the same time, such as being in two positions at the same time. An electron in an atom will be in just such a superposition when moving between the ground state and an excited state, as it can exist in both states at the same time, resulting in an infinite number of possible paths. Despite that, the electron will still have a desired path, like classical systems do, but observing it is tricky, as observations can collapse the superposition. The researchers got around that though by using microwave photons that would not trigger the electrons to move from one state to another. Being quantum systems, the photons would still collect information about the electrons as it passed by. The researchers also did the work with a superconducting circuit sometimes called an artificial atom, as it can have properties, like quantized electron energy levels, like atoms do.
The results confirmed the researchers' theory by showing that the electrons prefer to move along convex curves, though some had guessed other possibilities including concave curves, a straight line, and even a squiggly line. Given the amount of physics and chemistry that is the result of the behavior of electrons, this research could one day lead to some very interesting discoveries.
Source: Washington University in St. Louis
The latest motherboard from Biostar uses the Intel B85 single chip architecture supporting fourth generation i7 and i5 processors from the 1150 socket. The Hi-Fi B85S2G has numerous potential applications including personal, business, and Bitcoin mining with three PCI-E slots. The board also has two Gigabit LAN ports and a "Load Balancing" feature to divide traffic between the ports when both are connected. Up to 16GB of DDR3 is supported in two slots with four SATA3 connectors, two SATA2 connectors, 8-channel audio, and seven USB ports.
Source: Press Release
Comcast customers within select markets in California, Kansas, Missouri, and Texas will notice that their broadband speeds have increased substantially. Although the additional available throughput will vary by plan, Comcast is providing the increased speeds at no cost. Those who are currently subscribed to the Performance plan will now notice speeds of up to 50 Mbps, up from 25 Mbps, while those on the Blast plan will notice speeds of up to 105 Mbps, up from 50 Mbps. The Extreme 105 plan is even being upgraded for free, with bandwidth now being bumped up to 150 Mbps.
At this time, Comcast has not announced any changes to its other plans for customers located within the select markets aforementioned.
Beats, which was cofounded by Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre and is comprised of Beats Electronics and Beats Music, has officially been acquired by Apple following the closing of a $3 billion deal. The deal itself was announced earlier this year in May, with the European Union providing final approval earlier this week. Within the deal closing announcement, Apple mentioned that it plans to elevate the experience that music provides listeners and is excited to work with individuals on the Beats team that are so enthusiastic about music. Apple did not disclose just exactly what it plans to do with Beats as a company going forward, however.
Originally entitled Incognita, the turn-based tactical espionage game Invisible, Inc. has been in paid alpha since September 2013. Since then, along with the name change this past January, developer Klei Entertainment has released twelve major updates to the game. On June 17, Klei announced that that it was temporarily suspending alpha purchases in preparation for its arrival on Steam Early Access and its biggest update yet. Today, Klei announced that Invisible, Inc. will be coming to Steam Early Access on August 19.
Klei Entertainment founder Jamie "Bigfoot" Cheng made the announcement today in a forum post and highlighted a few of the things the team has been working on for this major update. Invisible, Inc. now has a Mission Map that allows players to select their own locations. An Infinite Mode has also been added, which is as it sounds, allowing you build up your agency and survive as long as possible. The mainframe, Incognita, has received an overhaul with new abilities, and upgrading her will improve hacking efficiency. Lastly, Cheng promises a "huge amount of gameplay and visual improvements [including] dragging bodies, way better Line of Sight and cover visualization, huge improvements to the HUD, the aforementioned map, reusable items, hacking drones allows you to control them... and more."
Sadly, the Steam page isn't live yet, nor is there any new trailer at this time.
Source: Klei Entertainment via Facebook
Last week we learned that the re-imagining of the 1987 classic Shadowgate was finally set to arrive for Windows and Mac on August 21. Part of the re-imagining is an updated and expanded story complete with cut-scenes. Today, developer Zojoi released a cinematic trailer entitled "Talimar the Black", featuring gorgeous hand-painted sequences from the game. "The trailer unveils the malevolent [warlock] Talimar the Black, his fall from grace, and the power he seeks buried deep within the bowels of Castle Shadowgate." Players take on the role of "The Seed of Prophecy", who is the last hope to defeat this traitorous Warlock Lord.
Shadowgate is launching August 21 for Windows and Mac on Steam and other digital outlets, while the iOS and Android versions will launch Fall 2014. You can pre-order a Steam copy from the official site for $14.99 (25% off), with additional options available with extra goodies.
Source: Press Release
They say one should not judge a book by its cover, and that is definitely true of some materials as well. Topological insulators (TIs) are interesting materials that will conduct electrons across their surfaces, but not through their insulating volumes, which leads to some curious electrical properties. It has recently been confirmed by researchers at Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, the Paul Scherrer Institute, and the Chinese Academy of Science that one material hoped to be TI is one, but with some very special properties.
Samarium hexaboride (SmB6) has been theorized to be a TI for some time, but the reasons behind it are slightly different from others. The bulk of SmB6 is an insulator due to the Kondo effect, which causes electrons to scatter in a material due to temperature. It also has the effect of protecting electron currents from being disturbed by irregularities in a material. This means that a topological Kondo insulator would be very robust and efficient, even compared to other TIs that can conduct electricity on their surfaces with minimal resistance. To confirm SmB6 is a topological insulator, the researchers fired photons at it with enough energy to knock electrons off of it. These electrons were then measured to provide information on the TI.
One of the reasons topological insulators are of such interest is that electrons traveling on their surface preserve their spin, an intrinsic characteristic giving electrons their magnetic properties. The hope is that computers could one day be built that operate on electronic spin, instead of electronic charge, and TIs will likely help make that possible.
August has arrived, and so has another weekend. To welcome it, we have some items for you to check out today, including a look at the ECZ Z97 Machine motherboard. It is a mainstream board that offers some higher end features, like improved audio and an M.2 slot for SSDs. There's also a review on the Cooler Master N600, which is the top product in the N Series lineup and offers enthusiast-level parts at an entry-level price. Ending things for today is a look at twenty of the worst PC setups seen over the last month, as well as a new podcast looking back at the biggest news and reviews from the past week.
ECS Z97 Machine @ Madshrimps
Cooler Master N600 @ Benchmark Reviews
20 of the Worst PC Setups - July 2014 @ ThinkComputers
Podcast #311 @ PC Perspective
In 2001 an idea was published that under quantum mechanics, particles could behave like the Cheshire Cat and have their properties separated from the particle, like the grin being found off of the cat from Alice's Adventure in Wonderland. Researchers at Chapman University and the Vienna University of Technology have finally demonstrated this phenomenon experimentally using neutrons.
Neutrons are subatomic particles lacking an electronic charge, but possessing a spin, so they are affected by magnetic fields. For some time researchers have been using neutron interferometers to measure quantum mechanics by splitting a beam of neutrons and recombining them. As the neutrons enter a superposition, they will take both paths until a measurement forces a decision. For this experiment the two beams were filtered so that the top beam consisted only of neutrons with spins parallel to the beam, with those in the bottom beam having antiparallel spins. (Returning to the Cheshire Cat, the cats in the top beam are all grinning and those in the bottom are all frowning.) When the beams recombine, the resulting beam contains neutrons of both spin directions, but only those with a parallel spin are counted, therefore they must have taken the top path. (Only grins are being counted, so the only cats being counted travelled the top path.)
To separate the properties from the particles, the researchers bring in a magnetic field to disrupt the spins a little. When applied to the top beam, nothing actually happens, but when applied to the bottom beam, they will actually interfere with the measurement. As only the spin parallel neutrons are being counted and only the spin antiparallel neutrons are being affected, there should be no interference. Unless, that is, the spins of the neutrons in the top beam are actually taking the bottom path, and being affected by the magnetic field such that there is interference when the beams recombine. (Some of the grins must be separated from their cats to take the bottom path, because the count of grins changes when applying the field to the bottom path, despite there being no grinning cats on the bottom path.)
What is any of this good for? Besides adding another cat to quantum mechanics experiments, it could also be used to create high precision experiments that are less susceptible to external perturbations.
Source: Chapman University
July 31, 2014
Back in March, developer Grinding Gear Games released the first major update for its free-to-play action-RPG Path of Exile: a mini-expansion called Sacrifice of the Vaal. At the time, Grinding Gear said it planned on releasing mini-expansions every four months. Today, Grinding Gear announced the second expansion, entitled Path of Exile: Forsaken Masters. By the time it's released, it'll be a little over five months, but try not to hold that against 'em – the amount of content being added for free is just insane. While Forsaken Masters adds a lot, as with Sacrifice of the Vaal, there's a main theme the expansion revolves around:
Some say that Dominus exiled the dregs of Oriath to the shores of Wraeclast. No, he exiled anyone who was going to give him trouble, who was going to cause ripples in his progressive theocracy.
Seven men and women, masters in their fields, stood against Dominus' tyranny. Some with words, others with steel. Seven masters forsaken, sent to die in a corrupted land. Seven masters who lived, learned, and now thrive in Wraeclast. Seven Forsaken Masters who can train you... if you choose to help them.
As you roam the lands of Wraeclast, you may come across one of those Forsaken Masters. Each master has his or her own unique missions with eight levels of reputation, opening up more options as you progress. Two of the seven Masters have been revealed thus far: Armourmaster Haku needs you to cleanse an ancestral area and recover a lost Karui spirit; Master Assassin Vorici will train you in the art of assassination. "Each Master has its own specialised crafting options, a different Hideout tileset and tiers of Hideout decorations to unlock." What's this about a Hideout?
After you've earned a Master's trust, you may unlock a Hideout (which you can personalize and decorate) that can offer daily missions and advanced crafting options – the latter being possible by the new Crafting Benches located in your Hideouts. Crafting Benches allow you to craft new mods onto an item, though only one is allowed at a time, meaning if you craft a new mod, it'll replace the existing one. Crafted mods appear in a brighter blue text on an item to make it clear which would be replaced. Each Master also sells "Magic items with a specific, new, build-defining mod" that can be used as-is or crafted further, and the expansion also introduces 16 new Unique Items. In addition, there are three new skill gems (Tornado Shot, Herald of Ice, and Herald of Ash), a new support gem (Generosity), and an overhaul of many of the game's Curses, along with some new ones, such as Poacher's Mark.
Of course no Path of Exile expansion would be complete without new Challenge Leagues. The two new leagues (Rampage and Beyond) contain eight difficult challenges, and completing five will reward you with an exclusive microtransaction effect, while completing all eight will reward you with an additional, different, exclusive microtransaction effect. The first 50 players to complete all the challenges will receive a Rampage/Beyond t-shirt. Details for Rampage, the standard Challenge League, will be unveiled on August 8. Details for Beyond, the hardcore Challenge League, will be unveiled on August 15.
As if all this wasn't enough, existing content is being revamped as well. Many of the existing boss fights "have been made more intense and surprising" and more lore has been added throughout Wraeclast. In addition, the Passive Skill Tree is being redesigned, "mostly focusing on the Witch, Shadow and outer Ranger areas." Tutorials, a new Quest Tracker, and even a PvP Spectator Mode are all being added as well. Did I mention all this is free? And in case you're one of those free-to-play skeptics, I strongly advise you to give Path of Exile a go, especially if you're an action-RPG fan. Path of Exile is free-to-play done right. Path of Exile isn't pay-to-win, it's pay-to-glow.
Source: Official Site
Announced back in February, action-RPG Shadows: Heretic Kingdoms entered Steam Early Access back in June, marking the return of the Heretic Kingdoms series after nearly ten years. The game has been well received, but it became apparent to publisher bitComposer and developer Games Farm that additional development time was needed to include everything fans wanted to see. As a result, the decision was made to split the game into two books, with the first book arriving this November and the second one scheduled for February 2015. Peter Nagy, Head of Development at Games Farm, explained the decision:
It was clear to us from the start that Shadows had the potential to be a great game. But at the beginning of development, we realized that Shadows was going to surpass even our expectations and would be the biggest and most ambitious project we’ve ever worked on to date. The hugely positive feedback from the players and the great previews of the Early Access build did the rest.
However, the increased scope of the game has also increased development requirements. We had to ask ourselves a difficult question and make a decision: How can we meet the fans expectations without taking away the features and the content that make the game so unique?
So we made the following decision: to leave Shadows as it is and at the same time meet the high expectations of our fans. We’ll split Shadows into two large segments/stories and call them ‘Books’.
To show our gratitude to the players who have supported us during the Early Access phase and who continue to support us, we have also decided to give them free access to the predecessor of Shadows: Heretic Kingdoms - Kult: Heretic Kingdoms as soon as the Steam port is ready.
Shadows: Heretic Kingdoms will remain in Early Access with the reduced price of $27.99 granting immediate access, and providing both Book I: Devourer of Souls and Book II: Age of Demons as they become available, in addition to the predecessor Kult: Heretic Kingdoms when its Steam port is released. If everything goes well, "further books to expand the Heretic Kingdoms universe are planned." Early Access has had some bad apples, but Shadows: Heretic Kingdoms is certainly an Early Access success story.
Source: Press Release
Mitro, a password storage and security startup that offers an Internet browser extension password manager, has been acquired by Twitter. According to the team at Mitro, the company will transition to Twitter’s location team in New York, where it will focus primarily on geo-related development projects. Although the company has been acquired, Mitro will remain as its own service and will not be integrated directly into Twitter.
Along with the acquisition, Mitro revealed that the server and client code that comprises it password manager is now being made open source. Mitro hopes that by transitioning into a community project, which will receive direct advice and support from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the password manager will become more sustainable while continuing to grow its user base.
ASUSTOR, a leading provider of network attached storage solutions, has just announced compatibility for five new Western Digital hard drives. The new drives that ASUSTOR NAS devices support include three Western Digital Red Pro drives and two high capacity Western Digital Red drives. More specifically, the Red Pro models that are now supported include the WD4001FFSX, WD3001FFSX, and WD2001FFSX, while the Red models that are verified as being compatible are the WD60EFRX and WD50EFRX. ASUSTOR NAS owners have an even larger selection of hard drives to choose from thanks to this announcement.
All ASUSTOR NAS devices, which feature Intel Atom dual-core processors and the ASUSTOR Data Master operating system, support the five latest Western Digital hard drives.
Source: Press Release
Last week, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment (WBIE) decided to reveal the mysterious wraith in Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, and boy is it a doozy. Today, WBIE released a new trailer simply entitled "The Wraith", which explores the wraith's powers in the game. If you passed on the last trailer to avoid spoiling the reveal, you'll be happy to know that this trailer does not state the wraith's name (though I advise you to avoid reading the YouTube description text).
As this new trailer shows, the Wraith's main power allows you to "dominate" an enemy and learn its strengths and weaknesses. You can then use this newfound knowledge to your advantage, steering clear of the strengths while exploiting the weaknesses. For example, learning that a creature is "Invulnerable to Stealth" and thus "cannot be damaged by Stealth Takedowns" will prevent a rather embarrassing failed attempt. Meanwhile, learning that a creature has a "Fear of Ghûls" and thus "becomes terrified at the sight of Ghûls" allows you to call forth Ghûls to cause your enemy to retreat. It's a rather interesting component that fits quite nicely with the game's Nemesis System.
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is releasing on September 30 in North America and October 3 in Europe for Windows PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360.
Source: Press Release
Gamescom is the biggest gaming convention in the world, which is probably why publisher Deep Silver isn't playing around (no pun intended). Deep Silver announced today that its public booth will feature a whopping six playable games across "more than 150 gaming stations for PC and consoles." The centerpiece of its line-up will be open world, action-RPG Dead Island 2, which will be playable for for the first time. I know a lot of fans will be looking forward to the inevitable gameplay trailer to be released after the excellent E3 CGI trailer whet our appetites last month:
Joining Dead Island 2 is first-person shooter Metro Redux, RPG Risen 3: Titan Lords, arcade hack 'n' slash Sacred 3, zombie MOBA Dead Island Epidemic, and strategy game Emergency 5. Sadly, it seems the cel-shaded, third-person shooter Escape Dead Island will not be playable despite a planned Fall 2014 release. Gamescom takes place August 13-17 in Cologne, Germany. If you're attending and would like to play the aforementioned games, the Deep Silver public booth will be in Hall 9.1., B011/C010.
Source: Press Release