How to build your own mid-range gaming PC

Although laptops and smartphones have taken the forefront in basic computer functions; and consoles are more lucrative than ever to sate gaming needs; something about owning a personal computer offers a satisfaction like no other. And it has many effective aspects as well. For example, laptops often become a trade-off between performance and display/battery life/peripheral aspects. And smartphones are just too smart for dumb people. 

While buying a new pc, it helps if you know about the parts you are paying for as opposed to just paying for something. It provides a distinct personal satisfaction. So for those of us hoping to purchase a personal desktop computer, here’s a brief overview of what to look for. 

Setting priorities and a budget

It is very important to know exactly what you want when buying a PC. The multitude of choices among parts is easy to confuse anyone. While it was true a year ago that consoles are the most efficient medium for gaming; partly due to the absurd price hikes of PC parts like GPU and RAM and even CPUs later; prices have mostly settled now and it is a good time to get a PC for any kind of use. 

It probably goes without saying that if you intend to play games on your PC, you are absolutely going to need an external GPU.

For low-mid end gaming, a budget of 50-60 thousand BDT should do.

Around 70-100 thousand for the mid-high end and at least 150 thousand for ultra-high-end gaming is required. 

Building the core of the system

This is where the magic happens; the PC needs to have good hardware that compliments each other and don’t cause a bottleneck. It’s important to mention that before building a system you need to figure out what kind of monitor you’re going to use. You’ll need to base your most expensive purchase(the GPU) on that. For example, 1080p on 60fps is enough for me. So I use an ASUS VX-229HJ monitor. 

The Motherboard

It’s easy to cheap out on a motherboard without realizing just how much it contributes to your system. Don’t go for cheap nameless brands here. A decent mainboard can keep your system stable for at least half a decade. It is also important to figure out what kind of processor you’re going to use (buy AMD). But most good motherboards have both an AMD and Intel version. Be cautious not to overspend on unnecessary aspects of the motherboard either. Because on a medium budget, you’re probably not going to need 4 GPU slots or 8 Ram slots. Pick a motherboard with a recent BIOS version and sockets that compliment the most recent generation of CPUs. Since I’m more particular towards the AMD build, personal pick here is the MSI B450 Tomahawk. 

Memory and Storage 

16 gigabytes of RAM is soon to be (already is) the industry standard for RAM. Again, don’t cheap out with Twinmos or Adata products; get gaming RAM with high (>3000) bus speed. You won’t regret it. It’s a good idea to dual-channel your RAM instead of buying a single stick, except if you plan on upgrading later. I am not into the RGB lighting thing, but get it if you have an extra 500 to spare. The personal pick is Corsair Vengeance LPX-DDR4 3200 MHz bus width RAM. 

For storage, please get an SSD if you haven’t used one before. If you have, you really don’t need to know why. If you haven’t, well, how does less than 20 seconds of boot time and virtually no loading time for games sound? Please, at least for your system drive, get an SSD. The Personal pick is Samsung 960 EVO, with storage capacity according to your needs. For HDD, get the Seagate Barracuda 2TB or 4TB, whichever suits you. 

The Processor

Although Intel has occupied the undisputed peak of CPU producers for as long as can be remembered; this is no longer the case. AMD with their Ryzen 3, 5 and 7 lines have usurped Intel’s throne in terms of efficiency and effectiveness. So much so that Intel has basically admitted that they may need the next two generations just to catch up. A high core count and individual thread performance make AMD Ryzen the undisputed best choice for both gaming and multithreading tasks like rendering and ripping. Again, figure out what you need and don’t overspend. Because if gaming is the primary focus, an AMD Ryzen 5 2600 is more than enough to handle anything that comes out for at least two more years. 

The GPU

Arguably the most important and expensive purchase. Nvidia still rules the market of GPUs. And AMD hasn’t really matched them in performance; as much as they’ve competed in price.  While the allure of ray tracing in Nvidia’s newest RTX cards might get to you; it is relevant to mention not many games even support ray tracing yet. And the ones that do aren’t that good anyway, at least for me. So I wouldn’t recommend breaking the bank to get an RTX card; especially since the word on the internet is they aren’t all that stable. 

The resolution of your monitor is going to come into play here. For 1080p gaming on a tight budget, the AMD RX570/RX580 is the way to go, with 4GB and 8GB VRAM versions available. Get higher VRAM if budget allows so. For 1440p and higher, you’re gonna have to go RTX. The 2060 and its super variants are good for 1440p, while 2070 is best for budget-performance at 4k and for VR. Either way, the best card on the market is the 2080, if there was any doubt. Price checks out too. Get RGB on that as well, rub that money on our faces if you will. The Personal pick is the GeForce 1660ti, since it has the turing architecture of the RTX cards without the ray tracing itself; as well as GDDR6 memory. This is the card to go for if you have a slightly higher budget than one for the RX 570. The difference in gaming performance is noticeable, check out some benchmarks online, there’s 8-10 fps difference on each of them. 

It is also extremely important to get a good power supply unit for your GPU. Check out Tomshardware and get any of the Tier 1 or 2 PSUs. Unfortunately, a lot of the good ones aren’t available in Bangladesh; and I got my EVGA SuperNOVA Gold plus from abroad. Only thing I can tell you is to take no chances with this part because it affects the performance of your system in general. 

Casing and peripherals

I am a minimalist when it comes to stuff that doesn’t directly influence performance. Even so, it is important to get a case with good airflow and dust protection; to preserve device health. It would be unfortunate, to say the least, if your dream system ends up getting trashed due to dusting. Disclaimer, stock fans get wrecked by dust. Consider getting an external cooling system if budget allows. But again, don’t go overboard. Most systems don’t need liquid cooling. Surprisingly, most systems also don’t need RGB lighting. Personal pick on the case is Corsair Carbide Spec-05 and an Antec A400 cooling fan. 

A gaming keyboard and mouse aren’t strictly necessary for performance. But peripherals are parts that enhance your experience. You’ll have more fun with a decent mechanical keyboard and a good mouse. However, cheap mechanical keyboards are never a good idea. So go for a Cherry MX blue-switch keyboard. Fair disclaimer, good mechanical keyboards go for 8 thousand BDT at least. Since these aren’t immediately necessary, save up and ease into these purchases.  It is ok to use standard equipment until you can afford better.

Good peripherals will only make the experience better. Not having them won’t take anything away.

Lastly, you’ll be spending a lot of time in front of your new system. So it might be a good idea to get a good chair. You do not need an uber-expensive “gaming” chair. Just something with a decent backrest will do; as chairs without backrest can severely affect the health of your spine. 

Having a desktop provides a source of fulfilment that other systems just can’t match, at least for me. And it’s a given that you won’t ever be satisfied with a laptop or any pre-built computing system once you’ve had an extended taste of a self-built desktop. So go and decide what you want and build your system yourself. I hope this guide will be helpful in your purchasing decisions. 

Bangladeshi video gamer makes a gaming empire: The B2M Games story

Video games have played a significant part in shaping most of our lives. Video games have a way for our imaginations to spring free. The engaging narratives and open sandboxes in games inspire us to build worlds, follow storylines, be engaged in new universes and have a lot of friends while doing it. Many of us have wondered, if only we could turn our love for video games into a way to make money.  What if the dream of having your own gaming empire came true? Is that even possible in Bangladesh? Introducing, B2M Games.

What is B2M Games?

B2M Games specializes in making addicting mobile video games on the Android platform. Some of their games are Fruit Hit Smash, Kingfisher, Tap Tap Dagger. Their most popular game, “Adommo 71” has a solid fan base and played regularly by locals. The Adommo series may be followed up with future entries.

A whopping 65 games are in the development phase. Their future plans include creating more than a thousand video games.

Founded in April of 2016, the company started with three people. B2M games has now grown into a 12-person team with 6 developers and 4 designers. B2M games has started to break even on their third year of operation. For a gaming company in the current industry, especially in the context of Bangladesh, that is a remarkable and difficult feat.

Read more: Bangladeshi graphic novels: 5 essential reads

B2M games is the dream child of Rayid Isaam Faruq, Founder and CEO.

Driven by the passion of one gamer

Mr. Rayid possessed knowledge of app building, but his skills in game making was next to nothing at the initial stages of the company. Mr. Rayid’s, an avid game enthusiast, took his passion for gaming and turned into a full time job.

Before B2M Games, he worked in a holding company which dealt with purchasing intellectual property of game companies. Mr. Rayid was motivated by this experience and drew from it to acquire the necessary knowledge of the industry and confidence to start B2M Games. The astonishing growth in smartphone usage penetration also contributed to B2M Games’ growth. Mr. Rayid’s story inspires us to carry our dreams with us, wherever we might end up, even in jobs and tasks that may seem unrelated. It might just happen to come compound into something bigger and come true.

Advice to aspiring game developers

Learn as you go and keep improving

At the moment, B2M Games are producing fun, but simple games. But it is a company which seeks to evolve with each release. Mr. Rayid puts it simply, his team has grown with each game and through the vigorous process of trial and error. They have worked on each new release, being smoother and more seamless, more emotional and cerebral.

Grow slowly, but effectively

As trailblazers in a relatively young industry in Bangladesh, persistence and quality is important.


Mr. Rayid’s message to aspiring game developers is to grow slowly, but effectively. He advises planning out a road map for your company and working according to that plan. Not getting ahead of yourself is strongly recommended, and patience is key. Most of all, he advises writing down the rawest version of the dream you have and looking at it every once in a while– just in case you ever lose your way. Because it is a long road ahead.

20th edition game is coming out soon!

On this journey of growth and learning, B2M Games is reaching a milestone in the form of their 20th edition game, Brain Calculator. This game is different than other B2M projects in that this is more of mathematical puzzle game, as opposed to one click action/arcade games. It is going to be a very colorful retro experience and due to launch very soon.

Read more: Great Bangladeshi bands that disappeared after their debut album

You can download their games today from the Play Store. Join B2M Games on their exciting journey and support local entrepreneurs while you are at it.

Netflix finally has competition, it’s Disney

Disney has set its sights at the streaming industry for a while. Talks of the company starting a streaming service have been going around since before 2017. Finally, it has been stated by Disney that they will launch their service on 12 November 2019. It has been named Disney+ and it’s in a direct collision course with all the existing streaming services like Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and most importantly Netflix.

Difficult scenario for Disney

Netflix is by far the biggest streaming service in the world right now. It has around 139 million paid subscribers worldwide. For comparison, Amazon Prime Video has around 20 million and Hulu has less than 1 million. Even the closest competitor falls short by more than 100 million users. In this environment, Disney has decided to disrupt the market and take over Netflix’s reign with Disney+.

That is not an easy feat to accomplish. There need to be concrete plans and attractive offers for customers to make the jump from one product to another. Disney knows this and has already taken steps. Its streaming service will allow users to sign up for only $6.99 a month or $69.99 a year. When compared to the prices offered by Netflix of $7.99 a month, it’s a whole dollar less. Clearly, Disney+ wins in the when it comes to the price plans provided.

Price is not the only consideration for the audience though. Being cheaper does nothing if there’s nothing to be gained in return for the money. If there are no shows or movies that people would actually want to watch on the platform, there will be no reason to switch. Netflix gives its users access to around over 5,500 titles that include both TV shows and movies. Disney needs to start with at least somewhat comparable catalogue to stand a chance.

A handful of brilliant shows

The people at Disney also realizes this, and seemingly, they are ready to step up to the challenge. Disney+ will have all the classic Disney movies like Bambi and The Lion King, the Star Wars movies, and Marvel’s and Fox’s original movies and shows like The Simpsons. They also plan to have at least a dozen or so Disney originals up on the platform in the first year of its operation. All of these will be exclusive to Disney+.

That means Netflix might lose the rights to show Marvel movie or Fox shows on its site and have to concede them to the mouse.

On top of all this, Disney has resolved to weather through losses up until 2024. They expect that the service will not be profitable until 2024 and they are ready to stick with it until then. That kind of commitment can only be made by Disney and it’s hard to imagine that any other company will be able to go toe to toe with that level of dedication.

The announcement of Disney+ has been a meteor to the media industry. The ripples of the impact can only be felt as all the players are shifting in their seats. The aggressive pricing plan and the enviable library of content that the service is poised to launch with will change the landscape of streaming service industry for certain.

Video game streaming: A market on the horizon

Streaming services have gained a foothold in virtually every entertainment market over the past decade. Netflix and other streaming services have practically put cable television to rest. One industry that direct streaming hasn’t ventured into is gaming. That is about to change, for better or worse. Companies have observed the $150 billion worth industry and noted the potential for expansion. And they can’t wait to capitalize on it.

The Game

The answer to the question, “What could video game streaming achieve?” is still very vague.

In theory, a streaming service encompassing all devices could eliminate the need for consoles and console exclusive games. We could play any game on any device with sufficient hardware. And if someone has doubts about that, think about it this way: If there was an opportunity to make more games available on any device, either the producers would step up the hardware in their devices for less money, or games would be developed with better optimization, making them less demanding.

The Players

There is a very likely possibility of having console quality games on even mobile devices if streaming comes to pass, in the way it should. More for less is good news for customers. But what are the potential players in the streaming market preparing to offer?

Microsoft

Microsoft’s Project XCloud began with the expression that their vision for the future of gaming didn’t involve an expensive console. A cynical person such as myself might attribute that sentiment to their expensive console not selling. After the disappointment of the Xbox One despite it’s great hardware, Microsoft looked to take the beef off the device and implement it to their servers. They plan the service to avail top tier video games in any and all devices. This was exciting news for video game enthusiasts. XCloud allows you to play Xbox games without ever owning an Xbox, with all the features like crossplay, party chat and competitive online play available. All you need is an XCloud account to have access to the Xbox’s library of games on any device, even your smartphone. A Wi-Fi connection with decent speed or even a 4G connection can avail the XCloud to anyone, anywhere.

Google

A few months after Project XCloud’s announcement, Google introduced us to the beta version of its Project Stream. The service offers game streaming via the Google Chrome browser. The process was demonstrated by streaming Assassin’s Creed Odyssey over Chrome. Google offered the game for free to beta testers (those who met a few criteria) for the procedure that ran from last October to January 2019. There were a few problems, but the major takeaway was streaming via the Chrome browser is possible for a high-end game running at 60 fps on 1080p HD.

The others and how they hold up

Aside from the more prominent projects of Google and Microsoft, it is rumoured that Apple might also be working on a game streaming service. Granted, Apple hasn’t exactly had much to do with gaming at any point. But the allure of the market might finally be bringing them around.

It can be argued that Sony with Remote Play and PlayStation Now has already done what Microsoft and Google are trying to do. The truth is that the PS4’s remote play allows games to be played on the PSVita and the PC, but only up to 720p resolution. And you have to keep your PS4 running over the internet or across your room. In addition, the PlayStation Now service requires that you own a Sony PlayStation device to play the games on it. And the streaming service has been tormented by input lag issues and low quality video capability. So the XCloud and Project stream are far more than just counters to the PlayStation on Xbox and PC respectively.

The future

There is a very simple idea at work here. If you own a game you should be able to take it with you wherever and play it on whatever. Backwards compatibility and streaming on demand are facets of the idea. Offerings like Project XCloud have the potential to change the entire gaming market going forward by redefining how you buy a game and how you own it. This is not to say that console exclusives or physical copy ownership in gaming are going away. Many people are still sceptical of digital ownership, which is why you can still buy game disks. And console exclusives are a great way to market and sell consoles.

Video game streaming in the context of Project XCloud and Project Stream is an indication of inclusion and reach. More games will be available to more people far more conveniently. You can own a console with exclusive games and buy physical copies if you want to. And someone else can play games they want to play on anything from a phone to a tablet at any place if one wants to. Simply put, video game streaming can find the balance Netflix and Cable couldn’t. It can provide a solution to everyone without upsetting anyone or shutting down any preceding option. So when Microsoft talks about Project XCloud being the Netflix of video games, they aren’t looking to put the last nail in console gaming’s coffin, just because the last two generations of Xbox got owned by basically every other console.

At least that’s what we hope. It’s Microsoft. They’ve screwed up good things before. All we can do is wait and see. Good thing is if it doesn’t look good, you can still resort to pre-existing means. This isn’t the 3.5 mm jack, no one’s trying to replace it for dubious reasons.

Spider-Man: the saddest easter egg in gaming history

Spider-Man fans worldwide would love to propose to their better halves through media involving the wisecracking hero. For one fan, however, the wish came true, but it wasn’t as great as he would have liked.

The proposal

A Spider-Man fan named Tyler Schultz tweeted to Insomniac Games, the developer of the new Spider-Man game, a request. He wanted to propose to his girlfriend through the game.
The game devs eventually agreed, tweeting “Well ok then, who are we to say no to love?” They proceeded to put an easter egg in the game. In a specific place on the map, the movie theater reads, “Maddie will you marry me?”

Didn’t go as planned

However, by the time the game had been released, Tyler had already broken up with his now ex, Madison. As per the latest revelations from Tyler, she left him for his brother. All of this is taken from a video he uploaded to YouTube, which has been removed by the time of writing this.

Tyler tells Kotaku that the idea for this came to him from an idea of Madison. She wanted a proposal at a large convention, and Tyler had the idea to put it in a video game, which would basically do the same thing.

Easter egg to be changed

Since this has come to light, many gamers around the world have felt their hearts break. The art director of Insomniac has already tweeted an offer to change the sign as a patch. Tyler originally decided to keep the Spider-Man easter egg but eventually changed his mind.

Location of the easter egg

Tyler wants to change the proposal to the name of his grandmother. She was the one who gave Tyler his first Spider-Man book. She also gave him a copy of Amazing Fantasy #15, Spider-Man’s first appearance in a comic book.

Tyler joked that the event might go down as the saddest easter-egg in gaming history.

Stay tuned for the review of the latest Spider-Man game on the PS4, to be published soon.

E3 2018: 5 great games you might have missed

It’s hard to not be distracted by E3 2018‘s huge announcements and dazzling trailers for the next installments of popular series or brand new video-game franchises. Nestled among those bright lights and earth-shattering presentations were brief looks at smaller indie titles that looked just as amazing. Here are 5 games you might have missed out on this E3.

Tunic

During the Xbox presentation at E3 2018, a little fox made a big splash. Tunic is an isometric action adventure that takes the adorable character through lush, sunlit forests and dark, mysterious ruins on a quest to unlock an enigmatic glyph language and defeat the rampaging monsters. The glyphs are even part of the game’s text, making their translation a vital part of your adventure. The calming colors and soothing soundtrack immediately make the game stand out, but don’t let them lull you into thinking Tunic will be a laidback lark around the island.

Sable

Shedworks’ Sable might be the prettiest game of E3 2018 and for a good reason. The narrative adventure from Gregorios Kythreotis and Daniel Fineberg looks like it was torn straight from an ‘80s-inspired graphic novel. The game leans on the kind of detail and simplicity you’d expect to see in The Louvre. It’s an open-world, coming-of-age tale of discovery, bound to be a true Breath of The Wild descendant that fills every corner of your body with butterflies.

My Friend Pedro

My Friend Pedro is a gun-fu ballet 2D action-platformer in which a talking banana assists a man with glowing eyes in the mass execution of geriatric gangsters. No matter how I describe it, I can’t do this game justice. Please go watch the gameplay trailer for this game and enjoy the masterful juxtaposition of thoughtful platforming and a brutal murder party. Video games, ya’ll. And kudos to Devolver for taking chances in these single-dev productions and giving platforms for these great games to shine.

The Messenger

In The Messenger you play as a young ninja tasked by the “Western Hero” to transport a scroll that is key to your clan’s survival. Meanwhile, a demon army has launched a full-fledged assault on your village. The visuals look similar to old-school Ninja Gaiden games, but The Messenger promises to expand itself from traditional platformers. There are several portals located throughout each level that seamlessly transition the game from 8 bit to 16 bit. Transporting to two different eras in gaming history serves a crucial role puzzles within the platform too.  The Messenger clearly looked to the past, but its eyes are dead-set on the future.

Daemon X Machina

Nintendo opened its big E3 presentation with a wild new mech game from Japanese developer Marvelous Entertainment. Called Daemon x Machina, the game features incredibly fast-paced robot action, along with a cel-shaded art style similar to anime. Aside from how cool it looks, it’s the pedigree behind it that promises this game’s production value. Driving forces behind the Fire Emblem, Armored Core and Macross franchises are working on this game and it shows on the gameplay. The game’s entire color palette- a mix of vivid reds, oranges, turquoise and mustard yellow- makes it stand out.

Best of E3 2018

The annual E3 video game convention is a gamer’s paradise. This year’s model brought 70,000 insiders and fans to Los Angeles, California for three days of giveaways, tournaments and announcements, blowing minds (and eardrums) with over-the-top presentations of hundreds of cutting-edge games. Though it lacked headline-grabbing hardware news, the expo was jam-packed with impressive upcoming software for every platform under the sun. But some games show better than others. In no particular order, here are my favorite ten games from E3 2018.

Cyberpunk 2077

CD Projekt Red has already established themselves as the master craftsmen of video games with their Witcher trilogy. The question remained, however, can a studio steeped in the tropes of medieval fantasy successfully make the transition to futuristic dystopia? And if the Cyberpunk 2077 trailer at the Xbox conference and the 50 minutes behind the scenes demo are any indication, the answer is a resounding yes. While the in-engine trailer hearkens back to how Rockstar introduces its games- a showing of the vibrant world and its colorful inhabitants, the gameplay demo available only to the journalists makes a bold statement. CDPR isn’t treading on familiar grounds, rather it wants to break new ones. Tons of character customization, their trademark stringed quests and choices, a breathtaking open world with a brand new first-person perspective- the Polish developers have set a higher bar than even their previous masterpiece. And I for one can’t wait to get my hands on the final product.

Resident Evil 2

Woe to any team that tries to remake a beloved game and doesn’t do it right. Thankfully, that doesn’t appear to be the case with Resident Evil 2, Capcom’s attempt at remaking the revered horror masterpiece. Incorporating a modern third-person camera from another critically hit entry Resident Evil 4, sharp visuals from a more recent Resident Evil 7 and a more fleshed-out story, the game still retains the classic horror elements along with its great multi-layered puzzles. Resident Evil 2 feels like the game in our memories, rather than that actual game. Which is just what a remake should be, of course.

Dying Light 2

Zombie-apocalypse vision Dying Light 2 is overhauling every system in the game from the lauded first game. Revamped choices and consequences will drastically change how the world reacts to players, with the story written by veteran narrative designer Chris Avellone. The free-flowing parkour movement and creative means of zombie-killing that people loved about the first game are all there with full force, but this time with an open world that reacts to your choices and alliances. I, however, am looking forward to the scariest part of the game, the nights- with faster and more vicious zombies that are relentless in their pursuit for you.

The Last of Us Part II

One would be hard-pressed to name a video game with more emotional resonance than the soulful, harrowing post-apocalyptic survival story of The Last of Us. Following it up seems like a Sisyphean task, but the talented team at Naughty Dog is more than up to the task if their E3 presentation during Sony’s press conference is any indication. The demo made my jaw physically drop with the much-improved gameplay, tense enemy encounters and probably the most ambitious character animations the gaming industry has ever seen. The masterful juxtaposition of the jolly opening scene and the brutal gameplay that followed makes me certain that creative director and writer Neil Druckmann has retained his mastery to switch tones organically from the first game. Starring Ellie at the forefront this time around, the game has added jump and crawl buttons and bigger and more vertically designed levels for some incredible gameplay moments. Safe to say, The Last of Us Part II has set its eyes to surpass the original in every way. And I expect nothing less.

Ghost of Tsushima

Sucker Punch Productions leaves the superpowered world of Infamous behind to travel back to 13th century Japan in a gorgeously rendered open-world adventure game that puts you in the well-worn armor and sandals of Jin Sakai, a samurai coming to grips with the fact that life as he knows it has come to an end. Based on the real-life Mongol invasion of Japan and, more specifically, Tsushima Island- this game is poised to win over the fans of the classic Samurai films and the Kurosawa enthusiasts. With stunning imagery of lush vistas and beautifully rendered combat, this game is an elegant, dazzling experience and looks like a promising new series that I can’t wait to explore.

Devil May Cry 5

After 10 years, director Hideaki Itsuno and the core team at Capcom have reunited to give us the “true” sequel to Devil May Cry 4. We return to Red Grave City, where a demonic invasion has begun. This event attracts Nero, the protagonist- the familiar face you might remember from Devil May Cry 4. Nero has lost his demonic arm, the source of his power. But fear not, the robotic replacement looks just as handy and stylishly cool. The combat and music give off that nostalgic vibes while the visuals have taken a hyper realistic approach. Capcom has recently been a on a role with their crowd-pleasing game lineup. But Devil May Cry 5 is surely the crown jewel of that accolade.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

At first glance, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice can be relegated to another FromSoftware production which draws too much from their already well established Soulsborne formula. But underneath, Sekiro tries to be much different from the bunch. Light stealth mechanics drawn from Tenchu, minimal RPG elements and more focus on swordplay than hacking and slashing makes the game a different beast altogether. Sekiro is set in Japan’s Sengoku period- a time of constant military conflict and social upheaval, but also drawing from Japanese myths and fantastical elements. This E3 didn’t have a shortage on Japan-set samurai action games, but Sekiro sets its own mark for sure.

Anthem

Anthem had a tall order to live up to the last year’s ambitious reveal and on top of that, to break out of the EA stigma that has tainted the publisher’s reputation drastically. Bioware’s own Mass Effect Andromeda’s failure to make a splash coupled with EA’s Battlefront 2 microtransaction fiasco didn’t help as well. But after this year’s E3, I am much more confident in Bioware’s ability to give us a great game than I was before. The way the character’s Javelin exo suits feel is something quite special, as is the transition between flying and hovering and back again. There’s something really nice here, with Bioware nailing intuitive movement across, above and around an open world. More vertically designed levels give the players to maneuver and fly around in more creative ways and tackle enemy encounter accordingly. Taking queues from other shared world shooters and actions games like Destiny and Monster Hunter World, Anthem is shaping up to be a great time sink for those who want to play with friends in a fascinating world deeply rooted in rich lore and mysteries. While we’re busy asking “is this a true Bioware game?” the team itself has moved on and is confident about making a “new” type of Bioware game. Maybe it’s time for us fans to move along too.

Forza Horizon 4

At some point in the past couple of years, the playful, arcade-inflected “Forza Horizon” series passed up the hardcore “Forza Motorsport” simulation line as my favorite racing franchise. The next game puts the pedal to the metal by incorporating changing seasons into its open-world take on Great Britain; race in the snow during winter, across rainy puddles in spring, through sunny pastures and fields in summer and over leaf-filled roads in fall. A technical and mechanical showpiece for the Xbox One, it boasts a special gift for Xbox One X owners: an option to race at a blistering 60 fps. With the new McLaren Senna on its cover, Forza Horizon 4 seems to do the impossible again- to improve upon an already perfect formula. While other “shared-world games” have struggled with their identities and differentiating between the single and multiplayer elements, Forza Horizon 4 juggles those issues like a true master. The online to offline transition is seamless and it never kicks you out of your playing session. The online players outside your party can never grief you on the road.  Overall, this iteration of the Forza Horizon franchise seems to keep its eyes on being the most robust and feature-heavy game in the series.

Halo Infinite

“A piano tune from Halo 3!”
“That was totally Master Chief but with the classic armor style!”
“Is that a Halo ring I see?!”
“Where is this buttery graphics coming from!”

Halo Infinite trailer is responsible for me to lose my voice during this E3 for all the screaming. A lifelong Halo fan, I can’t wait to see where 343 Industries is taking the Master Chief saga after their initial stumble during the first couple of years. After they took the franchise reigns from Bungie, it has not been a smooth sail. But responding heartily to fan feedback, Halo Infinite is being built from the ground up with a brand new SlipSpace Engine featuring all the things Halo fans love. After Halo 5: Guardians failed to excite the fan base, this is exactly the path 343i should follow to regain that trust and goodwill.