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Posts tagged ‘Gaming’

23
Oct
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Tickets for Sony’s PlayStation gaming show go on sale Friday


So, you put in for the time off from work to hit December’s PlayStation Experience event in Las Vegas. The next logical step, of course, is buying tickets and come Friday you can do just that. As previously reported, a single day pass will set you back $50, and it’s $90 for a two-day ticket to get in Sin City’s Venetian Hotel. In a video on the PlayStation Blog, the outfit touts some “400,000 square feet of PlayStation” will be open to the public in addition to showing brief snippets of footage from The Order: 1866 and what looks like the follow-up to Dark Souls, Bloodborne. So those are likely two of the games you’ll get some hands-on time with if you attend. What else is going on there? Panels with developers and Sony employees and such, including Capcom’s Yoshinori Ono, who’s perhaps best known for his work on the Street Fighter series. Feel like playing gumshoe for more clues? The teaser clip below should provide ample opportunities.

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Source: PlayStation Blog

23
Oct
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It costs $50 to plug an Xbox One Kinect into your PC


What’s stopping you from creating the first killer Kinect 2.0 hack? Well, now that Microsoft’s released the do-all sensor’s SDK to the public for free you don’t have many more excuses. The software development kit is available without any fees and what’s more, you can now put any finished apps up for sale on the Windows Store as well. Just like that! To help developers along even further, Redmond is releasing an adapter that makes the Xbox One Kinect play nicely with a Windows 8 PC. Meaning, they won’t have to use a hack to create a hack (or buy a redundant Windows Kinect). The $50 USB 3.0 dongle not only brings price parity between the two previously separate cameras, but it’s another instance of Microsoft reversing a previous hardline policy to better suit its customers too. Now, get out there and get cracking — the hardware giant already has a head start on you.

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Source: Official Microsoft Blog

22
Oct
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Offended by the ‘Hatred’ trailer? You’re a hypocrite (and that’s a good thing)


This week, a game about a genocidal maniac was announced. There’s a video trailer for the game that depicts ultraviolent bedlam: a murder spree of innocent victims, many begging for their lives. So it’s basically another week in video games, then? Not quite.

Okay, okay — let’s rewind and unpack. An unknown development studio from Poland (Destructive Creations) released an announcement trailer (with extremely violent gameplay and sociopathic dialog) for its upcoming PC game, Hatred. The video’s around 90 seconds long and, if you’re like me, you’ll likely find it difficult to sit through. Before the very, very angry main character begins his murder spree, he declares, “My genocide crusade begins here.” He’s a tall, muscular, white guy with long black hair — he sort of looks like Glenn Danzig — and he’s about to kill a lot of people. But isn’t that what you do in loads of other games? Yes! But also no.

This is not a piece about Hatred (the game). What we’ve seen of it thus far is a single trailer (above) that’s by most standards offensive and, more importantly, bland looking. I want to address the difference between Hatred‘s brand of violence and, say, Grand Theft Auto‘s.

In both games, you’re given free rein to murder innocent civilians. I’ve personally spent many hours careening down the sidewalks of Liberty City, or Vice City, or San Andreas, mowing down pedestrians to accrue police stars and play the game of “survive as a mass murderer.” It’s a game that Grand Theft Auto‘s worlds allow — even enable — but it’s not “the point.” And it certainly feels a lot different than what Hatred‘s trailer portrays. But why? And does “the point” matter when you’re acting virtually sociopathic?

THE THIN VEIL OF HYPOCRISY

There are loads of ultraviolent games. Remember Manhunt? How about Gears of War: Judgment? Adrian Chmielarz helped create that one, as well as critically acclaimed Bulletstorm. Chmielarz was creative director overseeing both titles, and he’s been the guy on the receiving end of flak for his violent game. He likens his work to a form of catharsis. “Stories — told by books, movies or experiences through video games — allow for catharsis that satisfies our primal side without any discernible harm to anyone,” Chmielarz told me via email this week. He’s a longtime game developer with some seriously gruesome work on his resume, including the just-released The Vanishing of Ethan Carter.

“Some creators achieve that [catharsis] through empathy, but in video games we mostly achieve that through hypocrisy,” he said. “You kill, torture, dominate, humiliate and sin without consequences, but game designers always offer a thin veil of an excuse.” He offered up Bulletstorm as an example, a game where “you are rewarded for creative kills.” The “excuse” in Bulletstorm? Enemies are “clearly evil, bloodthirsty thugs, the worst scum in the known universe,” and the kills are cartoonish. “You impale enemies on gargantuan cacti with a super-kick, for example. Reasonably hard to confuse that with real life.”

It is reasonably hard to confuse that with real life, but it also remains a “thin veil of an excuse” — you are still murdering, like, thousands of dudes in Bulletstorm. And that’s why I’m having a hard time being outright offended at Hatred‘s trailer, despite feeling pretty thoroughly offended. The wrapping is certainly intended to stir emotion: a soliloquy to hatred and violence by a man arming himself to the teeth, followed by a spree of extreme violence perpetrated on people screaming for mercy. His goal — your goal, as the player — is annihilation. No, “Those are the bad guys! Get them before they get you!” Just genocide.

As Chmielarz put it, Hatred (at least that trailer) doesn’t allow me to be the hypocrite I want to be.

GTA says, “You’re a criminal fighting for your life, so it’s okay to murder those people.” Uncharted says, “Those bad guys are trying to kill you. Kill them first!” Call of Duty says, “Those guys are terrorists trying to destroy the world! Stop them!” They allow me the pretend that my mass-murdering isn’t cold-blooded. And that’s a good thing!

“A hypocrite knows right from wrong; they know they sin when they sin,” Chmielarz said. “They find excuses for these sins just like we find excuses to mow down another hundred enemies in a video game. And even though they don’t follow it, deep down they know which way the moral compass is pointing. Hatred takes the excuses away from us and asks us to enjoy the sin out there in the open.”

HATRED FOCUSES ON VIOLENCE AND MURDER AS THE POINT. IN MOST VIOLENT GAMES, MURDER IS THE MEANS, NOT THE OBJECTIVE.

Hatred‘s development studio Destructive Creations is led by CEO Jaroslaw Zielinski. He told me in an email interview this week why he thinks people are finding offense with the announcement trailer. He said the following when I asked why myself and others have a hard time watching it:

  1. “Because all women die the same ways as men and there’s no mercy for anyone.”
  2. “Because all those executions are pretty suggestively done, with no cartoonish moves. And peoples’ reaction to them is pretty flattering for me as an animator.”

While he’s right about the “no mercy for anyone” bit, I don’t think the extreme violence is actually what I’m having a hard time with (though I can’t speak for others). For me, it’s context. Without the (admittedly thin) excuse of being in a virtual war, or being a virtual assassin, or whatever else, I find senseless virtual killing to be…well, senseless. And if anything, I find it pretty reprehensible. Which, yes, I realize makes me a hypocrite. I’m okay with that.

From what the trailer for Hatred shows, the game isn’t making a statement about violent games. It’s not saying, “We’ve removed your thin excuse to show you what you’re really doing in these games.” It’s violence for violence’s sake. Zielinski explained what Hatred‘s trying to convey as follows:

“By the game? That we should not bend under political correctness propaganda which we can see everywhere right now. We live in the free world, with freedom of speech and artistic expression and we should use it in any way we want, otherwise we’ll be falling under SJWs [Social Justice Warriors] regime. Some reactions for this trailer are a great example of this. Fortunately there are many people who understand us and are standing on our side.”

Hatred may be intended as an expression of free speech in its most potentially offensive form, and I’m certainly not calling for it to be censored. As someone who supports social justice, I think the statement about “SJWs” is ridiculous, but that’s a whole other conversation. What doesn’t square here is the fantasy aspect: There’s nothing to excuse away the violence in Hatred. I can get behind people (myself included) virtually killing other virtual beings as long as there’s some remnant of an excuse. Hatred strips that, which both makes me not want to play it and worries me about those who do. Chmielarz puts it as such:

Hatred takes the excuses away from us and asks us to enjoy the sin out there in the open. We will not do it.

A request to bare our animal souls in front of ourselves is a step too far. The fact we cannot do it is a gift, one that allows us the realization that we’re not as corrupt and empty as we subconsciously feared we were. And thus a lot of people will not buy and play Hatred, feeling disgust just looking at the game’s title. However, and I guess that is the key here, I don’t think it is Hatred we really despise.

It’s the realization that we are surrounded by people who do not have enough basic decency to be hypocrites. People who have no moral compass, no empathy, who refuse to acknowledge that no, it’s not ‘just a game.’ With their cold realism, motion-captured animations and hair-raising screams, the creators of Hatred go all the way to make sure it’s not just a game, but an experience.

We don’t want to acknowledge the ugly truth that there are people out there whose idea of fun is to press the shotgun barrel against the face of a terrified woman — and pull the trigger.”

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21
Oct
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Microsoft launches the Xbox One Digital TV Tuner in Europe


Microsoft pitches the Xbox One not as a run-of-the-mill games console, but as a fully fledged home entertainment hub. For most Americans, making use of the One’s TV integration features is as simple as plugging the HDMI output from their set-top box straight into the console. Europeans don’t have it quite as easy. With old-school coaxial cables still in common use, Microsoft cooked up the Xbox One Digital TV Tuner: a small USB peripheral that turns coaxial outputs into something the console can understand. Today, the TV Tuner has finally gone on sale in the UK for £25, and in France, Germany, Italy and Spain for €30. Once set up, you can start watching TV through your Xbox One, using the console’s OneGuide EPG to browse channel listings with a controller, or with voice commands if you have a Kinect camera. The Xbox also becomes a make-shift DVR, allowing you to pause and rewind live TV. And when you absolutely have to spend time in another room, you can continue to watch live TV on mobile devices by streaming it through the Xbox One SmartGlass app.

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Via: Eurogamer

Source: Microsoft (Xbox Wire)

21
Oct
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Xbox One’s next update adds custom backgrounds, Twitter for TV and game clips


Microsoft only just unleashed its October update for the Xbox One, and now it’s talking about what to expect next month. The update will hit consoles for those in the preview test group soon, and adds many features Major Nelson and crew say the community has been asking for, including custom backgrounds (with the PS4 getting themes soon, it’s Blu-ray 3D all over again), and extra details for profiles. The custom backgrounds will launch with a selection of pictures and the ability to post based on achievements, and after a media player update later in the month, gamers will be able to import any image they want. A returning feature from the Xbox 360 will put details like your location and custom bio back on the profile page, plus a self-curated selection of game clips and achievements. Oh, and those game clips? You’ll be able to share them with the masses easily, because the update adds the ability to share any of your favorites directly to Twitter. Check after the break for a video demo and more details on what’s coming.

The Twitter integration won’t stop there either, as the OneGuide adds trending lists for what users are watching on live TV, what people are tweeting about, or what Xbox One owners specifically are watching the most. There is even space to see what people are tweeting about a show in the MiniGuide itself. The integrated Internet Explorer browser can switch from full screen to Snap with a button on the address bar now, and a number icon to let users know when “Featured Sites” have updates. The second screen SmartGlass app has more support to see what’s going on in the Store and what your friends are playing, while the Preview dashboard app for testers has some new gamified features.

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Source: Xbox Wire

21
Oct
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‘Assassin’s Creed’ and ‘Watch Dogs’ lead Jade Raymond has left Ubisoft


The driving force behind some of Ubisoft’s most successful franchises and best moments is no longer with the game maker as of today. Jade Raymond, executive producer on Assassin’s Creed II, Watch Dogs and Splinter Cell: Blacklist, has left the company after ten years of service, the company announced. To do what, exactly? That’s anyone’s guess. She’s been in the AAA space for a good portion of her career, working on The Sims Online prior to joining Ubisoft and being a key voice in the creation of the first two Assassin’s Creeds. Given her experience running Ubisoft’s Toronto studio, though, it might not be much of a stretch to imagine her going indie and assembling a quick and nimble team entirely of her own — it wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen it happen.

In an interview with Metro last year, she lamented that she’d love to make a game where it was a challenge for an elderly player character to even make it to the bus stop, but went on to say that when you’re dealing with a $100 million budget that type of experimentation just isn’t possible. Maybe this will be her chance. Either that or she could go majorly left-field and start brewing craft beer.

[Image credit: ZCooperstown/Wikimedia Commons]

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Source: Ubisoft

20
Oct
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Loot Crate: 3 months of gamer and comic swag for just $47.99 [Deal of the Day]


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If you’re the type that gets excited for a package to arrive, watching your shipment progress like a kid tracking Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, you may not be ready to handle the epic awesomeness that is Loot Crate. Sure, we’d love for you to be a part of the first-ever subscription service for the comic/gamer lifestyle. We just don’t want to be responsible when your geeky head explodes at the sight of a box full of collectibles, toys, art, apparel, and other gear with your name written all over it. Don’t sue us, okay?

With this deal, you’ll get access to 3 months of Loot Crate — a monthly subscription service that delivers a crate full of themed gear to your doorstep — for just $47.99. Each month’s jackpot is a mystery but is sure to leave you smiling. We’re talking shirts, stickers, toys, etc. You’ll even receive exclusive items unavailable anywhere else! It’s been said that Loot Crate provides all of the swag from Comic Con without the Con flu.

For just $47.99, treat yourself to three months of nerd Christmas. You deserve it.

Check this deal out, and many others at deals.androidguys.com!


 

The post Loot Crate: 3 months of gamer and comic swag for just $47.99 [Deal of the Day] appeared first on AndroidGuys.

19
Oct
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Inside Seattle’s invitation-only VR summit


Tech aficionados have been flocking to Seattle’s Living Computer Museum for the past few years to get up close and personal with relics from computer technology’s past. For one night earlier this month, though, I got a chance to peek at its possible future. Nearly two dozen exhibitors filled the museum’s first floor for SEA VR, an invite-only event meant to highlight some of the field’s biggest names and showcase the VR community.

Envelop VR played host for the evening, in part, to introduce itself. The new company is looking to both develop its own VR software and help other companies come to grips with what CEO Bob Berry called the next great wave of computing. In gathering some of the VR community’s brightest stars to the Pacific Northwest, the hope, he said, is to establish the Seattle area as a VR hub.

“Seattle is a hotbed of video game development,” Berry said. “It’s going to be a hotbed of VR development.”

Berry moved to Japan in 1998 to study VR as part of his Ph.D. work. After getting a good look at what passed for “state of the art” in the VR world of the late ’90s, he quickly realized virtual reality just wasn’t ready yet. It was only in the last year or so, he said, that various technologies started combining to make VR feasible — headlined, of course, by Oculus’ work. The next major step, he added, is developing and refining software that takes advantage of those hardware advancements.

Attendees check out Oculus VR's DK2 headset.Attendees check out Oculus VR’s DK2 headset.

But words can only convey so much. As Berry notes, with virtual reality: Seeing is believing. And there was plenty to at SEA VR. Oculus was there showcasing its Development Kit 2 (DK2) headsets, but its gear wasn’t confined to the company’s demo area.

Atomic VR’s holodeck-style setup featured an older DK1 headset and a camera array to track users in one corner of the museum. A pair of PlayStation Move controllers became virtual lightsabers “energy swords” in a battle with a floating droid. After employees helped me put on the headset, equipment-filled backpack and headphones, I set about exploring the demo’s virtual arena.

The lag between my movements and those shown onscreen was noticeable, but hardly a distraction. After a few seconds, I was successfully blocking incoming laser blasts with my swords and dodging slow-moving missiles. The full-body tracking kept up admirably and I never felt disoriented — a significant plus considering the limited area I could explore.

“VR’s going to impact various industries; not just entertainment.”

Still, the relatively low-resolution screens and the buzz of the show floor prevented me from reaching the level of “presence” that VR developers strive to attain. Atomic VR mentioned that it hopes to increase realism when it switches to Oculus’ more advanced DK2 kit — including the use of haptic feedback in the vest and possibly the floor to provide a more immersive simulation.

The game-like applications are obvious, but the company envisions similar setups in showrooms at retailers like Home Depot, where customers can preview home remodels and landscaping projects before breaking out the hammers and shovels.

“VR’s going to impact various industries; not just entertainment,” Berry said. One look at the show floor was enough to prove that statement. While there were plenty of examples of VR as a gaming tool, there were exhibitors using it in other settings, too.

Leap Motion showed off its finger-tracking tech.

Retailer Nordstrom showcased its Virtual Customer Experience Center, created by the company’s Innovation Labs. The software complements a real-world Customer Experience Center housed in a renovated warehouse not far from the Living Computer Museum. The Innovation Lab’s virtual version lets designers use tools like Unity and 3ds Max to create and try out new floor layouts, store designs and other physical structures before committing to actually building anything.

Elsewhere on the show floor, DeepStream VR demonstrated its work in pain research and using 3D and VR to aid in patient rehabilitation.

“The virtual world is a motivator,” DeepStream VR CEO and founder Howard Rose said. The company has been exploring different methods of incorporating virtual reality into therapy, including combining a treadmill-walking regimen with a projected screen so patients can go on a “walking meditation” through a computer-generated trail.

The company also showed off its DeepStream 3D Viewer, a shroud that attaches to a laptop screen, a Retina display MacBook Pro in this case, to provide panoramic 3D movies and environments. The viewer splits the screen into a pair of 2,600 x 900 images — one for each eye. Users can adjust the eyepieces as they would for a pair of binoculars and a nearby Leap Motion controller is used to interact with the world. In one example, I used my left hand to gather fireflies to fill a lantern. Rose said using an attachment to a laptop screen (and, later, tablets) can sometimes make more sense than the headset approach Oculus and others are taking.

DeepStream VR’s 3D Viewer attached to a Retina display MacBook Pro.

When it comes to patients struggling with constant pain, he said, “Helmets don’t work very well.” Indeed, placing my face up to the 3D Viewer’s eyepieces and manipulating objects with a Leap Motion controller was a great deal easier than strapping on a headset and grasping physical input devices.

A quick scan across the show floor makes it clear there’s no single way to approach VR. While Oculus’ gear was certainly prevalent at various booths, Kinect sensors, GoPro cameras, PS Moves and Leap Motion Controllers spread throughout the area indicate that developers are still very much in the exploration and experimentation phase.

And while some companies are working to create fantastical environments filled with spaceships and lightsabers, others are figuring out ways to showcase parts of the real world. In one corner of the show floor, Jaunt offered up a multi-scene demo of its real-world VR capture tech. Its approach includes a multi-camera setup to record 3D video in all directions. After putting on the headset and over-ear headphones, I started out with a scene from a skate/bike park, as a bike-riding enthusiast whizzed around me. I could turn my head in practically any direction to keep track of him, while positional audio accurately clued me in to where he was.

“The VR community needs to collaborate … No company, not even (Oculus) can do it alone.”

A later scene of the Golden Gate Bridge demonstrated the powerful effect accurate audio can have in VR. Wind noise was present throughout the area, but I had no trouble pinpointing a ship’s horn blaring on the far right. I turned my head completely away from the vessel and, sure enough, the horn sounded like it was coming from behind me. Clearly, high-resolution displays aren’t the only requirement for convincing VR presence.

One thing was readily apparent at SEA VR and it didn’t require a headset or fancy camera setup. It was a sense of community. From booth to booth, company representatives chatted with one another, happily trying out competitors’ gear and sharing notes. I got the sense that many of the attendees are motivated more by the fun of experimentation and discovery than they are by the thrill of ruthless competition.

To Rose, it reminds him of the early stages of the internet, “when it was fun and exciting.” Seeing companies explore VR from different angles and coming up with new solutions, he said, is part of what he loves about the virtual reality community right now. After numerous false starts over the past few decades, it’s this cooperative, diverse approach, he said, that will be key if VR is truly going to be the next big thing.

“The VR community needs to collaborate,” Rose said. “No company, not even (Oculus) can do it alone.”

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18
Oct
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Recommended Reading: Palmer Luckey and the homemade VR headset


Recommended Reading highlights the best long-form writing on technology and more in print and on the web. Some weeks, you’ll also find short reviews of books that we think are worth your time. We hope you enjoy the read.

Smithsonian Magazine's 3rd Annual American Event

How Palmer Luckey Created the Oculus Rift
by Taylor Clark,
Smithsonian Magazine

If you’ve yet to read up on the origins of the Oculus Rift, there’s no time like the present. Smithsonian Magazine details the headset’s origins, giving its creator, Palmer Luckey, an American Ingenuity Award this week. The piece offers a look into the gaming gadget’s brief history, including the first meeting between Luckey and Brendan Iribe, Nate Mitchell and Michael Antonov back in 2012.

The Future of the Culture Wars is Here, and it’s Gamergate
by Kyle Wagner, Deadspin

Not sure what this whole Gamergate thing is all about? Here’s a good place to start. Kyle Wagner’s piece covers what you need to know and what it means for the future of internet culture.

Pocket!function(d,i)if(!d.getElementById(i))var j=d.createElement(“script”);j.id=i;j.src=”https://widgets.getpocket.com/v1/j/btn.js?v=1″;var w=d.getElementById(i);d.body.appendChild(j);(document,”pocket-btn-js”);

Endangered Tree Snails Keep Hawaii Public Radio Off the Air
by Adrienne LaFrance, The Atlantic

There have been lots of reasons for radio stations going off the air, but in Hawaii, the mating habits of endangered tree snails certainly make for an interesting situation. And of course, the whole thing makes for a perfect broadcasting metaphor.

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Outernet Aims to Provide Data to the Net Unconnected
by Camilla Costa, BBC

One company is looking to provide a truckload of reading materials and time-sensitive news bulletins to everyone around the globe — even those with no connectivity. How will it accomplish the task? A system of satellites and solar-powered compact receivers for mobile phones.

Pocket!function(d,i)if(!d.getElementById(i))var j=d.createElement(“script”);j.id=i;j.src=”https://widgets.getpocket.com/v1/j/btn.js?v=1″;var w=d.getElementById(i);d.body.appendChild(j);(document,”pocket-btn-js”);

Tesla’s Autopilot isn’t Special (But it’s Still Cool)
by Chris Ziegler, The Verge

At last week’s event, Tesla detailed its autopilot tech that’ll come with its vehicles. While the system is quite awesome, The Verge’s Chris Ziegler explains that it’s far from revolutionary. “The stereotypical vision of a car of the future tooling around your neighborhood with a driver comfortably asleep at the wheel (or missing altogether) isn’t any closer to reality than it was before,” he says.

Pocket!function(d,i)if(!d.getElementById(i))var j=d.createElement(“script”);j.id=i;j.src=”https://widgets.getpocket.com/v1/j/btn.js?v=1″;var w=d.getElementById(i);d.body.appendChild(j);(document,”pocket-btn-js”);

[Photo credit: Larry French/Getty Images]

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18
Oct
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Playdate: We’re livestreaming ‘The Evil Within’ on PS4!


Welcome, ladygeeks and gentlenerds, to the new era of gaming. The one where you get to watch, and comment, as other people livestream gameplay from new-gen consoles. Because games! They’re fun!

Are you ready for a few scares? We hope so because we’re going to be streaming The Evil Within today. If you aren’t familiar with Shinji Mikami’s name, you’ve almost assuredly played his games — Mikami is the mastermind behind the Resident Evil franchise, and, specifically, he was the director on perhaps its best moment, Resident Evil 4. Since then he’s been doing a little of this and some of that, but nothing quite horror related. That changes with The Evil Within, the first effort from his Tango Gameworks studio. How’d it turn out? Check back at starting at 7 p.m. Eastern / 4 p.m. Pacific as we go in blind on PlayStation 4. Since you folks liked our Alien: Isolation stream as much as you did, instead of getting a head start we’re going to be playing from the very beginning and have no idea what to expect. Surely there’ll be a few shrieks involved. Have you even looked at the screenshot above?

[For the record, I'm playing The Evil Within on a PlayStation 4, using a retail copy (download) provided by Bethesda. I'm streaming the game over wired internet using the PlayStation 4 Twitch app. All that to say, "This game will likely look prettier and run more smoothly on your home equipment. Streaming conditions vary!"]

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Source: Twitch

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