while True: learn() describes itself as “a puzzle/simulation game about even more puzzling stuff: machine learning, neural networks, big data, and AI. But most importantly, it’s about understanding your cat.” After playing through the game, I’d say it does an excellent job using your quest to understand your cat through app development to drive the story. Understanding how machine learning really works? Not so much. Maybe some high-level concepts, but don’t expect this game to teach you how to code. That being said, while True: learn() is an excellent puzzle game.
while True: learn() is all about sorting. At the most basic level, you need to route colors or shapes from the data stream, or the left side of the screen, to their intended targets on the right side. The developers, Luden.io, throw some interesting challenges your way as you progress. You’ll need to use nodes that exclude colors to create your own custom filters. There are time requirements that need to be met. You can only use a certain number of nodes. Toward the end of the game, you will need to train your machine learning nodes before deploying them.
This might all sound extremely technical, but you could play this game without knowing a lick about computer programming. If you like puzzle games where you need to automate resource management, you’ll probably have a lot of fun with this one.
The game has a store where you can buy upgrades for your equipment. I had no problem gaining money and buying upgrades as they became available. It was nice that I could upgrade my equipment, but the upgrades were relatively transparent to me.
You can invest in startups throughout the game as well. These require you to create the machine learning backbone that will run the startup’s systems. Once again, it sounds complicated, but it really isn’t. It’s just another puzzle, which is okay.
while True: learn() is a relatively short puzzle game that will twist your brain at times. The only puzzles that I got stuck on were optional side jobs, so after I got sick of thinking about them, I just moved on. The game has a great visual style and fun story and presentation. The overall game felt even in terms of difficulty through most of it. Although by the end, I felt as if the nodes were doing more work, and the challenges became easier. I didn’t necessary understand why it was doing what it was doing compared to earlier parts of the game.
I found while True: learn() to be a cool game and a welcome departure from games that I usually play. If you’re looking to switch things up a bit and want to feel smart (or dumb), give it a shot.
I don’t know how I didn’t try Wreckfest until now. I guess I assumed it was a B-tier driving game with poor controls and a shitty game engine. It turns out I was REALLY wrong. Wreckfest controls like a dream. It feels outstanding with a wheel, absolutely blowing Forza Horizon 5 out of the water in that category. If you don’t like playing nice while you drive, this is your game. I liked the game so much, I compiled some crashes with some of that heavy metal.
The Forza Horizon 5 wheel settings are horrific out of the box. This is a bummer for such an outstanding game otherwise. Don’t worry though, I’ve got you covered. These settings should smooth things out considerably and cut down on that insane wheel oscillation.
Go into your advanced controls with your wheel to change these settings:
Full disclosure here, I will be discussing various scenes from the new Dune movie. If you don’t want any spoilers, run away! Okay…I’ve never read any of the Dune books, and I haven’t watched the original Dune movie, so beyond a cool looking trailer for the new movie, I really wasn’t that excited about it. After Mistic’s 4.75 bong review for the new Dune movie on theredeyereport.com, I decided to give it a watch.
I loved it! I thought it was one of the better science fiction movies I’ve seen. One element that stood out to me as super-cool was the use of personal shields and how they were represented on the screen.
We get an introduction to shields when Paul Atreides spars with Gurney Halleck early on. Paul activates his shield and tests it by tapping the edge of his blade against his hand. The shield glows blue and does not let the blade pass. Paul then turns his blade and slowly presses the side of it against his hand. The blade passes through and his shield glows red.
This is called the Holtzman effect in the Dune universe. Shields repel fast moving objects like most projectiles, but slower moving objects like Paul’s slow-moving blade can pass through. You can’t just hack away at somebody wearing a personal shield. Throughout the sparring match between Paul and Gurney, we see flashes of blue. These are blade strikes, but the shield is blocking them, rendering them non-lethal hits. The force of the blows is being transmitted, so you can knock over an enemy combatant, but the actual blade will not cut through.
This requires special tactics. Gurney eventually gets a blade through Paul’s defenses, stopping it just short of his throat. A combatant needs to slow their attack enough to pass through the shield and then strike. At the end of the sparring match Paul has two blades to Gurney’s throat, but Gurney has managed to pass through Paul’s shield on his side, so it’s a draw.
Understanding the mechanics of the shields in Dune adds an entirely new layer to the combat scenes. It’s helpful to be aware of a few more Holtzman shield specs. You can calibrate the velocity at which the shields will stop projectiles and other matter. For a personal defense shield, you need to have a relatively high penetration velocity to allow gasses, including breathable air to pass through. For a vehicle defense shield you can set that penetration velocity much lower because you have life support capabilities on the craft to produce oxygen internally. The shield’s ability to stop a projectile is dependent on the total velocity, that of the projectile and of the person or vehicle wearing the shield. One more thing, sandworms are attracted to the harmonic vibrations of Holtzman shields. Apparently, they get super pissed off about them.
Let’s check out a few examples of these rules in play. During the hunter/seeker scene, the drone stops right in front of Paul’s eye. The operator doesn’t know that he’s not wearing a shield. So instead of launching across the room and stabbing Paul in the jugular, it needs to get up close and personal.
So how the hell did they get Duke Leto? Dr. Yueh shot him with something called a slow pellet stunner. This operates as you would imagine, it goes slow enough to get through a shield. Take note that Leto begins moving, adding to the total velocity, and the projectile passes through.
When the base is bombed, we can clearly see the projectiles slow to a crawl before detonating and destroying the ships. There might be some other weapons at play here, like I said I’m a newbie, so if you spot any, I’d like to hear about them.
The Duncan Idaho battles are even cooler when you begin paying closer attention to the shields. You must consider that each strike that he lands is either a fast feint that is blocked by the shield, but is still transferring force, or a lethal strike where he slows down at the last second to allow his blade to pass through the shield. When an enemy fires a slow projectile at Idaho, notice how he stops moving before deflecting the projectile away and moving on.
There are many more examples I can show you here regarding the shields in Dune. If you are a Dune newbie, look at some of the fight scenes now that you have a better grasp of the rules of the world. I think you’ll see the fights in a different light, I know I did.
A discovery tour of the Great Library of Alexandria from Assassin’s Creed Origins. Check out our Great Library of Alexandria episode for more details regarding this incredibly influential place in human history. You’ll find the transcript from the Discover Tour Below.
Welcome to The Great Library of Alexandria. Near the district of royal palaces and within the most Mouseion was the most famous library of all antiquity. The Library of Alexandria was built to house all of human knowledge. at its pinnacle, the library was believed to contain over 700,000 parchments.
While much of the collection was purchased at the government’s expense, the library also obtained books through other means. Any books owned by travelers coming through the city were seized to be copied for the library. The copy would then be returned to the owner and the original entered into the library’s collection.
Alexandria offered unrivaled intellectual and cultural attractions, eminent scholars from Athens roads and other Greek centers traveled to the city to learn and engage with other free thinkers. Both the most sane and the library were at the center of groundbreaking ideas and creative expression. The great minds of antiquity were usually well versed in many disciplines, which were often associated to specific schools of thought. The Peripatetics, the Stoics and the Cynics were among the most well known schools of the time. It is clear that Alexandria lived up to its fundamental role as a city for intellectuals, nurturing many great minds, whose impact reverberates through our modern world.
Hypatia of Alexandria was a Greek mathematician, philosopher, astronomer and inventor. Though born in Greece, she eventually migrated to Alexandria. Like many great minds at the time, it is there that she became the head of the Neoplatonis School of Alexandria. From most accounts, she was highly respected by her fellow Alexandrians, both as a teacher and a philosopher. With her death, the age of great ancient scientific discoveries came to an end.
Kallimachos was born in Cyrene and educated in Athens. After his studies, he moved to Alexandria to work in the great library, a poet and a critic. He strongly rejected the epic format of Homeric poems, and instead fervently supported a shorter, more judiciously formulated style of poetry. His epigrams and elegiac poems were emulated by later poets. His work was extremely popular second only to homers own works.
It was in Alexandria that mathematician Euclid, the father of geometry, wrote the elements, laying out the foundational work of what would become modern algebra and number theory. Euclidean geometry would become one of the most influential systems in the evolution of mathematics.
How do you calculate the circumference of the Earth? With a camel, two sticks and shadows cast by the sun. This is what Eratosthenes of Cyrene described in his principal work, Geography, while he was director of the Great Library of Alexandria. He is credited for the invention of the armillary sphere around 250 BCE.
The earliest known and most complete armillary sphere of antiquity was the Meteoroskopion of Alexandria, with an imposing nine rings compared to the three or four of most other astrolabes. Known as the Zodiac Krikotoi amongst the Greeks, the Meteoroskopion was used to determine the location of celestial bodies around the Earth. Every self-respecting astronomer of antiquity would have sought to use this tool to better understand the celestial movements.
Pythagoras of Samos was a well-known and respected philosopher and mathematician. He is best known for the Pythagorean Theorem. However, there is proof that the theorem existed in Babylonia and India, long before Pythagoras was born, casting some doubts as to who exactly originated the theorem.
VR is in a unique position in gaming. It’s truly novel for many users. Long gone are the days of marveling at mouselook in a first person shooter or crying in jubilation at the sound of your dial up modem connecting to a friend and the possibilities of online multiplayer. VR tech, even though it has been around for 20+ years, has yet to be experienced by most people outside enthusiasts. “Good VR,” or VR that was produced for a larger consumer market has only been around since 2016 with the official release of the HTC Vive. To enjoy that experience, you needed a powerful gaming PC. Wireless, PC-free VR gaming (Good VR with proper controllers) didn’t arrive until late 2018 with the original Oculus Quest. The release of the Oculus Quest 2 in 2020 meant much higher fidelity games for PC-free VR, more developers creating games for PC-free VR, and thus more opportunities to blow somebody’s mind when you let them try VR for the first time.
There is a certain ilk of VR apps that you want to show off to your relatives or friends that have never tried VR before. It needs to be a recognizable experience that they can dive into right away. Chances are you’re showing it off to a non-gamer or someone that plays Candy Crush more than Call of Duty. VR games that are on the top of that list are things like Beat Saber: Just hit the fucking blocks, Grandma! Superhot is effective as well: Just shoot them in the face, Grandma! The king of VR games at the moment in terms of technical chops and what not, Half Life: Alyx (which needs to be running on a gaming PC but can be streamed over wifi to the Quest 2), is too much for a non-gamer. Us nerds take reloading mechanics and checkpoints for granted. We’ve been suckling on those gaming tits for decades now. Newbies just need to hit a fucking block or point a shooty-shoot in a direction and pull the trigger.
Good news, I have a new VR app suggestion that will absolutely blow your uncle’s alcoholic brain: Real VR Fishing for the Oculus Quest and Rift. I’m playing it on the Quest 2.
Fishing works really well in VR to begin with. Real VR Fishing has taken many of the best aspects of VR fishing games and refined them to produce something that feels polished and is a lot of fun. The first thing that will make your cousin cream her pants are the graphics.
Photorealism is not something that you find in today’s VR games. VR is taxing on current hardware. To make VR work, your machine needs to render two separate cameras simultaneously, one for each eye, at a high frame rate like 90 fps. If the frame rate drops below 90 fps, the user will become VR sick. Having players puke their guts out is a bad business model for VR developers. That’s why many VR games use simpler graphics models and graphic filter techniques like cell shading. More basic graphics are fine for most VR games. If the core gameplay mechanics are solid, the physicality of VR games with directional audio combine to make an engaging experience.
Real VR Fishing stands outs immediately in the graphics department. The team at MIRAGESOFT has masterfully pulled off a blend of 2D photos and 3D geometry. I seriously think this might be the best and most convincing example of the combination of 2D photos and 3D geometry I’ve ever seen in a video game. In the distance, you will see bridges, hills, docks, and parked cars. Those are all comprised of a curved, 2D images. The water, rod, and fish are 3D geometry, and they have been crafted with exquisite detail.
It’s that level of detail that pushes Real VR Fishing off the charts in the graphics department. For instance, in one level where I was fishing at dusk, a swarm of bats emerged over the wide river that I was fishing on. While I watched the tip of my pole flex as fish nibbled at my lure, I was watching the giant swarm of bats gyrate and morph over the water in the distance. If you look off to the right or left on a shoreline, you might be rewarded by the sight of a swarm of insects flying over a pile of vegetation. Flocks of birds will frequently fly overhead. At night, fireworks will burst over the city skyline and shooting stars will streak in and out of view. There’s even a double rainbow. All of these fine graphical details stack up to create an ultra-immersive experience.
Real Fishing VR features twenty different fishing spots throughout South Korea. When you catch a fish, you can choose to either release the fish for XP or keep the fish for cash. Gaining XP helps you progress in levels and unlocks new fishing locations along with the ability to buy new gear like reels, rods, lures, boats, and cosmetics for your avatar. The cash allows you to actually purchase the items. I’ve found the progression to be fair and not too easy or difficult. You need to catch a decent amount of fish to make gains, but guess what, we’re in VR-land, so if you’re using the correct bait and cast out, you’re going to get a bite in 10 seconds or so. Eat shit real life!
Let’s talk about gameplay. Fortunately, Real VR Fishing is much more than eye candy. The gameplay mechanics are good. The developers have gamified fishing in some clever ways. In other VR fishing games, it’s pretty much just about the tension of the line—which is true here too, but how you manage that tension is a bit different. On a basic level, don’t reel the line when the tension is too tight (red line) or reel it in when the line is too loose (blue line). Following those guidelines pretty much guarantees catching smaller fish. For bigger fish, how you manage line tension becomes much more critical. If a fish runs to the left, you need to pull your rod to the right. If the fish jumps out of the water to the right, you need to snap your rod to the left to potentially stun the fish and give you valuable uncontested reeling time. If the fish is in a “rage state” and splashing around, you need to slow your reeling down and anticipate if the line will be too tight or slack when it finishes throwing its tantrum. When you’re going after bigger fish, there’s no guarantee that you’ll actually pull it in. You need to work for that shit, and it means that this isn’t some sort of weird South Korean fishing slot machine. You can chill and go for medium and small fish (which on hard difficulty you see a fish detector before you cast out), or if you want a good challenge that demands your attention, you can go for the big boys.
As far as difficulty goes, I recommend completing the tutorial, trying the easy mode a few times, and then bumping it up to hard. Easy mode displays a UI that shows you exactly where you are in terms of tension and which direction you need to pull your rod. Hard mode loses the UI, and it forces you to actually watch what the fish are doing as you reel them in. I’m not sure what expert mode does, because I’ve been too much of a pussy to try it. I imagine it loses the fish detector and possibly the line color tension indicator. As you go up in difficulty levels, the game becomes less forgiving in terms of losing the fish. Hard mode has been a satisfying challenge for me thus far.
The force feedback in this game is outstanding. Fishing games inherently work well with VR force feedback. Real VR Fishing nails it. Whether you’re reeling in the big fish or you’re casting your line and the lure breaks the surface of the water—the force feedback feels great in the Oculus Quest 2 controllers. I haven’t tested this game on the other Oculus systems, but I would expect the results to be very similar.
Real VR Fishing has a few other unique features. As you catch fish, you can add them to your aquarium in your lodge. This is a nice touch. The fish look fantastic swimming around, and as you progress in levels, you have the option to add cosmetics to the aquarium. You can purchase several cosmetics for your avatar. This is cool because the game has a built-in photo mode which includes a selfie camera along with multiplayer support to play with your friends.
Real VR Fishing is an essential title for your Oculus collection. The game is only $20 on the Oculus store. You’ll have a blast playing the game, and between this and Beat Saber, you can show off some of the coolest features of VR to newbies in under 10 minutes. Real VR fishing has top-tier graphics for not only a VR title, but fishing games in general. The mechanics of this game are solid, challenging, and fair. The tutorial is a bit lean, but if you follow the recommendations I gave in the review, you should be fine. Fine tuning your angling skills is a big part of the fun. This is not an aquatic slot machine! Along with multiplayer support, the game allows you to play your own music or even videos on the Quest while you fish. The attention of detail that MIRAGESOFT has implemented in this game builds up to deliver a one-of-a-kind experience, whether you’re a master angler at heart or someone just looking to try a quality experience in VR.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is the third AC game since a major overhaul of the series starting with Assassin’s Creed Origins in 2017. I found Origins to have an impressive and dynamic open world with a decent story. The follow-up to that game, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey which released in 2018, was impressive in scope, but I found the main storyline to be uninteresting. On top of that, the combat felt inconsequential and there were too many samey quests. It was like everything from Origins had been turned up to 11 in Odyssey, and for me, it made the game less interesting.
Enter Assassin’s Creed Valhalla in 2020. Weeks before this game came out, I watched a gameplay preview trailer for Valhalla, and I remember thinking, “Here we go again. This looks like a fucking reskin of Odyssey.” I was not excited for the game. The AI looked dumb as hell, and the dialogue seemed stupid. Positive reviews began coming out shortly after the game was released, which didn’t tell me a lot, because Odyssey received great reviews when it came out. I decided to take a chance on Valhalla and was surprised by how different it felt.
I actually cared about the story in Valhalla. The gear was limited and you were motivated to invest in it. You had a community of Danes in your settlement, Ravensthorp, that actually mattered. Side-quests weren’t shoved down your throat. And raids with your crew on monasteries were fucking awesome. Ubisoft Montreal, the primary studio behind Valhalla’s development, had used lessons learned from Origins and Odyssey to deliver a much more balanced game. The scope of the game was still there, but it was presented in a compelling way.
Jesus fuck, Oracle. This article is supposed to be about how to improve the game with a few settings…not a tribute jackoff event about how good the game is!
Fine. As good as Valhalla was, it still lacked an element of exploration that I enjoyed in games such as Breath of the Wild or Jedi: Fallen Order. Just as in any other Assassin’s Creed game, you travelled to a vantage point like the top of a cathedral, synchronized, and now you suddenly had a bunch of points of interest to go to on the map and in your compass. The same applied to objectives. Once you were given a task, you knew exactly where to go, so you b-lined it to the objective.
Fortunately, there is a way to tweak settings in Valhalla and substantially increase the sense of exploration in the game. I’ve found that tweaking these settings has turned a good game into a great game. It is important to note that you need to actually be in the campaign to change some of these settings.
Here we go:
Go to “Gameplay” and bump the “Combat Difficulty” up to “Beserker (Hard).”
2. In “Gameplay” change the “Exploration Difficulty” to “Pathfinder.”
3. In “Interface” turn “Enemy Proximity” to off.
4. In “Interface” go to the “HUD, WORLD & QUESTS” section and turn “Compass” to off.
5. In “Interface” go to the “HUD, WORLD & QUESTS” section and turn “Mini Quest Log” to off.
After you change the above settings, your Assassin’s Creed Valhalla experience should be much more exploratory and a bit more challenging while still being fair. When you travel to new destinations, you will need to use a combination of your raven Synin, the map, and landmarks to help you navigate the world. I’ve found Valhalla to be much more rewarding when I’ve set out on a road or followed a river to my destinations, only to encounter new and exciting side-quests that I wasn’t expecting. If you are a purist, and want to go full psycho, knock yourself out. There are many more options that you can tweak.
Visually, the game feels much less cluttered with the compass and its icons removed. The only icons that show up are speech bubbles on NPCs that you can interact with and quest markers once you get in close enough proximity of them. You can use your fuckoff supersight thingy when you’re in an area to help you locate things like loot and points of interest. When I changed these settings at first, I would frequently get lost and didn’t know where to find objectives in buildings. As I played more, I got better at navigating, and there’s no way I’m going to change the settings back. I believe some of these settings were available in Origins and Odyssey. I don’t know if I will go back to those games anytime soon though. Valhalla fine tunes what those games offered in many ways.
I’ve had the Xbox Series X for a little under 2 weeks, and I’m ready to give my honest to goodness review of Microsoft’s new console. First of all, it was a complete pain in the ass to get this console in 2020. I tried to purchase one on 4 different occasions by spamming the “buy” button every 2 seconds when I caught wind of a restock. Even with me hitting the button seconds after Walmart restocked, I still needed to spam the button for about 30 minutes before I was able to actually purchase the system. Fucking bots. Anyway, if you decide to buy one of these, you should have an easier time as 2021 moves along, but then again, you might not be in a rush after reading this review.
I’m actually impressed by how compact this system is. The power supply is inside the case. When I pulled it out of the box I remember thinking, “Damn, this thing has some weight to it!” Microsoft is making a statement here: no frills with a big ole don’t fuck with me vent on the top. I haven’t noticed any extraneous venting sounds or anything coming from the Series X. You can put the system on its side, but I wouldn’t. It’s clearly been made to stand upright.
Setup was incredibly easy with this system. I upgraded from an Xbox One X, so I already had the Xbox app installed on my phone. When you power the Series X on for the first time, it gives you a code to put in the app. I was up and running in under 5 minutes. I selected the games I wanted to install from my library and Game Pass and let it download and install. I have 400 MB internet in my apartment, and my Xboxes have consistently been the fastest machines in the house in terms of downloading games. Microsoft has been developing a massive server infrastructure for years and it clearly shows when you’re downloading games. The Series X detected my television’s capabilities and automatically set the best settings in terms of HDR. You can fine tune this with additional settings if you wish. I don’t have a PS5 yet, but I had a hell of a time getting my PS4 Pro HDR to play nicely with my setup.
It’s fast. Performance-wise, the SSD of the Series X is the thing that stands out most when compared to the One X. Sorry, I don’t have a fancy chart to show the loading time difference with something like Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, but I would say it takes less than a quarter of the time to load the game on the Series X. You can choose between “Performance” or “Graphics” on Assassin’s Creed. On the graphics setting, the experience was largely the same as my One X, minus much shorter loading times. Once I tried the performance setting, I knew my $500 Series X purchase was warranted. This mode locks the game at 60 frames per second, and holy shit, it is buttery smooth compared to 30 fps.
If you’re a PC gamer, you are no doubt lubing yourself with tears of laughter and masturbating at 60+ fps. Yes, if you’ve got the money to buy a killer graphics card like an Nvidia RTX 3070 (which costs more than a Series X on its own), and all of the other components required, you’re going to have a performance and customization advantage. That being said, the Series X cuts out an enormous amount of bullshit. You can power it up and be in a AAA game running at 4K 60 fps in under a minute. Not only that, but you can use Quick Resume on the Series X and jump between up to 6 or so games seamlessly. This feature has made me much more willing to pop out of one game after hitting a story beat, try another game, and resume once the first game once I feel charged up. It might sound like I have ADHD problems, but I’ve been surprised how much more I switch between games now that I can do it in a hassle-free way.
In my opinion, this system is not worth purchasing without Xbox Game Pass. Microsoft doesn’t have the exclusives lineup like Sony does with the Playstation. Each company likes to tout how powerful their system is, but really, they’re both fast as shit. The value for Microsoft and the Xbox comes with Game Pass. Because of Game Pass, I’ve been able to completely fuck up my fiancés life and turn her into a gamer. She plays the system almost as much as I do and is crushing indie platformers like Hollow Knight, Ori, and Celeste. Game Pass doesn’t just have a library of indies either. They recently added the spectacular game Control and the entire EA Access library. You can tell the people curating the Game Pass library know video games and what the fuck they are doing.
My recommendation is to look for Game Pass cards on sale. This past Cyber Monday I was able to score Xbox Game Pass Ultimate cards from Target for $20 for 3 months (normally $15 per month). When I redeemed those cards, it gave me an extra month per card because I was signed up for autopay, so I got 1 year for $60 versus $180. That wasn’t the first time I cashed in on a good Game Pass deal either. Microsoft is pushing hard to get people signed up. They are currently running a deal where you can get your first 3 months for $1. Take them up on that one and look out for other deals. They want your business.
I should start this by saying my PS4 interface made me want to drown a bag of kittens or beat a baby every time I had to use it. I shouldn’t have to look up how to install DLC on Reddit. The Xbox Series X interface is almost exactly as it was with the One X. It’s snappier on the Series X. One notable difference is that when I open an app like Disney+ or Netflix on the Series X, it switches my TV (Hisense H8G) to Dolby Atmos if applicable. My One X would keep the system on the “Game HDR” setting which doesn’t look as crisp as Atmos.
My television has Google features and apps built into it, and using something like Netflix or Twitch on it feels like using a Model T compared to the Series X. The promise of the “always on” box of the Xbox One that made everyone hate it, has come to fruition with the Series X. It absolutely kills as an all-in-one multimedia box. It even has a blue ray drive for you physical media nerds out there.
The Series X controller is very similar to the Xbox One controller. It feels a bit more solid. There’s a nice gritty texture on the back, which actually feels really good for some dumb fucking reason. The D-pad feels way better than the Xbox One controller. There’s a share button. Yep, that’s it for differences! Just like so many other aspects of the Series X, the controller feels like an iteration of what Microsoft has done before.
Should you buy a Series X? If you have an Xbox One X or PS4 Pro…wait unless you need the new thingy. There’s nothing huge here to warrant killing yourself trying to find a Series X. If you have a vanilla Xbox One or PS4…this thing is going to rock your world. The upgrade will feel huge to you. That being said, you will want to get a 4K television to take full advantage of it. If you don’t want to shell out several hundred dollars for a new TV, consider picking up the less expensive Xbox Series S.
Stop fucking around and buy Game Pass if you’re going to pick up one of these systems. The Game Pass library is already phenomenal, but this Xbox hardware lineup will not demonstrate it’s true power and value until Microsoft’s big exclusives like Halo Infinite begin landing in the fall of 2021.
The Xbox Series X is a solid, all-in-one entertainment system. Pair it with Game Pass and your favorite streaming apps, and you’ll have one hell of an entertainment setup.
I am a gamer. I spend a lot of my free time playing video games, looking at game magazines, websites, and performing all the other fuckoff activities that gamers tend to do. For all of my nerd brethren out there, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you can’t relate, hold on, because there’s something here for you too.
As a gamer, my initial impression of VR was that it was dumb. The first thing I tried was a rollercoaster simulator on a Samsung phone. The graphics sucked. I just sat there. I didn’t feel a big sensation of movement. The experience didn’t even come close to the first time I fired up Mario 64 in terms of the “Wow” factor. A few years after trying the rollercoaster phone experience, I gave VR another shot with a Playstation VR on my PS4 Pro. This was certainly better. The graphics were not great, but they were passable. Think PS3 or Xbox 360 generation graphics. The tracking was okay, but honestly, it still sucked ass. The PSVR uses a camera to track light points on the headset and the wands. It was a passable experience in something like Superhot, until well, it stopped tracking and I couldn’t pick up a gun and got shot in the face. Don’t even get me started on the Playstation Move controllers. There are no joysticks on them. The whole thing felt limited.
It wasn’t until I picked up an Oculus Rift-S that VR began to gel for me. This is a headset that you plug into a gaming PC. There are no tracking stations with this system. You plug it in, and as far as the VR went, things like tracking and graphics, it worked out great. There were the usual pain in the ass hoops that needed to be jumped through with playing games on PC. Programs didn’t work. My system crashed. My CPU wasn’t fast enough. Blah, blah. Playing games on PC is like having a smoking hot girlfriend/boyfriend that is also completely mental and will key your car if they’re not happy. There’s a price to be paid for all of those sexy graphics and high framerates.
Anyway, I began to appreciate the types of experiences that I was having in VR with the Oculus Rift-S. Some favorites that emerged during that time were Until You Fall, Beat Saber, BoxVR, Duck Season, Elite Dangerous, Ultimate Fishing Simulator VR, and Half Life: Alyx (Ashtray’s best of 2020 video game selection). These were unique and memorable experiences in VR. I took my gaming laptop and Rift-S on a trip back to visit my family in Wisconsin. My mom fucking loved it. She jumped right into Beat Saber. I totally threw my dad into the deep end and had him try the boxing game, Creed: Rise to Glory. He got a little too immersed and almost went crashing through the living room television. It was amazing. I’ve been a gamer basically my entire life. My parents have never gotten into video games. It was fascinating to see how naturally they were able to use the tech.
Now that VR has become a staple of my gaming diet, how I play VR and whom I play it with are turning out to be big surprises. I’ve since picked up an Oculus Quest 2. This VR system is standalone and does not need a gaming PC. That means no cables and no PC gaming bullshit to deal with. You can hook your Oculus Quest 2 up to a PC to play more intensive games like Half Life: Alyx, but since cutting the cord and not having to deal with shit crashing in the background, I prefer to play simpler games native to the Quest and not even worry about my PC. I can be playing a game in under a minute with a Quest 2.
On my Xbox Series X, most of my gaming time is spent playing single player games like Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla (My best of 2020 video game selection). On the Quest 2, I’m playing almost exclusively multiplayer games. One of my biggest VR gaming buddies is my 60-year-old mother on her Quest. I can’t recall ever playing a video game with my mother prior to VR. We play frisbee golf in Rec Room, mini golf in Walkabout Mini Golf, and the amazing futuristic racketball game: Racket: NX. VR seems to make sense to non-gamers in a way that video games generally don’t. The physical movement involved is intuitive. And now that “good” VR has finally arrived in a standalone system in the Oculus Quest, the barrier to entry has been shattered for non-gamers—opening up new entertainment experiences for them, but more importantly, establishing more ways to connect gamers and non-gamers in meaningful ways.
This isn’t going to be for everyone, but don’t count someone out until they’ve tried it. Basically every person that I’ve had try the Quest 2 has fallen in love with it. If you’ve been curious about VR, I recommend picking up an Oculus Quest 2. This is the VR option with the best balance of quality and accessibility. Find some games that you like and have your parents, siblings, and grandparents try them out. Beat Saber is always a hit. Walkabout Mini Golf is a more traditional, subdued experience. Racket: NX is awesome as well. Probably don’t have grandma try out your weird VR porno videos. Give it a shot and you might end up with a new gaming buddy!