Destiny 2's Season of the Splicer is upon us, bringing with it a new six-player matchmade activity, rewards, and the long-awaited (and incredibly confusing) transmog system. As always, the full lowdown on everything you can expect can be had in the patch notes at bungie.net.
Transmog, which enables players to dress up however they like without sacrificing stats, is a big part of many MMOs, and players including our own Tim Clark were very much looking forward to it. Unfortunately, the system revealed by Bungie a few weeks ago seemed unnecessarily convoluted and grindy, and the initial reaction from the player base was not good. It will be very interesting to see how that shakes out as players dive into the new content.
Crash the simulation.Season of the Splicer is here.🌃 https://t.co/MmXj92M0SQ pic.twitter.com/3ENAIMrjZcMay 11, 2021
Other highlights in the patch notes include a substantial number of changes to the weapon and ability sandbox, as well as fixes for the core playlists and the Deep Stone Crypt, Garden of Salvation, and The Last Wish raids. Shaders are now unlockables, meaning they'll no longer be consumed when used and will be found in your Collections rather than your inventory. It will however cost 500 Glimmer to apply shaders, and there's a higher Bright Dust cost for unlocking new ones.
The new shader system is a positive change overall, but players have quickly noticed one big downside: There's no way to organize shaders or mark favorites. It's just a big dump of color swatches you'll have to root through whenever you want a new look, which is definitely not great if you have a shader collection of any size. (And unless you started playing yesterday, you probably do.) Hopefully Bungie will roll out some kind of sorting system soon.
Naturally, there's also a new season pass:
One change that strikes me as oddly fun is that Sparrows, the magical space motorcycles that Guardians conjure out of thin air to ride around on, will no longer time out and disappear after you hop off them, but can now stay in the game world "semi-indefinitely." Remember where you parked! (Yes, I think running around yelling "Hey, have you seen my bike?" at random strangers would be fun. You enjoy games your way, I'll enjoy them mine.)
For more information on what's in store, hit up the Season of the Splicer page at bungie.net, or get a crash course in the seasonal roadmap below.
Blizzard will show off two hours of Overwatch 2 gameplay on May 20, including a first look at changes to the game’s PvP mode. Announced by new director Aaron Keller in a short development update, the livestream will begin on May 20 at 12pm Pacific / 3pm Eastern / 8pm UK (that’s May 21 at 5am AEST). It will focus on PvP, and will include footage of changes coming to the mode – and will serve as our biggest public look at the game since it was announced. You’ll be able to watch the stream with us on IGN. The livestream will feature Keller, lead hero designer Geoff Goodman, and associate art director Dion Rogers, and will be hosted by Matt “Mr. X” Morello and Mitch “Uber” Leslie (with appearances from Overwatch influencers Stylosa and Cuppcaake). [ignvideo url=”https://www.ign.com/videos/overwatch-2-55-new-details”] Exactly what the livestream will introduce for PvP is unknown, but it will definitely affect both Overwatch 2 and the original Overwatch, with the two games sharing a single player-vs-player set-up. “From new maps to major gameplay updates,” reads a press release, “we’re reinvigorating the core Overwatch experience.” Those PvP changes could be fundamental, with Overwatch 2’s BlizzCon panel explaining that the team was making experimental changes to the game, including adding passive abilities across hero roles, wildly altering how tank characters work, and potentially even removing the Assault mode type altogether. Now-departed game director Jeff Kaplan previously hinted to IGN that PvP changes would be evolutionary for the game: “We’re trying to rethink maybe the way the game is played a little bit and redefine what PvP needs – go, ‘Hey, we’re not in Overwatch 1 anymore. We’re in Overwatch 2 now. It’s okay for it to be different. In fact, how many years are we going to play the same game before it’s time to move on and experience something different and allow us to evolve?’ Which I think is good.” [ignvideo url=”https://www.ign.com/videos/jeff-kaplan-blizzards-brilliant-innovator”] With no release date in sight, it’s not clear how far along Overwatch 2 is in development, but Blizzard is aiming to update fans more regularly than it has done, so this may well be the first in a line-up of showcases for the game. [poilib element=”accentDivider”] Joe Skrebels is IGN’s Executive Editor of News. Follow him on Twitter. Have a tip for us? Want to discuss a possible story? Please send an email to [email protected].
If you’ve seen that enigmatic teaser on the League of Legends Twitter channel, you’ve surely been wondering what on earth Riot Games has in store for its flagship MOBA game next. The answer has now been revealed: Project: Bastion is a month-long event running across three patches, which brings a bunch of new skins in the Project line, the return of Nexus Blitz, and more.
First up, the when. Project: Bastion kicks off on May 27 and runs through to June 28, which means it’ll be live across patches 11.11, 11.12, and 11.13. As for the what, the seven – yep, seven – new Project skins coming will be for League of Legends champions Mordekaiser, Renekton, Sejuani, Senna, Varus (which was already teased and then un-teased), and Sylas – with the latter also getting a prestige edition. This’ll cost 2,000 Project: Bastion event tokens, and can be claimed up until two weeks after the event finishes. You can check out the splash art for some of these below.
The skins will tie into the theme of the Bastion event, which sees the existing – and popular – Project alternate universe take centre stage. “The battling factions players have met in the past must now band together against a new threat activated by the mysterious Program virus,” Riot explains.
EA Play Live 2021 takes place July 22, which is a month later than its usual spot. Though EA has not been part of E3 for years, the publisher always held EA Play in close proximity to E3 – including last year’s digital event.
This announcement comes on the heels of Battlefield’s official channels hinting that the game’s initial unveiling will take place in June, and not in May as everyone expected going off EA’s history. We still expect the game’s full reveal to be part of EA Play Live’s line-up in July, it just seems everything got moved back one month.
Battlefield is, of course, EA’s biggest game this year. Outside of that, you can expect the usual line-up of sports games and EA Originals titles. Though they’re still early in development, we could also get another look at Dragon Age 4, Skate 4 and perhaps something form the recently-acquired Codemasters.
Virtual reality isn’t the eye-wateringly expensive beast it once was, expanding to include a wide range of hardware from the entry-level $299 Oculus Quest 2 to the $999 Valve Index, but HTC is putting forward another contender for the best VR headset. While its newly announced Vive Pro 2 might look pretty similar to its Vive Pro predecessor, however, it’s anything but.
It’s a big improvement over the previous model, now packing 2560×1440 pixels per eye for a combined 5K resolution. Pair this with a 120Hz refresh rate – similar to that of the best gaming monitor – and this looks like it could be a top-tier headset that’ll help you experience games like Half-Life: Alyx as they’re intended. You’ll definitely want the best graphics card to take full advantage of this headset’s high resolution and frame rate, however – which is easier said than done with the current stock issues.
There are also built-in headphones with certified Hi-Res Audio and 3D spatial sound, so finding yourself the best gaming headset shouldn’t be necessary to get an immersive VR experience. It’s backwards compatible with the lower-bandwidth DisplayPort 1.2 too thanks to Vesa’s Display Stream Compression tech, as found on the latest 4K 144Hz monitors.
HTC is upgrading its high-end PC VR headset, the Vive Pro.
HTC has today announced two new headsets, both of which are due out over the coming weeks. The first is the consumer-focused Vive Pro 2, which arrives June 4.
The Vive Pro 2 is the successor to the high-end, PC VR headset from 2018. It sports a 5K resolution display, with 2.5K per eye and a 120Hz panel. The headset’s field of view has been expanded to 120 degrees achieved through a “dual stacked-lens design”, which HTC says “virtually eliminates” the dreaded screen door effect.
The new headset supports Display Stream Compression, but is backwards compatible with DisplayPort 1.2. The Vive Pro 2 offers IPD adjustments, and an adjustable head strap. There’s also a sizing dial for owners to further customise the fit. The headset supports external headphones, and comes with its own 3D spatial sound-supporting headphones.
Like its predecessor, the new headset will also work with all Vive SteamVR accessories – including all generations of Vive Trackers, and the Vive Facial Tracker.
“Vive Pro 2 will slot into an existing SteamVR setup – whether it’s Base Station 1.0 or Base Station 2.0, older Vive controllers, or even controllers and gloves like Valve’s Index ‘knuckle’ controllers,” HTC said.
The Vive Pro will be available to pre-order today at 10am PT, 1pm ET, 6pm UK for a special pre-order price of $749 / £659 / €739. It will go on sale June 4. There’s also a full kit – available August 4 – featuring the Pro 2, Base Station 2.0, and Vive Controllers for an eye-watering $1,399 / £1,299 / €1,399.
Alongside the Vive Pro refresh, HTC also announced a new all-in-one (standalone) headset for business: the Vive Focus 3. It, too, has a 5K resolution, and a 120-degree FOV. The panel’s refresh rate is only 90Hz, however, a drop from the Pro 2.
The Vive Focus 3 arrives June 24, priced $1,300 / £1,060 / €1,180.
The Intel Alder Lake CPU lineup represents the 12th Gen desktop and laptop processors set for release in the second half of 2021—the rumour mill is currently split on exactly when, but likely they'll drop between September–November. The exact date isn't known yet, but that's probably because Intel has been focusing on releasing Rocket Lake on desktop and its recent release of Tiger Lake-H in laptops.
Alder Lake will be Intel's first desktop processor to use its 10nm SuperFin production process, which would be quite a landmark release for the big chip maker. But it also represents a significant shift in how CPUs are pieced together, as it will be Intel's first hybrid big.LITTLE design for desktop as well.
The big.LITTLE terminology comes from Arm's mixed use of high and low-performance cores in one chip package. And means, essentially, that Alder Lake combines Intel's traditional high-performance CPU cores with its lower-spec Atom silicon. That's why the core count above is written as 8+8, that's eight big traditional cores and eight smaller, more efficient cores.
The big Golden Cove silicon is very much like the cores you'll find in Intel's current CPUs, and represents an evolution from the Willow Cove core design inside the Tiger Lake CPUs found in Intel's current 11th Gen mobile chips.
Alder Lake also packs in plenty of next-gen technology into its design, including support for PCI Express 5.0 and DDR5 RAM. With so many changes, it should come as no surprise that Alder Lake will use a new LGA 1700 socket and be supported by a new chipset family—mostly likely headed by the Z690 chipset at the high-end. The important point being you won't be able to drop Alder Lake into current Z490 and Z590 motherboards, you're going to need to start afresh here.
Intel Alder Lake release date
The official line is the Intel Alder Lake release date is H2 2021, but we're expecting it to drop sometime in early Q4, or if everything is going well, possibly even Q3 2021. Intel showed off Alder Lake at CES 2021, and there have been numerous leaks of specific versions of the chip since. This suggests that the stated launch frame of sometime in the second half of 2021 still seems possible.
The latest from WCCFTech has Alder Lake launching in November, so on the later side of our expectations. That's reportedly a "mostly fixed" date, but we'll find out as the year progresses.
Intel does have a lot to get right before it can drop this new kind of processor on the world though, and it's likely to arrive in the last quarter even if everything goes to plan. Having said that, it may try and hit that lucrative back-to-school market in September, at least on laptops.
There are a lot of new ideas being aired in these new chips, which equates to plenty of elements that could go wrong and push the release back. Intel has been savvy on this front at least, simply stating that it'll be available in the second half of the year. Six months is a lot of wiggle room in this industry. Even if it doesn't launch until 31 December 2021, it will still have hit its target.
Two elements of Alder Lake stand out as being most likely to cause issues. Firstly, there is the whole thorny subject of getting the two different types of cores working efficiently together, with a healthy dollop of Windows scheduler magic needed as well.
Secondly, Alder Lake is destined to be Intel's first desktop CPU to use its problematic 10nm production process. It has proved it can deliver on the mobile side of things, so in theory, this shouldn't be an issue, but it tends to push its desktop chips harder, for faster clocks, so it'll be interesting to see if this all goes smoothly.
Intel has just released its Rocket Lake CPUs on the Desktop, and Tiger Lake-H just pounced this side of summer, so it doesn't feel like Intel needs to rush Alder Lake out. With a brand new way of working, getting the performance and efficiency right is hopefully more important.
Alder Lake may land earlier than originally thought, too, although this seems unlikely. A tweet from @9550pro on April 16 shows an updated roadmap of Intel's Workstation lineup that has Alder Lake-S replacing Rocket Lake-S in the entry-level workstation segment in Q3'21. While this slide doesn't show the release dates of consumer Alder Lake, workstation spins are generally released at the same time.
Intel Alder Lake specifications
It's early days for Alder Lake and there's plenty we don't know about its silicon makeup. It's too early for such things as operating frequencies and power usage. At least not outside of Intel. What we do know though, is the general makeup of Alder Lake and the sort of chips that will appear in Intel's 12th Gen processor family.
Alder Lake's Hybrid big.LITTLE design means that each chip has a number of Golden Cove traditional cores and a number of Gracemont Atom cores as well. Note that Golden Cove supports Intel's Hyperthreading for doubling up the number of threads that those cores can handle, but Gracemont reportedly doesn't. This is why you'll see specs for chips like 8+8 cores but only 24 threads.
An early leak of Intel's mobile Alder Lake plans paints an interesting range of configurations here, with between one and eight Golden Cove cores working alongside four or eight Gracemont cores. Intel does have to cover some low power options on mobile, all the way down to 5W CPUs, which aren't too interesting for gamers, but it does suggest that Alder Lake can scale well.
On the desktop, we probably won't see such low core counts, but we don't know how low down the stack Intel will go to create something like an entry-level Core i3. Currently, you're looking at a quad-core chip, but will that translate into a 4+4 Core configuration with 12 threads? Or maybe a 2+4 chip with 8 threads? We simply don't know yet.
At the high-end, rumours have been pointing to an 8+8 core, 24-thread CPU that will probably roll in under Intel's Core i9 banner. Throw in the support for PCIe 5.0 and DDR5, and it looks like Alder Lake could be something worth paying attention to when it finally sees the light of day.
Some utilities are going to need to be updated to make sense of the new hybrid architecture, and one of the first tools to peer under the hood of Alder Lake is the excellent CPU-Z. On April 15 the developers added preliminary support for Intel Alder Lake and the Z6xx platform as well as support for DDR5 memory. Getting support this early is a sign that Intel is on track to deliver Alder Lake in plenty of time.
Intel Alder Lake performance
So what are we talking about performance-wise? It's tricky to say until we get more details. But there are a few tantalising snippets that could point to be things. We don't know exactly what the final operating frequencies are, and how those frequencies work with the two different cores. Are there two main clocks in Alder Lake, one for the big Golden Cove cores and another for Gracemont? How does the Turbo Boost work with these clocks?
Rumours have talked about a 20 percent IPC performance improvement for the Golden Cove cores over the current Rocket Lake chips. That's not bad, seeing as Rocket Lake offers a 19 percent boost over the previous Comet Lake generation to start with. As for the Gracemonet cores, the rumours are that these are on a par with Skylake. Combined there's the potential for a CPU family that can beat AMD's Zen 3 family. Frequencies definitely matter here though.
Moving over to Intel's 10nm production process should have a notable impact on performance as well. A smaller process generally equates to either a more efficient processor or a faster one. A combination of the two is the dream here though. And given Intel has been stuck on different iterations of its 14nm node for so long, hopefully it's got some pent-up frustration up its sleeve that it will vent on the clock front.
One interesting take on the big.LITTLE design is that the more energy-efficient Gracemont cores could allow the Golden Cove cores to run faster. The idea being that the Atom cores produce less heat for the same workloads, thus easing the thermal envelope for those big cores. How this will work for gaming has yet to be seen, but the potential is there. It may be that some optimisations are needed, but the prospect of even faster framerates is intriguing.
You have to hope that Intel will be talking about a general uptick in performance over the current Rocket Lake chips though, even with its new hybrid design. And while it's fair to say that CPUs have plateaued to a certain extent when it comes to gaming, Alder Lake still needs to push forward on the performance front for gamers to want to upgrade to it.
Intel Alder Lake price
Intel is pretty consistent when it comes to chip pricing, but given this is a completely different type of processor with a completely different core configuration, drawing parallels with its existing line-up is not so easy. For instance, the current top-of-the-line chip, the Core i9 11900K only has eight cores and 16 threads, while the top Alder Lake chip is down to have 16 cores and 24 threads. A very different proposition, even if not all of those cores are directly comparable.
Intel's goal here is to make the new architecture an attractive proposition, and so hopefully it won't bump the price up too much. Maybe the top-end chips will hit the same levels as the 11900K at $599. Regardless there will need to be plenty of more affordable chips through the stack, particularly when you get down to the 4 + 8 core models.
Pricing will be a lot clearer when Intel starts confirming the specifications of the complete stack. And once it starts talking about that, we'll have a much clearer idea of when Alder Lake will arrive as well.
The developers behind record-breaking Roblox game Adopt Me have launched an entire new studio to support it, called Uplift Games. A press release from Uplift Games reveals that whilst the studio was “originally founded by two talented Roblox developers, the team has now expanded to a 40-strong game studio, including a mix of experienced Roblox creators and veteran developers”. Roblox is a hugely popular online platform, which allows players to create their own games for others in the community. Its success has been enormous, particularly with young players and, after going public in March, it was revealed that Roblox is now worth more than development giants Take-Two and Ubisoft combined. [ignvideo url=”https://www.ign.com/videos/2021/04/14/a-roblox-player-poses-as-a-journalist-fools-white-house-officials”] Adopt Me originally launched on Roblox in 2017, and has gone on to become “the fastest growing and most successful Roblox title of all time”. Adopt Me is a game created within Roblox, where players can “build houses, collect and trade over 150 cute pets, and use in-game tools to create their own fun with friends”. The game has seen over 22 billion visits to date, and set a new world record for concurrent players on Roblox, hitting 1.92 million concurrent users in April 2021. The game also saw “100% growth” of new players between January 2020 and January 2021. With numbers like that, it’s no surprise that the team wants to flex its creative muscle and talent in a different direction – but Uplift also stressed its commitment to supporting Adopt Me through Roblox, stating that, “The studio will remain focused on Adopt Me, as well as future unannounced projects”. [ignvideo url=”https://www.ign.com/videos/2021/01/26/roblox-big-paintball-trailer”] Interestingly, Uplift Games has been keen to highlight its positive health-focused approach to any projects it works on, stressing that, “The studio has an ambitious mission statement to deliver a healthy and inclusive working environment, while operating a hugely successful self-funded game. Developers have the freedom to work when and how they wish to meet development goals, which are themselves carefully managed by studio leadership to minimize overwork and burnout”. Given some of the recent high-profile reports of intense crunch and developer burnout in the games industry, this is a refreshing approach to see from a development studio. A statement from Josh Ling, the Director of Business Operations, confirmed this approach, saying that “Uplift Games is a place where great successful games can be made by people who live happy and healthy lives”. It’ll probably be a while until we see anything new from Uplift Games, but at least the development team is free to work at their own pace. Roblox’s success is enticing more traditional game developers to the platform, with VVVVVV creator Terry Cavanagh creating his latest game exclusively for it. [poilib element=”accentDivider”] Liam Wiseman is a Freelance News Writer for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter @liamthewiseman
The sequel is due out later this year, but while we wait to hear more you can at least satisfy your curiosity with some live gameplay. During publisher Slitherine’s Home of Wargamers event today – a four-hour livestream that’s running from 2pm BST / 6am PDT through to 6pm BST / 10am PDT – developers from CodeForce will be showing off some footage of Distant Worlds 2 in action. From the research screen to ship and base customisation, as well as the role of independent worlds in the game, fans will get a more comprehensive look at how everything is shaping up.
The developers will also be showing some early game interactions with pirate factions. In the first Distant Worlds, these raiders provided an early obstacle to overcome, much like they do in Stellaris. In Distant Worlds 2 you can take a non-violent path in dealing with them, instead of the usual extermination.
System memory by the terabyte. That's what Samsung is bringing to the table with its brand new CXL Memory Expander. Blending DDR5 and Compute Express Link, an interconnect built on the foundations of PCIe 5.0, this device offers a taste of what could be in store for the gaming PC of tomorrow.
Compute Express Link is a new interconnect standard with support from all over the tech industry, including Intel, ARM Nvidia, Arm, Micron, Samsung, Seagate, Sony, WD, SK Hynix, Microsoft… I could go on for a while. Most major tech firms, including those most involved in PC gaming, are going in on CXL.
It's effectively a way for devices to share and access resources over a fast and wide memory interconnect, which improves performance and efficiency. It's built using the underlying technology to be introduced with PCIe 5.0, although CXL goes a little further across three main protocols: IO, cache, and memory. All of which helps the components of a heterogenous computer system talk to one another and share large pools of memory from devices, such as this Samsung CXL Memory Expander.
Samsung's CXL-based module is destined for the datacentre, as over-the-top memory devices often are. Samsung's also bringing extra controller and software technologies to the module that allow it to act as a system's primary memory pool.
Intel's Dr. Debendra Das Sharma said in Samsung's press release that "CXL memory is expected to expand the use of memory to a new level," and that Intel intends to help develop a more robust ecosystem around the tech."
AMD is also in on memory bandwidth, as a priority. "Memory research is a critical piece to unlocking this performance, and we are excited to work with Samsung to deliver advanced interconnect technology to our data center customers," said Dan McNamara at AMD.
While the humble gaming PC has far less use for a terabyte or more of memory, that doesn't necessarily preclude a more dramatic shake-up in the memory department on PC. Gaming consoles, and to some extent PCs, are beginning to wake up to the bandwidth conundrum. I/O plays a big role in the architectures of both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, and it won't be long until we get a taste for more expansive bandwidth and more effective memory use on PC, too.
Perhaps a 1TB DDR5 drive is a little out of the question, or more accurately over budget, for most PC gamers, but DDR5 and PCIe 5.0 will be arriving on PC later this year with Intel Alder Lake. Many DDR5 memory kits are already in production today, too—not long to wait now.