PlayStation Announces New Partnership With Discord!

Discord and PlayStation (R) Logos DVS does not own the rights to these images.

Yesterday PlayStation made a brief announcement on their blog, here, about their new partnership with the Gamer-focused chatting service Discord. This news coming in hot after talks broke down from a recent development with Microsoft/ Xbox, who were looking to acquire Discord for 10 billion dollars. Not much is known as to why they decided to turn down the offer in favor of a partnership but, it looks like Sony/ PlayStation will be taking the lead on this one. 

In their blog, Playstation also announced we could see the fruits of this partnership as early as next year. Integrating, Discord into their existing chat feature on console and mobile. Seemingly from the blog post, PlayStation is more in line with Discord’s vision of community first, but little has been said about what this could mean for either company moving forward. 

Becoming a minority investment stakeholder in Discord’s series H round leaves both giants open to explore how to develop their partnership while leaving the companies to grow individually. There are many expectations for both companies to wow their audience with how this partnership formed. 

Discord has been around for quite a while, est. 2015, and has been steadily growing in the gaming industry and got a profound hike in usability during the Covid-19 Pandemic. While not the most user-friendly chatting software to use, it was integral in bringing family and friends together to enjoy everything from reunions to game nights. Used all over by podcasters and streamers in the gaming industry, it is no wonder we have seen Discord popping up a lot in the news lately. 

Playstation has a much longer history in the gaming industry with its creator/investor Sony. Est. 1994, PlayStation has been a major player in the gaming industry ever since. While they have acquired many companies to increase their standing, taking the role of partner this time seems to have worked in their favor. 

Stay tuned to DVSGaming for more news, reviews, and updates to come!

Jeff Kaplan Leaves Blizzard Entertainment

Jeff Kaplan, the game director of Overwatch, has parted ways with Blizzard Entertainment after 19 years with the company. Kaplan started out as a game designer on World of Warcraft in 2002, developing quests for the iconic MMORPG. He was credited as a game director for World of Warcraft before leading Project Titan from 2009 to 2014. Elements of Project Titan eventually made their way into Overwatch, where Kaplan served as game director until today.

Kaplan oversaw the iconic game’s development, which won numerous Game of the Year awards and resurrected the team-based shooter genre. Overwatch‘s popularity also spawned an esports league called the Overwatch League, which is currently in its fourth season. He announced his departure in a letter on Blizzard’s website. You can read the full text of the letter below.

Greetings, Overwatch Community,

I am leaving Blizzard Entertainment after 19 amazing years.

It was truly the honor of a lifetime to have the opportunity to create worlds and heroes for such a passionate audience. I want to express my deep appreciation to everyone at Blizzard who supported our games, our game teams and our players. But I want to say a special thanks to the wonderful game developers that shared in the journey of creation with me.

Never accept the world as it appears to be. Always dare to see it for what it could be. I hope you do the same.

GG,
Jeffrey Kaplan

Development on Overwatch and Overwatch 2 will continue with assistant game developer Aaron Keller as the new game director. “Jeff’s been a great leader, mentor, and friend, and he knows how much we’re going to miss him,” Keller wrote in a letter to the community. “I’ve been lucky to work alongside him and the rest of the Overwatch team for many years in building something that continues to inspire people all around the world, and I’m honored to carry the torch forward.”

Story Of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town Review

Title Screen for Story Of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town

Let me preface this by saying these are not the type of games I play regularly. 

Leaving the City

Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town by XSEED Games and Marvelous Interactive Inc. is a new adventure life simulation game released on the Nintendo Switch on March 23rd, 2021. Similar in play to Stardew Valley by ConcernedApe, it’s a really amazing and fun game to get into. I have to say I wasn’t expecting it and fell in love with this game very quickly.

Heading to the Countryside!

As with most games in this genre you live in the big city but dream of moving to the countryside where your grandfather had his farm. You strike out with your tent and your motorcycle (It’s really a moped but we’ll go with what they call it) and head out on your adventure! 

Already I’m in love with the art style. The 3D graphics really add a new element to these types of games and appealed to me a lot more than the 2D graphic of similar games. Along with the cutesy animals that really made you want to do your best in caring for them. You choose early in the game how you want your character to look and the color of your motorcycle.

As is normal with these types of games the farm is under complete disrepair and you have to clean it up and get the farm going again. The initial clean-up doesn’t take long and you get to discover the town and townspeople that really bring this game to life. I mean there is plenty of content on the farm alone to keep you busy but taking the time to visit the town will break up the monotony of farm work. You can buy groceries to cook, materials to make items, adopt a pet, expand your house, go fishing, expand your farm, enjoy coffee, enjoy meals, buy flowers, engage in fruitful conversations, encourage decisions in the town, and so much more!

As mentioned there is plenty to do on the farm as well. From caring for your animals to tending your crops. You can even craft machines to make useful and more items to sell, increasing your profit. You need to make sure your farm is making a profit so you can continue to live and upgrade and make life great on the farm.

All in all this game was surprisingly fun and enjoyable to play. A little too addicting right off the bat but I feel like it could fall into the hole similar to Animal Crossing where eventually you get bored of playing but it has yet to happen so far. As there is more to explore and see in this game I’m expecting some amazing gameplay and can’t wait to see how others set up their farms!

DVS Rating 9/10 

Choosing Your Platform: DVS Edition

When it comes to new gamers, or even veteran gamers choosing a platform to play on can be intimidating. You can be faced with a variety of choices, even as a parent choosing one for their child. This guide can come in handy by helping you narrow down your choice without feeling overwhelmed or pressured by irrelevant parties that tend to be a bit biased with their opinions. I mean let’s be honest, gamers can be the worst fanboys and their views might not be aligned with your best interests. In light of this I am going to break it down by covering each current generation system along with their advantages and disadvantages. These systems will be the Nintendo Switch, Playstation 5, Xbox Series X, PC, and I will also touch upon the Classic editions of retro consoles.

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The Nintendo Switch was released on March 3rd of 2017, and made a huge comeback for the company since the Wii U console that was largely unsuccessful due to it’s limitations. Part of what made the console so successful is the fact that it was immediately open to 3rd party titles and support, and also has a unique design for home console and as well as portable, and the exclusive titles that were strong candidates for 2017 Game of the Year.

However, why should anyone choose this console over the others? Firstly this console is well suited to those whom are mostly on the go. Any full time employee that has limited time for gaming can easily take this console with them to work. The Nintendo Switch is a handheld console that has the a docking station that enables it to be play on a TV making it also viable as a home console, and has a platform that allows coordinating game play with other remote players. This capability is very well suited for those who often travel as well as the homebody. This console is an excellent choice for families, as Nintendo is mostly known for popular family oriented games like Super Mario Brothers, Pokemon, and even goofy games like Arms. Gamers with a budget can also benefit from picking the Switch since it only costs 299.99 instead of spending 499.99 like the other console choices.

For gamers that do not care for playing on the big screen, the Switch Lite version is available at 199.99. Though additional accessories can be expensive, you still get everything you need just buying the console by itself. The other big plus is you’ll have access to Nintendo exclusive games that will not be available on any other platform, such as Mario Odyssey, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and Fire Emblem: Three Houses. The Switch also now features live services to play online games with others such as Splatoon 2 and Overwatch, and the subscription is much cheaper than other services starting at 3.99 a month.

That being said there are some downsides to going down this route. A lot of accessories are sold separately, such as a protective case and screen protector. The screen for the Switch is plastic and easily scratched up. Some of the accessories, like additional joy cons for family events are expensive, as a pair of joy cons costs 69.99 USD and you will need to get a separate docking station. Another factor to consider is that the joy cons are extremely small, so for those with bigger hands will probably end up dropping another 59.99 on the Pro Controller. Additionally, you will also probably end up buying an SD card since the console only offers 32 GB of storage. Going along with the storage dilemma, it must be said that not all games will auto save to Cloud storage. Lastly, if you want to play in full 4K resolution at 60 frames per second, this is not your console. Nintendo has never been about being the latest and greatest, they hold value in their games and are more invested in their consumers instead of performance.

Nintendo Switch Shortage | Coronavirus Limits Switch Production
https://images.app.goo.gl/behtJ8EKhGyFdG6n9

The Playstation 5 is Sony’s newest console which released on November 12th of 2020, and made remarkable improvements from their Playstation 4. It is the best selling new generation console so far with 4.5 million units sold and 47.4 million subscribers. This system is sold at your local stores for 499.99 for the disc edition, and 399.99 for the digital edition making it a pretty hefty purchase. Which is why I am narrowing down the pros and cons to help you decide if this is the best choice for you.

First and foremost, I always say base your console choice on what your friends play on if you play online often. It can be pretty lonely for those who base their choice off of internet or local peer pressure, and we all have ran into elitists at your local Best Buy or GameStop that have their own opinions that may differ from yours. However if you genuinely don’t care about playing with your friends, there are still a number of great reasons that the PS5 can be well suited for you. First and foremost we all love Sony exclusives such as Bloodborne, Spiderman, Ghost of Tsushima, and God of War. While these exclusives are making their way to PC, not everyone has that budget, and you may have to wait years until new releases launch on that platform, IF they ever do.

This console is also more geared toward single player gamers with Japanese Style and Action Adventure RPGs respectively. You also get powerful performance from the PS5, with the ability to play new titles in 4K resolution and 60 frames per second, add their 3D audio support and controller that uses haptic feedback.

Nevertheless there are some downsides to this platform. Chiefly the storage size for their SSD, which is only 825GB, and the system is just not as powerful as the Xbox Series X. So for those who want the most powerful console, you might want to look at other options. Another downside is that while their backwards compatible list is impressive, it does pale in comparison to the available Xbox selection that goes as far back as the original Xbox’s titles. The overall design for the console is also extremely huge compared to other consoles, which might prove inconvenient for those with limited space. That being said, the console is a great pick for the gamer more geared towards single player RPGs, or those who absolutely love Sony’s exclusive titles that are almost always Game of Year candidates.

PS5 review: a hardworking beefcake - Polygon
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On November 10th, 2020 Microsoft released it’s Xbox Series X, the most powerful console of this generation. While the console was remarkably improved from the last entry, the launch did not do well, like previous console launch. That being said, the Series X is still an excellent option for gamers that love multiplayer games, Microsoft exclusives, and the most powerful performance that doesn’t bust the budget, and a great choice for those who love PC gaming, but need a break from traditional PC play. This console is a beast, running up to 8K resolution, the 12 Teraflop AMD RDNA 2 GPU and runs at 120 fps with 16 GB of RAM. The Series X is also usable as a home theater system to watch movies or stream in general. You can gain access to exclusives (also on PC) such as Halo, Gears of War, and Sea of Thieves, making this console perfect for players that want to make the most of a multiplayer experience.

If higher performance isn’t as important, you can also step down to the Series S. This is just a less powerful and cheaper option for those who care more for the multiplayer aspect and don’t want to fork out 499.99 USD. At 299.99 USD the Series S console still suits online gamers that need to budget but still care about pure performance. There aren’t as many of the more popular its counterparts, but it is cross compatible and cross save with PC, and allows for the use of the Xbox Game Pass, which carries over to PC as an app. With this option you can start playing on an Xbox machine, save, and literally pick up where you left off on your computer. You can also play with PC key and mouse friends who don’t have an Xbox.

Xbox is also know for its backward compatibility, so most of the original Xbox or Xbox 360 titles can be played on various Xbox consoles in upscaled resolution and frames. While the Xbox Series X has amazing perks, there are things to consider. There are a lack of many new titles available because of a poor launch and horrible performance shown for Halo Infinite. Also since Xbox Game Pass is compatible with PC, it might be more expeditious to do PC gaming if you have the budget and are not concerned with having a console, especially one you might find inconvenient or visually unappealing.

When is the Xbox Series X restocking at Best Buy, GameStop and other  stores? - CNET
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Last but not least, classic PC gaming has limitless options, and can prove to be the ultimate and most powerful experience with varying costs. You can buy a prebuilt computer, laptop or make your own build. However, to get the best performance despite what biased opinions might say, you will be spending at least a grand if not more especially with current surge in demand due to the huge influx of online education and employment brought on by Covid.

PC gaming is the best avenue for those who want the most customization for their gaming and performance experience. You can get apps and download games from almost any major gaming company like Activision Blizzard, Ubisoft, and EA. You also get great platforms like Steam that have excellent bundles and a massive collection of various games dating back to the Stone Age. You’ll also find apps for customizing your accessories and parts, i.e. Razer offers headset, mouse, keyboard, and even mousepad customization; AMD will offer you a performance customization app for your motherboard, GPU, CPU, and more.

A personal computer can be updated as needed and can last a lot longer instead of having to upgrade often with new gaming consoles. These serve as great examples for players looking to maximize their performance and have total control over how they choose to play. However there are downsides for going down the computer route, such as price. You can spend less to play, but those players will find you won’t be playing in 2K nor 4K with limited frames depending on your settings. Even with a smaller budget you will be looking $800 at the bare minimum.

Those looking to build will also find that the market is totally off the charts with GPU and CPU prices. Tt might be far better to buy preowned at this point in time. Portable gaming laptops are great if you are on the go a lot, however they have a tendency to run hot because of the graphics which tends to give them a shorter life span. PC’s also have a learning curve, because unlike consoles you generally have to adjust your game settings to reach the quality you want. Not all games available have an automatic optimization setting for your build. You’ll also end up needing to learn how to use different apps to monitor your performance or adjust your peripherals. Lastly, operating systems can be quite expensive and literally a pain to deal with. Windows 10 nearly always releases bad updates in need of patches which can lead to minor issues such as audio problems all the way to random crashes.

The 10 best prebuilt gaming PCs | Dot Esports
https://images.app.goo.gl/fVkmrsJ4xQwpuq3F7

Lastly and briefly I want to touch on the Classic Editions of retro consoles. Gaming companies have been releasing new classic mini versions of retro consoles like the NES Classic, Sega Genesis Mini, and the Playstation Classic. These mini consoles come loaded with old bangers like Super Mario Brothers, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Metal Gear Solid. These are great options for collectors, retro players or for those who just want to buy a quick console for the family for a few hundred dollars. A downside to these consoles is how fragile they are and that you are limited to the preloaded games, but they still are great buys for the price and love of nostalgia.

Best Retro Gaming Console 2020: Play Retro Games on These Mini Consoles -  IGN
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It can be a struggle for gamers to find the right gaming console or computer that best fits their needs or play style. As a gaming fan that has owned nearly every platform, I hope this article serves as a guide that helps players veteran and new find the platform that best suits them.

Microsoft Buying Discord: Should It Happen?

We all know and love our friendly communication software Discord. We use it often for guilds, clubs, clans, business, social media pages, streaming and playing with friends. The company has been speaking with potential buyers for some time now, but we did not expect Microsoft to join the fray. Microsoft has been in discussion with Discord for possibly purchasing the software for $10 billion USD and Phil Spencer has been working on the deal. However, what will this mean for players? Should Discord join one of the biggest technology corporations out there?

Microsoft Corporation is a multi-national technology company that is a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to manufacturers, software, hardware, and services. Microsoft is the world’s largest software maker with revenue surpassing $38 billion in 2019 as stated in their website by Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella. The company has had their ups and downs with purchasing and creating communication software in the past, with platforms like Skype and Microsoft Teams t show for their efforts. While Microsoft Teams is very popular with business, however, Discord happens to be the heartbeat of the PC community, servicing various areas including movements, podcasts, and school projects. Clans and guilds gather together on discord for gaming and raid nights, and users commonly utilize the platform just chatting on a day to day basis. What would happen if Microsoft did indeed purchase this software? The last time Microsoft attempted to own a true social network, they created So.cl in 2011 and it completely failed.

Windows Apps – Microsoft Store
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Unfortunately we have no insight on Microsoft’s plans for Discord as of yet, but can only speculate the future of this social platform, along with the very likely possibility that Xbox might also be involved. It is highly probable that Microsoft will keep Discord on PC in light of the PC accessible Xbox Game Pass, however one can’t help but wonder if it will be integrated with the Game Pass app, or will they keep it stand alone? We can all hope that Discord does not become a part of Office 365, changing the free to use aspect. Hopefully we will get answers soon to alleviate the anxiety for PC players across the world.

Rogue Company: A Hidden Gem

A lot of people will jump the gun when it comes to hero shooters and ultimately want Overwatch or Valorant, and while they are excellent choices I want to turn everyone’s attention to Rogue Company. Rogue Company is a multiplayer tactical third-person hero shooter developed by First Watch and Published by High Rez Studios. It is playable on all last-generation platforms and current-gen, and is free to play! I very much enjoyed this game being a big hero shooter fan in general, and for the fact, it felt more realistic.

Rogue Company - Coming Soon to All Platforms - Early Look - YouTube
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In Rogue Company, you pick an elite mercenary with a special loadout pertaining to them. You’ll participate in matches that are 4 versus 4, and try to build a team to outmaneuver the opposing one. Each character has a special set of talents, for example, you can play as Gl1tch who uses a pump-action shotgun with high damage with a semi-automatic pistol to cave in your enemies chest, or switch over to the Fixer who uses a .50 caliber sniper rifle and a silenced pistol for satisfying precision aimed headshots. Each character also gets their own individual abilities like Saint who can revive downed teammates in a pinch or Trench who can create a barbed wired field for the defense to hold off the enemy team. In each game, you can also upgrade different weapons and mods by earning money for each round of the match. You gain money by getting kills and assists, as well as using your abilities. Your end match stats are based on your K/D and money earned. This is just one of the extremely unique characteristics of this game that make it so much fun as well as making it so much more competitive in a whole new way.

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The matches are broken down into three different versions; demolition, strikeout, and extraction. Demolition is a more objective-based match type and highly competitive. Teams are required to either plant a bomb at a designated location or defend against the opposing team from plating said bomb. There are a total of 6 rounds in this particular match and this one is so far my favorite. Strikeout is more equivalent to Call of Duty’s Team Death Match. Each team gets a total of 12 tickets and starts with 12,000 cash to upgrade anything they can or save for the next round. There are designated points you can control per round which will reduce the losing side’s tickets, or you can pick off the enemy team reducing their lives. Lastly, there is Extraction which is just like Call of Duty’s Control. You just fight over an area to gain control which exchanges from round to round. The more exciting news is that Season 1 has been out for ranked finally since January, and you can place and move up the ranks starting from Bronze and ending in Rogue.

While the game brings unique content, great diversity, and great tactical gameplay, there are some aspects that can be improved. The map layouts feel a little lacking when it comes to strategic setup and can feel overall lackluster. For a cover-based kind of tactile game that feels almost Gears of War-like, the maps do not compensate for that kind of movement. I also think there needs to be more to punishing players for leaving matches and penalties. There have been matches where I have played and people left either right away leaving it to be a 4 on 2 or sore losers that leave towards the end of the match. I would also like to see more match styles in the game, for while the three given match types are fun they do get old fast. More match types would help not only improve gameplay and skill cap but also help keep players more interested in competition and motivation to practice.

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The game has a lot to offer and I am excited to see if it will eventually grow into more tournaments and in the MLG world. I highly recommend players that love Hero Shooters to give this a try, for it is definitely a game with high skill cap. This game not only has replaced Overwatch for me to kill time, but also has improved my overall skill in shooters and team based games. So to recap, yes! Grab this game now!

DVS Score- 7.5/10

A DVS PC Building Guide: Pandemic Edition

The year 2020 leading into 2021 has definitely proven difficult amongst all gamers across the globe. Newly released computer parts have in addition to last-gen have become either scarce or overpriced due to the increased demand and of course scalpers. Even new generation consoles are being picked off by them. However, though it may be a rough time to build, that does not make it impossible. Here I will go over available parts, good budgets, and overall what to look for when trying to build a PC during the pandemic.

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When building a PC it can seem overwhelming, but with a guide or help you will come to realize it’s not all too hard at all. We just need to start with the CPU for the computer. A CPU, otherwise known as the Central Processing Unit or Processor, is the part of the computer that executes instructions that make up the computer program. This part of the computer can pretty much be compared to the human brain. It delegates and executes tasks just as our brains tell us what to do, think, and say. There are two major brands which are known as Ryzen and Intel. I won’t go into the major differences between the processors, more so give you a comparison when necessary because debating processors would be opening a whole new can of worms per se. Intel Processors come in the i3, i5, i7, and i9; but Ryzen will come in the Ryzen 3, Ryzen 5, Ryzen 7, and Ryzen 9. You base your choice in the processor on what you would be using the computer for, and how demanding you need your specs to be. Whether you’re a hard-core gamer, or just an anime binger these all tie into your choice for your parts. As far as availability though in my honest opinion performance-wise during this pandemic, the Ryzen 5 3600x is the best for not only your wallet but mid-ranged performance. This processor can hold over the average gamer and be consistent in your day-to-day tasks. This processor has 6 cores, 12 threads, runs at 95 Celsius, and maxes clock speeds of 4.4GHz. Another great bonus with Ryzen Processors is that they come with a fantastic CPU cooler known as the Wraith Cooler, saving you the time and energy to find a decent cooler for your CPU. This can be bought online or in stores such as Amazon, Newegg, Best Buy, Microcenter, and other various stores for on average $250 give or take depending on store choice.

From here we can go into your CPU cooler quick, and I say quick because from this particular build I’m recommending during the pandemic we would use the cooler that came with the Ryzen 3600x. CPU coolers are important, and the name says exactly why. Your cooler is what keeps your CPU from overheating and damaging your system or just plain not turning on. Your computer will in fact shut off if temperatures skyrocket to hopefully prevent any permanent damage. These coolers come as fans, AOIs, or water pumps. For the sake of budget during the pandemic, I encourage fans. Fans are very efficient and extremely low maintenance and cost anywhere from $10-100 on average unless you use the CPU fan that comes with. However, for those that want another good option and have some more money at their disposal AOIs (All In One) are another good option. They are an all-in-one water cooling system that combines the water block, radiator, tubes, fans, fittings, and pump into a small package. Not only do they look cool, but they are also low maintenance. The only downside is that they will need to be replaced with a completely new AOI every 6 months. Water cooling, on the other hand, can be extremely expensive and high maintenance but can be the best method of cooling your computer. Depending on the liquid you use you will be cleaning it every 3 to 6 months. AOIs are generally more budget-friendly averaging around $200, while full Water Cooling systems can average around $600. For this article’s purpose, however, I will stick with the Wraith cooler as recommended.

Your next step is to choose a compatible motherboard, which is why we start with the CPU because other parts will only be compatible with certain CPUs. Your motherboard is a printed circuit board that allows communication between crucial components such as your CPU and RAM. This part can be compared to the nervous system of the human body. It is important when considering a good motherboard that you keep in mind available slots for your m.2 drives, transfer speeds, whether or not you want LAN or wifi, and any other additions such as RGB, available ports, the cooling on your chipset, and more. Good motherboards can be tricky to find due to pricing and wanting all the bells and whistles, but I found that the ASUS ROG Strix X570-E is absolutely great for middle ground. It comes with PCIe 4.0, WiFi 6 and gigabyte LAN, active cooling for your chipset, Gen 4 M.2 slots with 64 GB transfer speeds, both USB type A and C with HDMI, Display, and more. Also, a good plus is the RGB so for buyers such as myself, you’ll be filled with endless color. This particular motherboard is also decently priced at $300 USD. You can find it at similar stores previously mentioned when we covered the CPU.

Following the motherboard, we can pretty much dive into anything else such as your random access memory (RAM), GPU, hard drives, case, and PSU. I will continue with RAM next because RAM is extremely important for any PC build. Your RAM is your extremely fast and temporary storage space that your computer will need at the moment or in the next few seconds. This is what allows multitasking functions such as the number of windows that you can keep open and running high-demand games. As an example, I am sure everyone here has experienced windows randomly closing out on them, and that is because your computer does not have enough RAM to keep your multiple tasks at hand. RAM features generally come in different sizes such as 4 GB, 8 GB, 16 GB, and so on. My recommendation for the average gamer would be to go with 16 GB RAM and for the average user per social media and streamer at least 8 GB RAM. There are a variety of great brands, such as Corsair, Trident, Kingston, and HyperX, but my recommendation is the Corsair Vengeance LED. The specifications for this set are great for the price with DDR 4 and speeds of 3200 MHz. The price point is a bit more than your average RAM, but Corsair is always very sturdy, has great performance, and is overall just reliable. You will need a BIOS update to his the speeds for 3200, but the quality makes up for it. Corsair also tends to always run great sales depending on where you buy. Right now you can find them on sale for $229.99 on Corsair’s website.

Image Credit at http://www.corsair..com

Proceeding onward, I will briefly cover the PSU and hard drives. Your PSU is honestly an easier choice to make because this is your Power Supply Unit. Not as much thought is needed to go into this particular part. You just need to make sure you find a good wattage that will power all of your components without the risk of damage. I recommend the one I use personally which is the Corsair CX750M because it’s quiet, fairly powerful, and reasonably priced. It runs on average around $100 and can be found at your normal retails as previously mentioned above. There are other good brands such as Asus and Thermaltake, but I found that this particular model is solid in price, wattage, and overall performance. You won’t break the bank and overkill your needs, but you also aren’t sacrificing crucial performance either. In addition to the PSU, we will need to look at hard drives. I always recommend a solid-state drive (SSD) for any computer.

An SSD is a solid part rather than your standard HDD which is a spinning disk. They have low failure rates and increase loading speeds exponentially. That being said they are a lot more expensive than your standard HDD so I generally go by the rule of thumb of getting at least 1 to load your operating system on and any important documents or games that you want better loading times on. Then get an HDD for extra storage since they run extremely cheaper. For this, my recommendations are to get a Samsung 860 Evo 500 GB. This gives you enough room for your OS like Windows 10 (which eats up space) and maybe some important games that you revisit often. This model not only gives you great performance and reliability but also is greatly priced around $75 to $100 depending on the vendor of your choice. For your HDD I generally recommend Western Digital. They are more reliable than your standard Seagate and you can grab 1TB storage for around $50.

We (unfortunately) have no arrived at the barren wastelands of graphics cards (GPUs), which have been completely raided by scalpers for both the new generation and last generation. Your GPU is one of the most important parts of your computer. This is what will allow your computer to play in 1080, 2K, 4K, and so on. Usually, I would say base your graphics card on what you prioritize, but with the scarce availability, beggars can not be choosers. Your top brands are usually Asus, MSI, Gigabyte, and so on, so for what is available I generally say attempt to look for the best brands you can. So with this in mind, I would bite the bullet and get the GTX 1660 if you are not able to wait. This will be the cheapest option that will last you long enough to hopefully get your hands on a 30 series. It will cost the same as a 3060, which is around $599.99, but you can always try to sell it to someone for some money back when the 30 series roles around. The only other option I can say is to wait for the 30 series. Any other GPU will be outrageously priced, while the GPU is only around $200 over the normal price. You could step it down, however then you will be on minimum requirements for most new releases.

Your last choice will be a case for your computer. You’ll be basing this on size, color, and fans. Generally, you want to pick between a mini, mid, and full tower. There are other sizes but they are mostly for business purposes and pre-built. I personally had no recommendation on your case because that is a pure preference for how you want it to look, and most cases allow you to add more fans or change them if you want different colors like platinum or RGB. I love Corsair and Fractal Design personally, however, my case is actually the NZXT 510 Elite which I was not a huge fan of. I say do research and see what you want in your case for this, then go from there. You will also get to pick out monitors and peripherals which are also usually a personal preference unless you like competitive gaming. Usually, for a monitor, I like to go with MSI, Asus, and BenQ. MSI and Asus are usually better for your wallet, but if you have the extra money BenQ is a fantastic brand to go with. Your peripherals include a headset, mouse, and keyboard. I love Razer personally as far as grip, customization, and performance. The Applications to customize performance are very user-friendly and easy to navigate. Corsair and Kraken are also great go-to go to as far as customization and performance.

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Building a PC can be an exciting experience, even during the pandemic. Though the prices are high and availability for certain parts is at an all-time low, this is a way to make the most of an incredible experience. PC gaming opens a whole new world for any gamer, and ultimately is a teaching experience for players around the world for what performance really means. Just like this guide, a good budget for a decent PC during COVID and scalpers will probably run you around $1500 for all the parts before the monitor and other peripherals. For those looking to build, I hope this guide can serve you during these hard and stressful times.

Fry’s Electronics: An Obituary (1985-2021)

Like a certain iconic electronic music duo that also disbanded this week, Fry’s Electronics is no more. For me, that is a big deal. Fry’s Electronics was one of the biggest electronics stores that I frequented growing up. There were TVs, computers, video games, mobile phones, appliances, tools, toys, books, software, hardware, and in some locations, restaurants. At one point, one could spend hours in Fry’s looking at the massive selection of products they had to offer. Before you headed to the checkout line, there was also a huge selection of snacks for your gaming sessions, including organic sour gummy worms and some extremely rare snacks that I still can only find online (looking at you, Mauna Loa Kona Coffee Glazed Macadamia Nuts).

When Fry’s chose to close up shop on February 24, 2021, this put an end to an electronics retailer that offered far more than just products—they offered services such as PC building, audio installation, the list goes on and on. The very first parts that would end up in my PC came from Fry’s Electronics. It was also an excellent place to find the latest video games. Even the tiniest electronic parts could be found at Fry’s, like those little transistors that go in some circuit board for some project. Another thing that caught customers’ eyes were the thematic stores. The location in Palo Alto, California was Wild West-themed, while the location in Sacramento was Gold Rush-themed. One of my favorites, the original Sunnyvale location, detailed the history of Silicon Valley, while the Las Vegas location (where I live now) was Las Vegas Strip-themed (obviously).

While there is no doubt that Fry’s has had a reputation among customers as being empty shells of their former selves in more ways than one even before the COVID-19 pandemic, it is an institution that has fostered my interest in consumer electronics that led me to build my first PC a decade ago. From the early 2000s to the mid-2010s, I frequented Fry’s at least once a month (if not more frequently) with my family and friends. While the writing was on the wall in the late 2010s, it took a global pandemic to put the final nail in the coffin of Fry’s Electronics.

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On their website, Fry’s said: “After nearly 36 years in business as the one-stop-shop and online resource for high-tech professionals across nine states and 31 stores, Fry’s Electronics, Inc. (“Fry’s” or “Company”), has made the difficult decision to shut down its operations and close its business permanently as a result of changes in the retail industry and the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. The Company will implement the shut down through an orderly wind down process that it believes will be in the best interests of the Company, its creditors, and other stakeholders. The Company ceased regular operations and began the wind-down process on February 24, 2021. It is hoped that undertaking the wind-down through this orderly process will reduce costs, avoid additional liabilities, minimize the impact on our customers, vendors, landlords and associates, and maximize the value of the Company’s assets for its creditors and other stakeholders.”

It’s been a great run, and may all their employees land on their feet and find something new as soon as possible.

Valheim: PC Vikings!

The Viking Survival Game

Valheim is a newly released survival RPG for PC available on Steam for $20. More recently moved from closed beta to early release, I was quite surprised to find that the game was more finished than anticipated. As is with most of these early-release RPG games, there’s always something to go wrong. So, let’s start with what was done right.  

Valheim starts with a quick written story, which is appreciated. As someone who hates sitting through 15-30-minute-long intros (I’m looking at you Elusive Age), it was fantastic to get a quick cover story. The game visually is like any other PC RPG style early-release. The graphics are blocky and a little hard on the eyes, less detail more overall experience. The game itself runs beautifully on most PCs as the requirements are amazingly low.  

This aids in the overall experience of the game, allowing for a fast render as you sprint through the woods chasing after your first hunt. Valheim is pretty much Vikings in a PC game. The story isn’t about the life of the Viking, but the death and worthiness to enter Valhalla. Create longships in honor of Odin, delve into the dark arts of the gods the choices are seemingly endless. As I just started my adventure in Valheim, I cannot spoil the story too much for everyone, but there are Gods you can summon to fight and prove your worth.  

There are loads of trees, plants, and distinct biomes within the world itself. As you travel through looking for the best place for your first home be careful of your surroundings. Enemies become more aggressive and dangerous the darker it gets, making a lovely walk in the woods a dangerous escapade. There are a few different kinds of enemies that you’ll face off right away in Valheim, but none that should over level you right off the bat. As long as you follow the hints and guidelines set by the game, you’ll be able to make a home before freezing or beaten to death. There are quite a few things you can do right off the bat as well, like mine for ore and harvest enemy parts like bones.  

FIRE. MAKE FIRE.  

As most of you know playing these RPGPC games, fire is important in keeping animals away at night and cooking food. But what you may not know, is that there are special events that happen depending on how close you are to a boss ritual stone. Fire is more important than you know, as it could save your buildings and chests.  

Now let’s get down the nitty-gritty with this game. There aren’t very many serious issues with this game, as long as you can finesse a few things here and there. The most common issue that is floating around the Valheim Discord, is the listing and finding of dedicated servers. When creating a dedicated server for Valheim, it is recommended to go into the Discord and ask the right questions.  There are a few ways of creating a dedicated server, and if you are familiar with Steam, you know how difficult it can be for these to pop up in the server list search engine. It is recommended to use Valheim‘s Dedicated Server software and not the Steam CMD as it’ll make the process more streamlined.  

I highly recommend doing it this way, as I’ve been able to create multiple servers without using a ton of my PC’s resources. Then comes the next issue, how do we find you in the server listing. Some people have an easy enough time, searching the outbound IP for the specific server and hitting refresh until it populates. Others have an easier time going through the friend invites on the Steam UI. There are a few different ways to find your server, and hopefully, you do. As that is the most frustrating part of this game. As fun as it is, as beautiful it can be. If you can’t play with friends, your overall experience will go down. So, don’t get too frustrated when you can’t find a friend’s server. Take a deep breath and jump into the Valheim Discord, there are so many people there willing to help.  

Honestly, this game works as intended. It has hiccups as all early-release games do and its main hiccup is the server search/multiplayer aspect of it. Personally, I haven’t had many issues with multiplayer, even on multiple LAN connections. This game has been beautiful, time-consuming, and a lot of fun with my friends. For $20 you can’t go wrong.

Grade: 6.5/10

Intellivision Amico, and Why You Should Watch Out For It

Though it may have been a long way since your gaming time, a lot of people have fond memories of Mattel’s Intellivision. Back in the 80s, it provided an interesting twist on gaming between its offered titles and its somewhat oddball control scheme. Still, for years, the legendary Keith Robinson tooted the horn of the system and even sold both variations of the original hardware (the Intellivision Flashback, for instance) and collections (like Intellivision Lives).

However, following the passing of Robinson, video game musician and Video Games Live! producer Tommy Tallarico decided to try something different. This April, he’ll be bringing back the Intellivision, but in a way that no one could’ve ever imagined. Say hello to the Intellivision Amico.

Initially introduced in late 2019 for an October 2020 launch, the system has seen a slight setback due to COVID-19, now slated to arrive on April 15th. But the wait certainly looks to be worth it, thanks to a handful of revised classics and original games that will bring together the whole family to enjoy. That and the stuff that’s on the horizon – including the long-awaited return of Earthworm Jim.

So what can around $200 buy you? Well, an interestingly designed console that packs a punch with its many titles.

Bringing people together

Whereas game consoles these days are working more towards trying to bring people together online, the purpose of the Amico is to make experiences that people can play together locally. While that may pose a challenge with COVID, that means friends and family can eventually enjoy affordable favorites, from dice games to good old fashioned sack toss to reimagined arcade hits, including the spiffy-looking Moon Patrol.

Tallarico and his team have an emphasis on bringing together family gamers, so the Amico won’t be home to mature-rated fare. Instead, it’ll focus on a number of categories, as follows:

  • Retro re-imagined
  • Original new games
  • Sports and recreation
  • Casual board/dice/card
  • Kids & Edutainment

What’s more, the system will come with a unique control scheme, blending elements of the past with those of the future. The controller features include:

  • 3.2″ color touch screen
  • Motion controls
  • Force feedback
  • Integrated speaker and microphone
  • Two shoulder buttons on the top and bottom of the controller
  • 64-position rotating disc

And the system will come with two controllers, as well as the ability to play some titles with the help of your mobile device. They’re also easily rechargeable right into the unit, or using a USB-C cable.

Games, games, games

On top of that, the Intellivision Amico will automatically come with a handful of included games, right in the unit – with room for more. Already confirmed on the system are favorites like Astrosmash!, Skiing and Shark! Shark!, along with the previously mentioned sack toss game Cornhole and the family fun game Farkle. As far as the sixth, that’s a title shrouded in mystery – but gamers should expect a lot of fun.

Storage isn’t too bad, with the games taking about 300MB to 1GB, depending on the download. So about 30 to 40 at a time can be stored, not bad at all. And you can always re-download with ease, or find new favorites for no more than around $7-$8 a pop. These include resurrections of classics like Breakout, Moon Patrol and Night Striker, along with other forthcoming hits and new, original titles. You can also buy titles physically via physical game cards, though a release schedule hasn’t been provided just yet.

Intellivision also has a number of partners for licensed fare, including Major League Baseball, Evel Knievel, Sesame Street and even some Atari favorites. Yes, you can enjoy some Atari games on an Intellivision system, like Missile Command. That’s a bit of a surprise, considering the existence of the Atari VCS, but the Amico will have special versions that shouldn’t be missed.

And of course, there’s more games to come, like the innovative platformer Finnegan Fox, as well as Battle Tanks and Nitro Derby. And with development easy to come by, others should be jumping on board as well.

It might take quite a bit of effort for the Intellivision to break back into the busy gaming market. But if anyone understands it, it’s Tallarico and his star-studded team – and they should be able to put the console on the map and make it joyous again. All that’s missing is George Plimpton’s classic adverts, like the one below. Maybe Tommy can get someone to fill in that void once April rolls around. (Check out one of the best ones below!)