Categories
eSports Gaming

A Look At ‘Call of Duty: Vanguard’s’ Real-Time Graphics

November belongs to Call of Duty, and with Call of Duty Vanguard scheduled to release on November 5th, more updates are gradually being announced. Today, COD is revealing a new collaboration that, for the first time, allowed actual war photojournalists inside the game to capture in-game war photographs as though they were embedded within the war missions themselves.

Renowned long-time war photojournalists Alex Potter and Sebastiano Tomada Piccolmini, who have long-term experience shooting in conflict regions, ventured inside the game engine for an exclusive photoshoot held at publisher Activision’s motion capture studios. Potter and Piccolmini’s journeys were then reflected in a trailer that allowed fans to see these photographers’ experiences and reactions in real time.

Vanguard’s incredible graphics and visual experience reflect the latest technological advancements coming when the new game launches next month, including its use of photogrammetry where locations, scenes and objects are recreated in-game to lifelike photoreal quality, all of which will be available to fans upon its release on the 5th.

We checked in with CMO of Activision Fernando Machado recently to discuss how this all came together.

Activision
Call of Duty: Vanguard

ONE37pm: Thanks for speaking with us Fernando! The Call of Duty Vanguard graphics are next level. Actual war journalists were transported inside to capture in-game war photographs. What was that development process like?

Machado: We are constantly thinking about how we can learn more, and how we can make more unique features available in our games. Our mind is always on how we can make things look very realistic. We wanted Vanguard to be a very immersive experience and thought it would be boring if we tried to explain what was going on in writing.

These graphics are so realistic, and we knew the community would love actually seeing this experience in real-time. That’s where we came up with the idea to hire actual war photojournalists that could capture World War II. It tells the story of technology even if you aren’t into playing COD.

ONE37pm: What made you guys want to introduce this component, and what was the real-time experience of filming, documenting, game development, etc.

Machado: We developed this as a team together at our Motion Culture Studio in Los Angeles. I personally wasn’t there because I’m still in the process of moving to L.A., but all of our key team members were personally there. It was a total collaborative effort from our motion capture team all the way down to our marketing and agency development.

ONE37pm: Starting on October 21, limited edition photo prints will be sold at Bleecker Trading with proceeds going to the Call of Duty Endowment. How important is that?

Machado: We are proud of our work with the Call of Duty Endowment Fund. We’re the largest organization that places veterans in high-quality jobs. Next year we will hit the 100,000 milestone in terms of job placement, and it is something we are very passionate about building internally. Look for more to come!

Activision
Call of Duty: Vanguard

It’s not often that you literally get to go inside of a video game, and Alex and Sebastian talked about waiting for the right moments to capture their shots the same way they would on the ground. 

“These were situations that I would normally capture,” said Alex Potter in the film. “I was impressed with how kinetic and immersive it all was,” added Sebastiano Tomada Piccolomini. “As photographers, this is what conflict looks like.”

To help get veterans back to work, please visit: www.callofdutyendowment.org/help, or follow on Instagram and Facebook at @CallofDutyEndowment, and Twitter at @CODE4Vets.

Call of Duty: Vanguard is scheduled for release on November 5, 2021. 

Categories
Consoles Gaming

A Guide to ‘Back 4 Blood’ Characters

October is proving to be a hectic month for big gaming releases and one of the ones that gamers are most excited about is Back 4 Blood. Developed by Turtle Rock Studios and published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, it is a first-person shooter that is widely considered to be a spiritual successor to the Left 4 Dead series, with many arguing that it should have just been called Left 4 Dead 3.

In 2008, Turtle Rock Studios was acquired by Valve, the creators of Left 4 Dead. The gameplay in Back 4 Blood is also identical to the series, along with its characters, which is obviously a big part of the entire experience with these games.

How many playable characters are there in Back 4 Blood?

At the time of launch, the game has eight playable characters, which are of course called Cleaners. They are Walker, Mom, Evangelo, Holly, Jim, Karlee, Doc, and Hoffman. Despite this, when you first start the game, you’ll notice that only the first four of those characters are actually playable, while the other half remain locked. To unlock Jim, Karlee, Doc, and Hoffman, you need to complete all four stages of Act I, those being Resurgence, Tunnel of Blood, Pain Train, and The Crossing.

Walker
Windows Central

Traits:

  • Scoring a precision kill increase accuracy by 20% for 5 seconds
  • 10% damage increase

Team effect:

  • +10 team health

If going for kills is your thing, Elijah Walker might be your best bet. A former Army Ranger, he’s a sharpshooter who is rewarded for previse kills and deals higher damage than other Cleaners. His starting weapon is a Glock 23, but already, some have favored an assault rifle and sniper combo that really puts his firepower to its full use. For that, you need the Two Is One And One Is None card in your deck.

Mom
Windows Central

Traits:

  • Can instantly revive a teammate once per level
  • +1 support inventory slot

Team effect:

  • +1 team life

The story of Mom is that her son died at the hands of the Ridden, so she seeks revenge on them whenever she can. Her starting weapon, appropriately, is The Belgian, a double-barrel shotgun. Along with this vengeful side though is her caring side, hence her name and trait of reviving someone once per level and carrying extra meds, making her a support character and vital in many situations.

Evangelo
Windows Central

Traits:

  • Can break out of grabs once every 60 seconds
  • +25% stamina regeneration

Team effect:

  • +5% increased movement speed

Evangelo is slick and nimble, which explains that he can get out of getting grabbed once per minute, which players usually have to wait for a teammate to help them out with. It also explains how he brings a dose of extra movement speed to the entire team and starts out with the machete. Don’t be so quick to change the machete for a more powerful gun either, because it’s more lethal than it lets on.

Holly
Windows Central

Traits:

  • Recovers 10 stamina every time she kills a Ridden
  • +10% damage resistance

Team effect:

  • +25 team stamina

Much like Mom, Holly Forrester lost some loved ones to the Devil Worm and has since dedicated her life to being a Cleaner. Her starting weapon is a bat, but not just any bat. It’s wrapped with nail spikes and is nicknamed Dottie. Dottie is great for close-quarters combat, but perhaps switching to a machete such as the one Evangelo starts with might be the better option if you want to stick with a melee weapon. Pairing Holly with the Adrenaline Fuelled card increases the effect of her stamina trait a lot too, doubling her maximum stamina and adding 20 to the 10 that she already recovers per kill.

Jim
Windows Central

Traits:

  • Precision kills grant Jim 2.5% stacking damage until he gets hurt
  • +25% aim down sight speed

Team effect:

  • +10% weak spot damage

When he was young, Jim would travel into the woods with his father to hunt. One of the natural progressions from there is joining the military, which is what Jim did. However, upon his return to his home, he found it had been destroyed by the Collapse. A dedicated Cleaner, Jim starts out with a 357 Magnum. If you’re good at not taking damage and getting precision kills, Jim’s perk could see you stack your damage up to +50%. His ADS speed is high too, so he’s a great choice for a player that likes using a sniper.

Karlee
Windows Central

Traits:

  • Can sense nearby hazards and mutations
  • +1 quick inventory slot

Team effect:

  • +25% use speed

Karlee’s story is that she somewhat moves to the beat of her own dream. She was an outsider for a long time and even after fighting the same fight as the other Cleaners, she refused to officially call herself one of them. Either way, she’s a valuable addition to the team. She starts off with a Tec 9 which you can keep because it’s fun, but she isn’t necessarily tied to it either.

Doc
Windows Central

Traits:

  • Can heal each teammate for 25 health once per level
  • +20% healing efficiency

Team effect:

  • +25% trauma resistance

Doc took a hit on her social skills so that she could fully dedicate her life to her passion, her profession. Her medical expertise of course means that she’s currently the game’s resident healer and likely will be for the foreseeable future. The combination of being able to help other characters whilst also being quite lethal herself means that she’s already being considered one of the best Cleaners in the game. Doc starts off with the Beretta M9.

Hoffman
Windows Central

Traits:

  • Has a chance to find extra ammo whenever he kills a Ridden
  • +1 offensive inventory slot

Team effect:

  • +10% ammo capacity

As a conspiracy theorist, when the infection first hit, Hoffman was already prepared because he had been stacking up on supplies for years prior, expecting something like this to happen. What stopped him from hiding away was him running out of supplies along with the death of his mother, which gave him enough of an edge that he wanted to actively go out and fight the enemies himself. He starts off with the M1911 and can carry an extra offensive weapon like a grenade.

Categories
Gaming Interviews

AHAD Goes ‘Inside The Screen’ With Aaron “Don” Dukes

This week’s Inside The Screen, hosted by Aaron “Don” Dukes, features special guest AHAD. AHAD is a self-described broadcaster and genius who jokingly regards himself as being rated #1 in female focus groups. As a content creator/broadcaster, AHAD pulls off the flashiest of plays and sprinkles in a bit of his personality while grinding in Valorant. While he’s been known to dabble in other popular first-person shooters such as Battlefield 2042 and Halo: The Master Chief Collection, AHAD is most known for creating memorable moments during his focused Valorant sessions.

Once the topic of putting in the work comes up, AHAD provided an interesting anecdote when it came to time management. “Last year, I was streaming Valorant from day one,” he noted. “I was streaming from 6 pm to 6 am every single day. And I was clocking in 300 and something hours streamed every single month last year. I would sleep for two hours, go to work in the morning, I’d come back from work at like 2 or 3 pm, sleep for two hours, wake up again, quickly shower, eat something, then go live at 6 pm again every single day. That’s 12 hours almost daily for all last year starting in March.” To say that AHAD’s schedule is not for the faint of heart would be a severe understatement.

AHAD is known for hopping on Twitter to vent about Valorant’s Ranked mode. In a very vivid description of the sometimes infuriating game mode, AHAD stated that “Ranked is like an ex, bro. It’s like an emotionally abusive ex. I just keep going back every day for 10 hours a day. I’m trapped. I’m not even in love, bro. I got an illness.” AHAD perked up a bit more when he began speaking on women gamers and their affinity for communicating/not communicating during his Valorant sessions – “I think girls when they don’t comm, it’s totally cool. But you know what’s crazy is girls at the Immortal/Radiant level will always communicate. There is never an issue of using the microphone or typing ever. I’ve noticed I have lots of friends that are girls that play Valorant at lower ranks that don’t use their microphone or prefer not to. And I totally understand.” AHAD clearly understands the toxicity that girl gamers deal with in an online environment, especially when it comes to playing competitive games such as Valorant.

Due to the 2020 pandemic, gaming ended up becoming a central hobby for many as they chose to pass the time while under lockdown. After Aaron spoke on the societal realization that gaming is now an essential part of everyday living. AHAD spoke on the influence of gaming on the casual side of things by stating that it doesn’t really exist anymore – “there’s probably a Tweet I put out a long time ago, something along the lines of casual gaming is not really casual gaming anymore cause everybody wants to attempt to go pro or get a contract. So any piece of mind that you get from playing games is gone.” Aaron and AHAD have clearly run into a whole bunch more “sweats” these days that go just as hard as them when it comes time to grab some W’s in Valorant.

Make sure you sit in on the rest of AHAD’s lit conversation with Aaron “Don” Dukes on the latest episode of Inside the Screen. Their chat takes a deeper dive into Valorant’s Ranked match woes, his past streamed games, the flood of younger pro players entering the scene, and so much more.

Categories
Consoles Gaming

20 Games Like ‘Battlefield’ When You’re Looking For a Good First Person Shooter

With Battlefield 2042 and Call of Duty: Vanguard both on their way with releases due next month, many FPS fans are debating which game they’re going to get. These kinds of discussions take place around this time every year to some extent, but they’re heating up this year, with gamers who were disappointed with the Vanguard alpha and beta threatening to take their money to DICE’s game.

If you want to widen your horizons or are a fan of Battlefield and want something in the same vein to hold you over until 2042 comes out, we’re here to help. Below is a list of 20 games like the Battlefield series. Of course, they’re all shooters, with many of them set during real-life wars, but if you’re a fan of Battlefield, that’s likely a setting you enjoy and want different interpretations of.

1. ARMA 3

ARMA 3 isn’t the kind of game you want to jump straight into if you’re largely unfamiliar with this style of game. You still could, but the learning curve could be off-putting. It’s Dark Souls-esque in that sense, very daunting and difficult to a point that even the smallest of milestones are rewarding. If it helps, you can play with a friend, which does take away some of the frustration. The game takes place in the near future and is constantly being updated, not only with DLC but tens of thousands of mods, which help keep it fresh.

Buy now, $29.99
https://store.steampowered.com/app/107410/Arma_3/
2. BATTALION 1944

Developed by Bulkhead Interactive and published by Square Enix, as you might have been able to guess by its name, BATTALION 1944 is the first of many games on this list set during World War II. It’s influenced by the early Call of Duty games in that regard, but it tackles the era well enough that it doesn’t just feel like a copy of something that has come before it.

Buy now, $19.99
https://store.steampowered.com/app/489940/BATTALION_1944/
3. Borderlands 3

One of the whackier picks on this list, Borderlands 3 may seem like an odd choice to give you the same kind of joy that Battlefield brings you, but you might be surprised. The game doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is refreshing among games that are considered first-person shooters. It’s also an action RPG, meaning that battles can still be intense even if its characters and their dialogue have a comedic edge to them. Take the plunge.

Buy now, $59.99
https://store.steampowered.com/app/397540/Borderlands_3/
4. Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War

Black Ops Cold War is slowly nearing the end of its cycle and like every other annual release in the franchise, will likely no longer see updates when Vanguard drops at the top of next month. In the meantime though, it’s a great game for giving you a similar feel to Battlefield, with its multiplayer and zombie options. You can criticize the series all you want, but there’s a reason that Call of Duty continues to be the top shooter around year after year.

Buy now, $59.9
https://www.callofduty.com/uk/en/blackopscoldwar/buy
5. Call of Duty: Warzone

In the year and a half since its launch, Warzone has earned itself the right to be mentioned in addition to main entries from the Call of Duty series. Blackout from Black Ops 4 feels like just a small test run compared to what this battle royale ended up becoming. If what you enjoy about the Battlefield series is its large-scale combat, Warzone might be a perfect fit for you. At some point in the next few months, a new map is going to be added too, so this game isn’t likely to be going nowhere anytime soon.

Free to play
https://www.callofduty.com/uk/en/warzone/download
6. Day of Infamy

Named after Roosevelt’s famous speech, Day of Infamy was spawned from the mod of the same name for Insurgency, New World Interactive’s previous game. This game is then of course set during the events of the Second World War, specifically those in the European Theatre. Players can unlock historic units from the war and one of the unique selling points of this game is that it uses proximity chat, meaning you have to communicate with teammates tactically or enemies will hear you. This adds an interesting edge to battle.

Buy now, $14.99
https://store.steampowered.com/app/447820/Day_of_Infamy/
7. DayZ

ARMA 2, the predecessor to the game that appears earlier on this list, had a mod called DayZ, but this game is its standalone successor. Developed by Bohemia Interactive and released in 2018 on Windows and 2018 on Xbox and PlayStation, DayZ’s concept is that you must stay alive during a zombie outbreak. You start with little to nothing and must gather supplies and equipment to help you on your journey. In terms of immersion, this game does a good job just like Battlefield and it’s worth a try if you’re a fan of that series.

Buy now, $44.99
https://store.steampowered.com/app/221100/DayZ/
8. Escape From Tarkov

Developed by Battlestate Games for Windows, Escape From Tarkov is technically still in development with only the closed beta out at the moment, but that hasn’t stopped gamers flocking to it in big numbers over the years. The game features raids that see players either go it solo or become part of a squad to try to go from one side of a map to the extraction point on the other side, fighting other players along the way. If you die in a raid, you lose everything, including the equipment you brought in, making it a tense playthrough because of the high stakes.

Free to play
https://www.escapefromtarkov.com
9. Hell Let Loose

Hell Let Loose was announced as part of a Kickstarter campaign where $220k was raised for it. This was followed by an early release for Windows in 2019 and a full release this past summer, with a PlayStation and Xbox release earlier this month. The game consists of 50 vs. 50 matches in the Warfare and Offensive game modes. The game was developed on Unreal Engine 4 by Black Matter.

Buy now, $29.99
https://store.steampowered.com/app/686810/Hell_Let_Loose/
10. Hunt: Showdown

Hunt: Showdown is still an FPS, but it stands out on this list because while in many games on this list, the enemies consist of soldiers and/or other players whereas here, you’re fighting monsters. While that may seem unappealing to fans of Battlefield, we think that there’s genuine crossover and a reason that a Battlefield fan could enjoy this game.

Buy now, $39.99
https://store.steampowered.com/app/594650/Hunt_Showdown/
11. PAYDAY 2

When the casual gamer thinks of heists in gaming, their mind probably goes to GTA: V’s heist update from a few years ago, but there are dedicated heist games, PAYDAY 2 is among the best of them. Developed by Overkill Software, the game has done a great job of maintaining its popularity, catering to co-op very well and adding half a dozen DLC packs since the original release in 2013.

Buy now, $9.99
https://store.steampowered.com/app/218620/PAYDAY_2/
12. PlanetSide 2

Rogue Planet Games, the developer of the 2012 game PlanetSide 2, takes pride in delivering “massive combat on a scale never seen before”, as they describe on the game’s official website. A massively multiplayer FPS has never been a better description for a game. In fact, PlanetSide 2 holds the Guinness World Record for the biggest FPS battle, with 1,283 combatants in a single game. If Battlefield’s large settings are your favorite, this is a must-play.

Free to play
https://store.steampowered.com/app/218230/PlanetSide_2/
13. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds

PUBG doesn’t get the credit it deserves for helping forward the momentum of battle royale game modes. It wasn’t the first one to kick off the trend, but at one point before Fortnite truly took over, it was the biggest and best option for many. You can play in first-person like Battlefield, but if you’re open to switching it up, there is a third-person view that has its own set of benefits too, like seeing around corners. All these years later, getting used to the game and getting a chicken dinner still feels rewarding.

Buy now, $29.99
https://store.steampowered.com/app/578080/PUBG_BATTLEGROUNDS/
14. Post Scriptum

A shooter set in World War II isn’t exactly innovative these days, nor has it been an original idea for a while now, especially with the new Call of Duty: Vanguard game set there, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done well and any game with that backdrop isn’t worth trying. Many games on this list are set during the period and Post Scriptum is one of them. Specifically, it’s set during the Battle of France, Operation Overlord, and Operation Market Garden. The game takes itself seriously, even more so than Battlefield arguably, which might be a turn-off for some, but is a treat for others. If you’re willing to immerse yourself in the world of the game, Post Scriptum is a pleasant experience.

Buy now, $29.99
https://store.steampowered.com/app/736220/Post_Scriptum/
15. Rising Storm 2: Vietnam

As its name suggests, the direct sequel to the first Rising Storm game is set during the Vietnam War, with many of its 20+ maps based on real locations. The game is also true to the era in terms of its weapon choices and methods of combat because players can not only use guns on the ground but take to the skies in airborne vehicles.

Buy now, $24.99
https://store.steampowered.com/app/418460/Rising_Storm_2_Vietnam/
16. Rust

In Rust, you start out with absolutely nothing and must gather supplies to increase your chance of survival. You need to be worried about other players killing you here, but even when no one else is around, you’ll need to manage hunger, thirst, your temperature, radiation levels, and wild animals that also want a literal piece of you.

Buy now, $39.99
https://store.steampowered.com/app/252490/Rust/
17. Squad

Developed by Canadian studio Offworld Industries, Squad is a tactical first-person shooter that has been out officially for a year now. As the name implies, the battle here takes place in groups and you can play it with a group of friends, which is likely the best way to start and experience it. It’s important to note that Squad is considered a successor to Project Reality, a series of mods for the second Battlefield game. So it’s closely related to Battlefield and worth a try.

Buy now, $49.99
https://store.steampowered.com/app/393380/Squad/
18. Titanfall 2

If you’re a Battlefield fan, perhaps games from the Titanfall series don’t come immediately to mind when you’re imagining similar games. However, Respawn Entertainment was founded by Jason West and Vince Zampella, who also founded Infinity Ward and the CoD franchise, so they’re closer than you think. Titanfall 2 boasts not only a single-player campaign, but a wealth of multiplayer game modes, including Amped Hardpoint, Titan Brawl, Capture the Flag, Free for All, and Coliseum, amongst others. It’s a fun shooter that’s well worth giving a try.

Buy now, $29.99
https://store.steampowered.com/app/1237970/Titanfall_2/
19. Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands

Wildlands is the tenth original main series installment in Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon series which started two decades ago in 2001. Released in 2017, the game is the first in the series to feature an open world and Ubisoft did it big because it rivals some of the biggest open worlds in any of their games. The game’s plot sees you and three partners heading to Bolivia to gather intelligence on the Cartel. If you play solo, your teammates will be controlled by A.I., but you do have the option of playing co-op, which should always be the preference.

Buy now, $9.99
https://store.steampowered.com/app/460930/Tom_Clancys_Ghost_Recon_Wildlands/
20. Verdun

When Verdun was released, it was sort of panned for being repetitive and monotonous, but the developers responded to that criticism in the best way possible. They listened to constant feedback and updated the game to a point where it feels like a sequel to its original release. It’s a squad-based FPS based in the first World War, which isn’t the most original of settings but is done well, in terms of gameplay. If you’re willing to take a hit on the graphics for that, then you’re in for a treat.

Buy now, $19.99
https://store.steampowered.com/app/242860/Verdun/
Categories
Gaming Interviews

Popular Streamers KittyPlays and Krystalogy Talk Mental Health In Gaming

Mental health is important, and so is self-preservation. In order to be our best selves and perform at our highest levels, we have to make sure we are taken care of mentally and emotionally. One of the ways we can do that is through gaming. A recent Microsoft study found that 84% of respondents agreed that gaming has positively impacted their mental health over the past year during the course of this pandemic.

Researchers have cited numerous mental health benefits to playing games including lessened feelings of loneliness, to further help spread positivity in the world of gaming  Bai Boost, a new plant-based, caffeinated water drink from Bai Wonderwater, has partnered with Take This, a non-profit supporting mental health in the gaming community, as well as wildly popular streamersKittyPlays and Krystalogy to continue to bring light and education on mental health awareness.

We spoke with both KittyPlays and Krystalogy on the personal benefits of gaming and how they personally take care of themselves, while also getting advice on how to fit gaming and self-care into our busy schedules.

ONE37pm: This past Sunday was World Mental Health Day. How does gaming help to improve mental health?

KittyPlays: It helps a lot! Gaming allows me to participate and be social. It can also be very stimulating in the sense that you take on new challenges. It’s important to take care of your mental health, and gaming can be an easy way to connect with a group that has the same direction. You’re accomplishing something.

Krystalogy: I actually have a story about this. It was my freshman year of college and I was going through a rough time. I began playing Stardew Valley, and tending to my farm kept me sane rather than crying. It was soothing, calm, helped me stay focused and promoted positivity. Playing games can definitely help you stay centered and positive.

ONE37pm: Adult life can be super busy and sometimes we don’t have the time to play games. Any suggestions on how we can incorporate that more into our lives?

KittyPlays: It’s funny because I never thought I would be telling adults to game. I would suggest putting it as part of your nighttime ritual. Again you can join a group, explore a new world, and it can help you when you are going through something and life is getting too heavy. Also this can depend on the game you are playing as well.

Krystalogy: To add, I haven’t been playing a lot of games outside of my career lately because I have been trying to read more and decrease time. However if I were to play a game right now to relax it would probably be Valorant. I try not to record/stream every moment because there are things that I want to keep to myself, and I don’t have to worry about small things such as how I look or what facial expressions I am making.

ONE37pm: How do you take care of yourself daily to help you balance your career?

KittyPlays: I’m a huge fan of morning routines. I don’t touch my phone right away when I get up. I do yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, and journal. I have my lattes, do some reading, and then I officially start my day. So I would say it’s about setting that initial foundation.

Krystalogy: I’ve been reading a lot more because so much of gaming is about storytelling, and I love games and stories. I also read to reduce my time on social media because it can really be draining sometimes—especially with the negative comments. Reading, walking, etc., has been especially helpful to my physical and mental health.

ONE37pm: Is there anything else you want gamers to know about gaming and mental health?

KittyPlays: For me, everything is about optimism and positivity. This career can come with a lot of harassment, but at the same time gaming allows me to get in tune with myself. There are a lot of people who are complimenting and trying to tear you down at the same time, so it’s about being even keel. You have to really set a foundation because there’s tons of good things as well. Gaming can help you socialize and interact with many people across the world, especially in this pandemic.

Krystalogy: Don’t brush off your mental health! It’s okay to take a break, and it’s okay to give yourself time to rest because at the same time the quality of your work also reflects your mental health. Try that game! Go for that walk! Especially since we’re kind of still stuck at home because of this pandemic.

You heard them! Make sure you always take time to take care of yourself. You can keep up with both KittyPlays and Krystalogy on Instagram. 

Categories
Gaming Interviews

Draynilla Goes ‘Inside The Screen’ With Aaron “Don” Dukes

This week’s Inside The Screen, hosted by Aaron “Don” Dukes, features special guest Draynilla. Draynilla is a prominent Apex Legends player and content creator whose electric personality garners plenty of laughs and positive vibes. The first-person shooter genre lies at the heart of his passion for gaming/streaming, plus he also makes sure to keep everyone’s Twitter timelines peppered with hilarity thanks to his outlandish thoughts. Draynilla chopped it up with Aaron about everything from good shower habits to focusing on one’s goals and not comparing oneself to everyone else’s accomplishments.

Draynilla leaves his mark on the gaming sphere through his full-time Twitch streaming gig. And as a member of SoaR Gaming, his lively Apex Legends content is regularly showcased on an even larger scale. Thanks to his father and his love for gaming, Draynilla grew to appreciate it as much as him during his early days running and gunning on the Xbox 360. When Aaron speaks highly of his “demonic” Apex Legends skills and being surprised that he’s not a competitive player, Draynilla speaks on not being all that interested in going pro – “I sometimes think that maybe I could compete or do something like that, but to me, it’s just boring. I just like to run around in pubs (public games) and have fun. Just shoot people and game instead of trying to strategize, pick a position, hold it down, and sit here & shoot people as they come in. I like watching it, but for me I personally just like running around and having fun.”

Even before Draynilla’s passions for FPS games took shape, he became enamored with the Sega Genesis and its mascot Sonic the Hedgehog. Draynilla reminisced about his 16-bit glory days in full – “dude, I’d play like Sonic. I’d play like Judge Dredd.” And when the topic of grinding hard at games came up, Draynilla showed even more love to the “Blue Blur” – Sonic Adventure 2, bro! You remember that one where you’d like, grind the Chao’s and stuff like that? It was on the GameCube. I’d also play Super Smash Bros., too. Then I switched to Xbox 360 and started playing Halo. And that was the first game I really grinded. I used to play Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, too.” Back in the day, Draynilla was a traditional controller player. But now, he lights up the Apex Legends leaderboards through his expert mouse and keyboard skills.

When Aaron brings up one of Draynilla’s past tweets that tells his followers to stop comparing themselves to everyone else’s victories, Draynilla breaks it down from a content creator perspective – “Just be the best you. If you keep comparing yourself to people around you, you’re never going to appreciate what you actually do have. Just keep working on what works for you and brings you happiness rather than just focusing on what the other person brings and what works for them. Focus on what you got going for you. And if you can improve that every single day, you’ll be one percent better every day and just keep going.” A simple and concise statement such as that one should provide all the inspirational talk one needs to keep upgrading oneself at a steady pace.

Be sure to check out the rest of Aaron and Draynilla’s inspiring and hilarious conversation on the latest episode of Inside the Screen. You’re definitely going to want to watch as Draynilla reacts to his past tweets and reflects on one in particular that came to fruition in the form of a new Tesla.

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Consoles Gaming

ONE37pm’s Official ‘Demon Slayer: The Hinokami Chronicles’ Review

Japanese development studio CyberConnect2 has mastered the art of the anime arena fighting game.

Once it stepped into the ninjitsu-filled world of Naruto, it churned out some of the best games based on the hit manga/anime via the Ultimate Ninja Storm series. After bringing that series of games to an end with the fourth installment and its accompanying DLC, CyberConnect2 turned its attention to other titles based on popular anime properties, such as .hack//G.U. Last Recode and Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot. Thankfully, the studio has returned to the anime fighter realm to adapt the story being told thus far by Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba. If you enjoyed the Ultimate Ninja Storm games and have been on the lookout for a similar experience, then The Hinokami Chronicles will quickly become your next go-to favorite.

From a purely visual standpoint, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Hinokami Chronicles looks incredible in motion. The anime itself is already a feast for the eyes – somehow, someway, CyberConnect2 managed to perfectly replicate the show’s striking art style. Everything from the cinematics right on up to the awe-inspiring Ultimate Art finishes exploding off the screen due to their beautifully animated flair. The audio is just as strong – the English dub, sounds of swords clashing, and signature style of music lifted from the show all sound amazing. The one blemish you’ll quickly notice is instances where the spoken dialogue doesn’t quite match up with the characters’ lips as they speak on screen. While it’s a rare occurrence, it’s still hard to ignore and just sweep under the rug.

The Hinokami Chronicles’ main source of gameplay is derived from its story mode, which follows series protagonist Tanjiro Kamado’s origin as a demon slayer right up until his “Mugen Train” adventure. Just like the Ultimate Ninja Storm Game’s story mode structure, players witness the retelling of the anime’s most impactful moments through extended cinematics. The fun really begins when you get to hop into battle and play out the most epic clashes fans still look back on fondly. If you’ve kept up with the anime, then your mileage may vary when it comes to the game’s main campaign – fans who are open to replaying everything they’ve watched thus far will enjoy their playthrough as they navigate linear locales, relive memorable events, and engage in epic quick-time events. But for those Demon Slayer fanatics who’d rather play a wholly original storyline made specifically for this game instead of covering the events from the show, they’ll be disappointed. Just know that you’ll mostly be playing through a series of events that are already familiar to you. Thankfully, the fun factor during that campaign is quite high.

Sega

When it comes time to do battle, The Hinokami Chronicles shows its best hand. Yes, the control scheme is simplistic as expected – CyberConnect2 lifted its gameplan from the Ultimate Ninja Storm playbook, which should come as no surprise. Even with that simple approach to combat, the game’s fights are still entertaining thanks to a mix of character assists, parrying, normal/special move links, etc.

Another cool aspect tied to combat is the ability to boost your character’s strength for a limited amount of time – an extra layer of strategy is added to each skirmish as you decide to boost a second time to enter Surge mode or spend your special gauge on unleashing a super flashy Ultimate Art. Calling on your secondary character to either extend a combo via their attack, save you from further harm, or tag them in altogether also adds some more fun mechanics to The Hinokami Chronicles’ heated clashes. Anyone who’s spent some time with an Ultimate Ninja Storm game will be familiar with everything that’s on offer here. And for those who’ve never explored those quality Naruto games before, they’ll get a nice bit of casual enjoyment out of the fast-paced battle The Hinokami Chronicles has to offer.

The rest of the content suite for this anime brawler is a bit lacking, sadly. Besides the main story mode and offline/online versus modes, there isn’t a whole lot to stay busy with. Watching additional cutscenes, completing assorted training mode clashes, and spending all the Kimetsu Points you earn over time on rewards are fine and all. But most players will be left feeling unsatisfied with the game’s lack of additional playable content. The presence of character customization and a more open exploration mode on par with Ultimate Ninja Storm 4’s Adventure Mode that includes fresh story threads could have done a lot more to make this game more replayable. Plus the lack of playable demons at launch is also a huge letdown. However, the future arrival of those extra characters as free DLC updates will remedy that glaring issue. Here’s hoping the inevitable sequel goes above and beyond to give players more modes and Demon Slayers to stay busy with.

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Hinokami Chronicles is an above-average attempt at replicating the grand tale told by the manga/anime – it excels thanks to gorgeous graphics, incredibly fun battles, and a quality retelling of the events fans have witnessed thus far. However, the game is held back from true greatness due to a lack of additional meaningful content and some spotty lip-synching from time to time. All in all, The Hinokami Chronicles is a solid anime arena fighter that diehard fans will still derive a good amount of enjoyment from.

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Events/Tournaments Gaming

HyperX Reps Rising Content Creators With ‘Queued Up’ Initiative

HyperX is recognized as one of the top gaming peripheral makers in the world and a major force within the esports arena.

The company’s applaud-worthy success (they recently announced total lifetime sales of 20 million headsets sold!) and commendable community efforts present them as an entity worth championing. Another awesome effort HyperX indulges in is its partnerships with popular content creators, such as herculyse, TimTheTatman, and LoochyTV. Now, HyperX is readying a brand new initiative that’s looking to highlight up-and-coming content creators within the gaming, music, artist, etc. spheres.

Starting this year, HyperX will kick off its annual “Queued Up” showcase by showing a ton of love to a new class of creatives through its many social media channels. From this point forward, the Queued Up campaign will focus on a class of five content creators on an annual basis. Each of those five picks will get the ultimate “HyperX Heroes” treatment and also get the opportunity to collaborate with select members from that special group. Alongside that massive networking juncture, those five creators will get a complete gaming room setup revamp that will come with a slew of HyperX products. And finally, each chosen creator will walk away with a six-month paid contract as a brand new HyperX Ambassador.

The inaugural HyperX Queued Up roster of 20 individuals has already been chosen via an internal selection process by an inner committee – the finalists have also been voted on by the HyperX community at large. Now fans have the opportunity to vote online from October 12-22 to determine the highest-ranking finalists for the 2021 Queued Up class (think of it along the lines of the XXL Freshman Class).

The 20 creators fans can vote for are as follows: Lucrity, Kohlive, MicawaveTV, Asivrs, Cahlaflour, emijuju, Tuonto, Elix, SenseiCJ, BearDaBeast23, Rhett, Yoojin, Ludilue, Draynilla, Iough, AshleyRoboto, Samora, Jordielocks, ToriPareno, and Krystalogy.

Once October 30 finally rolls around, the top five picks will be announced during a livestream event that will emanate from the HyperX Esports Arena in Las Vegas. The 2021 Queued Up class and a collective of HyperX talents will be showcased during that livestream as they hop into their favorite games and generally vibe with each other & the viewers.

Stephanie Winkler, director of marketing for HyperX, is super excited about this brand new company-wide enterprise. “We continue to be amazed by the rising number of content creators and we want to highlight and celebrate their talent with our new annual Queued Up showcase,” she stated. “By providing helpful resources and an avenue to elevate and empower dedicated content creators, HyperX is focused on helping the next generation of talent grow and scale their brand.”

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Consoles Gaming

We Need These 10 Sega Genesis Games on the Nintendo Switch

On the very same day we learned that select Nintendo 64 games are set to come to the Nintendo Switch, we also came to find out that a bunch of Sega Genesis games will also become available. 

And that’s all due to the upcoming Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack membership that’s set to drop sometime in late October. We already listed the 10 dream N64 titles we’d love to see make the transition over to Nintendo’s hybrid home/portable console hybrid. So you know what that means, right? It’s now time for us to get even more nostalgic and head back to the 16-bit era to find 10 Sega Genesis classics that should also come to the Switch. 

But before we do that, let’s take a look at the solid lineup of Genesis titles that have been confirmed to come to the Switch thus far:

Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Streets of Rage 2

Ecco the Dolphin

Castlevania: Bloodlines

Contra: Hard Corps

Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine

Golden Axe

Gunstar Heroes

M.U.S.H.A.

Phantasy Star IV

Ristar

Shining Force

Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master

Strider

Those games are indeed awesome, but allow us to show some love to 10 other Genesis games that would make our dreams come true as future Switch ports.

1. ‘Comix Zone’
Sega

We love the fact that Streets of Rage 2 offers some strong representation within the vast Genesis beat ‘em up catalog. But we also hope that genre gets even more love with the addition of a 16-bit brawler that made our brains work a bit more than usual back in the day. Comix Zone will forever remain embedded in our memories as a clever implementation of comic book art styles and panels that made its exploration elements so enticing. Venturing through each and every corner of Comix Zone has and will remain one of our favorite joys – smashing up drawn-in baddies as Sketch Turner is the sort of joyous occasion we want to revisit on the Switch.

2. ‘Vectorman’
Sega

It’s quite the sobering thought when you think about how the Vectorman series never got a third game. While that dream scenario will never come to pass, we’d be content with the first game making its way over to the Switch to remind folks of just how great the series is as a whole. The visuals were mind-blowing for their time and the run ‘n gun gameplay was done extremely well, which are two aspects that make Vectorman a timeless experience. Sega’s forgotten mean, green “orbot” is due for a comeback – bringing him to the Switch is the best way to go about that campaign.

3. ‘Zero the Kamikaze Squirrel’
Sunsoft

Platforming games filled with anthropomorphic mascots ruled the gaming landscape during the 16-bit era. Sunsoft did its thing with the Aero the Acro-Bat series and ended up crafting a cool spinoff in the process with Zero the Kamikaze Squirrel. Zero’s gameplay saw the little tyke move at a swift pace as he collected all sorts of items, plus he was capable of swooping and diving while airborne. The cartoony visuals were stronger than most games that went the same route as this one, which made it stick out from the pack. Zero’s an underrated platforming hero whose star performance deserves another shot in the limelight via a Switch port.

4. ‘Rocket Knight Adventures’
Konami

Sparkster’s yet another one of those memorable retro heroes that came up during the 16-bit era. When Konami was in the business of creating 90s classics, they put forth another one among their strong lineup with Rocket Knight Adventures. The graphics were clean, the music was super enjoyable, and the varied gameplay styles kept the action fresh. Sparkster’s mobility was also another reason why we were so enamored with this game back in the day. We still adore it nowadays and would love for it to join the future slate of Genesis games on the Switch. If Sonic gets to thrive on Nintendo’s latest console, so should Sparkster!

5. ‘Earthworm Jim’
Playmates Interactive Entertainment

The lowly earthworm that took control of a super-suit that fell from the sky is known the world over as Earthworm Jim. His grand gaming debut was a smashing success and created one of the most beloved 16-bit icons in the process. Jim’s original adventure is filled with a zany cast of allies & villains that we’d love to revisit on the Switch. The difficulty factor for this game can be a bit much for younger gamers, but we veterans are ready to confront those challenging stage playthroughs once again. Earthworm Jim, his trusty blaster, and that whip attack of his are long overdue for a comeback at this point. Sega might as well throw his starting escapades into the Genesis on Switch collection.

6. ‘Monster World IV’
Sega

Yeah, we know – if you own a Sega Genesis Mini, then you already own a digital copy of Monster World IV. But lord knows most Switch owners would prefer having the option to play it on that console instead of having to whip out their mini hardware to do it. We’d much prefer that way of playing it, too. Monster World IV is such an engrossing game that combines the very best parts of the action-adventure, RPG, and platforming genres. Asha and her cutesy pet Pepelogoo became quick faves of ours once we finally got to control them in tandem. Monster World IV is deeper than most games of its kind – we’d be more than happy to revisit its genre-bending mechanics and light atmosphere on the Switch.

7. ‘Dynamite Headdy’
Sega

Treasure will always be regarded as one of Sega Genesis’ best developers. They found a way to push the boundaries of the 16-bit console and craft some of the most awe-inspiring games the world has ever seen. Gunstar Heroes, which is one of their very best titles, is already a part of the launch lineup for the Genesis library on the Switch. So why not add two more of their memorable experiences? One of those games is the trippy platformer Dynamite Headdy, which follows a heroic puppet that attacks by detaching its head to smash its foes. The awesome way in which the game’s stages played out like you were watching a stage play still wows us. And the game’s many boss fights will forever be a mind trip. Dynamite Headdy is, simply put, awesome.

8. ‘Alien Soldier’
Sega

And the second Treasure gem that we want on the Switch is the severely slept-on side-scrolling shooter, Alien Soldier. If you want to talk about bombastic retro games, this one is certainly among the best. The extraterrestrial being known as Epsilon-Eagle (that name is awesome, by the way!) goes on a revenge tour and thankfully we get to join him. Just like Gunstar Heroes, this 16-bit run ‘n gunner lets you wreck a whole bunch of nightmare fuel-esque bosses with a nice variety of powerful firearms. Alien Soldier’s shorter levels do an amazing job of keeping our attention thanks to bite-sized stage run-throughs and extended boss encounters.

9. ‘Bio-Hazard Battle’
Sega

The Genesis has a varied collection of ship-based shoot ‘em ups and one of them (M.U.S.H.A.) is already confirmed as one of the Genesis collection’s Switch ports. Another one that we’re pulling for is the lesser-known yet still quality experience known as Bio-Hazard Battle. As one of the four organic ships, Bio-Hazard Battle gave gamers a flood of hostile enemies to blast. And like most of the shooters of its time, the action is constant and the breakneck pace guarantees that your reaction time has to be damn near perfect. Thunder Force IV, Gley Lancer, and Elemental Master are among the very best SHMUPs the Genesis has to offer. But we’d love to see Bio-Hazard Battle get some time to shine first and bring more attention to its underrated glory.

10. ‘Splatterhouse 3’
Namco

Before Resident Evil made it hard for everyone to sleep soundly at night, Splatterhouse 3 scared us half to death with its horrifying cinematics. Plus the soundtrack still gives us chills! But we quickly get over our fears once we take control of Rick and don his all-powerful Terror Mask to do some damage. Splatterhouse 3 deserves a whole lot of praise for its open-ended exploration and its usage of divergent endings. We’re open to saving Rick’s wife and child once again by bashing in the heads of hideous monsters with his bare fists and a whole host of cool weaponry. Splatterhouse 3 is one of the best beat ‘em ups and also one of the most terrifying.

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eSports Gaming

A Conversation With Drone Racing League President Rachel Jacobson

The 2021-2022 Drone Racing League World Championship season officially kicked on September 29th, and today we’re taking a closer look at the league that has captured the attention of millions around the world. For those that may be unfamiliar, the Drone Racing League (DRL) is the world’s premier, professional drone racing property, where the best drone pilots in the world fly in the league as millions of fans watch them race on NBC and Twitter. With groundbreaking technology and immersive high-speed races through virtual and live events, the DRL is breaking all kinds of barriers as they create this new era of sports, combining both esports and real-life competition. 

Drone Racing League
DRL President Rachel Jacobson

The DRL continues to elevate with each new season, and this year they are taking things up a notch. The league recently closed a blockbuster sponsorship deal with blockchain partner Algorand for $100MM, in what is set to be a long-term partnership with many exciting updates along the way. With tons of momentum around the league and this upcoming season, we spoke with DRL President Rachel Jacobson—a woman who is leading the charge in a male-dominated industry by the way, about the 21-22 Season, the history of the league, and how her previous experiences as the NBA’s SVP of Global Partnerships prepared her for a role as President of the DRL.

ONE37pm: Congrats on the 2021-2022 season kicking off! Some of our readers are being introduced to drone racing for the first time. Can you give them a brief history of the league?

Jacobson: For anyone that is new to DRL, get ready for your new favorite sport! The Drone Racing League is different from any other mainstream sport where the best pilots in the world compete in front of millions of fans on national broadcasts. Our league is at the intersection of the technology and sports worlds in what is a hybrid of virtual and live events. Going back a little further, our founder Nicholas Horbaczewski created this league in 2015 in what was at the time an underground hobby, and eventually, he decided to invest in the technology, media, and sports ecosystem to turn this hobby into a global, professional sports property.

ONE37pm: You spent 21 years at the NBA as their SVP of Global Partnerships, how did your experiences there prepare you for what you are doing now with DRL?

Jacobson: Well, beyond undergrad, I would say that I achieved all of my other degrees through my two decades at the NBA. I had the pleasure of working with two of the best in the industry David Stern and Adam Silver, and in my time there I learned so much in terms of training, marketing, events, and global partnerships, which in turn have prepared me for what I am doing now in the DRL. Not only was I able to learn from my experiences, but I was also able to gain knowledge from many other people like NBA team owners. At the NBA, you have to constantly be innovating and evolving the brand.

Everybody is constantly fighting for market share, so you have to always be growing. At DRL, innovation is what drives us and we are constantly developing new groundbreaking technology to advance our sport.

ONE37pm: What does it take to be a drone racer? If one of us were to be interested in joining, what kind of training would we need to have, and what do we need to do to eventually advance to the level of these professionals?

Jacobson: I love this question! We want to be inspiring everyone to get involved in drone racing! It is so much fun, and educational. It helps you learn incredible new skills, like drone piloting, engineering, mechanics, etc., and those are the same things that can be applied to careers in film, tech, and entertainment. To compete at the highest level it takes a lot of training. DRL has the twelve best pilots in the world, and they practice more than ten hours a day.

For those looking to get into drone racing for fun, we recommend downloading our official DRL Simulator on PlayStation, Xbox, Steam, or Epic Games. It is the fastest, easiest, and most cost-effective way for you to learn drone racing. You get the opportunity to feel like you are one of our pilots, and we actually recruit pilots through the SIM’s annual esports tournament, the DRL SIM Tryouts. You can be playing for fun one day, and then be a professional the next!

ONE37pm: Ahead of the 2021-2022 season the DRL recently closed a blockchain sponsorship with blockchain partner Algorand. Could you talk a little more about that?

Jacobson: It’s exciting! We have been really focused on scaling the league, as we are determined to be one of the most successful leagues in the world. We look to partner with the most innovative companies and marketers, and Algorand is a team of visionaries, disruptors, and innovators. We’ve been keeping up in the crypto and blockchain world for a while now, as our fans are tech-savvy and into crypto. Our partnership with Algorand is one with amazing chemistry.

Algorand is the most technically advanced organization in blockchain, and they are aligned with our brand. There is a lot that we will do together, like NFTs for ticketing, blockchain-enabled transactions, and prizes, and even building a digital drone racing series in the metaverse!

ONE37pm: Lastly, what can we expect from the season? 

Jacobson: We are running hybrid competitions across esports in our SIM and in-person drone races in Minneapolis, Memphis, and a to-be-announced location for the final race of the season. Due to Covid protocols, we are only having a limited amount of people at these events, but we are hoping to have a packed crowd for the championship!

We have new partnerships and the league is continuing to evolve, and we are disrupting the big five sports. Millions of people are already interested, and we want even more to get involved! The DRL is thrilling and different from other sports, and we have primetime hours on NBC including Christmas Day and lead-ins to the Winter Olympics.

It’s going to be an exciting year for the DRL so make sure you stay tuned. You can check in with the DRL squad every Wednesday night at 8 pm EST on NBCSN and Twitter, and visit the official website for more updates as the season continues.