Connect with us

Technology

Melting pot of open-world influences makes for one of the more immersive zombie slayers out there • The Register

Voice Of EU

Published

on

The RPG Greetings, traveller, and welcome back to The Register Plays Games, our monthly gaming column. In May, the industry finally pushed some hot properties out the door including Resident Evil Village, Biomutant, and the Mass Effect remasters. But we opted to check out something just a little bit older.

Though pop culture might have reached peak zombie almost a decade ago, Oregon-based Bend Studio still managed to walk away with a decent game in the 2019 PlayStation 4 “exclusive” Days Gone. We say “exclusive” because we’ve been playing the PC port, which came out on 18 May. This follows a recent trend of titles made specifically for Sony’s last-gen console being re-released for PC a couple of years later including Death Stranding and Horizon Zero Dawn.

Yes, the world stopped giving a toss after the eleventy-first season of AMC’s flagging comic book adaptation The Walking Dead, but somehow surviving a zombie apocalypse remains a gripping setting for many – yours truly included. Even if it’s one of the most done-to-death concepts under the sun, Bend has done a fantastic job of rendering an Oregon scorched by a mysterious viral epidemic that has turned 99 per cent of the population into rabid, shambling cannibals.

Motorbike is your route through the madness – and it handles like a dream

Motorbike is your route through the madness – and it handles like a dream

The player takes the role of Deacon St John, certainly one of the stranger names for a triple-A protagonist, one of these 1%-er biker types with a sensitive side. If you’re already drawing some parallels with Walking Dead favourite Daryl Dixon, you’d be on the right lines. Deek (as his biker pal Boozer calls him) blazes through the wasteland on a Harley-type motorbike – the transport of choice following The Event – and one of the most useful weapons at his disposal is a crossbow, both just like Dixon.

Not having enough fuel in your bike means walking to the next objective, and no fast travel either

Not having enough fuel in your bike means walking to the next objective, and no fast travel either

So you can see that Bend was trying to tap into the zombie-geist of days gone here (if you’ll excuse the pun), the only problem being that it was late to the party – not helped by the fact that the game took some six years to develop.

To be fair to Bend, Days Gone probably needed it. Graphically, it’s just about up there with the other PlayStation zombie-slaying smash hit The Last of Us in terms of environments and facial animations, and the ace up its sleeve is the sheer amount of “Freakers” (as they’re known in game) that can be shown on the screen at one time. In certain locations, hundreds of enemies can coalesce into “herds” which can be defeated if you take stock of your environment and go in well-equipped.

A number of ramshackle communities have sprung up 'in the shit'

A number of ramshackle communities have sprung up ‘in the shit’

Early on, Boozer is seriously injured after a rendezvous with a blowtorch at the hands of some crazy cultists, forcing Deek, who is known in those parts as a Drifter, to interact with some of the more organised communities that dot the Oregonian countryside.

While The Last of Us was a linear adventure, Days Gone is open world, a big plus in my book, meaning you can take on missions and side objectives in whatever order you like as they become available.

Gameplay draws on a vast array of proven open-world formulas, which goes a long way to explain why Days Gone is so fun. You have the marauder and cultist camps to brutally murder at your leisure, much like the occupied settlements and radio towers of the Far Cry series, not to mention that you can also mark enemies with your binoculars, another tell-tale Far Cry reference.

Marking enemies means you can track their movements out of line of sight

Marking enemies means you can track their movements out of line of sight

The scarcity of fuel and general maintenance of your bike also seem to take cues from the 2015 Mad Max game. The visibility and sound meters may as well have been stripped from DayZ, Bohemia’s troubled multiplayer zombie survival game, and constantly managing ammunition calls the Resident Evil series to mind. The post-rock/Western soundtrack and backdrop is also redolent of Red Dead Redemption. The third-person cover shooter mechanics date back to Gears of War, and the solid stealth system to Metal Gear Solid and its ilk. Nods must also be given to Dying Light and, of course, The Last of Us. Not one of these is a bad game so when you add them all together… well, you can do the maths.

Firearms have wicked sway and recoil, which makes popping Freaker heads a challenge, but it can be mitigated to an extent by the “focus” ability (a bit like Red Dead’s slowmo Dead Eye mode) which is unlocked as you level up Deacon and gain new perks and abilities. There’s a wide choice of weapons to pick up from fallen human enemies and better guns can be permanently purchased from settlements, depending on how much they trust you. These can then be equipped for an excursion from a gun locker at one of Deacon’s many holdouts at a limit of a primary (rifle), secondary (pistol), and “special” (crossbow or sniper). Trust can be built by handing in Freaker bounties (their ears), selling meat, and doing jobs for the settlement.

Combat takes place from over the shoulder – here with a silenced M14

Combat takes place from over the shoulder – here with a silenced M14

It wouldn’t be a survival game without crafting either, and resources can be found all over the place. Grabbing as much as you can carry is crucial because they can be used to make everything from bandages to melee weapons to Molotov cocktails to crossbow bolts, all of which could help you make it out alive from the next Freaker encounter.

One melee weapon can be carried alongside your guns but it won’t last forever, otherwise Deacon will resort to his considerably weaker knife, though you can repair these and craft deadlier varieties as the game progresses. While the map initially seems on the small side for the genre, more areas become available as you complete story missions, again much like Mad Max.

However, Days Gone isn’t without flaw. One immediately noticeable goof is that Deek can switch his flashlight on and off, but there isn’t one visibly attached to his character model. Instead, it appears as though the game camera has a torch affixed, meaning you can rotate to look him in the eye but the light is shining on the scenery behind him. Weird. Since Bend is a Sony-owned studio, you wonder why the devs couldn’t have copied the flashlight effect from The Last of Us, which clearly shows one mounted on the character’s backpack strap and only shines in the direction they are actually facing.

Deacon also has tracking abilities to solve mysteries and find resources

Deacon also has tracking abilities to solve mysteries and find resources

There are also what I assume to be sort of “dynamic events” that flash up on the minimap as question marks. They show that you are close to one and the direction to head in, but when you get close they vanish, meaning it’s indeterminable whether you ever found what was being flagged up. I soon began to ignore these as they often resulted in minor loot or extreme danger (in one case I was ambushed and captured by marauders).

But for a PC port, it’s a good one. It ran silky smooth from launch on my RTX 3070, Ryzen 9 3900X rig (yes, I upgraded) and bugs were few and far between, though not non-existent. A couple of times an enemy would suddenly be propelled into the air by forces unseen, conveniently landing behind me and exposing my position. That’s about as egregious as things got.

Enemies, both human and otherwise, like to set up ambushes in tunnels

Enemies, both human and otherwise, like to set up ambushes in tunnels

Interestingly, about a month before the PC version’s release, axed Days Gone lead John Garvin complained in an interview with fellow designer David Jaffe: “If you love a game, buy it at fucking full price.”

He added: “Don’t complain if a game doesn’t get a sequel if it wasn’t supported at launch. It’s like God of War [2018] got whatever number millions of sales at launch and, you know, Days Gone didn’t.”

The comments seem to be in response to a Bloomberg report stating that Bend had pitched a sequel to Days Gone but that it had been rejected by Sony despite profitability. The report goes on to suggest that Sony’s fixation on blockbuster “exclusives” is strangling innovation and smaller studios within the PlayStation hierarchy, and claims that Bend itself feared that it would end up being merged with current golden boy Naughty Dog (The Last of Us).

I couldn't safely get down from this tower until the horde had moved on

I couldn’t safely get down from this tower until the horde had moved on

Perhaps it is the staid formula that meant Days Gone didn’t sell like hotcakes. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good game. Not mind-blowing, sure, but a merry romp all the same. The script is believable, the characters stand out, and the story unravels slowly. The acting is enjoyable too, particularly Deacon, whose frayed sanity and likeness is portrayed by Sam Witwer.

Anecdotally, Days Gone didn’t run especially well on its original PlayStation 4 jaunt. I didn’t grab it despite owning the console but was happy to check out the port and was pleasantly surprised. As such, you could safely consider this to be the definitive version. Long may this trend continue – and it looks like it will seeing as Uncharted 4 is the next PlayStation “exclusive” headed for PC.

Days Gone does, however, make me wonder how the considerably more lo-fi, sandboxy, and perennially in-development Project Zomboid is looking these days… A topic for another column perhaps. ®

Bootnote

Rich played the first 20 hours of Days Gone on Twitch as ExcellentSword. Chuck him a follow for more video game impressions as they happen! Every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from around 8:30-9pm UK time.

Source link

Technology

Amazon Web Services outage hits sites and apps such as IMDb and Tinder | Amazon

Voice Of EU

Published

on

Several Amazon services – including its website, Prime Video and applications that use Amazon Web Services (AWS) – went down for thousands of users on Tuesday.

Amazon said the outage was probably due to problems related to application programming interface (API), which is a set of protocols for building and integrating application software, Reuters reported.

“We are experiencing API and console issues in the US-East-1 Region,” Amazon said in a report on its service health dashboard, adding that it had identified the cause. By late late afternoon the outage appeared to be partially resolved, with the company saying that it was “working towards full recovery”.

“With the network device issues resolved, we are now working towards recovery of any impaired services,” the company said on the dashboard.

Downdetector showed more than 24,000 incidents of people reporting problems with Amazon. It tracks outages by collating status reports from a number of sources, including user-submitted errors on its platform.

The outage was also affecting delivery operations. Amazon’s warehouse operation use AWS and experienced disruptions, spokesperson Richard Rocha told the Washington Post. A Washington state Amazon driver said his facility had been “at a standstill” since Tuesday morning, CNBC reported.

Other services, including Amazon’s Ring security cameras, mobile banking app Chime and robot vacuum cleaner maker iRobot were also facing difficulties, according to their social media pages.

Ring said it was aware of the issue and working to resolve it. “A major Amazon Web Services (AWS) outage is currently impacting our iRobot Home App,” iRobot said on its website.

Other websites and apps affected include the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), language learning provider Duolingo and dating site Tinder, according to Downdetector.

The outage also affected presale tickets for Adele’s upcoming performances in Las Vegas. “Due to an Amazon Web Services (AWS) outage impacting companies globally, all Adele Verified Fan Presales scheduled for today have been moved to tomorrow to ensure a better experience,” Ticketmaster said on Twitter.

In June, websites including the Guardian, Reddit, Amazon, CNN, PayPal, Spotify, Al Jazeera Media Network and the New York Times were hit by a widespread hour-long outage linked to US-based content delivery network provider Fastly Inc, a smaller rival of AWS.

In July, Amazon experienced a disruption in its online stores service, which lasted for nearly two hours and affected more than 38,000 users.

Users have experienced 27 outages over the past 12 months on Amazon, according to the web tool reviewing website ToolTester.



Source link

Continue Reading

Technology

South Korea sets reliability standards for Big Tech • The Register

Voice Of EU

Published

on

South Korea’s Ministry of Science and ICT has offered Big Tech some advice on how to make their services suitably resilient, and added an obligation to notify users – in Korean – when they fail.

The guidelines apply to Google, Meta (parent company of Facebook), Netflix, Naver, Kakao and Wavve. All have been told to improve their response to faults by beefing up preemptive error detection and verification systems, and create back up storage systems that enable quick content recovery.

The guidelines offer methods Big Tech can use to measure user loads, then plan accordingly to ensure their services remain available. Uptime requirements are not spelled out.

Big techs is already rather good at resilience. Google literally wrote the book on site reliability engineering.

The guidelines refer to legislation colloquially known as the “Netflix law” which requires major service outages be reported to the Ministry.

That law builds on another enacted in 2020 that made online content service providers responsible for the quality of their streaming services. It was put in place after a number of outages, including one where notifications of the problem were made on the offending company’s social media site – but only in English.

The new regulations follow South Korean telcos’ recent attempts to have platforms that guzzle their bandwidth pay for the privilege. Mobile carrier SK Broadband took legal action in October of this year, demanding Netflix pitch in some cash for the amount of bandwidth that streaming shows – such as Squid Game – consume.

In response, Netflix pointed at its own free content delivery network, Open Connect, which helps carriers to reduce traffic. Netflix then accused SK Broadband of trying to double up on profits by collecting fees from consumers and content providers at the same time.

For the record, Naver and Kakao pay carriers, while Apple TV+ and Disney+ have at the very least given lip service to the idea.

Korea isn’t the only place where telcos have noticed Big Tech taking up more than its fair share of bandwidth. The European Telecommunications Network Operators’ Association (ETNO) published a letter from ten telco CEOs asking that larger platforms “contribute fairly to network costs”. ®

Source link

Continue Reading

Technology

Twitter acquires Slack competitor Quill to improve its messaging services

Voice Of EU

Published

on

As part of the acquisition, Quill will be shutting down at the end of the week as its team joins the social media company.

Twitter has acquired the messaging platform Quill, seen as a potential competitor to Slack, in order to improve its messaging tools and services.

Quill announced that it will be shutting down at the end of the week as its team joins the social media company to continue its original goal “to make online communication more thoughtful, and more effective, for everyone”.

The purchase of Quill could be linked to Twitter’s new strategy to reduce its reliance on ad revenue and attract paying subscribers.

Twitter’s general manager for core tech, Nick Caldwell, described Quill as a “fresher, more deliberate way to communicate. We’re bringing their experience and creativity to Twitter as we work to make messaging tools like DMs a more useful and expressive way people can have conversations on the service”.

Users of Quill have until 11 December to export their team message history before the servers are fully shut down at 1pm PST (9pm Irish time). The announcement has instructions for users who wish to import their chat history into Slack and states that all active teams will be issued full refunds.

The team thanked its users and said: “We can’t wait to show you what we’ll be working on next.”

Quill was launched in February with the goal to remove the overwhelming aspects of other messaging services and give users a more deliberate and focused form of online chat.

In an online post, Quill creator Ludwig Pettersson said: “We started Quill to increase the quality of human communication. Excited to keep doing just that, at Twitter.”

The company became a potential competitor for Slack, which was bought by Salesforce at the end of 2020 for $27.7bn. The goal of that acquisition was to combine Salesforce’s CRM platform with Slack’s communications tools to create a unified service tailored to digital-led teams around the world.

Last week, Salesforce announced the promotion of Bret Taylor to vice-chair and co-CEO, just days after he was appointed independent chair of Twitter after CEO Jack Dorsey stepped down.

Don’t miss out on the knowledge you need to succeed. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of need-to-know sci-tech news.

Source link

Continue Reading

Trending

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates 
directly on your inbox.

You have Successfully Subscribed!