Old World review Old World concept art of a coronation

Posted on July 2, 2021 by


Need to know

What is it? A turn-based 4X that's part Civ, part Crusader Kings.

Expect to pay: £32/$40

Release: July 1, 2021

Developer: Mohawk Games

Publisher: Mohawk Games

Reviewed on: GTX 1080 Ti, Intel i7-8086K, 16GB RAM

Multiplayer? Yes

Link: Official site 

The story of my first campaign in Old World, where I led my Greek civilisation to global domination, is equally the story of Rome, my greatest nemesis in this sprawling turn-based 4X. When I first encountered the Romans, they were extremely friendly, offering us gifts and hospitality, but it was a poisoned chalice—quite literally. A sickness spread, and Roman gestures of friendship were the source. I demanded justice and compensation; Rome only wanted war. It would take nearly 200 years until I got my revenge. 

It was not a single continuous war. The first conflict ended without much resolution, with the distance between our empires and the massive mountain chain that separated us creating some logistical difficulties. There were still battles, certainly, costing both of us more than faceless soldiers. Family members, revered generals and close friends also lost their lives. And between the wars were heated diplomatic meetings and more than a little bit of espionage, which again cost lives. 

I'll never forgive myself for sending my good pal Confucious, the Chinese philosopher, to infiltrate Roma, where he spent a couple of years before he was murdered. On more than one occasion, I even sacrificed my heirs to the eternal grudge. It's rather fitting that, after all that loss and rage, the fall of the Roman Empire also marked my victory over Old World itself. But I'm getting ahead of myself. 

(Image credit: Mohawk Games)

Despite using the language of Civilization—from workers to wonders— it should be starting to become clear that Soren Johnson and Mohawk Games' take on the historical 4X formula is quite different to Firaxis's approach. You still build cities, conquer other ones, develop the tiles around them, and along the way determine the cultural and scientific destiny of your civilisation. So there are plenty of important similarities, which should not be a surprise given that Johnson was also the lead designer of Civilization 4, but Old World feels like a meaningful evolution. And an extremely welcome one.

Something old, something new

The most notable advancement is undoubtedly the importance placed on people. Like Crusader Kings, you are not an immortal ruler leading your people from the birth of civilisation all the way to the space race and beyond. Instead, your famous starting ruler will eventually die. When Philip II left this mortal coil, the empire passed to his son, Alexander, who'd become known as Alexander the Noble—sadly he didn't do enough to earn the 'Great' moniker—who then left it to his daughter, 40 years later. You've got heirs and succession laws to worry about, as well as a court full of potential friends and enemies. 

As the name suggests, Old World sticks to antiquity, slowing down Civilization's pace to allow characters to make an impression. It would be pretty tough to do that if every turn moved things forward by decades. Your friends and enemies will be hanging around for a long time, as long as something untoward doesn't happen to them. 

(Image credit: Mohawk Games)

These courtiers, generals and other important folk grow and react, increasing their attributes to become more charismatic or disciplined while also picking up traits like 'wanton' and 'schemer'. They have affairs, illegitimate children, and can plot the demise of other characters, including the ruler. In the mid-game, I found myself playing a particularly talented king, beloved by his people and the triumvirate of influential families constantly vying for power and attention. His uncle, however, was decidedly not a fan. Years before, when I was playing as his father, I encouraged certain unpleasant traits in my son, which benefited me at the time. I had no idea I was creating a nephew-killer. When it came time to reap what I'd sowed, I had some regrets. 

Much of this plays out through engaging event pop-ups, typically giving you multiple options that depend on your traits and resources. You get to decide how children are educated, how you react to a diplomatic insult or what to do with the possibly magical sword that was just dug up—I opted for starting a cult and charging them admission to see the fancy blade. Often, you won't see the impact for years, so there's always a surprise around the corner. 

When it came time to reap what I’d sowed, I had some regrets.

This all contributes to a sense that you are truly shaping your own civilisation, and in ways that go beyond changing some stats. Slavery, for instance, crops up in both Old World and Civilization, but how it impacts both games is quite different. In Civ 4, for instance, it lets you sacrifice part of your population to rush a construction project. In Old World, however, it becomes a topic that's up for debate. You might find that your people have come to their senses and want to abolish it, encouraging you to toss out the grotesque institution.

(Image credit: Mohawk Games)

If only the UI did a good job of keeping track of this stuff. It can be jarring to go from the flavourful event text to the abstract, soulless numbers that the UI boils them down to. It's overwhelming, and it's just not that informative. Every interaction is made a little worse because it necessitates faffing around in discrete, counterintuitive menus that drag you all over the screen. Even after winning my first campaign, I still found myself getting occasionally lost, and I still don't know how to find crucial information on things like the spread of religion. The tutorial and encyclopaedia are also little help, choosing brevity and vagueness over clear instructions. There's so much more context and clarity in the event text, so I wish Old World's writers were a bit more involved in designing the interface, which could definitely benefit from their skills. 

Alone, the events and characters would have been enough to grab my attention. Civilization and Crusader Kings are two of the greats, and combining their philosophies leads to a game that feels tailor made to my interests. But Old World is filled with new ideas and ways of doing things, dramatically changing how you forge a lasting empire. 

Every unit has a specific movement range and room for one action per turn, but without Orders they can't do anything. Orders are a resource that you spend on giving units and characters—like your ambassador or spymaster—commands. Move here. Attack this loser. Steal research from this dork. As you start expanding and fielding more troops, workers and missionaries, you'll find yourself having to prioritise where to spend Orders each turn so that you don't find your tank is empty right when you're about to make a critical move. It's a strategic complication, but sometimes it can actually take the pressure off you. The system teaches you that it's OK to not take action this turn. You don't need to do everything in one go—you've got 200 years to kill. 

(Image credit: Mohawk Games)

Orders are tied to Legitimacy, with a higher Legitimacy generating more Orders per turn. It's another abstract resource, spawning yet another wrinkle. See, you improve the legitimacy of your reign by generally being insular, promoting national unity and the people of your chosen Civilization above all else. Often, this means you have to treat foreigners with suspicion and take a 'strong' stance that will make the rest of the world rightly think you're a dickhead. It reflects how real leaders sometimes fan the flames of national fervour and encourage small-minded attitudes.

You can, thankfully, still be an extremely effective ruler without pandering to the worst aspects of national identity. Some buildings—which, I should add, are constructed by workers rather than from the city menu, letting you embark on several construction projects at the same time—generate small amounts of Legitimacy that, over time, can give you a significant boost. That's something Old World excels at: always giving you more ways to achieve your objectives. Resource management is another example. On top of the abstract stuff, there's also more tangible resources like stone, iron, wood and gold, which are required for trade and, more importantly, construction. It's a hungry game that demands a healthy stockpile. If you're running low, however, you can simply spend gold to buy more; if you're out of gold, you can also sell whatever resource is abundant. 

Friends with benefits

When your larder is looking a little sparse, you can also seek help from your fellow rulers. The focus on people benefits the diplomacy system immensely, as these are personal relationships that you're developing. Friendships with foreign leaders can be completely undone by the way an event plays out, but as always there are plenty of opportunities to repair the damage. More so in the late game, however, once you've unlocked the ability to employ an ambassador. Or you can just use espionage to steal from them. Sometimes the prerequisites do feel a bit restrictive, though, like alliances only being possible if you've got a diplomatically inclined leader.

(Image credit: Mohawk Games)

If diplomacy fails, you might find yourself heading to war. Combat is one of the places that feels most evocative of modern Civilization, which is unfortunate, because frankly I'm getting a bit bored of moving all these units around one by one, surrounding cities and slowly battering enemies. That's not to say it hasn't been improved, mind. For one, there's the undo move (or even turn) ability, which is such a blessing. You can undo literally everything in a turn, from declaring war on another nation to moving a unit. You'll never find yourself making unsalvageable mistakes from a misclick or miscalculation. You can also recruit generals from your court, which may have extremely handy abilities, like being able to heal units even in neutral territory. 

The AI is generally pretty good, too. A bit too risk averse on the default difficulty, maybe, but also smarter and more reactive. Enemies will retreat to heal up, take advantage of your weaknesses or injured units, and are less likely to be baited into obvious traps. We're not talking tactical geniuses here, but logical, rational enemies are still a boon. Unfortunately, it's still not great at capturing cities. It's just a bit slow and sometimes underprepared, but it gets there eventually. 

Throughout my time with Old World I kept coming across things that made me think "Why the heck hasn't Civ done this?" It has solutions to so many 4X niggles that have been around for ages. Take research, for instance. When you choose your next research project, the game produces a few offerings from a deck made up of all the stuff you're ready to discover. So instead of picking from the same list over and over again, it's slightly randomised, and alongside new techs are bonus cards that give you free gifts, like an extra unit or a big pile of resources. If you're in the middle of a war, do you really care about unlocking the magical power of mills? Instead, you can spend a turn or two on getting a free spearman, which will be much more useful in the moment. 

(Image credit: Mohawk Games)

It's a shame it peters out a bit towards the end. The victory conditions, frankly, kinda suck, and mostly go unexplained. The primary method of winning is by earning 52 points before 200 years have passed, which you do by nurturing your cities and building wonders. If nobody gets to 52, the highest wins. You can also get an early win if you double the points of the next nation, but only if you're already halfway to 52. Finally, you can just wipe everyone out. It's all a bit perfunctory, and a lot more gamey than I expected. I was lucky that my first win happened right as I finally conquered my nemesis Rome, because without that it wouldn't have been remotely memorable. 

Despite its understated victories, Old World is a brilliant 4X, and one that I'd actually recommend over Civilization at the moment. It feels like a genuine step forward for the genre, boasting so many inventive, smart design decisions. And I can't believe I've reached the end of the review before even mentioning the exceptional soundtrack from composer Christopher Tin. Civ 4's Baba Yetu might still be my favourite of his pieces, but Old World is full of evocative orchestral and choral compositions. There's a lot to love here, and if you've got an itch to conquer the ancient world you absolutely need to give this a shot. 

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla 50 percent off for all consoles at Amazon

Posted on July 2, 2021 by

Assassin’s Creed fans and interested onlookers now have a reason to look into the series’ newest game again. If you haven’t checked out Assassins’ Creed Valhalla just yet, the latest installment in Ubisoft Montreal’s action-RPG series is now priced at $29.99 for all consoles on Amazon. In other words, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is available for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S for half its original price.

All standard editions cost the same price, so feel free to buy for whatever console you have. The steelbook editions are also available without discount. Note that the PlayStation 4 copy offers a free upgrade to the PlayStation 5 Digital version. So, even if you haven’t been lucky enough to snag a next-gen console, you can still upgrade once you’ve acquired one.

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla features Eivor (either male or female) and their brother Sigurd, who leave Norway to settle in England. This Viking duo travels through different realms of England, all with the Assassin’s Creed charm of historical references woven into the plot. VG247’s review calls it a “slow-burn” worth playing for its compelling story, satisfying combat system, and more. This sprawling RPG can entertain players for over 100 hours with its main storyline, side quests, and other challenges for completionists to chase. That number doesn’t even take into account the recently released Wrath of the Druids DLC.

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If the 50% discount isn’t enough, you can also snag the $6 Ubisoft deal for new Google Stadia subscribers. This deal includes Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and the rest of the Google Stadia library. So, if there’s ever been a time to take on this mammoth open-world game, now might be the time. Goodbye hot “insert noun here” summer, hello hot Viking summer.

Games discounts don’t stop here. Keep up with even more critically acclaimed games selling at stellar prices on our Twitter. Or, you can consult the Jelly Deals site for our buyer’s guides and other features to pinpoint your next gaming or tech purchase.

The post Assassin’s Creed Valhalla 50 percent off for all consoles at Amazon appeared first on VG247.

The Witcher: Monster Slayer lands on iOS and Android July 21

Posted on July 2, 2021 by

The Witcher: Monster Slayer, the free-to-play, location-based AR RPG, will release on both iOS and Android later this month.

The Witcher: Monster Slayer, developed and published by Spokko, is set before the story of The Witcher series of games.

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The title takes place before the events of The Witcher series and features monsters “freely roaming the land in great numbers.”

In it you will kill monsters in order to become an elite monster hunter, using augmented reality features that transform the real world into the “dark fantasy realm of The Witcher.”

Basically, you will engage with location-based gameplay and augmented reality features to track down and hunt any monsters lurking nearby.

Out on July 21, if you are an Android user, you can now pre-register on Google Play in order to start your journey on the Path the moment the game launches.

By pre-registering, you will receive the Kaer Morhen Steel Sword which will be added to the inventory immediately. The weapon allows you to earn 10% more Experience Points in-game with every monster killed.

The post The Witcher: Monster Slayer lands on iOS and Android July 21 appeared first on VG247.

Doom Eternal’s Invasion Mode is being replaced by a Horde Mode

Posted on July 2, 2021 by

id Software has announced it has scrapped plans for Doom Eternal’s Invasion Mode, and will instead offer Horde Mode in its stead.

The studio had planned to release a free Invasion Mode for Doom Eternal, but due to the consequences of the pandemic and remote working, development was impacted.

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According to id, it has also seen how much players enjoy the range of gameplay and combat available in The Ancient Gods expansions and master levels, so it has decided to bring players a different mode instead: Horde Mode.

It is a new, single-player experience that the studio feels will offer more of “the diversity and challenge” players have been looking for in the game.

In addition, the team is continuing work on a refresh of Battlemode, which includes a more competitive, rank-based structure, a number of gameplay and balance updates, and another new map.

More information will be shared during QuakeCon in August.

The post Doom Eternal’s Invasion Mode is being replaced by a Horde Mode appeared first on VG247.

Mario Golf: Super Rush back spin – How to do back spin, top spin, and super back spin

Posted on July 2, 2021 by

Mario Golf: Super Rush back spin and top spin are two slightly more advanced techniques that make a big difference on difficult courses. Knowing when and how to add back spin and top spin can be the key to a better scorecard, but they can be tricky to use. Our Mario Golf back spin guide explains each type of spin and when you should consider using them.

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Mario Golf: Super Rush – how to do top spin

Adding topspin is simple: just double tap “A” when setting your shot power.

Mario Golf topspin adds an extra bit of forward spin to your ball. That means when it lands, it still rolls a bit further forward than it would normally do. Topspin is handy for getting some extra mileage, so to speak, out of your shot and getting just a bit closer to the green. It’s perfect for longer holes and areas where you don’t have to worry whether the ball will encounter a hazard.

Mario Golf: Super Rush back spin

Add backspin to your shot by pressing “B” when setting the stroke’s power.

Mario Golf backspin is the opposite of topspin. It applies backwards spin to the ball, slowing the shot and causing the ball to roll backwards a bit when it lands, depending on how level the ground is. Backspin is useful for trying to set up more accurate shots and when you think you might overshoot your target.

There’s a second type of backspin, though.

Mario Golf: Super Rush super back spin

Super back spin is, unsurprisingly, more powerful back spin. It does the same thing as regular back spin but guarantees the ball will roll backward once it lands. Mario Golf super back spin is ideal when the wind could blow your ball too far or if you think you’ll land at the edge of a hazard.

Double tap “B” when setting your shot’s power to add super back spin.

Mario Golf back spin and the other spin types can go a long way toward getting lower scores and earning more character points. It might take some practice to get used to, but it certainly pays off in every mode.

The post Mario Golf: Super Rush back spin – How to do back spin, top spin, and super back spin appeared first on VG247.

Mario Golf: Super Rush character points – How to farm character points

Posted on July 2, 2021 by

Mario Golf: Super Rush character points are your reward for playing continuously as one specific character. You’ll still have to work to get them, but the payoff is unlocking two special club sets for that character. Our Mario Golf character points guide has the best way to get points fast and maybe even enjoy the grind in the process.

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What are Mario Golf character points

Super Rush gives you character points for completing certain tasks in every mode except Adventure mode, since that one focuses only on your underpowered Mii. You can see how many points a given character has at the bottom of the character club select screen.

Mario Golf Star Clubs and Super Star Clubs

For now, character points only have one purpose: unlocking that non-Mii character’s special clubs. Each character has two sets of clubs, a Star set and a Super Star set.

  • Star Club: 1,000 character points
  • Super Star Club: 2,000 character points

These both feature improved stats over other club sets in the game. Using them might seem like a moot point after completing so many challenges already, but there are ways to earn Mario Golf character points and unlock both sets faster.

How to get more character points in Mario Golf: Super Rush

Aside from completing solo challenges, these are all the ways you can earn character points in Mario Golf.

  • Play a hole: 10 points
  • Birdie: 10 points
  • Eagle: 20 points
  • Albatross 50 points
  • Hole in one: 100 points
  • Pick up a coin in Speed Golf: 3 points

You can farm Mario Golf character points using a couple of methods. The most grind-intensive one is restarting a hole.

Pick Standard Golf and four human characters. Then choose your desired characters, course, and settings. Each character gets 10 points once the hole starts, so before actually teeing off, restart the hole. You’ll get 10 more points for each character every time you restart.

It’s effective, but also very boring. If you want to still actually play the game while grinding for points, try scoring a hole in one. instead

Two of the best courses for getting a hole in one in Super Rush are Ridgerock Lake hole 2 and Bonny Greens hole 2. Both are short-distance holes, and even if you restart to try again, you’ll still get some points.

The post Mario Golf: Super Rush character points – How to farm character points appeared first on VG247.

The best VPN for gaming in 2021 Best VPN for gaming

Posted on July 2, 2021 by


Do I need VPN?

Should I use a VPN for gaming?
If you're undecided on Virtual Private Networks, check out our guide on the subject.

The best VPN for gaming is not an oxymoron. There can actually be a benefit to connecting to a game's servers via another location, even if we would usually recommend a direct connection for the lowest ping. That's where the best VPN for gaming comes in. These offer a low impact virtual network that won't interrupt your game session all the while reaping all the benefits for privacy and security for everyday use.

To get the best VPN experience, though, you're going to need to pay. But don't panic! On a per-month basis, that doesn't have to add up to much at all. Our options below differ a bunch in cost, performance, and features so there's a lot to choose from. 

We tested a host of top VPN services to find out what impact they might have on your VPN gaming experience. Now, let's find the best one for you.

(Image credit: Surfshark)

1. Surfshark

The best VPN for gaming

Servers: 1700+ | Countries: 63 | Max devices: Unlimited

Unlimited devices
Impressive speed
Top ping performance
Slower upload than NordVPN

Surfshark is my boy. For me, it's the best VPN for gaming that we've tested, offering a great combination of lower ping than my non-VPN'd connection and a relatively minor hit when it comes to overall download speeds. It's ever so slightly more taxing on the uploads than NordVPN, which comes out top on that score, but not by enough to put me off. For streamers, you'll probably want to prioritize that upload speed, making NordVPN the go-to option. But then, as a streamer, you'd probably rather have the full bandwidth available to you at all times…

For everything else, Surfshark will happily remain practically unnoticed in the background while you do anything game-related with your PC. It helped make my gaming experience reliable, with anecdotally fewer instances of dropped packets and kept me safe while doing it. Though it does have to be said, I'm probably not the most obvious target for swatting, stalking, DDoS-ing, or other such nefarious cybercrimes.

The app is straightforward. There are even neat features such as an optional kill switch (disabling your internet connection if the VPN drops for any reason) and a whitelist to allow banking apps and such through the VPN block. The company offers a strict no-logs policy and seems to be reliable on that front. 

Surfshark is also the only service tested that offers access to unlimited devices from a single account. That's pretty impressive considering the relatively low cost compared to some of its peers.

The only issue I've encountered is that it doesn't seem like a happy fit for torrenting. I struggled to get anything to function, so if that's a deal-breaker for you, then you'll probably want to look at Nord instead. 

(Image credit: NordVPN)

2. NordVPN

The best VPN for consistent upload speeds

Servers: 5700+ | Countries: 59 | Max devices: 6

Top download and upload speeds
Decent ping performance
Netflix access
App requires lots of updating

It's close between Surfshark and NordVPN, but the toothy one just about wins out thanks to its unlimited devices, lower price, and lower ping. NordVPN, however, is the high-performance option if download and upload speeds are the be-all and end-all for your PC experience. It delivers one of the highest relative download speeds in my testing compared to an untouched connection and the absolute highest upload speed.

That seems to be where many VPN services fall, in just how much they tank your upload connection. My upload speed is already 10x slower than my downloads, so I can ill afford to lose any more. But NordVPN still delivers around 85% of that connection, while Private Internet Access actually dropped down to 35%.

It's also your best option if you find torrenting your go-to method of accessing content online. Surfshark seems to block everything in my experience, making Nord the next best thing.

The service also delivers an impressive ping performance, too, getting close to my unfettered ping score and consistently beating my game ping scores too. NordVPN is using the latest WireGuard VPN protocol, which it's calling NordLynx. It's reportedly the fastest around and does seem to help it run consistently well. 

However, it is one of the more expensive services, and you only get a maximum of six different devices you can connect at any time. But if you want the performance, you will have to pay for it.

(Image credit: IPVanish)

3. IPVanish

The best-value VPN for gaming

Servers: 1400+ | Countries: 51 | Max devices: 10

Good value
Decent performance
Not as fully-featured as others

IPVanish is one of the most affordable VPN services we've tested, but that doesn't mean you're missing out. It might not have the full feature set of Surfshark or NordVPN, but you do get 250GB of SugarSync encrypted storage and backup for free with a new subscription, which could give you a little extra peace of mind over your more sensitive documents.

It performs well too. The impact on my upload and download speed is impressively minimal, and it also manages, for the most part, to drop down the in-game ping when I'm gaming online. There was a little spike in CS: GO, but nothing worrying, and still with fewer packet drops than with my standard connection.

If you're after a quality VPN service to run on your gaming machine, and potentially on nine other devices simultaneously, but don't want to spend big, then IPVanish is a great alternative to the top two on our list.

(Image credit: ExpressVPN)

4. ExpressVPN

The best VPN for the global community

Servers: 3000+ | Countries: 94 | Max devices: 5

Servers available across the globe
Great Chrome plugin
Slower upload speeds

The second most expensive service on our list is also the broadest reach across the globe. With servers in a staggering 94 countries, if you're looking to play with friends abroad, or find yourself traveling a lot, then ExpressVPN could be your best bet for a solid, secure, and relatively speedy connection.

ExpressVPN isn't bad in my testing for in-game ping performance, regularly giving me a lower millisecond count than my standard connection in Battlefield V. Still, it sometimes struggled in CS: GO. However, it was the weakest when it came to downloading speeds—not that 94% of my regular connection is bad—but the upload hit was second only to the dreadful performance of Private Internet Access.

Of the top four, it also has the fewest number of simultaneous devices allowed, though, at five devices, you can still share the load across PC, laptop, phone, and significant other. But ExpressVPN is still a quality, reliable service that may not have the top-level performance I've measured from some others but is still a decent option for PC gamers.

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(Image credit: Future)
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Also tested…

VyprVPN

Private Internet Access

CyberGhost

The best VPN FAQ

How could a good VPN for gaming be a thing?

The historical consensus has been that you shouldn’t use a VPN while gaming online because it might impact your connection and slow you down. Yes, you might be able to bypass the bane of geo-blocking, but many people complain about horrifying lag and subsequent in-game failures.

That is still the case if you’re using a bandwidth-limited free service, such as Hola or the basic TunnelBear package, but if you pick wisely, you could find the best VPN for gaming that can actually improve your online performance.

It may sound like we’re pulling your chain. But it’s true, a good VPN service can not only keep you safe and secure behind the scenes, but it can actually improve your ping results in-game. Now, it’s not a case of some fancy wizardry that will suddenly turn a slow internet connection into a lightning-quick one. But the best VPNs for gaming will often boast superior routing compared to your current internet service provider (ISP). That means you could find you get less packet loss via a VPN, and you might even see a lower ping, making your connection more responsive in-game.

I run a generally reliable, 100Mbit+ fiber connection at home, yet I still experience some packet loss when I’ve got boots on the ground in Battlefield V. My ping isn’t bad, but hey, it could always be better, right? Running a VPN does, however, take a bit of a chunk out of your overall download and upload speeds, but maybe not as much as you might think. Picking the best VPN for gaming will minimize that impact.

Why should I bother with a VPN?

There are other reasons you might want to run a VPN on your own PC, the number one draw being online security. If you don’t want a network tracking your every move, the best way to avoid using a virtual private network is to avoid that. The best VPNs run a ‘no log’ policy, which means they’ll store no data about you or your activity, helping you stay secure in the face of any data breach too. Again, it will also help you get around geo-blocking. Say you want to unlock a new game early or want to subscribe to a service only available in another country, no problem.

How are VPNs tested?

Testing VPNs is a fun game and doesn’t always end up with you bricking your internet connection each time you uninstall one to install another. Honestly. Not every time, anyway… We’ve sourced accounts for each of the services and tested them all on the same 100Mbit connection, at the same time of day, to ensure a fair reflection as to the performance of each of them.

Obviously, there are free VPNs and some VPN services with free tiers, but you won’t find they’re particularly suitable for connecting through while gaming online. They almost always introduce latency to your experience and severely hamper the overall performance of your network connection.

That’s why we haven’t included any of the free options, such as Hola or TunnelBear, in this list. They’re also not necessarily an effective choice if you’re trying to get around geo-blocked services such as video streaming, as you may still find them restricted.

As for testing, first, I took a Speedtest.net measurement of my standard, unfettered internet connection, using that as a baseline against which to test each of the different services. Then I installed each VPN and tested it in turn before uninstalling it to add a new VPN fresh. 

Why are modders restoring the look and feel of Cyberpunk 2018?

Posted on July 2, 2021 by

Cyberpunk 2077 mods

“This city’s always got a promise for you,” V monologued in the very first Cyberpunk 2077 trailer. “It might be a lie, an illusion, but it’s there, just around the corner. And it keeps you going.”

In the years before Cyberpunk’s release, would-be players subsisted on a similar sense of promise. Until CD Projekt Red’s ambitious eight-year bet came to fruition, it existed for fans as pure potential – a mental space where, guided by trailers, they could let their dreams run wild. A technologically-advanced future setting, plus a premise that appeared to marry GTA’s freeform chaos to The Witcher’s branching RPG choices, proved potent fuel for the imagination.

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“CDPR could have made the players have giant robo arms, eyes that shoot small beams, hand mods that can make you climb buildings like Spider-Man,” a modder named Crazy Potato tells me. “The amount of possibilities are endless.”

For a subset of Cyberpunk 2077 modders, and the thousands of fans who download their work, that freewheeling space is one they’re looking to get back to. Like the lotus eaters of Greek mythology, they’re seeking to forget their disappointments and live in a Night City untarnished by contact with reality – a pre-pandemic world where an excitable throng could tell Keanu Reeves that he was breathtaking, and be called breathtaking in return.

For most, giant robo arms and laser eyes aren’t necessary. Many players are simply looking for a keepsake, an evocative object that takes them back to the heady days of E3 2018. SpookieCL’s Samurai Jacket mod, for instance, which recreates the LED-lit leather coat V wore for Cyberpunk’s initial reveal, has been downloaded 3,804 times. “I liked the original trailer and watched it so many times that many details just stuck with me,” Spookie says. “The jacket in the final product was different and didn’t really fit my taste, so I went with the original look, as it felt just right. Many feel the same.”

Cyberpunk 2077 mods

Crazy Potato, meanwhile, discovered unused mesh model and texture files for a feminine V, as she appeared in that first E3 showing. Once restored, they were downloaded 11,991 times. “I wanted to at least bring that back to life and have many enjoy something, be it small, that was gone and taken out for whatever reason by CDPR,” Crazy says.

Among the asset swaps are alterations to Cyberpunk’s vibe, too. WT3WD spent days tweaking the game’s lighting, chasing the “magnificent” illumination and “beautiful” clouds of the first E3 demo. “Many claim that the colours are better now,” WT3WD says. “That there is no more neon blue, that [it] no longer tires the eyes and yes, they even said that they are thankful for having removed the yellow piss colour.”

Cyberpunk 2077 mods

As NexusMods’ catalogue of Cyberpunk E3 fixes has grown, others have been inspired by the sense of contributing to a greater community effort. Joell560 refashioned the feminine V clothes shown in early demo footage of the game – replete with belt chain from the glory days of nu-metal – to the tune of 12,345 downloads. “I thought with all those mods together, you could have some sort of E3 experience,” Joel says. “Seeing the response to the mod and having others collaborate on it, I knew I had made the right decision.”

Cyberpunk 2077 mods

It’s important to note that there’s no community consensus on what the final Cyberpunk is missing. Some of the modders I spoke to complained of missing features like wall running and hacking into NPCs – both of which were shown in early footage – or a dearth of branching choices. Others had more granular concerns, like the inability to get an in-game haircut, or lighting that doesn’t vary enough between regions. One spoke of an elusive “soul” that was absent. “What we ended up with is a husk of a greater game that is now sadly lost to time,” Crazy says.

On the whole, however, the Cyberpunk modders I interviewed liked the game. Some are even optimistic about its future. “I am completely positive that CD Projekt Red can turn the criticism of the game and its stigma of being a ‘buggy mess’ around by listening to their audience,” Spookie says. “By actually fixing the game, as they have done so far, and releasing significant and high quality storyline/gameplay content that will satisfy that hunger for more.”

Cyberpunk 2077 mods

“We will have to wait until CDPR release the free DLC and expansions they have proposed to see if they can restore some of the content they had showcased,” says TheArcaneEagle, who restored a pink tank top shown in the E3 2018 demo that has been downloaded 4,726 times. “Right now, modders seem to be two steps ahead of them in delivering some crucial fixes that should’ve been there from launch.”

In the past, overambitious E3 demos have driven powerful backlashes that developers have had to weather for years afterwards. But any such impulse in the Cyberpunk modding community has been tempered by better understanding of precisely what an E3 demo is. More than one of the modders I spoke to realised early that Cyberpunk’s presentations were likely vertical slices representing CD Projekt’s aims, rather than a true picture of the game in its entirety.

“I think that a lot of people were expecting something different from what we received at retail, that the E3 version was real and they were lied to,” Joel says. “But in reality it was only there to generate hype for an upcoming release. I could say there was some wasted potential but with a game this size, something is definitely going to be missed.”

Cyberpunk 2077 mods

“The E3 versions always show games in their best light because they are intended to create interest in the game,” TheArcaneEagle adds. “By now, nobody should be surprised when it’s drastically different at launch for whatever reason. At the same time, it’s always hard to look back at what was shown and realise what could have been, so I can’t blame players for wanting to play the E3 version if certain elements can be restored.”

Perhaps modders are, by their nature, pragmatists – people determined to make the best of what they have. And if the Cyberpunk journey has taught them to reduce their expectations, it’s a useful lesson they can apply to their own work.

“I do see why people would like to play the ‘E3 Version’ but it doesn’t exist,” Joel says. “All that’s left is some unused files in the archives that modders have put to use.”

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Sea of Thieves Poor Dougie’s Medallion and Treasure guide: How to earn Raising the Dead and Ship of Thieves

Posted on July 2, 2021 by

Sea of Thieves Poor Dougie’s Medallion is part of the Poor Dougie questline that unlocks two new commendations. It also dovetails with the Captain Bones Special Recipe quest, but you’ll want to start Dougie’s story first for simplicity. Completing this short quest line earns you two commendations plus a generous amount of gold, so it’s well worth your time.

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Sea of Thieves Poor Dougie’s Key: Starting Poor Dougie’s quest

You’ll start Sea of Thieves Poor Dougie’s quest in Sailor’s Grave. Take the left path under the captain in the cage, and make your way toward the lighthouse. At the tavern ship’s aft is a map table. You can light the candle to reveal a group of ghost pirates and spot generally where Dougie’s treasure is supposed to be (or you can just keep reading this).

Turn right and face away from the spectral treasure hunters. You’ll see a large shipwreck shaped like a rib cage and some glowing candles to its left. Head to the candles to find several piles of gold. You can’t do anything with this gold. Instead, follow the trail of coins under the docks, and dig in the spot where the coins stop.

Up pops Poor Dougie, who has Dougie’s key around his neck and charges you with finding his lost treasure.

Sea of Thieves Poor Dougie’s Chest location

Go back toward the tavern, and take the left path that leads to the chess-playing skeletons. There’s a small pointed rock that indicates where Dougie’s Chest is. Dig it up and cart it back to Dougie. The chest contains Poor Dougie’s Medallion.

Sea of Thieves Poor Dougie’s Medallion

If you haven’t completed the Powerful Thirst quest yet, do it now. You’ll need to be right at the end to make use of the Sea of Thieves poor Dougie’s medallion item. After the thirsty skeleton’s head explodes, don’t put the Cursed Captain’s head on just yet. Instead, place Poor Dougie’s Medallion on the table when asked to do so, and then put the Captain’s skull on the headless skeleton.

Sea of Thieves Poor Dougie’s Treasure

Once the game ends, take your shiny new key to the locked ship near the pulley elevator you used to get the Captain Bones drink. With the door unlocked, you’ll get the Ship of Thieves commendation and plenty of gold for future swashbuckling.

That wraps up the Sea of Thieves Poor Dougie’s quest. If you’re looking for more tips on getting all the Pirate’s Life commendations, though, check out our Dark Brethren journals guide and how to get the Chest of Everlasting Sorrow.

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Monster Hunter Stories 2 will have plenty of post-release content to keep you busy

Posted on July 2, 2021 by

Monster Hunter Stories 2 releases soon, and Capcom has outlined what its plans are for the game post-release.

Capcom promised last month it would share more details on post-release content for Monster Hunter Stories 2, and today it delivered.

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One week after release on July 15, the Palamute from Monster Hunter Rise will join the game as a Monstie. The Palamute will join you in battle and will be sporting its Kamura Armor and packing the Canyne Kamura Blade. You can also ride it outside of battle just like in Monster Hunter Rise.

August 5 will see the release of the second update which sees the arrival of the Mother Goddess of Gold, Kulve Taroth. Coming from Monster Hunter: World, Kulve Taroth will be the target of a co-op quest. You won’t be able to raise her as a Monstie, but if you beat her, you will get some nice equipment for your trouble.

That same update will include the Hellblade Glavenus and Boltreaver Astalo, the Deviant Monsters from Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate. These can be raised as Monsties.

In September, two more updates will arrive. One will feature the Deviant Monsters Soulseer Mizutsune and Elderfrost Gammoth, in addition to the subspecies Oroshi Kirin. The second September update will add high difficulty for Kulve Taroth quests, and it will also include the Deviant monster Dreadking Rathalos and the rare Molten Tigrex.

Finally, in October, Silver Rathalos and Gold Rathian will join the game as Monsties. Another co-op quest will also be added where you and a friend will be able to take on a High Difficulty Monster to be announced.

Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin will be released on PC and Switch July 9.

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