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Computing

Nvidia’s RTX 4000 get new specs, and it’s not all good news

Nvidia’s upcoming Ada Lovelace graphics cards just received a new set of rumored specifications, and this time around, it’s a bit of a mixed bag.

While the news is good for one of the GPUs, the RTX 4070 actually received a cut when it comes to its specs — but the leaker says this won’t translate to a cheaper price.

And TBP, 450/420?/300W.

— kopite7kimi (@kopite7kimi) June 23, 2022

The information comes from kopite7kimi, a well-recognized name when it comes to PC hardware leaks, who has just revealed an update to the specifications of the RTX 4090, RTX 4080, and the RTX 4070. While we’ve already heard previous whispers about the specs of the RTX 4090 and the RTX 4070, this is the first time we’re getting predictions about the specs of the RTX 4080.

Let’s start with the good news. If this rumor is true, the flagship RTX 4090 seems to have received a slight bump in the core count. The previously reported number was 16,128 CUDA cores, and this has now gone up to 16,384 cores, which translates to an upgrade from 126 streaming multiprocessors (SMs) to 128. As for the rest of the specs, they remain unchanged — the current expectation is that the GPU will get 24GB of GDDR6X memory across a 384-bit memory bus, as well as 21Gbps bandwidth.

The RTX 4090 includes the AD102 GPU, which maxes out at 144 SMs, but it seems unlikely that the RTX 4090 itself will ever reach such heights. The full version of the AD102 GPU is probably going to be found in an even better graphics card, be it a Titan or simply an RTX 4090 Ti. It’s also rumored to have monstrous power requirements. This time around, kopite7kimi didn’t reveal anything new about that card, and as of now, we still don’t know for a fact that it even exists.

Moving on to the RTX 4080 with the AD103 GPU, it’s said to come with 10,240 CUDA cores and 16GB of memory. However, according to kopite7kimi, it would rely on GDDR6 memory as opposed to GDDR6X. Seeing as the leaker predicts it to be 18Gbps, that would actually make it slower than the RTX 3080 with its 19Gbps memory. The core count is exactly the same as in the RTX 3080 Ti. So far, this GPU doesn’t sound very impressive, but it’s said to come with a much larger L2 cache that could potentially offer an upgrade in its gaming performance versus its predecessors.

Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

When it comes to the RTX 4070, the GPU was previously rumored to come with 12GB of memory, but now, kopite7kimi predicts just 10GB across a 160-bit memory bus. It’s said to offer 7,168 CUDA cores. While it’s certainly an upgrade over the RTX 3070, it might not quite be the generational leap some users are hoping for. It’s also supposedly not going to receive a price discount based on the reduction in specs, but we still don’t know the MSRP of this GPU, so it’s hard to judge its value.

Lastly, the leaker delivered an update on the power requirements of the GPUs, which have certainly been the subject of much speculation over the last few months. The predicted TBP for the RTX 4090 is 450 watts. It’s 420 watts for the RTX 4080 and 300 watts for the RTX 4070. Those numbers are a lot more conservative than the 600 watts (and above) that we’ve seen floating around.

What does all of this mean for us — the end-users of the upcoming RTX 40-series GPUs? Not too much just yet. The specifications may yet change, and although kopite7kimi has a proven track record, they could be wrong about the specs, too. However, as things stand now, only the RTX 4090 seems to mark a huge upgrade over its predecessor while the other two are a much more modest change. It remains to be seen whether the pricing will reflect that or not.

Editors’ Choice




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AI

Microsoft AI news: Making AI easier, simpler, more responsible

We are excited to bring Transform 2022 back in-person July 19 and virtually July 20 – 28. Join AI and data leaders for insightful talks and exciting networking opportunities. Register today!


Today is a big day for AI announcements from Microsoft, both from this week’s Build conference and beyond. 

But one common theme bubbles over consistently: For AI to become more useful for business applications, it needs to be easier, simpler, more explainable, more accessible and, most of all, responsible

Microsoft works to makes responsible AI easier to understand

Responsible AI is actually at the heart of a lot of today’s Build news, John Montgomery, corporate vice president of Azure AI, told VentureBeat. Most notable is Azure Machine Learning’s preview of a responsible AI dashboard, which brings together capabilities in use over the past 18 months, such as data explorer, model interpretability, error analysis, counterfactual and causal inference analysis, into a single view. 

Azure Machine Learning will also now offer a responsible AI “scorecard” in preview to summarize model performance and insights so that all stakeholders can easily participate in compliance reviews. 

“The question was how to make AI work more accessibly and easier to understand,” said Montgomery. “Users need to create something compliance officers can leverage.” The responsible AI dashboard and scorecard provides a “very straightforward set of visualizations, a wizard-driven flow that makes it easier for people with less data science experience to use these tools and export the scorecard into a PDF.” 

UK’s National Health Service uses Azure’s responsible AI dashboard

For example, a team of medical professionals at one of the largest National Health Service trusts in the UK is exploring how AI could help reduce waiting times, support recommendations from healthcare teams and provide patients with better information so they can make more informed decisions about their own care. Two orthopedic surgeons developed an AI model to help consultants give their patients a personalized risk assessment of upcoming hip or knee operations. 

The model is hosted in Microsoft’s Azure cloud and uses the responsible AI dashboard in Azure Machine Learning. Medical professionals can see how the model works and get a clearer understanding of why the AI has reached those conclusions. This boosts confidence that their advice to patients is based on accurate and reliable data.

“Machine learning models are kind of a dark art, so a data scientist can explain to another data scientists why they behave a certain way, but you need to be able to explain to business owners, CEOs, auditors and compliance teams – that’s where the responsible AI tooling comes in, to help explain why models are making the decisions they’re making,” said Montgomery. “That’s the direction we’re heading in.” 

Making developers’ lives easier with AI 

At Microsoft Build, Microsoft’s chief technology officer, Kevin Scott, also highlighted how AI-powered software development tools are allowing developers to build software using natural, everyday language, by translating natural language into the programming languages that computers understand. 

“That’s a fundamentally different way of thinking about development than we’ve had since the beginning of software,” Scott said. Microsoft highlighted this paradigm shift as driven by Codex, a machine learning model from AI research and development company OpenAI that can translate natural language commands into code in more than a dozen programming languages. 

Codex descended from GPT-3, OpenAI’s natural language model that was trained on petabytes of language data from the internet. According to Scott, the increase in productivity that Codex brings to software development is a game changer, allowing developers to “accomplish many tasks in two minutes that previously took two hours.”  

At Build, Microsoft also highlighted AI-powered low code and no code tools such as those available through Microsoft Power Platform, which they said: “are poised to enable billions of people to develop the software applications that they need to solve their unique problems, from an audiologist digitizing simple paper forms to transform hearing loss prevention in Australia to a tool that relieves the burden of manual data-entry work from employees of a family-owned business and an enterprise-grade solution that processes billions of dollars of COVID-19 loan forgiveness claims for small businesses.” 

According to Charles Lamanna, Microsoft corporate vice president of business applications and platform, if you work with formulas in Excel, you can build AI-powered software applications. 

“The hundreds of millions of people who are comfortable working with formulas in Microsoft Excel could easily bring these skills into Power Platform, where they can build these types of software applications,” he said.  

More mainstream moves from Hugging Face with Microsoft partnership

In other Microsoft news, today Hugging Face — which recently announced a $2 billion valuation thanks to its rising status as the main repository for all things related to machine learning models — continued its march to the mainstream with an announcement of a new collaboration with Microsoft that makes the Hugging Face machine learning platform accessible to Microsoft Azure customers.

A new service, Hugging Face Endpoints on Azure, makes Hugging Face models, according to the company, “simple,” “scalable” and “secure.” 

“We’re deepening our partnership with Microsoft and offering this new service which is a very easy way for people to turn their Hugging Face model into a scalable, secure production that lives within their own Azure tenancy,” Jeff Boudier, product director at Hugging Face, told VentureBeat. “We’re really providing the last mile of the machine learning development cycle.” 

Machine learning projects, he pointed out, especially in the enterprise, have low completion rates – 80% never make it into production. They also take months to complete. According to Boudier, with “a few clicks” and “10-20 minutes” developers can “have an endpoint running within your own Azure environment that’s compliant with everything within your company.” Hugging Face hopes that this can turn 20% completion rates into 80% completion rates, and three to four months of delays into a finished effort in less than half an hour. 

“Companies have been reinventing the wheel and scratching their heads on the same sort of pain points about what kind of instance can I fit this model in? How many replicas? How do I scale this?” said Boudier. “We’re making that so simple that the machine learning engineer can go all the way to production.” 

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Computing

Nvidia Finally Has Good News on the GPU Shortage in 2022

The current graphics card shortage has made it tough to be a PC gamer. However, Nvidia thinks there is a light at the end of the shortage tunnel. The company expects supplies to improve by the middle of 2022.

Nvidia Chief Financial Officer Colette Kress explained at the UBS Global TMT conference that the company has been successful in increasing GPU supplies during the shortage, according to PCMag. Specifically, Nvidia spent billions to shore up long-term agreements with various manufacturers. This due diligence should lead to more supplies to make graphics cards, thus decreasing the overall shortage.

Nvidia wants to wait until there is a “reasonable amount of supply” to lower prices.

“The company as a whole will take the appropriate work to continue to procure more supply,” Kress said. “We’ve been able to grow quite well during this year, each quarter, sequentially growing. And we do continue to plan to do that for Q4.”

Kress didn’t say exactly which manufacturers Nvidia made deals with, but Samsung is a likely one due to Nvidia’s Ampere architecture being built on its 8mn process nodes. Cress did point out that long-term deals take a while to have an impact. While the company would love to lower the prices, she said Nvidia wants to wait until there is a “reasonable amount of supply” to do that.

Time will tell if Nvidia is able to truly alleviate supply issues next year. Even Nvidia’s own CEO, Jensen Huang, believes that shortages will continue through next year. That said, Huang has extolled his company’s ability to source supplies from multiple vendors, combined with its ability to scale.

Outside of savvy partnerships with fabs, Nvidia is also trying to push the U.S. government for policy actions. Nvidia, along with other tech companies, are asking the Biden administration to exclude graphics cards from the former Trump administration’s tariffs on imports from China. The tariffs on semiconductors and printed circuit boards (PCBs) have at least partially contributed to the sky-high prices of graphics cards.

One of the ongoing problems with the shortage is with scalpers and cryptominers. About 25% of all GPUs sold during the first half of 2021 went to miners. Even if Nvidia manages to increase its supply, that doesn’t guarantee that scalpers and miners won’t scoop up the extra supply. Nvidia’s next-gen “Lovelace” graphics cards look to possess insane power, but it won’t matter if they’re just as scarce as the current-gen Ampere cards.

Editors’ Choice




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Game

Pokémon Legends Arceus Release Date, Trailer, News, and More

Every generation of main-series Pokémon games brings something new to the table — a slew of regional Pokémon to add to your team, fresh faces in the gyms and Elite Four, and sometimes innovative elements and style changes like Pokémon Sword and Shield‘s Wild Areas and Dynamaxing. But from what we’ve seen so far, Pokémon Legends: Arceus is set to deviate from the standard Pokémon game mold and give players an entirely unique Pokémon training experience.

Set for an early 2022 release, Pokémon Legends: Arceus is being pitched as a “new approach for the Pokémon video game series.” Players will be returning to the Sinnoh region from the Pokémon Diamond and Pokémon Pearl games, but long before the events of those titles. Borrowing elements from Nintendo’s ultra-popular Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the game appears to be an open-world adventure with more opportunities for exploration than past Pokémon titles.

While official details for the game are limited to an announcement trailer and a few additional notes from Nintendo, there’s a lot to unpack and plenty of interesting fan speculation on what this new Pokémon adventure will look like. Here’s everything we know about Pokémon Legends: Arceus so far.

Further reading

Release date

Pokémon Legends: Arceus will be released on January 28.

This will be just a couple of months after Nintendo released Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Pokémon Shining Pearl on November 19, making for a very exciting combination of releases for Pokémon trainers.

Platforms

A Trainer speaks with his Bidoof.

Pokémon Legends: Arceus will be released exclusively for Nintendo Switch.

Trailer

The first trailer kicks off with a narrator explaining that the events of Pokémon Legends: Arceus take place “a long, long time ago when the Sinnoh region was still only a vast wilderness.” Cut to a Breath of the Wild-style scenic view and wild Pokémon roaming the landscape uninhibited, much like they do in New Pokémon Snap.

It appears that catching wild Pokémon is going to look very different — players will be able to hunt packs of Pokémon down from a third-person perspective and throw Pokéballs at potential catches in real time as opposed to the turn-based battling sequences in other installments. It looks like battles with wild Pokémon will take place without jetting to a separate battle screen as well.

Instead of a new trio of starter Pokémon like the average game kickoff, it appears the starters in Pokémon Legends: Arceus will be a mix of starters from previous generations — Rowlet, Cyndaquil, or Oshawott will be this game’s starters.

At the end of the trailer, the book the narrator is reading from is closed. Our view is filled with smoke for a moment before revealing the mythical Pokémon Arceus. End scene.

The trailer shown off at Nintendo’s August event started with a similarly cryptic message, this time stating, “This is a tale of a time long ago when the lives of humans and Pokémon were still separate.” Finally, we know the name of the region we will explore, which is called the Hisui region and will eventually become the Sinnoh region in the future. We are then shown a variety of locations and Pokémon, including fields, snowy vistas, and moonlit forests before seeing our first real look at civilization. This town, Jubilee village, which is very much inspired by historical Japanese architecture, appears to be full of characters we will be able to interact with from the Galaxy Expedition team, composed of a Medical corp, Security corp, and Survey corp led by Cullen.

Our resident professor this time around is Professor Laventon, who studies Pokémon ecology and will provide you with your very first Pokémon. The Galaxy Expedition team is led by Kamado, who will recruit you as a member.

The latest trailer, and possibly the last, shows off a lot more of the gameplay we’ll experience in Pokémon Legends: Arceus. However, it also introduces us to several Wardens that will apparently protect special Pokémon. Mai is the first, who is partnered with a Munchlax that she describes as being almost like a sibling. Iscan appears to be a more casual and perhaps lazy Warden, and Lian is having trouble getting close to a rampaging Kleavor. Arezu seems to be fond of fashion but is also eager to learn more from your trainer.

Jubilife Village is going to be what your main hometown is called and is where you’ll be able to change your character’s appearance, shop, and craft, plus take pictures.

Pokémon nobles were also introduced in this trailer. These are “frenzied” Pokémon with unique names that look to serve as boss encounters of sorts. The one shown off was Lord of the Woods Kleavor, as an example. This is a brand new evolution of Scyther.

Gameplay

With previous Pokémon installments, we’ve been able to successfully assume what the plot will look like — you start off in a small town and build your Pokémon squad as you take on the gym leader challenge and eventually the Elite Four while fighting some sort of criminal organization, your rival, and plenty of trainers in between. There are even new Noble Pokémon to capture.

We know that the game will revolve around creating the region’s first Pokédex, a task likely given to you by a yet-to-be-named Pokémon professor. Will there be any sort of gym challenge? We’re not sure.

From previously established Pokémon lore, we know that Arceus is thought to have created the Sinnoh region and possibly the entire Pokémon world; the lake guardians Uxie, Azelf, and Mesprit; and the creation trio Dialga, Palkia, and Giratina. It is thought to be one of the oldest Pokémon around. Where we fit into Arceus’ timeline in this game is completely unclear, but we’re very excited to find out.

We initially got the impression that this would be a fully open-world game, however it has been clarified that it will be more hub-based. The team even directly compared it to how the Monster Hunter games worked, where you will go to a specific hub to complete different excursions you accept. Once done, you will need to go back to turn in the task and take on another.

The basics of Pokémon games have also been upended in this game. We see our trainer sneaking up on Pokémon through tall grass and capturing them with Poké Balls from a distance without doing battle. Some may flee when they spot you, others attack, and some simply can’t be caught without a fight. However, battles still certainly exist, as throwing a Poké Ball near an enemy Pokémon will trigger a traditional turn-based fight on the field where you will have the chance to capture your target.

While the turn-based style remains, a few new battle features have been added, such as a turn order on the right side of the screen. Instead of taking turns, some Pokémon are faster and can get multiple turns before others, so pay close attention to the action order. You can influence the order by choosing to use any move in either strong style, which is stronger but slower, or agile style, which is weaker but faster.

A Pokémon trainer flies under a bird Pokémon in Pokémon Legends: Arceus.

Aside from running and rolling across the land, you will also be able to fly with the help of your Pokémon. Using a hang glider apparatus, your trainer can be carried through the air or ride through oceans and rivers and even along the ground itself, with the help of different ridable Pokémon. Considering the scale of the world we’ve been shown, this will likely be a major feature for getting around.

Base camps will be where you can stock up on supplies, such as Poké Balls, while out in the field, or even craft your own with materials you gather in the world. Resting at a base camp will also heal your party of Pokémon who have taken damage in battle.

Jubilife Village is your hub and where you can do a lot of preparatory tasks. Aside from a huge range of customization options for your character, including hair styles and dozens of outfits ranging from sophisticated suits to traditional Japanese outfits, you can also use different materials and ingredients to craft items like potions.

There will also be a photography studio of sorts where you can strike different poses with any of your Pokémon, hopefully with the ability to save and share them with friends.

Alpha and noble Pokémon will also be new and unique encounters in the wild. These are two different types of very dangerous Pokémon. Alphas are described as being far bigger than typical Pokémon, with red eyes, and are extremely aggressive. Noble Pokémon, on the other hand, are said to be granted some sort of “mysterious blessing” that grant them unique skills. They aren’t necessarily dangerous, though, as some may aid you, but others, like the one seen in the trailer, could be in a frenzy and attack on sight. Frenzied noble Pokémon appear to be one of the types of excursions you will be tasked with taking down.

Multiplayer

A trainer battles a wild Pokemon in Pokémon Legends: Arceus

There are no clear glimpses of multiplayer action in the announcement trailer, but every single main series Pokémon game so far has had the option for battling and trading with friends. We’re going to assume that Pokémon Legends: Arceus will include multiplayer action.

Usually, there are two versions of a game in every generation,  and trading Pokémon with other players was essential to filling out your Pokédex.

While there wasn’t anything included in the trailer that looks like the Wild Area from Pokémon Sword and Shield where players could mix, mingle, trade, and battle with ease, we’re hoping that there are similar elements built into this new game.

DLC

An Ursaring with red eyes in Pokémon Legends: Arceus.

There’s no word on DLC content yet since the game isn’t close to being released. Of course, Pokémon Sword and Shield saw two DLC expansions in The Isle of Armor and The Crown Tundra. These introduced players to new areas within the region, gave them access to new wild Pokémon, and unlocked cool multiplayer options.

Pre-order

Pokémon Legends: Arceus starters Rowlet, Cyndaquil, and Oshawott

You can pre-order Pokémon Legends: Arceus from several retailers. There hasn’t been any sort of bonus content announced for pre-ordering the game, but that could change as the release date draws near.

Pre-order from Amazon 

Pre-order from Best Buy

Pre-order from Gamestop

Pre-order from Nintendo

Editors’ Choice




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Game

PS5 restock bad news as Sony makes a tough call

It’s not a secret that the PlayStation 5 is an in-demand console. Nearly a year out from release, PlayStation 5 stock is still sparse to the point where restocks are highly contested events; mad scrambles where available stock is snatched up in minutes. There’s a global silicon shortage at the center of these stock issues, and while we’ve known that things probably won’t get better for a long time yet, today we’re learning of the direct impact the shortage is having on PS5 production.

Sony lowers its PS5 production forecast

As reported by Bloomberg, Sony has dropped its PS5 production forecast for the current fiscal year to 15 million units, down from 16 million. That’s not a huge drop in the grand scheme, but it’s enough to complicate things for Sony, which was hoping to sell 14.8 million PS5 units in the fiscal year and have some supply left over for the next.

With production estimates now down to 15 million – according to an anonymous source who spoke to Bloomberg – meeting that goal of 14.8 million units sold might be difficult even though consoles are seemingly selling as fast as they’re being produced. As Bloomberg points out, the PS5 had a strong start out of the gate, but now its sales pace has dropped below that of the PlayStation 4 because of these supply issues.

It seems like Sony’s manufacturing partners don’t anticipate this getting better any time soon either, with Bloomberg reporting that some of them believe PS5 supply will be limited throughout 2022. Even though a lot of us have been hoping that the silicon shortage and, by extension, hardware stock shortages would end soon, Sony’s partners aren’t alone in suggesting they could last well into next year.

Stock shortages at a crucial time

Of course, these stock shortages sting a little more when you remember that we’re about to enter the holiday shopping season. This is a major sales period for companies like Sony, and there are going to be a lot of consumers looking to buy consoles for the holidays. With Sony reportedly revising its production forecast for the rest of the year, PS5s could get even harder to find as we head into winter.

Sony isn’t the only one that’s been forced to revise production forecasts in the wake of the parts shortage. Earlier this month, Nintendo officially confirmed revisions to its own stock forecast, so we can likely expect Switch consoles to be in short supply during the holidays as well. The Xbox Series X has been equally as difficult to find as PS5, and just yesterday, Valve had to delay the launch of its incoming Steam Deck by two months to accommodate a shortage of materials.

In short: it’s going to be a sparse holiday season for consoles, so if you were hoping to buy one, it’s probably best to start seriously looking now. If you want to better your chances at getting one of these in-demand consoles, you can check our tips guide for securing one. Otherwise, we’ll let you know when these companies provide us an update on when they expect supply constraints to ease, but judging by all of the reports we’ve seen lately, we wouldn’t count on that happening anytime soon.

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Game

Marvel’s Midnight Suns: Release Date, Trailer, News, More

Marvel has never been bigger than it is now. Between the wildly successful MCU films, TV spinoffs, and some of their games, Marvel seems to be able to fit into just about any mold. Games have obviously had some rough patches between cheap movie tie-ins and the controversial games-as-a-service attempt with Marvel’s Avengers, but there’s no denying that there is just so much potential within that world for games of all kinds to be made. One rumor that began circulating, though, was somewhat unique, and yet it has now been revealed to be true … mostly.

Firaxis is known for their incredible revival of the XCOM series with last generation’s XCOM: Enemy Unknown and XCOM 2, as well as their expansions. These tactics games set the standard for the genre and paved the way for a small revival that we’re still seeing today with the likes of Gears: Tactics and even Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. Now this team has its sights set on Marvel with Marvel’s Midnight Suns, which will be taking a more tactical approach to gameplay and utilizing some characters not often given the spotlight. If you’re a little confused as to how a tactical superhero game will end up looking, here’s all the information we have so far on Marvel’s Midnight Suns.

Further reading

Release date

Revealed during 2021’s Gamescom presentation, a release window for Marvel’s Midnight Suns was set for March of 2022. However, it was recently announced that the game had been delayed. The creative director, Jake Solomon, made the announcement via the game’s official Twitter account. In it, he states that they “made the very tough decision to move our launch window to the second half of 2022. We know many fans were looking forward to playing the game originally next spring, and this decision did not come lightly. We decided to push our launch because we need more time to make this the best game possible.”

This delay means we won’t see Marvel’s Midnight Suns until July of 2022 at the earliest, though we anticipate it being more likely to hit in the fall.

Platforms

Wolverine in the Marvel's Midnight Suns trailer.

Firaxis was also able to tell us all the platforms the game will come to via the ending of the announcement trailer. Basically, if you have a console or PC of any kind, you will be able to play Marvel’s Midnight Suns when it launches for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, and PC. What differences there will be between versions, specifically last- and current-gen consoles, is still unknown, as well as how it will impact any multiplayer or crossplay potential.

Trailer

As of now, the reveal trailer is all that we have as far as footage for Marvel’s Midnight Suns, and while it has next to nothing in terms of gameplay, we can still learn a lot about what this game will be.

Marvel’s Midnight Suns will be a more supernatural-focused take on the superhero genre, and is something like a more magical-focused version of the Avengers, although we obviously see some of the big names from that team here as well, including Iron Man, Dr. Strange, and Captain America. The plotline will be notably darker than other Marvel media, with the main antagonistic force being the spawn of the underworld. Hydra has awoken the Mother of Demons, Lilith, from her long slumber, and she has begun her own quest to summon an even greater evil known as Chthon.

The Avengers turn to the titular team known as the Midnight Suns, made up of heroes with their own supernatural talents, to combat this occult threat. Their first act is to bring out a secret weapon of their own, Lilith’s own child known as the Hunter, who is the only one to have ever managed to defeat Lilith in the past. It looks, at least from the small bits we’ve seen, to be a fresh perspective for this franchise, and we’re excited to see if it can stick the landing.

Creative director Jake Solomon said in an interview, “From the very beginning, when we started working with Marvel, we knew that was the story we wanted to tell. We wanted to go to a corner of the Marvel Universe where we felt nobody else was at that moment, and it gave us our little space that we could tell our own story.”

We know that the Hunter will be our main character, as well as the fact that there will be 13 total members of the Midnight Suns, but only nine have been revealed so far in addition to the Hunter. These members include:

  • Captain Marvel
  • Captain America
  • Iron Man
  • Dr. Strange
  • Ghost Rider
  • Blade
  • Wolverine
  • Magik
  • Nico Minoru

The Hunter will be the primary character that you are able to fully customize. The trailer shows her off in what we assume is a default appearance that can be altered; however, it is unclear if you will be able to change her gender as well. This also is who you will take control of when exploring your base, The Abbey, in between missions. Here you will take control of the Hunter in a third-person perspective to interact with the other characters and build your bond.

Gameplay

Iron Man in the Marvel's Midnight Suns trailer.

The announcement had no actual gameplay in it, but did share that the gameplay debut trailer would be coming later. Until then, we do have some more in-depth information from the people at Firaxis, who cleared up some initial assumptions about what this game would be. First, and most importantly, this is not just an XCOM game with a Marvel skin put on top of it. While it is classified as a tactical RPG, the same genre as XCOM, the developers have been quick to clarify that it is not going to play the same.

Jake Solomon, in another interview, stated, “There are zero mechanics shared between XCOM and the Midnight Suns. You’re doing these very large moves, these epic moves, and so the mechanics are just completely different, which results in you still scratching the same itch because it is turn-based tactics combat where you’re controlling the team. But the fantasy is very different. And that means the mechanics are 100% different.”

While we feel that saying the game’s mechanics will be “100% different” is a bit of a stretch considering it will still be a tactical, turn-based, squad-focused game, the differences are important to set player expectations correctly. Teams will be led by the Hunter, who brings along three other heroes on each mission.

One big change to XCOM that we also learned of was the fact that the game will not have any permadeath function, which makes sense on several levels. One, because the cast is so limited that losing anyone would be a major blow mechanically, as well as in terms of story. It wouldn’t really fit well with a superhero game, and making you feel like you were in control of a team of them, if you were worried about Iron Man being killed off forever during a mission. Solomon added that “the bad guys are terrified of you” rather than how XCOM works where, more often than not, you’re the one who should be scared.

Each mission will allow you to pick three different heroes to join your character, and all the characters’ abilities are slotted in or out in the form of cards. The game will focus less on building up a strong team over time, and instead be more about strategizing what combinations of heroes and cards will work best for the mission at hand.

Between missions, players will spend time in a hub area called the Abbey. Here, you as the Hunter can go around and build relationships (not that kind) with all the different heroes through dialogue and even a system where you give them gifts. Apparently, not all the characters in Marvel’s Midnight Suns will initially get along, giving you the chance to build bonds with other heroes as well.

Multiplayer

The cast of Marvel Midnight Suns stands in a line-up.

Nothing has been said about whether this game will feature multiplayer, and from the looks of it, we doubt it will. Co-op wouldn’t make much sense in this style of game, and while XCOM was able to implement a competitive mode, we don’t see how it would work with this set cast of characters thematically. There could be some form of asynchronous multiplayer of some kind, maybe, but we don’t expect anything substantial in terms of playing with friends in Marvel’s Midnight Suns.

DLC

Lilith, Mother of Demons, in the Marvel's Midnight Suns trailer.

The XCOM games got some of the best DLC of their generation, so we know Firaxis knows how to expand upon their games. But, depending on the style this game takes, it may not make as much sense for Marvel’s Midnight Suns. If the game is more story-focused, then DLC would have to be a lot more considered from that perspective. Even just adding in new heroes may be a major effort if they are able to impact the story.

If DLC does come for this game, odds are it would be something of a stand-alone type, either completely separate from the main story, or perhaps taking place afterward, but that’s just speculation on our part. Firaxis hasn’t laid out any plans for post-launch content, and likely won’t until the game actually comes out. For now, we just have to wait and see.

Pre-order

The announcement gave us a release window, March of 2022, but no specific date or pre-order details. There are plenty more opportunities, such as the gameplay reveal and any future trailers, for that date to come. Pre-orders usually go live once a specific date is set, so once that happens we will update this article to fill you in on any of the pre-order editions there are, and where you can go to place that pre-order.

However, you can get yourself a special Nightstalker skin when the game launches if you sign up for their newsletters.

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Latest New World update has good news for broke players, bad news for gold sellers

Overnight, New World received its weekly update, and there were some big changes contained in this one. While we received the usual round of bug fixes, Amazon also implemented some changes concerning the gold cost of attribute respecs and the Azoth cost of weapon skill tree respecs, meaning that players should be able to change their builds much more frequently. In addition, Amazon detailed some measures it’s implementing to combat all of the gold sellers players have undoubtedly seen in chat.

New World update 1.0.5 changes

In its patch notes for update 1.0.5, Amazon dove right into a hot button topic among the New World player base: coin sellers. It seems that no matter the MMO, there will always be accounts looking to sell currency, and in New World it’s not any different. Amazon starts off by saying that it has banned and suspended many of the gold-selling accounts that players have been reporting.

The company will now also require that new accounts hit player level 10 before they can participate in player-to-player trades or make currency transfers. Accounts will also have to be older than 72 hours to do both of those things. In addition, Amazon has moved some gold rewards from early main story quests to later quests to avoid giving sellers an early way to grind out gold, and the Trading Post will no longer be accessible before new players accept the “Introduction to the Trading Post” quest.

While we wait to see if those changes have any noticeable effect on the number of gold sellers spamming the chat, this week’s patch also fixed a number of issues. First up is a fix for an item duplication bug that affected storage sheds and crafting stations, along with a fix for the gold duplication bug that sprouted up after Amazon disabled wealth transfers earlier this week.

In a rather huge change, Amazon announced that it has reduced attribute respec costs by 60%, while the Azoth cost for weapon respecs has been decreased by 75%. This is exciting news for players who like to switch builds frequently or, like the author of this article, can’t seem to decide on a weapon combo and stick with it for any length of time. The coin cost of chisels has also been reduced by up to 50%, though that depends on the tier. Sadly, players can no longer equip two of the same type weapon, so if you want to put both weapons slots to use, you’ll have to pick two distinct weapon types for them.

Amazon has also fixed issues affecting spell strike consistency, the resilient item perk (which reduced all damage instead of just critical hit damage), and group scaling passives for the Great Axe, Hatchet, and Warhammer. We’re also getting a number of fixes for Outpost Rush and a slate of general bug fixes, which you can read about over in the full patch notes.

Amazon talks present and future changes for New World

In addition to sending this patch live, Amazon also published a lengthy developer blog post in which it discussed many features, covered this recent patch, and talked about future changes that are on the way. The blog post can be found on the New World forums and is worth reading from beginning to end for anyone currently playing, but there are some things that stick out to us.

First, Amazon’s blog post includes a lengthy section on the economy and gold deflation, which has been a big concern for players. In short, Amazon says that the economy is “performing within acceptable levels,” but does acknowledge that the gold generated at level 60 – New World‘s level cap – does become more “narrow” than it is at earlier levels. Amazon says that the recent fix for tier IV and V Azoth Staffs and the reintroduction of Outpost Rush should help late-game players earn more gold, as those were intended to be end-game gold grinds.

Amazon also revealed a whopper of a change by confirming that all Trading Posts in the world will be linked, meaning you can buy any product from any Trading Post. Transaction taxes from the settlement you’re buying from will still apply, and expired items will be returned to the settlement where they were listed. This is a big change, and it should normalize prices while ensuring that you don’t need to travel to a central settlement just to buy things. In addition, Amazon will also be ramping up the coins gained from Expedition bosses, so expect more gold from your Expedition runs.

There’s a lot more contained within New World‘s latest dev blog, but these are among the biggest changes. Some of these changes are already in the game as of the most recent patch, while others will be coming with the month’s major release later on in November.

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The Nintendo Switch OLED shortage just got even worse news

If you’ve been having a difficult time finding the recently-released Nintendo Switch OLED, you definitely aren’t alone. It’s a tale we’re sure most are tired of hearing: global supply disruptions have made new hardware difficult to find, and the Switch OLED is not immune to the issue. In fact, a new report details the cuts Nintendo has had to make to its Switch sales forecast for its current fiscal year, and those cuts are significant.

Nintendo Switch production targets cut as OLED model launches

According to Nikkei Asia, Nintendo has been forced to cut its production targets by 20% for the 2021 fiscal year, ending in March 2022. Nintendo originally targeted 30 million unit sales for the fiscal year as a whole – an ambitious target for a platform that’s coming up on its 5th birthday, but obtainable given the Switch’s popularity. Now, Nintendo reportedly expects only to produce 24 million, a target that comes after earlier revisions to that initial goal.

Like every other company that makes consumer electronics, Nintendo is feeling the squeeze of the global semiconductor shortage prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Switch sales actually spiked at the beginning of the pandemic, as here in the US, states began implementing lockdowns right around the time that Animal Crossing: New Horizons launched for the platform.

The sudden interest in the Switch and gaming in general made Animal Crossing: New Horizons one of the best-selling games for the platform seemingly overnight, and it led to Switch shortages in the early days of the pandemic. Demand for the Switch remains strong, which is contributing to current stock shortages as well.

In a brief statement to Nikkei Asia, a Nintendo spokesperson suggested that the impact of these component shortages is still being determined, saying simply, “We are assessing their impact on our production.” Still, even if the decrease in production targets isn’t as bad as Nikkei’s report suggests it will be, component shortages are still a reality of the world we currently live in.

Nintendo is in good company

Of course, Nintendo isn’t alone in its struggle to secure components for new gaming hardware. However, it has good company in its current position, as Microsoft and Sony are grappling with the same issues and have been for quite some time. With the component shortage, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X consoles are still hard to find a year out from release.

While there are signs that the component shortage may be easing a little bit – for instance, the Xbox Series S is readily available in many places – manufacturers have indicated that we could be in this for the long haul as well. At best, it seems that the component shortage is expected to start getting better at some point in 2022, though we may not see noticeable improvement until we’re into 2023.

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Oculus announces GTA: San Andreas VR, teases big Beat Saber news

We were expecting some news about VR gaming today at Facebook Connect 2021, and that’s precisely what we got. Facebook made several announcements regarding games that are heading to Oculus VR, and while we may not expect a ton from a segment that often still feels like it’s just getting going, there were certainly surprises. If you’re a GTA or Beat Saber fan, then you’ll want to pay attention to today’s announcements.

That’s because leading Facebook’s announcements was the reveal of a VR version of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Sadly, we didn’t get to see any gameplay footage or even any screenshots; Facebook merely says that this game is in development at Rockstar for the Quest 2, and that the project is “many years in the making.” We’re going to have to wait for anything more substantial than that, though.

Beat Saber was also on the docket today, though unfortunately, specifics are slim there too. After looking back on 2021, Beat Games teased that it has “an amazing lineup of artists for 2022.” The company also said that it has one more announcement coming before the end of the year and teased that announcement with the trailer you see above. All we see in the trailer is a unique-looking saber with the words “Level Up!” so if you’re a Beat Saber player, take that as you will.

Facebook also shared a collection of updates on other games and developers, revealing that it’s partnering with Vertigo Games for five new titles. We don’t know what those games are, but one of them will be set in a “fan-favorite” game world from Deep Silver. In addition, the company announced that Blade & Sorcery: Nomad, which will be heading to Quest 2 later this year.

Blade & Sorcery: Nomad doesn’t seem to be a sequel to the original game – which launched for Oculus Rift in 2019 – but rather a standalone release for the Quest specifically. However, the idea will still be to provide a sandbox for players to experiment with various sorts of first-person combat, whether that’s melee with weapons like swords and axes, ranged with bows, or sorcery with magic. There’s been no specific release date announced yet, but Blade & Sorcery: Nomad should be here by the time we close the book on 2021.

Facebook – or, we should say, Meta – also announced a fitness accessory kit for Oculus Quest today. The fitness kit is straightforward and simple, as it includes grips for the controllers to keep them from flying across the room (not entirely unlike the strap on a Wii remote or Switch Joy-Con, though not exactly the same) and a face pad that’s easy to wipe down after a workout. We’ll see that launch later sometime next year.

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Meta is axing Oculus, but there’s good news too

Earlier today, Facebook revealed that it’s changing its name. Facebook, the corporation, will now be known as Meta. While Meta will continue to offer separate brands like Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, the company will no longer share its name with its most popular app offering. As it turns out, this restructuring isn’t just changing things at the corporate level, as Meta will also be retiring the Oculus brand.

Oculus, of course, is one of the biggest names in virtual reality, so this is a big move by Meta. In a post to his Facebook account today, Andrew Bosworth, Meta’s VP of AR/VR, revealed that the Oculus brand is going away, saying Meta wants to ensure that Quest is seen as a Meta product, which means unified branding.

“For this reason, we’re simplifying our brand architecture and shifting away from the Oculus brand,” Bosworth wrote. “Starting in early 2022, you’ll start to see the shift from Oculus Quest from Facebook to Meta Quest and Oculus App to Meta Quest App over time. We all have a strong attachment to the Oculus brand, and this was a difficult decision to make. While we’re retiring the name, I can assure that the original Oculus vision remains deeply embedded in how Meta will continue to drive mass adoption for VR today.”

Bosworth also made a more exciting announcement in his Facebook post, revealing that Meta will be removing the requirement to link Oculus headsets with Facebook accounts. Facebook started requiring that users link their headsets with a Facebook account with the Quest 2, and it was a decision that did not go over well with the Oculus faithful.

“As we’ve focused more on work, and as we’ve heard feedback from the VR community more broadly, we’re working on new ways to log into Quest that won’t require a Facebook account, landing sometime next year,” Bosworth added. “This is one of our highest priority areas of work internally.”

So, the Oculus brand will be going away, and while we’re guessing that some out there have mixed feelings about that change, there’s little doubt that the decision to stop forcing Facebook logins on Oculus hardware will be a welcomed one indeed. We’ll let you know when these changes begin showing up in the real world, so stay tuned for more.

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