Friday, November 22, 2019

Virtual reality’s best experiences and biggest (teleportation) steps in 2017

Enlarge / The three big home-VR dogs face off for another great year of software.Ars Technica reader comments 71 Share this story If 2016 was the year that true home-VR systems arrived, 2017 may be best described as the year that they didn't die. Backhanded as that may sound, this compliment is indeed sincere. In spite of a lack of major, industry-changing hardware arriving, virtual reality games and apps continue to be produced, and aging headsets continue to sell (thanks, in part, to dropping prices and cheaper compatible computers). As a result, the year in VR was less about holy-cow-wow innovations and more about smarter, more-compelling VR content finding its way to system owners. And with more users, true VR multiplayer is starting to emerge, which means it's getting a little less lonely inside of these headsets. In the end, the best VR content stands out for delivering experiences that are altogether impossible on flat screens, and that rule guides my picks for the b..

Big titles must wait as Nintendo pushes back 64GB Switch game...

EnlargeMark Walton reader comments 105 Share this story Those wishing for 64GB Nintendo Switch game cards will have to keep waiting. According to a Wall Street Journal report, Nintendo pushed back the rollout of 64GB game cards until 2019, citing "technical issues" as the problem. Game developers get Switch cards from Nintendo, so this means that they'll have to wait to get game cards that can support big titles. Further ReadingL.A. Noire is too big to download to a standard Switch Currently, Switch devices have 32GB of internal storage; however, it comes out to about 26GB of usable space, as a portion is reserved for system software. Switch game cards currently support 32GB of storage, and they're able to easily hold games like Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Nintendo planned to release 64GB game cards in the second half of 2018 to support larger games, but it appears those cards won't be ready for another full year or more. Some big t..

Hello Neighbor is among the worst games of 2017

Enlarge / There isn't much obvious rhyme or reason to the game's puzzles, which turn a 10-minute level into an hour-long affair. reader comments 153 Share this story Game detailsDeveloper: Dynamic Pixel Publisher: TinyBuild Platform: Windows, Mac, Xbox One Release Date: Dec. 8, 2017 ESRB Rating: E-10+ Price: $30 Links: Steam | Official website Hello Neighbor won’t be the very last game I review this year. I can only pray that it will be the worst. As of now, the first-person stealth puzzler is the worst game I can remember covering in a long time. That’s a shame, because the premise is promising enough. It’s like a suburban take on Rear Window set in the world of Psychonauts’ Milkman Conspiracy. Empty, twisted cookie-cutter houses embody a cartoonish paranoia. The player character, a young boy presumably native to the breezy street where the game takes place, sees something he shouldn’t. His titular neighbor has shoved a shrieking somebody (or something) into his basement. I..

There’s still time to donate for a chance to win our...

In addition to that sweet mixtape, here are just some of the prizes you could win by entering this year’s sweepstakes. reader comments 3 Share this story Further ReadingEnter for a chance to win games, hardware, and more in the 2017 Ars Charity DriveAs we transition from the Christmas season to the New Year's season, more than 300 Ars readers have already teamed up to give nearly $19,000 to the EFF and/or Child's Play in this year's Ars Technica Charity Drive Sweepstakes. That means we're still a long way off from the more than $38,000 we raised last year. Luckily for those charities, there's still time for our readers to dig deep and set a new giving record for the site. Luckily for you, that also means you still have time to get an entry in for a chance to win a piece of our massive pile o' swag, which we can't keep anyway (no purchase necessary for entry). If you haven't had a chance to give yet, follow the instructions below to get your don..

Life is Strange: Before the Storm review: The path to tragedy

Enlarge / Life is also very sad. reader comments 11 Share this story Game detailsDeveloper: Deck Nine Publisher: Square Enix Platform: Windows (reviewed), PS4, Xbox One Release Date: December 20, 2017 (final episode) ESRB Rating: M for Mature Price: $17 Links: Steam | Official websiteLife is Strange: Before the Storm began with the unenviable job of acting as a prologue to a very self-contained story. The first season of the episodic adventure series closed out the story of Chloe Price and Max Caulfield with two possible conclusions. So when Before the Storm promised to focus on the very different friendship between Chloe and Rachel Amber—a character that’s mostly only talked about in the first game—I had my doubts. Further ReadingLife Is Strange: Before the Storm—Episode One review: Going backThankfully, the first of Before the Storm’s three episodes nailed the approach. Chloe and Rachel might not get as much time on-screen together as the main season’s duo, but their relationship sta..

The Woman Who Smashed Codes: Your new winter reading assignment

EnlargeCyrus Farivar reader comments 9 Share this story SynopsisThe Woman Who Smashed Codes, released on September 26, 2017, is the riveting story of Elizebeth Smith Friedman, a largely forgotten woman who helped propel the United States into defeating its enemies with not only brawn, but brains as well.I’ve never read such a gripping book about spies that opens with the hopeful words: “This is a love story.” Over the course of its hundreds of pages, The Woman Who Smashed Codes by Jason Fagone is damned-near impossible to put down. The book has everything: thrills, chills, kills, love, crypto, and a hopeful sense that a nearly forgotten American genius, Elizebeth Smith Friedman, is finally being given her due. In the book’s opening pages, Fagone, a journalist now at the San Francisco Chronicle, describes how he came upon a trove of Friedman’s papers in a Virginia library that contained not only technical notes, but “love letters. Letters to her kids written in code. Handwritten diari..

10 excellent comics that flew under the radar in 2017

Enlarge / Super Sons is actually about Super Pets. And that’s a good thing.DC Comics reader comments 22 Share this story Comic book news this year was dominated by which major characters from DC and Marvel died, which turned evil, and which did one and then the other. Big events are a lot of fun and give us a chance to see iconic characters in new ways, but it’s also worth taking a look at the smaller-but-still-awesome stuff going on in comics. Here are some of the one-shots, the less widely promoted series, and the just-plain-weird comics that you might have missed during the last year. EnlargeImage Comics 1. Redlands Redlands, Florida, is a small town with no shortage of darkness. Whether more of that darkness comes from the coven of witches trying to take control of the community or the conduct of the ordinary citizenry is for you to decide. This horror comic starts out with a siege on the town’s police station that leaves the reader unsure of who is more frightening but with littl..

Ever wondered what 1975’s The Star Wars would have looked like?

Enlarge / Original sketches of Imperial Storm Troopers by artist Ralph McQuarrie.Spencer Platt/Getty Images reader comments 65 Share this story Relax, this post contains no spoilers. While most Star Wars articles you'll see this week are focused on the soon-to-be-revealed adventures of Finn, Rey, Poe, and BB-8, today we've got a blast from the past to share with you—sort of. As any self-respecting nerd will tell you, the whole look-and-feel of the Star Wars universe owes a lot to Ralph McQuarrie. In 1975, George Lucas hired the conceptual artist to create the characters and worlds that then only existed on the pages of his scripts. So McQuarrie's paintbrush created the first images of C-3PO, R2-D2, Darth Vader, stormtroopers, and others, not to mention all those TIE fighters, X-Wings, and Y-Wings. His paintings and concept art heavily informed Lucas' filmmaking, and the director reproduced many of McQuarrie's pieces in Star Wars. But quite a lot changed betwee..

T-Mobile promises to end the “complete bulls—t” from TV companies in...

Enlarge reader comments 150 Share this story T-Mobile CEO John Legere announced today that the mobile phone operator intends to acquire TV service Layer3 TV and next year offer a TV service that lets you watch "what you want, when you want, where you want" without the "complete bullshit"—contracts, forced bundles, and promotional pricing that expires after a year—that typifies the services coming from traditional cable TV providers. Layer3 TV brands itself as "The New Cable." It currently operates in only a handful of markets, offering access to a wide range of HD and 4K channels (more than 275 in total), streamed using the highly efficient H.265 (also known as HEVC) video codec and a custom set-top box. It's a pure IP service—there's no tuner in the box, and it will connect over Wi-Fi—and to support it, Layer3 has built out a fiber distribution network and data center in Denver that handles transcoding shows into HEVC. It also has partnerships with Internet providers to pro..

Disney to buy part of 21st Century Fox for $52 billion

Enlarge20th Century Fox reader comments 218 Share this story Disney announced today that it will acquire a huge portion of 21st Century Fox in an all-stock deal valued at $52.4 billion. As part of the deal, Disney will own 21st Century Fox's film and television studios, some of its cable networks, and international TV businesses, as well as popular titles including The Simpsons, X-Men, and Avatar. The deal represents a huge shift in content ownership in Hollywood, giving Disney even more titles, characters, and stories to build upon across all its existing properties and any new services the company debuts in the future. Further ReadingDisney to give Netflix the white-gloved Mickey middle finger in 2019 Disney did not acquire all of 21st Century Fox—the deal focuses on the company's entertainment businesses. 21st Century Fox announced plans to spin off its news and sports broadcasting businesses into a new company dubbed "Fox." This company will focus on news and sports and ..

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