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Google Stadia Pro Will Be Free For Two Months Starting Today

It seems that the free version of Google Stadia will be taking on a new form over the summer, as Google has announced that Stadia Pro will be free for everyone to try for the next two months.

Google Stadia initially launched in November 2019 – but the only way to try it was through purchasing an expensive Founders Edition, which came with three months of Stadia Pro and a Buddy Pass that could give Stadia Pro to someone else. Since then, Google has given out additional Buddy Passes and Stadia Pro subscriptions as part of other promotions. Google has been promising a free version of Stadia with fewer benefits that is supposed to launch this year, but it never gave a solid rollout date.

There are some caveats to using Stadia Pro at the moment. For one thing, you need a decent Internet speed when using the service, which is a tall ask, considering how the Internet is being hammered all over the world due to increased usage. Stadia can be used on any desktop PC that can handle a Chrome browser or on a supported mobile phone, but it can only be used on a TV with the Chromecasts that came with the Founders Edition. The player will also need a compatible mouse & keyboard or joypad, but pretty much any modern controller will work with the service.

The self-isolation period has led to shortages on video game consoles and prices for systems like the Nintendo Switch have skyrocketed on the second-hand market. There is no better time to make Stadia available around the world and to show off the features of the service.

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News

There Will Be More VALORANT Beta Drops

Over one million people logged on to Twitch on Friday to watch popular streamers replay their VALORANT gameplay footage, each hoping for a loot drop from Riot Games. Through Twitch, the VALORANT developers were granting access to the game’s closed beta, which is set to begin on April 7th. According to certain streamers, around 25,000 accounts were given access to the beta throughout Friday’s streaming event.

While many closed beta hopefuls were left wanting after Friday’s stream marathon, VALORANT Game Director Joe Ziegler assured fans there would be more coming. In a Tweet, Ziegler states, “For those of you who have access, congratulations! For those who haven’t by the end of the stream day, don’t be discouraged! A lot more drops are coming on when we go live April 7th and will continue to roll out following April 7th.”

To get access to the VALORANT closed beta, players were required to link their Riot account to their Twitch account and watch designated VALORANT streams throughout the day. According to former professional Counter-Strike player Jordan “n0thing” Gilbert, only 25,000 VALORANT beta keys were given out on April 3rd. The game reached over one million concurrent viewers across the eight-hour event, with multiple individual streams reaching 100,000+ viewers. It is currently unknown how many additional keys will be given out once the beta goes live.

If you didn’t get a Riot Games loot drop on Friday, rest assured that there will be other opportunities to gain access to the beta. More Riot accounts will be given access on April 7th, the beta’s launch day, and even more will be granted access afterwards. VALORANT is expected to fully launch this summer.

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You'll Soon Be Able To Compete In Pokémon Go Raid Battles From Your Home

Niantic continues to alter Pokémon Go to accommodate trainers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In a new blog post today, Niantic says its mission has been to “help people get outside, exercise, and explore the world, with the ultimate goal of helping people connect with others.” Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Niantic is adapting its vision in the coming days and weeks to accommodate players who are stuck indoors.

One of the big changes is letting trainers team up with friends to take on raids from their own homes. We don’t know exactly how this will work yet, but it should cut down on the unnecessary risk of people heading outdoors to a gym’s location to get a Pokémon they don’t want to miss out on.

Adventure Sync is receiving a tweak that will allow trainers to track steps indoors and on a treadmill. Niantic is also looking at ways that will allow players to “share memories about their favorite real-world places.” Lastly, Niantic is working on a new way to bring Pokémon Go Fest to players. More details on all of these things will be shared soon by Niantic.

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Naomi Campbell Can Never Be Too Careful

The 49-year-old supermodel, Naomi Campbell, revealed what her COVID-19 protection looks like. Her equipment consists of a white hazmat suit, goggles, blue rubber gloves, and a Burberry cape.

Some may think that Naomi is exaggerating, but she always makes sure that everything around her is clean and sterile, even before the Coronavirus outbreak.

The successful supermodel shared her flight routine during this new virus rapid and easy spread, on her YouTube channel.

In the video, Naomi had to fly from Los Angeles to New York just before the lockdown came into power, and she generously shared with her fans he preparation process for high protection.

Naomi confessed that she felt a little anxiety about possibly being exposed to COVID-19.

“I’m not going to lie to you and say I’m not nervous about taking this flight because I am,” she admits.

Campbell explained that she is a perfectionist when it comes to using things that many other people use and that she has been cleaning her seats on airplanes deeply for the last 15 years.

She is certainly not taking any chances to catch the Coronavirus and joked about her ensemble, calling it “a little dramatic.”

“I look kind of nice. I feel comfortable like this. I’ll put these gloves on in the car and then my lovely Burberry cape. This is it, this is my precaution,” Naomi clarified.

Just before going on her flight, the supermodel boosted her immune system with two shots of vitamin C to get the extra protection.


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Nintendo

Animal Crossing can be a competitive game, if you want it to be

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is an idyllic life simulator. I spend my mornings — before work, in case my boss is listening — with a routine: plucking fruit from trees, extracting ore from rocks, and digging up fossils for my ol’ pal Blathers. After work, I meet my friends to sell my fruit and check out their stores, inspecting what goods they’ve got that I can pick up for my own island.

It’s not a competitive game. It’s designed to be like a vacation, an escape from life as we know it — something that’s especially helpful right now.

But as with anything, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is what you make it. For some, that means the game now has horror elements. For others, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is now an esport. People have been inventing new ways to play, using anything available in the game to pit player against player. And there certainly is a lot to use. You’ve got nets, fishing poles, axes (!), and shovels, not to mention the countless items designed to decorate the islands.

One popular method is using nets to bop other players and score a point. Players have even created “maps” for these net bopping tournaments to go down. Bonus points for players who choose to commentate over these matches, like YouTube creator Jacob “AlphaRad” Rabon. Now this is Animal Crossing: New Horizons esports.

You can also use nets to play tag, as shown by Twitter user CorporateCutei. From the video, it looks like a variation on tag — typically, it should be one person with a net (the one that’s it) chasing around everyone else. But here, it seems like everyone is chasing around the person with the shovel, and the first one to nab them wins.

Another fun game? Musical stumps. One player, using an instrument, plays a tune while other players circle stumps. When the music ends, players rush to the stumps to sit. Anyone without a seat is out. After reach round, remove a stump until there’s one player left standing. Er, sitting.

Another, more subtle, way to compete with your friends is to steal their fish. Once a friend has plopped down their line, do yours next to it. Clearly, whoever nabs the fish wins. Twitter user KumaTeddi posted a clip of this on Twitter — and the original fisher must have been very bitter. KumaTeddi stole the fish and caught a super rare one: the Coelacanth.

If being a sneaky fish stealer isn’t your idea of a fun game, you can always hold a regular fishing tournament in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Whoever catches the most (or most impressive) fish before their rod breaks, wins.

You can really make anything a game, as evidenced by Twitter user ac_elveira’s clip of two players battling for the clothing shop’s dressing room. Right in front of the red curtains, two players are jockeying for the next turn — and it’s tan hat that prevails, despite white hat’s optimal positioning.

It reminds me of the fun game I like to play when visiting busy islands. As soon as I feel like everyone’s going to leave, I rush to the airport first. No one wants to be the last player off the island — waiting for everyone else to leave and enduring all those airplane cutscenes is absolutely infuriating.

Switch Lite

Nintendo Switch consoles are often sold out, but you can still pick up the handheld-only Switch Lite, which is perfect for portable gaming.

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Premier League games to be held in FIFA 20 tournament, raising money for clubs

With the coronavirus forcing all Premier League games to be suspended, 128 teams will be competing in FIFA 20 instead.

Whilethere are plenty of us who can dealwith self-isolation by clearing our gaming backlogs, football fans don’thave much of a replacement for their now-suspended sport.

The coronavirus has forced the Premier League, English Football League (EFL), and Women’s Super League (WSL) to suspend all their matches until at least the end of April. It may be only a month, but this has left several clubs facing financial troubles.

In order to counter this, Leyton Orient Football Club put out a call to hold a FIFA 20 tournament instead, with the intention of raising money to help support these struggling clubs.

The goal is to raise £50,000, with 75% of the money to be given to the EFL and the remainder to be split between MIND, a mental health charity, and the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fundraiser set up by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The donation page can be found here.

Atthe time of writing, it has accrued more than half its goal and 128 teams fromacross the globe have signed up to take part in what is being dubbed as theUltimate QuaranTEAM Tournament.

‘Onbehalf of Leyton Orient FC we want to thank everyone for their support and wevery much wish everyone well.’

Details on how to view the tournament have not been confirmed yet, but the first matches will be taking place this Sunday, 22 March.

FIFA 20 is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Switch.

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PlayStation 5 Will Be Backward Compatible With MOST PlayStation 4 Games

We’re all still reeling from Sony’s super dry and technobabble filled PS5 tech reveal stream, but there is one bit of news we learned that is a little concerning. According to lead console architect Mark Cerny, the PlayStation 5 will be compatible with “most” PS4 games. As a matter of fact, the top 100 most played PS4 titles will be ready to play at launch, implying that not everything is good to go on the system.

According to Cerny, some older game code “just can’t handle” the new specifications that the PS5 brings to the table. The console’s internal logic is similar to that of the PS4, but there’s a technical hurdle in just how much faster the new console is. Testing will be done on a “title-by-title basis,” but don’t expect all of your previously purchased games to run on day one.

This isn’t dissimilar to how upgrades to PC hardware and software over the years have rendered some games unplayable. When titles were written for specific graphics cards or CPUs, emulating them can be a tough task even on the most powerful of systems. Still, Sony shifted to a unified x86 architecture for the PS4 to avoid issues with future compatibility and is now claiming the opposite.

One other interesting bit we got from the stream concerns storage. On the PS4, users can hook up external hard drives and install games on them to alleviate storage problems. This is mainly for people with massive libraries as the PS4 allows users to swap the internal hard drive for a larger one. On PS5, a similar system will be in place and it seems like your old PS4 formatted drives will work without a hitch.

Still, that doesn’t help much with the lack of full backward compatibility support. Sony likely has its hands tied with regards to the technical specifications here, but this news is a massive disappointment. With Microsoft working tirelessly to ensure that the Xbox Series X will play all generations of Xbox consoles on a single device, Sony seems to be working in a totally different direction. I wouldn’t expected every PlayStation console to function, but at least the PS4.

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PS5 will be backward-compatible with ‘almost all’ top 100 PS4 games at launch

Sony’s next-generation console, the PlayStation 5, will be backward-compatible with lots of PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 4 Pro games, lead system architect Mark Cerny said during the “Road to PS5” presentation on Wednesday. Nearly all of the top PS4 titles, ranked by playtime, will be playable on PlayStation 5 when it launches in holiday 2020, he said.

Cerny said the internal logic of the PS4 and PS4 Pro consoles is present in the PlayStation 5, but that’s not without challenges; some game code “just can’t handle” the boosted frequencies of the PlayStation 5, he said. Cerny said that boost is “truly massive,” so games must be tested on a “title-by-title basis.” But, that testing is going well, Cerny said.

Related

Watch Sony’s PS5 ‘deep dive’ reveal livestream here

Players will also be able to save space on their consoles by “running your older games from standard external storage” and not the PlayStation 5’s new solid-state drive, according to Digital Foundry. “It won’t be as fast as booting from the internal SSD, but it’ll free up space for the next-gen titles that are going to need it,” Digital Foundry said.

Sony did not mention backward-compatibility with older-generation PlayStation games — only PS4 and PS4 Pro were confirmed. Microsoft, on the other hand, has been promising four generations of backward-compatibility with its next-generation console, the Xbox Series X. Likewise, Microsoft said last year that first-party games, like Halo Infinite, which is slated for release on Xbox One this year, will support cross-generation game saves.

Sony dropped a whole lot of information during its very technical presentation today, including the PS5’s hardware specifications. The next-generation console is expected to be released during the 2020 holiday season.

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The PlayStation 5 May Be Copying Xbox’s Storage Drives

The PlayStation 5 might copy the Xbox Series X’s storage drives to expand its memory capacity.

On Monday we found out about the Xbox Series X’s full specs. It’s going to be many times more powerful than the Xbox One and have Ray Tracing as a standard feature. The breakdown gets very technical, but the main takeaway is this: the Xbox Series X is going to be the most powerful game console on Earth.

Or maybe not. The PlayStation 5’s specs have yet to be revealed, although Sony said yesterday that they’d provide us with the full details today. We’ll soon find out how the PS5 will stack up to its Microsoft competitor.

One of the more interesting features of the Xbox Series X is how it plans to allow for expandable memory using NVMe drives–tiny little SSDs that look like memory cards from generations ago. These cards slot into the back of the Series X and provide an additional 1-2 TB of storage, allowing for quick saves, save states, and far faster load times than traditional SSDs.

Industry professionals suspect that the PS5 will have a similar design that allows for expandable memory. John Linneman, who handled Digital Foundry’s deep dive into the Xbox Series X, said that both the Xbox and PS5 will use the same approach of expandable, solid-state storage to ensure that gamers never run out of memory.

The issue of who’s copying who is up for debate. PushSquare says that it was actually Sony that came up with the idea first, quoting a Brazilian patent that was filed last year. The patent is for a “recording medium which can record various data, such as a character, an image, an animation, a sound, and a program. By loading the opening provided by the game console with the tip end part by which a variety of pins of this cartridge were provided, the various data recorded on this cartridge can be read.”

We’ll find out if the PS5 does have expandable memory cards when Sony takes the covers off later today.

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LA Noire Part 2 rumoured to be secret Rockstar game, not GTA 6

Rockstar’s recent spate of mysterious images may have nothing to do with GTA 6 but instead a sequel to LA Noire set in the 80s.

Something is going on with Rockstar Games at the moment and the obvious assumption has always been that it’s related to a new Grand Theft Auto, especially after what seemed to be hints about the location in the most recent GTA Online update.

But just before then, fans pondered over two peculiar images that Rockstar uploaded to its website, particularly the first one which featured a very 80s looking bit of robot artwork.

Some people theorised that it was a hint of an 80s setting for GTA 6, perhaps including a return to Vice City, but the latest rumour suggests it’s actually a sequel to LA Noire.

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The rumours come from an unusual but compelling source and revolve around a YouTube channel for LA Noire Part 2 which was autogenerated by YouTube itself.

YouTube creates channels automatically when it sees lots of videos on the same subject and in this case it seems to have found a host of 80s music tracks attributed to LA Noire Part 2 and licensed by Take-Two Interactive, Rockstar’s owners.

Amongst these was a reference to K.T.I., the fictional radio station for the original LA Noire that the songs were seemingly intended to be played on.

The channel has, predictably, been shut down but it was noticed on Reddit and while it could still be a hoax it would be a particularly complex and pointless one if it was.

A sequel to LA Noire would make sense, as the original was always successful and after years of silence Rockstar suddenly released remasters and VR versions starting in 2017 – which at the time seemed like an attempt by them to gauge interest in a sequel.

And while original developer Team Bondi is no more, Rockstar itself already handled the remasters and was heavily involved in the original game (which caused the falling out with Team Bondi in the first place).

Does any of that make talk of a sequel true? No, but the 80s theme does make a lot a sense and there was plenty of film noir (or neo-noir as it’s usually referred to) during that era that Rockstar could riff off of, such as Michael Mann’s Thief, Blood Simple, and To Live & Die in L.A.

Although even if all this is true there’s still no indication of when they might make an official announcement…

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