“Final Fantasy VII Remake” is due out for PlayStation 4 on March 3, 2020, and Square Enix just dropped a new trailer at the Tokyo Game Show.
The new footage shows off the game’s villains: the president of the nefarious Shinra Company, and the Turks, Shinra’s suit-wearing enforcers.
“Final Fantasy VII Remake” will re-create the classic game from the ground up with totally new gameplay, but classic characters, summons, and the story will remain the same. The remake will be split into a series, with this game focusing on the city of Midgar
FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE Tokyo Game Show 2019 Trailer (Closed Captions)
It’s 1 a.m. again, and I’m wearily crawling into bed hours after my partner.
This is the effect of “Apex Legends” on my life — the latest major Battle Royale game to demand the attention of tens of millions of players. Since “Apex Legends” arrived in early February 2019, it’s become the standard background game in my life.
Unlike “Fortnite” or “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds,” “Apex Legends” has its hooks in me deep and I don’t foresee them letting go anytime soon. Here’s why:
There are ziplines in “Apex Legends” that defy the laws of physics in delightful ways.
1. “Apex Legends” feels better to play, from gunplay to movement to strategy, than any other Battle Royale game available.
Everything about the act of playing “Apex Legends” feels good, and the more I dig into the game, the more I find to love.
The simple act of moving around is so thoroughly, thoughtfully detailed that it bears praising.
Here’s a very basic overview: Every character moves at the same speed, whether walking or running. While running, you can push the crouch button to slide — this offers you a minor speed boost if you’re on flat or sloping ground. Every character can jump, and if you hold jump while leaping into a wall you’ll clamber up the wall.
It’s a very simple set of rules, but the way that “Apex Legends” makes all movement feel so fluid and smooth is remarkable. It’s perhaps the most impressive aspect of “Apex Legends”: The game simply feels good to move around in. The same can’t be said for any other Battle Royale game.
2. It’s a tremendously detailed game, despite being straightforward and accessible to anyone.
Allow me an example: For the first few weeks, I rarely used hip-fire (shooting without aiming down the sights). Why would I do that if I could aim more carefully by aiming with a sight?
It turns out there’s a massive benefit to using hip-fire shooting in “Apex Legends,” and blending your shooting between aimed shots and hip-fire is a crucial component to successful play. Due to the relatively accurate spread of fire, hip-firing is critical for winning close-quarter fights with most weapons in “Apex Legends.”
That’s one tiny detail of myriad tiny details that make every little thing you do in “Apex Legends” feel so good. It’s actually my favorite component of the game: I’m still learning finer nuances of each specific weapon, of how to move through the environment more swiftly, of how to reach a place I didn’t know I could.
It’s a game that still feels remarkably fresh to me even after dozens of hours played.
The full “Apex Legends” island.
(“Apex Legends”/Electronic Arts)
3. The way players can interact with the extremely detailed world in “Apex Legends” is a testament to its excellent world design.
On our way to the next circle, my friend pinged a location for me to see — a tiny little hole he’d discovered that could be used to sneakily get away in a desperate Skull Town fight.
It was the most recent discovery he’d made after over 100 hours spent running, sliding, and shooting through the single map in “Apex Legends.”
There are dozens of these little quirks to the map, and it’s clear that an absurd amount of attention was given to exactly how each area of the map was laid out. There are always more angles to take, or ways to flank enemies, or a carefully placed boulder that’ll have to serve as cover — the hands of the game’s development team are all over the map if you look close enough.
“Fortnite” recently added a bus that acts a lot like the Respawn Beacons in “Apex Legends.”
4. “Apex Legends” is the evolution of Battle Royale — every other game in the genre feels old by comparison.
Watching a video recently of a popular Twitch streamer playing “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds,” I was struck by how stiff it was. Movement had no sense of weight to it, and the sound of the player running made it look like they were tiptoe-running across a field.
Frankly, it looked outdated and unpolished compared to “Apex Legends.”
The closest any Battle Royale game gets, in terms of movement and gunplay and feel, is “Call of Duty: Blackout.” It’s quick, and has solid gunplay, and there are some interesting gameplay twists that make it unique. But it is inherently a “Call of Duty” Battle Royale mode, with all the baggage that comes with — movement isn’t very fluid, and guns mostly sound like toys.
And that’s before we start talking about the respawn system, or ziplines, or the pinging system, or dropships, or care packages, or the jumpmaster system, or any of the other dozen innovations that “Apex Legends” brings to the Battle Royale genre. It adds so much new stuff that it feels like a full step forward past every other game in the genre.
Level 1 Shield here!
5. The ping system!
It’s hard to overstate how impressive the ping system is in “Apex Legends.” It should be the number one takeaway for any game developer working on a new multiplayer shooter.
The idea is simple: See an enemy? Tap the right bumper on your gamepad, and your character will call out those enemies and even mark their last movement for your teammates. See ammo your teammate needs? Tap the right bumper! It’s a brilliant, robust system for “spotting” various things — from items to enemies.
Smarter still, that system is contextual. If you’re looking at a level-three helmet and “spot” it, your character shouts out, “Level-three helmet here!” and marks it for your teammates. It’s this system that enables teammates to communicate a wealth of information without having to literally speak to strangers.
The spotting system cannot be overstated in its importance — it’s such a smart innovation that I outright expect it to show up in most multiplayer shooters going forward. It better!
Even with a sight, shooting someone from this distance with an Alternator is a tricky proposition.
6. It’s the best shooter of any Battle Royale game — shooting specifically.
The team behind “Apex Legends” has a serious pedigree behind it, having created the “Call of Duty” series and the “Titanfall” series.
It’s no surprise, then, that the shooting in “Apex Legends” feels so good — it’s from developers who more or less set the standard in video-game shooting.
To this end, bullets fall appropriately over a distance. Gunshot sounds are directional. Headshots feel substantial, and submachine guns feel like high-powered BB guns.
The shooting looks, feels, and sounds as good or better than the best shooting games, from the latest “Call of Duty” to “Destiny 2.”
This may sound obvious but, in the most popular Battle Royale games, the shooting is pretty terrible. “Fortnite” has notoriously lackluster shooting mechanics. The only great Battle Royale shooter is “Call of Duty: Blackout,” and that shooting is held back by the relatively stiff movement of the game.
7. Since each Legend has their own abilities, learning how to mix those abilities with your friends is a blast.
In “Fortnite,” every character you play as has the same abilities. It’s a third-person shooter with building mechanics, and every avatar — visuals aside — is identical.
The same can be said for “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” and the Battle Royale mode in “Call of Duty: Black Ops 4.”
But in “Apex Legends,” each player has unique abilities. There are various “classes” of characters — soldiers, tanks, healers, etc. — and various specialties within each class. In this way, “Apex Legends” is more similar to “Overwatch” than its direct competition.
And blending those characters into a team made up of complementary players is part of the delight of “Apex Legends.” Better yet: The game’s developer, Respawn Entertainment, has already added one new character, Octane. And more are promised for the future.
So, what are these powers? They range from the ability to conjure a healing drone that can heal multiple teammates at once, to a grappling hook for reaching high places, to the ability to deploy noxious-gas containers. Using Bangalore’s smoke grenade combined with Gibraltar’s air strike ultimate is one combination I’ve been particularly enjoying.
Since it’s still early days for “Apex Legends,” many of the best ways to use various abilities are still shaking out. And that’s thrilling! There’s a “meta” to “Apex Legends” that is deeper and smarter than games like “Fortnite.” It feels like there are many ways to win, with a variety of different team setups, rather than a “best” way to win. And that leads to the kind of experimentation that keeps the game fresh.
Picking up wins with friends is absolutely delightful.
8. Playing with friends is critical, and makes the game so much more enjoyable.
I’ve had lots of good matches of “Apex Legends” with total strangers. I’ve won many games where my teammates and I never spoke a word, using only the in-game pinging system to communicate while moving from fight to fight. It is entirely possible to play this game with strangers and have a blast.
But nothing is better than playing with friends, using both your voice and the game’s pinging system to detail your words. Saying “Enemies right here” and pinging the location at the same time is a great way to immediately convey complex information to your teammates. Even better is the tactical planning you convey to each other afterward as you head into battle. “I’ll take left flank,” for instance, or “Getting height” — common refrains while sneaking up on an opposing squad.
Better still, you learn each other’s strengths and compliment each other’s chosen character. You laugh at each other’s faults and call out items you know friends are looking for — yes, I’m always looking for an R-301. Thank you for remembering!
It’s why I’ve been staying up way past my normal bedtime almost every day to play more “Apex Legends.” It’s the best game that’s come out this year by a longshot, and by far the best Battle Royale game available.
Despite the fan base not being filled to the brim with lovers of the game, Halo: Reach remains in the hearts of many of us gamers who dumped a considerable amount of time into the game itself. One thing that might stand out, especially for those of us in the veteran community, is how the game itself depicts war.
Halo: Reach was released nearly a decade this upcoming September, and this campaign still gets a lot of us excited. It had some good characters, each with unique qualities, and the story was amazing. The gameplay is another story, but what we’re focusing on here is the biggest thing that stood out: this game is about war.
Here’s why Halo: Reach was one of the best:
You were also, for the first time, surrounded by other Spartans.
Nerfed Spartan strength
Throughout the original Halo trilogy, you fight as Master Chief, the only Spartan in sight, which makes you an absolute force of nature on the battlefield. You’re essentially unstoppable, with your only purpose being to bring judgment down upon the Covenant that stands before you.
Reach took that and essentially made you just slightly weaker, but it was noticeable. Stronger than the average UNSC Marine but just on the same level as the best the Covenant has to offer. This made you feel more like you couldn’t just steamroll into battles, bringing death on a silver platter to the Covenant.
There are plenty of shots in the game that show the planet’s destruction.
Depicted a losing fight
Most of us who knew the lore of Reach before the game’s release knew it was a doomed mission. You were fighting a losing battle because the Covenant hits the planet’s under-manned military defenses with an all-out attack force with the intent to reap every last soul upon its surface. That didn’t stop you, though.
It really showed the tenacity that troops bring to the battlefield. Knowing you could lose doesn’t matter, you’ll fight to the death anyway and make the enemy work for every life they have to take – and suffer the consequences of taking it to begin with.
Prime example: Jorge.
Showed the tremendous sacrifices that were made
One thing that the original trilogy doesn’t take much time to do is to show the sacrifices of individual soldiers. Reach absolutely does that. With Noble Team, you see each of the team members die in some way or another, a couple of them choosing to die so that others may live.
Seeing mega cities like this getting torn apart was devastating.
Reach takes a lot of time to show us how destructive the Covenant is and the devastation of that destruction in context with what they do to the planet. Most of the other games you don’t get that sense, with Halo 3 being the obvious exception since part of it takes place on Earth.
But what we got in Reach was an entire game of trying to save a planet only to fail.
Usually, any mention of “computer-based training” leads to more groans from troops than any GI Party ever could. Not so for these military video games. These games are more like those marathon weekends playing “GoldenEye 64” during the junior high years. Bring out the military equivalent of Funyuns and Mountain Dew (Sunflower seeds and Rip-Its?) and settle in to become the best U.S. troop that ever roamed virtual Earth.
Developed by the U.S. Army and one of the most prolific developers of Super Nintendo (SNES) games, the Multipurpose Arcade Combat Simulator (MACS) used a light gun to rate how well a soldier shoots. MACS also aided in learning to zero a rifle and other basic aspects of marksmanship. The light gun isn’t the standard issue SNES weapon, it’s a replica of Jäger AP-74, which is itself styled after the M-16 rifle used by the U.S. military.
Virtual Reality Combat Training
The VIRTSIM System, created by Raytheon, is an immersive, open space, VR training ground. The basketball court-sized game pad keeps track of a soldier’s movements through the use of a rubber pad and a weapon-mounted controller. The limitations of the game and the environment allow for the troops to train on responses to incoming fire of different kinds, but they can’t jump for cover and they will never be as tired in the training simulator as they might be after days of dismounted patrols in the real world. The system’s benefit is that it is a way to train for scenarios that the Army cannot recreate and allows for troops to familiarize themselves with the weapons and equipment they’ll carry in a real-world situation.
Full Spectrum Warrior (Xbox)
In 2004, game producer THQ and The U.S. Army-funded Institute for Creative Technologies dropped “Full Spectrum Warrior.” Recognizing that millennials coming into the military since 2000 grew up playing video games, the Army’s Science and Tech community created this first attempt at leveraging video games for training purposes. There were two versions of “Full Spectrum Warrior,” the one released to the public, and the one used as a training tool. The Army’s version is unlocked via a static code (HA2P1PY9TUR5TLE) on the code input screen. The player issues orders and directions to virtual fire teams and squad members, over whom he does not directly control. Another version of the game, called “Full Spectrum Command,” would be introduced later for company-level commanders.
Tactical Iraqi (PC)
The “Tactical Iraqi Language and Culture Training System” brought scenario-based PC gameplay to the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines before their Surge deployment to Iraq in 2007. The game was developed to teach Iraqi situational language and gestures as well as cultural nuances in a virtual world that could be applied to real-world deployments. It brought Marines face-to-face with Iraqis during simulated missions. The game reduced several months of cultural training to 80 hours of computer-based training.
America’s Army (PC, Xbox)
“America’s Army” is not just a game, it’s a series of games. The U.S. Army developed and published this first-person shooter to provide a virtual soldier experience that was “engaging, informative, and entertaining.” Since its initial inception on PC in 2002, it has grown to include iterations on Xbox, Xbox 360, arcade, and mobile apps. The platform has also extended to other government training platforms to further train troops. The latest iteration, “America’s Army: Real Heroes” featured specific, real-world soldiers who have distinguished themselves in combat. The series has won dozens of awards, including Best Action Game of E3 by GameSpy and Best First Person Shooter from Wargamer.
Virtual Battlespace 2
“Virtual Battlespace 2” (or VBS2) gives instructors the ability to create custom battlefield simulations that engage the players (read: soldiers) from multiple viewpoints. Like “Full Spectrum Warrior,” it also gives soldiers the ability to issue orders to squad members. As of 2012, the game was still being used for Basic Combat Training scenarios. It teaches land nav, combat scenarios, and platoon-level group strategies. The biggest advantage of using VBS2 is that new soldiers learn from their mistakes more easily and faster, with fewer consequences than say, getting lost in the woods in a land nav exercise.
Look out, Pakistan – archrival India is getting a slew of brand-new pilots ready to take to the skies to defend the Hindu homeland – at least, in the digital world. The Indian Air Force recently launched a new mobile game for Android and iOS that lets players fight in aerial combat and take off on air strike sorties, all from the palm of their hands.
India’s chief Air Force officer, Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa, said the game gives India’s youth a realistic feel for the air force while teaching them more about it. They might even be motivated enough to think of the IAF as a viable career option, one that will be exhilarating at the same time.
“This new facilitation-cum-publicity pavilion and the IAF-themed mobile game have been designed to raise awareness among the youth like you, about the IAF, and inspire them to take up career in the Air Force,” he told a group of students at the game’s launch. The game is intended for kids 14 and older.
Yes, there’s a helicopter mission.
This newest game is called “Indian Air Force: A Cut Above,” and allows the player to take to the wild blue yonder on ten missions, each comprised of three sorties to highlight the various roles the IAF can play in a wartime or contingency situation. It especially highlights air combat scenarios, but it isn’t limited to air combat. The game is supposed to be a realistic representation of the multilateral nature of India’s air forces.
“The various missions, include, airstrikes, air-to-air refueling, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief. Also, career navigator and augmented reality sections are available, which will give a realistic feel of the IAF’s assets to the user,” the Chief Marshal said.
Defend India when the Red Skull attacks.
But this isn’t the only Indian Air Force game available to play on mobile. The IAF launched another game in 2014 called “Guardians of the Skies,” which received more than a million downloads. This new version has an upgraded platform, augmented reality integration and an entirely new phase of the game due out in October. The new version will include multiplayer capabilities, just in time for Indian aviation enthusiasts to celebrate Air Force Day behind the stick of an F-16.
Making a video game based on historical events often means navigating the fine line between creating an experience that’s consistently engaging to the player without trivializing the gravity of the real event. This is especially true of military conflicts.
Battlefield 1’s single player campaign did a terrific job of this, giving the player the warning of, “you are not expected to survive” before tossing them into the grim reality that is WWI trench warfare.
Other games, however, use the backdrop of the invasion of Normandy as yet another arena in which players can “360 No Scope” each other.
Then, you have Atomic Games’ controversial Six Days in Fallujah, which was slated to be a highly accurate representation of what the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines encountered in November, 2004, during the Second Battle of Fallujah. Shortly after it was announced to the public in 2009, it was dropped by its publisher and is now nothing more than a “what if” of gaming.
The developers at Atomic Games took their project very seriously. Every aspect of the game was created based on interviews with over 70 individuals, including the U.S. Marines who fought there, Iraqi civilians, war historians, senior military officials, and even former Iraqi insurgents.
The game was a far cry from typical first-person shooters that reward players for sprinting around the map, spraying bullets at the bad guys. Instead, it was said to have been more like a survival-horror game. Every minor decision made in the game would have lasting effects on player’s experience. Additionally, the game was built on an astounding engine that allowed for a 100% destructible environment — bullet holes left in walls from a previous skirmish would exist into perpetuity.
The game’s director, Juan Benito, told GamePro Magazine that giving players a taste of the horror, fear, and misery experienced by real-life Marines in the battle was a top priority.
“These are scary places, with scary things happening inside of them. In the game, you’re plunging into the unknown, navigating through darkened interiors, and ‘surprises’ left by the insurgency. In most modern military shooters, the tendency is to turn the volume up to 11 and keep it there. Our game turns it up to 12 at times, but we dial it back down, too, so we can establish a cadence.”
In Six Days in Fallujah, you would’ve followed a young Marine who was attached to the 3/1 Marines. Throughout the game, you’d encounter factual skirmishes that involved actual Marines and insurgents that were present at that given moment, based off accounts from those who were actually there. The Marines to your left and your right in those skirmishes were to be the actual Marines — which also meant that those who died in real life would die at the same moment in game. This, as you can imagine, was met with extreme controversy.
The game was being created to honor their fallen service members, but public condemnation proved too great and too universal, so it was dropped within the month by Konami — for very valid reasons.
After the publisher dropped out, the game’s director quietly left along with much of studio’s staff. The remaining assets were hobbled together to create the the sub-par Breach in attempt to recoup on the time invested in the doomed title. The president of Atomic Games promised that Six Days in Fallujah would eventually see the light of day.
Cases can be made for and against the game, but one thing is for certain: it would’ve offered something vastly different to gamers. In 2009, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was released and multiplayer lobbies were filled brim with screaming pre-teens. It was just five years since the Second Battle of Fallujah, which might’ve been too soon, but it definitely would’ve been a grim reminder of the true horrors of war in an industry too-often trivialized it.
The gaming community has matured vastly in the last decade. Games like Valiant Heart and This War of Mine have all been based on the realities of war. Games like Arma III and Rainbow Six: Siege have all taken mature, realistic approaches to how modern shooters should play out.
If or when the game does eventually find its footing and a pathway to release, it’ll likely find support withing the military-veteran community — as long as the game doesn’t, even for a second, make light of the seriousness of the Second Battle of Fallujah.
Quality. It’s what you expect from a product or service when you put cash on the table.
The majority of mobile games do not mesh well with a military lifestyle: You must be connected to the internet to play, you must purchase gems to access certain levels, there’s no auto-save, and microtransactions might as well be highway robbery. There are, however, some premium games from our childhood that are no longer PC exclusives that have found a home on iOS and Android.
The following list contains a selection of hand-picked games that are nostalgic, beautiful, require no internet connection, involved no microtransactions, and bring the quality you’d expect to come alongside a price tag. The reviews below are brutally honest because, well, if somebody’s going to pay good money, they should know the full value of their investment.
Hurry up and wait just got a whole lot more interesting.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic iOS iPad Gameplay Review – AppSpy.com
If you missed out on Knights of the Old Republic on the original Xbox or PC, this is the perfect chance to become familiar with this masterpiece. It is a mixes RPG and real-time elements that bring Jedi training to life. The story is, without a doubt, among the best in the Star Wars library and it’s genuinely fun.
The most noticeable weakness here are the graphics because it is a remake. However, you’ll get about 20-25 hours of unique playtime without doing the side quests. It’s worth the price tag.
Chrono Trigger iPhone Game Review – PocketGamer.co.uk
Chrono Trigger is another classic titan of the gaming industry that features a semi-turn based battle system, which is beneficial to the military lifestyle because we may have to pause or close the game at a moment’s notice. You will easily spend over 40 hours on this title and still play more. The battle system gets a little tricky towards the late stages of the game, but that’s because you have more options to destroy enemies and a larger party to manage.
This title’s weakness lies graphics, which are admittedly dated, but they inspire those nostalgic feels. The review below is brutal, but it’s there so you know exactly what you’re getting for your hard-earned money. If you care more about story and gameplay than graphics, then this is the game for you.
Baldur’s Gate is remake of the classic that was one of the pioneers of RPG gaming. The new mobile adaptation has had a facelift in regards to the user interface, making it much easier to play on a touchscreen than the PC original. There is additional DLC for purchase in the store, but it’s DLC in the classic sense, not a microtransaction. It’s a legit extension, like DLCs are supposed to be.
Baldur’s Gate reminds me how much video game developers used to care about fan service and how the gaming community yearns to end this disgusting age of microtransactions in other games (looking at you EA).
It’s hard to go wrong with the Final Fantasy series, and most installments in the series are available for purchase on mobile app marketplaces. The remakes remain true to the originals while updating the graphics and adding auto-battle functionality. I played Final Fantasy III when I had down time in Afghanistan and it lasted me the first quarter of my deployment. That’s just one of the games and the strategy element does appeal to strategic minds. I played Final Fantasy IV when I was stationed in Okinawa and it was perfect for standing by for a formation and I didn’t even notice how long it took for the colonel to show up.
The Total War series is near and dear to the gaming community, but it does have its strengths and weaknesses. The key change from PC to mobile is the pause button, which is invaluable when you’re in the middle of kicking ass when LT calls a school circle just to tell you the trucks are delayed, again.
It does have auto-save, which is great for when standby is over, and you can pick up where you left off hours later when you’re inevitably standing by again. The game does crash sometimes, so make sure you save early and often. Other than that, it’s just like you remembered it in the good ol’ days.
Two government agencies have teamed up to provide teachers with a unique education in the wake of increased school shootings.
The United States Army and Homeland Security Department are in the midst of creating a virtual reality experience they hope will help train educators on how to react in the event of a school shooting, according to Gizmodo.
Users can take on three roles in the virtual reality experience: teacher, shooter, and officer.
Teachers in the simulation must gather nervous pupils and find shelter. Those playing as the shooter are able to navigate the virtual school and kill at random. Officers in the virtual reality simulation must aim to find and kill the shooter.
The simulation is being developed as part of the $5.6 million Enhanced Dynamic Geo-Social Environment (EDGE) initiative, which is an “online training environment for first responders.”
In 2016, the Army and HSD released a similar virtual reality experience aimed to train first responders to handle hostile situations.
They’ve created simulations for both fire and police departments regarding school shooting response.
“The more experience you have, the better your chances of survival are,” Tamara Griffith, a chief engineer for EDGE, told Gizmodo.
“So, this allows you to practice and have multiple experiences (and) know what works and what doesn’t work.”
To create the most realistic scenario possible, EDGE engineers listened to dispatch audio from both the Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook shootings. This allowed them to incorporate the most gruesome realities into the simulation.
It also helped them zero in on specific survival tactics and best practices for such scenarios, including locking doors, avoiding windows, ordering students to line up against walls, and finding items to use as barricades.
According to Gizmodo, administrators in the simulations can enable different tools, including an intercom system and automated locks.
Griffith told the publication she’s hopeful that using the simulation in varying roles within the school will allow educators to stay calm should such a real-life situation arise.
“With teachers, they did not self-select into a role where they expect to have bullets flying near them. Unfortunately, it’s becoming a reality,” she said.
“And so we want to give them the chance to understand what options are available to them and what might work well for them.”
The updated virtual reality simulation aimed at teachers will be released in the spring.
The 2010 smash-hit video game Call of Duty: Black Ops featured many of the conspiracy theories surrounding the Cold War. While some of them have been proven false, others are impossible to debunk — but a select few are very much true. One such example is the true-to-life way in which the protagonist receives orders throughout the campaign: through a “numbers station.”
In the game, your character, Alex Mason, listens to a shortwave radio station transmitting from a boat off the coast of Cuba that intends to send a message to Soviet sleeper agents in the States. Unlike the more fantastical elements of the game, there is historical precedent for remote numbers stations being used by spy agencies of the time.
Before the era of radio encryption, anyone with a radio receiver could listen in on any conversation. Single-channel military radios operate much like the radio in your car, just at a much lower frequency — one that car radios can’t receive. To make sure a secret message wasn’t intercepted by a random person with a radio, agencies used cryptic codes. A well-known example of such secret speech is the American military’s use of Code Talkers.
The other, equally ingenious method was the use of numbers stations. At a given moment and on a known frequency, a one-way message was sent. That message could be, as the name implies, just a string of numbers, either simply spoken or hidden within a specific song or Morse code. The listener would then use a cipher to translate what those numbers meant.
An outed numbers station transmission, The Swedish Rhapsody, sounded like this.
Someone could, for instance, turn on their car radio at exactly 12:34 PM and tune to a station that’s normally just static and hear a person call off a string of numbers, which could then translate into something like, “continue the mission.”
In the case of the video game Call of Duty: Black Ops, this method was used for espionage purposes. The radio station from which these messages were broadcast roamed the Gulf of Mexico, avoiding detection.
The use of open radio frequencies meant that more than one spy could listen in at the same time. Although never officially confirmed, many spy agencies from around the world have alluded to using them in such a manner.
Numbers stations are, allegedly, still in use. The confirmed Cuban numbers station, Atención, was at the center of an espionage case in the late 90s. Cryptic messages are still broadcast in Cuba at random times to this day.
With the release of EA’s Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond, gamers have their first dedicated WWII virtual reality experience from a AAA studio. The game is the first release from the Medal of Honor franchise since Medal of Honor: Warfighter in 2012. Set in the European theater, Above and Beyond has players take on the role of an OSS agent fighting alongside the French Resistance against the Nazis in its single-player campaign. Played entirely in VR on either the Oculus Rift or Steam VR, Above and Beyond also includes traditional player vs. player competitive multiplayer and a survival mode. However, the game’s signature feature is its Gallery mode.
A longstanding inclusion with Medal of Honor games, the Gallery mode provides players with insight on the real-life soldiers and their stories that inspired the game. As players progress in the single-player story, documentaries in the Gallery are unlocked. “The goal of Medal of Honor is to be grounded and emotionally authentic. To be as true as we can to the people who actually fought in it and lived in it” said Peter Hirschmann, game director of Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond, “The goal is to tell and show as much truth as possible and let people get the tiniest of glimpses of what it must’ve been like.”
Hirschmann is no stranger to telling stories as he wrote and produced the groundbreaking original 1999 Medal of Honor game. He brought on board Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Anthony Giacchino to produce the Gallery mode. Giacchino, who is well-known for his WWII documentaries featured on The History Channel, sought to bring a human dimension to the game. Over 16 million Americans served in WWII. In 2019, the VA estimated that less than 390,000 were still alive and nearly 300 died every day. With the greatest generation fading away, Giacchino wanted, “for people to hear their stories before it’s too late.” Developer Respawn partnered with Honor Flight to bring WWII veterans to the locations of historic events that they took part in to conduct interviews.
In the Gallery mode, and through the power of VR, players will be able to sit next to these veterans and hear them tell their stories. They will walk alongside them on the battlefields that they fought through all those years ago. “It’s an amazing tool for transporting people into the stories that we’re telling,” Giacchino said of VR. “You’ll be able to go to Peenemünde where the V2 rocket program was, or Omaha Beach, parts of the world you’d otherwise never get to see.”
Above and Beyond offers players an engaging gaming experience, but an even more powerful and emotionally impactful story-telling experience. While new technology like VR will inevitably become antiquated and games like Above and Beyond difficult to play, its Gallery mode serves as a timeless historical record and testament to the veterans of the Second World War. Giacchino has confirmed that the team is working on a way to bring the Gallery mode to a wider and more mainstream audience without the need for a VR headset and gaming PC. “The Gallery will forever be the thing that lives on, a hundred years from now.”
In late 2001 an economist called Edward Castronova made tsunami sized waves in the world of economics when he published a paper claiming that an isolated place called Norrath had a currency stronger than that of the Japanese Yen — an especially bold claim considering Norrath had less than a million inhabitants, had only existed for about two years and didn’t exist physically. Yes, Norrath was entirely virtual and populated exclusively by players of the video game EverQuest.
Released in 1999, EverQuest is an immensely popular and influential massively multiplayer online role playing gaming (MMORPG). Set in the magical fantasy world of Narroth and boasting an impressive (for the time) near half million subscribers at the apex of its success, EverQuest came to the attention of Castronova at first much in the same way it came to the attention of anyone — he just thought it sounded like a fun game to play.
The original box art for ‘EverQuest’
However, as he became more familiar with the game, he noticed some rather fascinating things about how the virtual economy had developed within the game. This all culminated in him publishing on the Social Science Research Network a humorous but excellently researched, and ultimately groundbreaking, paper titled, Virtual Worlds: A First-Hand Account of Market and Society on the Cyberian Frontier. By his own admission, Castronova stated, “I thought maybe seventy-five people would read it and that’d be great.”
Instead, it quickly received over 16,000 downloads (and today is sitting at closer to 50,000). While this might not seem like much, let’s remember context here — this was an academic paper published on an online academic journal. Needless to say, that number of downloads made it the most downloaded paper in the history of the Social Science Research Network, which at the time featured almost 50,000 academic papers, including many dozens written by Nobel laureates.
Why was this paper so fascinating to the world of economics? As economist Yanis Varoufakis noted, “Economic theory has come to a dead end — the last real breakthroughs were in the 1960s. But that’s not because we stopped being clever. We came up against a hard barrier. The future is going to be in experimentation and simulation — and video game communities give us a chance to do all that.”
What Castronova had stumbled upon was essentially an economist’s dream — virtual worlds the researchers could use to analyze in a scientific manner various concepts in their field using large data sets and real people populating those worlds. Or as Washington Post journalist Brad Plumer succinctly stated, in virtual worlds, “The data is richer. And it’s easier to run economy — wide experiments in a video game — experiments that, for obvious reasons, can’t be run on countries.”
In short, economists in academia were intrigued with Castronova’s paper and its implications for future research.
So what did Castronova find? After painstakingly pouring over the available data surrounding the world of Norrath, he was shocked to discover that in real world dollars Norrath had the 77th highest GNP per capita, placing it squarely between Russia and Bulgaria at the time.
The world of Norrath
How was this possible for a virtual world with only virtual currency?
At the height of EverQuest’s popularity, sale of in-game items ran rampant and at one point in time a player could pretty much buy anything they wanted in-game, regardless of how rare or powerful it was, so long as they could flash the cash to make it happen.
Although Sony, who published the game, would make several attempts to quash this practice, claiming amongst other things that all of the items for sale were their intellectual property, as well as outright banning players they caught doing this, the sale of in-game items and avatars became a thriving industry on sites like Ebay.
In fact, former child actor Brock Pierce (perhaps best known as a kid for his roles in Mighty Ducks and First Kid, and as an adult for his work in crypto currency) even started a surprisingly successful company, Internet Gaming Entertainment Ltd (IGE), which dealt in these virtual goods in exchange for real money. The company maintained a rather large staff of low-waged workers who worked in Norrath and the real world, doing things like meeting to exchange goods, as well as building up avatars and acquiring virtual goods for future sale.
In any event, Castronova analysed over 600 illicit sales outside the realm of Norrath on sites like Ebay and then simply compared this to the value of the item in-game in the principle currency of Norrath- Platinum Pieces.
When he did this, Castronova discovered that the relative value of a single Platinum Piece compared to the US Dollar was .01072. While this may not seem all that much, as Castronova pointed out, at the time, “its value exceeds that of the Japanese Yen and the Italian Lira.”
With this value in hand, Castronova was then able to roughly calculate a number of other interesting things about the economy of Norrath. For example, it turned out the average citizen of Norrath earned around .42 per hour (or about an hour today) when taking into account the value of the items and in-game currency they could realistically acquire during normal play per hour on average.
Combining this with the estimated time extreme players sunk into the game (according to data gleaned by Castronova in surveying over three thousands players), Castronova calculated:
Many users spend upwards of 80 hours per week in Norrath, hours of time input that are not unheard of in Earth professions. In 80 hours, at the average wage, the typical user generates Norrathian cash and goods worth 3.60. In a month, that would be over id=”listicle-2633077434″,000, in a year over ,000. The poverty line for a single person in the United States is ,794.
Looking at players of every time commitment level, Castronova determined that, despite the game being extremely new, the average player of EverQuest already had over ,000 worth of sellable goods locked up in the game.
But we’re not done yet because Castronova was then able to roughly calculate the gross national product of Norrath based on the value of the (entirely virtual) goods it produced in 2001. His final number? About 5 million.
While, again, this may not sound like much, divided amongst the estimated total number of Norrath denizens, that meant the GNP per capita of the virtual kingdom was ,266 — a figure that, as previously mentioned, theoretically ranked the computerised state the 77th highest on Earth at the time.
Naturally, this information peaked the interest of Castronova’s fellow economists, as did other observations he made about the virtual world and economy he was studying.
For example, according to Castronova one of the more curious things he noticed during his research was that, despite every effort being made by Sony to give everyone an equal footing when the game began, financial inequality was quickly rife amongst the denizens of Norrath.
Additionally Castronova also observed how, much like in the real world, the wealthiest players would often hoard their wealth and use their vast resources to pay poorer characters to do all of the pointless busy work they didn’t want to waste time with, in effect becoming pseudo-employers who kept the lion’s share of any profits made via the work of the plebeians to themselves.
Anecdotally, Castronova would say of his own time in-game as a low level player with no resources: “My problem is that I am under-equipped. I have been basically naked, carrying only a simple club, a caveman in a world of cavaliers. My poverty is oppressive – no amount of rat fur is sufficient to buy even a simple tunic at the ludicrously high prices of the merchant biots.”
Screenshot from EverQuest featuring a combat involving a sand giant.
Naturally, as the game evolved, the whole “initial equality” thing also died off for some, thanks to those markets where players who had disposable income in the physical world could simply buy whatever they wanted for real money and enter the game vastly more powerful and capable than a player without this option.
Since Castronova’s paper, and partially as a direct result of his work studying virtual economies, the one time self professed “academic failure” and “schmo at a state school” managed to leverage this to level up in real life — securing a tenured position at Indiana University Bloomington as a professor of Telecommunication and Cognitive Science, as well as coming to be known as the “founder of the field of virtual economics”.
And as many other virtual worlds with complex virtual economies have likewise sprung up, economists and other scientists continue to study them, as they make great petri dishes to observe how various variables result in changes in economy and human behavior.
Going the other way, gaming companies like Valve have taken to hiring economists to help them manage their virtual worlds. As economist Robert Bloomfield notes, “If you’re creating a game with 100,000 users, with things that they can buy and sell, you need an economist just to help you tweak that system so that it doesn’t spin out of control.”
As for Castronova, he concluded his ground breaking paper by waxing poetic about the potential virtual worlds could have with the application of new technology, stating
The impact on Earth society is hard to overestimate. With the development of voice technology, communication in Virtual Worlds will move from cumbersome chat to telephone-like conversation, thus greatly enhancing the Virtual World as a place of social interaction. Families living thousands of miles apart will meet every day for a few hours in the evening, gathering their avatars around the virtual kitchen table and catching up. And the day of driving to the store may well be over. Earth roads will be empty because, instead of using them, everyone will be sailing across the azure heavens on their flying purple horses, to shimmering virtual Walmarts in the sky.
To trade items they’d bought illegally via Ebay and the like, Castronova observed that players would generally sell the item online first and then agree to meet in a designated place in-game, at which point the seller would then trade the item to the buyer for an item of trivial value they had in their possession. Castronova was amused to learn that, much like in real life, many of these illicit trades took place in abandoned buildings and dark alleys.
It’s been well over six months since Star Wars: The Last Jedi came out and audiences have gone through the full cycle of liking it on opening night and disliking it the longer they spend thinking about it. Now, it’s been released for viewing in homes across America and leaking potential spoilers is no longer a crime punishable by death.
That being said, this is your official spoiler alert. We are going to talk about Star Wars: The Last Jedi ahead.
And my personal question: If that was such an effective tactic, why not just attach hyperspace drives onto asteroids and use them to bombard enemies?
Still with us? Okay, here we go.
In the second act of the film, the First Order has the Resistance cornered. Vice Admiral Haldo orders her people to board the transport ships and evacuate to the nearby planet, Crait. She then pilots the Raddus and aims it right at the First Order fleet and their flagship, the Supremacy.
She floors the Raddus into near hyperspeed and smacks right into the bad guys in what was one of the coolest moments of the film. Pieces of the shattered Supremacy then domino-effect outward, into the other ships, destroying them as well.
As awesome as this moment was, it opens up many questions for the fans that could be better understood with some science. Like, is that even possible? What kind of force (not that kind) would be required to pull that off?
Everything always comes back to science.
The filmmakers behind the Star Wars universe have taken many creative liberties with the franchise, telling elaborate storiesat the expense of scientific reasoning— and that’s fine.The series is literally about magical space samurai that befriend countless alien species without translators and everyone seems to be just fine walking on random planets without wearing space suits.
In this one particular instance — the hyperspace Kamikaze move — everything seems to be perfectly in order. This all comes down to Albert Einstein’s famous mass-energy equivalency formula, otherwise known as E = mc2.
Even though many people see that formula and think it’s just some smart guy’s way of proving he’s smart, it’s actually the fundamentals of energy. It means, in basic terms, that energy and mass are interchangeable.
Cut the movie some slack. It’s far more interesting than reading science textbooks.
With a little algebra, however, this same formula can be rearranged to explain that achieving the speed of light would be nearly impossible because everything within the universe with mass would require a incalculable amount of energy to achieve such a speed. It’s challenging to send even a single atom at a fraction of light speed, let alone a massive frigate.
In the real world, achieving hyperspeed is near impossible for anything other than massless photons. But this is the universe with tiny green muppets teaching farmboys how to move rocks with their minds. Let’s pretend that the hyper-drives hand wave that all away and moving faster than the speed of light is possible and it can be achieved by things with mass.
It’s basically the idea behind the “Rod from God” that never happened.
Thankfully for the audience, the next scientific laws that apply to this scene are also very well-known: Newton’s First and Second Laws of Motion. The first says that every object in a state of uniform motion will remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it. The second states that the rate of change of momentum of a body is directly proportional to the force applied, and this change in momentum takes place in the direction of the applied force.
In normal-people words, this means that since the Raddus was extremely massive and was working up to light speed (which meant that it still had mass at that point), it had an unfathomable amount of energy behind it’s punch that could, theoretically, shred through anything with ease.
This is a magnified version of a rail gun on planet Earth. You take something heavy, use magnets to send it extremely high speeds, and crash it into something. Boom. No more enemy.
Then again, this could also explain why two missiles could destroy a Death Star and a couple of laser blasts destroy the second one.
The real question is why don’t they use it more often in the Star Wars universe? We’ve accepted that, for the sake of storytelling, that hyper-drives really work, but this Kamikaze strategy hinges on how the fictional hyper-drive works. If achieves immense speeds by reducing a spacecraft’s mass to zero — similar to that of a photon — then the spacecraft couldn’t destroy something unless it was in the process of picking up speed. This version is more in line with the destruction we saw in the film.
The problem with this option is that if the ship doesn’t have enough speed, it’ll simply bump off the target’s shields. If it has too little mass, it’ll simply squash like a fly on a windshield. The conditions would have to be near perfect to make a serious impact.
The other way a hyper-drive could work is if it creates the insane amount of energy required to bring an object past light speed. If that’s the case, then the hyper-drive would be destroyed with the collision. For scale, the energy needed to send a Ford Mustang into hyper-speed would be more than a star going supernova. When a spacecraft containing an entire military crashes and the hyper-drive that powers it blows it, it’d let off enough energy to snuff out the entire galaxy in an instant. So, it probably wasn’t that.
There’s no doubt about it. World of Warcraft is one of the most influential video games ever to hit the market. As a massively multiplayer online role playing game, it let you create a fantasized version of yourself and seamlessly wove you into a living world, filled with quests and ongoing wars.
Warcraft isn’t just some “click attack, smash your 1 key” kind of game, either. Every little detail — from gear choices to talent selections to which race you selected back at the start — matters when perfecting your unique character. Though the game has changed dramatically over its 15-year lifetime, if you wanted to get anywhere back in the early days, you needed to think through all the details, down to ensuring that everyone in the raid was wearing the right cloak; that took an insane amount of time.
Over the years, these minute (some would say “tedious”) intricacies devolved to appease the more casual audience, but with Monday’s re-release of the Classic World of Warcraft servers, everyone has a chance to experience the basics anew. And now that we’re looking at the game through a more mature perspective rather than our awkward teenage years eyeballs, it’s worth it to reevaluate how we setup our raids…
…Or, more accurately, how the military gave us that tiny little edge in thinking about how to best kill a world-threatening fire lord with our buddies this Tuesday night. Sadly, there’s no coordinating with air support — after all, Blizzard didn’t add flying mounts until The Burning Crusade.
“The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in battle.” – Richard Marchenko, First Commanding Officer of SEAL Team Six
Train in low-stress environments
This should be drilled into everyone’s head the moment they step off that bus in Basic/Boot Camp. For the next several weeks, you will practice fighting during every waking moment of your life. Not only is it important to get time on the range, but MOUT training, where you enter a simulated environment made to mimic the conditions that await you on deployment. It’s a good way to give troops an easy training scenario where it’s actually crucial to let them fail — so they can learn what not to do when the real thing comes.
In World of Warcraft, this same concept applies. If you want to learn how to most efficiently use your abilities, do so by running dungeons that are a little on the easier side relative to your level. That way, when it’s time for the big bad, you’re not sending your friends to the graveyard.
Not just any chump off the street could get a shot at wielding Thunderfury, Blessed Blade of the Windseeker.
Physical proof you’re ready to undertake a certain mission
No one will let you jump out of a perfectly good aircraft unless you’ve proven you’re capable at the Airborne school. No one will let you join the SPECOPS unless you’ve proven you’re capable of fighting at their level. It’s nothing personal — it’s just that watching over the dead weight isn’t a high-level operator’s duty. Prove you’re ready and they’ll welcome you in with open arms.
Classic World of Warcraft ran the same way. Before you’re ready to step into the higher-end dungeons and raids, you’ll need to do lengthy attunement quests. Don’t get mad at your guild when raid night rolls around and you can’t get in — show up prepared.
If it looks cool, great. If it doesn’t, at least your DPS should be high enough.
Double-checking everyone to see if they have the right gear
One of the best things about leaving the Army is that no one will ever make me unload every last bit of TA-50 I was issued onto the motor pool parking lot just so some butterbar can take a quick glance at it hours later for all of five seconds. But there’s a method to the madness; it ensures that every troop has everything they need — even if it’s something mundane, like an extra red filter for their L-bend flashlight, before the deployment.
When planning a raid, you should make sure everyone has every last potion they need, every last reagent required for their spells, and above all, the right armor and weapons to get them through the intense fights about to happen.
Just leave the fire doggo alone.
Timing the infiltration perfectly to cause the least amount of conflict
The military isn’t running missions like the Wild West. You don’t go kicking down every single door. That’s just dumb. What you really want to do is find where you’re going and take the path of least resistance.
For the most difficult encounters in Classic WoW, you’ll need 40 people to coordinate amongst themselves. If that sounds difficult to manage, that’s because it is. Only kill the monsters that are absolutely essential, and let everyone focus on what’s important: theloot, the boss.
If you’re a hunter, your role is to turn on the wrong aspect, set your pet to tank, wipe the raid several times, and still claim that any weapon that drops is for you.
Coordinating everyone’s strategy down to the letter
If you enlisted as a radio operator, be the best damn radio operator you can be. If you’re a medic, you keep an eye on everyone in case someone goes down. The team leaders and commanders should have their battle plans and stick to them perfectly. Even if you’re just a rifleman given just a single window to provide overwatch on, you keep your barrel on that window. There’s a greater mission at play, and everyone is counting on you to do your one task.
WoW gives kind of a double meaning to the term “roleplaying game.” There’s the disassociation with reality aspect that lets you pretend you’re a sexy elf girl when you’re really a 300lb bum sitting in your momma’s basement, but it also implies that everyone is given a mechanical role and that you’re expected to adhere to it.
If you’re a priest, heal or cast attack spells (depending on your specialization choices). If you’re a warrior, tank or stab (depending on your specialization choices). If you’re a rogue, stab or… well, you have no choice but to stab, but you get my point. Focus on what you’re best at and let that be what you bring to the table.
I don’t care what anyone says…. Stand in fire, you DPS higher.
Debrief to improve next time
There’s nothing better than rolling back in from a successful mission, dropping your gear, and hitting the chow hall. But there’s always that pesky debrief the commander wants everyone to attend first. It seems boring to the private in the back of the tent, but it’s crucial information for next time. Let everything out — what worked, what didn’t, what needs to be brought next time, what can stay back. There’s no such thing as a perfect mission, but you can tweak it ever so slightly each time.
We get it. Ragnaros didn’t drop your Perdition’s Blade and you just want to Hearthstone back to Orgrimmar. That’s fine, as long as you’re still on voice chat with your raid leaders. When everything’s said and done, it’s nearly impossible to keep tabs on 40 people at once — everyone’s input is valuable.