Pizza Tower looks and sounds like practically nothing else in gaming right now, its wacky '90s Cartoon Cartoon-style animation accompanied by a bafflingly catchy soundtrack—think classic blue sky, turn-of-the-millennium Sega vibes pushed to even greater heights. Of its two primary composers, Ronan "Mr. Sauceman" de Castel came to music late, with Pizza Tower not only being his first professional work, but first publicly available music, period. Catching up with the other main composer, ClascyJitto (also credited as Frostix), I found out that while they've been publishing their own work for a lot longer, they're also still in high school.
Pizza Tower is already a game of the year contender in a packed 2023, with some of the crispiest, most inspired 2D platforming of the past 10 years forming the dough underneath that gorgeous art and bangin' soundtrack's sauce, cheese, anchovies, pineapples, etc. The indie devs worked on it for five years bolstered by an active Discord, and that community is where de Castel and ClascyJitto first came to the project as fans. "I joined the Discord way early in development and I started making remixes of some of the early versions of the songs that were out," ClascyJitto told me. De Castel had already been brought on as composer by lead developer McPig, and both were impressed by ClascyJitto's takes on the early soundtrack. "Ronan liked the remixes and McPig suggested the idea of bringing me on as another composer for the game."
The tracklist is pretty evenly split between both composers, with the chill main menu theme Pizza Deluxe provided by guest composer Post Elvis, and despite their different backgrounds and wide geographic gulf (ClascyJitto is based on the east coast of the US, de Castel in France), they managed to create a massive, yet very cohesive soundtrack united by that propulsive, funky, almost infectiously optimistic early aughts vibe. Seriously, it's nothing but pre-Financial Crisis magic, a timeline where Sega managed to keep making hardware.
While much of ClascyJitto's other music outside Pizza Tower has a focus on sampling and remixing (including the track Lonely Poisoner, which they cited as a favorite), Pizza Tower's OST required more traditional composition, something they characterized as getting them outside their comfort zone. "Making music for Pizza Tower is sort of like a fun little game for me," ClascyJitto said. "[It] definitely makes me do things I wouldn't normally do.
"Like in Oregano Mirage & Celcius Troubles, the melodies are very active in a way. They move a whole bunch. I look back and wonder how I had the patience to put in each note one by one. Nowadays I would get very tired doing that!"
It's such a great soundtrack I could barely believe ClascyJitto is still in their teens. It wasn't until we homed in on how Pizza Tower's success had affected their life that I asked if they had to balance working on it with a day job, and they told me the "only thing [they're] really balancing is school"—namely high school.
At the time of our conversation they were chafing at the strict formalism of a music theory class—a bit ironic, given the circumstances. Though they try to keep their work and persona online separate from their personal life, ClascyJitto acknowledges "it would be really funny to pull the 'do you know who I am?' card."
Aside from leaving the option of hitting a music teacher with a "I co-created a best selling soundtrack" on the table, ClascyJitto told me contributing to Pizza Tower hadn't rocked the boat on their life too much: "It's definitely grounded me in how much nothing changed at all."
"I was always confident that my music was good," they went on, "but seeing all these real people confirm that is very pleasant." ClascyJitto is still cranking away with new work on SoundCloud and Bandcamp under the handle RiZi, recently releasing the album Hi-Speed Explosion Device, while also tinkering on a couple games, too: Earth Mechanica and Kipidon.
Learn how to make the most of every Wordle guess with our handy tips and tricks. Read our clue if you need a little help with the May 20 (700) game without giving it all away, and if you do need today's answer, just scroll or click straight to it. However you like to play Wordle, you'll find everything you need right here.
Today's game started off really well—who doesn't want to see three greens all in a row—and then swiftly turned into something of a nightmare. I had more potential right answers at my fingertips than I had the guesses to narrow them down, so it took more goes than I would have liked it to before I found the correct one. I ended up scraping by today, but it's still better than not finding the correct Wordle answer at all.
Today's Wordle hint
A Wordle hint for Saturday, May 20
The answer today is the name used for a wide variety of portable containers able to carry liquids such as coffee, tea, or even whiskey without spilling a drop or spoiling the taste, and Dark Souls fans have almost certainly chugged Estus out of one of these before now. You only need to discover a single vowel to solve this one.
Is there a double letter in today's Wordle?
No, there is no double letter in today's puzzle.
Wordle help: 3 tips for beating Wordle every day
If there's one thing better than playing Wordle, it's playing Wordle well, which is why I'm going to share a few quick tips to help set you on the path to success:
A good opener contains a balanced mix of unique vowels and consonants.
A tactical second guess helps to narrow down the pool of letters quickly.
The solution may contain repeat letters.
There's no time pressure beyond making sure it's done by midnight. So there's no reason not to treat the game like a casual newspaper crossword and come back to it later if you're coming up blank.
Today's Wordle answer
What is the #700 Wordle answer?
You're only one sentence away from a win. The answer to the May 20 (700) Wordle is FLASK.
The last 10 Wordle answers
The more past Wordle answers you can cram into your memory banks, the better your chances of guessing today's Wordle answer without accidentally picking a solution that's already been used. Past Wordle answers can also give you some excellent ideas for fun starting words that keep your daily puzzle solving fresh.
Here are some recent Wordle solutions:
May 19: GRIEF
May 18: SHORN
May 17: PLANK
May 16: LATTE
May 15: CANOE
May 14: SCARF
May 13: ACRID
May 12: SNACK
May 11: BROOM
May 10: ETHIC
Learn more about Wordle
Every day Wordle presents you with six rows of five boxes, and it's up to you to work out which secret five-letter word is hiding inside them.
You'll want to start with a strong word like ALERT—something containing multiple vowels, common consonants, and no repeat letters. Hit Enter and the boxes will show you which letters you've got right or wrong. If a box turns ⬛️, it means that letter isn't in the secret word at all. 🟨 means the letter is in the word, but not in that position. 🟩 means you've got the right letter in the right spot.
You'll want your second go to compliment the first, using another "good" word to cover any common letters you missed last time while also trying to avoid any letter you now know for a fact isn't present in today's answer.
After that it's just a case of using what you've learned to narrow your guesses down to the right word. You have six tries in total and can only use real words (so no filling the boxes with EEEEE to see if there's an E). Don't forget letters can repeat too (ex: BOOKS).
If you need any further advice feel free to check out our Wordle tips, and if you'd like to find out which words have already been used you can scroll to the relevant section above.
Originally, Wordle was dreamed up by software engineer Josh Wardle, as a surprise for his partner who loves word games. From there it spread to his family, and finally got released to the public. The word puzzle game has since inspired tons of games like Wordle, refocusing the daily gimmick around music or math or geography. It wasn't long before Wordle became so popular it was sold to the New York Times for seven figures. Surely it's only a matter of time before we all solely communicate in tricolor boxes.
This week, Blizzard pulled the plug on its long-awaited persistent co-op mode in Overwatch 2. The disappointing news is a turning point for Overwatch, as Blizzard is officially done trying to turn Overwatch into some grander competitive FPS-RPG-MMO thing. But more than that, this week has changed how I (and I bet many others) see one of my favorite games.
To now hear from game director Aaron Keller that it was always the plan to turn Overwatch into the original vision of the canceled Project Titan MMO, it feels like we've only been getting half the story on Overwatch all these years. It's hard to accept that Blizzard has burned so much goodwill on its failed ambitions for PvE when that time and effort could've been focused on growing the core Overwatch experience that, despite recent disappointments, is truly great. As a player I'm frustrated, but it must be infuriating for the Blizzard devs whose years of work on Hero mode will amount to nothing.
If the stewards of Overwatch have struggled this long to understand the game they have on their hands—a one-of-a-kind hero shooter with dazzling heroes and unparalleled variety—why should we trust in what comes next? My confidence in the Overwatch team to follow through on its base promises is at an all-time low.
Overwatch 2, as an idea, has failed. I've been thinking a lot about that Blizzcon 2019 announcement this week, and just how inevitable this all was in hindsight.
Like, it probably wasn't the best sign when fans walked away from the Overwatch 2 announcement confused about what Blizzard was actually making. It's my job to communicate facts about games, and I barely knew what to make of the reveal. Blizzard showed a grand cinematic trailer in the studio's signature style and a brief gameplay trailer showing off all the new stuff promised for the sequel—the biggest by far being its story missions and "highly replayable" co-op Hero mode with talent trees and progression.
Then former game director Jeff Kaplan took the stage and started saying things that seemingly contradicted the whole '2' part of Overwatch 2:
There would be new modes, maps, and heroes, but those would automatically carry over to Overwatch 1 players and the two games would still matchmake together…weird.
Skins carried over too, but new skins would have to be earned in the new game.
Overwatch 2 was to be a full standalone game you buy, but parts of it would just be free for existing players?
Kaplan acknowledged that Overwatch 2 wouldn't be a conventional sequel, but assured fans that it would feel like a sequel-sized product. "What we're hoping to do with Overwatch 2 is redefine what a sequel means," Kaplan said.
That turned out to be a terrible idea. Fundamental questions remained unanswered as Blizzard delayed Overwatch 2 out of 2020, and then out of 2021. All the while, Overwatch 1 received minimal attention with repeat seasonal events, an occasional deathmatch map, and zero new heroes added after 2019. Lots of other things happened to the world and Blizzard around that time, too: the pandemic brought work home in 2020, and in 2021 Activision Blizzard very publicly reckoned with its toxic work culture.
It was turbulent times for the company, and key Overwatch developers departed between 2020 and 2022, including fan-favorite game director Jeff Kaplan. Meanwhile, players stewed in confusion over what Overwatch 2 was eventually going to be.
Friends asked me if they would have to buy the new game to still play together, or if they could skip the PvE stuff and just buy new heroes. People would talk about hero missions and story missions like they were the same thing (they're not, which is still confusing) and ideas swirled about what surprises Blizzard was cooking up with extra development time. Expectations formed in the absence of concrete details. With all of those resources moved off Overwatch 1, people thought the sequel must be massive.
Blizzard ran headfirst into those expectations when it reemerged for Blizzcon 2021 to reveal…minor hero changes, a couple maps, one new mode, and an updated look at the same Hero mode stuff from two years earlier? (The Hero stuff that is now canceled, as of this week).
This was the first time that Blizzard's "redefined" sequel started to look more like a somewhat big expansion. But Blizzard stayed the course on its initial Overwatch 2 pitch: Keller maintained that Overwatch 2 would be "the next evolution, a true sequel, to the first game. Not an add-on, not a small part, it's not an extension of the original game. This is an evolution and a replacement to the original game."
Keller's vision might've felt at least mostly real had all that PvE stuff come together, but in early 2022, Blizzard rewrote its gameplan around a single goal: get Overwatch 2 out, in some form, this year. That meant "decoupling" PvP and PvE and just getting competitive multiplayer out there. This announcement video from Keller feels worlds apart from that exciting 2019 reveal.
Blizzard's own descriptions of Overwatch 2 started to sound smaller, as if it was trying to subtly lower expectations while still selling Overwatch 2 as a big release.
The first closed beta would include a new hero, Push mode, the controversial 5v5 rework, and a ping system. "When you put it all together, this represents the most new content we've brough to our game since launch," Keller said.
That much was true, and after a two-year content drought I was excited, but was this really living up to Overwatch 2? So began a six-month barrage of revelatory blog posts and dev logs leading up to launch outlining foundational last-minute changes that'd reliably piss off everyone who'd been playing Overwatch for six years:
😄Overwatch 2 is free-to-play now!
😡But heroes are behind a paywall
😄Random-chance loot boxes are gone!
😡But battle passes are in, and there's no free way to get cool stuff
😄There is a free way to unlock heroes!
😡…on Tier 55 of the battle pass
😄You won't have to download a separate client!
😡But Overwatch 1 is getting deleted forever
At the end of the road in October 2022 was the release of Overwatch 2, a sequel that didn't at all feel like a sequel, but still held the promise of more to come. Now, a large part of that promise has been scrapped and what we're left with is essentially an Overwatch expansion, poorly managed to the point of audience exhaustion.
The most disappointing part of it all is that Overwatch 2, the game, is great. There are mixed feelings about 5v5 and not every new hero has been a winner, but by and large, people are enjoying Overwatch again. My friends play it every night, max out every battle pass, and enthusiastically await new seasons. The game is doing well—enough that, for the first time this century, Activision is making more money on PC than consoles.
The broken part of the equation is Overwatch's creative direction. And credit to Keller, this week's bad news tour appears to be an acknowledgment that those early plans were a mistake.
"Overwatch was born from the ashes of Project Titan. It was a moment of metamorphosis for the team and the project… and something beautiful came out of it," he wrote. "This is another moment of change. And the future of Overwatch will be born out of it."
I hope that means, for the first time in years, the players and Blizzard are on the same page about what that future is: an FPS with regularly scheduled heroes, maps, and events that is, at its core, a competitive game first.
Crypt of the Necrodancer studio Brace Yourself Games has confirmed that it has laid off a portion of its employees, and has "shelved" some unannounced projects as a result.
The layoffs were initially reported by Game Developer, which noted a tweet from former senior producer Crystal Savin, who said she was let go after being at the company for just four months. According to Savin, half of the company's workforce was impacted; the Brace Yourself website currently lists 41 employees while the company's LinkedIn page lists 43.
With a (very) heavy heart, I am announcing that I was recently impacted by a 50% cut in workforce at my studio after only being at the company for 4 months.I am actively seeking employment opportunities in the game development, esports, and influencer spaces. RTs appreciated🙏 pic.twitter.com/CRFNuPdwPtMay 19, 2023
"Yesterday, senior management at Brace Yourself Games made the incredibly difficult decision to lay off a portion of the company’s staff," Brace Yourself Games said in a statement sent to PC Gamer. "This decision was not made lightly, as we deeply value our talented and dedicated employees.
"As part of our commitment to our employees, we are providing severance packages and support services to assist those impacted by this decision. We are also working to address the impact on our remaining team members and to ensure that we continue to meet the needs of our players."
The studio said that despite the layoffs, development of the Crypt of the NecroDancer: Synchrony DLC and the new Rift of the Necrodancer game, both of which are currently in early access on Steam, will continue. Work on Phantom Brigade, which launched in February, and one unannounced game will continue, and that "full support will also continue to be provided for titles being published by Brace Yourself Publishing."
Brace Yourself wouldn't confirm how many employees were laid off, but studio founder Ryan Clark and director of communications Madeleine Gray both retweeted Savin's statement of a "50% cut in workforce." UI designer and programmer Ben Humphries, who announced his own departure from Brace Yourself earlier this week, tweeted in response to the Game Developer report, "It's true."
There are a pile of new games announced every week—every day, really—and it's impossible to stay on top of them all. Picking which ones to pay attention to often comes down to a question of vibes: Does it move me in any way, or do anything to snap my eyes in its direction? It's not the most scientifically precise system, true, but it's worked out pretty well for me so far. And one newly announced game that's giving me some pretty good vibes is Return to Grace, a first-person narrative adventure set in a 1960s-style "retro sci-fi world."
Return to Grace tells the story of Adie Ito, a "space archaeologist" who has discovered the final resting place of an "AI god" named Grace who once served as caretaker of the solar system. All that remains now are the fractured variations of the Grace AI, each with its own unique personality and motivations, who hold the secret of Grace's fate and why she was ultimately shut down centuries ago.
The game is being developed by Creative Bytes, whose previous game (co-developed by Falling Squirrel) was The Vale: Shadow of the Crown, "an audio-based RPG with a genius approach to medieval combat" that came out in 2021. The unique storytelling aspects of that game, which follows the adventures of a blind princess—including combat—entirely through audio cues, sets my expectations for Return to Grace quite high.
So does the setting and visual style on display here: I grew up reading Golden Age and New Wave sci-fi novels and short stories, and Return to Grace is right in that particular wheelhouse. Between this and The Invincible, 2023 could be a good year for pulp fans looking for an interactive fix. (Like me!)
Return to Grace also apparently a very short game, which is great news for people who are buried under a relentless tsunami of new game releases: The Steam page says it is an "evening-sized game that can be completed in one sitting and replayed for different experiences."
Return to Grace comes out on May 30, and will be available for PC on Steam and the Epic Games Store.
Non-artists rejoice—you can now have a custom pixel art portrait of your farmer in Stardew Valley. And it's not AI powered, either; it's a free character designer tool with art by Poltergeister, the pixel artist who did all the portraits for the giant Stardew Valley Expanded mod. You can use your portrait in game with the help of a couple other mods or, hey, just use it like a Picrew maker.
The Stardew Valley Character Portrait maker is a free browser "game" over on Itch.io where you can design your custom farmer's hair, clothes, and color options and then download a handy .png file. It's a pretty cute and easy tool with lots of different face shapes, hairstyles and colors, marks like freckles or scars, and accessory options too. There are two different witch hats, even. There's also a masculine version of the tool that uses a body shape with a slightly wider neck and shoulders.
The idea behind the tool is that you can take the image it spits out and use it with the Farmer portraits mod so that your character's portrait shows up in dialogue when you talk to other characters. By default, that mod uses an enlarged version of your character sprite—but creating a custom portrait is a way cuter option.
You could also totally just use it as your social media profile picture with credit to the creators: pixel artist Poltergeister and coder Jaz, according to the creative commons license they've used. I'd say this is a better use for it, even. If my entire feed was filled with charming Stardewified faces, I wouldn't be mad.
For many more custom visuals options for the game itself, be sure to check out our list of the best Stardew Valley mods. You should find something to grab in there to give everyone else in the valley a new look, too.
Apple is joining the growing list of companies banning ChapGPT and other third-party generative AI tools for company use.
According to a document viewed by The Wall Street Journal, Apple is worried that employees using these tools could inadvertently leak confidential information. And considering what happened with Samsung in April, when employees accidentally uploaded private source code not once but three times using ChapGPT, it's really no surprise that Apple does not want to take that risk.
One piece of AI software that Apple specifically mentioned as being banned from use is GitHub Copilot, an AI tool that can generate and write simple code. It's a big time-saver for programmers: The issue is that the data used from AI tools are stored on external servers, which are used to train multiple AI models, including those created and operated by other companies.
For instance, let's say you're working on code meant to be used on a super secret pair of Apple AR glasses; that's information you'd probably don't want to accidentally feed an AI being run by your rivals such as Microsoft or Google. Protecting proprietary information is why companies like Amazon, Verizon, JPMorgan Chase, and Northrop Grumman have banned ChatGPT for the time being.
OpenAI recently updated ChatGPT's privacy options to allow users to delete and disable their chat history, preventing that data from being used to train its large Language model. However, according to its Data Controls FAQ, all conversations are kept for 30 days before permanently deleting to "monitor for abuse," but nothing else—it's not using that window to squeeze out some bonus LLM training.
In an earnings call, Apple CEO Tim Cook said it's "very important to be deliberate and thoughtful in how you approach these things, and there’s a number of issues that need to be sorted" regarding deploying AI.
Like Samsung, Apple is reportedly working on its internal Al so that employees can take advantage of the efficiency these generative AI tools can bring without revealing the company's secrets to the world.
It's also a good idea to add two-factor authentication to the accounts you do use, just to be the safe side.
One thing to consider is the accounts of people who died, and content associated with their accounts, like photos and videos, could be lost forever.
Twitter announced a similar policy of purging inactive accounts earlier this month, which faced backlash after users like former Id founder John Carmack pointed out that this would eliminate a lot of legacy content and start a "land grab" of freed-up usernames.
In the week since Tears of the Kingdom's release, modders have been working tirelessly to pick apart the game's code and tune up its inner workings. Every day there's seemingly a new iteration of a dynamic framerate mod that brings the dream of a perfect 60 fps a little more within reach. But the ravenous appetite for those improvements has come at the cost of drama in the Switch modding scene, with one of the best-known modders stepping back from creating mods and effectively shutting his Discord.
Modder theboy181 is responsible for a majority of the patches listed on the Yuzu emulator's website, which make a range of enhancements to popular Switch games. Some enable games to render in 21:9 or 32:9 ultrawide, or disable visual features like motion blur. Others—probably the most popular—double 30 fps games to 60 fps. Last November theboy181's 60 fps mod for Pokemon Scarlet went viral on Twitter, racking up 22,000 retweets.
Theboy181 started looking into Tears of the Kingdom's code last Friday, once the game was released—though by then mods created by players who had pirated the game were downloadable with early attempts to conquer the 30 fps cap and other limitations. "My process is, if I like a game, I buy it. And then I want to put it on my PC and make it look as good as possible for my own personal means," theboy181 told me in an interview on Monday. "Doing that in the past, I've shared things publicly after I've had time to play them and know they're quality mods."
Tears of the Kingdom has an impatient contingent of fans hungry for every minor modding breakthrough the second it's available. Remember that while the new Zelda has been on sale for less than a week, it leaked a full two weeks early, meaning it's now been available for some 20 days to players who pirated it. The players most invested in modding, then, had already stolen the game, and didn't take kindly to theboy181's "paywalled" mods.
On theboy181's Discord server, players interested in his mods could donate $1 or more to access private channels for individual games where he posted in-development versions of the mods. The process of modding games for emulation is time-consuming to get right. First, you have to dump the game and decompile its code using a tool like Ghidra, translating impenetrable hex values into more understandable assembly. "Visually it shows you a graph of the code and what it's doing, and that visual representation helps me understand what decisions are being made by the game logic," theboy181 said. "You'll see things like adds, multiplications, division—you're looking for different snippets, like an aspect ratio. It's always one specific value, like 16 divided by 9."
From there, modders start modifying values that pertain to aspects like framerate, but those changes can cause ripple effects and break other aspects of the game. There's a lot of trial-and-error involved. "I'm not a coder—I've started taking some scripting language courses and learning, but basically, I'm pretty good at figuring out how things should work and then testing," theboy181 added. "The secret sauce is being able to spend three days going through 30,000 lines of code without your family disowning or leaving you."
On theboy181's Discord server, supporters weren't technically paying for mods—their donations essentially granted them early access, similar to the Patreon for the Yuzu emulator. After testing and finalizing mods, theboy181 would then post them publicly to Github, but that could take awhile.
On Wednesday, someone using a burner Reddit account named PaywalledModsLMAO created a thread on r/NewYuzuPiracy with a download link to all of theboy181's in-progress Zelda mods. "I'm ashamed to say I paid my mandatory $1 for these," the poster wrote, before including a "mini-exposé" about theboy181's "hacky" modding practices. The main criticism is that theboy181 copied, and then paywalled, the work of Redditor ChucksFeedandSeed, who had been posting framerate-based mods on the NewYuzuPiracy subreddit since well before launch day, and didn't adequately credit his work. There's also a vague accusation of broader plagiarism with older mods.
The criticisms ultimately come off as petty under even a little scrutiny. In his dynamic fps mod, ChucksFeedandSeed had written "if any paid patch devs want to use the info here feel free, I don't mind, just please don't make me wait weeks to try it out myself." Theboy181 publicly posted Chuck's code in his announcement channel with a single modification, writing "Thanks for the unknown modder," and then also uploaded his adjusted version of the dynamic fps mod in the private Tears of the Kingdom channel.
To the Reddit posters this was a smoking gun: proof of poor accreditation and unfair paywalling. But as theboy181 explained to me on Monday, he wasn't initially positive who did the work—and shortly after, he released a new mod explicitly designed to work hand-in-hand with Chuck's.
In our interview, theboy181 told me a user had brought the dynamic fps mod to his attention on a piracy site. "I'm like, oh, so it might not even be the original author's work," he said. "That morning I tested it out, and I was quite impressed. I looked at the code and had a couple of questions on how he determined a couple of offsets he used. I was like, 'this guy has a debugger. I want to meet him, and I want to learn from him. Because that would have taken me a long time to figure out."
Theboy181's slightly modified version of the patch, which didn't credit Chuck by name, was only in that private channel (in addition to the public announcements channel) for about 30 hours; on Tuesday, he removed it and released a new mod that fixed cutscenes playing at double speed at 60 fps, and suggested everyone pair it with a newly updated mod from ChucksFeedandSeed (the dynamic framerate has to be paired with a higher fps mod). Theboy181 also donated to Chuck's Ko-Fi page, where he remains the top contributor.
Hours later the accusatory Reddit post appeared, ignoring the sequence of events that indicated theboy181 clearly had acknowledged Chuck's work, and bending over backwards to justify leaking all of his in-development mods.
When we talked on Monday, theboy181 told me that he used to run a Patreon, which at times earned $500 per month. "It felt good to actually get people to support my creative work," he said. "And then one day someone came along, donated like $5, took all my work and built a program that would distribute it. At that point I closed my Patreon down because it defeated the whole process. It was frustrating, but at the same time it was kind of flattering. Like, wow, I'm getting pirated!"
Theboy181 has had similar experiences since then, which have driven him to dramatically quit the mod scene in frustration, only to return later. After an influx of members to his Discord accusing him of stealing Chuck's work on Wednesday, and then the leak on Reddit, he closed down the server and posted that he's "taking an indefinite break from modding due to feeling undervalued."
"It's been an honor serving you, but it's time I prioritized my family," he wrote.
There's a gloating tone to most of the subsequent responses to this announcement on the NewYuzuPiracy subreddit, with many posters declaring it a win against anyone daring to charge for mods. "Modding SHOULD be a hobby and I will always pirate and leak every fucking 'paywalled' mod I come across," wrote poster Womenaregaylmaolol.
This kind of drama is perhaps inevitable in any fandom intertwined with piracy, but in the end it only makes the emulation scene a worse place for everyone. On Monday, theboy181 spoke excitedly about the sky-high level of interest in Tears of the Kingdom, and how many talented modders that he expected to be better and faster than him would come out of the woodwork. "The only reason I'm any good at this is because of the amount of time I put in and how stubborn I am," he said. "The other half of it, the reason that the public sees anything good, is because of the testers and supporters. They're donating, and then they're going to work. I could not play through this many games, or have this much passion for half these games to be able to detect the issues that need to be fixed."
That resource is now gone in the Switch scene, at least temporarily. Tears of the Kingdom has no shortage of modders, but smaller Switch games in need of their own 60 fps patches and other challenging mods may not attract the same dedication in the future.
The long-running multiplayer survival horror game Dead by Daylight is about to move into the singleplayer realm courtesy of a new project in development at Supermassive Games, the developer of Until Dawn, The Dark Pictures Anthology, and The Quarry.
Details on the Supermassive project won't be announced until later this year, but Dead by Daylight studio Behaviour Interactive said it "will offer players an intense narrative experience filled with powerful life-or-death choices set within the backdrop of Dead by Daylight."
"We've been working hard to blend intention, agency, and the branching storytelling of a Supermassive game together with Dead by Daylight's mythology to create an intense narrative experience filled with power life-or-death choices," executive producer Traci Tufte said during today's Year 7 anniversary broadcast. "Our game will be set outside the Entity's realm and features the story of a new cast of characters, who players will follow for an unprecedented experience beyond the Fog."
"This is a whole new way for horror fans to experience Dead by Daylight," studio head Steve Goss added.
The Entity, by the way, is an omnipotent, supernatural being who travels the cosmos in search of worlds to consume. It pits survivors against killers in countless realms in order to feed off their emotions, enabling it to grow more powerful and ultimately to devour the world it's chosen. It will also occasionally manifest in the game, to make situations even worse than they already are.
A new Dead by Daylight multiplayer game is also in the works, this one being made by Scavengers studio Midwinter Entertainment, which Behaviour acquired in 2022. Details on that one are also being kept under wraps, but it sounds rather like a Left 4 Dead/Redfall type of thing—hopefully more of the former than the latter.
"The themes in our game will center around greed and the lust for power," producer Audrey Mladina said. "These will be present in both the gameplay itself and in the stories of the characters who were tempted to enter a strange new corner of the Entity's realm.
"Our vision is to create a multiplayer PvE experience where instead of facing off against each other, up to four players can team up, enter another one of the Entity's realms, and take on a host of deadly enemies that occupy it."
Midwinter's game is also still in "very early stages" of development, studio head Mary Olson said.
Before any of the above happens, Dead by Daylight will move into another new year of multiplayer survival horror—Year 8, if you're keeping track—which will bring cosmetics inspired by Iron Maiden and Slipknot, and (this is the big one) Nicolas Cage—yes, the actual Nicolas Cage—to the game as a standalone survivor.
"Assortment of high poly mesh and texture replacers for gourds using 3d-scanned real gourds," the author writes. "Finally a sorely-needed full overhaul of the gourd plant!" The attention to detail here really is staggering. There's a single harvestable "gourd" item in the base game, but Kabu has taken the liberty of diversifying the gourd population, with instances of delicata squash, butternut squash, elongated pumpkin, and zucchini all behaving mechanically identical to the generic gourd of yore.
Kabu's previous work includes tweaks to atronach salts and an overhaul of pumpkins—the gourd's flashier, more mainstream cousin. Really, I consider pumpkins to be the Mario to the humble gourd's Luigi. If Kabu's quest to repopulate Skyrim with super high quality alchemical ingredient models speaks to you on a deep level, you can also support the author on Ko-fi or Patreon.
The multiplayer survival horror game Dead by Daylight is getting a brand new survivor in Year 8, and his name is Nic. The big news actually leaked out earlier this week, but now it's official and real: Nicolas Cage, the man who brought us, well, Nicolas Cage, is coming to the game later this year in "the collaboration players didn't know they needed."
Nicolas Cage is a tremendously talented actor—remember, he's won an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild award, and been nominated for numerous others—but over the years he's also developed a reputation for being seriously over the top, both personally and professionally. To some, it represents a deep commitment to his craft, while to others it's just deeply weird, and there's really no telling how much of it, if any, is a put-on: In a recent "Nicolas Cage replies to fans on the internet" video, for instance, he said the story about having two teeth pulled without anesthesia ahead to prepare for his role in Birdy was only partially true because the teeth needed to come out anyway.
"The timing of it worked out," Cage said. "It made me seem like a method lunatic. But the truth is, it was something I had to do anyway."
Regardless of where you come down on that particular discussion, it sounds like we'll be getting the full Nic in his Dead by Daylight debut. He'll be playing himself in the game, and yes, it's actually Nicolas Cage playing Nicolas Cage as Nicolas Cage.
"He's got such an iconic voice and delivery. We couldn't do this without him," game director Mathieu Cote said during a press event revealing Cage's upcoming addition to Dead by Daylight.
"In some cases, for the screams and grunts, we have used different people sometimes because these are extremely strenuous exertions, and they can take a toll on people. But in this case, Mr. Cage told us there has never been a voice sound-alike for Nic Cage, and we will not have one now. So he was generous enough to record every single grunt, scream, and exertion that you will hear in Dead by Daylight."
Cage isn't the only big name coming to Dead by Daylight. Legendary metal bands Iron Maiden and Slipknot are also on the way, although unfortunately not as survivors or killers (which in Iron Maiden's case would be particularly appropriate.) Instead, they will be represented by new cosmetics: the Iron Maiden Collection, a series inspired by the band's famed mascot Eddie, and the Slipknot Collection of nine killer masks based on the members of the band.
Along with Nic, Maiden, and Slipknot, Year 8 of Dead by Daylight will include four new chapters, beginning with the sci-fi-styled End Transmission, which will have a new map, a new original killer called The Singularity, and a new survivor. On top of that, there will be two new licensed killers, two bonus "survivor-only" chapters, and other new content, mechanics, and quality-of-life additions. Further details about what's coming—including how Nic Cage is going to fit into all of it—will be revealed on July 5.
Aaron Keller's latest Director's Take blog doesn't have the jovial tone that they usually do. The Overwatch 2 game director used the space this week to expand on an announcement made Tuesday that Blizzard has cancelled Overwatch 2's long-awaited PvE "Hero mode." The news came in the last few minutes of a 30-minute livestream, along with the announcement that story missions were still happening as early as Season 6.
The news did not go over well. Confusion swirled as fans and websites alike were under the impression that all PvE was scrapped. Players are angry that Blizzard spent years selling Overwatch 2 on the promise of PvE only to kneecap its development halfway through its first year. Story missions are coming, but the mode that was supposed to make PvE in Overwatch more than a fleeting distraction is never happening.
Keller expanded on the reasoning for cancelling Hero mode in today's blog—essentially, it wasn't close to done or proving to be as fun as the team had hoped, so Blizzard decided to stop taking resources away from Overwatch 2's live content.
"Things rarely go as planned in game development. We struggled to find our footing with the Hero Mission experience early on. Scope grew. We were trying to do too many things at once and we lost focus," Keller said. "The team built some really great things, including hero talents, new enemy units and early versions of missions, but we were never able to bring together all of the elements needed to ship a polished, cohesive experience."
The most interesting revelation in the blog is how Overwatch 2 got its PvE focus in the first place. Since Overwatch's launch in 2016, Blizzard has apparently been planning to realize the original vision of the cancelled MMO FPS that Overwatch was born out of, Project Titan.
"The Overwatch team was founded in the wake of a cancelled game at Blizzard called Project Titan. That game had many facets, but at its heart, it was an FPS MMO. The Overwatch team, especially at its inception, considered itself an MMO development team. As we transitioned away from that original concept and started creating Overwatch, we included plans to one day return to that scope," he said.
"We had a crawl, walk, run plan. Overwatch was the crawl, a dedicated version of PvE was the walk, and an MMO was the run. It was built into the DNA of the team early on, and some of us considered that final game a true realization of the original vision of Project Titan."
The ambition to return to Project Titan was always back of mind for team Overwatch, so much so that work was already beginning on its PvE future before development of Overwatch 2. Keller now thinks this was a mistake.
"When we launched Overwatch in 2016, we quickly started talking about what that next iteration could be. Looking back at that moment, it's now obvious that we weren’t as focused as we should have been on a game that was a runaway hit."
When Hero mode wasn't panning out as hoped, Keller wishes with hindsight that they'd pivoted earlier to focus on Overwatch's PvP core, the thing that fans already love.
"In this case, I had trouble pivoting away from a vision that just wasn’t working. And for that I would like to apologize to our players and to our team. I’m sorry."
Keller stops short of saying the Overwatch MMO plans are outright dead, but the scaling down of PvE plans suggests that Blizzard wants to focus on what Overwatch is already good at. New PvE modes are in the works, and Keller promises that the upcoming story missions are "leaps and bounds above what we’ve built for PvE previously," but it sounds like co-op in Overwatch 2 will continue to be what it has always been: a light snack of fun but forgettable side activities.
Samsung has reportedly inked a new deal to buy OLED panels from arch rival LG. Superficially, that seems like an odd move. After all, Samsung only recently got back into the OLED game itself with its much vaunted QD-OLED panel tech. So could the move possibly signal plans for Samsung to exit OLED manufacturing after all?
That would be a pity given that, so far, we've generally preferred gaming monitors based on Samsung OLED tech, such as the Alienware 34 AW3423DWF , to those using LG's OLED panels.
But very likely there's no need to panic. According to Reuters, the deal involves 77-inch and 83-inch panels. In the TV market, Samsung currently sells 55-inch, 65-inch and 77-inch OLED TVs. For PC monitors, Samsung supplies a 34-inch ultrawide QD-OLED panels to the likes of Alienware and Philips, among others, and indeed sells a monitor model of its own based on the 34-inch panel, the pricey Samsung G8 G85SB OLED Ultra.
Anyway, the deal with LG doesn't automatically imply anything about Samsung's commitment to OLED tech. For starters, it produces a zillion OLED panels annually for smartphones including its own Galaxy handsets and Apple's iPhone.
But even in the market for the larger panels that go into TVs and monitors, the deal could easily be as much about smoothing out supply chains and filling out its product stack, from a TV production perspective, as it is any indication that Samsung doesn't want to make OLED panels itself.
It's always worth remembering with Samsung what a huge, sprawling conglomerate we're talking about. Samsung Electronics will buying OLED panels from LG. But it's another part of the empire, Samsung Display, that makes OLED panels. And they are ultimately separate entities under common ownership rather than, say, different divisions in the same company.
No doubt Samsung Display would be Samsung Electronics' preferred source of OLED tech. And, equally, there will surely be a degree of alignment and shared planning. But if Samsung electronics sees an opportunity to sell, say, 83-inch OLED TVs and Samsung Display doesn't have a panel to offer in the short term, well, you might end up with just this kind of deal.
The only issue we see is how the LG-powered TVs are marketed. Samsung goes heavy on the whole QD-OLED thing and it's not clear how LG's WOLED tech fits within that marketing narrative.
Back on the PC, as we reported recently, both LG and Samsung are working on 27-inch and 32-inch 4K OLED panels for gaming monitors. That's the panel producing arms of each company, respectively, as opposed to the monitor making subsidiaries, and thus LG's will be WOLED and Samsung's will sport QD-OLED tech.
It's not totally clear when monitors based on those panels will be available. It might not be until 2025. But all the indications are that both of the major players in large OLED displays are sticking with the technology. Samsung isn't going anywhere.
I don't know why it is that in-game text messages are so often tragically bad. A game can have immaculate writing, a gut-wrenching narrative and then smack you in the face with the stalest, most cringe-worthy texts known to man. They're usually just a pretty lame way of driving the narrative or giving a mini lore dump while you're busy doing other things. But what if text messages in games were lowkey unhinged, often pointless to the plot but a whole lot of fun to read instead?
Honkai: Star Rail dishes out texts that are the perfect level of ridiculous, yet feel strangely grounded in its silly little space RPG world. I've become surprisingly enamoured with its cast—I never got particularly attached to Genshin Impact's heroes, but HoYo's English writing team seems to have seriously improved for Honkai. I've especially loved the interaction between the core three characters—the player-created protagonist, their buddy Dan Heng, and March 7th (yes, that's a character's name)—which has definitely been helped by some of the daft texts I've exchanged with them over my weeks of playing.
They're the perfect blend of outright silly and oddly relatable, offering comic relief between the level grind and giving me a little treat when I log in each morning. They're the kind of text messages I would send to my own pals, poking fun at them or being a snarky little bastard for no good reason by pretending their messages have bounced back or cheekily asking for a bank transfer. I love being a stinky chaos goblin, and Honkai's text messages finally offer me the freedom to do so instead of giving a plain, stereotypical protagonist response. Those are still there of course, if that's what you're into, but I feel like Honkai has writers behind it who actually understand how most friends talk to each other and want to give you those more fun, relatable options too.
An early conversation with Clara—a young girl with a terrifyingly large robot—has her using an emoticon that you can call out as cute, replying with ones of your own. It serves no purpose to the actual conversation (where Clara is asking for help and initiates a sidequest), but the tangent gives far more flavour to the conversation and actually made me interested in going and helping her out. It's such a simple conversation, but ends up being a huge standout, to the point it was even recreated by some of Honkai's English voice cast during a livestream recently.
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Another personal favourite of mine are the conversations between the protagonist and March 7th. Their playful relationship is clear throughout the main story, but it's really highlighted through their text conversations. There's a moment where you have the option to tease March by saying she looks like a crying emoji, or sarcastically tell her that her photos look great before she's even gotten round to sending one. They're the kinds of conversations I had to screenshot and send to my own friends who I have a similarly playful relationship with.
Each daily reset also presents me with a new text message from a random character. These literally serve zero purpose. They don't drive the narrative or even offer side quests. An incredibly small amount of currency is the only reward for interacting with them, but they're one of the things I look most forward to with each reset. They've offered small glimpses into what my characters get up to when I'm not around, and give my protagonist a chance to actually have some goddamn personality. Today I had Pela offering me an original artbook, only to break my heart when she revealed she'd messaged the wrong person. Am I gutted? A little bit, I can't lie. Why would Pela do this to me?
I really hope HoYoverse keeps up the text messages as the game's lifespan ticks by. I've been pleasantly surprised by how much personality Honkai: Star Rail has—its protagonist feels fleshed out and fun to play, the chemistry between the cast is clear throughout the main story and numerous side quests, and even its banner pull animations are bombastic and energetic. I'm so glad there's finally a game that can match my own goblinesque texting tendencies, and I really hope other games start letting me banter with my virtual pals in the same manner.
The best gaming chair offers the best ergonomics and build quality. Everything else comes second. Luckily, the best gaming chairs today look totally awesome, so you're not at a loss for comfort or customisation. Getting a chair that meets all of of those requirements can cost a fair wad of cash, however, so it's important to spend your money wisely.
A good chair might set you back a bit, but it'll be a great investment in terms of its ergonomic benefits. Your body is a delicate fleshy meatbag that needs some care, and today the best gaming chair is the Secretlab Titan Evo. It's a combination of Secretlab's previous chairs, and takes the best from both.
Gaming chairs come in all shapes and sizes: racing car seats, thrones covered in satanic runes, and even gaming chairs that fly the banner of your favorite superhero. For a more reserved option, we've made sure to include some low-key yet stylish office chairs such as the Herman Miller X Logitech G Embody. It offers the support you want out of a gaming chair, without all the gamery aesthetics—though all for the money of an actual gaming PC.
We've tested dozens of gaming chairs from the most reliable companies out there today, and every single chair in this guide has passed under our collective butts. And while you could always go the cheap office chair route instead, we feel it's worth investing in your ergonomics. Go on, treat your posterior to something special—your body will thank you.
The Secretlab Titan is the benchmark by which we judge all other gaming chairs. To earn that role it ticked all the boxes you could ask of gaming furniture: it's comfy, supportive, and importantly looks great too.
The insanely comfy T3 Rush has a memory foam lumbar pillow and features a breathable fabric finish. Looking more expensive than it is, it's ideal for you if you have a smaller frame - it good be too narrow for you otherwise.
The Herman Miller Embody oozes premium- you'd expect nothing less at this price. With superb comfort and a warranty spanning over a decade, it's absolutely the chair of choice if you're willing to invest in ergonomics.
Seat type: Racing back, levelled seat base | Recline: 165 degrees | Weight capacity: Up to 180kg (397lbs, XL size only) | Weight: 37.5kg (83lbs) | Warranty: 3-year
Magnetic cushion and covers
Everything we want in a gaming chair feature-wise
Pricier than older Secretlab chairs
3-year warranty isn't a match for some ergo chairs
The Secretlab Titan is the benchmark by which we judge all other gaming chairs. To earn that role it ticked all the boxes you could ask of gaming furniture: it's comfy, supportive, and importantly looks great too. None of that has changed with the Secretlab Titan Evo 2022, either, which is the latest chair out of the Secretlab lot (ignore its dated name in 2023).
Rather than tread old ground, let's get right into the good stuff. Secretlab is posing the Titan Evo to a wide audience, with three available sizes: small, regular, and extra large. The benefit of this being you'll no longer need to look to a different model of chair to find the right fit—the Titan Evo should cover most bases.
Secretlab has added a minor curve to the seat base that it says is to keep you in a healthy sitting posture. It's kind of hard to say whether such a gentle curvature is really doing much to keep me locked securely in place throughout the day, though the seat is plenty comfortable all the same with plenty of foam padding.
User-friendly ergonomics make the Titan Evo a great fit for long nights gaming or eight hours tapping away for work, and that comes down to its superb built-in back support. It's highly adjustable, which means you can nail down a great fit with ease. There's also something to be said for the 4D armrests and head cushion, both of which are magnetic.
You read that right, a magnetic head cushion. A simple solution to fiddly straps, the Titan Evo does away with all that with a couple of powerful magnets.
A big part of the Titan Evo's high level of comfort is the adjustable lumbar support. It works by extending and retracting an internal support both in and out and up and down, through the use of the two dials on the side. So not only are you not relying on an awkward pillow to prop up your back, you can actually tweak the Titan Evo's lumbar support while you're still sat on it. This makes it exceptionally easy to get just right.
The chair is also upholstered immaculately. While there's still something to be said for the SoftWeave Plus fabric that Secretlab also offers (we tested the hybrid leatherette version), I have to say I'm quite taken with the look of the leatherette, and especially the bright red stitching.
I'll have to get back to you on actual durability when I've had longer with the chair, perhaps when the Titan Evo 2024 comes out I can tell you if it truly stands the test of time. Still, I can note how surprisingly airy and cool the leatherette fabric feels over the course of a day.
As an amalgamation of both of Secretlab's previous gaming chair models, the Titan and Omega, the Secretlab Titan Evo feels the better of both in every regard. What each chair has done so well, the Titan Evo manages to equal or better. It is slightly pricier than its predecessors at $449 ($499 for the XL model), but I feel that the upgrades it delivers are genuinely worth the higher price tag.
Corsair's latest addition to its lineup of premium gaming chairs, the T3 Rush, has gotten a much-needed facelift. The T3 Rush is an insanely comfy chair thanks to its memory foam lumbar pillow but, more importantly, uses a breathable soft fabric in place of faux leather. This is because it retains less heat, keeping you fresh and comfy instead of sweating in your squeaky pleather.
I don't have the heart to try it, but my main concern about a fabric gaming chair is how easy it cleans stains compared to leather and faux leather? So, it's something to consider if you're a notorious eater of foods and a spiller of liquids at your desk.
Appearance-wise, the Rush leans more towards office-chic than a professional gamer. It comes in gray or black and avoids outrageous design choices that might look a little embarrassing on a work call. It's a chair that looks more expensive ($300) than it is. If you were looking for a little more personality, DX Racer and Secret Labs have many designs and colors if you're tired of black or gray.
The Rush also reclines to a ridiculous 180 degrees if you want to lie back and take a comfy cat nap before taking on another marathon streaming session of Apex Legends or CS: GO.
The only major downside of the T3 Rush is for smaller-framed users. If you require a smaller seat, the T3 will be an uncomfortably tight fit. So, if you're over 6 ft tall or larger than 200lbs, you'll need to look elsewhere unless you're buying this for a kid. However, the lack of any fun colors might turn them off.
If you're the sort of person who prioritizes functionality over flash, the NeueChair is an excellent option. This isn't to say it's not stylish—quite the opposite; the NeueChair comes in a sleek, muted obsidian or flashy chrome/silver, both with bold, sweet curved supports on the back and an attractive black mesh.
But, more importantly, the NeueChair is built to last, with a heavy, sturdy industrial construction. Even the chair's weight in the packaging indicates a solid piece of carefully constructed industrial art: it's heavy and substantial.
Assembling it is a breeze, as it comes in two discrete pieces and is simply a matter of inserting the casters and then pushing the two parts together. Almost every aspect of the seat is adjustable, from the armrests to the lumbar support system that lets you change the height depth of the backrest.
It's one of the best office chairs I've ever had the pleasure to sit in, and if you can afford the admittedly steep price tag, well worth the investment.
Perhaps you've heard of the Herman Miller Embody. It occupied a top position in our best office chair roundup for a long time, but that has come to an end. Not for lack of comfort or acclaim, simply because the famed chair manufacturer has partnered up with Logitech to create something tailor-made to our gaming rumps.
For the most part, the Herman Miller x Logitech G Embody actually isn't a complete departure from the Embody of old. A tried, tested, and widely recognized design, the gaming Embody comes in a new black and blue colorway, with plain black also available if you're going for a more sober/edgelord look. There's also a small Logitech G brand toggle on the rear, that doesn't serve any purpose that I know of and a Logitech G logo across the upper band of the backrest.
I'm not sure the Logitech collab is bringing a lot to the party, but the branding is notably light touch next to the racing style gaming chairs that we're used to as PC gamers, and it feels classy as a result.
It's not so much the changes that make the Embody stand out as one of the best gaming chairs going. It's what's been kept the same. The tried and tested Embody design is simply one of the best chairs for office work or gaming. It's incredibly comfortable over prolonged use, supports an active and healthy posture, and is easily fitted to your frame.
Yet I wasn't sure what to expect of the Embody before it arrived. I certainly hadn't envisioned such a massive box turning up on my doorstep. First impressions, then, entirely focused on how I was going to get said box up two flights of narrow steps leading up to my apartment.
That massive box hides what is perhaps one of the Herman Miller's best features. After deciding that I had to cut the chair out of the box with a knife in my hallway, I discovered the chair was fully assembled so there was no fussing with screws or throwaway tools, which is something of a pet peeve of mine. (I'm amassing third-rate Allen keys from cheap flatpack furniture and I can't help but feel there's got to be a better way.)
The most immediately noticeable trait of this chair: You can sit in it all day and not feel a moment of discomfort beneath your tush. You may shift around your top half into all sorts of absolutely not ergonomic positions during the day but your bottom half tends to stay stuck in place at a desk, so it's important to get that just right. Thankfully, the Embody does.
The warranty, too, is a standout feature. At 12 years, including labor, and rated for 24-hour use over that time, it's a chair that is guaranteed to last you over a decade, if not longer. So while the initial price tag may seem steep, and that it is, the reality is you're certain to get your money's worth in the long run. And your back will be thankful for it, too.
When buying a gaming chair, it's easy to forget your health. After all, most are advertised as luxurious, cushioned thrones that soothe your every ache as you smash the crap out of your foes in Apex Legends. But that isn't true, and for some, it's important to pick a chair that takes back support seriously.
With some of the team having used it daily for almost a year, we can thoroughly recommend the Noblechairs Hero in uPVC leather. While not the most exciting of chairs, or the sportiest, it certainly does a good job of taking care of your back.
The Hero is easy to assemble, except for the bit where you attach the back to the seat, so make sure you have a buddy for that. It's firm and supportive, and extremely sturdy. As a word of warning: it is substantial, so if you prefer a softer chair that isn't as good for your lumbar, this maybe isn't for you.
Honestly, the sheer presence of the Hero gaming chair is staggering. The seat's cold-cure pressed foam means it’s firm yet comfortable. You don’t sink right into it, which helps with posture, and it will soften over time, but it certainly complements the aesthetic (hard look = brutal). But that base support means it’s still good for long gaming sessions—or working from home in your heathen temple. Either way, what it lacks in softness, it makes up for in support.
I love the pivoting armrests, so you can jimmy them out of the way when you want to use a gamepad, and they’re fully height and width adjustable too, which is great for us little people. Also having such a wide armrest is great, but I find myself leaning on the corner a lot, not making full use of them, and at the same time tiring my elbow out. I’d personally prefer padded armrests, but at least they don’t get sticky or slippery when you’re attempting to flex on your favorite horror FPS franchise.
The chair is height adjustable (as should all chairs be), and the backrest has a ‘rake mechanism’ so you can adjust the angle with its handbrake lookin’ contraption, and a completely independent ‘lock tilt’ mechanism so you can rock freely, or lock yourself almost horizontally for a good nap if all that hardcore gaming has tired you out. It also doesn’t spring forward and crushes you when unlocked, which is always nice.
The Kaiser 3 XL is a fantastic chair for anyone looking for a little more wiggle room than your usual gaming seat. The Kaiser 3 comes in two sizes: large and extra large. The large accommodate gamers 4’11 to 6’2’’ (150-190cm) and the extra large is for gamers 5’11” to 6’9” (181-210cm). The one I have the pleasure of experiencing is an extra large.
The width of the extra large is for medium to XXXL, so whether you have a gluteus maximus or a gluteus minimus this chair will fit.
The Kaiser 3 is really into giving options. This chair is available in two types of materials, premium PVC leather and linen fabric. The premium leather comes in seven different colors, including orange, pink and blue. The linen fabric comes in two colors; carbon black and ash gray. The chair I've been testing is the premium PVC leather elegant black which resembles the Jungle 2. The Jungle 2 is seen with orange accents.
All of these things are cool, right? It’s great that the Kaiser 3 reclines to 165 degrees, it has two levers, one controls the tilt, the other controls the height of the chair raising it about three inches. These things are all great for comfort.
What I really want to get into is the Kaiser 3's really cool features that add to maximum comfort like the 4D armrests. Much like the Secretlab Titan Evo chair we love, the armrests are magnetic and are made of a PU foam that makes them easy to lean on. There are three buttons on the armrest, the one placed on the outside of the armrest controls the height of it. The button on the inside of the chair near the tip of the armrest allows it to go forward and backward and pivot left to right. The last one located underneath the armrest moves it left to right.
I love a 4D armrest, especially when the chair reclines backward and tilts forward because it allows me to adjust the armrest for the position I’m sitting in. Nothing makes me more nervous than dangling elbows. It's like leaving your foot hanging off the bed at night.
You just know something is going to grab it.
Continuing with the magnetic theme is the neck pillow, another stellar feature. This one is a game changer, I can’t even lie. I am amazed at this magnetic neck pillow. That means no straps, no struggling to clip it through the backrest. BAM! Slap that baby on the chair like you’re in a Flex Tape commercial and it stays. Beyond it being a really cool feature, its helpful if you are shorter than the 5’11” that’s recommended for this chair because it’s easily adjustable further up or down on the chair.
It being magnetic doesn’t take away from its comfort, either. The neck pillow is made with memory foam and has cooling technology to maintain comfort.
Notice anything missing? Maybe a lumbar support pillow. That’s the cool thing! There is no lumbar support pillow, but there is lumbar support—it’s built into the chair. And controlled by two knobs placed on the left and right sides of the chair.
As far as accessibility goes, they’re not placed in the best positions. But the knob on the left controls the lumbar support moving up and down. Which is, again, a great function depending on your height. The knob on the right side of the chair determines the firmness of the lumbar support and how much it protrudes out of the chair. When I turn the knob toward me I get more lumbar support. The lumbar support recedes into the chair when I turn it away from me. Neat.
Seriously, I can sit in this all day. Plus there’s a feature being released in June, a magnetic tray table panel that snaps into the armrest. A portable desk sounds dope, well a lot more dope than a gaming high chair, which it also looks like.
Let's face it, we spend a lot of time here at PC Gamer sitting on our butts. And that makes us perfect candidates for testing gaming chairs. We will dedicate a significant amount of time to parking our posteriors in a variety of gaming and office chairs when it comes to testing them out, because it's only really by using a chair over an extended period that you get to know where it supports you and where it might be lacking.
So, we'll use each of the gaming chairs we test as our main working seat for the time that we are testing a chair. That way we can get a feel for what it would be like to actually live with a particular piece of gaming furniture, as we would if we'd purchased it ourselves.
It also means that we can test the longevity of things like the different levers and controls over time, too. We've had issues where some cheaper brands had plastic levers that just wouldn't last.
The subjective sitting experience is the most important factor when we test gaming chairs, but the actual build experience is important, too. We don't want to have a chair that tries to take a bite out of us when we come to install the back rest, or has poorly machined screw holes that don't line up.
And value is key to us as well. A chair doesn't have to be cheap, but so long as it feels like it's worth the money you're being expected to pay then it has value.
As gamers and office workers, we spend a significant chunk of each day sitting on our money makers in front of screens. Given that most of us don't plan to change that anytime soon, it only makes sense to do so in a great chair. So that's what I set out to find.
We wanted to find chairs that maximized comfort, support, and value. We spoke with Melissa Afterman, MS CPE, a Senior Principal Ergonomist with VSI Risk Management & Ergonomics, Inc., who specializes in workstation setups.
"Absolutely, chairs are still okay," she told me. "Yes, we know that sitting too long is bad for you. The reality is that standing too long is just as bad for you, so the answer is movement. Taking breaks, getting up at least every hour and moving, or changing your position from standing to sitting every hour so that you're not standing too long either."
"If you're typing and working at the computer, you really want more upright support so that you can maintain neutral spine posture and let the chair hold you up," she said. "But when you switch to a gaming mode, you may want to recline a little bit to relax your lower back while still having good support in that position. So a locking backrest and/or some tension control is important."
Another feature to look for, though it tends to be found on more expensive models, is a seat pan slider. This enables you to slide the positioning of your butt forwards or backward relative to the backrest.
Are gaming chairs really worth it?
The best gaming chairs will complete your PC setup, not just from an aesthetic point of view, but because you will likely be spending hours sat in front of your machine, they will give you the support needed to keep your spine healthy too.
Is a gaming chair better than an office chair?
Nope! You can find good or bad examples of both, and believe us there are plenty. That said, some office chairs are great for gaming and vice versa, and there are 'office chairs', like the Herman Miller Embody, that blend the line between both.
Really it's about finding what's right for you, and a lot of the time that's a gaming chair because, let's be honest, you like the look of it. That's a perfectly good reason to make that decision, just make sure you're not sacrificing comfort and ergonomics for style and flair.
A cheap office chair can be a great pick if you want to save cash and be comfy.
Are gaming chairs good for your posture?
The best gaming chairs look out for you and your back. When it comes to chair design, lumbar support is vital. The first thing you should look for in a new gaming chair is whether it has any built-in support to help your body maintain an ideal posture. Some even come with lumbar support pillows that work to some extent. Multi-adjustable arm-rests, upholstery, and general style are also important; note these features aren't cheap.
That said, a gaming chair can't do everything. The best gaming chairs encourage good posture, but the other half of the equation is on you to stick to it.
Does every gaming chair fit every body type?
Different chair models accommodate different heights and weights, so make sure to check your fit. Look at the width and depth of the seat, too. Some chairs claim that you should sit cross-legged, but that depends on your size and legs' length.
If you've ever wondered where your CPU or GPU actually came from, it was a semiconductor manufacturing site most likely run by TSMC, Intel, or Samsung. It's this small handful of companies that produces almost every high-performance gaming processor available today, from Nvidia's RTX 4090 to AMD's Ryzen 9 7950X3D.
There are such mammoth expenses associated with developing and manufacturing high performance computer chips that only few companies are able to afford to do it. Any other competition has fallen off with time, either being bought up or deciding to halt development of more advanced chips. The latter being the case for GlobalFoundries, as one of the most recent chipmaker to drop out of the advanced process node race in 2018.
Now, only three major players remain.
TSMC is the leading provider of computer chips today, and leading the way in technological development with its 3nm and 2nm nodes. The 3nm node, N3, will begin shipping later on in 2023. TSMC is what's known as a pure play foundry, meaning it doesn't design or produce chips of its own design, only those for its customers. Apple is TSMC's largest customer, but others include AMD, Nvidia, and even Intel.
Intel is the original semiconductor darling. Historically leading the charge for semiconductor development and production, recent hiccups in delivering its manufacturing roadmap have seen it lose ground to TSMC. It hopes to regain the lead, and a part of that plan has been to open up the doors to its traditionally in-house only fabs to other companies. Arm has already signed up to use Intel's fabs, and Intel hopes to win more over with its IDM 2.0 strategy when newer fabs come online later this decade.
Samsung is a powerhouse in chipmaking, but its relationship with big ticket gaming components is a little ropey. Nvidia tapped Samsung to produce the RTX 30-series, which coincided with one of the worst times to try and buy a graphics card, maybe, ever? That wasn't Samsung's fault, every chip supplier was struggling due to shortages and Covid-related delays. Since then Nvidia's shifted to TSMC for the RTX 40-series, but Samsung remains a big force in chip production otherwise.
Where Intel, TSMC, and to a lesser extent Samsung choose to build their chip manufacturing facilities is a major talking point of many governments globally. Production is primarily located in Asia, in hotspots such as Taiwan and South Korea, and also in the United States. However, there are facilities in Ireland, Israel, and Germany, alongside assembly and packaging facilities sprinkled across the globe.
In the interest of taking a larger share of the global chip production, the US has made investment in US-based semiconductor production a top priority with the CHIPS and Science Act and the EU has the similarly designed European Chips Act.
The map at the top of the article, which you can full-screen for a better view, focuses on semiconductor manufacturing facilities, rather than assembly and packaging. It's not exhaustive, as there are many more smaller chipmakers globally, but covers the three largest semiconductor manufacturers—TSMC, Intel, and Samsung—and notes the locations of these companies' cutting-edge facilities, along with some older fabs. Modern facilities start with silicon wafers that are 300mm in size, while older fabs tend to use smaller 200mm or even smaller wafers.
Also included in the map above is GlobalFoundries. Until recently, GloFo was producing a large number of chips for AMD due to a supply agreement between the two companies, which dated back to when AMD first sold off its manufacturing arm and spawned GloFo. Nowadays, AMD relies on TSMC to provide newer chips than those GloFo can provide.
Dont' make any mistake on the size of these facilities. I've toured with inside of Intel's Fab 28 in Kiryat Gat in Israel, and it appeared to me almost endless from within. Next door, Intel is building Fab 38, an even bigger fab facility, using the world's second largest crane. Crikey.
This morning, I biked around TSMC headquarters and Fab 12, the most important site in the world.This is where 7nm, 5nm, and 3nm from TSMC were all developed.The scale is immense, and pictures don't do it justice.I have done the same with Intel D1, and Fab 12 puts it to shame. pic.twitter.com/gcD9wMdy5vMay 14, 2023
Take a look at this bike tour from Dylan Patel if you want a bit more of a perspective on the size of these places—satellite imagery hardly does them justice. TSMC's Fab 12 is a bit of a misnomer, as this 'Fab' is home to many fab facilities, as is the case with many manufacturing campuses, and all interconnected by a wafer highway to move chips between each location.
Have no doubt these massive sites are absolutely crucial for the world economy, that's why everyone wants a piece, and why the locations of the next wave of fabs are so important.
Where are new fabs being built?
TSMC Fab 21
You can see clear development of TSMC's Fab 21 in Arizona over the past year. It's expected to be up-and-running, producing 5nm chips, by 2024. A second phase of the fab will be completed at a later date to increase demand.
Intel's Magdeburg facility will be much more than just a fab, but in 2022 it was nothing more than a field. Construction was expected to begin in the first half of 2023, with capacity expected to come online in 2027.
Intel Fab 38
I've visited the construction site of Fab 38, and in my naïve understanding of building sites it appeared to be going well. It's expected to be switched online around 2024.
Samsung's Taylor, Texas fab isn't anywhere close to being done, but Samsung has high hopes of capacity going online starting 2024.
Intel Fab 52 + 62
Intel's two fab facilities are a big addition to its already large-scale Arizona campus. These are expected to come online around 2024.
I guess it's gonna be a while until we see a Steam page for Horizon Forbidden West. In a chat with Famitsu (spotted by TheGamer and machine translated), PlayStation boss Jim Ryan has reaffirmed Sony's commitment to keeping its exclusives off of PC until PlayStation fans have had their day with them.
Sony "fully understand[s] the importance of PS5 exclusive titles," Ryan told Famitsu, saying that "PlayStation Studios' main responsibility is to have people enjoy the game experience using the latest PlayStation". To that effect, Ryan said Sony is committed to (excuse the awkwardness of the machine translation) "increasing the number of PS5-exclusive titles and staggering the release of the PC version".
How long will those PC versions be staggered, you ask? Well, Ryan didn't give a firm timespan exactly, but he did mention that discussions with PlayStation fans suggest that "selling the PC version two or three years after the release of the PS version is accepted favorably". So don't go thinking Sony is gonna start picking up the pace of its PC releases just because The Last of Us Part 1 came out on PC a mere six-ish months after it hit PS5. Given the state of that port, though, maybe that's for the best.
Ryan hasn't dropped a bombshell here. Hermen Hulst was saying all the way back in October last year that PC players would be waiting "at least a year" for Sony exclusives to hit PC, and it's not exactly a surprise that the company that makes the PlayStation is prioritising PlayStation players. But it is confirmation that Sony thinks its current years-long PS/PC release cadence is working just fine, thank you very much, and we shouldn't expect changes anytime soon.
Plus, with rumours of Metal Gear remasters and remakes swirling around next week's PlayStation Showcase, I confess I've been crossing my fingers that we'll see them hit PC sooner rather than later if Sony nabs an exclusivity deal (if they even exist at all).
Anyway, Bloodborne released nearly a decade ago, so surely it's about time for a… No? No. Okay then.
If you're looking for a new SLG mobile game to fill up your days, the Norse mythology-based Viking Rising is your next download.
From the developer behind the popular strategy game Lords Mobile, this Viking-inspired mobile game is now available on Google Play and the App Store. Viking Rise puts you at the head of a tribe heading towards the uncharted world of Midgard. It's on this journey you'll explore new lands, plunder previously unheard-of villages, and grow stronger with your group, all the while engaging in myriad battles worthy of Norse folklore. Whether you want to take the fight to the land or the sea, the battle strategy is down to you.
If you know your Viking history, you'll see plenty of familiar faces across your adventure. This strategy game features plenty of famous heroes waiting to aid you on your quest—how much you devise strategies born from their power, naturally, is up to you.
There's plenty to be enjoyed on the musical side, too. Emmy Award-winning composer Trevor Morris, who you may recognise from the historical drama television series Vikings, has put together the game's eponymous theme song, "Viking Rise". If you fancy listening to the song yourself, the track is available on Spotify, Amazon, Apple Music.
Every battle will also have the appropriate music to keep you fired up.
Of course, it's not all war and diplomacy. Between the bouts, there's plenty of time to design your territory, from tending a rich land of resources to establishing a towering military fortress.
Word to the wise, though. You're not the only blossoming tribe leader in Viking Rise. You'll stumble across many other players on your journey, though it need not end in bloodshed. Alliances can be forged in hopes of protecting each other from invading opponents. If global multiplayer battles are your thing, Viking Rise isn't one to skip.
If you find that Valhalla is calling to you, updates on Viking Rise are posted to Discord and Facebook.
A mere 10 days ago, developer Ironmace Games announced the delay of Dark and Darker's early access release—news that was not-unexpected given its rolling legal dispute with Nexon. There is a not-insignificant chance thanks to this legal battle that, while this game is definitely a real thing (and we've played it), it may not ever see a full release.
We'll get to the details of the dispute but, shortly after it began, Ironmace started and then paused a GoFundMe campaign to help with its legal battle. "The reality of the situation is that their end goal is to bleed us dry in court fees," said the developer, and there's no doubting Nexon has the kind of serious resource that could do such a thing to a smaller studio. Ironmace needs cash wherever it can get it.
Which is probably why you can now buy a Dark and Darker themed coffee set for a game you may never play. It's a team-up with coffee brand Madrinas and comes with a wooden tankard, a tub of dark roast instant coffee, and a bag of darker roast (geddit) coffee beans for $49.99 (plus exorbitant shipping). It seems to have been a good wheeze anyway, as the box set has already sold out and now you can only buy the coffees separately.
Dark and Darker fans roughly split into two camps. There's the die-hards who regard Ironmace as the little guy fighting big bully Nexon, and have rushed to support this. Then there's a more fatalistic crew who wonder whether they'll ever see the game and whether Ironmace is taking this fight seriously or just making as much as it can, as fast as it can, before the wheels come off. One wag asked Ironmace if this was the same coffee served at Nexon.
Needless to say the Nexon stuff looms large over everything about this game. Short version: The game was due to release in early access in April or May, its demo was a major hit at Steam Next Fest, and shortly after this its dispute with Nexon intensified and Ironmace was issued with a cease-and-desist. Nexon says Dark and Darker is based on concepts and assets that the developers, formerly of Nexon, stole from one of its cancelled projects.
Following this the demo was removed from Steam, with the next playtest build being distributed by Bittorrent (really), while Ironmace's studio was raided by police before it accused Nexon of "nothing more than anti-competitive bully tactics designed to put a small indie firm out of business." The fans are very much on Ironmace's side here, but these are major allegations from a giant publisher, so this may not end up where public opinion is hoping. We'll keep an eye on Dark and Darker and, if the worst comes to the worst, I'm sure the tankard does just as good a job at holding sorrow-drowning whiskey.