An Early Access Look at Witchfire
Witchfire is an upcoming dark fantasy first-person shooter set in an alternative world in which witches are real and very dangerous, and where players take on the role of witch hunters in a war between powerful witches and the Church. The title is being developed by The Astronauts and was first announced more than six years ago with a brief reveal at E3 2017. The game was released in early access mode on September 20 on the Epic Games Store.
Who is the team behind Witchfire?
Unless you have played The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, you have probably not heard of The Astronauts—an independent game developer made up of less than ten people and operating out of Warsaw, Poland. The Vanishing is their debut title; a weird fiction mystery game for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One that sold more than a million copies. The fact that the same developers are now working on Witchfire is significant for several reasons. The Vanishing won countless awards at the time of its release, including a prized BAFTA award, for its incredible storytelling and eye popping graphics that had no business being in this generation of gaming. With their first title, The Astronauts firmly established their reputation as skilled developers that can deliver beautiful games. The premise of Witchfire, as a frantic shooter, seems well suited to The Astronauts—some of the members of the team previously worked on first-person shooters Bulletstorm and Painkiller, and the team's prior effort, The Vanishing, serves to demonstrate their ability to incorporate amazing graphics into an engrossing story.
What is Witchfire about?
Witchfire was originally conceived as a sci-fi survival title; however, over the course of its 7-year development, The Astronauts transformed the game into what it is today: a combination of dark fantasy roguelite with first-person shooter mechanics. In their deadly war against witches, the Church has been calling on forbidden pagan magic to turn willing sinners into immortal witch hunters called preyers. As preyers, players are tasked with hunting and killing the infamous witch of the Black Sea using guns and spells. That journey from sci-fi survival to grimdark shooter brought with it changes just as significant as its shift in setting, tone, and genre.
Most recently, the team decided to shift the title from arena-style to open-world combat. Although Witchfire is not a fully open-world game, it does now feature what the studio calls open-world levels. That means it will be up to the player to decide how and in what order to explore a given area. The change to this new approach from one that was more akin to something like Killing Floor led to significant work and the decision to delay Early Access release to this year.
In the game, players will inhabit the shoes of a badass revolver-wielding witch hunter. Armed with old-fashioned weapons and forbidden magic, witch hunters are tasked by Vatican sorcerers to help the war effort against the very real and very dangerous witches and other threats that abound. An evil witch’s influence has stretched across the land, awakening an army of the dead and all sorts of other monstrosities. The player's primary mission is to find the infamous witch of the Black Sea, destroy the phantom army that protects her, and retrieve a mysterious artifact that can finally turn the tide of war.
The Astronauts have been fairly ambiguous with regards to information about the story of Witchfire. In a 2018 blog post, studio cofounder and creative director Adrian Chmielarz confirmed that Witchfire is not a traditional cinematics-filled journey like, for example, Uncharted or Bioshock, where you spend a relatively short time in an area, unlock a cinematic, and move on to the next area. Instead, Chmielarz likens The Astronauts’ approach to the storytelling done by From Software games. Which means Witchfire will offer various branching pathways that each tell snippets of the game’s story through the strength of its world design.
The Preyer short story
In October 2022, The Astronauts released a short story, The Preyer, that gave a brief look into the lore and powers at work in the game. Written by Chmielarz, The Preyer is set in the world of Witchfire and serves as an introduction to the world and some of what players can expect from the theme. The story unfolds in the forest one night, where a preyer, close to death, is tracking a witch when a group of bandits show up and make threats, not knowing who they’ve encountered. The short story also includes illustrations from artist Bernard Kowalczuk using a style similar to that of the game itself.
As a first-person shooter, Witchfire blends traditional shooting elements with the backdrop of a fantasy game in a roguelite style. The goal is to find some big guns and blow mystical enemies to pieces. The gameplay borrows from Bioshock and Dishonored by allowing players to cast magical energy with their free hand. Gunplay looks frantic and intense and has immediate arena-shooter vibes similar to Painkiller, DOOM, and Shadow Warrior 3.
Combat mechanics involve jumping, strafing, and dodging and are heavily focused on smart player movement while taking care of crowd control situations. There are crossbows, shotguns, repeating rifles, and revolvers, as well as some great spell effects that can cause chain reactions or freeze a powerful enemy mid-attack.
In a gameplay trailer released this February, Chmielarz delved into the intricacies of the game's weaponry, specifically focusing on a powerful hand cannon known as Hunger. This formidable firearm rewards players for landing critical hits by granting them extra powerful bullets upon reloading. As players progress through Hunger's Attunements, they can increase the power of their bullets even further by consistently landing critical hits. At the final level of Attunement, Hunger becomes even deadlier as the first body shot counts as a critical hit, allowing players to freeze their enemies if they manage to land all critical shots.
Spellcraft involves light spells and heavy spells, with the former being quicker to deploy and costing less stamina but not being as powerful as the latter. The different types of spellcraft available to witch hunters to use against enemies include spells, hexes, and curses, and the majority of spells comprise the four core elements: air, earth, fire, and water. Each has unique properties, such as setting enemies aflame and increasing the damage players can take. Using different elemental spells in quick succession can achieve combined effects.
Players will have complete freedom over the pace and direction of their exploration in any given region. This shift to an open-level design transformed the game from its original vision into an entirely new and superior experience, providing players with a greater sense of freedom and agency and making new paths to mastery available.
Built using Unreal Engine 4, Witchfire uses advanced photogrammetry to achieve a gorgeous and immersive dark fantasy world for players to explore, and the game's graphics look as though they could compete in the AAA space. The game features an impressive amount of particle effects, fire, explosions, and more that take up screen real estate, making for a vibrant and happening world.
The photogrammetry technique used to design the environments in Witchcraft involves finding structures and areas in real life, taking various shots from various angles, and loading them into a smart piece of software that rebuilds and renders them. The whole process takes a lot of time and effort as the images need to be captured in exactly the right light, and after the initial wireframe is reconstructed, a lot of texturing and polishing needs to be placed on top. The end result is exceptional photorealism. It is partly for this reason that, for the time being, Witchfire is being developed exclusively for the high-end PCs that can run all of this while processing the frantic fights that will be going down. Witchfire will support DLSS 3.0 for users with Nvidia’s top-tier graphics cards, specifically the GeForce RTX 4000 series GPUs. DLSS 3.0 will enable the game to run at much better framerates even at high quality settings.
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If you're in the market for a new gaming machine that will deliver the best playing experience in Witchcraft, consider taking a look at Acer’s Nitro 5 gaming laptop. This machine is excellent value for money, coming in at a low price point yet still being capable of handling the most demanding modern games. Acer has given this particular model a decent amount of high-speed RAM, and its inclusion of a GeForce RTX™ 4000 series GPU, which supports DLSS 3.0, makes it capable of running Witchcraft and other modern games at ultrahigh quality. The price of this machine is kept low thanks to the screen, hard drive, and battery, all of which are smaller than those in similar but more expensive machines. The laptop also has a responsive full-size keyboard and trackpad.
Witchfire release date and platforms
Witchfire will be made available on PC, with it being restricted to Epic Games during early access. For those with an Xbox, check out the amazing selection of games the Xbox Game Pass has on offer. If you’re thinking of subscribing, please note that with the purchase of a Windows 11 PC from Acer, you can enjoy one month free of Xbox Game Pass.
How to Protect Your Laptop from Theft and Damage
Laptops are probably one of the most expensive gadgets we own. But like any technology, they are vulnerable to theft and damage. Taking an eye off our devices for just a second in a crowded public area could give thieves a golden opportunity to strike, taking our data and cherished photos along with them. Likewise, knocking a cup of coffee over the keyboard or accidentally dropping it on the floor can cause significant damage.
Digital nomads and hybrid workers have no choice but to carry their laptops around in a bag or backpack, but this also carries risk. Leaving a laptop unattended when working remotely from a coffee shop or public workspace is risky. Your device could get stolen and, in a worst-case scenario, hacked to access your private information. For thieves, stealing devices may simply be a way to make money, but for owners, it means losing something crucial to their everyday lives.
How can I protect my laptop from physical dangers?
Traveling with a laptop or leaving it unattended in a hotel room or coffee shop is risky. Here are some ways users can safeguard devices from physical dangers and damage for ultimate laptop protection.
1. Use a laptop lock
Laptop locks are handy gadgets that help prevent devices from being stolen. They are physical locks, much like bicycle locks, that keep devices grounded to a specific area. Laptop locks are a two-ended piece of equipment, with one end that slides into the device’s universal slot and one that wraps around an immovable object. It can be unlocked and released by entering the correct code.
Although not necessarily aesthetic, laptop locks work as an anti-theft device and deterrent for thieves. Securing a device to a table or chair leg in a coffee shop means thieves would have to work twice as hard to steal it.
2. Avoid leaving your laptop unattended
Working outside in a stunning coffee shop or even on a beach is great until we have to take a private call or bathroom break. It is crucial to always be wary of thieves and avoid leaving laptops or other devices unattended. We must bear in mind that thieves are not always obvious and that anyone could take a chance to swipe at an unattended laptop. Therefore, leaving laptops unattended is strongly discouraged.
3. Track your laptop
Some laptop devices come with a Find My Device setting and can be tracked if they are lost or stolen. Enabling this feature is relatively quick and easy, and it can be a godsend if devices are missing. Moreover, putting an AirTag or similar tracking device in a laptop bag can help locate devices before they are transported too far away. Tracking devices are a worthwhile investment and can be used in other scenarios too, such as keeping an eye on wallets, keys, and phones.
4. Protect laptops with shock-resistant bags or sleeves
Laptops are supposed to be portable devices, so it makes sense that we use a protective case or laptop backpack to protect them. After all, our laptops work hard to keep us connected and able to work. Good laptop bags or protective sleeves should be a perfect fit with no wiggle room for laptops to bounce around and have a separate compartment for chargers and cables. Waterproof fabric is a must-have to protect devices from sudden downpours while in transit.
5. Keep laptops on stable surfaces away from food and drinks
Bumpy or uneven surfaces are unsafe as devices could slip or fall. Moreover, setting drinks or food down on an unstable desk or table could cause accidental spillages. Laptop users should avoid sudden jolts or bumps to prevent devices from getting a nasty shock that could cause internal damage.
6. Clean your laptop on a regular basis
Regular cleaning prevents dust build-ups and can enhance the functionality of a laptop and cause overheating or freezing. It also keeps devices free from crumbs or food particles that could end up below keyboard keys or in ports. Cleaning a device includes more than just a quick wipe over. Blowing into ports or using a cylinder of compressed air helps remove hard-to-reach dust. Experts advise preventative cleaning should be conducted at least once a year to keep laptops dust-free and working smoothly. For day-to-day management, users can consider investing in a keyboard cover to prevent crumbs from falling between keys.
7. Consider getting insurance
We never know the value of insurance before we need it. If a device gets lost or stolen, insurance can often provide the safety net we need to purchase a new one. This is particularly important for costly or high-end devices that would be expensive to replace. When choosing insurance, you should consider daily habits, such as where the device is used and stored, so that brokers can provide the best policy for your needs and avoid any surprises when making a claim.
Protecting laptops and other devices from theft and damage contributes to their longevity. Although we never know what will happen in life, we can take action to mitigate potential harm to technology. Damage may be avoided by investing in a quality laptop case, sleeve, or backpack, and regular cleaning can prevent dirt from building up in the keyboard or ports. Users can reduce the risk of a stolen laptop by purchasing a lock and attaching it to an immovable object. Remember that vigilance is key to prevent thieves from taking personal objects, and try to avoid leaving devices unattended.
A Review of El Paso, Elsewhere
Strange Scaffold, Xalavier Nelson Jr.’s multi-development, multi-collaborator video game studio, has always been true to their name: since the beginning, they’ve been known for their eccentric games that feature mysterious plotlines and out-of-this-world atmospheres. Their upcoming release, El Paso, Elsewhere, is a novel third-person shooter that brilliantly showcases all of the magic the studio is famous for.
You might know Xalavier Nelson Jr.’s work from titles like Stranger Things VR, An Airport for Aliens Currently Run By Dogs, Hypnospace Outlaw, SkateBIRD, or Can Androids Pray. Strange Scaffold’s most recent release, however, is Space Warlord Organ Trading Simulator, a game true to its name and just as strange as it sounds. The game, described by Strange Scaffold themselves as “our critically-acclaimed sci-fi body-horror market tycoon,” was well received when released in 2021, and as such the hype has been building for the next game in line, El Paso, Elsewhere.
El Paso, Elsewhere, the Max Payne-inspired neo-noir third person shooter with a surreal twist, is a hit that was released on September 26, 2023. In this review, we’ll take a look at the design influences behind the game as well as what you can expect when it comes to storyline and gameplay.
El Paso, Elsewhere: the modern-day neo-noir third-person shooter
If you feel like you hear the term “neo-noir” thrown around a lot but aren’t quite sure what it means, you’re not alone. Though the concept has solid historical roots and represents a valid style, it’s applied to so many things that it’s become unclear what its meaning really is.
The term neo-noir has its origins in the world of cinema. Though it is hard to say whether it is a genre or simply a visual style, for our purposes, we can say that it refers to “a grim tone, a mystery subplot, and/or a limited color palette.”
The “neo” in neo-noir implies, of course, that neo-noir is not the first iteration of its kind. That would be the film noir, or “dark film” in French. Film noir, pioneered by French New Wave director Jean-Luc Godard in films like Breathless (1960) and Alphaville (1965), emphasizes plotlines and subjects set in the underworld of society. The grim tone and uncertain attitudes towards the future represented in these films was characteristic of the postwar era.
Neo-noir took film noir to a new level. Films like Roman Polanski’s Chinatown (1974) and Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver (1976) took advantage of the end of the Hays Office Code, a set of standards for film production that in effect was a list of censorship guidelines, to depict more controversial topics like drugs and crime. Themes of these neo-noir movies also dealt with moral ambiguity and general distrust of authority, reflecting the societal ambivalence that followed the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal.
Besides neo-noir, however, El Paso, Elsewhere also takes a lot of its inspiration from the Max Payne series. In many ways, El Paso, Elsewhere can be said to be a modern-day version of the Max Payne series, the first game of which was released in 2001. We’ll take a closer look at the differences and similarities between these two games in the next section.
Storyline and gameplay
As the Steam description states, “El Paso, Elsewhere is a supernatural neo-noir third-person shooter. Hunt werewolves, fallen angels, and other damned creatures in a vivid slow motion love letter to action classics. Fight your way through a reality-shifting motel, floor by bloody floor. Save the victims of Draculae, lord of the vampires. Destroy the villain you loved--even if it means dying yourself.”
You’ll play as James Savage, whose ex-girlfriend Draculae is out to destroy the world. You’ll have to navigate the unending floors of a seedy motel with the objective of saving the innocent through the elevator. To complete your goal of saving the world from Draculae’s wrath, you’ll have to battle hordes of undead creatures, including vampires, fallen angels, and the lord of the vampires herself, Draculae.
As you continue your mission, you’ll be shown some flashbacks that shed light on Savage’s relationship with his ex-girlfriend and what caused them to break up. In doing so, the game deals with some pretty heavy subject matter, including addiction, trauma, and emotional abuse. This makes for a potentially upsetting but also very compelling story.
In many aspects of gameplay as well as some aesthetic characteristics, El Paso, Elsewhere takes inspiration from Max Payne. Specifically, El Paso, Elsewhere borrows the third-person shooter aspect of Max Payne as well as its gritty neo-noir style. It also takes many cues from its predecessor in terms of gameplay: in both games, you can use slow motion as a tool to improve your own reaction time and vanquish several enemies at once.
In terms of weapons, you’ll have access to a range of tools both modern and ancient: uzis, pistols, stakes, and more. You can even use molotov cocktails with holy blue flames to attack your enemies, adding a supernatural touch to your attacks. With a combination of the game’s heavy use of slow-motion mechanics and diversified arsenal, you’ll be sure to find that the fights are a huge aspect of the game’s appeal.
This technique was highly innovative when it was incorporated into Max Payne in 2001, as it was the first time that Matrix-style slow cuts were ever seen in a video game. El Paso, Elsewhere pays homage to this aspect of video game history.
Where El Paso, Elsewhere departs from its source of inspiration is in the main antagonist of the game: as one review on Gamerant notes, instead of going after the mob, you’re going after zombies. This makes each battle more interesting: whereas in Max Payne, all of the mobster enemies are somewhat similar, the otherworldly creatures in El Paso, Elsewhere add a layer of novelty and excitement.
For some players, Max Payne can become somewhat monotonous, as you must constantly defend yourself against hordes of the same mob enemies. In El Paso, Elsewhere, you are kept on your toes: your strategy must continually change to deal with different types of creatures, including werewolves, vampires, or ambiguous beings that leap out at you out of nowhere.
Can’t wait to get your hands on a copy of El Paso, Elsewhere? If you’re looking forward to the release, you won’t have to wait at all: the latest game from Strange Scaffold is available for purchase now for both Xbox and PC.
Before you start your mission to save the victims of Draculae, however, you’ll wanna make sure your gaming setup is up to date and able to process the game in all of its glorious detail. With a high-quality gaming laptop like the Nitro 5, you can equip yourself with a state-of-the-art Intel® Core™ i5 processor and a top-notch 1920x1080 screen resolution to succeed in your journey and have fun doing it.
Loaded with the latest technology, the Nitro 5 is available for $999.99, and when you add additional items like the Predator Connect W6 Wi-Fi 6E Router, you can save up to 40%! The savings don’t end there, however - with the purchase of any ACER Windows 11 PC, you’ll get an Xbox Game Pass for free! That means you’ll be able to play El Paso, Elsewhere the moment it comes out for no additional cost.
Don’t hesitate - get your Nitro 5 now so you can get the most out of your gaming experience as soon as El Paso, Elsewhere now!
Top Contenders for GOTY 2023
The 2023 Game of the Year debate is heating up following the success of several major titles this year. Tears of the Kingdom is our pick for this year's winner, with the game trumping Baldur's Gate 3 and Starfield in at least one core area. However, October 20 will see the highly anticipated release of Marvel's Spider-Man 2 on PlayStation 5. Only time will tell how that plays out, but one thing's certain: this year's battle for the Game of the Year crown is going to be something that will be talked about for a long time. So read on to check out our list of this year's top 10 contenders for GOTY 2023.
What is the Game Awards?
The Game Awards ceremony is an hours-long celebration of video games and their surrounding communities held annually in the first half of December, with awards ceremonies, trailer reveals, and upcoming game announcements. Important video game industry figures, developers, esports athletes, actors, executives, and streamers attend the event as guests, presenters, and nominees. The Game Awards is the biggest gaming award show out there. Although there are others, The Game Awards always seems to bring the most hype and excitement. Especially when it comes to their Game of the Year category. The Game Awards 2023 will be held on December 7.
What is Game of the Year?
The Game Awards has 31 categories, from best narrative to best esports team, and includes contests for best game direction, indie, score, and performance. However, the award that generates the most buzz is the Game of the Year award. Game of the Year is an award presented annually by The Game Awards that is given to a video game judged to deliver the best experience across creative and technical fields.
Top 10 contenders for Game of the Year 2023
1. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
Just when people thought nothing could top Link’s journey in Breath of the Wild, the sequel to that game successfully delivered an experience as compelling as the last one. Tears of the Kingdom, which sees Link return to defend the vast land of Hyrule once more, features the most impressive open world map of any Zelda game to date, with so much interactive content to explore it seems nearly endless. The sequel took everything from its predecessor and expanded upon it. Along with that, it introduced an entirely unique crafting mechanic that allows players to build just about anything they can think of, from weapons to flying machines. More than 10 million copies were sold in the first three days, making it the fastest selling game in the Zelda franchise. Tears of the Kingdom, in our opinion, has the greatest potential for taking the GOTY 2023 award home.
2. Baldur's Gate 3
Baldur’s Gate 3 takes the CRPG genre and thrusts it into the next generation of gaming. Many games like to start slow before ramping up the action, but Baldur’s Gate 3 starts guns blazing, with you as a captive on a Mindflayer ship after being infected with a parasite. From there, you fight to take over the ship and crash land it, and off begins a wild journey to figure out how to get this alien parasite out of your head. The game is adapted from the Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition rulebook, which means your choices in approaching situations are almost endless, with the only limit often being your imagination. The cast you come across throughout the massive, 100-hour adventure is full of engaging personalities, each with fascinating backstories to explore. Larian Studios took the budget they accrued from the success of Divinity: Original Sin 2 and used it in the best way possible. All of this is enjoyable with friends online or in couch co-op, and it culminates without hyperbole into one of the greatest video games ever made.
3. Final Fantasy XVI
This action JRPG is the latest instalment of the franchise since 2016. Opting this time for a more medieval fantasy vibe, Final Fantasy XVI features nearly unparalleled graphics and cinematics throughout the entire storyline, immersing the player from the get-go among all the characters, the gargantuan Eikons, and the captivating and emotional story of main protagonist Clive Rosfield. Square Enix’s most acclaimed developers, including top developer Naoki Yoshida (Yoshi-P) and composer Masayoshi Soken, collaborated to bring it all to life. The game features high-octane battles and a compelling storyline, with satisfying, fast-paced combat. Final Fantasy XVI can cater to both single player and multiplayer audiences, and it features over-the-top gameplay elements with intense large-scale bosses like the series is known for. Despite the fact that it is a PlayStation 5 exclusive (for now), Final Fantasy XVI is a worthy contender for the GOTY award.
4. Resident Evil 4 Remake
It's not every day that a remake comes out and surpasses the original. Resident Evil 4 Remake proved to be one of those rare gems. Capcom did a commendable job on the classic action-horror from 2005. Along with a graphical overhaul that rivals modern day games, the clumsy controls were also revamped for a smooth gameplay experience. The remake also features some new narrative elements and additional characters that improve upon the original game while staying true to its original concept. You can feel the immersion as a player the moment you set foot on the Spanish village of Valdelobos as Leon.
5. Armored Core™ VI: Fires of Rubicon™
Positioned as a bit of a reboot for the series, Fires of Rubicon is as much a reintroduction for returning players as it is a primer for newcomers for whom this is their first Armored Core game. In the game, you are a shell of a deceased, augmented human grafted into the shell of an Armored Core. Your first mission for your handler, Walter, is to land on Rubicon and get yourself into the mercenary system so you can start to make money. Fires of Rubicon is a modern classic and quite literally is “just” a rock-solid action game. Which is no surprise, considering it was developed by the renowned FromSoftware, who also created last year’s GOTY, Elden Ring. Although not an open-world game and not having any side missions to complete, Fires of Rubicon does feature fast-paced action and deep customizability of your Armored Core shell, allowing for diverse gameplay and intense boss fights that test any type of loadout. The game has a steep learning curve, but once you get the hang of it, the exciting gameplay makes this one of the best modern action games.
6. Hogwarts Legacy
Hogwarts Legacy, developed by Avalanche Software, stands as probably the biggest wildcard on our list. The huge, open-world fantasy game is set in the late 1800s, a century prior to the events chronicled in the Harry Potter novels, and puts players in the shoes of a fifth-year student at Hogwarts who holds the key to an ancient secret that threatens to tear the wizarding world apart. Players can explore Hogwarts and the surrounding areas, learn spells, brew potions, and master a variety of skills all while completing fun quests inside and outside the school. Hogwarts Legacy was a massive commercial success and a hugely entertaining game in and of itself. But, unlike some of the other games on this list, it doesn't quite feature the gameplay depth or additional objectives and options to allow it to contend with the real titans of this year. That being said, the way Avalanche offered up magical spells and presented the castle of Hogwarts, the town of Hogsmeade, and the surrounding countryside, is more than enough for Hogwarts Legacy to make the cut in this list.
Arguably the biggest game of the whole year, Starfield is a monumental release, even if only for the fact that it’s the first new IP release from Bethesda in almost 30 years. When a studio the size of Bethesda has spent decades putting out different versions of Fallout and The Elder Scrolls or publishing games made by other studios like Deathloop, DOOM, or Hi-Fi Rush, you have to take notice when they drop something brand new. A space-faring RPG that boasts up to a thousand explorable planets, each with their own points of interest, missions, and discoverables, Starfield sees you playing as a bold explorer, heading out into the wider galaxy and seeing what happens. The universe feels properly realized and lived-in, with the gorgeous aesthetics helping make the game more immersive. There is some messiness around maps, some noticeable loading times, and vast areas of planets and moons seem to be entirely devoid of life or points of interest; however, these points of contention generally fade soon enough, given that the game offers so much to do, as you improve your ship, pick up more crew, improve your own skills and stats, and tailor your hero (or space pirate, or whatever you want them to be, really) to your preferred gameplay style to complete the various missions.
8. Remnant 2
Remnant 2 does everything right regarding action RPGs. The first Remnant was a cult hit, but the sequel raised the stakes in almost every way. The sequel mixes effective melee action with gunplay-focused combat in a way that improves your options for taking on your enemies. The guns feel punchy and dangerous, and the abilities you can discover throughout the experience give the game an unofficial magic system that spices things up. Remnant 2 offers new weapons, armor, and even secret Archetypes that can completely change the way you play. The bosses are challenging, and each one is distinct from the rest, ranging from horrifying fleshy monstrosities to maze puzzles featuring alien technology that you have to solve. This sequel definitely belongs on any list of the games of 2023.
9. Diablo 4
Diablo 4 was the most highly-anticipated game from Blizzard Entertainment for some time, and it made an impressive impact upon its release in June. The fourth installment in the classic dungeon crawler franchise features incredible multiplayer RPG gameplay that allows you to choose from five playable classes as you embark on a new adventure through the human realm of Sanctuary, and of course the realm of Hell. Upon its release, the game was revered by various publications as Blizzard’s magnum opus title—its greatest since World of Warcraft—with millions of players flocking to the game as soon as the early release period went live. Diablo 4 soon became the fastest-selling game in Blizzard’s history, generating more than half a billion dollars in revenue within the first five days.
10. Star Wars Jedi: Survivor
This highly anticipated sequel to Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order continues the dramatically engaging story of exiled Jedi Knight Cal Kestis, reprised once again by the terrific Cameron Monaghan. Taking place five years after the previous game, Survivor follows Cal and his friends as they struggle to evade the tyranny of the Galactic Empire. The game takes players on yet another epic adventure across the fringes of the galaxy, while fighting for the resistance helmed by Saw Gerrera. All of the explorable level areas are even more expansive and full of fascinating lore and NPCs than in Fallen Order, capitalizing on everything that worked in the last game and making it all bigger and better. The upgrades were all very well-received by players, earning the new installment near-perfect scores across the board. Kestis’ story is definitely worthy of a GOTY nomination, and we could very well see it pop up come December.
A Review of Mortal Kombat 1
Mortal Kombat 1 is the next entry in the best-selling fighting game series Mortal Kombat. This brand new addition to the franchise is the 12th mainline game in the series and will be a reboot of the story, with the developers at NetherRealm Studios deciding that now would be the perfect time to give the series a fresh start. Not only is a continuity reboot a good way to introduce new fans to a long-running franchise, but it also provides the developers with a chance to return things back to a simpler, more focused starting point after years of expanding upon old ideas. Mortal Kombat 1 will take players back to the start of the series’ timeline for a wild revisionist version of the game while introducing new gameplay mechanics that drastically alter how the game is played. The result? An experience that has me excited for the new future of this series. Read on to learn all about the upcoming reboot, Mortal Kombat 1.
History of Mortal Kombat series
The Mortal Kombat series is set to turn 31 years old this October. The legendary arcade fighting game is known for its eccentric characters, competitive 1 on 1 gameplay, and brutal violence. Mortal Kombat set the arcade world on fire when it was released in 1992. Sure, games like Street Fighter had by that time already perfected the fighting game concept and become a household name, but Mortal Kombat broke the mold by featuring extreme graphic violence depicted using digitized actors. Its match-ending Fatalities system was particularly controversial: players were encouraged to “finish” downed opponents using various gory means. Although Mortal Kombat quickly became popular for its satisfying gameplay mechanics, public backlash from various quarters resulted in the rapid establishment in 1994 of the Electronic System Ratings Board, an industry-wide ratings system that determines the age appropriateness of video games based on their content. The Mortal Kombat series has even been censored or banned in several countries.
Mortal Kombat development team
The team behind the Mortal Kombat franchise is NetherRealm Studios, an American video game developer based in Chicago and owned by Warner Bros. Games. Led by video game industry veteran and Mortal Kombat cocreator Ed Boon, the studio is also responsible for Injustice, another popular fighting game series. Warner Bros. Games were also involved in the development of Hogwarts Legacy, the action RPG that launched earlier this year.
Mortal Kombat 1 trailer and storyline
The announcement trailer for Mortal Kombat 1 sets up the scenario for the game following the story events of Mortal Kombat 11’s Aftermath downloadable content (DLC). If you haven’t been following the admittedly complex and somewhat convoluted lore, the gist is that Fire God Liu Kang recently beat both Shang Tsung and Kronika and reset the entire timeline back to its beginning. So, although technically a sequel to Mortal Kombat 11, Mortal Kombat 1 is also a soft reboot of the lore, making it far easier for newcomers to come in without having to worry about all the timeline/time travel elements introduced in Mortal Kombat 9, 10, and 11.
Mortal Kombat 1’s trailer opens with Liu Kang explaining his decision to create a “blank canvas” where people are free to choose whether to live in peace or in combat. As he continues, we see many of the iconic characters from the past in their original forms, including Raiden, who no longer has any godly powers—those were passed to Liu Kang in Mortal Kombat 11.
Liu Kang’s efforts to create lasting peace by resetting the lives of many of the series’ villains and heroes may be noble, but this is Mortal Kombat, after all. You can probably guess that things don’t quite work out. A mysterious enemy that Liu Kang “never could have anticipated” threatens the realms, and the champions must once again be summoned—champions who are already finding reasons to get into a scrap or two.
Characters in Mortal Kombat 1
The following is the current confirmed roster of Mortal Kombat 1 characters:
* Johnny Cage
* Kung Lao
* Li Mei
* Liu Kang
* Shang Tsung (Pre-order)
* Shao Kahn
Mortal Kombat 1 gameplay mechanics
Mortal Kombat 1 will feature an overhauled fighting system with new gameplay mechanics, finishing moves, game modes, and more. Here are some of the gameplay mechanics to expect.
NetherRealm have gone back-to-basics by giving each fighter only a single variation of play. This means every Liu Kang player will be playing with the same toolkit as other Kang players, and likewise for other fighters. This should prevent differences in gear and the variations system itself from breaking the delicate balance between fighters in tournaments. Previous games required such a large number of decisions and match-up knowledge that when DLC characters were introduced into play, the information intake and decision-making required to play at a decent skill level became almost overwhelming. Mortal Kombat 1 brings the game back to the glory days of the first Mortal Kombat reboot, where players could focus less on character decision-making in menus and more on actually playing the game.
Where Mortal Kombat 1 is really differentiating itself from more recent entries is its introduction of Kameo fighters. Similar to assists in Marvel vs. Capcom and strikers in King of Fighters, Mortal Kombat 1 allows players to choose one fighter who will complement their primary choice. The roster of Kameo fighters is separate from the main roster of playable fighters and includes past versions of returning characters from early Mortal Kombat games. During a fight, players can call in their Kameo for various assists, including combo extenders, throws, and breakers. Although this means players lose interactables in the fighting arena, that functionality did not add much value and shouldn't be missed. Kameo assists feel far more intuitive and intentional in their designs. Imagine—you are in the middle of a combo as Sub-Zero, and you get to call in Sonya to blast her energy rings at your opponent. Kameo fighters also play a role in the game’s Fatal Blow system. Fatal Blows work the same way they did in Mortal Kombat 11 but now make use of both fighters, allowing for wild combinations and more of the gory spectacle that players have come to expect from this series.
The list of confirmed Kameo fighters includes the following:
* Jax Briggs
* Kung Lao
* Sonya Blade
Fighting games generally aren't known for having particularly lengthy story modes, and the Mortal Kombat franchise is certainly no exception to that rule. The story mode in Mortal Kombat 1 can be expected to be as long as it was in Mortal Kombat X and Mortal Kombat 11 (approximately 5–6 hours). Recent years have seen NetherRealm Studios put greater detail into its story modes, with impressive cutscenes and plots featuring a wide range of game characters, and that can be expected to be the case here.
This mode involves a board game–like map with an almost top-down 3D gameplay mechanic that features iconic locations from the Mortal Kombat universe. Players will pick a character and explore a region filled with branching paths. Each node you get through offers a new obstacle to overcome. Invasion mode combines mini games, individual battles, treasures, and modifiers that affect difficulty. As you level up your character, you will receive in-game currency, concept art, cosmetics, and other resources that you can equip to strengthen yourself.
Mortal Kombat 1 graphics and design
The overall feel of a fighting game is often down to its performance. NetherRealm decided to move to Unreal Engine 4 for Mortal Kombat 1 rather than stick with their own Unreal Engine 3–derived technology or jump to the more advanced Unreal Engine 5. On Xbox Series X and S, the game runs at a solid 60 fps, although prematch cinematics, Fatal Blows, and Fatalities can only run at this framerate on PC; consoles will show these particular scenes at 30 fps. At these framerates, the resolution on Xbox Series X will be full native 4K, although dynamic resolution is in play, with pixel counts coming in slightly below 2160p depending on the action. On Xbox Series S, 1440p can be expected during cinematic sequences and 1080p during battles.
The characters are depicted in exceptionally high quality with expressive faces, natural-looking skin, and outfits with detailed textures. Cloth and blood movements are highly fluid, with the virtual cloth appearing flexible and even responding realistically to fighter movements and to gravity. The animation style is similar to that seen in Mortal Kombat 11, still featuring the classic per-pixel character motion blur that Mortal Kombat is known for. Backgrounds are also shaping up to be impressive, with well-crafted materials, subtle shadowing, and proper reflections, backed up with realistic physics that let you knock over smaller items. Numerous small details have been included throughout the game that elevate the overall presentation.
Mortal Kombat 1 release date
Mortal Kombat 1 launched on September 19, 2023, for Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, and PC and is available on Steam and Epic Games stores. The title has been available for preorder for a few months already, including the highly sought-after Mortal Kombat 1 Kollector’s Edition, which comes with dozens of extra items. Although the game has not yet been confirmed for Xbox Game Pass, its predecessor, Mortal Kombat 11, is part of the Game Pass roundup, so we expect it to eventually be part of that subscription. Be sure to check out what’s on offer there and see why Acer is an official sponsor. Furthermore, with the purchase of a Windows 11 PC from Acer, you can enjoy one month free of Xbox Game Pass.
Acer Nitro 5 gaming laptop
The Acer Nitro 5 is a budget-friendly laptop built for gamers. Perfect for those who need a machine capable of running high-resolution 3D games, the Nitro 5 features a decent 15.6-inch HD display with 1440p resolution powered by an NVIDIA® GeForce® graphics card. Its vivid colors and crystal-clear clarity allow total immersion in any game.
Packing a powerful CPU/GPU duo at an affordable price, the Nitro 5 delivers frame rates usually reserved for pricier systems. The 512GB SSD offers plenty of storage. Thanks to its impressive battery life, you can focus on gaming sessions without interruption. Experience the perfect fusion of performance, visuals, and affordability with the Acer Nitro 5.
* Processor: Intel® Core™ i7-12700H processor Tetradeca-core 2.30 GHz
* Screen: 15.6" QHD (2560 x 1440) 16:9 165 Hz
* Graphics Card: NVIDIA® GeForce® RTX™ 3070Ti with 8 GB dedicated memory
* Memory: 16 GB DDR4 SDRAM
* Storage: 512 GB SSD
* OS: Windows 11 Home
By establishing a new status quo, introducing new combat mechanics, and reimagining fan-favorite characters, Mortal Kombat 1 is looking to be the biggest and most game-changing Mortal Kombat game to date, and we’re excited to see how it will be received after its upcoming release.
A Review of The Crew Motorfest
Strap yourself in for the hottest racing video game dropping this Fall, The Crew Motorfest! Rejoin the crew and pick your favorite cars, motorcycles, boats and planes, and get stuck into this exciting festival of motoring. Fancy a trip to Oʻahu, the jewel of Hawaii? How about we throw in the chance to get behind the wheel of over 600 vehicles, from Lambos to monster trucks? If this sounds like your cup of tea, then read on to discover all you need to know about The Crew Motorfest.
Dates and platforms
First things first. If you have played either of the two previous racing video games in The Crew franchise, then you’re probably itching to find out the The Crew Motorfest release date. If you’re a Ubisoft+ user, or a Gold or Ultimate edition user and you wisely pre-ordered the game, then The Crew Motorfest has been available to you since September 11th 2023. For all other users, the game was released on 14th September 2023, on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.
An open-world motoring extravaganza
As we shift into second gear, and prepare to explore the open-world racing environment of Oʻahu in The Crew Motorfest, let’s take a minute to check that we are properly equipped for the race! If you want to cross the finish line first in a racing game, you need the right vehicle. Similarly, if we want to perform at our best in any game, we need the right computer! Acer’s Nitro 5 Gaming Laptop will help you to reign supreme over the game world. 12th Gen Intel® Core™ processors deliver ultimate gaming performance, while delivering the flexibility you need to multitask seamlessly.
Back to the race. The Crew Motorfest is developed by Ubisoft Ivory Tower, the Lyon, France based subsidiary of publisher Ubisoft. The latest installment of The Crew is, as you may have guessed, published by the mother company Ubisoft. The renowned French video game publisher is famous for video game franchises such as Assassin’s Creed, Prince of Persia, and Far Cry.
Welcome to Hawaii
The Crew Motorfest builds upon the open-world racing environments of The Crew and The Crew 2. For a comprehensive explanation of the inside story of The Crew, check out the background story here! This time around, we have relocated from a scaled down version of the 48 states of the Contiguous United States, to a scaled down version of the Hawaiian island of Oʻahu.
The theme of The Crew Motorfest is a year long festival of cars and basically anything with an engine. Racing around the idyllic streets and mountains of Oʻahu, online, take your pick from joining The Crew in multiplayer racing competitions, or lone-wolf, single player racing adventures.
The Crew Motorfest map appears to offer players access to all corners of Oʻahu. From white-knuckle street races through Honolulu, cruising in classic cars, to off roading on the volcanic slopes. The Crew Motorfest will also offer you the opportunity to put your foot down in your favorite supercar, or even explore the rainforests in buggies. Whatever your preferred style of driving is, this game has it all!
Gameplay and cars
Take a peek at the gameplay trailer for a taste of The Crew Motorfest. As with the other games in the franchise, gameplay is rooted in online play, with concept cars, rally cars and classic cars at your disposal for the various challenges. There are even boats, motorbikes and planes available to experiment with. Gameplay is where this game truly shines, offering arcade style handling and driving. In terms of the racing, there is the opportunity to take unmarked routes to get ahead, and even a rewind option if you want to try again. With adventurous, fun races across Oʻahu the, the island is truly your motorsports playground!
This installation promises to deliver iconic cars from all over the world, embracing the passion and craft that has shaped the world of motoring. From Japanese, to European, and of course American automobiles, The Crew Motorfest car list offers a dizzying selection of over 600 vehicles from more than 50 different manufacturers for you to choose from. A welcome feature for many players is the ability to pack up your collection of vehicles from The Crew 2 and import them into The Crew Motorfest. Of course, you have the option to start from scratch, or import your car collection after you have played The Crew Motorfest first, and got a taste of what cars are on offer.
You will be free to tear up the tarmac, and a variety of other road surfaces in 15 custom made playlists, tailor made races, themed events and other unique challenges in The Crew Motorfest. There will be a different focus on car culture each month, allowing players to compete in new events and unlock newly added cars. September’s playlist is American Muscle, allowing players to complete handcrafted challenges behind the wheel of different generations of the iconic Ford Mustang! October pays homage to Japanese car design, and November will bring the best of European elegance and agility.
One of the cool features of the game is the ongoing, constantly updating nature of The Crew Motorfest. Weekly themes will bring new challenges, new cars and new rewards, Motorfest will always have something fresh for you! Live game modes include Grand Race, a 28 player free for all apex competition, Demolition Royale, a crew-based battle where 32 players are dispatched in 8 crews, and the last crew standing wins. Summit Contest is a weekly rated event: win big by climbing to the top of the leaderboards. Finally, check out Custom Show, the weekly game mode where you get a chance to express your style, and reap exclusive rewards.
From where we sit, everything about The Crew Motorfest looks fantastic. From the stunning, ultra realistic graphics, to the roar of the V8 engines, and the lush scenery of Hawaii, no details have been skipped over. This racing game promises to entertain and we can’t wait to burn rubber in the open-world streets of Honolulu.
We hope that you have thoroughly enjoyed this glimpse into the high octane world of The Crew Motorfest. If you’re hungry for more info about the exciting world of racing games, check out this informative article. Finally, for all of your favorite games, past, present and future, be sure to check out Acer’s Game Pass.
OLED Vs. QLED: Which is Better for You
When shopping for a new TV or monitor, there's a barrage of technical terms and specs to wade through. Terms like resolution and refresh rate can sometimes make the process feel more like a math lesson than a shopping experience.
Yet, even before diving into those specific metrics, it's vital to grasp the foundational technology that underpins them.
OLED and QLED displays, while often found side by side on store shelves, utilize fundamentally different mechanisms for video display and backlighting. These differences not only influence the visual quality but also the size, weight, and overall experience of your display.
QLED vs. OLED, which is the better choice for you? Read on as we delve into the strengths and limitations of each technology to help you make an informed decision.
What is OLED?
OLED, or Organic Light-Emitting Diodes, is a display technology utilizing organic (carbon-based) materials that emit light when electrified. Unlike traditional LCD/LED displays that require a backlight, each pixel in an OLED display produces its own light, enabling true black levels, a high contrast ratio, thinner designs, and potential for flexibility. However, they are susceptible to burn-in when static images remain displayed for extended periods.
What is QLED?
QLED, which stands for Quantum Dot LED, is an LCD (liquid crystal display) that employs quantum dots with an LED backlight to produce brighter, more vibrant colors than traditional LCD/LED displays. Both QLEDs and traditional LEDs are based on LCD technology. The difference is that QLEDs and LEDs have newer backlight technologies than the LCD. With QLEDs having the latest tech.
Now that we've covered the basics, let's dive deeper into the distinct characteristics of each.
OLED vs. QLED
The technology and picture quality
A common misconception is that QLEDs are a type of OLED. While they share some similarities, they are fundamentally distinct technologies. OLED differs from conventional LED displays in that they utilize organic LEDs to create the displayed images, eliminating the need for the traditional light-emitting diode (LED) technology. Each pixel of an OLED display emits its own light, negating the need for a backlight. Whereas the QLED display utilizes quantum dots to enhance the brightness and color of traditional LED LCDs. When hit by light from the LED backlight, these quantum dots emit their own differently colored light, producing vibrant and dynamic images.
Aesthetics-wise, what does this all mean? To help you better understand, we will break down the viewing experience into four categories and explain how they are impacted by OLED or QLED technology:
1. Black Level and Contrast
* OLED: Since OLEDs are self-emissive (each pixel produces its own light), they can achieve true black levels by turning off individual pixels completely. This results in an infinite contrast ratio.
* QLED: QLEDs are based on LCD technology that uses a backlight. While QLEDs utilize quantum dots to enhance color and brightness, they can't turn off individual pixels like OLEDs. However, high-end QLEDs use local dimming to darken specific areas of the screen, improving contrast, but it doesn't match the "true black" of OLEDs.
* OLED: Brightness levels in OLEDs are generally lower than those of QLEDs. While they can produce brilliant HDR highlights, their overall screen brightness can be outpaced by QLED displays.
* QLED: Capable of achieving higher levels of brightness. This can be particularly beneficial in brightly lit rooms or for HDR content.
3. Color Accuracy
* OLED: Provides excellent color accuracy at various brightness levels.
* QLED: Thanks to the quantum dots, QLEDs can achieve outstanding color accuracy and can also cover a significant portion of the color spectrum, especially at high brightness levels where OLEDs might struggle.
4. Uniformity and Viewing Angles
* OLED: Offers excellent viewing angles due to its individual pixel light emission. The self-emitting pixels ensure consistent light, color, and contrast across the screen, allowing for a near 180-degree viewing angle.
* QLED: Traditionally, QLEDs suffered from limited viewing angles, meaning colors and brightness could shift when viewed off-axis. However, newer QLED models have started to address this issue with improved viewing angles.
Burn-in and lifespan
For those unfamiliar with the term burn-in, it refers to a permanent display defect caused by prolonged static content being displayed on a screen. Over time, if static images (like channel logos, news tickers, or user interface elements) stay on the screen for long periods without change, they can "burn in" and leave a ghostly residue or faint image even when the display is showing other content.
OLED screens, which rely on organic compounds to emit light, are particularly susceptible to burn-in. Over time, as these organic compounds degrade, if certain pixels consistently display the same static image, they can degrade faster than surrounding pixels, leading to uneven wear and, ultimately, burn-in. This can manifest as faint but permanent imprints of channel logos, user interface elements, or other static content.
Luckily, for the average user, burn-in issues with OLED screens shouldn't be a significant concern as long as static images aren't displayed for prolonged periods, and the screen is given resting intervals. For a better understanding of how burn-ins on OLED screens can happen, check out RTINGS.com’s 9000-hour test on OLED screens.
On the other hand, QLED screens are a type of LED/LCD display enhanced with a layer of quantum dots to boost color and brightness. Since QLEDs are based on traditional LCD technology and use a backlight, they don't have the same burn-in risks as OLEDs.
When considering lifespan, the organic compounds in OLEDs can degrade over time, potentially reducing their overall lifespan, whereas the inorganic nature of quantum dots in QLEDs offers a more consistent performance over time and may imply a longer overall lifespan.
In terms of design, OLEDs are thinner than QLEDs. Traditional LCD displays, including QLEDs, require a backlight to shine light through the display to create an image. QLEDs use quantum dots to enhance the color and brightness of this light, but they still rely on the backlight. This backlight system adds to the overall thickness of the display. Since OLED pixels emit their own light, the number of layers required in the display stack is reduced.
Additionally, the organic materials used in OLEDs are not only thinner but also more flexible than the materials in QLEDs. This has led to innovations like curved, foldable, or rollable OLED displays.
Generally, OLED displays, which use organic light-emitting materials, have been pricier due to production complexities. In contrast, QLED displays utilize quantum dots to boost LCD performance and come in a broader price range. While lower-end QLED models can be more affordable than OLEDs, high-end QLEDs can match or even exceed OLED prices. Prices for both technologies have been competitive, influenced by brand, features, and marketing dynamics.
OLED vs. QLED: Which is the better choice for you?
The decision between OLED and QLED largely depends on your preferences, viewing habits, and budget. Both have their advantages and potential drawbacks. However, before purchasing, you should consider some essential decision points:
* Budget: If you're price-sensitive, you might get a larger or better-featured QLED for the price of an OLED.
* Viewing Environment: For bright rooms, a QLED might be preferable due to its high brightness. For dark rooms where a cinematic experience is desired, OLED might be the choice.
* Usage: If you plan to use it as a computer monitor or for games/content with static images for prolonged periods, QLED might be safer due to the risk of burn-in with OLEDs.
* Aesthetics: If a super-thin design is a priority, OLEDs have the edge.
Ultimately, both technologies offer excellent viewing experiences, and you can't go wrong with either. It's about weighing what aspects are most important to you.
However, if you are interested in purchasing an OLED product, Acer has a line of OLED devices from laptops, monitors, and gaming TVs.
Computer Basics for Kids: What to Teach and Why?
Tech is all around us. From computers to smartphones, digital advertisements, and game stations, tech seems present in almost all aspects of modern life. Kids today are so-called digital natives, growing up with technology around them. In fact, most kids will not remember a time when computers and tech did not dominate our world. Alongside dance, sports, and band practice, it is important for children to learn how to use computers to remain competitive in a world that seems to introduce new tech products daily.
Why teach children about computers?
Learning about computers is no longer an option — it is necessary to keep up with our modern way of living. Here are some more reasons why computer classes for kids are beneficial.
1. To become digitally literate
Digital literacy helps kids become fluent in using the internet, social media, and other tech, which is now integrated into our modern-day society. Although it does not mean that children should know everything there is to know about computers, they should at least have basic skills to help them survive in a tech-heavy world.
As children grow into adults, they will have to handle an increasing amount of life admin online. As such, becoming digitally literate at a young age will help them thrive in later life. Unlike older generations of so-called digital immigrants, kids have the added benefit of growing up in a tech-based environment, making becoming digitally literate more manageable.
2. To prepare them for school
Chromebooks and other tech devices are being introduced into schools from very young ages, so basic computer skills are required for children to keep up in class. Computers, tablets, and other tech devices are not just exclusively used in computer science or IT classes, meaning kids should be able to grasp technology from the get-go. In fact, 79% of US teachers in a recent survey said that students are able to achieve more by using technology, emphasizing its importance in contemporary classrooms.
3. To create online safety
Social media and other technology are not inherently bad, but they can be dangerous and leave kids exposed to predators if they are unaware of how to protect themselves. Teaching children about the dangers of the internet, cyberbullying, and mental health issues arising from technology may help them identify and overcome such situations before it is too late. Additionally, computer classes for kids can help them become more self-disciplined, understand healthy amounts of tech usage, and be aware of the downsides of tech addiction.
4. To foster cognitive development
Problem-solving skills are an important factor in cognitive development. Interactive computer activities or learning coding skills through games like Minecraft can help cultivate strong cognitive skills. Moreover, computers also nurture creative and critical thinking and allow children to express themselves through music, drawing, or coding applications.
5. To prepare them for future tech-based careers
Currently, over 92% of jobs require computer skills and digital literacy, which may increase as we become increasingly reliant on tech. Encouraging early exposure to computers through coding or computer science classes can spark a passion for tech-related career choices in later life. Moreover, allowing children to dismantle and analyze computer parts can also help shape future careers. In short, a child’s first laptop experience could be the first step toward a promising career in tech.
At what age should children start using computers?
There is some discussion about which age children should start using computers. It can seem like a catch-22 — starting too early risks tech addiction but starting too late risks missing out on cultivating important skills in their early years. The US Government Office of Education Technology recommends that screen time should be avoided for children under two years old, reminding us that technology should not be used for the sake of it. However, this age group may benefit from actively using technology, such as chiming in on video calls to talk with relatives.
Children aged between two and five should have limited screen time to no more than an hour per day. This includes tech usage at home and in educational settings. Similarly, children aged six and above should have no more than two hours of screen time daily.
The specific age at which a child is ready to start using a computer will vary depending on the child's individual development and interest. It also depends on the type of screen time and the conditions under which it is used. Screen time that is more like a stand-in babysitter may be convenient for parents but unstimulating for the child, whereas educationally beneficial apps could complement real-world interactions. Generally speaking, kids above six years old can begin using the internet, allowing them to explore and become young content creators. At this age, children will also start using the internet for school and homework.
Computer basics: what to teach?
Jumping straight to coding or computer science classes may be too overwhelming for children of a young age. So, what are the most suitable basic computer skills to teach kids?
1. Basic computer operations
How does a computer work? How can we safely switch a computer off and on? Although they may be second nature now, we all had to learn these things in the past. Children are no different, and it is crucial to explain basics, like why a computer should be safely shut down instead of simply pulling the plug out. Additionally, this would be a good time to teach children how to use a keyboard and mouse, including left, right, and double clicks, and how to launch applications. It may also be possible to teach them the fundamentals of file management.
2. Internet skills
Once kids have grasped the basics, they can start to learn how to use search engines to find answers to specific search terms. They can also learn about online communication tools like email, investigating how to effectively open, read, and reply to emails. It is also possible to teach them how to use social media at this point.
Just like real-life safety talks include learning how to cross the road and not to talk to strangers, children should also be taught how to use the internet wisely. They should be educated about potential online dangers such as predators, cyberbullying, and sharing personal information. Kids should also learn how to recognize unsafe websites and the importance of strong and unique passwords.
Introducing kids to basic programming concepts through games like Minecraft Education is a great way to stimulate young minds in an exciting way. It encourages collaboration with peers and a creative approach to learning, cultivating communication skills. There are hundreds of classroom-friendly games available to supplement classes and help kids boost their confidence in coding.
5. Hardware basics
Aside from learning coding to communicate with computers, it is also crucial to teach kids about the primary components of a computer. Knowing what CPU, RAM, and hard drives do and how they interact forms an understanding of how computers work and may ignite an interest in a future tech-related career.
Kids are digital natives and have the advantage of growing up in a tech-dominant environment. As such, they should learn computer basics at a young age to give them a competitive advantage at school and in their future careers. Learning about computers helps cognitive development by encouraging creative and problem-solving skills and can benefit them in all areas of life. By teaching children about the dangers of the internet, they can be aware of potential risks and learn how to protect themselves. Moreover, learning to code through applications like Minecraft encourages communication with peers and helps them develop a creative flair. As long as the content they are exposed to is age-appropriate, teaching kids basic computer skills helps pave the way to understanding how technology works.
DisplayPort 2.1 vs. HDMI 2.1: Which is Better for PC Gaming?
The gaming world is filled with debates: PC vs. console, keyboard vs. controller, and, of course, DisplayPort vs. HDMI. While some debates might boil down to personal preference, the battle between HDMI and DisplayPort hinges on cold, hard facts.
Before we jump into the debate, let us cover the basics of DisplayPort and HDMI.
What is DisplayPort?
DisplayPort, developed by the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA), is a digital interface designed primarily for transmitting video from PCs to monitors, although it can also carry audio and data. Since its debut in 2006, there have been multiple versions, with DisplayPort 1.4, a feature-based upgrade, being the most prevalent in modern devices.
The standard DisplayPort connector has a 20-pin design with a lock for secure connection, but there's also a Mini DisplayPort variant without this feature. Recently, Mini DisplayPort has given way to USB-C, which can deliver DisplayPort capabilities via DisplayPort Alt Mode. DisplayPort 2.1 is currently the most advanced version, supporting exceptionally high resolutions and refresh rates.
What is HDMI?
HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface), introduced in 2022, is a digital interface that transmits video and audio signals from a source device to displays, like TVs and monitors. With over 10 billion devices sold, HDMI is widely used in home entertainment systems and computers, HDMI cables combine audio and video into one cable, simplifying connections and ensuring high-quality signal transmission.
The common types of HDMI you will encounter are Type A (Standard), Type C (Mini), and Type D (Micro).
Over the years, various versions of HDMI have been released, each offering improvements in resolution, audio capabilities, and other features. HDMI 2.1 is the latest iteration of this connector.
DisplayPort 2.1 vs. HDMI 2.1: Which is better for PC gaming?
In PC gaming, every component, from the graphics card to the cable, is crucial in delivering an optimal experience. Among the pivotal decisions gamers face is choosing the right display interface. HDMI and DisplayPort, two of the foremost contenders in this arena, often go head-to-head in discussions about visual performance, refresh rates, and audio quality.
At this point, you are probably wondering, “Is DisplayPort better than HDMI, or is HDMI better than DisplayPort?”
To successfully answer the DisplayPort Vs. HDMI question, you must look at four important features of the connectors that play a big impact on PC gaming. These four features are are follows: bandwidth and resolution support, Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), Multi-Stream Transport (MST), and latency.
1. Bandwidth and Resolution Support
Bandwidth dictates the maximum data transfer rate, affecting how quickly and smoothly game visuals and audio are transmitted to your display. Resolution support determines the clarity and detail of game graphics, with higher resolutions offering crisper and more immersive visuals. Thus, higher bandwidth and resolution support directly elevate the fidelity and responsiveness of your PC gaming experience.
DisplayPort and HDMI versions dictate the maximum resolution and refresh rate capabilities. Commonly, monitors and computers support DisplayPort 1.2 or 1.4 and HDMI 1.4 or 2.0.
DisplayPort 2.0 and 2.1, boasting nearly three times the bandwidth of DisplayPort 1.4, offer the potential for up to 16K resolutions using compression or high refresh rates at lower resolutions. HDMI 2.1 only offers up to 10k, so based on numbers alone, DP 2.1 beats out HDMI 2.1.
However, in the current gaming market, DisplayPort 2.0 and 2.1 have limited support with GPUs from both Nvidia and AMD. As of September 2023, only the AMD Radeon™ RX 7800 XT with AMD RDNA™ 3 architecture supports DisplayPort 2.0 and 2.1. Nvidia GPUs, at the time of the posting, do not support DisplayPort 2.1 or 2.0.
Considering G-SYNCS's rapport with DisplayPort, it is very likely that Nvidia will follow suit and eventually announce support for Display Port 2.0 and 2.1.
In comparison, both HDMI 2.1 and 2.0 are currently supported by both Nvidia and AMD.
Winner: HDMI 2.1 (but not for long)
2. Variable Refresh Rate (VRR)
Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) is a technology that allows a display to dynamically adjust its refresh rate to match the frame rate output of a content source, like a gaming console or PC. By synchronizing these rates, VRR reduces visual artifacts like screen tearing and stutter, providing a smoother visual experience. This technology is especially beneficial for gaming, where frame rates can fluctuate frequently.
Two primary VRR technologies dominate the market: FreeSync and G-SYNC. For users with an AMD graphics card, FreeSync is the go-to choice, and it's compatible with both HDMI and DisplayPort connectors. On the other hand, if you're using NVIDIA's graphics solutions, you'll want G-SYNC, which currently only supports DisplayPort. Thus, NVIDIA users should prioritize a DisplayPort connection.
Winner: DisplayPort 2.1
3. Multi-Stream Transport (MST)
MST is a technology incorporated into the DisplayPort 1.2 standard and later versions. Its primary purpose is to allow a single DisplayPort connection on your computer to handle multiple video outputs simultaneously; this official term is called Daisy Chain. This technology can allow for expansive game views or simultaneous multitasking, such as gaming on one screen while monitoring streams or chats on another. MST's efficient bandwidth use ensures that each connected display delivers optimal gaming visuals without compromising performance.
MST theoretically supports linking up to 60+ displays from that single connection. You can achieve this by 'daisy-chaining' monitors directly or using an external hub. Though HDMI doesn't inherently support MST, a DisplayPort to HDMI hub can simulate this function, provided the source device has a DisplayPort output.
Winner: DisplayPort 2.1
Latency denotes the delay between sending a signal from a source device and its display on a target device. Measured in milliseconds, it impacts synchronization and real-time interactions, especially in gaming. Lower latency means faster response and smoother experiences.
The latency of HDMI 2.1 and DisplayPort 2.1 is quite similar (0.01 milliseconds). However, some factors can affect the latency, such as the length of the cable, the quality of the cable, and the specific devices that are being used.
In general, the latency of HDMI 2.1 and DisplayPort 2.1 is low enough that it is not noticeable for most gamers.
While HDMI 2.1 has its merits and is a versatile connector found in various entertainment setups, when it comes to PC gaming performance, DisplayPort 2.1 edges out as the champion. Its superior bandwidth and resolution support, exclusive compatibility with NVIDIA's G-SYNC, and the daisy-chaining capabilities of MST offer gamers a higher tier of immersion and flexibility. Unfortunately, DisplayPort 2.1 and 2.0 have limited support with Nvidia and AMD GPUs, which means that in terms of resolution, HDMI 2.1 is still king. However, when DisplayPort finally gets full support from both AMD and Nvidia, those seeking the pinnacle of PC gaming experiences should look towards the benefits of DisplayPort.
Acer Nitro vs. Predator: What is the Difference?
Some of the most popular gaming laptops fall under the Acer Nitro and Acer Predator brands, with several different monitors, desktops, and peripheral devices also being sold under these brands. The Nitro series is known for offering good performance for its price range, whereas the Predator series offers superior technology.
Most people struggle to pick between the two brands because several of the laptops from both series share similar price tags and specs. With some of the models containing very high-end components, it’s important that you pick the right machine. So in this article, we’re going to explore these two popular gaming laptop series.
The Acer Nitro is a series of budget gaming computers that first launched in 2017 and that is marketed to gamers looking for high-performance machines at a reasonable price point. The Nitro series includes desktops, laptops, monitors, and other accessories and competes with other midrange computers. The series was introduced with the Nitro 5 laptop, which featured a 2.50-GHz Intel Core i5-7300HQ, a 4-GB NVIDIA® GeForce GTX 1050 Ti, and 8 GB of DDR4 SDRAM. Since 2017, Acer has released several iterations of the Nitro gaming laptop series, including the Nitro 7, 16, and 17. Acer also has a wide range of gaming monitors and a desktop machine under the Nitro brand.
Best options for Acer Nitro (for budget gamers)
* Acer Nitro 5
* Acer Nitro 7
* Acer Nitro 17
The Acer Predator series offers high-performance gaming laptops and monitors designed to deliver exceptional gaming experiences, with powerful hardware and advanced features. Acer Predator has a strong presence at a number of major international gaming tournaments and hosts the annual Predator League, which is an international event held by Acer every year to reinforce the commitment of Predator in supporting the gaming industry, particularly in the Asia Pacific region. Predator’s “It Lies Within” website even won the prestigious Webby awards in 2023 for its impressive design. There are currently two laptop families under Predator: Triton and Helios. Triton is lightweight, slim, and sleek, designed for gamers and prosumers who are always on the go, whereas the Helios series consists of midrange and premium laptops with stellar specs that can replace desktop computers. Predator also covers a series of monitors that deliver exceptional visual fidelity and can support games with the most demanding conditions, with refresh rates of up to 360 Hz. Predator is an excellent choice for serious gamers who demand the best possible visuals.
The Predator range also includes mice, headsets, keyboards, routers, desks and even a backpack.
Best options for Acer Predator (for hardcore gamers)
* Acer Predator Helios 300
* Acer Predator Triton 500 SE
* Acer Predator Connect Wi-Fi 6E Router
Nitro vs. Acer Predator: What is the difference
Predator is Acer’s high-end gaming brand, and Nitro is its budget gaming brand. The Acer Predator series provides the best of modern computing technology, regardless of whether you're looking for a laptop, monitor, or other device. By contrast, for Acer Nitro, it’s all about bringing modern technology down to a reasonable price. You’ll still find the latest components, but they will not be the most powerful. Acer Nitro has long been the go-to choice for those looking for the best value when shopping for laptops and desktops, whereas Predator is the premier brand for serious gamers. Let’s take a look at some of the differences between these series in more detail.
Design and build quality
Predator laptops have magnesium chassis and better cooling systems than Nitro laptops. The Nitro series, being the budget-friendly option, are usually inside a plastic case with a similar fan setup as the Predator but containing less sophisticated cooling technology. Both the Predator and Nitro have RGB lighting in their keyboards that is customizable with the Sense software.
Nitro uses Intel core i5 or i7 or the latest generation AMD Ryzen™ 5, 7, or 9 CPUs. It also uses RTX™ 30 and 40 series GPUs from NVIDIA®. Midrange Predator Helios 300 laptops have almost the same specs as the top Nitro 5 laptops but are packaged in premium chassis and have better cooling systems. Top-tier Predator laptops like the Helios 500, Helios 700, and Triton 500 to 900 have far superior hardware than Nitro laptops. Predator also uses a vapor chamber in its cooling system to better handle the heating. Predator laptops use only the latest Intel CPUs.
Both Nitro and Predator laptops come with 15-inch or 17-inch screens, and both series offer high refresh rate monitors, with refresh rates ranging from 60 to 165 Hz refresh. Predator Triton and Helios offer more color-accurate displays than the Nitro series. The Predator series typically offers higher resolution displays, with some models boasting 4K resolution. The Nitro 5 has a Full HD (1080p) display, which is still decent for most games and daily use, and at the top end, a 15-inch Nitro can come with 1440p.
The Acer Predator series has a faster response time, ranging from 1 ms to 3 ms, reducing ghost and motion blur. The Acer Nitro 5’s response time is typically around 5ms, which is still decent for most games but not as fast as the Predator series.
I/O ports and connectivity
Both laptop series house a versatile and diverse set of ports. Nitro, Helios, and Triton are equipped with at least two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports for display, file transfer, and fast charging. They also support USB-A, with a full range of USB 3.2 Gen 1 and 2 ports, even on the slimmer Triton series. On top of that, they all offer one HDMI port.
Acer Nitro or Predator: which laptop is better for you?
1. Nitro 5 Gaming Laptop
* Intel® Core™ i7-12650H processor (up to 4.7 GHz)
* NVIDIA® GeForce RTX™ 4050 with 6 GB dedicated memory
* 15.6" Full HD (1920 x 1080) 16:9 144 Hz
* 16 GB, DDR5 SDRAM
* 512 GB SSD
The Nitro 5 series is the one for you if you are on a tight budget yet still want a machine that can deliver outstanding game performance. Acer has given this particular model a powerful graphics card and a decent amount of high-speed RAM, making it capable of running modern games at ultrahigh quality. The price of this machine is kept low thanks to the screen, hard drive, and battery, all of which are smaller than those in similar but more expensive machines, making it excellent value for money. Hogwarts Legacy, God of War Ragnarök, and Valorant will run smoothly on this Nitro 5 without kicking its fans on to full blast. It also has a responsive full-size keyboard and trackpad.
2. Predator Helios 16 Gaming Laptop
* Intel® Core™ i9-13900HX processor 2.20 GHz
* NVIDIA® GeForce RTX™ 4080 with 12 GB dedicated memory
* 16" WQXGA (2560 x 1600) 16:10 IPS 240 Hz
* 32 GB, DDR5 SDRAM
* 1 TB SSD
For a little bit extra, you can go with the Helios 16, a powerhouse gaming machine of the Predator series. The Helios 16 laptop provides excellent value for money, with a medium-sized display, superior chassis design for excellent cooling performance, and a latest-gen Intel i9 CPU. This machine can deliver excellent performance even with the heaviest games, thanks to the inclusion of the Nvidia RTX™ 4080 graphics card. Notably, any 4080 or above can run games in 4K, meaning this machine will be capable of playing modern games well into the future. If you want to experience the stunning graphics of Immortals of Aveum in 1080p at 60 fps or if you want to play Diablo IV, Hogwarts Legacy, or Resident Evil 4 Remake at the highest settings, this top-level Helios 16 is the one to get.
3. Predator Triton 17 X Gaming Laptop
* Intel® Core™ i9-13900HX processor Tetracosa-core (24 Core™) 2.20 GHz
* NVIDIA® GeForce RTX™ 4090 with 16 GB dedicated memory
* 17" WQXGA (2560 x 1600) 16:10
* 64 GB, DDR5 SDRAM
* 2 TB SSD
The Acer Predator Triton series is for serious gamers who want high performance, stunning display quality, and excellent design in a powerful yet portable device. Triton is a sleek laptop that doesn’t come in a traditional bulky gaming laptop design. The Triton 17 X has a latest-gen Intel i9 CPU with 24 cores and a high-definition display, offering 1600p in a 16-inch screen. The display is powered by the new Nvidia® RTX™ 4090, which has been very popular. Although one of the most expensive gaming laptops on offer by Acer, this machine has been assembled with the highest quality components and will deliver exceptional performance for years.
In summary, the Acer Nitro brand can be trusted to provide the perfect balance between affordability and performance, whereas the Acer Predator series offers superior gaming performance in a well-engineered chassis, with the Helios brand giving heavyweight, desktop-level performance and the Tritan brand giving powerful yet sleek computing capability. Nitro laptops are more affordable than other gaming laptops, making them an appealing option for gamers on a tight budget, and Predator laptops are the best option for hardcore gamers looking for the most powerful pro-level gaming machines.