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This weekend PSN has a deal on Mass Effect Andromeda. After reading all complaints about the game, I’d decided I’d play it much, much later…like when it was ‘free’ on EA Access or something. But after a friend of mine finished a 100 hour playthrough and started a 2nd playthrough just a week or two later, my curiosity (and an $18 discount) got the better of me, so I snagged a copy.

So far I’m digging it. Now it’s hard to be completely unbiased this far after the launch. I’m influenced by friends liking it, but I was also braced for absolutely horrible character models and facial animations. AND I just finished playing Sleeping Dogs which has not held up well in terms of character models. So all in all I was going into MEA expecting something horrible and was prepared to just deal with it.

So from that point of view, the game is fine. I mean yes, it could be lots better and I was unable to create a character that wasn’t kind of hideous (my dude came out looking a little like middle-aged John Travolta) but it’s not an issue to where it is really detracting from my enjoyment of the game. Ditto the voice work. Yes, there are some clunky lines and some weird cadence/pacing issues here and there but I actually enjoyed smart-alecking my way through a battle with Liam at my side. It actually felt pretty authentic. Here’s two guys in a horrible situation who decide to deal with it by being cavalier about the whole situation, even if that attitude is forced.

What has really surprised me about MEA is how much I enjoy the combat; it’s really fun. I mean its not a Destiny-level shooter but for an RPG it’s pretty great. My Ryder is a techie kind of guy who can leech shields and fire some kind of incendiary beam. And that’s at level 2. Who knows what he’ll grow into. I also find the jetpacks stupidly fun and I spent a lot of time jetpacking up to the top of things just because.

In fact my only complaint so far is that at one point someone pointed me to a weapons cache and I accidentally replaced my assault rifle with a shotgun and couldn’t switch it back. I guess you can only tweak your loadouts at specific areas and in that first mission I couldn’t find one. Having to take on the first big battle with a shotgun (I hate shotguns, I’m a hang-back-and-kill-em-from-range kind of guy) was a little frustrating. But now I know.

Now I’m back at the Nexus, which thankfully doesn’t seem to be as big as the Citadel. I tried to play the original Mass Effect 3 or 4 times and the Citadel always crushed my desire to play that game. It was so big and dull and confusing and tedious.

I mean clearly this is a very very early opinion. I have maybe 4 hours in so far? Essentially that game hasn’t even really gotten going yet. So I may change my mind. But so far, I have to say I’m pleasantly surprised by how much I’m enjoying myself.

Tonight I finished the story line of Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag. I’ve started a few Assassin’s Creed games, but I’ve never finished one or even come close. I’ve always known that the games were about the endless war between Assassins & Templars, but I had no idea how deep down the rabbithole they went. Not that Black Flag offered a lot of answers, but it certainly posed some questions that I look forward to having answered via other games.

Overall I had a blast with this one but I think it’s a little unusual for an AC game. For one thing the main character, Edward Kenway, isn’t an assassin. He’s a pirate who got caught up in the struggle after he tried to pass himself off as a templar in order to get a reward.

What I really enjoyed is that at least the first part of the game is based on history. In fact it’s the same basic story that the Starz TV show Black Sails tells. You’ll encounter the same characters, from Charles Vane & Ben Hornigold to Woodes Rogers and Edward “Black Beard” Thatch. Even Anne Bonny shows up. The pirates occupy Nassau, England sends Rogers to offer amnesty to any pirate who’ll swear to give up the life, and Hornigold takes the Crown up on its offer, to the dismay of his fellow pirates.

So that was fun, though by about 2/3rd of the way through the game we’ve left that story behind, and Edward is more actively working with the Assassins. I felt like the game was a little long for the amount of story it held, but with open world games I never know if that’s really my fault. Maybe I spent too much time dithering around chasing side quests. My save file was at about 35 hours (and 65% completion) as the credits rolled.

The “outer” story wasn’t as compelling. This time the modern day part of the tale has you as employee of Abstergo Entertainment. You’re using an animus to gather material that Abstergo will use to make an entertainment product out of. You don’t know that Abstergo is run by the Templars and it’s not clear how many (if any) of your co-workers know it either. There’s one dude who is undercover — an assassin — and he uses you as a pawn, but that story doesn’t go very far. Although you do meet Juno briefly. Who or what Juno is, I don’t know. But she (?) seems to predate humanity.

I think all in all I enjoyed the Black Flag part of the game more than I enjoyed the Assassin’s Creed part. By the end I was really sick of tailing people and eavesdropping on their conversations. Exchanging broadsides with a Man ‘O War never got old, though.

I started playing this game back in 2013 when it came out. When I picked it up again a few weeks ago, I started fresh. In some respects the game still looks great. The character models haven’t aged that well, but the ships and the sea and the weather all still look great. Playing on a 60″ TV, I’d get up and feel like I needed to get my land legs back. Y’know when you’ve been on a boat all day then you come ashore and it feels like the ground is rising and falling? The feeling of sailing the Jackdaw was authentic enough to give me that feeling.

At first I felt like ship-to-ship combat was too shallow, but by the time I’d been in 50 or 60 naval battles I appreciated that each one wasn’t a long, drawn-out affair. Sure it doesn’t feel authentic to have ships constantly ramming each other and dropping tons of mortar rounds on the enemy, but it kept things fun.

Oh and the music! First rate. Your crew is constantly breaking out in sea shanties and by the end I’d be singing along with them.

I’d give the piratey parts of AC: Black Flag a 5 out of 5 rating. The assassiny parts were just OK. Like many of the AC games, your character seems way too sticky. I was constantly jumping onto things I didn’t want to jump onto. Plus as mentioned, tailing bad guys grew stale pretty quickly.

Still, no regrets. I’m really glad I went back to it. Well worth playing, IMO.

I’m not sure if Belghast of Tales of the Aggronaut came up with the phrase “bouncing off” a game or if he borrowed it, but I heard it first from him so I’m giving him credit. It’s a great phrase so I’m also stealing it. When he says it, I imagine a game as a globe. You can hit the surface of the globe, pass through and immerse yourself in the world of the game, or you can bounce off the atmosphere and leave it behind. I assume that’s generally his meaning, though I never asked him.

Anyway, I just ‘bounced off’ MMOs again. I’ve been focusing pretty much exclusively on single player games for a while, but a couple of weeks ago Skyforge hit the PS4 and I decided to give it a go. I played casually for a week before getting bored, then moved on to trying other MMOs on the console. DCUO lasted a couple nights, then Neverwinter entertained for about a week, then I was back to Elder Scrolls Online for a few days, and now I’ve left the MMO planetary system and sailed off into space, only to splash back down into Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag’s sweet, sweet single player bliss.

It was probably the shortest trip into the MMO-sphere that I’ve ever taken.

Now I live in my cozy little bubble so I’m probably completely off-base, but it seems to me like MMOs are losing traction and not just with me. Maybe it’s just my social media circles? I dunno. But folks who used to talk about playing MMOs now tend to talk about games like Overwatch instead. I think most of my MMO-loving friends still play their MMOs casually, but the genre just doesn’t seem to be as much of a focus as it used to. Maybe it’s just that no big new releases/expansions have hit recently? Just part of a cycle? What do you think, oh anonymous reader? You’re probably exposed to a broader cross-section of gamers than I am. I hope I’m wrong. I LOVE the idea of “virtual worlds” even if I’m not currently playing in one.

Indeed, I’m glad I’m out again. I tried to push my comfort boundaries this time. I PUGged in both Neverwinter and TESO, something I normally don’t do. And honestly both experiences were fine. I didn’t encounter any asshats or anything. But doing group stuff still kind of stresses me out, even when I’m having fun. I play games SLOW. I like to peek into every corner and potter about. In a group I have to move with the group and the pace always feels kind of frantic to me. Each night I PUGged I couldn’t get to sleep later that night, I was so wound up and stressed out. (I’m sure that would go away if I did it more.)

I know I can solo in my MMOs and go at my own pace but eventually you hit that wall where you really need group content to advance, OR you just start to feel like you’re missing out on the coolest content by not doing dungeons/instances.

It’s awesome that there are decent F2P MMOs on console now so when I do get the itch I can dive in for a few days/weeks/months. And though this last dive was brief, it was fairly deep. I spent about $20 on Zen for Neverwinter and signed up for a month of ESO Plus for $15, so my intent was to stick around. But in both cases I just suddenly didn’t want to log in.

There’s a lot of reasons I prefer single player games these days but right now as I’m writing this post the #1 reason is: they end. There’s a TON of games I want to play, but an MMO is forever (not literally but you know what I mean). Curiously, I used to prefer MMOs, even playing them solo, BECAUSE they had no end. So I’ve totally flip-flopped as far as that goes. Even though I’m enjoying Black Flag, I can’t wait to finish it because there’s like 4-5 other games I really want to get into.

SO many awesome games and there’s no sign that new great games are going to stop arriving any time soon. Remember when we use to have “gaming droughts” at certain parts of the year where we’d tackle our backlogs? That’s pretty much a thing of the past, eh? I guess maybe late-spring/early-summer is a little dry but otherwise we’re getting awesome games all year long.

I’m babbling, so I’ll quit for now. I have lots to say about Black Flag but I’ll wait until I’m finished. I know everyone is eager to hear my thoughts on a 4-year old game. LOL.

Recently my PS4 and Google got into a slap-fight and I can’t stay signed into YouTube on the PS4. This isn’t a unique problem..googling it shows that a lot of PS4 owners encounter the same issue.

I’d like to get that fixed but in the meantime I don’t have a good way to upload videos. The PS4 does support DailyMotion though, so I set up an account. Here’s an embed. Not the usual Horizon Zero Dawn caveats apply: I play in HDR mode and when I save video or screenshots, the palette can get wonky. That’s not DailyMotion’s fault.


Horizon Zero Dawn™ – Testing DM connectivity by dragonchasers

Best option would be to crank the res up to 1080P.

I’d love to write at length about Horizon Zero Dawn: for me it is that rarest of breeds, a game that lives up to the hype. I played at bit when it launched at midnight, and as much as I could yesterday. All told I have about 9 hours into it and I’m loving it. Sadly for me, you’re spared from my walls of text because I have to go to work very soon. Still I needed to say SOMETHING about it.

I also don’t have a lot of good media to share. I’m playing HZD on an HDR TV and it looks absolutely stunning, but the downside of HDR (on the PS4 anyway) is that something goes wonky on the trip from live gameplay to screenshot or video cap. The color palette gets munged up and screenshots tend to look too dark (though not always), and video look like you’re watching them through a colored filter. I’ll have to turn off HDR to capture some good media but man, I don’t want to. The lighting in particular is amazing. Sometimes a sunbeam slices through the trees and is so bright that your instinct is to shield your eyes.

So if I only have time to talk about one thing, I’m going to talk about the health system because it feels a little unusual. Protagonist Aloy (brought to life by the talented Ashley Burch and of course Guerilla artists and animators) has a health bar. Below that health bar is another bar representing her medicine bag. As you travel around you’ll forage for plants. Some of these have medicinal value and they go into the medicine bag, which causes that second bar to fill up. At any point you hit Up on the D-Pad to heal yourself. In non-lore terms, the medicine bag bar represents a reserve of hit points that you can use to refill your health bar. The catch is that it takes time and you have to hold that button down while [I don’t know how I’d convinced myself you have to hold the button down but today I tapped it by accident and my health bar filled up, so scratch that ‘hold the button down’ bit] while the health flows into Aloy. It can be hard to find time to heal this way in battle.

But there are also health potions. While not instant, these are a lot faster to use. They reside in the tools menu. You push left< ->right on the D-Pad to select an active tool, then Down to use that tool. Aloy will pause briefly to quaff the potion so you still need to pick your moments, but generally health potions are for in-combat healing and the medicine bag is for out of combat healing.

Health potions can be purchased from vendors or crafted from meat that you get from hunting organic wildlife (so far I’ve hunted raccoon, fox, rabbit, turkey, fish and boar) and there are not only health potions but elemental resistance potions and things of that nature. Initially you can only carry a couple of each type of potion and of course they require the prep time of remembering to buy or craft them. (Being prepared for combat is a big part of HZD.)

So there you have it, one tiny aspect of the game that struck me. As I said, I could go on and on, but duty calls. Loving the game so far, though. It gets a big thumbs up from me.

Horizon Zero Dawn is out! I played the first hour or so before bed and it made a great first impression on me. That’s bad news for Far Cry 4 which is going to be set aside so I can focus on HZD for a bit, but I wanted to share some thoughts while they’re still fresh in my mind. At this point my FC4 game is about 50% complete and I’ve got somewhere between 25-30 hours into it.

This is the 2nd time I’ve played Far Cry 4. I bought it on the Xbox One quite some time ago and never got very far. I’m not sure why, but I suspect I was approaching it too seriously. Far Cry 4 is an over-the-top kind of game. It is very violent and kind of deliberately controversial. For instance to upgrade your gear you need to kill tigers, leopards and rhinos for their skins. Your main goal is that you want to get somewhere to spread your mother’s ashes and you seem to have no qualms about killing hundreds of people to get there. Stuff like that. It’s designed to be ‘extreme’ more than anything, so you just need to go into it with a “Why so serious?” kind of mindset and roll with it. I have trouble doing that sometimes and I bet that’s why I quit the Xbox One version. I was probably mad that the game made me kill a tiger or something. Moral outrage is right in my wheelhouse.

But this time around, I’m having a blast. There’s a lot of good stuff in Far Cry 4. The environments (it takes place in Kyrat, a fictional country in the Himalayas…think Nepal) are breathtakingly beautiful, the gunplay is fun and varied (everything from bows and throwing knives to flame throwers and RPGs) and there are a ton of ways to get from point A to Point B. Fast Travel is a thing, but so is riding an elephant, flying a gyrocopter, leaping off a cliff and using a wingsuit, or more mundane modes of transport like cars, trucks, boats and ATVs.

It’s really hard to get bored in Far Cry 4 unless you try to do everything. I’ve seen complaints that there is too much to do, and if you’re compulsive enough that you try to clear every point of interest and activity on the map you probably will get bored. Thing is, there’s no need to. Do the stuff you enjoy. If you hate stealth, skip the assassination missions. If you’re not here to drive fast, skip the racing missions. You don’t need to do it all.

As in most open world games, there are some RPG elements to Far Cry 4. As you do things, you earn experience and cash. You use the former to unlock skills from a skill tree and the latter to upgrade your guns. At my 50% point I’ve unlocked almost every skill and purchased almost everything there is to purchase. The point is the developers gave you so much stuff to do so that you can pick and choose and still earn ample exp and $$ to level up your character and keep him competitive with the locals.

So all in all I really like Far Cry 4, but I do have some gripes.

First of all, the wildlife is insane. I’ve died more to animals than to people and I think this leads to a lot of fun encounters. Once I was tasked with driving the enemy out of a village and right at the start of a firefight the bad guys pissed off a pair of elephants which went on a rampage and killed all of them for me. I literally crouched on a hillside, watched the mayhem, and got credit for clearing the village. Thanks elephants!

But the eagles… OMG the eagles. Eagles constantly attack you and NPCs in Far Cry 4. The first couple of times it happens it’s pretty cool, but the 30th or 40th time, it starts to get annoying. They rarely do enough damage to seriously harm you so they’re just kind of an interruption. Sometimes they’ll give you away when you’re trying to be stealthy but the enemy is more likely to start firing off hundreds of rounds trying to shoot the eagle than come at you. They seem to also realize the wildlife is the real danger here. Anyway I’d like to see the eagle attacks toned down in frequency.

Second is the pirate radio guy, Rabi Ray Rana. One of your tasks in the game is to shut down propaganda broadcasts, and Rabi Ray Rana will then fill the airwaves with his endless prattling and some music. I have two issues with RRR. First he talks about shit and shitting constantly. I guess that’s funny for some but it’s not my thing. But worse is that he doesn’t have enough material so you hear the same routines over and over and over again. And if he starts one of his spiels and you stop and get out of your car to pick a flower, when you get back in he re-starts his routine. So for Far Cry 5, please give us a better radio experience (you can of course turn him off but I kept thinking of games like GTA where you actually look forward to hearing what is on the radio).

Those are both pretty trivial grips, but my last one is money. There is SO MUCH MONEY in this game that it feels like the balance is out of whack. As I said, I’ve purchased literally everything I am able to purchase at this point and I’m half-way through. I don’t bother looting chests or corpses any more because I have more cash than I can carry (literally, your wallet holds a fixed amount, and even with mine upgraded a few times I still have too much cash). I think the game would be more interesting if you had to struggle a little bit when it comes to money. Instead I’m like “Well my body armor is down to 80%…might as well spent 20,000 rupees and buy a new set.”

In a game this huge, that’s a pretty small list of gripes. If like me you skipped on Far Cry 4 when it came out, I urge you to give it a try as long as you’re able to turn off your moral filters and accept that it’s ok to slaughter 4 rhinos in order to craft yourself a slightly larger wallet.

Note: Trying something different with this post. I turned some short video clips into animated gifs using ShareFactory. Not sure I’m happy with the results. I always feel weird uploading a 10 second clip to YouTube but maybe there’s no way around that, eh?

I think I’m finally done with Shadow of Mordor. After earning the Platinum trophy for the base game, I started in on the DLC. I finished the storyline, such that it is, for the Lord of the Hunt DLC and then looked at the trophy list and just couldn’t get too interested in going back to trying to set up the specific conditions needed to earn them. In general I didn’t like Lord of the Hunt that much (it leaned heavily on mind-controlling beasts and in general I found having mind-controlled minions was kind of annoying…they get in the way as often as they help) and I’ve read reviews of the 2nd DLC, The Bright Lord, and apparently it too is heavy on mind control stuff. So I think I’m done. I have certainly gotten my money’s worth out of the game. 50+ hours of gameplay and I got the game on sale for $10.

But that leaves me in a gaming gap. What the heck is that? Well Horizon Zero Dawn comes out on the 28th and I’ve pre-ordered it because I failed my “resist the hype” saving throw. I’m looking forward to jumping into it as soon as the clock strikes midnight. But what to do for the 19 days between now and then?

I had planned on playing Far Cry Primal next, but that looks like a big game that’s going to take a month or more to play. I’m also not sure that fighting with sword and bow in Mordor, then fighting with club and bow in Primal, then fighting with bow in Zero Dawn is the best plan. I don’t want to get burned out on open world bow combat stuff.

The Elder Scrolls Online’s housing patch hits consoles on Tuesday and that may or may not suck me back into the game. Or maybe this is a good time to finally play the TitanFall 2 campaign. Thematically Watch Dogs 2 would be a good change of venue but again, that’s a big game that I don’t think I could finish in 19 days. (I started playing Shadow of Mordor in December, to give you an idea of how long it takes me to get through a title.) I haven’t dipped my toe into the console versions of Star Trek Online or DC Universe Online in quite a while…

Project Cars is free on the Xbox One via Games With Gold starting on the 15th (I think), so maybe I’ll see if the Xbox still works. I also have a bunch of indie stuff that I’ve got via Playstation Plus or in sales, so I could tear through a few of those. Indie titles generally don’t hold my attention very long just because I’m so attracted by shiny things and pixel art isn’t (to me) shiny.

Yeah basically I’m spoiled for choice. I guess that’s the benefit of a big fat backlog. Definitely a #FirstWorldGamerProblem. But these days I’m most content when I’m really invested in a gaming world just because I’m finding gaming is the best way for me to shut out politics and other bad news from the real world. So I gotta find something. Just not sure what, yet.

Over the weekend I earned the Platinum Trophy for Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor. For PC and Xbox players, substitute “achievement” for “trophy” and know that the platinum is basically the “You’ve earned all the other trophies” trophy. It’s the same I guess as getting 1000 gamerscore out of an Xbox game.

I’m still not entirely sure I’m cut out for trophy hunting. (This is only my 2nd Platinum, the first was in Infamous: Second Son.)

The good news is that I got a lot more gameplay out of SoM. I was at 25 hours when I finished the story and 45 hours when I got the last trophy, so it almost doubled the time I spent with the game. And it was very satisfying to get that last trophy after all those hours, even though earning each individual trophy wasn’t always fun. I hit frustration levels well beyond what I experienced just playing through the story, but even the frustrating trophies came with a nice shot of dopamine to my brain when I earned them.

For example one trophy required you to get a Level 25 Rune. You get runes for killing named orcs. The level of the rune is the level of the orc plus some bonuses, and orcs cap out at level 20. So to get a level 25 rune, you need to kill a level 20 orc, but it needs to be a warchief (one of the top orcs in the hierarchy) because that gives you a 2 point bonus. You need to know that orcs weaknesses which means you’ve had to get Intel on him. 1 point for that. You need to USE one of his weaknesses or strengths (which can be easy or hard depending on what they are) because that’s a 1 point bonus, AND it has to be a revenge kill, meaning that orc has to have killed you already. 1 point for that.

When I went after this trophy, the first problem was there were no level 20 orcs and all the warchiefs were under my control. So I had to kill some of my warchiefs to create an opening. Then I advanced time (I think, I’ve already forgotten some details) to get enemy warchiefs in place. Then I got intel on them to pick one that would be easy to trigger. (Sometimes weaknesses are pretty obscure, sometimes strengths make them hard to fight). OK so now I had a warchief who got enraged by fire and I have a fire arrow skill. But he was level 16 and he hadn’t killed me. So then I fought him but he brought bodyguards and I couldn’t get the warchief to kill me since he was content to let his bodyguards do the work. In trying to let this warchief kill me, a random archer actually got in the killing blow. OK respawn, now isolate and take out the bodyguards. Then go after the warchief, kill all the minions around him and he FINALLY kills me. So now he’s level 17. Go back a few more times letting him kill me over and over to level up to 20. Finally I have a level 20 warchief who I can get revenge on and I know his weaknesses..that’s 24 levels of rune. In the battle I hit him with a fire arrow to enrage him, that makes level 25 and finally I just had to kill him. Trophy unlocked… FINALLY. That was like 90 minutes of game time.

On the one hand, it was really satisfying to finally get it. On the other, playing to lose (so the warchief would kill me) wasn’t as much fun.

I guess I’ll just worry about trophy hunting on games I really enjoy. I loved Shadow of Mordor. I loved the setting, loved the combat, loved little touches like how on a combat finisher the ‘clang’ of swords rang out from the controller speaker. I loved finding artifacts and listening to the “memories” and in general, I just love Middle Earth so the opportunity to spend time there was really appreciated. Even after 45 hours I was still getting a lot of joy out of just hacking and slashing my way through swarms of orcs. Even after Talion was completely leveled up and there was no reason to fight orcs, I’d keep fighting them because it was just so darned fun.

I think that SoM is known for being a pretty easy game to Platinum, which was OK by me. And none of the trophies were based on high levels of player skill. If you could finish the storyline you can do all the trophies. You don’t need to be a gaming god to achieve any of them. And there’s no multiplayer, so that’s a huge deal for me since I don’t do multiplayer any more. Even with all that, the Trophies that required you to manipulate the in-game situation in weird ways (like intentionally letting yourself get killed) were a lot less fun than the trophies that just came with playing the game they way you’d naturally play it.

I’m really gonna miss the combat in Shadows of Mordor. This is near the end with a maxed-out Talion.

Middle-earth™: Shadow of Mordor™ – Game of the Year Edition
http://ift.tt/1q9BOMv

This week Sony shared some information on their next Playstation 4 system software update, and the beta program is up and running. There’s an NDA in place so if I was in the beta program I couldn’t tell you.

So far this looks like a good update. The biggest feature for me, a heavy user of the Playstation 4, is support for external hard drives (finally). You can connect a drive of up to 8 TB to your PS4 and store your games and apps on it. For some reason save files, screenshots and video clips still have to live on the internal drive.

If you’re a casual PS4 owner, your best bet is to just upgrade your internal hard drive if you’re concerned about space. It’s easy to do and it means one less bit of clutter in your entertainment center. I think the biggest drive you can get that’ll fit in the PS4 (2.5″ drive that is no more than 9.5 MM thick) is 2 or 2.5 TB. Don’t hold me to that, I haven’t shopped for a new drive for a while, but that’s how things were last time I looked.

For heavy PS4 users (particular those of us who prefer digital to plastic disks) the external option is nice. Personally I have a 1.5 TB drive in my PS4 and a 1 TB drive in my PS4 Pro and both are full (with different content). I’m going to attach a 5 TB drive to the Pro, put everything on it and send the launch PS4 to storage (or maybe the TV in the bedroom). Since I can also use the internal drive, in total I’ll have 6 TB of space which should be sufficient for a while.

Another new feature is “Boost Mode” for the PS4 Pro. Sony has been a little coy about this. They didn’t mention it in their blog post but as soon as folks got their hands on the beta they started talking about it. Boost Mode is an experimental system that lets all games take advantage of the additional power of the PS4 Pro. Prior to Boost Mode, a game needed to be patched in order to get any benefit from the Pro. Now, in theory, every game will run better.

I’m still waiting to see some quantifiable data on this, but I would advise you to moderate expectations. Boost Mode probably isn’t going to take a 30 FPS game and make it into a 60 FPS game, for two reasons. First is that the game is probably locked to 30 FPS, and second is I don’t think we’ll get that much of a boost. I think the more reasonable expectation is that games that run at 30 FPS but sometimes drop to 20 FPS will now stay at 30 FPS. Ditto 60 FPS games that might drop to 50 here and there. Basically my hope for Boost Mode is that it’ll smooth out the gameplay of older games.

YouTube has some videos but they’re all done by amateurs. Hopefully someone like Digital Foundry will do some tests, and pump out some of those cool videos with frame rate and frame pacing indicators on them. Show us numbers with and without Boost Mode.

PSVR owners are getting support for 3D Blu-rays, which has some folk really excited.

You can now share stuff to the PS4’s activity feed directly, which is nice. It used to be that you had to share to Twitter or Facebook or something just to get a clip or screenshot into the activity feed. That was pretty silly.

They’ve tweaked Notifications and the Quick Menu. We’ll see what that means.

You can now use a screenshot as your “Theme” which is a nice feature that should’ve been there since Day 1. Better late than never.

That’s everything I’ve seen reported so far. Generally it seems like these system betas run for about a month before Sony launches to everyone so with luck we won’t be waiting too long for these new features.

Of course you STILL can’t change your PSN name, something folks have been clamoring for. PSN is old enough now that idiot kids who picked offensive PSN names are now responsible adults and are a little embarrassed by their PSN name and they want a way to change it. Heck I’d change mine (Dragonchasers) just to get something shorter for when my name is on-screen and blocking all the scenery!