Steelseries Arctis 7 review: The best gaming headset bar none

Steelseries Arctis 7

Readers, I think I’ve found it. The perfect gaming headset. For me, anyway. Thanks to a simple strip of fabric, Steelseries’ Arctis 7 is hands down the most comfortable gaming headset I’ve ever used. Instead of cushioning that damnable headband with memory foam and other such gubbins you normally find in online mattress ads, Steelseries’ so-called ‘ski-goggle’ design puts all the weight on a stretchy piece of material that wraps tightly, but snugly round your skull, while the main aluminium frame sits suspended above your head. No pinching, no headache, nothing. It’s beautiful.

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Fortnite Battle Royale’s new mode needs to be a fixture

fortnite

There were 30 of us left, down from the 50 we had at the start of Fortnite Battle Royale’s 50 vs. 50 mode. Almost all of us had managed to home in on the new safe zone before the circle closed in. We got to work immediately, silently intuiting what was needed. Walls. Many, many walls. And some elevation — stairs, in a pinch — that would let us see over the trees, and see the other team charging towards us. They came from every direction, announcing themselves with furious gunfire and a barrage of rockets.

Our makeshift fort changed as we needed it to. A new wall here. Some shelter to heal a downed teammate. A bit of cover for people to reload behind. I ducked and narrowly avoided coming face to face with a rocket, but then the wall behind me came down and bullets started to fly towards me. Seconds later and I was brought back into the fight by one of the players who had become a dedicated medic. The siege continued.

Fortnite’s never been this good before.

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Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming (Late 2017) review: Now with added Thunderbolt 3

Gaming laptops are a funny old business. As we discovered with the frankly ludicrous MSI GT75VR Titan Pro, phenomenal cosmic graphics power you can (sort of) take on the move often comes with an equally planetary-sized price attached to it, making such laptops seem like indulgent extravagances compared to an identically-priced desktop. Even entry-level gaming laptops like Dell’s Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming series demand at least 899 of your hard-earned pounds, and even then you’re only getting one of Nvidia’s GTX 1050 chips for your trouble. With that kind of money, you could buy yourself a fully-fledged GTX 1070 desktop that will see you through many more years of high quality gaming and give you the flexibility to upgrade in the future.

It all begs the question about whether gaming laptops are really worth it? Indeed, when Alec reviewed the GTX 1050 Ti version of this very Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming laptop earlier in the year (the 7567 edition), he concluded that its sub-par screen and bulky chassis weren’t quite up to snuff for its £1000 asking price. It also lacked a Thunderbolt 3 port, effectively hampering any potential upgrade work if you wanted to add a more powerful external GPU at a later date. Today, I’m going to see if Dell’s latest refresh of its Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming series – the 7577, to be precise – is any better.

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Getting Over It requires a resolve Matt doesn’t have

"The calm man is a precise man" - Anonymous, 2017

You may have witnessed us trying difficult mountain climbing game Getting Over It With Bennett Foddy. Last week Matt attempted to scale part of the mountain, clambering over rocks, girders, concrete pipes and wooden barrels using nothing but the game’s jerky sledgehammer and terrifying upper body strength. He did well. But Matt lacks a deeper comprehension of summits and the ascent thereof – a philosophical understanding I myself possess. So I decided to pick up where he left off. Come and watch me Getting Over Matt. Read the rest of this entry »

Have you played… ArmA 3?

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Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.

I’ve long possessed a fondness for Bohemia Interactive’s military simulators, ever since Operation Flashpoint invaded my hard-drive back in 2001. But ArmA 3 is the first Bohemia game since OpFlash to successfully modernise that that initial concept, striking a pleasing balance between ambition, accessibility, and stability of play. Read the rest of this entry »

Wot I Think: Gorogoa

Gorogoa feels like a sort of magic that might fall apart in the understanding. It’s a beautiful story in which you solve puzzles more by instinct than deduction, and their solutions feel as magical as the process. Its impossibly overlapping world weaves a delicate fiction that stretches beyond the boundaries of its central conceit. Read the rest of this entry »

How an amputation saved Quadrilateral Cowboy’s life

This is The Mechanic, where Alex Wiltshire invites developers to discuss the difficult journeys they underwent to make the best bits of their games. This time, Quadrilateral Cowboy [official site].

Quadrilateral Cowboy is a firstperson puzzle game about a group of hacker friends who stage heists across a set of increasingly challenging missions. Together they tell a surprising and affecting story of professionalism, friendship and rising threat through Blendo Games’ distinctive tight cutting between interactive scenes, flipping the action from a hoverbike chase to the gang’s return to their hideout. It’s clever, pacy, and rich in detail and nuance. Pretty much, in other words, what you’d expect from Blendo Games.

But it’s not what Blendo Games – which is to say, Brendon Chung – expected to make. Quadrilateral Cowboy’s entire structure and form is completely different to what he originally envisaged. The way in which his game changed over the course of its development is a model for how a game is shaped by the realities of production, and how ideas can be far too big for their own good. Read the rest of this entry »

Steelseries Siberia 800 review: A great wireless headset let down by its microphone

Steelseries Siberia 800

For a wireless gaming headset, the Steelseries Siberia 800 sure does come with a lot of cables. Open up the box and you’d be forgiven for thinking you’ve bought the wrong headphones, as there’s a whole other mini box crammed inside it with more cables than you know what to do with. This is mostly because, unlike a lot of wireless headsets, the Siberia 800 uses a dedicated transmitter box that can be connected to a variety of different devices instead of a traditional USB dongle. Don’t get me wrong, it still feels like a slap in the face when the whole point of wireless headphones is to get rid of said wires, but there is method to this cable-hogging madness.

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Have You Played… Sportsfriends?

sportsfiends

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.

The playful presentation of Sportsfriends [official site] – think alternate universe Nintendo – hides a four pack of viciously competitive multiplayer games. There’s BaraBariBall, which is basically Super Smash Bros meets water polo. There’s Hokra, which is like an abstract version of football. There’s Joust, but you need PS Move controllers for that so never mind.

It’s all about Super Pole Riders. Read the rest of this entry »

The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for trying to get out of the house and experience some fresh air around your kid’s extraordinarily long naps. And for staying in and reading (and watching) about videogames for their duration.

Game-related Thing Of The Week is obviously Cool Ghosts: Episode 1, a 25 minute video from Quinns and Matt Lees that wraps game crit in a narrative framing device like Consolevania of yore. It is funny, strange and has the raise the bar. The bar is up there now. Read the rest of this entry »

AOC E2470SWH review: An OK pick for a cheap second screen

AOC E2470SWH

Adding a second screen to your PC can bring several benefits, whether it’s giving you more space to work or, for the YouTube and Twitch crowd, the ability to read web pages while you game. Finding room in your budget for one, however, is often much harder, especially if you’ve already spent a lot on your first monitor. Enter the AOC E2470SWH.

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What are we all playing this weekend?

yes I'm afraid you're ALL on the naughty list in this illustration from Death's Doings

Alice, your usual host, is away this week. The last I saw of her she was bricking up her chimney and muttering something about defensive perimeters. I’m sure it’ll all be fine.

My Christmas preparations mostly involve a slight injection of colour into my wardrobe and a desire for all things cinnamon and ginger. I also spend quite a bit of time making sure the RPS Advent Calendar is fully stocked with lovely treats. But is there still time for games, I hear you ask? Of course there is.

What are you playing this weekend? Here’s what’s occupying our screens.

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Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds new map made me feel lost again, and I love it

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It’s snowing outside my window, but on my screen all I see is sand. I’m one of 5 remaining players, and the circle of safety is much larger than it usually is by the time a round reaches this point. I can hear a sniping war going on to my right and since I’ll have to run across the rocky expanse in front of me soon anyway, I choose that moment to make a break for it.

Of course, I get shot down the moment I start running. I’m playing on the new desert map in Playererunknown’s Battlegrounds and this is still the same old Plunkbat – only now there are no bushes for me to cower in.

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90s CD-ROM games still have a lot to teach us

simtunes

Videogames were a presence throughout my childhood, thanks to my dad having a PC for work. When he didn’t need to use it, I was allowed to tinker and explore. The games built into the computer like Solitaire, SkiFree and Fuji Golf, as well as the CD-ROM games we got from stores like Office Max and Borders, quickly became second nature to me.

Now, looking back at publications and exhibitions intended to showcase gaming history I realize that some of my own experiences are often missing. While many influential PC games are well known and we can trace their influence on videogames today, there are more blind spots when it comes to the CD-ROM boom of the mid-90s. These games were built for an audience that was familiar with PC software but perhaps not with games, and even in their own time they ignored the conventions of game design. This led to types of experimentation videogames of today can still learn from.

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Unknown Pleasures: the best new Steam games you haven’t heard of

best-steam-games-dec

Welcome back to Unknown Pleasures, our weekly* search for five splendid but under-reported new games released on Steam over the past seven days.

This week: firelight survival, bootleg Podracing, Mario vs Super Crate Box, monkey-free Monkey Ball and lava lamp simulation. Read the rest of this entry »