Warner Bros Adds Doctor Fate To 'Injustice 2' Roster

The anticipated sequel to the 2013 smash hit Injustice: Gods Among Us has been keeping fans of the DC Comics fighting franchise anxious for more, as information about the game’s story, playable characters, and mechanics have been trickling out in small increments over the past few months after its announcement in June 2016. Today, another beloved DC Universe entity is joining the fight, as Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment announced that Doctor Fate will be among the playable heroes and villains featured in Injustice 2.

The Injustice 2 roster features many of the familiar heroes and villains from the original Injustice, including Aquaman, Bane, Batman, Catwoman, Cyborg, Flash, Green Lantern, Harley Quinn, Superman, and Wonder Woman. Warner Bros. has also revealed new characters such as Atrocitus, Black Canary, Blue Beetle, Brainiac, Cheetah, Darkseid, Deadshot, Gorilla Grodd, Poison Ivy, Robin (Damien Wayne), Scarecrow, Supergirl, and Swamp Thing. The addition of Doctor Fate brings the total playable character count to 24.

You can check out the official trailer for Doctor Fate below. Injustice 2 will arrive May 16, 2017 for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

‘Injustice 2’ Doctor Fate Trailer

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Watch as we drop, shake and soak three ruggedized tablets

Anyone who depends on their tablet throughout the workday knows that disaster can strike at any moment. These three ruggedized Windows tablets can help you avoid catastrophe.

While ruggedized tablets cost more than their more fragile peers, they mean fewer repairs, replacements and downtime. We tested three ruggedized Windows tablets to see how well they held up.

First, we dropped each tablet from 29 inches up, to simulate being pushed off a desk onto a hard floor.

We then dropped the tablets from 5 feet up onto a carpeted floor, to simulate what would happen if, say, it fell while you were walking or running.

We then sprayed each with water using a pressurized sprayer, to simulate being caught in a rain storm.
Finally, to see how the tablets handle vibration and dirt, we put each in a shake table, covered it with sand, and shook it for five minutes.

The Getac F110 survived all the tests without a scratch; however, its exhaust vent filled with sand, which could cause the system to overheat if not cleaned out.

The Panasonic Toughpad FZ-G1 got through all the tests without any damage. But in one of the drops from five feet up, the stylus popped out of its holder. Luckily, it comes with a coiled tether.

The Xplore Xslate R12 came through all the tests with flying colors. Nothing broke, there was no visible damage, and it worked perfectly afterwards.

All three tablets weathered our storms without suffering any damage, and all are worth looking at. However, for everyday use, I’d recommend the Xplore Xslate R12 — it’s not only durable, but thinner, lighter and more attractive than the other ruggedized tablets.

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LG's VR HMD Shows High-End Promise, May Offer Mixed Reality

Just before GDC, we received a non-announcement announcement that LG is making a VR HMD. Details were sparse, to say the least, but we had the chance to go hands-on with the device. It’s still a prototype, but it performs wonderfully as is, and it will most likely offer a mixed reality environment of some kind via passthrough cameras when the final version comes to market.

The Prototype

The current iteration of LG’s VR HMD is PC-connected, just like the Rift and Vive. It has an OLED display (made by LG) that’s 3.64 inches on the diagonal. It offers 1440×1280 resolution per eye (540ppi) and sports a 90Hz refresh rate. Notably, that resolution is higher than the 1200×1080 resolution of both the Rift and Vive.

The device’s headstrap setup is reminiscent of the HoloLens, and the front of the HMD can slide forward and up, making it exceptionally easy to peek into the real world when necessary and also to take the thing on or off. When you snug it to your face, you tighten the hard plastic straps with a dial on the back to keep it tight.

This design also makes the HMD adjustable. You can slide the front forward or backward 40cm depending on your comfort level, and whether you’re wearing glasses. How far you have the front assembly slid forward affects the field of view. At 12cm (which we infer from talking with LG is the shortest lens-to-eye distance it offers), the FoV is 110 degrees. That’s as good or better than the Rift, Vive, and PSVR, at least on the horizontal. The further out you go, the more the FoV will be reduced.  

We were also told that the lenses are refractive, not the Fresnel lenses that Vive and Rift both use. We were told no more than that, and LG politely asked us not to shoot any pictures of the lenses from too close up.

There’s a headphone jack, too. In our demos, LG plugged in generic headphones for the audio.

The LG VR HMD runs SteamVR, and it uses the same Lighthouse base stations as the Vive to achieve room scale tracking. LG did not comment on the content issue, but we infer that you can play any Vive game on this device.

Mixed Reality And More?

There is much about this HMD that LG has not finalized, and there will be some key features in the final product that aren’t present on this prototype. One that seems to be a shoo-in is a pair of passthrough cameras on the front of the HMD. This current design even has dummy holes for them (if you look closely, you can see that there are no cameras mounted in there yet).

The obvious use for passthrough cameras is mixed reality; what’s less obvious is what that means and how it will be implemented. For example, LG may simply use them to let you toggle on a “real world view” when you need to check your surroundings. On the other hand, they may be a precursor to inside-out tracking that would let LG do away with the Lighthouse trackers. Ostensibly, they could also be used to toggle between a fully occluded VR environment and a mixed reality one, as Vrvana’s Totem does, or to create merged reality, as Intel is doing with Project Alloy.

Of course, LG could also cut the passthrough camera from the final design altogether.

LG said that we should expect the shipping HMD to be lighter than the prototype, and it may also have a higher-resolution display.

Synecdoche Hand Controllers

The HMD has two hand controllers, and they look almost identical to the Vive controllers, but there are some slight differences–which felt a little odd. For example, LG’s design has an angular look compared to the more rounded Vive controllers.

LG also added another button to the top of the controller. An LG rep said that they noticed that many devs liked to add functionality in pairs–such as offering both forward and backward movement–and so it put two equidistant buttons on either side of the touchpad. LG also tightened up the button placement a bit so everything is closer together.  

The two demos we saw made minimal use of the controllers and no use of the buttons, so it’s difficult to evaluate whether or not those design tweaks make a difference.

The Demos: A Fire Dancer And Space Ping Pong

LG showed us two short demos. In one, you’re a passive observer, and in the other, you interact with the environment. For the record, both were superb.

In the first one, you’re greeted by a dancer–she was an avatar, mostly black but drawn with bright orange lines, but her movements were so fluid and graceful that it had to have been created by motion capture. She created this sparky, streaming 3D trail of flame wherever she moved. She dances all around you, so you have to keep spinning in place to keep track of her. It reminded us a little of Tilt Brush, if the artist was a dancer and her palette was fire.

The best way we can think of to describe the second demo is space ping pong. You’re ensconced in a spherical metal room, standing on a platform. A paddle appears in your right hand, and you have to whack a glowing orb at the wall. When your ball hits a glowing green panel, you get points. The ball comes at you fast–so fast that you can’t look the ball into the paddle (which is why I whiffed on several swings, or at least that’s my official excuse).

Why?

When we asked the LG rep on hand why the company was making an HMD in the first place, he sighed a little and noted that he was getting that question often. But his answer is, frankly, why not? He astutely noted that LG already possesses IP and expertise around the display and optics technology, and it wanted to leverage that for VR, and so it worked with Valve to build the HMD.

Indeed, Valve is the ODM for both the headset and the controllers; it basically adapted its existing technology to fit the designs that LG requested. If you think about it, this actually makes plenty of sense. Although it may seem as though Valve is betraying HTC by helping to build a competitor, shouldn’t we have always expected Valve to work with multiple hardware makers? We incorrectly conflate Valve and HTC when it comes to the Vive because of how closely the two have worked together on it, but of course, they’re entirely separate companies. (It also raises the question of how much of the Vive’s IP comes from Valve.)

There’s no word on availability or pricing, and that’s because LG hasn’t even finished designing the final version. The company was clear that it’s soliciting feedback from the VR world at GDC before it makes its final plans.

A Competitor Emerges

Everything we saw in the demos was vivid, smooth, pretty, and electric. The visuals were stunning. Based solely on those few minutes, the LG VR HMD prototype looks every bit as good as the Rift and Vive. Whatever the final version of the LG VR HMD becomes, early indications point to this HMD as another competitor in the high-end VR HMD market.

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Seasonic Offers Industry-Best 12 Year Warranty On Its Prime PSUs

Just five years ago, it would have been insane to even think of an OEM or brand offering more than five- or (best case) seven-year warranty on a PSU. However, things change fast, especially when the competition is tough, and EVGA was the first to reach the ten-year warranty mark. Several years after EVGA’s innovation, Seasonic has taken the lead, offering a 12-year warranty period to its PRIME series power supplies. Previously, they were covered by a ten-year warranty.

The upgraded warranty is retroactive, covering all PRIME units that have already been sold prior to this date.

In our opinion, any PSU warranty over five years is a serious gamble, because factors like the electric power quality and the weather conditions can have a significant affect on the longevity of a PSU, especially if it isn’t protected by a surge arrester and/or a uninterruptible power supply (UPS). We’re fairly certain that serious manufacturers, like Seasonic in this case, have already calculated the risks of providing such long warranties to products that are highly dependent on the protection levels that their users will offer.

Simply put, when there is a thunderstorm outside and you keep your PC in operation without a surge arrester or a UPS between the socket and the PSU, then you probably like to live on the edge. In addition, in areas with an unstable mains network, a PSU is highly stressed, and this of course leads to a shortened lifetime.

All of above make us skeptical when we see companies offering such long warranties, but then again, it’s likely companies have evaluated an acceptable risk assessment around the issue.

In any case, Seasonic is well known for standing behind its products, and the decision to up the warranty on its PRIME platform clearly shows how confident its engineers are of its reliability. Now, in addition to offering top performance, the PRIMEs are also backed by the longest warranty available on the market today. It seems Seasonic wants to leave its most major competitor, Super Flower, behind in every area.

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What is AMD’s Vega battle plan? To fight on multiple fronts

AMD’s history in high-end gaming is shaky. If it’s any indication of the company’s position in the race, its place among our picks of the best graphics cards is an entry-level spot with the Radeon RX 460.

With that, it’s hard to believe that the upcoming AMD Vega, or Radeon RX Vega, cards will bear much competitive edge over, say, Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1080 Ti. A whopping 11GB of VRAM is a tough egg to crack for a company that’s best known for budget-friendly offerings. 

AMD tried its damnedest at its Capsaicin & Cream 2017 event at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) this past Tuesday to keep details of its Vega graphics architecture as vague as possible. While the company revealed an unforeseen partnership with Fallout publisher Bethesda Softworks, it kept mum on concrete Vega specs and launch details.

This was intentional, of course, as the company had to know its long-time rival would make a major reveal the same night. Nevertheless, we managed to squeeze as much info on Vega and this odd partnership as we could from AMD technical marketing manager Scott Watson.

Below, Watson elucidates Vega’s to-be-instated high-bandwidth cache controller and its foray into cloud gaming, while addressing concerns following its vague announcement regarding its new deal with Bethesda.

Vega’s official branding

TechRadar: What was the biggest announcement you made today?

Scott Watson: The biggest story is – I’m going to spill the beans here – the last thing that we announced, which was a partnership with Bethesda Softworks. They’re a game publisher, they publish under their various studios. Doom, Quake, Wolfenstein, Skyrim, Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Dishonored, Prey – I mean they have a huge range of titles. 

We’ve worked with developers, one off, on individual games or we’ll provide engineering assistance and help optimize a game and maybe do some co-marketing around it. But what we’re doing with Bethesda is a multi-title, deep collaboration in engineering across all of their titles for a good period of time. So it’s a different approach. The idea is that we’ll help them optimize for Ryzen, and Radeon, both.

Do you think that future games in this partnership are going to have significant advantages with Ryzen and Vega?

So, we’ll be looking obviously for helping optimize the traditional things to do in graphics. I think there will be some Vulkan optimizations, low-level APIs, but then also helping with core scaling across Ryzen because now we have eight cores, 16 threads and very affordable price points. We want games to be able to take advantage of that.

Why Bethesda?

A number of reasons. They have great PC games, and they have good tech, and we already have a nice template that we can work from. If you look at what happened with Doom Vulkan, and we worked with them on that, and they’re able to achieve really nice performance with a new API. It has some really smart folks working there, and so that’s a good company to work with going forward.

Bethesda and AMD shaking on their partnership on stage

Are you concerned that, by working with specific game developers, you’re dividing AMD and Nvidia or Intel fans further when certain games run better on AMD hardware than on competing hardware?

We’re the only company that has those CPUs and GPUs that we provide, and we know our users. And they have one of our CPUs and the competitor’s graphics card or vice versa. So we want to benefit the PC gamers generally. So it’s in our interest to do good optimization that will work for whoever has our hardware even if they’re mixing it with the competition. 

Regarding the Vega-powered, LiquidSky game streaming service, how is that going to differ from Nvidia’s GeForce Now and other streaming services?

My understanding is it’s a lot more economical price-wise. We have a new model, because you install the games you own on their service. However, the piece that we announced is that they’ll be using our Vega GPUs for their servers. 

One thing Vega does is it has hardware support for virtualization, not software. It’s actually hardware partitioning on GPU resources, so they can guarantee customers that they get the slice of a GPU that’s consistent, and the performance is consistent. So, [the game itself] is partitioned on hardware. We’ll have a better user experience because you’re getting a piece of the GPU consistently.

There’s another piece of it that we announced today too which is the Vega GPUs can virtualize Nvidia encoding hardware as well.

What does that mean?

We have a video encoding VCE in all Radeons. Virtualization allows for us to slice up the GPU across multiple user sessions that we secure and split between the resources. 

We can now do that with the video encoder in Vega, which means that when they’re serving a gaming session and then they have to send it downstream to a user, they can encode it on the hardware encoder on Vega for multiple gaming sessions at one time.

AMD’s use of forward rendering in VR illustrated

About AMD’s take on forward rendering for VR, what advantages does this pose over traditional deferred rendering?

Deferred rendering is actually newer than forward, but it’s widely used now because it works well, especially on the last generation of consoles. It has some performance costs when you start it up, but then deferred can offer lots of lights and reflections and other features, and they’re nice to have. 

However, in VR you have to be at 90 frames per second, and so there’s no reason to use deferred rendering because you can’t take advantage of the extra features while hitting the performance standard that you have to meet. So it’s just not always a good fit for VR. The other thing that deferred doesn’t do well is post-processing anti-aliasing like effects AA. 

That isn’t good when you have two eyes with two different views, you know what I mean? We want smart, subpixel AA and that’s multi-sampling, so if you switch back to forward rendering, it can be quick to start. It’s a good fit for VR’s use case. It’s a performance uplift, and there’s an image quality improvement with multi-sampling. 

So what we’ve done is we’ve helped enable a version of Unreal Engine 4 – version 4.1.5 that has a forward rendering path. And we showed on stage multiple VR games including Epic’s Robo Recall using the forward path to perform better and provide better anti-aliasing.

Getting to the elephant in the room, what is Vega’s high-bandwidth cache controller and, more importantly, how does it make our games better?

The idea with high-bandwidth cache and the high-bandwidth cache controller is that the traditional sort of VRAM that you had in the past can now really act as a cache for a larger pool of memory that can all get in the system. 

Ultimately, hopefully game developers build bigger, more complex worlds and get the ability to not worry so much about overrunning the memory balance and still have beautiful images that flow smoothly. 

So, what we did was demonstrate the feature naturally. We took a current game, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, built for 4GB, and we constrained two Vega cards to just two gigs of RAM artificially as a test case. 

And then we showed it running without the high-bandwidth cache controller – it was slow and it stuttered, and then we turned on the high-bandwidth cache controller to increase the effect in memory size by mapping some into system RAM and being smart about what we kept on the 2GB of local memory. 

It gets 50% faster frames per second and 100% faster minimum fps than the non-high-bandwidth cache controller case. You can imagine future games; developers can build very complex worlds against very high memory requirements on this new architecture.

AMD demonstrating the benefits of AMD CrossFire’s alternate frame rendering in Vega

So, effectively, people will be able to use lower spec hardware for higher spec games?

Potentially. What we really want is for developers to not have to worry about it, and just go build what they want – make it beautiful, and then we can be smart about the amount of memory that goes on the card.

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VR Shooter 'Robo Recall' Is Now Free On Oculus Rift

Have you ever wanted to shoot a bunch of angry robots with two pistols without having to worry about the consequences? Then you should give Robo Recall, a VR first-person shooter from Epic Games that allows you to do just that, a try now that it’s available as a free download for the Oculus Rift.

Robo Recall has players teleport around, aim with the Touch motion controllers, and fire away at the objects of their not-so-virtual fury. We got to play a demo of Robo Recall at the Oculus Connect 3 developer conference in October 2016. The game was similar to Bullet Train, a tech demo that stole Oculus Connect 2 in 2015, but this time it took the form of a full-fledged game instead of just an itty-bitty experience used to show off the idea’s potential.

Robo Recall – Evolution from Bullet Train

Epic said at the time that Robo Recall would be a free download in Q1 2017 and, well, here we are. But that isn’t all–the company also revealed the Robo Recall Mod Kit to let anyone natively mod the game with new weapons, maps, and characters at no charge. The company said in a press release:

With the Robo Recall Mod Kit, players are invited to bring all-new experiences to Recallers everywhere. Modders can build new RoboReady-approved products, including top notch weapons for dispatching rogue robots, or change up the fight by creating their own opponents in need of recalling and creative decimation. The Mod Kit also allows players to create and share new levels for everyone to explore and build new versions of the Robo Recall maps with custom gameplay.

Robo Recall was made with Unreal Engine 4. We get the feeling that Epic is using the game as a showcase for the engine’s capabilities–a trailer released at GDC 2017 was careful to point out UE’s potential as a VR development tool, and it just so happens that the footage used to demonstrate UE’s support for high-end VR at 90fps came from Robo Recall. The game will prove a worthwhile investment if it convinces other devs to make VR titles with UE.

You can download Robo Recall from the Oculus Store and learn more about the Robo Recall Mod Kit at the game’s website.

Name Robo Recall
Type VR, FPS
Publisher Oculus
Developer Epic Games
Platforms Oculus Rift
Where To Buy Oculus Store
Release Date March 1

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