Battlefield 1 Open Beta Starts on August 31

Battlefield 1 Open Beta Starts on August 31
  • Open beta starts August 31 for Xbox One, PS4, and PC
  • Sign up as Insider member by August 21 for early access
  • Beta takes you to Sinai Desert in WWI Egypt

Battlefield 1, EA’s first video game set around World War I in over two decades, is getting an open beta that starts August 31 before its October release, the company announced in a blog post late on Monday. If you would like early access, you will need to sign up as a Battlefield Insider member by this Sunday, August 21 and opt for your platform preference to get a code.

The beta will give players access to the Sinai Desert map, based on the real life one in the nation of Egypt, and provide two game modes in Conquest – a large-scale game mode with up to 64 players fighting for control – and Rush – a 24-player mode where the attacking force must find and destroy the telegraph posts of the defending force.

“From infantry skirmishes in the narrow streets of the village of Bir el Mazar to dogfights above the majestic cliffs, you’ll need to make tactical use of the dunes as you engage in explosive battles,” EA explained. “When all hope is lost, reinforcements will arrive in the shape of a powerful Behemoth: a deadly Armoured Train charging through the desert sands.”

 Battlefield 1 is the first major entry in the franchise since 2013’s Battlefield 4 and the first Battlefield game not to release on either of the previous-gen consoles – PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 – since 2005’s Battlefield 2: Modern Combat. The open beta for Battlefield 1 will be available on all three release platforms: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Origin for PC.

PS4 System Software 4.00 Update to Introduce Long Overdue Features

PS4 System Software 4.00 Update to Introduce Long Overdue Features
  • Update brings better designed Quick and Share Menu
  • The ability to create folders on launch screen
  • Video clips on Twitter are now 140 seconds

The PlayStation 4, Sony’s latest console at least for now, is jumping to the next big number with its forthcoming 4.00 system software update, codenamed Shingen, and is rightfully bringing a ton of changes.

Apart from giving the system UI a cleaner look and smoother experience, the Japanese company has also added multiple tools for organisation to the content launcher and changed how menus appear while playing games. All of these changes will be available for use to PS4 owners who are enrolled for the beta in the coming days, and Sony said that the final build of the PS4 System Software 4.00 update will include more features that aren’t part of this beta.

The changes to the UI with PS4 System Software 4.00 will effect menus, primarily. Both the Quick Menu – brought up by pressing and holding the PS button on your DualShock 4 – and the Share Menu – which has a dedicated button – will now only cover a portion on the left-side of your screen instead of taking you away from your game.

You can add or remove items to the Quick Menu as you desire, see whether your friends are online and even create shortcuts to access groups, communities or a party. As for the Share Menu, it will now remember the last social network you shared a screenshot or video to, just to make the process quicker next time around. Plus, the PS4 System Software 4.00 update supports videos of up to 140 seconds on Twitter, as opposed to the measly 10 seconds earlier.

sony_ps4_400_update_beta_quick_menu.jpgOn the launch screen, you can now create folders to organise your games and apps. Part of the new UI changes with PS4 System Software 4.00 also involve new system backgrounds and an updated “What’s New” tab.

Your PS4 Library is getting sorting mechanisms that allow you to order by purchase date or install status, which ought to make searching for things easier if not just faster. Moreover, the existing Games and Applications tabs will focus on installed content, while a new Purchased tab will showcase everything you’ve ever bought on the online store – including games, applications, demos, and betas you’ve participated in.

Minor changes in the PS4 System Software 4.00 update include the ability to see trophies offline and see what’s behind a hidden trophy, the option to add a background photo to user profile and compare trophy progress right from someone’s profile.

Sony hasn’t yet provided a public launch date for the PS4 System Software 4.00 update.

Final Fantasy XV Release Date Delayed

Final Fantasy XV Release Date Delayed. Here's Why.
  • Final Fantasy XV will be available on November 29
  • The delay is to include the game’s day one patch on disc
  • Square Enix wants to ensure everyone can play it as intended

After proudly proclaiming a September 30 release date for Final Fantasy XV, it appears that the game will be delayed yet again. You can expect the Japanese role playing game (JRPG) on November 29 this year.

“From the moment we joined this project, our vision was to create a level of freedom and realism previously unseen in the series. Regrettably, we need a little bit more time to deliver on this vision and are confident that this new release date will help us achieve this,” said Hajime Tabata the game director in a prepared statement. “As the director and lead of this project, I wish to personally apologise for the additional wait. As a team, we want Final Fantasy XV to achieve a level of perfection that our fans deserve. We kindly ask for your understanding.”

And while this boilerplate comment does little to tell us the actual reason for the game’s delay, a video on the Final Fantasy XV YouTube channel confirms it is due to a day one patch. In it Tabata states that the game has gone gold (which means it is ready for manufacturing on disc and uploading to online storefronts).

“Our objective with FFXV was to deliver a Final Fantasy of the highest possible quality to every single person who buys the game. We have completed the master version [which indicates the game has gone gold] but when it comes to that highest possible quality we felt that we had not quite reached this standard yet,” Tabata said. “Accordingly in order to make this master version an even better product, we have been creating a downloadable add-on known as a patch.”

What this means is, unless your PS4 or Xbox One is connected to the Internet, you will not be able to play FFXV as it was envisioned. Tabata wants to avoid this by putting the patch on disc.

“However a patch is not something that can be applied by all players who have bought the game. It is impossible to provide this patch to everyone who plays without connecting their game machines to the Internet,” he said.

As for the patch itself, Tabata believes it contains “pretty substantial content”, hinting that it has some additional content to go along with it.

“The disc that is going on sale on the 29th of November will contain everything scheduled to be on the day on patch, as well as some extra things on top of that,” he said. “So we will be delivering what we consider to be the ultimate quality version of FFXV to all the players who play without connecting online as well.”

Unlike other publishers that take gamers’ bandwidth for granted, it’s heartening to know that Square Enix’s delay this time around is for the right reasons. In our impressions of FFXV’s demos – Episode Duscae and the more recent FFXV Platinum Demo, the technical aspects of the game require some fine-tuning. Besides, there hasn’t been a Final Fantasy game that’s launched in a state that warranted a patch and it would be a pity for Square Enix to allow that now. Regardless of the series’ content quality, for most part they’ve been technical showcases for many a console.

Hopefully this is the last delay for the long awaited JRPG. Although a November release puts it in the sights of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Dishonored 2, Gran Turismo Sport, Watch Dogs 2, and Pokemon Sun and Moon. It will be interesting to see if FFXV can stand out in a packed month filled with other high profile games.

Keyless Systems of Older VW Group Cars Can Be Hacked

Keyless Systems of Older VW Group Cars Can Be Hacked: Study

Tens of millions of vehicles sold by Volkswagen AG over the past 20 years are vulnerable to theft because keyless entry systems can be hacked using cheap technical devices, according to European researchers.

Computer security experts at the University of Birmingham have published a paper outlining how they were able to clone VW remote keyless entry controls by eavesdropping nearby when drivers press their key fobs to open or lock up their cars.

Vehicles vulnerable to this attack include most Audi, VW, Seat and Skoda models sold since 1995 and many of the approximately 100 million VW Group vehicles on the road since then, the researchers said. The flaw was found in car models as recent as the Audi Q3, model year 2016, they added.

“It is conceivable that all VW Group (except for some Audi) cars manufactured in the past and partially today rely on a ‘constant-key’ scheme and are thus vulnerable to the attacks,” the paper argues.

The only exception the researchers found were cars built on VW’s latest MQB production platform, which is used in its top selling model, the Golf VII, which they found does not have the keyless flaw.

 A VW spokesman said that the current Golf, Tiguan, Touran and Passat models are not vulnerable to the attack.

“This current vehicle generation is not afflicted by the problems described,” VW spokesman Peter Weisheit said in a statement, without commenting on the risks to other models.

In their published paper, the researchers did not identify the auto parts subcontractor responsible for manufacturing the affected keyless systems for VW and potentially other car makers. VW declined to comment on its supplier relationships.

The disclosures come as Europe’s largest automaker struggles to overcome its biggest-ever corporate scandal, after it admitted to manipulating diesel emissions tests in about 11 million vehicles globally.

Other car makers vulnerable
Attackers can use cheap and widely available tools for grabbing radio signals, according to the three researchers from the University of Birmingham in central England and a fourth affiliated with the University of Bochum in Germany.

Cars from other manufacturers may share these flaws, including some model years of the Ford Galaxy, the security researchers said.

A spokesman for Ford Europe had no immediate comment.

The reports’ authors said they had focused on mass-market models and did not analyse in detail VW’s luxury brands including Porsche, Bentley, Lamborghini and Bugatti.

Researchers including University of Birmingham computer science lecturer Flavio Garcia said they disclosed their findings to VW Group from November and met the company and the subcontractor involved in February.

VW Group received a draft and a final copy of the research paper before publication and have acknowledged the vulnerabilities, the authors said.

The Wolfsburg-based automaker confirmed it has had a constructive exchange with the researchers and that they had agreed to withhold details that savvy criminals could use to break into cars.

In 2013, VW obtained a restraining order against a group of researchers including Garcia to prevent publication of a paper detailing how anti-theft car immobilisers used by more than 20 different automakers were vulnerable to hacker attacks.

That research was eventually published in 2015 after the authors agreed with VW to remove a pivotal detail that would have allowed low-tech thieves to figure out how to carry out the attack.

The latest paper, entitled “Lock It and Still Lose It: On the (In)Security of Automotive Remote Keyless Entry Systems” is scheduled to be presented at the prestigious Usenix computer security conference in Austin, Texas, on Friday.

No Man’s Sky Is So Huge That Players Found 10 Million Species in 1 Night

No Man's Sky Is So Huge That Players Found 10 Million Species in 1 Night

In a March 2007 TED talk, Edward O. Wilson, the Harvard University scientist famous for studying ants, took to the stage to plead for what he described as a biological moonshot: a catalogue of all the known life forms on the planet.

“I wish we will work together to help create the key tools that we need to inspire preservation of Earth’s biodiversity,” he said. “And let us call it the ‘Encyclopedia of Life.’” Wilson was not the first to have the idea, but his vision caught on. When the Encyclopedia of Life launched online in 2008, it boasted an impressive 30,000 pages. The encyclopedia has been increasing by the tens of thousands of species per year. The steady march to a goal of 1.8 million known species will take an estimated decade to complete.

Since Tuesday, virtual explorers – unconstrained by grant applications or taxonomic rigor – have been amassing their own version of the encyclopedia in the video game No Man’s Sky. The gamers left Wilson and company in the dust. Overnight, players discovered some 10 million different alien species in the galaxy, Sean Murray, co-founder of the British game developer Hello Games, wrote on Twitter. (If only zoologists could wiggle a cursor at critters they stumbled upon in the field.)

But Murray and his colleagues did not animate video game aliens by the millions – instead, their galaxy is populated via a constantly churning computer program.

Murray tweeted, “For instance over night we hit 10 million species discovered in NMS… that’s more than has been discovered on earth.WHAT IS GOING ON!!!”

The space exploration and survival simulator hosts 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 planets. In the game, playable on the PlayStation 4 and coming to PCs on Friday, the goal is nothing beyond galactic expedition, a la Captain Kirk or Spaceman Spiff. Some of the 18 quintillion worlds in No Man’s Sky are barren. (Boredom is, perhaps, the most damning critique of the days-old game.) Others are toxic. The lushest worlds teem with tentacled dinosaurs, giant worms or aggressive chipmunk-faced goats. The large majority of the planets and creatures inhabiting the digital galaxy will remain sight unseen by humans.

No Man’s Sky marks a watershed moment in video games – a vast galaxy, immense hype and a small team of indie programmers. To make the galaxy tick, at the heart of No Man’s Sky beats a process called procedural generation. The grunt work is done by computer. It is as if Hello Games created a Lego model of the Milky Way, but only by fabricating the bricks and the rules by which the blocks snap together.

“It’s a bit like leaving your game uncompleted, and teaching the software to finish designing itself while someone is playing,” Mike Cook, an expert on the technique at Falmouth University, told Rolling Stone.

To pull off this trick, No Man’s Sky, as the New Yorker reported in 2015, leans on the so-called Superformula, an algorithm discovered by botanist Johan Gielis. (Possibly, to Gielis’s company, it leans too heavily.) The Superformula describes both symmetrical and asymmetrical shapes, like rocks or snowflakes or sheep horns. “It’s a new way of describing nature,” Gielis told Nature in 2003.

The game’s life forms are a series of chimeras, organs remixed over and over by the algorithmic engine. “The engine basically checks certain parameters, asks itself what kind of animal would like the surrounding, and chooses between a variety of types. Fairly often common animals are combined – like they have the body of a lion, but the head of a rhino and the legs of a gazelle,” Murray said in a recent interview with Inverse. “We’ve invented a system that automatically balances out the weight and adjusts the skeleton. So we had to experiment a ton, to get these skeletons right, because an animal with a tiny body can’t have a huge head, otherwise it would constantly fall over.”

Any given interaction between species is unscripted, but life-like scenarios can emerge. Once, Grant Duncan, the art director for Hello Games, began shooting strange birds out of an alien sky. (This being a space game, players in No Man’s Sky have laser guns.) One fried body landed on the surface of a ocean. A shark-like animal, as he recounted to the Atlantic, emerged from the depths of the sea to feed on the corpse.

“The first time it happened,” Duncan said, “it totally blew me away.”

Murray is correct that No Man’s Sky explorers have outpaced real-life biologists – to a point. The total number of species that exist on Earth is a matter of some debate, typically thought to land between 3 million and 100 million. Including microbes, that number may reach to about one trillion, as The Washington Post reported in May. A previous well-regarded estimate in 2011 put animal species at about 7.77 million; if so, some 86 percent of land-dwelling species remain undiscovered. Researchers behind that study suggested that completing such a catalogue would require 300,000 taxonomists, cost billions of dollars and take over a thousand years.

Though specialized taxonomists are dwindling in favor of geneticists – the Smithsonian’s six research entomologists were twice as numerous in 1970, curator Terry Erwin told The Post in 2011 – there is some good news for counting earthly organisms. Accounting for professional biologists as well as amateur naturalists, roughly 50,000 people around the globe are describing new species, more than any point in history.

Foxconn Gets Green Light From China’s Antitrust Regulator for Sharp Deal

Foxconn Gets Green Light From China's Antitrust Regulator for Sharp Deal

Taiwanese tech giant Hon Hai said antitrust authorities in China had approved its takeover of ailing Japanese electronics maker Sharp, clearing the last obstacle to the drawn-out deal.

The purchase, which was supposed to close last month, has reportedly been held up by China – one of the countries that was reviewing the deal over concerns that it could lead to a monopoly on LCD screens.

Hon Hai gains Sharp’s cutting-edge LCD panel technologywith the $3.5-billion buyout, giving it a 66 percent controlling stake.

“Our application for antitrust review in various regions is completed,” the company said in a statement to the Taiwan stock exchange late Thursday.

“Both sides will carry out the handover procedures as soon as possible according to the contract,” it said.

The announcement fulfills an ambition of Hon Hai founder Terry Gou, whose firm first pursued Sharpfour years ago.

Gou’s company – also known as Foxconn – is the world’s biggest electronics supplier, with Apple a key customer for smartphone components.

 But the smartphone giant is squeezing its suppliers as sales of its iPhones slow, dropping 15 percent last quarter year-on-year.

Hon Hai shares slumped in Taipei Friday on weaker-than-expected quarterly earnings.

“From the results, we can see that Apple is pressuring its supply chain on prices,” Fubon analysts led by Arthur Liao said in a note.

Hon Hai said Thursday that its net profit dropped 31 percent to TWD 17.7 billion ($565 million) in the April-June period, the third straight quarterly decline.

It missed the TWD 24.6 billion estimate by analysts polled by Bloomberg News.

Shares slumped 3.69 percent Friday. underperforming the benchmark index.

Analysts are expecting better performance in the third quarter, when Apple’s new iPhone 7 series is rumoured to be launched.

Microsoft Buys Interactive Game Streaming Startup Beam

Microsoft Buys Interactive Game Streaming Startup Beam
  • Beam will become part of the team at Microsoft for its Xbox consoles
  • “As part of Xbox, we’ll be able to scale faster than we’ve ever been able to before”
  • The deal’s amount is not known though

Microsoft on Thursday said it is bolstering its Xbox arsenal with the purchase of a startup specializing in letting people join in the fun while watching live-streamed game play.

Microsoft did not disclose financial terms of the deal to buy Seattle-based Beam, which puts an interactive spin on the hot trend of video games being spectator sports.

“With Beam, you don’t just watch your favorite streamer play, you play along with them,” Xbox Live partner group program manager Chad Gibson said in a blog post.

For example, Beam can be used to let viewers assign missions, summon adversaries, or select virtual gear in games being streamed online by broadcasters.

Beam, which launched in January of this year, will become part of the team at Microsoft devoted to the technology titan’s Xbox consoles.

“As part of Xbox, we’ll be able to scale faster than we’ve ever been able to before,” Beam co-founder and chief executive Matt Salsamendi said in an online post.

“We’re continuing our focus on providing streamers with the tools they need to create the most interactive broadcasts around.”

Among the big trends on display at the premier Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles in June was the rise of the celebrity player.

Appetite on sites like Twitch and YouTube Gaming for play video, commentary, trailers, and more seems insatiable, industry insiders say.

“There are hundreds of millions of users watching gaming content every month,” YouTube global head of gaming content Ryan Wyatt told AFP at E3.

YouTube Gaming, a version of the Alphabet-owned video-sharing service tailored as a one-stop shop for game lovers, launched with a website and mobile application in August 2015.

Now, billions of hours of gaming content are watched monthly at the service – and that number is rising, Wyatt said.

Amazon-owned lets anyone broadcast game related content and allows them to connect with publishers or advertisers.

US online retail giant Amazon snatched up Twitch and its huge audience in 2014. The purchase was one of the largest in Amazon’s history – $970 million in cash for the three-year-old Internet company.

There is a direct correlation between people watching video games and buying them, according to Twitch and YouTube.


Airtel Acquires Spectrum in 7 Circles in Trading Deal With Aircel

  • Airtel Acquires Spectrum in 7 Circles in Trading Deal With AircelAirtel signed a deal to acquire Aircel’s 4G spectrum for 8 circles in April
  • DoT approved the spectrum sharing deal between the telcos last month
  • The spectrum is valid till September 20, 2030

Bharti Airtel has acquired the rights to use Aircel’s Odisha circle, with which it completed rights to use 4G airwaves of Aircel in seven out of eight circles in the spectrum trading deal between the companies.

“The acquisition of rights to use 20MHz 2300 Band BWA spectrum from Aircel, Bharti Airtel has now informed BSE that the proposed transaction has been successfully concluded for Odisha circle following the receipt of all necessary approvals and satisfying all the conditions (including conditions stated in the spectrum trading guidelines),” a regulatory filing by the company said on Thursday.

“With this, the company has completed the transaction in 7 out of 8 circles namely Tamil Nadu (including Chennai); Bihar, Jammu & Kashmir, West Bengal, Assam, North East and Odisha,” the filing with the BSE said.

Bharti Airtel announced on April 8 it has entered into a definitive agreement with Aircel to acquire its 4G airwaves in eight circles for Rs. 3,500 crores through a spectrum trading deal.

“Bharti Airtel and its subsidiary, Bharti Hexacom have entered into a definitive agreements with Aircel and its subsidiaries Dishnet Wireless and Aircel Cellular to acquire rights to use 20MHz of 2300 band 4G spectrum for eight circles for an aggregate consideration of Rs. 3,500 crores,” the company earlier said in a statement.

The eight circles are Tamil Nadu (including Chennai), Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, West Bengal, Assam, North East, Andhra Pradesh and Odissa.

The spectrum is valid till September 20, 2030.

With this acquisition, the company will become a pan India 4G operator, the statement added.

No Man’s Sky Could ‘Fundamentally Change’ on PS4 Neo, Says Sean Murray

No Man's Sky Could 'Fundamentally Change' on PS4 Neo, Says Sean Murray
  • The game’s procedural generation will serve as a boon
  • He said that “new types of worlds could exist”
  • PS4 Neo is expected to allow 4K gaming

With Sony widely expected to announce a mid-cycle upgrade for the PlayStation 4 at its September event, game developers have started to weigh in what it means for them. Sean Murray, founder of Hello Games, said on Wednesday that the introduction of PS4 Neo would “fundamentally change” how players experience their long-awaited space survival title No Man’s Sky.

“If you play another game and if they do a remaster of that game [for PS4 Neo], what they will do is up-res the textures and things like that,” Murray told the Daily Star. “That’s because the base geometry, the base shape of the world, the way of playing is totally like lost, basically. [Hundreds] of people have worked on it thousands of hours to create what you see.”

But No Man’s Sky unique way of creation would lend itself differently to a powered-up PS4, Murray thinks. “For our game it’s procedurally generated. So more powerful hardware doesn’t just mean upgraded textures or a higher framerate. It means we can fundamentally change the experience… With more powerful hardware, we can have more trees, more leafs on those trees. The density or immersion of worlds, or new types of worlds could exist.”

No Man’s Sky has already released on the PlayStation 4, though it has been delayed to August 13 here in India. The PC version of the game is slated for a worldwide release on Friday, August 12. While Sony India hasn’t stated a reason for the PS4 delay, Murray has explained the different date for PC through his Twitter and a Reddit AMA.

“I really want to clarify our PC release date. It’s something we’re working extremely hard on,” he wrote on Twitter. “PC [No Man’s Sky] release will now be global and will be August 12th worldwide. It’s so important we get it right and make the best version we can.”

“The reality is that we’re still here working on it right now. There’s no conspiracy, we’re just racing to get all the extra options and stuff we want,” he added over on Reddit.

Quantum Break Ends Windows 10 Exclusivity With Steam Release

Quantum Break Ends Windows 10 Exclusivity With Steam Release
  • Game will run on Windows 7 and up with Steam release
  • Price cut takes it down to Rs. 2,552 for Win, Xbox One not affected
  • Timeless Collector’s Edition will cost the same and give you more

Quantum Break was one of the unique games to come out for Windows PCs this year, as it blended together chapters of third-person shooter action with dynamic television segments in an episodic manner. But its exclusivity toWindows 10 meant many were left out in the cold. That’s changing now though.

Microsoft Studios and developer Remedy Entertainment have decided to bring Quantum Break to Steam on September 14, ending the game’s confined status to Windows Store five months since its release back in April. Quantum Break will now work on PCs running Windows 7 or higher versions, as opposed to Windows 10 only previously. The digital download will comprise of all the latest updates to the game, as noted on the game’s official website.

As for players who bought Quantum Break on the Windows Store, Remedy has said that it’s unlikely to release more updates for the game’s Windows 10 version post-Steam release, which can also run on DirectX 11. And if you were hoping that Microsoft would give access to the Steam version since you already own the game, too bad. You will need to fork out more money if you’ve had performance issues with the Store copy, which only runs on DX12.

With the upcoming Steam release, Microsoft has also decided to bring down the price for Quantum Break from $59.99 to $39.99, which means a drop from Rs. 4,500 to Rs. 2,552 here in India on the Windows Store. While Steam doesn’t have the game up for pre-order yet, expect it to be available for roughly the same amount.

The price cut is only for Windows PC users though, so Xbox One owners will still need to pony up Rs. 4,500 via the Xbox Store. For what it’s worth, Amazon has it listed at Rs. 2,117.

In addition to that, Microsoft is also giving Quantum Break a second go at a retail release in Quantum Break: Timeless Collector’s Edition, with help from Nordic Games. It will cost as much as the digital download ($39.99), but here’s what you will get over and above the game:

  • Premium packaging
  • 5 game discs (one-time Steam key redemption required)
  • Making of Blu-ray
  • Making of book
  • 1 Soundtrack CD (Audio-CD)
  • 2 Posters
  • Quick-start guide

The Timeless Collector’s Edition isn’t up for pre-order as well, so hang around – September 14 is just around the corner.