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10 Chambers Unveils Latest Cooperative Heist Game Infused with a Thrilling Techno Narrative

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Swedish game development powerhouse, 10 Chambers, renowned for their work on PAYDAY: The Heist and PAYDAY 2, officially unveiled their latest co-op heist project today. Despite tantalising hints of a return to the heist genre, the studio had kept details, including the title, under wraps. However, at the Game Awards, a suspenseful trailer left audiences in awe as the game’s title, ‘Den of Wolves,’ was disclosed by none other than the game director, Ulf Andersson, live on stage.

“Coming from having worked on heist games in the past, much focusing on the classic bank robbery themes, the sci-fi aspect will let us elevate what a heist can be,” says Ulf Andersson, founder and game director. “You can only rob so many banks. Den of Wolves will have a wider range of heisting-really, the sci-fi theme lets us try many things.”

In a pre-production phase spanning over two years, considerable effort has been dedicated to crafting the world and narrative of the game. Midway City emerges as an unregulated innovation hub nestled in the North Pacific Ocean, established by major corporations in response to the pervasive influence of deep learning AI. This formidable technology evolved into an uncontrollable hacking tool, triggering the collapse of global economies and sending the dollar into a free fall.

Faced with an urgent need for a revolutionary approach to network security, influential investment firms, backed by giants in the pharmaceutical and oil industries, spearheaded a groundbreaking concept: a novel data transmission and storage system rooted in biological frameworks inspired by the human brain. This innovative architecture proved so radically distinct from traditional networks that it became impervious to AI intrusion.

“The game isn’t open-world, but we still value worldbuilding enormously, and the narrative we’ve built around the island is vast. We want Midway City to feel like a believable city of the near future, where late-stage capitalism has gone rampant and corporations set the rules,” says Simon Viklund, co-founder, and Narrative and Audio Director. “As a player, you reside in the city’s underground domains without any real identity or papers, building your allegiances to become a criminal entrepreneur on Midway City’s black market of gig jobs.”

Although the initial release of the game is slated for PC, through Steam’s Early Access program, plans are underway to ensure compatibility with consoles. While a specific release timeframe has not been disclosed, enthusiasts can already add Den of Wolves to their wishlist on Steam. Stay connected with 10 Chambers via Twitter, Discord, YouTube, and Facebook to stay updated, and consider joining the Ambassador Program for exclusive future perks.

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Gadgets

Razer Launches Blade 18 Gaming Laptop

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Razer has launched the Razer Blade 18 (2024) for gamers and creators. Featuring the world’s first 18” 4K 200Hz display with up to UHD+ (3840×2400) resolution, 3.0ms response time, and DCI-P3 100% colour gamut; Calman Verified and factory-calibrated, this Blade 18 offers gamers and creators ultra-high-definition visuals at breakneck refresh rates for an unmatched viewing experience.

The Blade 18 also packs in Thunderbolt 5 technology that allows users to connect multiple high-resolution gaming displays, high-speed storage, and all-in-one docks, through Bandwidth Boost, up to 120 Gbps, three times more bandwidth than the current leading connection protocol. The Blade 18 is powered by Intel Core 14th Gen i9-14900HX processor, which comes with 24 Cores and the ability to unlock overclocking through Razer Synapse.

You also get up to NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 Graphics, unlocking up to 175 W Full TGP (Total Graphics Power), and leveraging NVIDIA’s AI-powered DLSS 3 to deliver faster framerates and real-time ray tracing. GeForce RTX technologies are supported in more than 500 popular games and applications, including blockbuster games such as Cyberpunk 2077 and Alan Wake 2. NVIDIA RTX Laptop GPUs are packed with specialized AI Tensor Cores enabling unmatched AI performance in creative apps, ultra-efficient productivity, blistering fast gaming, and more.

The Blade 18 accompanies an 18-inch QHD+ 300Hz Mini-LED Alternate Display Option: For even higher-refresh-rate gaming and up to 1K nits peak brightness, this all-new display option provides a stunning alternative that maintains sharpness in gameplay, creative work, or play, wherever one may be. It features QHD+ (2560×1600) resolution, 2K dimming zones with a new toggle on/off feature, and all the colour accuracy that is a hallmark of the newest Blades, including DCI-P3 100% colour gamut and Calman Verification and calibration at the factory.

The Blade 18’s advanced cooling system, featuring the thinnest exhaust fins in its class, maximizes graphics power and maintains desktop-class performance in a thin design. The vapour chamber technology features a 3-fan system, and Razer’s biggest chamber ever, to quickly and efficiently dissipate heat, ensuring optimal performance even under intense gaming or 3D rendering sessions. Equipped with a 5MP webcam, a THX spatial audio 6-speaker array, upgradeable components, a comprehensive port selection, and the latest Wi-Fi 7 connectivity, the Blade 18 ensures constant connection and immersion, whether for gaming, streaming, or online calls. It even includes a GaN charger (Up to 330W) which is up to 60% smaller than comparable silicon-based solutions.

The Razer Blade 18 (2024) is now available for a price of $3099.99.

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Artificial Intelligence

Ubisoft Intros NEO NPCs in Partnership with Nvidia

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In a creative experiment shown during GDC 2024, a team of game creators from Ubisoft explored the future of Non-Player Characters (NPCs), interactive gameplay, and emergent storytelling. Ubisoft is exploring new types of interactive gameplay with dynamic NPCs, a field that is being revolutioniwed with the emergence of generative AI technologies. “NEO NPCs”, the product of their latest research and development project are advanced NPCs designed to interact in real-time with players, their environment and other characters, opening up new possibilities for dynamic and emergent storytelling.

“AI is a powerful tool that can greatly enhance players’ experiences by making games more dynamic, immersive and unique,” said John Spitzer, vice president of developer and performance technologies at NVIDIA. “We are thrilled to partner with Ubisoft to leverage NVIDIA ACE in the advancement of digital characters.”

Developed by a multidisciplinary team at Ubisoft Paris, NEO NPCs are born from the close collaboration between Ubisoft creators and leading GenAI technology partners, NVIDIA and Inworld AI. Inworld’s Character Engine and LLM technology enable Ubisoft’s narrative team to build a complete background, knowledge base and conversational style for each NPC, while NVIDIA Audio2Face, part of NVIDIA ACE suite of technologies, is used to enable real-time facial animation.

Ubisoft showcased the capabilities of these NEO NPCs through three separate demo scenarios. Each scenario focuses on different aspects of NPC behaviours, environmental and contextual awareness; a spectrum of real-time reactions and animations; as well as conversation memory, collaboration and strategic decision-making. Combined, these discoveries through the experiment push the boundaries of game design and immersion.

“Gen AI will enable player experiences that are yet to be imagined, with smarter worlds, nuanced characters, and emergent and adaptive narratives,” said Guillemette Picard, Ubisoft’s SVP of Production Technology. “By partnering with NVIDIA on our NEO NPCs prototype: NVIDIA’s Audio2Face solution helped us to create deeper immersion through real-time facial animations for truly improvisational NPC conversations.”

With NEO NPCs, Ubisoft’s narrative and animation designers blended the reliability of scripted game elements with the dynamism of spontaneous player interactions, nudging the future of game development towards new horizons. Leveraging Inworld AI technology, Ubisoft’s narrative team created two NEO NPCs, Bloom and Iron, who have their own background story, knowledge base, and different conversational styles to establish these unique characters in the demo universe.   

Inworld technology also provides the NEO NPCs with intrinsic knowledge of their surroundings, as well as interactive responses courtesy of Inworld’s LLM. Audio2Face provides facial animations and lip-synching for the two NPCs’ faces in real time. NVIDIA also released a new Game Ready driver for Horizon Forbidden West. The latest Game Ready Driver primes gamers’ PCs or laptops for Horizon Forbidden West Complete Edition. Featuring day-one support for DLSS 3, DLAA and Reflex, GeForce gamers should download and install this new driver for the definitive experience when using these technologies in the critically acclaimed game.

This Game Ready Driver also includes support for the latest DLSS 3.5 update for Portal with RTX which introduces DLSS Ray Reconstruction and NVIDIA RTX IO, 11 G-SYNC Compatible gaming displays, and 2 new Optimal Settings, enabling users to jump into the latest games with great performance and image quality, without the need to tweak settings manually.

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Gadgets

Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 (2024) Review: A Balanced Beast for Gamers and Creators

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The Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 (2024) carves a niche in the ever-competitive gaming laptop market. It promises a blend of powerful performance for gamers and creative capabilities for content creators, all at a more affordable price tag, compared with high-end flagships. But does it deliver on these promises?

Unboxing and Setup
The Predator Helios Neo 16 arrives in a standard cardboard box adorned with the iconic Predator logo and highlights of the laptop’s specifications. Opening the box reveals the laptop itself, securely wrapped in plastic and nestled within a protective foam casing. You’ll also find the power adapter, a user manual, and warranty information.

The setup process is straightforward. Simply connect the chunky power adapter to the designated port on the back of the laptop and plug it into a power outlet. Power on the laptop, follow the on-screen instructions to set up your language and connect to your Wi-Fi network, and you’re ready to explore Windows 11. Acer pre-installs some bloatware, but it’s not excessive and can be easily uninstalled if not needed.

Design and Build Quality
The Predator Helios Neo 16 boasts a design language that aligns with its fierce namesake. The black aluminium chassis offers a sense of robustness, and the three Predator zone lighting strips (across the keyboard deck, rear vent, and back panel) add a customisable splash of RGB flair. The overall design leans towards a more traditional gaming aesthetic compared to some sleeker options on the market, but it remains visually appealing nonetheless. The overall build quality is also solid, typical of a top-notch Acer product.

Specs
The Predator Helios Neo 16 (2024) packs a punch with features designed to enhance the gaming experience. The laptop boasts a choice of 14th Gen Intel Core i7 or i9 processors, offering excellent multi-core performance for demanding games. For graphics processing, you have a bunch of choices – choose between Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070, RTX 4060, or RTX 4050. The latest NVIDIA offerings provide ample power for running modern games at high settings and resolutions.

NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 40 Series of GPUs with DLSS 3.5 leverage the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to deliver a groundbreaking experience for both gamers and creators. RTX also accelerates over 100 creative applications, including Adobe Creative Cloud Suite, Blender, Blackmagic Davinci Resolve, and OBS Studio. In addition, the bundled NVIDIA Studio suite unlocks a treasure trove of AI-powered tools specifically designed to streamline your creative workflow.

AI features on this laptop also bring brilliant features to 3D design applications such as NVIDIA Omniverse, Adobe Substance, Adobe Painter, Blender, and Unreal Engine. This translates to real-time Viewport rendering, AI-powered upscaling, and ray reconstruction for enhanced realism.

Acer also packs a 16-inch QHD IPS display that offers a resolution of 2560-by-1440 pixels. It delivers crisp visuals and smooth gameplay with its 165Hz refresh rate, perfect for fast-paced action titles. The display offers decent brightness and colour accuracy.

The Predator Helios Neo 16 also accompanies a full-sized mechanical keyboard with per-key RGB backlighting. In our tests, the mechanical keyboard on this one offered a satisfying typing experience with a distinct tactile response, ideal for both gaming and productivity tasks.

Rounding off the specs sheet is the fast PCIe NVMe SSD packed into this laptop – you can choose between 512GB and 1TB of onboard storage. In terms of the RAM, you choose between 16GB and 32GB of DDR5 SDRAM.

Gaming and Content Creation
While the Predator Helios Neo 16 is a capable gaming machine, it doesn’t neglect content creators. The powerful 14th Gen Intel Core processors excel in multi-threaded tasks such as video editing, 3D rendering, and animation. The QHD display, meanwhile, offers good colour accuracy and brightness for creative work such as photo editing and video production. The laptop offers a plethora of ports, including a Thunderbolt 4 port, allowing for high-speed data transfer and connection to external displays for a multi-monitor creative setup.

Performance
Our tests on the Predator Helios Neo 16 (2024) confirmed its capability as a formidable gaming machine. Popular titles like Cyberpunk 2077 and Shadow of the Tomb Raider ran smoothly at high settings and 1440p resolution. Frame rates consistently exceeded 60 FPS, ensuring a visually stunning and responsive gaming experience.

Even more demanding titles such as Red Dead Redemption 2 delivered playable frame rates at high settings, though some adjustments to graphics settings might be necessary to achieve the full 165Hz refresh rate potential of the display. The Predator Helios Neo 16 doesn’t shy away from creative tasks. The powerful 14th Gen Intel Core processors tackled video editing and 3D rendering workloads with impressive efficiency.

While the Predator Helios Neo 16 generated noticeable heat under heavy load, the included cooling system does an adequate job of dissipating heat. However, expect the fans to ramp up and create audible noise during extended gaming sessions.

Battery Life
The battery life of the Predator Helios Neo 16 is a compromise often seen in gaming laptops. Expect moderate battery life during everyday tasks such as web browsing or document editing, typically around 4-5 hours on a single charge. However, demanding tasks such as gaming will drain the battery much faster, requiring you to plug the laptop into a power outlet for extended use.

Verdict
The Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 (2024) strikes a commendable balance between powerful performance, user-friendly features, and a competitive price tag. Gamers will appreciate its smooth gameplay at high settings and 1440p resolution, while content creators will find its strong CPU performance and decent display suitable for most creative endeavours.

The Predator Helios Neo 16 (2024) caters to gamers and creators who prioritise performance without breaking the bank. It offers excellent value for the price, especially considering its upgradability options for storage and RAM.

Price: AED 6000 approx.

Photography by Ryan Chris

Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 (2024) AED 6000 approx.
  • Final Rating
3.5

Summary

The Predator Helios Neo 16 (2024) packs a punch with features designed to enhance the gaming experience. The laptop boasts a choice of 14th Gen Intel Core i7 or i9 processors, offering excellent multi-core performance for demanding games.

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