Documents obtained by the publication reveal that the firm partnered with China's state-owned Panda International Information Technology on projects in North Korea for at least eight years, beginning when the late Kim Jong Il visited the company's headquarters back in 2006.
Huawei was responsible for providing cellular infrastructure, network management and encryption while Panda provided software and also transported Huawei gear to the country.
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Koryolink allowed North Korea to spy on it citizens with interception gateways that let law enforcement intercept calls, texts, data and faxes sent on the network. Meanwhile government elites used North Korean made encryption to prevent their conversations from being monitored. According to the Post's report, Huawei was asked to test how well the encryption functioned while Panda provided supporting software.
A spokesperson for Huawei told the Post that it “has no business presence” in North Korea though they would not say whether the Chinese firm had worked with the country in the past. The company no longer maintains Koryolink as it was replaced by the ZTE-supported Kang Song network which launched in 2013.
If working together with North Korea wasn't bad enough, Huawei may have also broken laws and sanctions against the country while doing so. Experts believe that the firm's 3G gear used for Koryolink also included at least some US components. Back in 2014 Panda was banned from receiving equipment from the US and as a result, Huawei may have violated the American export ban if any of its equipment included at least 10 percent of components from the US.
The Chinese firm also tried to keep its work in North Korea secret by giving the country the codename “A9” in its official documents. While working with Iran and Syria, Huawei used similar codenames to avoid detection.
Smart speakers with A.I. assistants are constantly listening to the world around them, waiting for commands while soaking in whatever dialogue is within earshot—some of which is actually screened by employees at Google and Amazon.
Unfortunately, that means Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri are constantly recording the conversations of users of all ages, including your kids.
As you might expect, that doesn't sit right with a lot of people. Parents and advocacy groups have voiced their issues with the ability of Alexa and her ilk to record kids without explicit consent, not to mention the lack of an easy ability to purge that data at will. In June, a lawsuit was filed in Seattle federal court that alleges that Amazon specifically is violating child privacy laws in at least eight U.S. states by capturing audio from millions of children.
Amazon, for its part, denies any wrongdoing. And the company has gone a bold step further by recently releasing a new Echo Dot Kids Edition, a candy-coated, rainbow-plastered version with extra parent-pleasing perks such as a free subscription to its FreeTime content service and replacements for damaged units.
As appealing as that might sound for parents, are devices like the Amazon Echo and Google Home really as kid-friendly as their makers want you to believe? We asked a couple of kids' tech experts for their take.
Convenience at the expense of privacy
By their very nature, smart speakers have to constantly be listening with their far-field microphones to be useful. If you had to go up to your Echo and press a button every time you had a question, needed to set a reminder, or wanted to ask about the weather, would you even use it half as much? Would you even need it at all, given the myriad smartphones, tablets, and computers that might be in your home?
It's part and parcel of owning a smart speaker, but according to Dr. Pamela Roggeman, academic dean of the University of Phoenix College of Education, many parents aren't adequately aware of the unseen downsides of that kind of unfettered data collection.
"Parents have been inundated with advice on how they should nurture a healthy relationship between their kids and technology for years now, but not much of that discussion has included technology that kids are accessing without their parents' consent, or even awareness such as smart assistants/speakers that quietly 'listen' to the room," says Roggeman. "These devices collect information that can be helpful in carrying out the simple demands for which the devices were intended, but it is important to understand that this information can be stored and possibly shared or hacked."
Amazon and Google need to do better
The tide may be turning on that front, as efforts such as the aforementioned lawsuit draw more attention to privacy concerns with smart speakers: The Amazon Echo and other similar devices quickly became commonplace in millions of homes, but there's growing pushback to the idea that such constant "surveillance" is worth the provided benefits and convenience.
Deral Heiland, internet of things (IoT) research lead at technology security firm Rapid7, believes that such devices provide a learning experience for children and that included parental tools should be harnessed to make them as kid-friendly as possible. However, he also says that Amazon must be able to rapidly tackle concerns and put parents' minds at ease.
"The issues pointed out by privacy and safety advocates are concerning. Amazon should immediately address these issues," says Heiland. "Consumers should have full control of their personal data and voice recordings and have the ability to remove/purge this data at will. If some data is needed for improving the product, this data should then be immediately anonymized to prevent associating.
"Also, while this data is in Amazon hands, they must take all actions necessary to protect that data from unauthorized access. This should apply to all IoT technology, whether it's an Amazon product or not. Privacy issues are important and must be addressed to consumer's satisfaction."
No product will ever be perfect, and there are lessons to be learned along the way—but Heiland's takeaway is that Amazon must be extra-careful when it comes to kids' technology.
"With children-based technology, extra precautions should be taken by both Amazon and parents," he says. "Like any product, our good intentions will often fail, but when it does there is no need to throw the baby out with the bath water, figuratively speaking. Amazon must work harder and faster to make their products capable of keeping children safe, protect their privacy, and not expose them to anything that is inappropriate."
Can smart speakers be 'kid-proof'?
Continued advocacy for privacy enhancements and changes may ultimately result in action, but whether or not that happens, Roggeman suggests that parents consider the full picture of what they're bringing into their homes.
If you're comfortable with the potential privacy tradeoff and feel pretty confident that there's no real danger, that's entirely your decision to make. On the other hand, if you're left feeling uneasy about the situation, are the perks really worth it?
"The easiest way to kid-proof the smart speaker is one of the hardest things to do: get up out of your recliner and push the 'mute' button on the device," she says. "But this is counterintuitive for why the device was purchased in the first place."
And for all that Amazon and other companies might do to make their smart speakers safer for kids, Heiland suggests that there's no foolproof solution to every dilemma—and that children are uniquely poised to find their way around such restrictions anyway.
"'Kid-proof' is an oxymoron. Place any technology in front of a child and say, 'You are not allowed to do this or that,' and watch what happens," he says. "I find children to be some of the most amazing hackers, capable of always finding ways around controls and restrictions. So good luck with this one. Maybe Amazon needs to hire a few to test their tech security controls."
Many people will tell you that the best headphones are the only way to really get incredible sound through your PC. However, wearing headphones day-in and day-out isn’t exactly the most comfortable experience. The best computer speakers are a fantastic alternative, and not just to give your earlobes a bit of a break.
Like any computer accessory, finding the computer speakers that are ideal for your needs isn’t going to be easy. There are a few things you need to consider before you pick the best computer speakers for you, like the sound quality, for example. Is the sound nice and balanced, or will you start getting listener fatigue after only a couple of minutes?
And, how good of a sound quality do you need? Do you want audiophile-level fidelity or are you satisfied with something that’s not quite at that level if it saves you some cash? If you’re a gamer and a frequent movie streamer, is the surround or stereo separation up to snuff?
These are only some of the most essential questions to ask when shopping around for the best computer speakers. You must take into consideration what kind of setup is most ideal to you. Do you normally sit back while playing PC games like Rage 2, where immersion (and explosions) are vital? Do you use your setup more to binge-watch your favorite TV shows, or are you more of a music fan?
No matter what you’re looking to use them for, one of these best computer speakers on this list will make your computing sound all the more better.
While the Audioengine A2+ launched four years back, they are still arguably among the best computer speakers on the market. These slick-looking speakers will work with your PC’s USB port for uncompressed audio and amazing sound quality with its built-in DAC. The Audioengine A2+ doesn’t come with a subwoofer. However, unless you need really deep bass for extra rumble, that’s hardly a deal breaker: mostly because there is an RCA output, so it’s easy to connect an external woofer, which Audioengine also sells at extra cost.
They may be pricier than you’d expect to pay for Logitech’s best computer speakers, but the Logitech Z623 speakers are still very affordable, considering that they’re an audio beast. The Z623 may look like your average set of speakers, but the subwoofer produces a thundering sound that can easily be dialed up or down based on your preference. As a cherry on top, these speakers boast an impressive soundstage – with great highs and mids – making for an extremely immersive gaming and movie-watching experience.
When it comes to computer peripherals, Logitech is a household name. However, the G560 takes the company’s speaker prowess to the next level. These are the first Logitech computer speakers designed for gaming, and the manufacturer’s hard work has definitely paid off. The Logitech G560 speakers are, without a doubt, one of the best computer speakers for gaming. Not only do they boast RGB lighting – a must for gaming accessories in 2019 – but through Logitech’s software, the multi-colored illumination can adapt to any kind of content you consume for a more dazzling, not to mention immersive, experience.
The Razer Nommo Pro may have a fun name and a funky look, but make no mistake, these are a solid set of speakers that must be taken seriously, and not only because of its lofty price. Try to resist the urge to run in the opposite direction of that $500 price tag, the Razer Nommo Pro has a lot on offer and is definitely a worthy investment. There’s the beefy down-firing subwoofer that’ll blow you away, and there’s the Razer Chroma feature, making these speakers look just as good as they sound. There are definitely more affordable computer speakers out there, but with this level of quality, the Razer Nommo Pro is worth every penny.
- This product is only available in the US as of this writing. UK and Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Audioengine A2+.
Sure, the Harmon Kardon Soundsticks III may look like a bloom of jellyfish. These translucent computer speakers looks more like a modern art installation protesting rising ocean temperatures, but you’ll change your tune once you hit that power button. These are definitely an excellent speaker system worthy of a spot on our best computer speakers list. This speaker and sub combo features booming bass, thanks to its woofer, as well as very crisp highs. Finally, you get that amazing sound at a decent price, making it ideal for music fans with a mid-range budget.
- This product is only available in the US and UK at the time of this writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Edifier E25 Luna Eclipse.
The Edifier E25 Luna Eclipse is a stunning speaker setup that not only has a nice design, but also sounds terrific. It’s meant for folks who like a lot of rumbling and booming bass. The Luna, which comes in red, white and black colors, offers a powerful but well-controlled bass, as well as fantastic balance with sharp mids and good stereo separation. It even includes a nifty little remote control so you don’t have to get up if you’re feeling lazy. The Luna Eclipse are some of the best computer speakers out there, especially if you like to pump up the volume with little to no distortion.
Wireless speakers might not cut it for gaming, where every millisecond counts, but that’s why you should opt for the AudioEngine HD 3. The beauty of these speakers is that it offers the best of both worlds. They’ve only got about 30ms of latency when using the wireless connection, so latency is essentially negligible as far as listening to audio, watching videos and doing casual gaming. For competitive gamers, these also come with USB Audio and Dual Analog Audio Inputs, not to mention subwoofer output for that extra rumble. And, since it is made by AudioEngine, you know the sound quality is top-notch.
The Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 speaker system offers excellent, versatile sound. This means that whether you’re listening to music, watching movies or gaming, you’re getting the best computer speaker experience. These THX-certified speakers boast a lot of power, a wide frequency range of 31Hz to 20kHz, and a detailed audio quality with punchy bass, maximum clarity and great balance. When we say it’s powerful enough to replicate that home theater quality in your living room, we’re not exaggerating. The best part is that they’re really affordable.
- This product is only available in the US at the time of this writing. UK and Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Logitech Z623
Dell’s AE715 may not be the most powerful on this list of the best computer speakers, but it does produce a decent 360-degree sound that – while fairly common in portable audio – is unusual when it comes to computer speakers. The downside is that there’s not a lot of bass, and there’s a bit of delay because of the wireless connection. The upside is that the audio quality is definitely good enough if your listening standards aren’t quite as demanding. You’re also getting its wireless functionality, the USB charging port so you can charge the device and a built-in mic for conference calls. Without a doubt, it’s a great portable and wireless solution that’s affordable to boot.
- This product is only available in the US and UK as of this writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Jabra SPEAK 510.
The Mackie CR4BT promises professional-grade performance. True, it has its share of drawbacks – including thinner mid range and high bass that cut off at 70 Hz, meaning while there’s good bass presence, you might be missing the really low stuff. However, they do sound great for a premium pair of speakers, and the pros include the acoustic foam pads to isolate the speakers from the surface it’s standing on, as well as the front auxiliary input. These aren’t your run-of-the-mill peripherals; they are the best computer speakers if you do a lot of multimedia creation and production-related work.
- This product is only available in the US and UK as of this writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Logitech MX Sound.
AMD's latest Ryzen 3000 series of processors have done a brilliant job at challenging Intel's dominance of the desktop processor market, but when it comes to laptop processors, it looks like Intel is still king, with the Core i7-1065G7 mobile chip beating the AMD Ryzen 9 3900X in certain benchmarks.
Recently, benchmark results leaked for Intel’s 10th generation Ice Lake i7-1065G7 processor, which is designed for use in laptops. Despite it being a laptop chip – so there are power and heat implications – as the Techquila website notes, the benchmarks suggest that it will beat AMD’s new Ryzen 9 3900X.
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What’s particularly interesting is that the Ryzen 9 3900X is a desktop processor, which means it consumes more power (105W vs the i7-1065G7’s 15W) and runs at higher frequencies.
In the leaked Geekbench scores, the Intel Ice Lake Core i7-1065G7, running in a HP Spectre x360 laptop, manages a single-core score of 5,691. Meanwhile, AMD’s flagship Ryzen 9 3900X flagship scores slightly lower at 5,624.
While that isn’t a huge difference, the fact that Intel’s new mobile processor appears to edge out AMD’s latest desktop flagship when it comes to single-core performance means AMD could struggle to produce mobile processors that rival Intel's.
Of course, when it comes to multi-core performance, the 12-core Ryzen 9 3900X handily beats the quad-core Intel 17-1065G7 with a score of 45,338 vs 17,741.
It’s worth noting that these benchmarks are not confirmed, but if they are real it tells us a few things. First of all, it seems like Intel could be getting its mojo back with laptop processors – with the Core i7-1065G7 producing some excellent results considering it’s a mobile processor.
It also means that if AMD wants to steal Intel’s mobile crown, it has its work cut out. However, considering it’s recent form, we’re looking forward to what the company comes up with next.
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Today, the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti is the best graphics card for anyone who wants an affordable GPU without compromising on performance. If you’ve been waiting for an Nvidia Turing card to match your limited budget, the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti is for you.
The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti is able to hit that sweet price-to-performance spot by cutting out the RT and Tensor cores that power Nvidia’s new RTX and Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS) technologies. Even after sacrificing these extra features however, the GTX 1660 Ti is still such a great performing card that’s made even better by its affordable price.
It is the best budget graphics card on the market hands down – even if the GTX 1660 does try to give it a run for its money. With this new focus on value, it’s easy to see why its growing faster than other Nvidia Turing cards.
Unlike Nvidia releases in the past, Team Green didn’t roll this one out with its own Founders Edition of the GTX 1660 Ti. Without this base model to set the stage for what we could expect from third-party cards, there’s a wide variety of cards going for varying prices. It’s for this reason that we went ahead and gathered the best Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti models you can buy today.
The PNY GeForce GTX 1660 Ti XLR8 Gaming OC may not look like much, being tiny and all, but it surprisingly packs a punch. Fitted with a 70MHz factory overclock and solid specs, this card delivers on the dream of 1440p Ultra quality gameplay at 60 fps. What’s even better, all of this performance costs less than 300 smackers. This is the best bang-for-your-buck graphics cards you can find so far.
Read the full review: PNY GeForce GTX 1660 Ti XLR8 Gaming OC
Do you want to max out the performance of the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti? The Asus ROG Strix GTX 1660 Ti OC might just be the card for you. This card touts the highest factory overclock we’ve seen on this mid-range graphics card yet. In addition, its oversized heatsink and triple axial fans keep this card running a full 10C cooler than most. Thanks to its extreme cooling system, overclocking this card is not a problem.
Read the full review: Asus ROG Strix GTX 1660 Ti OC review
Want something more middle of the road? The Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1660 Ti Windforce OC is the closest thing to your average GeForce GTX 1660 Ti. The downside to this is that it’s only equipped with a middle-of-the-road dual-fan cooler. The upside? Gigabyte offsets that by using 3D molded curves on the fan blades for increased airflow. The graphics card’s fans also spin in alternate directions to further increase airflow. Round it out with a 1,845MHz boost clock, and this card delivers more performance for not much more money.
The Palit GeForce GTX 1660 Ti StormX OC is one of the most compact graphics cards ever created, designed to fit in the smallest of PC cases. Despite its small size, this graphics card still packs all the might of a full-sized GTX 1660 Ti and then some, with a factory set 1,815MHz boost clock. Best of all, it costs about the same as the most affordable versions of the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti, so it won’t break the bank.
Just because you’re gaming with a mid-range card doesn’t mean you can’t also be trendy. The MSI GeForce GTX 1660 TI Gaming X 6G is easily the best looking of the bunch, with a stylish aesthetic and fully programmable RGB lighting. In other words, you can customize how it glows in sync with an MSI motherboard. But it isn’t all looks either; this card delivers a solid performance and a Twin Frozr cooler designed to keep it chilled.
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Microsoft has announced that it will invest $1bn in OpenAI as part of a multi-year partnership with the San Francisco-based nonprofit aimed at developing AI supercomputing technologies on its Azure cloud computing service.
OpenAI was founded back in 2015 as a nonprofit with $1bn in funding from Sam Altman, Peter Thiel and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman. Earlier this year though, the group created a for-profit entity to allow it to bring in additional outside investment.
However, the for-profit entity is still controlled by the nonprofit's board and according to OpenAI, those who invest in the for-profit entity will have their returns capped as the nonprofit's mission remains more important than making a profit.
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OpenAI has made a number of advances in the field of AI since its founding, including teaching a robotic hand to perform human-like tasks entirely in software which cuts down the cost and time needed to train robots.
Artificial general intelligence
Microsoft's investment in OpenAI will allow the group to pursue artificial general intelligence (AGI). AGI is highly sought after in the industry as this form of AI will allow computing systems to master subjects as well or better than the best humans in the world.
OpenAI's CEO Sam Altman explained why AGI is so important to the future of AI in a statement announcing the partnership, saying:
“The creation of AGI will be the most important technological development in human history, with the potential to shape the trajectory of humanity. Our mission is to ensure that AGI technology benefits all of humanity, and we’re working with Microsoft to build the supercomputing foundation on which we’ll build AGI. We believe it’s crucial that AGI is deployed safely and securely and that its economic benefits are widely distributed. We are excited about how deeply Microsoft shares this vision.”
According to Microsoft, the two companies will work together to build new AI technologies on its Azure cloud computing service and OpenAI will move many of its services to Azure with Microsoft being its preferred partner to commercialize new services.
Both firms declined to say whether Microsoft's investment would be made in cash or whether it would involve providing OpenAI with Azure credits.
Finally, after years of being in development, we know when Hideo Kojima's upcoming title Death Stranding will release and we also know a little bit more about what to expect from the game...kind of.
On May 29, Kojima Productions dropped a brand new, lengthy trailer for Death Stranding that was - honestly - still a bit confusing. Norman Reedus, the return of the jar baby, Mads Mikkelsen leading an undead soldier army and demon militants? All just a day in Death Stranding it seems.
But the trailer did reveal something very important: Death Stranding will release on November 8, 2019.
So, while fans the world over try to dissect the latest trailer and piece together the various puzzle pieces, let this article guide you through everything there is to know about Death Stranding so far.
[Update: Keanu Reeves was almost cast in Death Stranding. Read on to find out more.]
Cut to the chase
- What is it? Honestly, who really knows. It’s the debut title from Hideo Kojima’s new studio Kojima Studios.
- When can I play it? November 8, 2019
- What can I play it on? Sony PS4
Death Stranding trailers and screenshots
The most revealing Death Stranding trailer dropped on May 29, announcing the game's release date and attempting to shed some light on the storyline.
Check it out below:
The Tokyo Game Show 2018 trailer revealed voice-acting veteran Troy Baker has joined the cast as the mysterious villain The Man in the Golden Mask.
E3 2018 brought Death Stranding gameplay to our eyes and left our minds somewhat confused.
Before E3 2018, Death Stranding featured at the Game Awards 2017. Coming in at nearly eight minutes long, this isn't a quick watch and unfortunately it doesn't answer many of the questions we have about the game (actually we think we have more).
Watch it for yourself below:
The reveal trailer that was shown at E3 in 2016 may have been more than 3 minutes long, but it didn’t reveal much about the game at all other than that it would star The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus.
A second even longer and 4K trailer was shown at The Game Awards at the end of 2016. This trailer starred Hannibal’s Mads Mikkelsen and Guillermo Del Toro and although it didn’t give us any more of an idea of what the game will actually even be about (in fact leaving us more confused than we were before) it did send expectations soaring.
Death Stranding release date
The most recent trailer revealed that Death Stranding will release on November 8. 2019.
Death Stranding is available to pre-order now from the PlayStation Store. The standard digital edition will cost you £54.99 / $59.99 / AU$99.95, while the deluxe digital edition costs £64.99 / $79.99 / AU$114.95.
What do we know so far about Death Stranding?
Keanu Reeves was almost cast in Death Stranding
During a panel at San Diego Comic-Con, Death Stranding creator Hideo Kojima revealed that Reeves was initially recommended for a main role in the game. However, Kojima decided to go with Hannibal's Mads Mikkelsen instead.
"I originally was recommended Keanu Reeves but I wanted Mads," Kojima explained during the panel, according to Twitter user Kalai Chik.
Check out the tweet below:
Release date revealed in trailer
According to the latest Death Stranding trailer, the game will release on November 8, 2019. The trailer is pretty odd and includes scenes such as Norman Reedus' Sam traversing open-world grasslands on a motorbike, Mads Mikkelsen leading an army of undead soldiers and more jar babies.
Kojima has stated the game centers around 'connection'
Following the release of the new Death Stranding trailer, Kojima tweeted an image which states what he believes the game is about and what its key themes are.
Check the tweet out below:
Death Stranding's pre-order page is live now
Death Stranding's pre-order page is now up on the PS Store, showing off a bunch of pre-order bonus content.
Check out all the items below:
Tribeca Film Festival
We learnt a few new tidbits at the Tribeca Film Festival, which hosted a panel discussion with Hideo Kojima and Norman Reedus. Much of it was about how immersed Reedus was with development, with his entire face and body (tattoos and all) having been scanned into the game.
“In Death Stranding I’m trying to put every aspect [of Norman] in there,” Kojima said through his interpreter, “and you will see his … everything, in the game,” he finished, suggestively, cracking up the crowd. By the end of the game, he says, you’ll “love Norman”.
Kojima also stated there would be some painful choices to make in the game, though followed up by saying the player wouldn't really be able to influence the story through their decisions. Sounds like some different cutscenes or dialogue options, though not much in the way of affecting plot.
One of the biggest teases at Tribeca was the recurring mention of online features, though Kojima avoided talking directly about what this would look like in the game: "You're connecting the game, and everyone is playing it together, and you'll be connected, everyone will be connected together as well." Maybe a way to communicate or leave notes for other players, in the vein of Dark Souls?
Troy Baker is a villain
Veteran voice-actor Troy Baker (who voices Joel in The Last of Us series) stars in Death Stranding as the enigmatic antagonist The Man in the Golden Mask. Baker was introduced in a teaser trailer shown during Tokyo Game Show, with his skull-masked character summoning a black tar-like demon to take on Norman Reedus' character.
E3 brought a brand new trailer, few answers and even more questions. The trailer for the game had the most revealing description we've seen yet, stating the game is about Sam ‘Porter’ Bridges, a delivery man who must journey across a vast world so that he can “reunite the shattered world one step at a time.”
We also got look at two more famous faces who will make an appearance in the game – Léa Seydoux and Lindsay Wagner.
Back in 2015 Kojima starting giving hints around the game's tone and star-studded voice cast in an interview with IGN. According to Kojima his first title with Sony is going to be “slightly more edgy”, as while he wants “to create something that’s what people expect” he also wants to bring “something new that people haven’t seen before.”
We do know that Kojima is planning to do something different with the game’s mechanics, most notably around the concept of dying and involving the baby that has appeared in every trailer. Kojima said in the interview that the mechanics of Death Stranding were inspired by a Japanese short story.
In the story it’s stated that the first tool mankind creates is a stick for protection, but that the second tool mankind created was a rope to keep things close and secure. “Most of your tools in action games are sticks,” Kojima explained, “You punch or you shoot or you kick. The communication is always through these 'sticks.' In [Death Stranding], I want people to be connected not through sticks, but through what would be the equivalent of ropes… But of course you will be able to use the sticks too.”
Unfortunately we haven’t seen any gameplay that would give us a better insight into how this rope approach will actually work.
A mystery to its own devs
At a Q and A session at the E3 Coliseum in 2017, Kojima himself said that his own team didn't understand the game: "I started explaining a year ago to the team what I wanted to make. No one got it!"
Before this, the game's star Mads Mikkelsen admitted he "got lost" when Kojima tried to explain the game's plot to him.
Though Kojima has been coy, he’s given some nice teases into what we can expect from Death Stranding in terms of tone and gameplay modes.
We know the game will run on the Decima engine which was created by Horizon: Zero Dawn developers, Guerilla Games. Kojima praised this engine during PSX 2016 as being an excellent engine for creating open world games, something that Horizon: Zero Dawn’s reception suggests has an element of truth to it.
Though its unsettling trailers suggest otherwise, Kojima has said that Death Stranding won’t be as dark as some fans are expecting. It’s certainly not a horror game, he told Glixel, and it would have comedic moments which isn’t entirely surprising considering the overarching tone of the Metal Gear series.
An impressive cast
We already knew Death Stranding had some big names attached to it including Norman Reedus and Mads Mikkelsen . But now we know they'll be joined by writer and actress Emily O'Brien and the voice of video games, Troy Baker.
O'Brien posted a picture to Instagram which showed her alongside Baker and Reedus, with a caption stating "Honored to be working alongside these two fine lads on [Hideo Kojima's] new project Death Stranding."
While Baker is well known for his starring roles in video games such as The Last of Us and Bioshock Infinite, O'Brien has had roles on both TV and in games, featuring in Telltale's Guardian's of the Galaxy and Batman: The Enemy Within as well as Rock in a Hard Place.
Players won't die
In an interview with IGN, Hideo Kojima was slightly more open with details than he usually is. The strange underwater sequence from the 2017 Game Awards trailer for example? That's apparently a kind of purgatory where players will go and freely explore when they die in the game, though Kojima notes that "death will never pull you out of the game."
The game apparently explores the themes of life and death and it's for this reason that Kojima would like to explore the traditional death mechanic in games and let players know that in-game death isn't the end for them when it happens.
In this underwater area, he explains, “you're not dead or alive. It's the equivalent of that screen that says 'Continue?' and a counter ticking down towards zero.” When players decide they're ready to leave and return to the game world, they won't be returned to a point before their death. Instead the game acknowledges their defeat and coming back to life is more of a reincarnation than a respawn.
There's a weird time rain
During the trailer shown at the 2017 Game Awards, fans noticed there's a strange kind of rain that has an effect on time. In makes plants grow and wilt and makes human bodies age and degenerate when it touches them. The rain is apparently called Timefall and it has a big role to play in the game's story.
What's the deal with the babies?
There's been some seriously strange recurring baby imagery in the footage we've seen for Death Stranding that's included Norman Reedus cradling a baby while standing nude on a beach as well as having one living inside his throat. According to Kojima in an interview with IGN, the baby is apparently the same baby and it's a part of the game mechanics as well as the overarching plot. We assume it's related to the idea of not ever finitely dying but Kojima didn't confirm this.
What could it all mean?
Though the game’s trailers don’t tell us much about how we’ll eventually play Death Stranding, they do reveal some important thematic elements.
Quotes from William Blake, the repeated appearance of ruined dolls, and the inclusion of what looks like oil (but could very well be ink) and dead sea creatures suggests Kojima will be exploring the fractious relationship between man and the natural world and the impact it has on us and future generations.
The littering of dead crabs on beaches and tanks with definitely living tentacles coming out of them suggests to us a post-apocalyptic world over-run with robotic sea creatures which would certainly be interesting. After all, Kojima is working closely with Guerilla Games whose Horizon: Zero Dawn game focused on robotic dinosaurs.
There’s also a curious mix of futuristic technology and elements of the past in the game’s various trailers.
In the second game trailer though Mads Mikkelsen is wearing a modern army uniform and appears to be using some kind of cable, the undead soldiers around him are wearing WW2 era uniforms and the game world outside of the tunnel he’s in is almost certainly from the second world war time period.
Whether this mix of past and future will manifest itself as time travelling or simply alternate universe science fiction isn’t clear.
Safe to say, as a Kojima title, there’s a lot of mystery and symbolism at play here and fans online are tearing through what little materials there are to try and find out more information about the game.
We’ll keep updating as more solid information becomes available.
Anthem, BioWare's cooperative, team-based shooter is a change of pace for the makers of Dragon Age and Mass Effect. With a focus on cooperative PvE combat popularized by the likes of Destiny, it landed amid a swirl of hype and expectation, which it has so far failed to meet.
Anthem has a big challenge in front of it then – with arguments that its endgame content is weak, its loot system broken and its story not up to scratch when compared with previous narrative-driven BioWare RPGs, it's fighting to win back the hearts of those who were initially in awe of its promise.
With EA backing it and BioWare's heritage at its heart, there's hope yet that Anthem will be redeemed. It's being touted as a "living" game after all – one that will evolve over time to keep its fans entranced long after launch – and the likes of behemoths such as Destiny and Fortnite all went through rough launches before becoming gaming juggernauts.
So what's the latest Anthem news? When's the next update? And what does the future hold for Anthem? Read on for everything you need to know about the Iron Man simulator.
As we said in our full Anthem review:
"It is a game of oxymorons and inconsistencies. The story is designed to be single-player but the game is clearly not. The gameplay is an absolute joy but is stifled by the repetitive nature of the end-game. The character animations are truly sublime, but most of the characters themselves are cliché and predictable.
"Anthem is a fun game, and a stunningly pretty one, but with flaws in nearly every other aspect of its design. It will improve with patches, updates, and a strong community, but it isn’t a particularly strong foundation. This is less an anthem, and more an annoying earworm..."
- Anthem review: check out our complete, in-depth verdict in our full review
Anthem update news and Anthem patch notes
- What's new? Pre-Cataclysm events are live
A new set of time-limited challenges called 'The Oncoming Storm' are now live in Anthem. These new challenges seem to be a precursor to Anthem's upcoming Cataclysm event.
According to Kotaku, The Oncoming Storm consists of three parts. The first sees players destroying crystals that have started to appear around the world, the second sees you completing three 'Crystal World Events', and the third sees you killing crystallized enemies. Completing all these challenges will reward you with in-game Coin.
Anthem tips and tricks guides
Anthem is a complex game. With four classes to master, a ton of loot to uncover and large world to explore, it can be daunting for a newcomer, and difficult for even a long term player to master.
Get ahead of the pack with our selection of Anthem guides, designed to help you get your Iron Man-like Javelin suit fighting fit as soon as possible.
- Best weapons in Anthem: how to build the strongest loadout
- Best Anthem Javelin: which is the class best suited to you
- Best Anthem gear: how to customize your Javelin's build
- How to make money in Anthem: your guide to earning shards and coins
Anthem DLC – what's next?
Anthem is an ongoing project at EA and BioWare, a game that both companies expect to support for many years, with a player base that will grow and evolve along with the game.
How do both teams hope to achieve this? Through regular content drops, that's how. As pictured above, EA and BioWare had already mapped out the "ongoing narrative of Anthem", with updates mapped out until May 2019 - but things haven't exactly gone to plan.
This first "Act" is called "Echoes of Eternity", which was initially scheduled for March 2019 introducing the "Evolving World" chapter, April 2019 the "Stronger Together" chapter and May 2019 bringing the ominous sounding "Cataclysm" chapter. However, as detailed above, BioWare isn't on track to hit its roadmap. So we're not quite sure when these updates will arrive.
Evolving World will focus on battles with huge bosses such as Titans of War, Ruin, Bane and Havoc in freeplay mode, as well as new Legendary missions and a Scar Infestation freeplay event.
Stronger Together will expand the endgame with a new Mastery System for the skill tree progression, as well as host of new freeplay events, more legendary missions, a new Stronghold called "The Sunken" (which will have its own weekly challenge) as well as the introduction of leaderboards and guilds.
As for what the Catyclysm brings, little is known at the moment beyond the promise of new freeplay events, missions and new items. We'll presumably find out more as the year rolls on.
But what about paid DLC? EA has yet to announce it's mid-to-long term plans for Anthem. We'd expect it will follow a similar path as Destiny, which had a continued supply of small improvements and features added, interspersed with larger paid-for DLC packs, before an eventual sequel.
That is, of course, if Anthem can prove its staying power... Here's hoping – there's a gem at the heart of Anthem, waiting to be dug out. We're hopeful that we'll one day be playing Anthem at its strongest.
- More interested in EA's sports offering? Here's everything we know about FIFA 19
- All image credits: EA / BioWare
With the prices of graphics cards rising due to the cryptocurrency gold rush, it's now more sensible to buy a pre-built device for mining cryptocurrencies, which is where our best mining rig 2018 list comes in.
Unlike the best mining desktop PCs, which can be used for other day-to-day tasks as normal PCs, mining rigs are specially-designed for one purpose only: to efficiently and effectively mine cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.
This means you won't be able to use a mining rig for other tasks, but it does mean you'll be getting the very best mining results thanks to the best mining rigs being designed to eke out the maximum return when running.
Shark Mining is a well-regarded company that makes some excellent pre-built mining rigs. Its Shark Mini is a compact rig that comes with four GPUs. The base model comes with AMD RX 570/580, but your can configure it to have a NVIDIA GTX 1070 GPU or 1070 Ti GPU, which could net you an extra profit, and you can also add a touchscreen display for keeping an eye on the rig. Shark Mining estimates a profit of $200 a month if you mine ZCash , and up to $300 a month with Ethereum if you use the base model with, though of course that could change.
- Buy now from $2,690 (around £2,034, AU$3,642)
The Bitmain Antminer S17 Pro has some of the best advertised performance specifications, and comes with three different modes for advanced mining: normal mode, low power mode, and turbo. While the ASIC comes with a top hashrate of 53 TH/s, you will need to run it in the lower modes at times to help prevent over-heating. Even still, the S17 Pro is one of the more efficient ASICs out there, with a power rating of 39.5 J/TH. However, because of its high specs it is currently out of stok, and we await for Bitmain to restock the model and advertise a new price.
Application-specific integrated circuit chips (ASICs) differ from other mining rigs as they don't utilize GPUs to do the mining, which means price and power consumption is reduced. They can also solve Bitcoin blocks faster, which means they are definitely worth looking into. The Antminer D3 is an ASIC miner from Mineshop.eu is a good mid-range miner that has a hash rate of 19.5 GH/s. Definitely one to consider if space is at a premium.
- Buy now for €333.33 (around $386, £298, AU$540)
Shark Mining has another entry in this list of best mining rigs, this time with its Shark PRO mining rig. Like the Shark mini, this is a well-built device for mining that comes with a range of configuration options. The base model comes with six AMD RX570/580 cards, but these can be upgraded to NVIDIA GTX 1070, GTX 1070 Ti, GTX 1080 Ti or NVIDIA RTX 2080 Ti GPUs (2080 Ti won't be available until October, but you can pre-order). It's an expensive rig, but the build quality and potential profit makes it a very tempting choice if you're serious about mining.
- Buy now for $3,790 (around £2,866, AU$5,130)
The PandaMiner B5 Plus is a brilliantly put together miner that's compact and attractive, while also being excellent at making profits when mining for cryptocurrencies. However, it is very expensive, and due to its popularity it can often be sold out. Luckily Pandaminer has a number of different models to choose from.
- Buy now for ¥12,000.00 (around $1,800, £1,400, AU$2,500)