SaltLake Reviews: No Man's Sky!

June 22 delayed
June 24 delayed
August 9 delayed
August 12 dela…. Oh... we are doing it this time? Cool. Let me just download and start it up… huh maybe a bad download. Just delete it and download it again… hmm something's wrong. Let me try me wife's computer… no. Lets see whats going online.. Oh. Well time to break out old parts and mix and match until it works.

No Man's Sky, has finally released! Though maybe it should have delayed another month. My first hours consisted of me removing parts and putting them back in until I got it to work. Finally a 5960X with a GTX 980 did the trick. Now not everyone had this problem but there were more than a few that had issue starting this game. Now the developers Hello Games are saying that they are working to fix these issues, but only time will tell.

This game had a huge amount of hype, and I could write a 20 page essay about what I think. Totalbiscuit went off for 30+ minutes about it. Reddit went through every interview and trailer and found every single thing promised and not provided. I have a slightly different theory. I honestly believe that Sony saw Elite Dangerous and Star Citizen and said that they needed a slice of that pie. They saw No Man’s Sky as that piece. Sony can make some great hype from good or bad events. They spent time finding rumors and not promising them but hinting at them and showing trailers making you think that the game had these things. Marketing is very smart about this. By the time the game came out I heard it called Mini-Star Citizen or Mini-Elite Dangerous. In all honestly it is not those games, and at this point it will never be those games.

First let's take a look at the options menu. Its pretty barren and the minimum needed to be honest. These are all the settings set to the max, which is needed because it auto sets you to low graphics and locked 30 FPS. 21:9 resolutions are supported which is nice. If you go in here to change things often you will hate this menu. It is not a simple click and done, no you have to sit there and hold the button and watch a circle draw itself, that is a single click. It is painfully slow for something you don’t want to spend much time in. Get in the options, change what is needed, back to the game. 

On with the review. Once I was able to start the game, I was presented with regular intro's and a white screen that simply said “Initialise” with a E, holding down the E key will slowly circle the the E and you are immediately thrown in the game. No tutorial, no cinematic, nothing. This is the start of the game, simple as that.

This was the first view that is controllable. A wrecked ship, with debris strewn around and a weird looking planet. In your upper left you have your shield with your hit points. The top right is your weapon/mining beam information. Bottom left is your basic planet stats and a pulse thing I never figured out. It is 39.0C, 1.5 Radiation and 19.4 Toxic. So a hot slightly toxic planet. This means that there are life forms but not as much as other temperate and not toxic planets. This gives an interesting idea to the planets. But later on the solar system makes little sense. Somehow a frozen planet can be closer to a star and a molten planet farther from a star. Procedurally generated does not mean it is always accurate.

Salvaging the wreckage I found this item/lifeform/thing called Atlas. Now I first thought Atlas would be a guide for the tutorial or at least make sure I did things correctly. It doesn’t. Now remember when I said back in Doom that games that throw you into the action and with a minimum story was good. I have been proven wrong, you can only do that with simplistic and known games. No Man’s Sky needs a tutorial! You can learn it but it will take time. You are given some simple task to repair your ship and need components to do so.

You have three items that you must maintain and remember to keep recharging them with energy isotopes you find and repairing them. These are your ship, your exosuit, and your multi-tool. Your ships weapons, hyperdrive, and pulse drive must be recharged, it is also a place where you can store items by simple holding X and transferring them between your ship and exosuit or vise versa. Your exosuits has life support and hazard protection, one is recharged with energy minerals, while the other repaired with metals. Your exosuit is also your main storage. Finally you have your multi-tool that is both your mining tool and weapon. These three items can be upgraded and improved through out your gameplay experience. Your multi-tool can be designed more toward a mining drill or an assault weapon. Your suit can have more inventory slots or more environmental defense/offense upgrades.

You first task is to repair your spaceship. I pre-ordered the game which came with another starter ship.  This was disappointing as the “special ship” since it is exactly the same as the starter ship but with a few more inventory slots. It handles the same, goes just as fast, uses the same parts, uses the same amount of energy. Get used to mining though as you will quickly find that you are simply mining to keep alive and less about improving your equipment, though that will happen slowly. It is an endless grind, and it only gets worst when you finally find a nice tunnel to explore and you hear your suit beeping that your life support is now critical. You will scurry from mining item to mining item trying to refuel quickly.

I explored more than a few planets during my gameplay, in all the trailers I've seen, it showed walker “sentinels”, I never once found a different enemy than these sentinel drones and fighting is rather straightforward. You point your weapon and shoot them, they shoot you, they explode, you pick up the loot they drop. Dodging is non existent as their laser just simply guide to you. You can use cover but the AI doesn’t try to outsmart you and just simply follows you, making trapping them easy. Combat is very lackluster, and to be honest not much to talk about.

The one thing that the game does right are the planets, the fauna, vegetation and planet surface was really well done. Sometimes you get to see some weird animals that don't make sense but this is a fault of procedural generation, it’s not perfect. My starting planet had floating islands, strange 2 leaf planets that were thick and rigid and looked like they belonged on a toxic planet. Then these weird aggressive bugs with their weird crooked smiles. These smiles are what cause nightmares in children. You can analyze all of these things and you get credits/unites (from where I don’t know) as you find all the items on a planet. This actually felt rather complete, though my planet was not as dense with life as the trailers would lead me to believe. It did fit the toxic hot planet description in my HUD. Now what is missing are biomes. I searched for hours on my planet, North, South, East, West and it never changed it’s a single biome per planet. This was disappointing as there should be multiple different biomes on a single planets.

Another huge aspect was the aliens and factions, as it should be since it is a major focus of any sci-fi/futuristic show that has them. Star Wars and Star Trek have tons of aliens, some made simply just be background sights and never discussed. No Man’s Sky does only a few things right. First the aliens is definitely alien-like, it looks like a gecko evolved instead of a primate. Second is that you are forced to find beacons to learn their language or learn it from trading. Either way the fact you have to learn a language is very immersive. Things that I found wrong. This was supposed to be a settlement. It does have a large building, but only a single alien was here. My initial conversation was me vaguely getting an idea that it wanted some resources and giving it to him, that was it. I talked to it again and it gives me 3 options depending how much it liked me.  There was no faction, or in-depth association with these aliens to start off with. It, again, is very shallow and lackluster.

Once you repair your spaceship you can fly around the surface of the planet, but it is controlled on how low you can go. This is a very big annoyance to me, you cannot fly low enough to actually see what is going on on the ground or even scan to see if you missed a creature or settlement. So it is a hit and miss with landings. You can see landmarks you have made while you were on the ground, and you had scanned out, though. It just feels like it’s holding you back. Pulling up from the planet,  you will escape the atmosphere and go into space. I was meet with what I thought was a large ship but turned out to just be some sort of container or space trucker. Nothing was notable, again the flying was unremarkable and simple. You can see points of interest to jump to and there was no large fleet or other space ships, it was rather empty. 

I jumped to a space station and had to fly around to find a entrance. There was no traffic controller to greet you and you simply flew in. I wish I had taken a screenshot inside but I forgot. Inside was the same alien creature as the one on the planet in a single room who did the same thing but with different resources. I again did the trade, he was excited and gave me three options. Again so simplified it was disappointing. There were 2 locked door but I needed an “Atlas key” which I didn’t know how to get at this point so early in the game. For a space station that large it was extremely disappointing to have the limited access inside.

I decided to hyper jump to the next planet. My screen blazed in a holy golden yellow with a halo. Then stopped at my next planet, Hoshobam Koshy, an undiscovered planet. I would land, scan, mine, analyze all over again.

I continued to pour about 30 hours into the game, one of the reasons why this review is so late. I always had this knack I was missing something. It would eat at me that I was missing a big subject. I realized that it wasn’t me but the game. The game covers a vast amount of area, but never goes in depth with any of them. Its also shallow and nondescript and never feels complete. There is a story line portion but it is never heavily enforced. To be honest it is not a game for everyone, in fact it is a game for very few people. If you are thinking about buying it, I suggest watching a YouTube video or a stream and then deciding. The developers could have done better and to be honest with all the delays it should have been better. It is a game I might play if I am in the mood, but it will collect dust for a vast majority of the time. If you like the game, great! I glad you enjoy it, and I hope the game is fulfilling to you.

-Salt Lake

 

A Brief Look at EVGA GPU Designs

In recent light of all the upgrade pictures where users compare their old cards to their recent upgrade, I thought a quick timeline of how EVGA's cards have been designed throughout the years would be of interest. The e-GeForce MX440 shown above is one of our more earlier cards. As you can tell by the logo on the cooler we have changed significantly.  Here's a look at a handful of cards from past to present. 

 

6800 Ultra

 

8800 GTS

Vinyl stickers on cards has always seemed pretty cool to me personally. This design in particular reminds me of something straight out of the Fallout series. It would be interesting if some of the newer cards implemented similar graphics on their cards but in a more conservative manner. 
 

GTX 295 Red Edition

I for one believe this was a pretty neat design that seems to pull characteristics from a VCR tape. In present day this may not be too popular but in retrospective, it was an unique approach.

 

GTX 460 2WIN

Not many of our cards feature a 3 fan cooler and I was surprised myself when I saw this design. Although a 2 fan cooler is more efficient (and takes up less space), all those fins just makes you shiver from coolness! This was one of the recent-ish designs with independent features. Some unique coolers on more exclusive cards such as the Classified and K|NGP|N series could prove some desirability. 

 

GTX 780Ti CLASSIFIED

 

GTX 970 Fallout Edition

This is a GTX 970 collaboration that was done with Fallout 4. This is a really interesting marketing design that I'd love to see more of in the future. This was a particularly unique model and a must have for die hard Fallout fans.  

 

980Ti K|NGP|N

The start of the custom RGB LED era began somewhere around this point.  It is a nice touch for those who enjoy the aesthetics behind PC building.  I won't be surprised if nearly all future premium cards implement this feature.

 

GTX 1080 FTW

This is our latest and, in my opinion, best designed coolers. The card features our newest ACX 3.0 style cooler which efficiently reduces heat. One of my favorite aspects of the card is that they were able to use a combination of plastic and metal to give this card a premium look and feel. 

Overall I think there has been huge improvements on the designs and I love where these cards are headed. I left out some of the Hyrdo Copper and Hybrid coolers because I wanted to focus mainly on the air-cooled cards. My first EVGA card was a 9600 GSO and personal favorite would be the GTX 970 Fallout Edition for the backplate itself.

What was your first EVGA card and which design is your favorite?

 

EVGA 17th Anniversary Event is LIVE!

EVGA's 17th Anniversary Event is now LIVE! We have over $85K worth of prizes ranging from full system builds, to bundles, individual hardware from different sponsors, to game codes from Electronic Arts!  The event will run from July 15, 2016 to July 29, 2016!!

Be sure to head over the the EVGA 17th Anniversary event page, to enter the Scavenger Hunt, Sign up for the gaming event, enter the Social Media RaffleCopter event, the Instagram event and make sure to tune in for the daily Live Stream with Jacob and Matt!

We'd like to thank all of our sponsors for providing tons of great prizes for all of you to win! Make sure to visit their social media outlets to thank them and check out their awesome products!

And of course we would like to Thank you all for making these 17th years a success and for letting us provide you all with awesome products. Here's to many more wonderful years of EVGA products and Top Notch Customer Support!

EVGA 17th Anniversary Madness Sale!

The countdown has begun and we are here at EVGA are gearing up for our 17th Anniversary celebration!

We starting off with some amazing deals on select GTX 900 series graphics cards that are priced to sellout out fast!  So if you have been looking to buy that extra card to SLI or in need of a new graphics card for a second system, then you will want to check out the deals going on right now!

Anniversary Sale on select GTX 900 series cards!

Countdown to the EVGA 17th Anniversary Celebration!

School's Out Summer Gaming Event!

EVGA School's Out Gaming Event

School's Out!!! It's time to get your friends together and game for a chance to win great prizes from EVGA! Stay out of the heat for a while and play on any EVGA Game Server for a chance to win. Remember, the more you play, the better the prizes.

There are quite a few games for you to choose from, like Battlefield 4, Team Fortress 2, and many others! All of this isn't only for fun and games, though. When you sign up for the EVGA School's Out Gaming Event and log into our servers between June 15, 2016 and June 29, 2016, you'll qualify for some really great prizes – all just for playing! Signing up is completely free and easy for anyone, regardless of where you live. We have lots of prizes to give away, so don't miss out on this awesome opportunity to play great games and win some quality products!

Qualifying for the event is very easy if you follow these simple steps. Sign up on the article page with either your Steam ID, BF4 soldier name, or all three if you feel like it. After that, all you have to do is log in and play anytime during June 15, 2016 4:00 PM Pacific to June 29, 2016 11:59:59 PM Pacific. Be sure to check the official EVGA Gaming blog to see the full list of servers available and read some great articles from team EVGA! Please don't forget to keep enjoying our servers after the event ends!

This is a global promotion and all are welcome to participate.

SaltLake Reviews: Total War: WARHAMMER

Total War: Warhammer is out after being delayed. I am a big Warhammer 40k fan, and have some knowledge of Warhammer Fantasy. I actually have a 750 pt Space Wolf, and 750 pt Ok Army, not huge but still decent. What I don’t know is Total War, I have never played any of the series before. So this review will be in the eyes of a novice, so you veteran players will probably not have the same issues I have. That being said I do not have much to say, because I have no background knowledge. I was thinking this would be a game similar to Civilization, but it is not. It more in-depth in some areas and less in other areas.

(Here is a gallery link for all picture in the article: http://imgur.com/a/vudsG)


Let’s start with game settings as people seem to like to see what options the game developers give us. The options are pretty standard plus a few extra for a game, it does support 21:9 monitors which I will always say is progress into making it a standard for games as much as 16:9. The Gamma setting (not pictured) was really poorly implemented as a slider with percentages, and no grey on black image to gauge whether you in the ballpark for your gamma setting. The audio setting support “stereo headphones”, instead of just “stereo”. I was unable hear any differences on my Astro A40’s. I used my wife's computer again, I feel as though a GTX 980 is closer to what most people are using than a GTX 980 Ti. You will not max the settings on a GTX 980. The "not enough VRAM" issue will come back, as it did in DOOM. Though once I did turn down some settings I did notice a steady ~50 FPS on 3440x1440, so anyone playing on 2560x1440, will see a full 60fps.

Starting a game you are greeted with five factions, The Empire whom are mostly humans, The Dwarfs, The Greenskins whom are Orcs, The Vampire Count, and Warriors of Chaos who serve the Chaos Gods and are various races. Each of these races have their own unique lore and special abilities. You can also choose Victory Objectives, which there are two options: short or long. The short objective is your baseline and the long objective furthers this list. I chose dwarfs because of beards and beer. After you select your faction, you must select a leader to play as, each faction has two leaders except chaos which has three. These leaders have their own special abilities and starting units. A veteran player will know how to min-max these to get the best play through. It does give you some, but still very limited, flexibility in your play style. You can also choose a difficulty here.

The graphics were,  I would say, average or even just below average. Though I would quickly come to realize that this was not due to Creative Assembly not trying, but simply because they go for quantity over quality. There are so many units on the map during a battle that you can’t possibly have top end graphics and expect them to also have that large size of the armies. This is actually a big aspect of Warhammer Fantasy, large scale armies. In fact the army you see above is the starter army that is rather small compared to the armies you will quickly build. I will give them a pass on the graphic quality while in game, but their cut scenes need some work.  Though maybe one day we will see our computers be able to handle large scale battles and have breathtaking graphics, today is not that day. That said I really think Creative Assembly tried their best to balance the two objectives, large armies and good graphics.


The graphics are good quality but the tutorial is complete and utter crap. They teach you the basic on how to attack and move in the overworld, but how to siege, placement of troops etc etc it wants you to use this in-game browser to look it up. First requiring on-line connection to see a tutorial is a huge no-no. I have no idea what they were thinking doing this, it is a poor choice. The second issue is that it never loads and gave me a black screen, or it gave me a error stating that it couldn’t connect. This was just in shambles and completely unnecessary, would have been better to put the darn tutorial on the hard drive. Once it does work it gives you some data and it is semi-useful, though I only got 2 pages to actually work and neither one contained how-to-play information. Get used to reading an online tutorial that are always down. Even then good luck spending time reading about the subject instead of actually doing it


“Now that the page is loaded it says the my Pickmen can be placed anywhere not on the enemy starting position, so that's why they are over there dying.”


Combat consists of four parts, engaging, fighting, resolving, leveling. You must first march and confront an enemy army, once there you will decide on three options Fight, Auto-Resolve, and Retreat. Fight is where you manually control your army and fight, this takes longer but if you know what you are doing you can pull of some extraordinary feats. Next is Auto-Resolve, this is where the computer automatically tallies up your armies and spouts out who wins. There is a red and yellow bar above your options that shows each armies strength, if you are in the middle to three-quarters mark I would say fight manually, if more than that you can auto-resolve with safety. Finally is retreat, which is to retreat.

Second step is to fight if you choose not to auto-resolve or retreat, you start off deciding how you want to position your army, and begin the battle. You must remember to flank your enemies and have forces ready to catch retreating forces to annihilate them from recovering.

Next is the resolving, if you are attacking another option that you can release your prisoners which will give you a bit of gold and make your enemies not hate you as much. The other is to carry out the orders and get more leadership for a few turns. If you are attacking a city you can occupy it adding it to your empire.  Loot and occupy, take the city and raid some coin at the expense of the city hating you more for a time.  Loot, where you don’t capture the city but you make some gold. The last option is to raze the city, and that destroys the city forever. The last option comes in use when you have a city that you and an enemy are continuously fighting over and you just want to end it with a nuclear strike.

Finally you can level your characters, adding unique abilities to them and improving upon their skills/leadership/empire benefits. This is useful and allows you again to improve in areas you might be struggling in.
The overworld also has 3 major options. Building cities that give you benefits like better soldiers, improved gold flow, improved citizen “happiness” and improved defenses. You also have technology research which again does improves your troops or your economy/growth/cities. Then there is your objectives book. The dwarves call it the book of grudges. It basically gives you mission objectives to compete like wiping out X army, or taking over Y town.

“I’m exhausted after just reading your review”

There are many many more aspects to this game, but this is the longest review I have done yet and your attention is probably starting to wander. The game is good, it has lots of gameplay and is very in-depth. If they fixed the tutorial/help guide it would be much better for new players, as it stands I feel like new players will be detoured into misunderstanding and having a harder time than they should.

It’s hard to do a review on a game after being spoiled by DOOM, but I don’t recommend this game for everyone. It’s very meticulous there is no “oops go back” button even in the overworld. Once it's done it is done. It can be daunting doing your first siege without a tutorial to help. If you like paying attention to detail and controlling large armies while making your citizens happy, you will like this game. For everyone else, wait for it to drop down to a comfortable price or the bugs are worked out, play it on a easier setting and just have fun with it.

Otherwise you will be putting your head on the desk when you accidentally click the wrong spot on a map and your forces move away from a city allowing a orc army to capture it. That being said even though I struggled with the game, I started playing 10pm, and looked up to realize it was 1am. It has the Civilization feeling of “Just one more turn”.

SaltLake Reviews: DOOM!

There are three video game featuring Space Marine's that I really think could be classified as “Famous”. Master Chief from HALO, Space Marines from StarCraft, and the granddaddy of them all, the man simply known as “DOOM Guy”. Originally released in 1993, DOOM has been the template for First Person Shooters (FPS) ever since. DOOM Guy has also been the standard template for Space Marines in video games. Non-talkative, deadly, always angry, and has no time for explanations.

DOOM has always been close to my heart as it was one of those games, I still continue to load into and play the original two. So when I was told there would be no early press reviews I was very scared that this game was not up to the task of fulfilling that nostalgic hole in my heart. This was only reinforced by the less than stellar multiplayer beta weeks before its official release. Though DOOM has and always will be a single player in my mind. The lack of early reviews forces me to quickly play through and not enjoy everything the game has to offer, and then make a review. This is not ideal for reviewers and critics.

Before we jump into the game, I want to reflect on something that game developers just simply skip over or make you go into a .ini and change to get what you want. That is the settings page, these options are just glorious. Native support for 21:9 is a huge bonus, but it gets better. Many games have v-sync on/off, DOOM offers V-sync on/off/adaptive so those of you running Nvidia’s G-Sync or AMD’s Free-Sync can easily use this option now instead of hoping that turning off v-sync is enough. They also show that they want to remain neutral in the hardware wars by simply calling it adaptive. There are so many options and the rank from Low, Medium, High, Ultra, and Nightmare. I am currently using my wife's computer, as I tore my computer apart to find a water leak, which has a i7 4790k and a GTX 980. I actually got an error saying that I couldn’t change a setting because it doesn’t have 5gb of VRAM, and that prevented me from doing so to prevent crashes. There is just so many options in the settings.

There are 5 difficulty settings, and normally I do reviews on medium difficulty and have a easy time doing so and taking screenshots. This game gave me trouble trying to stay alive and take a screenshot in the middle of action. Those that think games are getting too easy will be pleased on the difficulty I believe. Though I have not played at Ultra-Nightmare setting yet so I’m not sure what to expect on that difficulty.

DOOM starts off right with DOOM Guy waking up looking at a rune, and you can already tell he is angry. While other FPS games will start with 5 minutes of exposition of what happened, you start with a pistol and a kill count of 4 Possessed Ones within the  first 15 seconds. This instantly felt right, no backstory, no dialogue on the history of DOOM. You simply start enraged that hell is back, and start cracking skulls. I already had those warm fuzzies about this game. This strongly reminds me of the first games where literally you start in a unknown place and just start shooting baddies. The pistol was surprisingly weak and made me worried that they were trying to make it difficult by simply lower stats of your character and guns. This is not the case, only the starting pistol has infinite ammo and you get an instant upgrade in the form of a shotgun within the first 5 minutes of the game.

That isn’t to say there isn’t a storyline, there is. Usually it is done in very short time, to keep you in the mindset of crush and smash, there are instances of random holograms saying 3-4 sentences and then moving on. It gets the job done but it’s short, simple and to the point like any DOOM game should be. The story is light and the action is deep… in blood.

The graphics are outstanding, just look at the rock where behind the helmet, the runes are carved in but faded, the gloves have different textures between the wires, leather, metal and plastic pieces. Enemies are well designed and unique, they have a firm presence that they are from hell. These aren’t even the highest level of graphics, I can’t wait to see DOOM on my fixed computer.  Taking a look outside gives me chills out how the environment looks, constant wind moving the red sands and seeing research centers in the distance. The cliffs give a sense of danger at the ragged edges sticking out. These are some of the best graphics I’ve played in some time.

Another concern is that DOOM would censor a lot of the more bloody and gruesome aspects out of the game as the game's history has been a source of controversy. I am glad to report that this is not the case. The above picture is a once clean room after a single fight. Causing this much mayhem is an art form, and to make that much blood is a skill no one should have. The guts and gore are plenty and overfilling.  The animations during melee are very fast and were well implemented. Glory Kills to a demon when they are flashing after some damage reward you with health packs, thus allowing you to continually heals as you destroy the enemies in your path.

The secrets are no longer little tiny differences in wall details but levers and more puzzles that lead to anything from a unique weapon and armor upgrades to passage to the old style game that can be played later on from the main menu. This gives a unique twist on the secrets and Easter eggs, as before it was just a gun a level earlier or extra ammo/health packs. These secrets are well hidden and sometimes require to backtrack to find them, due to you doing something like turning on the power which opens a door. I can see people losing their minds finding all the secrets.

DOOM brings back my childhood in a morbid way. The gameplay is not just a scare game, or a boring FPS but a blend of both filled with lots and lots of violence. I highly recommend that anyone that played the old DOOMS or feel their mature enough to play this game to pick it up when it comes into your price range. It is a game if you buy you will not regret and are bound to have many many hours of fun hunting down secrets and punching demons in the head. I wouldn’t change a thing, the game feels right, it plays right, and it looks right. I always nitpick at things on all the games I play. Fallout 4 had aging graphics and awful graphic settings, ARK:Survival Evolved had repetitive game play. This has so many graphic settings it’s sure to bring a smile to your face, the graphics are awesome, and the gameplay is just a ton violence fun. This is easily a game of the year candidate already.

RIP AND TEAR!

_Salt Lake