Technological World for November 20: Half-Life: Alyx announced, Minecraft Earth released, Star Wars: Fallen Jedi exhilarates, Black Friday deals on video game hardware

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This week is one for gamers everywhere, with news about a new Half-Life game, early access to Minecraft Earth, deals on gaming hardware for Black Friday, and a look at Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.

Valve announces new Half-Life game for VR

For a decade, gamers who are old enough to have played Valve’s sci-fi Half-Life games have been waiting to see if the developer and publisher would ever return to the world.

This week, the company announced Half-Life: Alyx, a game made for virtual reality.

The title certainly refers to Alyx Vance, the capable hacker and freedom fighter from Half-Life 2: Episode Two, who acts as a support and guide of sorts to players, who take on the guise of Gordon Freeman.

Alyx will be distributed on Valve’s Steam VR service, which likely makes the game playable for players with any of the Windows-based VR systems, including Oculus or Vive, which Valve developed with partner HTC.

Valve Index is the company’s own VR hardware, which is only available in the U.S. and costs $1,000 USD.

Half-Life: Alyx will be revealed in more detail Thursday, November 21 at 10 a.m. PT

Minecraft Earth now available in Canada and the U.S.

The augmented reality game for mobile devices that let’s you find and place Minecraft blocks in your environment is now available in Canada.

The game is in early access, which means it’s not available everywhere yet. The developers at Mojang are adding more regions each week, slowly building the user base.

Minecraft Earth is similar to Pokemon Go and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite in that you collect things and discover experiences in the real world. Microsoft’s Azure Spatial Anchor technology means that you can share experiences with other people in the same meatspace as you.

You can also fight hostiles and craft items that you might need.

Minecraft Earth is free and available for Android and iOS devices.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are coming with smoking deals on video game stuff

We’ve got another year before new video game consoles will be released, and the prices on systems is looking very appealing right now.

All three of the main players have systems and bundles on sale for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so it’s a great opportunity to get some early gift shopping done, for your besties or even yourself.

Nintendo

Deals start on November 28.

  • Nintendo Switch and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe: $400 ($80 savings)
  • Pair of Joy-Con controllers: $80 ($20 savings)

PlayStation

Deals available from November 28 through December 6.

  • PS4, The Last of Us: Remastered, God of War, and Horizon Zero Dawn: Complete Edition: $250
  • PS4 Pro: $370 ($120 savings)
  • PSVR headset, camera, and vouchers for five games: $250

Xbox

Deals available from November 21 through December 2.

  • Xbox One S digital: $179 ($120 savings)
  • Xbox One S: $249 ($130 savings)
  • Xbox One X: $449 ($150 savings)
  • Xbox Wireless Controllers: starting at $50 ($15 savings)
  • Xbox Custom Controllers: starting at $70 ($15 savings) through the Xbox Design Lab

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order makes you feel like a Jedi Knight

There’s nothing as satisfying as becoming a Jedi and being able to wield the power of the force. And that’s exactly what you do in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, a new third-person action adventure game from Electronic Arts.

You play as Cal Kestis, a young Jedi Knight who survived the destruction of the order by the Emperor and the Empire, events which were detailed at the end of the film Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.

It’s critical that players begin the game being able to use the Force. Anything else would be a disappointment, and here, you have powers from the start. You can slow objects and enemies and you can use a lightsaber to deflect energy missiles from blasters.

But you aren’t a full Jedi. Your connection to the force has been interrupted, so while you have basic Jedi abilities at the beginning of the game, you acquire more advanced skills as you progress, becoming a Jedi Knight along the way.

The game, available for PS4, Windows, and Xbox One, comes from Respawn Entertainment, developers of the Titanfall games. The DNA of those games is clearly evident here in how players move through the world, although the controls are occasionally sticky and lead me to some frustrating defeats.

This is by no means an easy game, either. On a couple of encounters I needed to adjust the difficulty easier, which you can do on the fly, and afterwards I turned it back up again. It’s a nod to the fact that people who may not be as skilled will still want to enjoy being a Jedi.

One of the things that makes Fallen Order so different from earlier Star Wars games is that it’s not a straight ahead linear game. Once you’ve been launched into the story, it’s more open, and you can decide which planets to visit and explore. As you learn new Jedi skills, paths that were previously unavailable open up, providing you with opportunities to return to places you’ve already been, to explore further.

You’re accompanied in your explorations by what is, by now, essential to Star Wars heroes: a cute and capable droid. BD-1 is integral to the story in Fallen Order, and becomes just as integral to how you play the game.

As you’re a Jedi, there’s no blaster in your arsenal, just a lightsaber. And you’ll learn to wield it effectively, supplementing your attacks with Force powers so that you become the Jedi Knight that you deserve to be.

After all, that’s why you’re playing Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.

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