Technological World for October 7: Amazon Prime Day showcasing local, Telus giving smartphones to former foster kids, Call of Duty multiplayer beta details, piloting star fighters in Star Wars: Squadrons

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This week, the Mobility for Good program from Telus, Black Ops Cold War’s multiplayer beta, and the thrilling Star Wars: Squadrons. But first, getting ready for Prime Day(s).

Local businesses being showcased for Amazon Prime Day

The annual bonanza of bargains promoting Amazon’s Prime subscription is again more than just a day. This year, Prime Day runs on October 13 and 14.

You can already get deals on a bunch of Amazon products, including some of the devices that were announced last week.

If you’re okay with the previous generation, you can get two Echo Dots for only $50, a savings of $90.

A Prime membership in Canada costs $80 a year ($8 a month if you pay monthly) and for that price you get free one- and two-day shipping on lots of products, as well as access to Prime Music, Prime Gaming, Prime Reading, and Prime Video for your media entertainment.

One new thing Amazon is doing with Prime Day this year is promoting local small and medium-sized businesses with a unique storefront landing page featuring Canadian manufacturers and retailers that sell products through Amazon.

Telus equipping former foster youth with smartphones

Mobility for Good, a collaboration between the Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada and Telus, is giving smartphones to youth leaving foster care.

The program provides free (refurbished) phones with a free plan that includes, monthly, 3 GB of data and unlimited talk and text. The plan can be extended for $35 a month after the two year program ends.

People who are under 27 and who have come out of the child welfare system anywhere in Canada are eligible to apply.

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War multiplayer goes cross-platform, cross-generation

The time to release of the latest edition of the Call of Duty franchise is getting short, which means it’s nearly time for multiplayer previews.

The new game, Black Ops Cold War, is being developed by Treyarch and Raven for Activision, and is set in the 1980s during the height of the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States.

There are four dates for the Black Ops Cold War multiplayer sessions:

  • October 8 and 9: PS4 pre-orders only
  • October 10 to 12: open to all PS4 players
  • October 15 and 16: Windows and Xbox pre-orders and PS4 players
  • October 17 to 19: Open to players on all platforms

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War will be released on November 13 for PS4, Windows, and Xbox One. Versions for Xbox Series S/X and PS5 are also coming.

Star Wars: Squadrons puts you in the cockpit of iconic star fighters

I’m a child of the seventies, so I’ve always dreamed of being in the cockpit of an X-wing. Now you can, in ways that were never imaginable when that first movie hit theatres.

Star Wars: Squadrons, developed in Montreal by EA’s Motive Studios, puts you in that cockpit. The game is available now for PS4, Windows, and Xbox One (it’s also playable in VR with PSVR on PS4 or on a Windows box using Oculus or Index/Vive).

And you’ll be exploring both sides of the Star Wars conflict, flying both X-wings and TIE fighters, and bombers, interceptors, and support ships.

“Hunted”, a short film set in the moments after the second Death Star has been destroyed in the events of Return of the Jedi, sets up the story you’ll play in Squadrons and the kind of dogfights you’ll be getting into.

Squadrons is not only a chance to pilot the fighters you’ve watched in the movies, but it tells an interesting part of the larger story that we tend to ignore: what happens after the big battle sequences? Because the people in those stories continue on.

You’ll want to play through the 14-mission, single-player campaign – it’ll take around eight to ten hours – before going into the multiplayer modes; frankly you’re going to need the practice.

Because while we’ve been able to pilot an X-wing in games before, it’s never been like this.

More simulation than arcade

Back in the mid-‘80s, we could become Luke Skywalker in an arcade playing the vector graphic cabinet game, Star Wars, best played in one of the sit-down units with the yoke controls.

Then there were the Rogue Squadron games for various Nintendo consoles that were released between 1998 and 2003. They brought the arcade to your living room.

But those were all arcade games.

Squadrons is more simulation than arcade, and you will need to learn about the instruments in your cockpit and how they need to be used. When to put power to shields, or thrust, or weapons.

And you’ll also need to learn how to fly and navigate, because there’s no gravity or friction, so cutting the throttle doesn’t stop your ship, you’ll still be moving forward.

Remember: there’s no “up” in space.

Once you’ve mastered flying you’ll realize that the real thrill in Squadrons comes with the two multiplayer modes: Dogfight and Fleet Battles.

The former are fast and frantic five-on-five tussles, while the latter incorporate dogfights into more expansive combat scenarios, either against other players or against the game’s AI. This is where teamwork and tactics become fundamental to success.

Not all controls are the same

You can play Squadrons with your usual game controller, but true flight simulator aficionados will be using a joystick or even a “hands on throttle-and-stick” (or HOTAS) system. I suspect the game is easier to play with a joystick, but wasn’t able to test that theory.

Sadly, I also wasn’t able to try the game in virtual reality because this is one of those games that seems meant for the medium. I can imagine that it would be exhilarating with the immersion possible in VR, seeing the cockpit around you as you turn your head.

Star Wars: Squadrons is lean, but it delivers on the promise of a convincing space flight experience.

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