CALL OF DUTY HACKS

Of course, we’re not going to provide a way to download or install them. We don’t condone hacking in any way and using any of these could cost you your account. So if you decide to seek out ways to use them, you do so at your own risk.

Aimbot

Call of Duty Mobile bots

(Image credit: Activision)

Aimbotting is one of the most popular hacks in all online shooters, because it essentially allows players to get kills without trying. An aimbot will automatically track enemies and fire whenever they’re in view, meaning it’s almost impossible to kill someone who’s aimbotting since they’ll always know where you are and don’t miss a shot.

Wallhacks

Call of Duty Mobile

(Image credit: Activision)

In a similar fashion to aimbots – the two are often coupled together – wallhacks allow you to see enemies through walls. Some will show you extra information about the player you’re tracking like how much health they have, and a wallhack is also harder to detect than aimbot, making it a popular choice for those looking for a smaller advantage.

GOLDEN AGE OF GAMING

The period from the appearance of Space Invaders in 1978 through The Great Video Game Crash of 1983 is often known as the Golden Age of Arcade Games, note when 8-bit Arcade Video Games emerged to rule popular culture, coin-operated Video Arcades appeared in every shopping mall, and soon the Atari 2600 and its competitors popularized home video gaming by capitalizing on arcade ports.

Back then, the titans of the arcade were longtime Pinball manufacturing veterans such as Bally, Williams Electronics, and Gottlieb; Sega was known for making Arcade Games (including Vector Games) rather than consoles; and Nintendo‘s Mario had never stomped on a Goomba. Creativity reigned, and a single visionary designer could still see an entire game through from concept to finished product, unlike the enormous Hollywood-style teams needed for today’s high-end game franchises.note  Shoot Em Ups were especially popular, as outer space and stylized spacecraft were easy to render on the crude hardware of the day.

Your mileage may vary about considering this era as a true “golden age”, considering the fondness for games from later periods. Still, it was the first time video games hit the big time, and in terms of industry revenues, this period was one of the highest peaks the North American video game industry has ever reached to this day (and the highest overall when adjusted for inflation), so it qualifies to some extent. However, while the 1980s was the golden age for arcade games, some consider the 1990s to be the Golden Age for home video games (i.e. consoles and computers).


Games from the period included:

There were even some early licensed games, many of which actually didn’t suck:

FORTNITE: CHAPTER 2

There are a bunch of changes in Fortnite: Chapter 2, including graphical and sound improvements, new and newly vaulted weapons, boats, the ability to swim and even an entirely new map.

But one of the coolest changes is something that the game has needed ever since it launched. 

One of the worst things about battle royale games, especially when you’re playing in modes where you can’t be revived or respawn–solos, in particular–is the fact that once you die you have to go back to the main menu before you can join another game.

This involves loading out of the game, choosing to find a new match, then loading back in, and it takes time–precious time you could be spending actually playing the game.

This was also a complaint many had in the first Destiny, since you had to load back to the space menu before jumping to a new planet. In Destiny 2 they solved this by allowing you to choose a new planet or location from the menu without having to go back to orbit.

Epic Games has solved the problem by allowing players to choose what they want to do at the end of each match of Team Rumble, or after they’re eliminated in Solos, Duos or Squads.

Now you can choose to Spectate, Return To Menu, or Ready Up. Ready Up means you won’t be able to choose a new party assist or alter your loadout (skin, back bling etc) but you can hop directly into another match.

There’s still the matchmaking process, but without having to load back out and then jump into a new game, it shaves significant time off the whole tedious process. It’s a great new feature–one of those little quality of life changes that makes such a huge difference over time.

Even if you only save–and I’m just spitballing here–about 30 seconds each time, that adds up fast over the coming weeks and months. It’s just one more reason to be excited about Chapter 2.

RETRO ARCADES

Before you could fight dragons, sail the seven seas, experience war, or transport yourself to another world in the comfort of your living room, there were amusement arcade games, one of the biggest successes in 1970s and 1980s pop culture.

If we want to take a lightning run and a complex sequence of jumps through the history of arcade gaming, we need to begin as far back as the 1940s. This is when American businessmen Martin Bromley, Irving Bromberg and James Humpert formed Standard Games (now Sega) in Hawaii and made coin-operated amusement machines for US military bases. It was a series of early mergers and a US ban on military slot machines that led to the Japanese incorporation in 1952.

In 1966, the company released ‘Periscope’, an electro-mechanical arcade game. ‘Periscope’, which was instantly successful in North America, Europe and Japan, was an early submarine simulator and light-gun shooter. The arcade game was the first of its kind to cost a quarter (25¢) per play.

A year later, Taito introduced electro-mechanical arcade game ‘Crown Soccer Special’, which is a two-player football simulation. In 1971, Nolan Bushnell developed ‘Computer Space’, the first mass-manufactured game, for Nutting Associates. Then in 1972, Bushnell and Ted Dabney formed Atari and the company essentially created the coin-operated video game industry with the highly successful table-tennis game ‘Pong’.

The late 1970s to mid-1980s is said to be the ‘golden age’ of arcade games, when this type of entertainment was a superpower in popular culture. ‘Space Invaders’ (1978), vector-based ‘Asteroids’ (1979), and ‘Pac-Man’ (1980) were highlights of this period. The decrease in cost of computing technology led to an arcade explosion and video games popped up in songs, cartoons and film, such as the pioneering ‘Tron’ (1982). Unfortunately, the novelty of arcade games began to wear off in the late-1980s.

After a brief rebirth in the early 1990s, the decline of the arcade industry came partly as a result of the explosion in home video games consoles such as Sony Playstation and Microsoft Xbox.  

However, James Anderson, commercial and sales director at Bandai Namco Amusement Europe says, “For the past 20 years I’ve worked in this industry, everybody said since the dawn of the home market – PlayStation, Xbox – [that] has put a nail in the coffin for our business.

“That’s not the case at all. Developers for Xbox and PlayStation are looking to make 18-28 hours of game-time entertainment for a one-off purchase fee. We’re looking to give you three minutes of entertainment for a smaller denomination, with repeat play.”

For each brand of coin-operated arcade game, custom hardware was often used, with multiple central processing units, costly computer graphics display technology and specific sound and graphics chips.

Modern arcade games (2010 onwards) extensively use solid-state electronics, integrated circuits and cathode ray tube screens. Many are modified video game console or PC hardware (like ‘Halo’). There are even adapted smartphone app games available to play, like ‘Candy Crush’. VR is also more integrated in the modern market.

Anderson says Namco has developed VR Zone Portal, which include games like ‘Mario Kart VR’, coming to the UK in August.

“It’s just like the original, but instead of driving over question marks to pick items up, you have to reach out with your hand to pick them up. You can physically throw tortoise shells at your opponents.”

Anderson says there’s still definitely a market for arcade games, “But it’s diversified a lot. It’s become more of a secondary market. For example, you go to a bowling alley and while you’re waiting, you play the games. It’s become part of the larger entertainment mix.”

Arcade games: the top 10

From Goliath.com, here are the most successful arcade games of all time.

Pac-Man (1980) NAMCO

Cabinets sold: 400,000

Revenue by 1985: $3.5bn

Adjusted for inflation: $7.96bn

This highly addictive world-famous maze game with the infamous ghosts Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde is an icon of 1980s popular culture.

The simple circular Pac-Man eats pellets for points. Eating ‘power pellets’ turns the pursuing phantoms into the pursued, and Pac-Man noms them for more points. If a pursuing ghost hits Pac-Man, he loses a life, and when you run out of lives, the game is over.

‘Pac-Man’ is one of the most influential video games ever made – it founded the maze chase game genre, is said to have opened gaming to female audiences (credited to the non-violence), and the yellow character was the first gaming mascot. This appeal has made it the most profitable arcade game ever made.

Space Invaders (1978) Taito

Cabinets sold: 360,000

Revenue by 1982: $2.7bn

Adjusted for inflation: $6.85bn

Credited as having kicked off the ‘golden age’, ‘Space Invaders’ is one of the earliest 2D shooters, and inspired many in this list.

Simple yet addictive, it was the best-selling video game and highest-grossing entertainment product of its time. It took a year for Tomohiro Nishikado to design the game, making custom hardware to complete it.

The aim is to destroy wave after wave of descending aliens with a laser cannon. They counter-fire at you as they get to the bottom of the screen. As more aliens are annihilated, the critters’ movement speeds up, making it increasingly difficult to bullseye them and stay alive.

Bonus points are awarded if you destroy the ‘mystery ship’ that sometimes moves across the top of the screen.

Space Invaders helped expand the arcade gaming industry from a novelty to a global phenomenon, and is seen as one of the most important video games ever made.

Street Fighter II (1991) Capcom

Cabinets sold: 200,000 (60,000 SF II, 140,000 Championship Edition)

Revenue by 1995: $2.31bn

Adjusted for inflation: $3.71bn

This competitive fighting game is what caused the brief resurgence of arcade games in the 1990s. The sequel to ‘Street Fighter’ (1987), ‘Street Fighter II: The World Warrior’ has multiple playable characters, each with a unique fighting style, command-based special moves, a six-button configuration, combo system, and competitive two-player mode.

You fight in one-on-one combat with your opponent in a ‘best-two-out-of-three’ scenario. Each round, you must drain your enemy’s life before the timer ends. There are bonus stages for additional points, such as car breaking and barrel breaking.

The game was the ultimate in 2D fighting game design, and is still viewed as one of the best games in the competitive scene.

Donkey Kong (1981) Nintendo, Atari

Cabinets sold: 132,000

Revenue by 1982: $280m

Adjusted for inflation: $710.2m

A pioneer of the platform genre, this game makes you move the main character, Mario, through platforms while avoiding obstacles, all to save a damsel in distress, Pauline, from Donkey Kong, the giant ape (he’s not part donkey).

Nintendo broke into the North American market with ‘Donkey Kong’, the first game created by designer Shigeru Miyamoto, who would go on to make heavyweights such as ‘Super Mario Bros’ and ‘The Legend of Zelda’. Miyamoto designed the game with Nintendo’s chief engineer, Gunpei Yokoi.  

It is the first platform game to require jumping, as you must leap over obstacles and enemies. With four stages, Kong was known as the most complex arcade game at the time.

Points are awarded for completing a stage, jumping over obstacles, destroying objects with a ‘hammer power-up’, collecting items like parasols and purses, and taking out rivets from platforms.

You generally get three lives, and you lose a life if Mario touches Donkey Kong or enemy objects, if you fall too far through a gap or off a platform, or if the bonus counter reaches zero.

Ms Pac-Man (1981) Namco

Cabinets sold: 125,000

Revenue by 1987: $1.2bn

Adjusted for inflation: $2.58bn

Pac-Man’s wife got her own game with new maze designs and improved gameplay.

It is very similar to the original – you earn points by eating pellets and avoiding ghosts. By eating a ‘power pellet’, the ghosties turn blue and Ms Pac-Man can eat them for more points. There are also bonus fruits. Everything gets speedier as rounds increase, and pellets decrease the ghosts’ blueness, eventually stopping altogether.

Differences to the original include ghosts’ behavioural pattern, fruits bouncing randomly around, and the orange ghost is called Sue, not Clyde.

Additionally, when Ms Pac-Man dies, she ‘dramatically swoons and falls’, rather than folding in on herself.

Sexist, much?

Asteroids (1979) Atari

Cabinets sold: 100,000

Revenue by 1991: $800m

Adjusted for inflation: $1.43bn

Designed by Lyle Rains, Ed Logg and Dominic Walsh, this famous game lets you control a triangular spaceship in an asteroid field periodically criss-crossed by UFOs. You must destroy asteroids and saucers, not collide with them, and not get hit by the saucers’ shots. Through the game, the number of asteroids increases.

The ship rotates left and right, fires straight shots, and thrusts forward.

You can send the ship into hyperspace, so it vanishes and reappears in a different place on the screen, but it can self-destruct or plop on an asteroid.

The ‘wraparound’ screen means objects float off the top and reappear at the bottom. Shooting asteroids breaks them into faster, smaller pieces (worth more points).

Two UFOs fire on your ship – a big saucer (shoots terribly), and a small one (shoots pretty accurately and faster). When your score exceeds 40,000, big saucer disappears. The higher your score, the better shot the small saucer becomes. It gets harder each level, as more asteroids appear.

You have three lives and earn a life per 10,000 points. When you’ve lost all your lives, the game ends.  

Defender (1981) Williams Electronics; Taito

Cabinets sold: 60,000

Revenue by 1993: $1bn

Adjusted for inflation: $1.69bn

On an unnamed planet, you defeat hordes of aliens and protect astronauts from abduction. A pinball programmer at Williams, Eugene Jarvis, developed ‘Defender’, which became the company’s bestseller and created the genre of horizontal scrolling shooter games.

You navigate a spaceship left or right through the terrain, using a joystick to control elevation, and five buttons for direction and weapons. If abducted, astronauts come back as mutants. You progress to the next level when you destroy the aliens. If you can’t defend your astronauts, the planet explodes and the level becomes populated with mutants. Surviving the mutants restores the planet. You are allowed three ships in the game and earn more by reaching benchmarks. If hit by an enemy or missile, or if a hyperspace jump goes wrong, you lose a ship. After all ships are gone, it’s game over.

Centipede (1980) Atari

Cabinets sold: 55,988

Revenue by 1991: $115.65m

Adjusted for inflation: $207.85m

Using the ‘Space Invaders’ model and adding insects, the game makes you combat a centipede, with spiders, scorpions and fleas dropping down and zig-zagging to harass you. Completing a round means annihilating the centipede winding down the screen through a field of mushrooms.

You move around with a trackball at the bottom of the screen. Shooting parts of the centipede makes a mushroom – by shooting a middle segment, it separates it into two. Upon destroying a head, the section behind it becomes the next head.

The centipede drops a level and changes direction when it hits a mushroom or the screen edge. More mushrooms means a speedier descending bug, plus it takes four hits for you to destroy a fungus.

Everything you destroy gives you points. Players earn lives with points, but losing all lives ends the game.

Galaxian (1979) Namco

Cabinets sold: 40,000

Revenue: N/A

Adjusted for inflation: N/A

You control a spaceship (the Galaxip) at the bottom of the screen, and shoot descending attacking aliens from different directions. The game was made to compete with Taito’s ‘Space Invaders’, and to separate itself, ‘Galaxian’’s aliens ‘kamikaze’ dive at your ship.

The highly popular game enabled a successful sequel, ‘Galaga’ (1981), to be developed.

‘Galaxian’ took RGB colour graphics in gaming to the next level, with multi-coloured sprites, explosions, various coloured fonts, graphic icons and a scrolling starfield.

OutRun (1986) SEGA

Cabinets sold: 30,000

Revenue by 1993: $393.06m

Adjusted for inflation: $665.85m

Designed by Yu Suzuki and developed by Sega AM2, 3D driving video game ‘OutRun’ is noted for its pioneering hardware and graphics. Features like a selectable soundtrack and nonlinear gameplay really set it apart from other games on the market at the time.

You ‘drive’ a Ferrari Testarossa Spider against a timer from a third-person rear perspective. Mimicking a Ferrari driver’s position, it limits the view. Dips and curves in the road make it more challenging by concealing obstacles like traffic. Any sort of collision slows the car down.

Reach a destination within the time allocated, otherwise the game ends. Time is extended by reaching checkpoints. You must choose one direction at a junction, which leads to different surroundings.

WORMS

Gaming has long been fertile ground for comedy. Monkey Island, Portal, and Saints Row are all prime examples of virtual mirth. Through insult swordfighting, lying cakes, and vehicular singalongs, they fuel their puzzle or projectile based shenanigans with the carefully chosen witticisms of an unseen scribe. But gaming is also capable of another kind of humour, one which doesn’t involve a single stroke of the pen. I suppose it’s best referred to as emergent comedy; a mixture of physical comedy and improv where the human input is one step removed from the events that ultimately transpire.

In some ways emergent comedy is far more common in games than the scripted kind. Any game with a physics engine has the potential to become an accidental Keystone Cops sketch. We’ve all witnessed at least one instance whereupon a game NPC has got its foot trapped in the world geometry and started thrashing about like a toddler having a tantrum. 

Deliberate emergent comedy, on the other hand, is incredibly rare, and you only need to look at examples like Goat Simulator to see why. Part of the pleasure of emergent humour is that it surprises us. When Michael gets laid out by a speeding lorry in GTA 5, it’s funny because GTA 5 takes itself so seriously. But when a game sets up these scenarios on purpose, nodding and winking at its own glitches and pratfalls, the joke wears thin faster than a pair of Primark boxer shorts.

Laughter is an entirely human quirk, so if you ask a random number generator to deliver a punchline, you need to be prepared to wait a while. Normally. There’s one game that does deliberate emergent humour superbly, and it achieved this years before Havok physics landed on the scene in a big pile of limbs. Hell, it did this even before we’d nailed down “emergence” as a thing we like in games.

1
That’s a lot of mines.

Is there much point in reiterating what Worms is? Even if you really have been living under a rock for twenty years, you’re probably quite familiar with worms anyway. Oh all right. It’s a 2D shooter in which players assume control of teams of anthropomorphic annelids on a randomly generated landscape, taking turns to obliterate each other with a comically comprehensive arsenal ranging from shotguns to exploding sheep. The first player to kill all the other team’s worms wins.

Like all great premises, Worms is incredibly simple, realised through an intoxicating blend of technology and style. Although it was a 2D game released in 1995, just as 3D games were emerging from the earth, Worms was pulling some pretty impressive tricks. Random level generation with destructible terrain, and physics simulation including gravity, momentum, wind speed and direction. It even sports some neat particle effects that I’d completely forgotten about

Team 17 overlaid these foundations with a daft, cartoonish aesthetic. The landscapes are all heavily themed and punctuated with bizarre objects. The worms themselves are bug-eyed, squeaky voiced and relentlessly cheerful as they’re blasted about the map. Even at the moment of their demise, they turn to camera and simply utter “Oh dear”, or “Bye-bye” before pushing the plunger on their ACME style TNT.

What results is an escalating tit-for-tat battle where surprises, screw-ups and chain-reactions abound. It’s reminiscent of a Laurel and Hardy quarrel, yet rather than taking turns to pour water over each other or punching holes in respective bowler hats, you’re exchanging bazooka fire across a gaping valley, or heading grenades over a giant snowman.

2
I love the CG shorts that precede a match. It’s a shame the later games ditched them.

As with the best comedians, Worms has an impeccable sense of timing, adding in little details at the perfect moment. Half a second before a comically oversized stick of dynamite sends a cluster of worms cascading across the map, one might emit a loud squeak, registering its rapidly impending doom just as Wile-E-Coyote has to notice the gaping chasm he’s hovering over before the plunge begins. The same goes for the landmines dotted around the terrain, which act as deadly banana skins for the worms to slip on, often causing them to fall into the water at the base of the screen, or tumble off the edge of the map entirely, triggering a playful “Noooooo!” Worms is a sequence of practical jokes that sit and wait for the player to stumble into them. 

Indeed, let’s not forget the player’s input in this cataclysmic sketch-show. The funniest moments in Worms are the slow, tense build-ups that lead to a complete anticlimax. Your friend might spent ages lining up the perfect bazooka shot, gazing at the screen like an army general overlooking the field of battle through his binoculars. Then they hold the fire button, trying to judge the exact amount of power they need to angle their shell over a grinning pumpkin. “Watch this”, boasts their worm, setting up the punchline. They fire, and their expertly aimed shot goes careering straight off the screen like, well, a rocket. There’s a brief, awkward silence before the targeted worm sneers “Mi-issed!” just to rub it in.

20 years since its release, Worms remains an excellent multiplayer game. This is partly because it embodies many of the best aspects of boardgaming. Boardgames excel at delivering laughs through systems. Videogames often have you focussed only on what you’re doing. Even with fantastic multiplayer games like Mario Kart, it’s always your kart you’re watching, your immediate surroundings. With boardgames, you’re always thinking about what the other players are doing, watching their moves, planning, negotiating, arguing.

3
Worms hasn’t aged as well as 2 and Armageddon, which have a much more timeless quality.

Worms takes this model of turns, actions and responses, and adapts it to a vertical screen. You can pass one controller between four players, and delight in your friends’ successes and failures as much as your own. Because of this I’ve probably enjoyed more shared fun with Worms over the years than with any other game. As a kid I played it with my brother at my grandmother’s house almost every Friday. As a student Worms Armageddon was the go-to game for my fiancée and I when we first moved in together. I played it just the other week with a friend and his girlfriend, and it was like riding a bicycle, a clown’s bicycle where the horn squirts water and the wheels fall off at the first sign of a muddy puddle.

I wish there were more games that don’t require a faster than light internet connection or a zillion controllers in order to have fun together. Not only because it’s a damn sight cheaper, but because you lose that intimacy, that sense of shared experience, when you’re separated by miles of fibre-optic cable, or staring at different corners of the screen. I shudder to think of the weeks and months I’ve spent ignoring the people I love because I’m reviewing another thousand-hour fantasy RPG. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy those experiences too. But as I get older and see that I spent an entire fortnight wandering alone in Skyrim, that slippage of time weighs more and more on my mind.

Gaming offers abundant opportunities to be sworn at by a ten year old on the far side of the Internet, yet so few that you can hand over to a father or grandmother and see them instantly get it, or that you can play with a wife or boyfriend while sharing a blanket and a bottle of wine. Worms is such a game, and that makes it more than a daft bit of slapstick. That makes it special.

BEST GAMING ROUTER

When setting up your home network, first consideration should be given to finding the best gaming router you can. After all, it is at the center of everything. A good router contains both multiple LAN ports for wired connections, and the ability to send out a wireless signal. The current standard for Wi-Fi is 802.11ax, also known as Wi-Fi 6, which promises higher data throughput, and also a higher efficiency at transferring data.

There are many gaming routers on the market, and most will be able to connect a user’s multiple devices. Gaming routers often get adorned with fancy stripes, and colorful LEDs, with multiple antennas, but this is really just window dressing. The real advantage of the best gaming routers lie not in the external adornments, but rather in the Quality of Service (QoS), which is the ability to prioritize traffic to your gaming PC for a better gaming experience, and avoids the annoying lag that occurs when a game bogs down if the network gets saturated with streaming media traffic or downloads.

With the significant advances made with today’s routers, compared to their older counterparts, if your current router is starting to show its age, then these are some great choices for an upgrade.

Best gaming router 2019

Asus RT-AX88U

Asus RT-AX88U

(Image credit: Asus)

1. Asus RT-AX88U

The best gaming router of 2019

Speed: AX6000 | LAN Ports: 8 | Antennas: 4 | Processor: Quad-core 1.8GHz | Dimensions: 4.65 x 2.91 x 1.3 in | Weight: 6.76 lb (801 g)

802.11ax tech feels next-gen
Fantastic adaptive QoS
Great 5GHz speeds
Expensive for a router
Average 2.4GHz speeds

The Asus RT-AX88U is the best choice for a higher end router. It features next generation 802.11ax technology, and an impressive 8 Gigabit Ethernet ports, which even supports link aggregation. Backing this up is the usual excellent AsusWRT interface, which allows granular control of every imaginable setting. There is also class leading Adaptive QoS, along with Trend Micro antivirus and the WTFast GPN—all with subscriptions included for the lifetime of the router—which are standouts among competing routers.

While the 2.4 GHz speeds are adequate, the 5 GHz speeds are where the RT-AX88U shines. Furthermore, for gaming in a congested environment, this router outdistances the competition with the highest FPS seen to date, and a very low dropped frame rate when simultaneously streaming videos. Sure, next generation ‘Super router’ performance comes at a price of $346, but given these benchmarks, it can be easily justified.

Netgear Nighthawk XR700

Netgear Nighthawk XR700

2. Netgear Nighthawk XR700

The latest Nighthawk is a superb gaming router

Speed: AD7200 (Tri-band 4600(AD) + 1733(5GHz)+ 800(2.4GHz) Mbps wireless speed) | LAN Ports: 7 | Antennas: 4 | Processor: Quad-core 1.7GHz | Dimensions: 15.33 x 12.49 x 5.32 inch

10 Gigabit LAN SFP+ port
Port aggregation
Gaming traffic prioritization
Large size and price
Uses 802.11 ac (Wi-fi 5), not 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6)

The Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR700 is a strong follow up to the XR500, which impressed us last year as it was the fastest router we had tested to date. Both are part of their ‘Nighthawk Pro Gaming’ networking line of products- but stay tuned as the XR700 is even faster than its predecessor.

The XR700 has plenty of the right ingredients, starting with the more fluid and organic shape, with red accents.  It then goes on to the inclusion of 1 WAN and 6 LAN ports (addressing a significant shortcoming of the XR500’s only 4 LAN ports) for enough wired connections, support for link aggregation, and even a 10 Gigabit LAN SFP+ port for ridiculous Ethernet bandwidth. Let’s just get it out of the way- with all the attention on the wireless market heading to 802.11ax/Wi-Fi 6, this XR700 uses a combination of last generation 802.11ac/Wi-Fi 5 wireless, and 802.11ad technology (that’s the 60 GHz frequency one), which unfortunately has not gone mainstream. It also supports Beamforming via 4 active antennas.

Another highlight of the XR700 is the gaming-centric Duma OS. This enables some unique features such as Geo-Filter to connect to the closest server when gaming. The XR700 also has quite granular control of the bandwidth, and can prioritize throughput by each individual device, for both the upload and download separately, and can assign a specific percentage for each device to balance the load, thereby preventing any single device from becoming a ‘Bandwidth hog.’

On our test suite, the XR700 is a strong all around performer, starting with the 2.4 GHz frequency with some of the fastest scores to date of 284.43 Mbps at close range, and 225.36 Mbps on our far test. This continued on our 5 GHz testing with strong scores of 325.31 Mbps and 331.76 Mbps at close and far ranges, respectively. The DumaOS’ exceptional QoS also came through when gaming with our network congestion test with 37.317 FPS, the second highest score to date, but also with an exceedingly low dropped framerate of 6.47% on the video streams.

The Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR700 is a great choice for its well rounded throughput (a significant upgrade from the XR500’s weakness), and seriously strong gaming performance. It is currently available for $490.

ASUS RT-AC68U

ASUS RT-AC68U

3. ASUS RT-AC68U

Custom firmware for power users on a budget

Speed: AC1900 | LAN Ports: 4 | Antennas: 3 | Processor: Dual-core 1GHz | Dimensions: 6.3 x 3.3 x 8.6 in (160 x 84 x 218 mm) | Weight: 1.4 lbs (635 g)

Wide firmware compatibility
FPS tests matched higher end routers  
Poor 5.0 GHz speeds

The Asus RT-AC68U features AC1900 speeds (N600/AC1300) that are fairly standard in this segment. It takes a fairly business approach to the router design, with matte black plastic in a vertical design, with three antennas that can be positioned. The router features a 3 x 3 antenna design and a dual core 1GHz processor inside, with 256 MB of RAM with 128 MB of flash memory. With wide support for custom firmware such as Merlin, Tomato, DD-WRT and OpenWrt, functionality on the RT-AC68U can be exponentially upgraded with a simple firmware flash. 

While several others have struggled on the 2.4 GHz frequency, the RT-AC68U hardly breaks a sweat. The only real problem for this otherwise capable router is that it got bested on the streaming video tests and falls short in 5 GHz performance. However, priced at $160 with support for just about every custom firmware the RT-AC68U is great for power users on a budget.

DOOM ETERNAL

Developed by id Software, DOOM® Eternal™ is the direct sequel to DOOM®, winner of The Game Awards’ Best Action Game of 2016. Experience the ultimate combination of speed and power as you rip-and-tear your way across dimensions with the next leap in push-forward, first-person combat. Powered by idTech 7 and set to an all-new pulse-pounding soundtrack composed by Mick Gordon, DOOM Eternal puts you in control of the unstoppable DOOM Slayer as you blow apart new and classic demons with powerful weapons in unbelievable and never-before-seen worlds.
As the DOOM Slayer, you return to find Earth has suffered a demonic invasion. Raze Hell and discover the Slayer’s origins and his enduring mission to rip and tear…until it is done.

BEST SMARTPHONE GAMES

Sorry, but mobile gaming is the biggest player in the video game market. In 2018, it made almost half of the industry’s global revenue. Smartphone games once existed separately from console and PC titles, but in the wake of titles like Fortnite, it’s all got a little blurry. You’ll find several games in our selection that are also available on your home consoles and PCs, but most of them sing on your smartphone, and the fact that you can play them absolutely anywhere makes up for any other pitfalls. Whether it’s Android or iOS, here’s some crucial games to start with.

Alto’s Odyssey

If you liked Alto’s Adventure, you’ll love Alto’s Odyssey. The sequel to Snowman’s endless runner — sorry, endless snowboarder — is a stylish and highly-addictive sandboarding game with multiple biomes to discover. Just like the original, your goal is to ride for as long as possible while avoiding rocks, completing tasks and racking up high scores with a mixture of backflips and death-defying grinds. Odyssey introduces a new move, wall rides, that serve as both a gnarly trick and traversal mechanic for reaching higher lines. It’s a welcome addition to an already stellar iOS and Android game. NS

The Banner Saga

The Banner Saga, on both iPhone and Android devices, is as good as it is on PC. This tactical RPG involves humans, giants, centaurs and the sinister dreg, with each tribe capable of different attacks, skills and tactical flourishes. Like the bleak storyline, it’s a tough tactical RPG that rewards careful thought. Augmented with a mature, illustrated visual style, stirring music and voiced characters, expect to make some hard decisions as you take your caravan and band of warriors across the nord…ish world and try to survive the apocalypse. This is a game where it’s all about the journey, not the destination. MS

Fortnite Battle Royale

Fortnite is a cultural phenomenon, responsible for popularizing a new shooting-game genre and doing it in a way that has millions playing across mobile, PC and games consoles, like the Switch — you’ll see this particular game appear in several of our lists. It all started with a simple idea: survive. (Actually it started with a tower-defense-esque game where you built a fort to protect human survivors against zombies, but hey, it evolved.) Fortnite has a low barrier to entry (it’s free!), and the sheer momentum behind the fact that everyone is playing it makes resistance futile. Parachute into the field, grab supplies, guns and ammo, build some defensive protections if you like and make it to the end. Sounds simple, but the best game ideas are. PUBG, Apex and the rest have a tough fight on their hands. MS

Fire Emblem Heroes

Fire Emblem Heroes is a mixed bag. On one hand, it’s a superb translation of Nintendo’s extremely complex tactically RPG for mobile devices. A fun campaign filled with new characters and series favorites is complemented by regular special events and a couple of engaging multiplayer modes.

On the other hand, it’s a disappointingly predatory game from Nintendo, a family company. You see, Heroes, like many popular Japanese mobile games, has you “summoning” characters using in-game currency. While Nintendo is generously giving away this currency, it’ll also happily sell you it at extremely high rates. Even buying the best-value pack (which costs $75), the cost to summon a random character ranges between $1.60 and $2.70.

If you trust yourself to not spend hundreds of dollars to unlock your favorite characters, Fire Emblem Heroes is a superb game that will keep you engaged for weeks and years. If you have any doubts about controlling your impulse, or any history with gambling addiction, steer well clear. AS

Life Is Strange

Dontnod’s iconic episodic adventure has appeared across major consoles and PC and is now available on both iOS and Android devices. The game’s stripped-down aesthetic has seen better days, sure, but Life Is Strange was never about realistic skin textures: it’s a story about friendship and trying to find where you belong. The touchscreen controls are a little awkward, but this is a critically acclaimed series that demands you play it through its entirety. And if the controls really do frustrate too much — it’s still available to play elsewhere. MS

Monument Valley

Both Monument Valley and Monument Valley 2 deserve a spot on this list. The casual puzzle games have a unique and truly jaw-dropping art style inspired by Dutch graphic artist Maurits Cornelis (M.C.) Escher. The visuals are also tied to the gameplay, which revolves around twisting and turning geometrically-impossible structures. It’s a clever concept that slowly ramps up in difficulty with a subtle, dialog-free storyline and soothing soundtrack by Stafford Bawler, Obfusc, and Grigori. You can complete each game in a single sitting — perfect for a long train ride or evening tucked up in bed. NS

80 Days

80 Days is an interactive fiction (think Choose Your Own Adventure) game based on the Jules Verne novel Around the World in Eighty Days. You play as Phileas Fogg’s faithful servant, tasked with aiding your master on a journey from London to… London. This is not the Victorian world of the original book, though: The game starts with an underwater train journey from London to Paris, and following that you’ll ride all manner of Steampunk-inspired creations as you attempt to circumnavigate the globe.

Of course, you’ll be making decisions along the way. With limited funds and baggage space, every decision is difficult: Should you pay a hefty fee to take an earlier train? Should you sell your coat to make space for a timetable? Do you talk to the train guard to get more information, or tend to your master’s beard? The sheer number of choices would be overwhelming, were it not for the game’s superb writing, and its imminent replayability: There’s no such thing as a perfect journey, and with almost 750,000 words written for the game, you could play 80 Days eighty times and never have the same experience. AS

Pokémon Go

When Pokémon Go launched in 2016, there were some obvious omissions, such as trading and player-versus-player trainer battles. In early 2019? Almost every problem and missing feature has been addressed. The game isn’t perfect, but the fundamentals — walking around outside, spinning Pokéstop signs and catching critters — make this a truly unique and health-beneficial experience for Pokémon fans. The daily “research” quests and timed events, which boost the appearance of certain monsters, are a great excuse to log in every day. Niantic is slowly expanding the Pokédex, too, so that your collection is never quite finished. NS

Reigns: Her Majesty

This narrative strategy borrows a Tinder-esque interface that has you swiping through decision cards and queries from your subjects. Every choice made affects various aspects of your kingdom, across finances, the church, public affection and the military. If your score in any of these topics gets too low — or too high — you’re killed (usually in brutal fashion) and you start up again as a new ruler. It may sound like a simple balancing act, but things don’t always go the way you might expect them to — and you’ll have to learn your lesson in the next generation. Despite the simple controls, the world of Reigns has a weird, wonderful lore that will keep you entranced. And since progress is done swipe-by-swipe, it’s ideal for killing time. MS

Threes

Playing Threes is like being wrapped in a warm towel after a hot bath on a rainy day. It’s engrossing, with tile-swiping, number-adding gameplay that makes the minutes disappear into thin air, and besides, it’s utterly adorable. The number tiles have personalities and backstories, and they make adorable cooing noises to encourage players as they swipe away. Threes is the original tile-based adding game, with a handful of popular copycats rolling out after its launch, but none of them can compete with the style, strategy and depth that this game offers. Oh, and adorableness, of course. 

The Witness

The Witness places you onto a strange island full of puzzles, and lots of questions. The only thing you can do is solve puzzles dotted around the island, gather clues and try to make your way home. The more you unearth, the more you appreciate how just darn well-designed this is — it’s unlike any puzzle game you’ve played before. Also, there aren’t many games that make you feel smart like The Witness does.

STAR WARS: JEDI FALLEN ORDER

There have been a lot of Star Wars movies released in recent years. But the same cannot be said for Star Wars video games. Outside of 2017’s Star Wars Battlefront II, things have been quiet. Fortunately, that’s set to change later this year, with the release of what has the makings of an exciting new title: Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order.

The new game is developed by Respawn Entertainment, the studio responsible for Titanfall and Apex Legends. That’s an exciting pitch in its own right, and we’ll be learning much more about what to expect soon. Jedi Fallen Order will be published by Electronic Arts, which still has the exclusive rights to produce Star Wars games for PC and consoles. EA has promised to showcase the game during its pre-E3 2019 event, EA Play, which takes place next weekend, June 8-9. Below, we’ve rounded up all of the information we’ve heard about the game so far, as well as some of the things we’re hoping to see from the game’s EA Play presence.

What We Know

As we have not yet seen any gameplay from Jedi Fallen Order, there’s a very limited amount of information we have. We were expecting to learn a lot about the game during its Star Wars Celebration panel, but that ultimately yielded only a story trailer and a minimal amount of information about how it’s a third-person action-adventure game. That said, Respawn boss Vince Zampella offered up some news that was received with applause and cheers from those in attendance: Jedi Fallen Order is single-player only and does not feature any microtransactions. “It’s a story game,” as he put it.

That story takes place between Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Episode IV: A New Hope. It centers around a young Jedi Padawan named Cal Kestis (played by Gotham’s Cameron Monaghan) who survived Order 66, Emperor Palpatine’s attempt to eliminate all of the Jedi after he establishes the Empire. This turns Kestis into a fugitive hunted by the Inquisitors. He’s intent on both completing his Jedi training and reestablishing the Jedi Order.

Jedi Fallen Order introduces a variety of new locations for Star Wars, including the planet Bracca, where we first find Cal hiding from the Empire. Over the course of the game, we’ll see some existing characters to complement the newcomers, including a companion named Cere, the droid BD-1, and Second Sister, an elite Inquisitor.

As for how things play, that remains a big question mark. Jedi Fallen Order was, unlike the vast majority of EA’s games, built using the Unreal Engine, rather than Frostbite. Respawn has used the phrase “thoughtful combat” to describe how the action plays out, and we know you’ll get to use both Force powers and a lightsaber, the latter of which evolves in some manner over the course of the game.

Jedi Fallen Order’s release date is set for November 15 on PS4, Xbox One, and PC. Pre-orders are already live.

What’s Confirmed For E3 2019?

EA has remained very non-specific about what we can expect from EA Play in general. For Jedi Fallen Order, it’s only promised an “inside look.” It’ll be among the games to get a dedicated livestream on Saturday, June 8; the company is forgoing a traditional press conference in favor of a longer broadcast where each game is featured for about 30 minutes. Jedi Fallen Order is scheduled for the first slot on June 8, at 9:30 AM PT / 12:30 PM ET / 5:30 PM BST (2:30 AM AET on June 9).

What We Want

Given Respawn’s pedigree, the expectations for Jedi Fallen Order are understandably high. But we still don’t know what the game looks like in action, so a close look at gameplay is an obvious must for its EA Play showing. Specifically, what does the “thoughtful combat” that Respawn has touted actually mean in practice? The studio suggested it means you can’t button-mash your way through a fight, but does that just mean the game is difficult, or that enemies have specific weaknesses that need to be exploited? And how exactly does your lightsaber evolve, and does that mean players’ experiences could vary in a significant way?

It would also be welcome to get some insight into how Respawn deals with the tricky task of presenting a challenging experience while still making you feel like a powerful Jedi. The Force Unleashed (a game Respawn could borrow from), for instance, allowed you to become incredibly powerful by the end of the game, but you were also suddenly dealing with such strong enemies that your cool abilities were rendered somewhat ineffective.

We’re also interested to get a firmer grasp on the story Jedi Fallen Order tells and why it matters. The Jedi Order isn’t rebuilt during the original trilogy, so how do you tell a compelling story during this time period if your actions may not end up having any impact?

One thing we don’t want to see: Any of the big characters, like the Skywalkers, Yoda, or Darth Vader. There are plenty of fun characters to bring into the mix, but we don’t need Cal to somehow happen upon the most famous characters in the galaxy. And whomever those returning characters are–save them for the game. Don’t spoil any surprises for the sake of adding some excitement to a trailer.

TOP 25 ARCADE GAMES OF ALL TIME

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The best arcade games of all time usually have the same qualities. They’re simple, clever, difficult, and insanely addictive. In the 80’s and 90’s, they kept us glued to the screen, popping in quarters one after another in a desperate attempt to defeat the enemy or obtain the high score. But, it wasn’t easy. These games were incredibly frustrating and that only intensified our desire to win. So, out of all the arcade games, which ones did we keep coming back to? Get ready to press start because here are the 25 Best Arcade Games Of All Time.

25: Defender

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This classic released in 1981 by Williams Electronics, Inc. was considered a flop even though it was incredibly popular. In the game, you’re defending the human population from a swarm of aliens. It’s noted for its considerable difficulty, making it rather addictive.

 24: Dig Dug

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This game released in 1982 by Atari had the player digging through the ground and destroying their enemies with an air pump or by dropping rocks on them.

23: Mercs

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This military action game by Capcom was released in 1990 and had one to three soldiers fighting their way through rough terrain to rescue the President of the United States. You could easily use up your cup full of quarters playing this action packed game.

22: Cruis’n’ World

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A 1996 racing game by Midway Games, it included up to four seats, letting you race against other players or just the computer. The number of cars, locations, and gameplay combined made this a top attraction at many arcades at the time.

21: Primal Rage

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This Mortal Kombat-esque arcade game saw dinosaurs fight each other in a brutal and bloody battle to the death. With fun graphics, a variety of moves, and a fun premise, this game released by Atari was a blast to play with friends.

 

20: Terminator 2 Rage

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Released by Midway in 1991, the controller looked like a machine gun. If you were a kid in the 90’s, you likely saw this arcade machine everywhere. Trying to kill all the terminators proved difficult but was still a lot of fun.

19: Golden Axe

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18: Area 51

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This 1995 Atari shooter with two handguns as controllers has a fairly simple premise – kill the aliens. Still, this simple game proved highly addictive.

17: Joust

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This platformer classic from Williams Electronics had players take control of a knight riding on an ostrich as they jousted against their enemies or other players. While one-player was fun, the two-player combat was much better.

 

16: Time Crisis

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Similar to Area 51, this addictive shooter had a unique feature of stepping out from behind walls by pressing on a pedal. If you needed to reload, you had to hide behind the wall again. The added intensity of the game made it pretty much impossible to stop playing. It produced several sequels due to enormous popularity.

15: Pong

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14: Dance Dance Revolution

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On its release, this game became a massive sensation, reimagining what arcade video games can look like and how they can be played. It’s also a really great workout if you play it for a long time.

13: Street Fighter 2

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When it came to arcade fighters, few could compete with this action-packed game from Capcom. With a number of great characters, cool locations, and the infamous “hadouken” move, this game revolutionized video games in the 90’s.

12: Space Invaders

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This 1978 Midway classic had players shooting as many aliens as possible before they reached the bottom and destroyed you. It wasn’t always easy, but it was certainly fun.

11: Metal Slug

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Full of explosions and destruction, this beautiful World War II military action-adventure from SNK has you trying to defeat the evil General Morden. Using tanks, bombs, and high-powered machine guns, you’ll fight your way through several locations before taking on a giant soldier at the end.

10: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

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This arcade game from Konami, which was ported to the Nintendo Entertainment System, allowed four players to fight against the foot clan, Bebop, Rocksteady, and Shredder in an attempt to save April O’Neil. From the catchy music to the addictive fight scenes, this is certainly one of the best TMNT games of all time.

9: Tekken

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This 3-D fighter game released in 1994 by Namco is similar to Street Fighter but stands apart for its fluid movements and fighting components with the ability to create unique combos. It also grew to include many sequels, improving on the original.

8: Donkey Kong

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This hallowed arcade game is considered one of the most difficult of all time, with a long-standing tradition of players trying to achieve the highest score. As of 2018, the highest score of all time was achieved by Robbie Lakeman with 1,247,700.

7: The Simpsons

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A 90’s arcade wasn’t complete without The Simpsons machine. Released by Konami in 1991, four players can taken on the role of Homer, Marge, Bart, or Lisa Simpson with the goal of saving Maggie and recovering the diamond.

6: Sunset Riders

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This game from Konami was a cowboy, side-scrolling, shoot’m up game, allowing four players to take on saloon bosses, ride after trains, and avoid stampeding cattle while hunting down high-paying bounties.

5: X-Men

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This massive machine allowed up to 6 players to take on the role of Wolverine, Cyclops, Storm, Beast, Nightcrawler, Colossus, or Dazzler. If you loved the 90’s X-Men cartoon, then you likely loved playing this game even when the difficulty level became nigh-impossible as you went along.

4: Pac-Man

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It’s hard to play a more classic, fun, and addictive game than Pac-man. The concept is easy – eat as many dots as possible before a ghost catches you, but as the game progresses, you’ll find avoiding the ghosts an increasingly difficult task.

3: Galaga

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A Namco classic, whenever you think “arcade,” it’s likely this game that immediately comes to mind. Playing a spaceship, you fight countless aliens as they create various formations and fly at you. All you have to do is move left and right and fire, but it’s not as easy at it sounds.

2: Smash TV

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Playing a contestant on a reality TV show, you tried to get rewards, cash, and keys all while fighting off hordes of enemies. This fast paced and difficult game was also notable for its bloody deaths.

1: Dragon’s Lair

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As far as arcade games go, this is the holy grail. The game was known for using a laser disc and contained animation from former Disney animator, Don Bluth. In it, you play Dirk the Daring on your quest to save Princess Daphne from Singe the Dragon. You don’t control Dirk, but are faced with options and have to make the right decisions to survive.