Myth of Empires Review

So I’ve played several survival builder games like Ark, Conan Exiles, and Life is Feudal, just to name a few. It’s one of my favorite genres to play around in, and the recent shutdown of the Life is Feudal: The MMO servers has left a niche community without a game to dump hours into. So when I first heard about Myth of Empires, I was definitely interested. The trailer looks great; it’s set somewhat after the fall of the Han Dynasty in Feudal China. The exact time period is uncertain, being described simply as happening in the third century. Either way, it’s an exciting era in a part of the world we don’t often see in video games. 

Despite my efforts, I couldn’t get a key for the first alpha in April of this year. I heard information second-hand about the game, I watched a couple of streams, but it’s not the same as playing it myself. Recently they began a second test primarily for localization purposes, and I found myself again left out. They offered raffle tickets as Twitch drops, but even those let me down. It wasn’t until midnight or so on Thursday that they released scrambled keys on their discord. Unscramble a key before anyone else, and you could get into the alpha. Finally, success was mine, and I had roughly 24 hours to try out the game before the end of the test. 

Image from Technosteria

I managed to put in 11 hours of playtime, and the experience was both familiar and refreshing. The relatively unknown developers called Angela Game have taken elements from various games and put them together rather nicely. The NPC recruitment is similar to Conan Exiles, allowing you to build an army to fight next to you and crafters to help you complete projects more efficiently. The horse taming system is very simple while also adding a breeding system so you can try and create that perfect horse. Each horse and NPC has their own stats and skills. Not every horse can be a warhorse; not every NPC will make a good soldier. 

The combat is something fans of the Mount & Blade series will recognize while increasing from 4 directional attacks to 8 attacks. The building system is much like most survival games, allowing you to snap individual foundations, walls, ceiling tiles, etc. Some structures come pre-built, like the stables to protect your horses and tents where fallen soldiers can be nursed back to health. One improvement people will enjoy is that when an NPC or a horse is killed, they aren’t actually dead. Each has a “life force” stat that will decrease each time they die. After a while, they are available again at the stable or tent. If they die and don’t have enough life force left, they’re gone forever. 

For an alpha test, the game ran rather well. Most people I’ve spoken to haven’t encountered any game-breaking bugs, and although I’m sure someone will find exploits, there didn’t seem to be any readily apparent. Optimization will come in the future, but my 1660 Super ran the game comfortably at medium settings, and when I cranked it up to ultra, the landscape is truly breathtaking. Galloping across fields of tall grass swaying in the wind while swinging a sword at bandits and boars was just as fun as you would expect. With the available siege engines and NPC soldiers, battles between large guilds should be truly epic to see, but that will have to be in another test. For now, I’m just waiting for the next one and hoping I’m lucky enough to get another key. Who knows, maybe I’ll see you there!

Sign up for the Myth of Empires beta on their site at mythofempires.com!

Razer is Cutting Edge at E3

Initially founded in 1998, Razer Inc. is a well-known name among PC gamers. Recognized chiefly for their cutting-edge line of gaming mice, the company has looked for ways to diversify its brand in recent years. Whether it’s smartphones, digital wallets, or top-of-the-line monitors, Razer is not content to simply be known as the company that makes an excellent mouse. They revealed several new products at E3 today, including a significant change to their line of gaming laptops.

One of the many battles between gamers is which CPU is better, Intel or AMD? Those in the AMD camp won a victory today, as Razer unveiled the first AMD laptop in their Razer Blade series. The new model continues to use some of the Razer mainstays like a T6 Grade, CNC machined aluminum chassis, and a vibrant Chroma RGB keyboard allowing per-key customization with over 16 million colors to choose from. 

They’ve also built a next-gen cooling system to alleviate any of the overheating issues that powerful laptops often struggle with. The vapor chamber cooling system is powered by 88 fan blades, each only 0.1mm thick. With this new system and other improvements, the engineers at Razer have managed to build a laptop measuring 16.8 mm. The slim and lightweight product is perfect for gamers on the move, whether they’re college students, active military, or just travel a lot. 

The most significant changes are the CPU and GPU. The Razer Blade 14 boasts an extremely powerful AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX. Utilizing 8 cores, 16 threads, a 20 MB cache, and a robust 4.6 GHz, this processor can handle anything on the market today and likely for years to come. Prospective buyers have a choice of GPUs they can pair with this bad boy. Many of us would happily settle for the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060, which many high-end laptops offer. For the gamer willing and able to pay more, Razer has also added the 3070 and 3080 GPUs to this 14-inch laptop. 

Complete with all of the bells and whistles, the Razer Blade 14 sports two display modes, an FHD 144HZ setting for an ultra-high refresh rate, or a QHD 165HZ for a higher quality picture. Razer is calling this the most powerful 14-inch laptop available, and it is a spectacular piece of gaming hardware. I’m sure AMD fans will be interested to see if Razer starts to integrate AMD CPUs into more of their laptops in the future. 

Check out the Razer trailer for the Blade 14:

Join us as we recap every day of E3 on our Podcast!

GuliKit – Indie Spotlight

When events like E3 come around, we tend to focus on the big announcements. Whether it’s new information about a favorite franchise (Elder Scrolls 6 when?) or a fresh idea from a promising indie developer, these expos are about the games. A big part of gaming often forgotten after being dazzled by the latest trailer is the peripherals. PC gamers are familiar with searching for the perfect keyboard, a comfortable mouse, and a better quality headset without breaking the bank. There are endless arguments about wired vs. wireless. Are mechanical keyboards worth how loud they are? Should we set up a gofundme to get that one guy in Discord a decent headset? What about consoles, though? 

As an entirely PC gamer, I haven’t owned a console since I got rid of my trusty PS2. I remember when the joystick on one of my N64 controllers started going bad. Like everyone else, sometimes, one of the buttons on the Playstation controller would begin to stick. Nothing is more frustrating than having a button stop working when you’re trying to land that perfect combo. Even though console gaming has evolved through the years to more powerful systems and different generations of redesigned controllers, many of the same problems persist. Sometimes it feels like controllers are designed to break so that we have to replace them more often. 

GuliKit Button

One company at E3 aims to change the way controllers are built. Sure, Sony and Microsoft may make slight changes to their controller designs, but it doesn’t seem like controllers have changed much since the PSX. Nestled in the heart of China’s Silicon Valley, GuliKit has developed new button tech that boasts a lifespan 50 times longer than traditional controllers. Most controller buttons last an average of 1 million clicks before experiencing major problems. GuliKit promises a product that lasts 50 million clicks without giving up comfort or accuracy.

GuliKit Electromagnetic Sticks

The Shenzen-based company has also tackled the issue of joysticks losing performance over time. Controllers typically use a carbon film design that eventually gathers dust and liquids or simply breaks down over time. Taking a new approach, GuliKit has developed an electromagnetic stick that should eliminate stick drift. GuliKit already has a line of controllers for PC and the Nintendo Switch. The KingKong and KingKongPro offer a sturdy controller, while their Elves series is lightweight and portable, perfect for gamers on the go. GuliKit plans to start offering its new technology in the second half of this year without a huge price difference. 

If these new controllers live up to the promise of a significantly longer lifespan, long-time gamers know that the extra spent now will pay for itself in the future. GuliKit is throwing down the gauntlet, challenging the industry to build more innovative products. Only time will tell if these products live up to their claims, but we’re excited to find out.

Join us as we recap every day of E3 on our Podcast!

Road to E3 Part 3: The Ugly

Next in our Road to E3 2021 is the ugly side of gaming. This year we’ve seen big companies come under fire for sexual harassment. We had a major name in eSports banned for allegations of misconduct. One of the most beloved gaming companies stumble and struggle to find its footing.

Beyond just the games themselves, companies have come under fire for workplace practices. Ubisoft has been outed for not responding to reports of sexual harassment, and even with public pressure, it seems they simply shuffled some people around and swept it under the rug as best they could. While some of the executive team resigned, others have simply been left in their positions or moved to a different part of the company despite dozens of complaints.

Activision Blizzard found itself at the center of attention when it was reported that its developers and staff were extremely overworked and underpaid. In 2019 employees had staged walkouts in response to Blizzard censoring political speech related to Hong Kong. Then there are the massive layoffs in recent years, and many fans worry it is affecting the quality of beloved franchises.

Will the increased scrutiny of business practices change the way gaming studios do business? Or will they continue to bleed talent to newer groups like Singularity 6 or Mike Morhaime’s Dreamhaven?

eSports are booming. What was once a fringe event for conventions, is watched by millions every day. More games than ever are leaning into the eSports scene. Some games, like Overwatch and Call of Duty, have made their own leagues will well-funded teams. With the increase in money and audience, we see the rise of eSports stars. Much like physical sports, the stars are seen as infallible to their fans, but they are not. One such star was an Overwatch and Valorant player named Jay “Sinatraa” Won.

Sinatraa made headlines when he left Overwatch for Valorant. One of Overwatch’s biggest names leaving made everyone question the game’s longevity. Sinatraa joining Valorant gave the new game validity. The star was on fire until allegations of sexual abuse and rape arose. His ex-girlfriend, Chloe published evidence of the allegations. Sinatra was quickly banned and still under allegations. An unseen side of eSports was exposed. The industry will need to establish better guidelines and training for their players. As eSports grows, so too shall its responsibilities.

Road to E3 Part 2

Our journey to E3 next stops at the downside of the year in gaming. While video games helped unite quarantined people, developers struggled while working from home. Delays, bugs, and failed launches became the standard. 2020 changed the gaming industry landscape forever.

Unfortunately, there were many disappointments during the past year as well. The highly anticipated Cyberpunk 2077 arrived after being announced eight years prior. Not even Keanu Reeves could make up for the title’s reception. Riddled with game-breaking bugs and optimization problems, Sony soon offered no questions asked refunds and pulled the title from their store. Plagued by lawsuits, an angry fanbase, and disillusioned investors, the creators of The Witcher 3, seem to be in a death spiral. CD Projekt Red’s stock prices fell from $31.00 USD a share to a current rate of $11.59. Although subsequent updates seem to have fixed the game, they are still awaiting approval from Sony, and many of us wonder if the company will survive.

            A series I have long enjoyed released Mount and Blade II: Bannerlord to much fanfare, becoming the largest launch on Steam for the year by that point. Buggy but loveable, a staple for the Mount and Blade franchise, the title received very favorable reviews. A year later, still bogged down by an early access label and no steam workshop for the vast collection of mods available, it holds tremendous potential but has lost some of its shine. 

            World of Warcraft’s Shadowlands started strong, notable for the new locations and an engaging storyline, as well as the release of Torghast. Torghast presented a rogue-lite experience for WoW players, but the lack of tangible rewards has made it a point of contention between players and the developers. The release of patch 9.1 promises much-needed content, but fans have grown increasingly impatient after a lengthy development period. 

            The prospect of a new MMO to capture WoW’s fanbase doesn’t seem forthcoming either. Amazon’s foray into the MMO genre, New World, has not only been delayed but also has alienated many prospective players with talk of a cash shop. Reports about what the shop will contain are varied, but Amazon has confirmed there will be experience boosters *at some point.* Gamers are incredibly suspicious of cash shops these days, and Amazon’s ambiguous language while announcing a cash shop for a game that isn’t even out yet could doom the long-developed title before it even releases, whenever that may be. 

Gaming has seen hard times in the past and is only strengthened by trials. 2020 brought success and stresses, but the future will prove it deserves its respect as mainstream media.

Check out the latest podcast from Geek Freaks:

Road to E3 Part 1

It’s that time of year again. School’s out, the summer heat is here, and the beaches are packed. For those of us who prefer to stay inside, E3 is finally here. This year, the industry’s largest gaming expo has more attention than ever. With 2020’s event canceled and this one being a solely online experience, legions of gamers hungry for something new are waiting to see what they can expect over the next year and beyond. 

            After a year of delays and disappointments, gamers look to E3 to see what is on the horizon. In this post-pandemic world, smaller companies seem to be enjoying greater success, with publishers like Coffee Stain poised to become new powerhouses. At the same time, traditional studios like EA, Ubisoft, etc., stick to tried and true formulas that don’t seem to resonate with people like they used to. What sort of business models might emerge as streaming and esports dominate the market while cash shops and microtransactions become increasingly unpopular? Will studios look at the communities forged during quarantines on more casual games and attempt to capture that, or is 2021 destined to be another year notable for remakes and disastrous launches? 

            Whatever happens, the team here at Geek Freaks will be here to keep you informed on the latest at this year’s E3. 

A Year in Gaming: The Good

2020 was a year of hardship for everyone, and with people spending more time at home than ever before, gaming has been on the rise. Early on, many of us were able to rally together on Animal Crossing, a relaxing experience we could share with the friends we couldn’t see in person. There were unexpected gems like Valheim, which captured the imaginations of aspiring Vikings around the world. Mainstays such as Call of Duty: Warzone have lived up to their name, and a new campaign of bans may keep the game competitive when the upcoming Battlefield drops. 

A new Spider-Man title, Miles Morales, beat out 2020’s Game of the Year Winner, The Last of Us II, for lifetime sales. Resident Evil Village continued to impress fans of the long-running franchise. Streaming became a national pastime, bringing older titles such as Among Us to the forefront and knocking Fall Guys off the Twitch front page. Friends and strangers alike spent hours trying to figure out who they should vote out for being too “sus.” 

            Remakes haven’t lost their way either, tapping into our nostalgia for a better time during such a chaotic year. The Resident Evil 3 remake released with favorable reviews, and the long-awaited FF7 Remake did well even as gamers disdained the episodic release schedule. World of Warcraft’s TBC Classic recently launched, and my current level 77 Blood Elf Warlock is looking forward to taking down Illidan like it’s 2007. Although many of us, myself included, would prefer new titles to remakes, it’s hard not to go back. 

          Even during the harsh world of quarantines and decimated supply lines, the industry rose to the top. Both Microsoft and PlayStation released new consoles. Microsoft released the powerhouse Series X and the affordable Series S. Meanwhile, Sony stepped up SSD performance and exclusives with the PS5. The consoles wars were a helpful distraction when we needed it most. And while supplies are limited, the companies are showing support for all players. Both companies are offering monthly free games and free upgrades to next-gen graphics. Gaming not only thrived in 2020 but cemented its place in the mainstream.

Will 2021 bring us fresh ideas, more remakes, or the best of both? What remake would you like to see? Will we see new hardware announced at E3? Let us know on our socials!

Join us on our podcast where we will analyse every big announcement of E3!

A Walk Through The Shadowlands: A Week One Review

It’s been just over a week since the release of the latest World of Warcraft expansions, Shadowlands. I’ve played off and on since the release of Vanilla back in 2004 and had decided to skip this expansion. I haven’t played seriously since Cataclysm, BFA was a disappointment, but I was interested in playing again. A rather weak pre-patch event and talk of the covenant abilities pushed me away again. The second day after the release, I was in Discord with a few friends who were playing and my impulsiveness drove me to purchase the game so that I could hopefully enjoy one more adventure in Azeroth with my friends. So just like the rest of 2020, my decision to start playing was a roller coaster ride by itself.


Fast forward a week and I actually don’t regret my choice. I think that for players who have skipped some of the more recent expansions, Shadowlands is a good choice for a return. The leveling process has been revamped, so catching up to the new content is not an arduous process now. More than that though, Blizzard has continuously tried to create a game that appeals to a wide array of players, and so far Shadowlands hits that note pretty well. It’s the first expansion in a while where I don’t feel pressured or rushed to do everything as soon as possible. Maybe that’s the game, maybe it’s just personal growth, who knows.


So, let’s get down to business. For any of you who don’t know, while trying to avoid spoilers, the Shadowlands is pretty much the afterlife for the universe. So far, the player will see five pieces of what is, in theory, a vast and infinite number of afterlife realms. Four of them have pretty distinct themes, each presided over by a powerful being. The fifth one is The Maw, ruled by a banished being of Titan-like powers called The Jailer. The Maw is pretty much where the worst souls go who have been deemed beyond redemption. It’s dark, gloomy, filled with ghostly mists and jagged cliffs crowned by dark fortresses. It’s actually a cool zone and the inability to mount while inside of it just lends to that atmosphere of survival and hardship. You can’t just mount up and ride through everything with reckless abandon.


The other four realms, the Covenants, are extremely well-made and designed to appeal to different people. Bastion is a typical heavenly paradise, bright, green, full of holy custodians of souls, it’s a paladin’s dream. Despite the fact that it’s a beautiful zone, my warlock was not impressed. Maldraxxus was a little more to my liking, a land of perpetual war and struggle with an undead vibe, plenty of desolate plains, plague filled pools, and forests of giant mushrooms often overlaid by a green fog. The landscape didn’t appeal to me so much, but the storyline was a ton of fun. The realm of Ardenweald generally seems to represent the forest the Night Elves wish they had. Saving the faeries and the trees is not my cup of tea, and personally, I felt the questing there was the most repetitive and least engaging. However, the moment I flew through the portal I was instantly hit by the amazingly crafted enchanted forest vibe. If an enchanted forest is your thing, Ardenweald nails it.


By the time I made it to Revendreth, the fourth and final covenant on our journey, I had pretty much resigned myself to picking Bastion. The Covenant ability is perfect for my affliction warlock, the first soul bind is simply the best for PvE situations. Now, someone more PvP focused may feel differently, but for a PvE affliction warlock, Bastion gives you everything you want when it comes to a power spike. No one mains a warlock because they want to serve “The Light” though. From a logical standpoint, Bastion was going to be my new home, and that actually disappointed me. At the time, I was really impressed by the Maldraxxus story, I just couldn’t talk myself into accepting the covenant ability.

Revendreth changed everything.

From the spooky forest that reminds me of the woods from Beauty and the Beast to the soaring gothic-style castles, and even the wasteland of a place called The Ember, I was in love. It brought me back to the first time I went through the Dark Portal into Outlands. Aesthetically, Revendreth seems to combine so many of my favorite things. The work on the castles complete with towers and walls and gates, the bridges spanning misty ravines, everything was just so cool. I worked with giant gargoyles and insane vampire-like creatures called the Venthyr. I found myself caught in a poignant political struggle, in the midst of a rebellion and walking through a blood mirror that teleports me places. Did you say teleporting mirror? Yes, I did. I found myself justifying talent changes, arguing back and forth with myself about DPS loss, and trying to convince myself that Bastion wasn’t that bad . . . I mean, if nothing else, there is a set of cool dark wings you can get as a transmog right? Then I looked up the wings on Wowhead just to make sure.

Wowhead.com

Screw that, I’m going to go be a vampire. So that’s what I did. Now, if you’re interested in the min-max for Mythic raiding then your choice has probably already been made for you. For me, it felt like the first step towards playing the game just to have fun. I picked the Venthyr simply because I thought they were the coolest faction in the game, and their storyline was thoroughly enjoyable. Not only that, it actually feels like I’m helping to rebuild my Covenant, and that my decision was impactful. It’s not like the old Scryer vs Aldor decision back in Burning Crusade that had no real meaning. Picking your Covenant is actually a pretty big decision, and I don’t regret mine for an instant.


Unfortunately, I know that tuning Covenants will probably be a nightmare through the whole expansion. Probably my only complaint is that for many classes choosing the Covenant that you like the most won’t be considered the “right” Covenant to much of the community. In a cutthroat world of Mythics where a talent in the wrong place or a wrong covenant ability might cost you an invite, it’s a hard choice to make. If you’re willing to put those things aside, it’s a wonderful expansion so far, and I think that everyone can find at least one Covenant that they really relate to and enjoy. I haven’t spent much time in Torghast, and I’ve only done one dungeon, but most of the people I know seem to have really enjoyed that side of the content so far. As for me, between work and a really relaxed approach, I spent most of the week just questing.
Only time will tell if the Shadowlands is a strong expansion or not, but the journey through each Covenant was truly an amazing one.

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