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One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 – New Playable Characters Guide

One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 is an upcoming Musuo game that puts players in the shoes of One Piece characters, as they wade through hordes of foes and take down massive boss monsters in battle.

The last One Piece: Pirate Warriors game was released in 2015, which means that the latest entry in the series is adding new characters that have been introduced to the story since then, as well as existing characters from the series that had their abilities fleshed out after the Dressrosa arc. This isn’t a complete list, as more DLC characters will be revealed in the future, but these are the characters who will be available at launch.

Carrot is an ally of the Straw Hat Pirates and a member of the Mink race. Carrot is a speed type character with incredible agility and jumping finesse. In battle, Carrot can electrocute enemies with melee attacks. She has a unique transformation that allows her to turn into her Sulong form, giving her long flowing hair and the strength of a titan for a brief period of time.

The Supernovas

Bartolomeo is one of the later supernovas and he joins the Straw Hat Grand Fleet with his crew. Bart ate the Mera Mera no Mi fruit, which allows him to create force barriers out of thin air. In One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4, Bart is a technique character who always throws out defensive barriers when he attacks.

Basil Hawkins is one of the original supernovas and he joins the Animal Kingdom pirates with his crew. Hawkins ate the Wara Wara no Mi, giving him a range of powers that act similar to voodoo magic. In One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4, Hawkins is a technique character who can inflict status effects on his foes.

Bege Capone is one of the original supernovas. He joined Big Mom’s crew but later defected. Capone ate the Shiro Shiro no Mi, allowing him to turn his body into a fortress. In One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4, Capone is a technique character who can transform into a castle monster.

Cavendish is one of the later supernovas and he joins the Straw Hat Grand Fleet with his crew. Cavendish is an excellent swordsman, but his true power lies in his dark alter-ego, known as Hakuba, which comes out when he falls asleep. In One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4, Cavendish is a speed character who can transform into Hakuba in order to gain super agility and strength.

Eustass Kidd is one of the original supernovas, who loses his freedom when he runs afoul of Kaido. Kidd gained control over magnetism after eating a devil fruit. In One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4, he is a power character with the ability to create massive metal arms and to repel enemies with his fruit ability.

The Emperors

Charlotte Linlin is one of the Yonko and is the leader of the Big Mom pirates. Linlin has access to one of the most powerful devil fruits in the world, as the Soru Soru no Mi she ate allows her to manipulate the souls of other beings. In One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4, Linlin is a power character who strikes with her two elemental spirits (Prometheus & Zeus), as well as her formidable strength. Linlin can also transform into her ravenous form, where she becomes even more powerful as she gets hungrier. Linlin’s son, Katakuri, will be one of the first DLC characters in One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4. 

Kaido is one of the Yonko and is the leader of the Animal Kingdom pirates. Kaido is one of the most physically dominant characters in the One Piece world, with the ability to transform into a mighty dragon. In One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4, Kaido is a power character with a range of elemental attacks that allow him to control the battlefield with weather effects.

The Vinsmoke Siblings

The four Vinsmoke siblings are sky type characters, which means that they specialize in flying through the air and launching attacks from unexpected angles.

Reiju is the eldest daughter of the Vinsmoke family and is a member of Scientific Military Unit Germa 66. She has the ability to suck the poison out of people without taking any harm. In One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4, she can poison enemies and extract it to become stronger.

Ichiji is the eldest son of the Vinsmoke family and is a member of Scientific Military Unit Germa 66. He has the ability to conduct electricity from his body and fire streams of light at his foes. In One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4, he can use his electrical powers to strike enemies from all angles and ranges.

Niji is the second son of the Vinsmoke family and is a member of Scientific Military Unit Germa 66. He has the ability to focus electricity on different parts of his body. In One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4, he strikes enemies with electrical close-range attacks, before fleeing to the sky.

Yonji is the fourth son of the Vinsmoke family and is a member of Scientific Military Unit Germa 66. He has a winch body modification that allows him to grab foes from afar and crush them with his strength. In One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4, he can use his ranged device to launch rocks at opponents or break them with his own hands.

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Call of Duty: Warzone – How To Use Spray Paint To Win Gulag

During a Call of Duty: Warzone match, someone stumbled upon a genius idea. If you manage to spray-paint your opponent while awaiting your gulag showdown – they become much easier to see during the fight.

Warzone players have developed a love-hate relationship with the gulag. It’s annoying and high-pressure, but defeat your opponent and you’ve earned yourself a one-way ticket back to the battlefield. Nobody likes to sit around while your allies fumble to get enough money to buy you back – so you might as well maximize your odds for the gulag win.

The trick is to take advantage of a gulag queue. Most players will throw some punches, rocks, or even sit around AFK – but that isn’t the best use of your downtime in the prison. Instead, if you find and spray-paint your foe before the gulag match begins, the paint will remain for the entirety of the fight.

You’ll also want to ensure that you go to “Options,” “Keyboard & Mouse,” and then “Movement.” Scroll down the list and double check what your “Gesture/Spray” keybind is so you know how to use it in-game. Now all you need is to get lucky with a gulag queue; You won’t have time to spray your opponent if you load directly into the 1-vs-1 match.

So who is the genius behind this neat little trick? Apparently, someone who was tipsy from St. Patrick’s day beverages.

As with many clever ideas, it worked itself out by chance. Redditor “PublicWest” was simply trying to have some fun while waiting for his gulag showdown when he quickly realized that spray-painting opponents makes them much easier to see. Thanks to his experimentation and willingness to share his findings, dedicated players have another tool to get a leg up in their upcoming gulag matches.

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Half-Life: Alyx VR review – the return of Valve

Valve finally return to the Half-Life universe with the most advanced VR game ever made, but is it everything fans have been waiting for?

Valve may be the strangest video game developer in history. As inscrutable as Nintendo and Rockstar Games can be, you can usually follow their logic to some degree. But we have no idea what Valve has been playing at for the 13 years since the last Half-Life game. Clearly, they lost interest in single-player video games around the time of Portal 2 in 2011, concentrating instead on multiplayer titles like Counter-Strike and Dota 2, and VR tech demo The Lab. But now, at last, they’re back.

To judge by his comments in a recent interview, the real passion of Valve president Gabe Newell seems to be turning The Matrix into a reality, by researching such advanced technologies as human-brain interfaces and artificial intelligence. He seems to see VR as a stepping stone towards that goal and we have a feeling that if Half-Life hadn’t been a good fit for a VR game we’d probably never have seen the franchise ever again.

But here it is, the return of one of the most influential video game franchises of all time (even if most console gamers have barely heard of it, as we discussed in our Black Mesa review). Supposedly, there are still many people at Valve that worked on the original games and while we’d love to know what they’ve been doing for all these years, the predictable truth is their skills have become dulled with lack of use. Although not so much that this isn’t still one of the best VR games ever made.

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Half-Life: Alyx is set in-between Half-Life 1 and 2, at a time when series protagonist Gordon Freeman is… elsewhere. So instead you play as Alyx Vance, daughter of one of the lead scientists that inadvertently enabled interdimensional aliens to invade the Earth. That’s really as much as you need to know when starting, so if you’ve never played any of the games before that’s not going to be an impediment at all. We will say that the story does also reflect on what happens in Half-Life 2 and its subsequent episodes, but naturally we’re not going to spoil exactly how.

Alyx’s voicework is performed by a new actress and her physical presence is represented only by a pair of floating hands, which, thankfully, isn’t as disconcerting as it sounds. But despite being in VR, in most respects the design and structure of the game is largely the same as previous Half-Life titles, with a fairly even mix of puzzle-solving, combat, and only minimal backtracking.

You wear a pair of ‘gravity gloves’, instead of wielding a gravity gun, but it’s still essentially the same thing as you draw objects towards you with a mini-tractor beam – although picking up exactly the right one is always a lot more difficult than it looks. Many of the actual puzzles revolve around rewiring machinery and tracing power cables using a ‘multitool’. This is all very tactile and exciting at first, but the same basic trick is used so many times that your enthusiasm tends not to last until the end of the game.

Likewise, the combat is a somewhat awkward mix of first person shooter standards and existing VR shortcuts. You have only three different (but upgradeable) guns and after a few battles with humanoid enemies you begin to realise how contrived the combat encounters are. The game tries to make your opponents’ less mobile than they would be in a non-VR game but you still end up running (or more likely teleporting) around in circles and trying to compensate for the awkward mix of motion and analogue controls, that do nothing but prove that the perfect VR controller has yet to be invented.

Half-Life: Alyx has a larger survival horror element than any of the previous games, with many genuinely frightening encounters with not just the facehugger style headcrabs but all the other gloopy Half-Life aliens and a few new ones. If you’ve made it through Resident Evil 7 alive then you’ll be fine but for others the whole thing can be absolutely terrifying and we can imagine many giving up because it’s too intense, and thereby missing out on everything else.

It’s easy to pick holes in Half-Life: Alyx because half of the appeal with the originals was that they were inventing the rulebook as they were going along, defining the way first person shooters – and games in general – would work for the next decade or more. By comparison, Half-Life: Alyx does relatively little that is brand new for VR, if you’ve played things like Boneworks or even just Arizona Sunshine. Most of the time it just ends up doing the same thing slightly better.

To be fair, the level of detail in Half-Life: Alyx is extraordinary, both literally in terms of the art design and all the dozens of objects laying around at any time, but also the realistic way in which you can interact with them, from throwing and catching grenades, to slowing pushing a door ajar, to smashing a window with a chair, or using the controller to mimic holding your breath when stalked by a blind enemy with super-hearing.

As with the gravity gloves, these interactions don’t always work exactly as you intend but these details are still amongst the game’s most ambitious elements. Especially as at other times it can feel strangely old-fashioned, as not only do the puzzles and combat lose their novelty before the end but the occasionally plodding pacing is a bit too reminiscent of the original games, and further evidence that Valve hasn’t quite been keeping up with modern techniques.

Many of these concerns are lessened by the ending, which is superb and blows the whole franchise wide open in terms of both storytelling and gameplay implications, but the other 14 hours often feel too much like a tech demo and not enough like a game.

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How much of a problem that is, is open to debate – not least because of the question of how many people are going to even get the chance to experience it. The Valve Index headset is expensive and almost impossible to get hold of during the coronavirus pandemic, while the PC needed to run all this is not the sort anyone but a dedicated PC gamer is going to have. More than that, the game has also clearly been designed with American-sized living rooms in mind, rather than the more modest floor space the rest of the world will likely be limited to.

You can play the game sitting on a sofa and Valve has done everything they can to make this as enjoyable and intuitive as possible, but you’re only really seeing all the game can offer when you’ve got a large empty space to duck and dive within, using the VR to its full potential and not just a subset of its features. It’s even worse if you don’t have a high-end headset as while the game does work with the Oculus Quest, for example, it’s highly erratic and causes a lot of slowdown even if your PC is up to the job.

Half-Life: Alyx is an indulgence that only Valve would ever contemplate and yet you can’t help but feel glad that they’re willing to go against all sane commercial sense and spend so much money making something that so few people will be able to play in its ideal conditions.

But even then, this is not a flawless experience and in terms of both VR implementation and underlying gameplay design it’s surprisingly easy to nitpick. But if that encourages Valve to not get out of practice again, and to go back to being a full-time video game developer, then perhaps that will be the most important legacy of Half-Life: Alyx.

Half-Life: Alyx VR review summary

In Short: An incredible technical achievement but one that is surprisingly short of genuinely new ideas, and often struggles to get the balance right between VR showpiece and satisfying gameplay experience.

Pros: Incredible sense of immersion and the most interactive VR world ever seen. Excellent art design and visuals, with some great set pieces and a fantastic final last hour.

Cons: Combat and puzzles both become repetitive before the end. Odd pacing and lots of minor control foibles.

Score: 8/10

Formats: PC VR
Price: £46.49
Publisher: Valve
Developer: Valve
Release Date: 23rd March 2020
Age Rating: N/A

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Doom 64 – Where To Find All Of The Demon Artifacts

A first in the Doom series, the ultimate weapon in Doom 64 isn’t actually the BFG 900, but a new gun called the Unmaker. Originally planned for the first Doom in 1993, the gun was added as an Easter Egg/bonus by Midway for Doom’s N64 debut. While you can acquire it during regular gameplay, you’ll need to locate three Demon Artifacts to make it effective in combat.

Finding these keys requires you access the secret levels in Doom 64. We have a specific guide to help you there, but just getting to the levels isn’t enough. You’ll need to solve little puzzles to nab each key, ensuring you get the beastly Unmaker and can topple the final boss in seconds. If you’re struggling to grab any specific key, this guide will help you.

Simply click the embedded videos to be taken to their respective timestamps.

Map29: Outpost Omega

The first Demon Artifact is found on the first secret level. Once you have both the yellow and red keys in your possession, you’ll be able to acquire it. Go back to the room that was locked by the blue key and jump down the first drop. Turn left, then drop down there. You’ll need to make some running jumps to a switch that was hidden by a wall (it probably dropped the first time you were there).

Hit that switch, then turn around. Run back across both drops and right an immediate right onto an elevator. It will soon bring you up and you’ll need to shoot a switch to drop another platform. Repeat the same process -running across the pits, hitting the switch, jumping on the elevator, shooting the button- and the door for the Demon Artifact will now be open. You’ll need the red key, but you should already have that.

If you’re having trouble finding the red key, it is located in the room where you get surrounded by Mancubi. From the entrance, turn to your right and press the monitor on the wall. It won’t make a noise, but a wall will drop that has the red key in it.

Map30: The Lair

The second Demon Artifact is located on the second secret level. It’s probably the easiest to obtain of the three. At one point during this level, you’ll spot it perched up high on a small platform. You’ll need to kill all of the enemies before hitting a switch to reveal some stairs…and some more enemies. Once taking care of them, you’ll proceed to shoot two switches overlooking the courtyard that will drop the key for you to grab. Follow the video if you’re lost.

Map31: In The Void

The final Demon Artifact is found on the third secret level. It is the most involved of all of the keys to find. Play through the level as normal until you acquire the yellow key. Head for the main exit (which requires the yellow key) and walk through the arch a bit. The screen will shake and you’ll now need to return to the blue key switch -the Demon Key was visible in this room-.

In front of the Demon Key should be a new switch. Once you throw this, you’ll have to run back to where you picked up the blue key (this was behind the red key door). This requires you to enter some teleporters. If you’re fast enough, you’ll be able to nab the Demon Key at the end of a long pathway. If not, you’ll need to repeat the process.

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DOOM Eternal – How To Break Through Walls

Veteran players of the Doom series know all about the importance of secret locations, which invariably seem to always be hidden in some far off corner of a map, or in plain sight, and Doom Eternal keeps this trend going with breakable walls. Doom Eternal trains its players to look for a specific type of clue, mainly a bright green light that indicates where a Slayer needs to break a wall in order to proceed with the main objective of the game.

Once in front of these breakable walls, PC players use R3 to smash through, while PlayStation 4 users hit “Circle,” and Xbox One users hit “B.” While all of the breakable walls with green light in the cracks indicate that the main objective can be found on the other side, there are several without any coloring scattered throughout the game that can be just as valuable, especially for players who want to find every secret the game has to offer.

These walls are worth seeking out for the loot they can be hiding, which can include Extra Lives, Slayer Keys, Slayer Gates, Secret Encounters, and more. These do not count as collectibles but are still valuable because they add to a player’s overall Demonic Corruption meter in each mission. The higher a Slayer scores here, the more likely they are to score a chance at weapon upgrade points, which all works towards becoming the embodiment of pain and suffering. When demons see the Slayer, they should all be terrified, and this is a great way to make that happen.

With that in mind, breakable walls are not always easy to access. Sometimes they are positioned in a way that players need to hit the activation button in midair, so it might take some practice to do consistently.

Accessing all the game’s breakable walls also requires the creative use of the environment to reach places that are out of the way, or basically hidden to those who simply walk from one objective to the next without stopping to explore. Double jumping is one of the most obvious tools available to explore, since it is available from the beginning of the game, but there is much more.

Protruding bars from the walls are used to swing and jump from one to the next is quick success, walls can be climbed, jump pads launch the Slayer high into the air, and dashing allows for reaching far off shelves or ledges.

The point is that Doom Eternal, like every game in the series before it, will rewards Slayers who are nosy snoops and explore every bit of a map. Players have more than enough tools to move around, it only takes a little bit of practice before every ledge and jump is easily navigated.

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Call Of Duty: Warzone – The Complete Guide

The moment Call of Duty fans have been waiting for is finally here: there’s another battle royale game on the scene! Genre fatigue aside, Warzone is establishing itself as a unique battle royale and Call of Duty experience. Its huge scale, second-chance Gulag, and inventive Plunder game mode keep it it from feeling like an Apex Legends or Fortnite ripoff. More importantly, they keep players coming back for more. Which means there’s a lot of people who put way too many hours into the game just waiting to destroy you and your squad.

Below you’ll find some helpful resources that may save your life, explain just what is going on in Warzone, and maybe even get you the win. The only thing we can’t do is teach you how to aim or not get shot. That you’ll have to figure out on your own.

Getting Started

There’s a tutorial that kicks off Warzone, but there’s so much going on that one could be forgiven for forgetting some of the basics. Here’s a refresher on navigating the map and modes.

  • What Is Plunder?
  • Warzone Keeps All Your Modern Warfare Progress, Here’s How It Works
  • Contracts, Explained
  • Perks Explained & How To Get Them
  • The Best Drop Zones In Verdansk

Loot

Victory in battle royale often depends on who found the better loot. Here we explain how loot is categorized and how to find the good stuff.

  • What Each Weapon Color Means
  • The Best Way To Farm (And Spend) Some Cash
  • 5 Strongest Weapons In Call Of Duty: Warzone (& The 5 Weakest)

The Gulag

The Gulag is Warzone‘s unique take on revival in battle royale. Whereas other games have you collect some revival item and bring it to a special place on the map, Warzone sends downed players to the Gulag. There, players fight 1v1 for the right to return to the big battlefield. Here are some of the early pro tips players have discovered.

  • Gulag Explained & How To Get Back In The Game
  • How To Outsmart The Enemy And Win In The Gulag

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Call Of Duty: Warzone – Use This Trick To Loot Items Faster

If you want to survive in Call of Duty: Warzone, you’ll probably want to pick up some sweet, sweet loot. You’ll have to be careful when doing so, however, as it can leave you exposed to attacks from the other 100+ combatants. That’s why a recently discovered trick to speed up the looting process is so important.

A YouTuber by the name of “Scahty” shows how you can modify a few different settings to make looting faster. Here’s how it works:

  • Open up the Options menu while in-game
  • Navigate to the ‘Controller submenu
  • Select ‘Weapons’ then ‘Use/Reload Behavior’
  • Change the selection to ‘Contextual Tap’

The key to success in Warzone is speed and efficiency — this simple tweak will no doubt help move you along on the path to victory. Since you’re able to pick up all nearby items with a single button press, you’re able to free up time and keep your eyes peeled on your surroundings.

Scahty says that it took him a while to adjust to the new settings, but that once you get used to it “you won’t regret making the switch.” It’s also a feature seen in many other battle royale titles, so if this isn’t your first rodeo, you’ll probably already be familiar with the mechanics.

In their comparison video, you can see how ineffective the default looting mode is. Picking up weapons that slow is not only annoying but could also be the difference between life and death. Things happen fast in Warzone — look no further than this clip for a crazy example — so the less time you spend fiddling with adding items to your inventory the better.

With the newly announced ‘Solo’ mode, this feature just became even more important. Whereas your teammates could over your back while picking up gear in the base game, you won’t have any support when trying to juggle items in Solo matches. Get your gear, get your eyes on the horizon, and get back in the game.

Call of Duty: Warzone is now available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Solos are now live as well, and still feature 150 players per match.

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L.A. By Night S4 E7 Recap – Dead Ecstasies

The streaming show L.A. By Night follows a group playing the latest edition of the Vampire: The Masquerade tabletop game. The fourth season chronicles the uneasy truce between the Anarchs and Camarilla, and all it would take is one misstep to shatter the fragile peace.

In the last episode, Baron Nelli G (Cynthia Marie) hosted her first party under her new title. Annabelle (Erika Ishii), Baron Victor Temple (B. Dave Walters), Eva (Josephine McAdam), Jasper (Alexander Ward), and X (Xander Jeanneret) were all in attendance. Annabelle dealt with the harsh reactions towards thin-bloods, X was secretly spying for Archangel, Jasper’s past as a cult member is revealed and Eva revealed that she had to leave for a while to deal with her problems.

The episode takes place in a stately mansion in Beverly Glen, which is the current haven of several members of the Prince’s court. Baron Nelli G is in the rose garden with Suzanne Rochelle (Amelia Rose Blaire), who is the current Seneschal of the court. Suzanne congratulates Nelli on her new position and the two flirt among the flowers. Suzanne tells her that a storm is coming and that she is in danger, due to her new position within the Anarchs. She leads them to the conservatory and hopes that the rain will muffle their conversation. There is someone close to Nelli who has a dark power that is a threat to them, but Nelli doesn’t know who she is referring to.

Suzanne asks her what it’s like to be the Baron. Nelli says it’s good, terrifying, but good. Nelli took the position to make things better for the Kindred and to make Hollywood a good place to live. Suzanne says this is impossible, as Hollywood is disgusting and full of gross people. The two activate Awe at the same time. Nelli asks who she should be aware of. Suzanne says that there is one among her who is illegitimate and has a dark power, and is also a drug addict, revealing her to be Eva. This girl has a power she doesn’t know how to control and that she is dangerous to all of them. Suzanne probes Nelli’s mind and sees the last conversation she had with Eva before she departed from Los Angeles. Suzanne says this is for the best as she is dangerous. Suzanne asks if Jasper is still sniffing about and Nelli says he plays a valuable role, as the Nosferatu perform a service that few Kindred would be willing to do. Suzanne says that Nelli has the power to end the war between the Anarchs and the Camarilla and must do so quickly, as they are all at risk.

In her mind, Suzanne has a glimpse of Prince Vannevar (Bryan Dechart), who is pacing around a room and clutching a book close to his face while muttering to himself. Suzanne tells Nelli that a madness is coming for them all and it will destroy the Anarchs. She wants Nelli to join them, as they will be stronger together. Nelli refuses. Suzanne says they will all die, but Nelli still refuses, as she won’t listen to anyone but herself. She has fought for everything so far to keep everyone safe. Suzanne says she is living in a fantasy and that the Camarilla has lasted for a lot longer than the Anarchs. Suzanne thinks they can change the Camarilla from within. Nelli asks how the Prince is doing and Suzanne says he is fine, but he also knows the darkness is coming and he will do what needs to be done. Nelli says she will do the same.

They are interrupted. Suzanne asked to be called when the Prince was ready. Suzanne asks Nelli if she is ready to meet the Prince. Nelli says she was born ready.

Vannevar’s Cerebro

Prince Vannevar is waiting for them in the drawing-room of the mansion, along with Katya (Shayne Eastin) and Ib (Noura Ibrahim). Suzanne formally introduces Nelli under her proper title as Baroness of Hollywood. Vannevar is surprised by her promotion and Nelli is shocked that news moves so slowly. Vannevar asks about Baron Abrams and Nelli says he had to leave. He asks what Nelli’s plans are for Hollywood and she says she wants to maintain the status quo and the Masquerade. Katya introduces herself as the Tremere Primogen. She has that Baron Temple is doing a bad job maintaining the Masquerade, as he has Ventrue symbols on his club. Nelli thinks there are different interpretations of the Masquerade and Vannevar thinks this is absurd. Katya thinks the Anarchs need to scale things down a little, especially as she knows Eva and Jasper, confirming that she is Eva’s sire. Vannevar is furious that Katya sired Eva without permission. Ib chimes in and says Eva and Jasper are getting into problems all the time. Katya blames Jasper, calling him a bad influence. Vannevar asks if Jasper is still alive and Ib says her plans to deal with him were foiled. Other than that, Ib has been maintaining the truce. Vannevar asks why Katya is there instead of Garrick, as he liked him more. Katya says Garrick has been relocated and that this was a Tremere decision.

Katya says she aided Eva and Jasper in a battle against a gargoyle within the Labyrinth. During the struggle, a leyline was pulled and it harmed the Magic Castle, which is within Nelli’s domain, but the matter has been dealt with. Katya reminds Nelli about the Tremere’s deal with Baron Abrams to stay in the Magic Castle. Nelli says it’s an interesting idea and she will negotiate it on another night. Vannevar wants Garrick to return to him and he reaches out with his considerable power to contact him. Garrick hears this call somewhere in the world and is compelled to return to Los Angeles. Katya says Garrick is a dangerous man.

Suzanne wants Vannevar and Nelli to work together to stop the war and preserve the Masquerade. Katya is concerned about Nelli, as Hollywood is the entertainment capital of the world and all eyes are upon it. Suzanne asks Nelli to join the Camarilla again and Nelli refuses, harshly. Vannevar says she doesn’t understand what is at stake and he calls for Bert. A young man enters the room and he is told to bring a book. It doesn’t take long for Bert to bring a copy of the Book of Nod into the room and Vannevar starts reading the prophecies of the end times and of the time of thin-blood.

Vannevar asks Nelli if all of this clear. Ib says the prophecy is bigger than their empires. Nelli asks what they are talking about when suddenly, the shadows in the room take form. Aurora (the Camarilla Scourge) enters the room and says she has found a nest of thin-bloods in Los Angeles under the protection of Baron Temple. Aurora explains that their numbers are growing and that some of them possess strange abilities, such as being able to walk under the sun, eat food, and make love. They can also brew potions from their blood. Aurora believes they should be hired and used as a weapon against the Anarchs before the Anarchs do the same. Suzanne asks if they have a leader and Aurora says the follow a woman named Delilah. Suzanne asks Nelli if she is aware that Baron Temple is harboring the thin-bloods. Nelli says she is and Suzanne reads her mind to confirm she is telling the truth.

Katya wants to get her hands on some thin-blood vitae to determine its power and Ib agrees, saying they should invite Delilah to see them. Vannevar thinks they should just capture Delilah. Ib wants to use them before they are disposed of, but Vannevar thinks they could infiltrate the tower and bring about the prophecy. Katya asks for a private word with Suzanne, Ib wants a private word with Nelli, and the Prince stays with Aurora and his book.

Katya tells Suzanne that there is someone in the house who can help them. They discovered the body of an ancient Nosferatu in the Labyrinth and it was in torpor. The Nosferatu has awoken and has revealed that he is Zelios – a well-known member of his clan that helped Suzanne and Vannevar escape from Versailles centuries earlier. Suzanne wants to speak to him when Nelli leaves.

Ib tells Nelli that she keep cleaning up after her mess. She is sick of people making stupid rash decisions, as they have bigger problems now, like the Second Inquisition and the thin-bloods. Nelli asks about Daffodil and Ib says she should use his real name, as it’s important to her that ghouls are treated well. Nelli agrees and says she will trust Ib… when Greg is returned safely to her. Nelli receives a text from Lavender saying they need to leave. Nelli says her goodbyes and Suzanne gives her one last warning to take care of her herself, as war is coming. Once Nelli departs, Katya reveals that she has Jasper’s address and gives it to Ib.

Glass Bottom Boat

Katya offers to lead them downstairs, as there is someone she wants them to meet. She leads them to the basement of the east wing, into the wine cellar. Suzanne uses Heightened Senses and hears footsteps pacing around. They meet a wandering Nosferatu. Katya recognizes him as the one from the Labyrinth, except his neck wound is closed. Suzanne and Vannevar recognize him from their days in France, as Zelios helped them escape from Versailles. Zelios bows and Suzanne takes his hand.

Zelios knows they found his Labyrinth, as have the Anarchs. Zelios recounts the story of how they met and the reminisce about the hall of mirrors in Versailles. He remembers Suzanne and Vannevar when they were fledglings, but now they are sovereigns. Zelios realizes something is wrong with Vannevar and wants to help his old friend. Zelios explains that he came to America a long time ago and spent his time protecting a place of great power by hiding it within a maze. Ib talks about the time she explored the Labyrinth when she worked with Baron Temple and that she was impressed by it.

Zelios confirms that he was sent into torpor by a wound inflicted by a lupine. Vannevar starts quoting the Book of Nod and Suzanne tells Zelios that the time of thin-bloods is among them and that it could be the end times. Vannevar asks Zelios if he knows blood magic and he says a little. Vannevar wants to know if thin-blood vitae could be harnassed to copy their abilities, such as walking under sunlight. Zelios thinks it might be possible.

Zelios asks if they remember the web of leylines beneath Versailles. Suzanne cannot forget them and believes they need to protect the same leylines in Los Angeles. The Anarchs stumbled across them by accident, due to a Nosferatu named Jasper. Zelios says this power should not be trifled with. Zelios created a portal specifically to keep the room safe and Ib confirms it’s still there. Zelios asks to speak to Suzanna and Vannevar alone.

Zelios believes something is manipulating the Prince from outside, causing his madness. He mentions the Malkavians and Suzanne realize that the Prince has been meeting with Therese Voermans all of this time. Suzanne brings Katya back into the room and they use Auspex to determine if something is affecting the Prince, but they cannot see anything. Katya has a ritual she can use, but it will require some of the Prince’s blood and a mirror. Bert swiftly arrives with a glass table and Suzanne pricks some of Vannevar’s blood onto it with a needle.

The delicious smelling elder blood pools onto the table. Katya starts to draw geometric shapes with the blood and soon, light emerges from her eyes and swarms into her hands. She shatters the table and a shield forms on the Prince’s body. Zelios says the aura he saw before is gone. The old Prince Vannevar has been restored, but only briefly. He decrees (possibly with the aid of one of his disciplines) that Therese Voerman will dance until sunrise on Santa Monica beach and will be consumed by the sun.

Katya falters and the spell breaks, restoring the Prince to his maddened state. Zelios asks Katya for a more permanent solution. Suzanne thinks Strauss can do it, even though Katya has now earned their trust. Katya could also use the remnants of the mirror to track down Therese, but this will take time. They could summon her to court, but they want to be ready first. Zelios is tired, but he hopes they can finish the conversation they started centuries earlier in Versailles. Ib asks if Katya is all right and Vannevar orders Bert to bring someone for her to feed on. Vannevar says it’s imperative they look after their own.

***

Meanwhile, Greg (Vince Caso) is still chained to the steering wheel of his car and has been unable to escape.

The new episodes of L.A. By Night can be watched on the World of Darkness Twitch and YouTube channels.

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Insurance and Blockchain – Pair Made in Heaven?

Since the first collective funds organized to protect Chinese trading ships, the insurance industry hasn’t changed too much. New processes and models emerged, digital tools appeared, and people started talking about focus on customers. Actually, that’s it. Underwriters are still pretty conservative as they tend to implement innovations slowly. Even cloud databases/processing tools aren’t fully adopted by insurance teams, as for now!

Still, we want to talk about an even more innovative thing – blockchain. This technology disrupts various market sectors right now. But how can it help insurers? What are the benefits and limitations? Is it a good idea to use blockchain at all? Let’s figure out.

Blockchain in Insurance Basics

For the first section, we have a few general points about blockchain as a technology and a platform for insurance solutions. We will review how the system works, how it can help insurers, and which obstacles are on the adoption way now.

Blockchain 101

While there are dozens of definitions, let’s stick to terms based on core features of the reviewed architecture. Blockchain is a distributed ledger that stores and exchanges data. The underlying structure is a chain of subsequently connected blocks that contain encrypted information. Exact copies of this entire chain are stored on machines of all network participants. That’s why it’s almost impossible to modify data without affecting all blocks.

Also, there are three types of blockchains that meet different purposes:

  • Public– decentralized systems that don’t have a single person/entity in charge. They are open to everyone and anonymous but have poor scalability.
  • Private– blockchains combined with traditional centralized governance. They sacrifice transparency to get way better performance.
  • Hybrid– solutions that try to combine private scalability and public accessibility. Their costs are higher, but potential benefits are promising, too.

For underwriters, such technology opens new interaction ways. Information stored in blocks is anonymous, immutable, transparent, and protected by cryptographic algorithms. However, blockchains are relatively expensive in development and maintenance. What’s more important, the world still doesn’t know how to regulate blockchain-powered businesses. Hence, there are both pros and cons.

Benefits

  • Automated management via smart contracts. These agreements can automate claims, settlements, and policy changes. For instance, smart contracts can trigger payments just after a road accident or adjust coverage during a trip abroad.
  • Digital-first approach to data storing and exchanging. Blockchain exists online, it’s a next-gen version of cloud storage. By keeping insurance-related data in it, companies can eliminate paperwork and double-entries.
  • Faster payments, including cryptocurrency transactions. Initially, the technology was designed for quick and cheap financial operations. Thus, underwriters can accept premiums or pay compensations in cryptocurrency.
  • Higher trust related to immutability and protection. In chains, records can’t be processed backward. It makes such systems useful for sensitive data like financial transactions. Surely, information is encrypted, too.
  • Improved interoperability in different ecosystems. By implementing large-scale blockchains, it becomes possible to directly connect various parties: insurers, hospitals, car services, real estate agencies, customers.

Limitations

  • Data leaks, hacks, and other blockchain-specific attacks. While these innovative platforms are almost invulnerable to traditional attacks, they have their own flaws. As for now, it’s barely possible to build a 100% protected blockchain.
  • Expensive development, maintenance, and operations. Compared to traditional servers and clouds, distributed ledgers are less cost-efficient. They require smart developers, a lot of investments, and costly security measures.
  • Regulatory issues with national and international authorities. Due to the two previous facts, institutional investors and governments are extremely cautious about blockchains. They want to research everything first.

Core Implementation Areas for Blockchain

As you realize now, blockchain isn’t a magic solution to all insurance problems. It’s a complicated and expensive technology that requires thorough research and careful implementation. One PwC survey reports that 56% of insurance brands admit the importance of technology. Simultaneously, 57% of companies don’t know how to respond to this technology. Well, here are four areas where innovations can help a lot, for your information.

1. Life & Health Insurance

Problem: people often visit different doctors in different institutions. Due to outdated electronic health records, legacy digital healthcare systems, and strict privacy laws, it’s extremely difficult to optimize L&H insurance. Underwriters and clinics can’t share info, track fraud, and eliminate errors. At the end of the day, all parties face time/money losses.

Solution: thanks to immutability, transparency, and encryption, distributed ledgers can change the game. Patients can store their sensitive data inside chains, share it with insurers and doctors, get timely compensations, and be sure that each record is secure. Finally, the information can be anonymized and shared for scientific research.

2. Property & Casualty Insurance

Problem: modern P&C claims management processes are prone to human errors and biases. Core data needed for evaluation is distributed among several parties. Insurers have to gather information, check claims, decide on payments, cooperate with clients and other firms. Most of these processes are digital but still manual!

Solution: blockchains not only collect data to store it under one roof but also enable efficient automation through smart contracts. Based on this approach, a system can automatically track car telematics, file claims in case of any accident, review the conditions, confirm coverage payments, and request an extra manual review if needed.

3. Re-Insurance

Problem: underwriters protect people and businesses from risks. But there are other companies that protect insurers – they can help if a lot of claims come at once. Current processes in re-insurance are complex and cumbersome. Entities should agree on risks, evaluate them manually, sign contracts, and meet all industry standards.

Solution: using shared ledgers, businesses can save tons of time. In such databases, information about risks, premiums, losses, and coverages is available to both parties. Moreover, by adding smart contracts, insurers can automate case evaluations and payments. It’s especially vital for urgent situations like natural disasters or wars.

4. Risk and Fraud Prevention

Problem: fraudulent claims are as old as the insurance industry itself. People want to get some money all the time, so they find new and new ways to cheat on insurers. Destroyed cars, burnt houses, fake injuries, whatever. And companies continue suffering from these frauds because they feature visibility gaps and other errors.

Solution: again, all chain changes are remembered and tracked. It’s impossible to manipulate data, so businesses can easily find any suspicious activity. It also becomes simpler to identify fraudulent patterns thanks to global analysis. Distributed databases eliminate double-bookings, counterfeit ownerships, and unlicensed policies.

The Future of Insurance

Blockchain solutions are attractive thanks to all the hype around. Many businesses start working on them, but the majority fails. The thing is that you should clearly know what do you need and how will you move to the expected results. For some teams, such innovations are must-have. Nevertheless, others can succeed without them.

Talking about insurance and blockchain combination, Diceus experts say that not all underwriters require this technology. To understand if a distributed ledger is a perfect match for your brand, you should analyze the company, the customers, and the market. Start working only if you realize the risks and potential benefits, that’s the golden rule!

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