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What Are Reloaded Games and Repacked Games?

If you’ve explored the gaming scene for long enough, you may have come across game torrents labeled with two terms; “Reloaded” and “Repacked.” While these may sound like sequels for The Matrix, they have a whole different meaning when describing video games.

In this article we explain what repacked games and reloaded games are, and discover whether or not they’re legal.

What Is a Reloaded Game?

When you see a “reloaded” game, it can mean one of two things. Either the Reloaded group cracked and uploaded the game, or the uploader re-uploaded the game.

When “Reloaded” Means the Reloaded Team

The Reloaded team's website

Sometimes when a game is labeled “Reloaded” (or “RLD”), this means the Reloaded piracy group cracked the game. Crackers will often “sign” their work to show that they’re responsible for it.

The Reloaded team is notorious on the internet. They started up in 2004, and have many high-level cracks under their name. One of them was Spore, which Reloaded released four days before the release date with its draconian SecuROM DRM stripped from it. Since then, Reloaded has become a famous team amongst pirates who rely on them for free games.

When “Reloaded” Means a Re-Upload

Sometimes, “reloaded” means the uploader has tweaked the original files and re-uploaded it to internet. This may be because someone took down the original link, or the uploader tweaked the game to make it run better. As such, they use the term “reloaded” to tell people that the files are a recent upload.

What Is a Repacked Game?

When a game is labeled as “repacked,” it means the uploader has shuffled the files around to minimize download times. It tells downloaders that the uploader took the base files, “repacked” it to lower the file size, then re-uploaded it for everyone to use.

When a cracking team first breaks into a game, the total file size can be huge. This is because the software contains the full game, without any compression or removal of unnecessary features.

As such, if the cracker then uploads this to the internet, it may take a long time for downloaders to download the games onto their system. Even if they do manage it, the game will take up a large amount of space on the downloader’s hard drive.

How Crackers Reduce a Game’s File Size

When reducing a game’s huge file size, a cracker may compress files to reduce the file size. They’ll locate the files that take up the most space (such as sound and texture files) then pack them up to make the overall download size smaller.

They’ll also go through the game files and remove elements they deem unnecessary. For instance, a lot of games come with different language options. These games contain sound files for each of these languages, so the user can swap between them at will.

Someone repacking a game can lower the file size by removing the language files that aren’t in their native language. They will then upload the files stating what language the game is in, so people know what to expect when they download it. As such, if someone doesn’t care that they can play the game in French or Italian, they can save space and download time by grabbing an English-only repack.

A repacked game may also come with a crack. Cracks are special tools that can bust open the copy-protection of a program. Once the user downloads the files, they can apply the crack themselves and play the game without issue.

Are Repacked and Reloaded Games Illegal?

As you may have guessed by now, you’ll find these terms on pirating and game torrent sites. One is a tag for a cracking group, while the other is a sign that someone has heavily reduced a game’s file size.

Either way, if you see one of these tags on a game, there’s a very high chance that by downloading it you’re committing piracy. Even if the game is so old that it’s technically abandonware (what is abandonware?), it’s still a substantial gray area both legally and morally.

As such, if you see a game with one of these tags, it’s best to leave it be and find a legal way to download the game. For modern games, Steam and the Epic Store are both excellent picks to find it; for older titles, Good Old Games (GOG) may have it. If it doesn’t, GOG does have a “recommend a game” feature that you can use to raise awareness for your game.

Yes, these options do involve spending money, which isn’t an ideal situation. However, there are plenty of issues when illegally downloading games, ranging from a broken game to viruses and malware. You’re better off waiting for a Steam sale or Humble Bundle than running the risk of downloading a bad file.

How to Legally Get Free Games

The Epic Game store's free game section

Even if you’re short on cash, you don’t need to resort to piracy for something new to play. These days, there are swathes of games you don’t need to pay to play. This is either because the game uses a free-to-play model, or a store gives away a paid game.

For example, there are plenty of free games on Steam that won’t harm your wallet. Game services such as PS Now, Steam, and the Epic Store also give away games for free periodically, with Epic doing a unique “free game every week” campaign. It’s worth keeping tabs on them to see what’s new.

If you’re willing to pay a little bit of money, you can get lots of games for a single monthly fee. PS Now and the Xbox Game Pass (what is Xbox Game Pass?) are like the Netflix of video games. You just pay a small amount of money to unlock a considerable library. It’s by no means free, but it is a fantastic way to play games on a low budget.

Getting Smarter About Piracy

“Reloaded” and “repacked” are two terms you’ll see if you frequently pirate games. Crackers use them to tell you more about the upload, whether it’s a cracking group’s signature or an indicator that the uploader reduced the file size.

If you tend to turn to torrenting services for your entertainment, you should learn all about the dangers of downloading pirated games.

Read the full article: What Are Reloaded Games and Repacked Games?

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The 5 Best Mini PCs for Gaming

You don’t need a massive gaming rig to play the latest video games on ultra-settings. You can purchase a mini gaming PC instead, packed with the same high-spec hardware as a regular gaming desktop.

So, if size is a concern or you demand portability from your gaming PC, you should check out the best mini PCs for gaming.

1. Zotac Magnus Mini Creator

Zotac Magnus Mini Creator Zotac Magnus Mini Creator Buy Now On Amazon $1,899.99

Let’s kick things off with a mini gaming PC powerhouse: the Zotac Magnus Mini Creator. Under the hood, the Zotac Magnus Mini Creator packs a mighty six-core 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-9750H, along with the 8GB GDDR6 Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080. Out of the box, the Mini Creator comes with 8GB RAM, although this is upgradeable up to 32GB DDR4 RAM.

The Intel Core i7-9750H is a power-efficient CPU with a thermal design power rating of 45W. The 9750H also features integrated UHD Graphics 630, which you can use to take the load off of the discreet GPU for further power savings. The Zotac Magnus Mini Creator includes two HDMI ports, one DisplayPort, four USB 3.0 ports, one USB Type-C port, and a handy SD card slot.

This mini PC is ideal for gaming, but it is also well-suited to other creative tasks as well. The high-performance processor allows you to perform intensive functions like photo and video editing, 3D animation, and you can even use it to stream your gaming sessions. That’s not to mention that it’s capable of handling home theater media centers, too.

2. Corsair ONE i164

From one mini PC behemoth to another, the Corsair ONE i164 is another impressive tiny gaming system. The Corsair One i164’s Intel Core i9-9900K is an eight-core 3.6GHz CPU, one of the best consumer CPUs on the market at the time of writing.

Working with the 9900K is an 11GB GDDR6 Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, backed up with a whopping 32GB DDR4 RAM. One of the things that sets the Corsair ONE i164 aside from other mini PCs is the integrated liquid cooling system.

Corsair builds the ONE series of mini PCs with high and ultra-level quality gaming leading the design, and it shows. The ONE i164 packs in the external connections too. It features three DisplayPort, one VR-ready HDMI, two USB 2.0, four USB 3.1 Gen 1, and two USB 3.1 Gen 2 (Type-A and Type-C).

While the physical size of this computer is inline with other mini PCs, it uses the more familiar desktop PC format. So, rather than a compact box on your table, you can put the smaller desktop tower instead.

3. MSI Trident X

MSI Trident X MSI Trident X Buy Now On Amazon $2,299.00

As far as aesthetics go, the MSI Trident X is up there with the best looking mini gaming PCs. The Trident X looks similar to a modern gaming console, standing tall on your desktop or next to your TV. Throw in some RGB lighting effects and a nicely crafted case, and you have a visual winner.

But gaming is about what’s on the inside of the case. And in the MSI Trident X setup, you’ll find a top of the line Intel Core i7-10700KF, an eight-core 3.6GHz beast. Working alongside the CPU is an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super, which comes with 8GB GDDR6 RAM.

Finally, the Trident X has a whopping 32GB DDR4 RAM, future-proofing your mini gaming PC for the medium-to-long term. In terms of connectivity, you’ll find a Thunderbolt 3 port, three DisplayPorts, one HDMI, one USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C, three USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, one USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, and three USB 2.0 Type-A ports.

4. HP ProDesk 405

HP ProDesk 405 HP ProDesk 405 Buy Now On Amazon $512.88

The HP ProDesk 405 is an AMD-powered mini gaming PC with a similar style to a set-top cable box. Okay, it is slightly more appealing than your old cable box, but it certainly won’t win any awards, with the black and silver design fitting in with HP’s wider off-the-shelf PC designs.

Powering the ProDesk 405 is an AMD Ryzen 5 2400GE, a quad-core 3.2GHz CPU, which is decent enough. The AMD Ryzen 5 2400GE comes bundled with the AMD Radeon Vega 11 onboard graphics.

Again, the Vega 11 is decent enough but not world-beating, allowing some 1080p gaming at reasonable specs for games that are a few years old. Still, this is one of the more affordable options out there if you’re looking for a space-saving mini PC, but still want to jump into more than a few PC gaming sessions.

5. Intel NUC 8 Hades Canyon

The Intel NUC 8 Hades Canyon is a powerful mini PC for gaming—although you should note that it is not the latest generation of Intel NUC. However, the CPU and GPU combination make the NUC 8 Hades Canyon worth your consideration.

The Intel NUC 8 Hades Canyon uses an Intel Core i7-8809G, a quad-core 3.1GHz CPU, with onboard Intel HD Graphics 630. However, you don’t have to use the onboard graphics for gaming, as the NUC 8 Hades Canyon also packs in an AMD Radeon RX Vega M GH discreet graphics card.

The RX Vega M GH offers similar performance to the Nvidia GeForce 1060, allowing for some decent gaming at 1080p. The NUC 8 Hades Canyon also features one USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C, one USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A, four USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A, two Mini DisplayPort, and two HDMI ports.

Which Are the Best Mini PCs for Gaming?

If you scan through the listings on Amazon, you’ll find a vast number of mini gaming PCs. The prices look brilliant—until you actually consider the specs. Many of these entry-level or barebones systems come with a low to medium tier CPU and do not have a discreet GPU.

You will manage some gaming on a machine like this, but you certainly won’t roam the streets of GTA V’s San Andreas on ultra-settings. The simple fact of the matter is that a powerful mini gaming PC, like those we’ve listed here, will set you back a bit more than the alternatives.

You don’t have to buy an off-the-shelf mini gaming PC. If you want to keep costs down, check out our guide on how to build a small PC with the Mini-ITX form factor.

Read the full article: The 5 Best Mini PCs for Gaming

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The 10 Best WW2 Strategy Games to Immerse Yourself in War

WW2 strategy games provide some of the best experiences in the genre. They require you to think tactically as you lead your troops into battle and hopefully toward victory. And they all help immerse you in World War II.

From squad-based combat to continental-scale strategy, you can step into some of the most famous battles of all time to test your strategic mettle. In this article, we list the best WW2 strategy games, both old and new, that are worth playing

1. Company of Heroes 2

The original Company of Heroes is one of the best examples of real-time strategy games period, let alone in the war genre. This sequel is equally impressive.

The game primarily focuses on battles on the Eastern Front, like the Battle of Berlin and Operation Barbarossa. You need to manage your resources carefully, taking over buildings, and upgrade your infantry and vehicles as you go.

Two features that make Company of Heroes 2 especially interesting are TrueSight, a more realistic approach to line-of-sight in combat, and weather conditions that impact soldier’s health and power.

2. Steel Division 2

Steel Division 2 is set during Operation Bagration, across a great single-player campaign that puts you in the roles of General, Colonel, and Weapons Expert. It aims to be historically accurate, with more than 600 units to control across 25 huge maps.

One awesome thing about Steel Division 2 is that you can either fight in the fun real-time tactical combat, or you can automatically resolve them if you just want the pure strategic experience.

On top of all that, the game looks great. So much attention has been paid to the vehicles and environments that you’ll feel totally immersed in the World War II experience.

3. Hearts of Iron IV

Instead of controlling individual units, Hearts of Iron IV puts you in command of the highest-level strategy in the war. You develop technology, build and outfit armies, control forces on land, sea, and air, and launch invasions that will change the tide of the war.

You also handle negotiations, trade, and politics. By appointing ministers and generals, you can use the game’s AI to help you ensure victory. Plus, you can do it with any country involved in the war, from the major players to the smaller nations just trying to survive.

This is a complex game, and it requires a monumental amount of strategic thinking. If you want to see what World War II must have looked from the highest level of command, this is the game for you.

4. Order of Battle: World War II

Order of Battle: World War II may seem like a free-to-play game, but you actually buy each campaign individually. It’s very expensive if you buy them all, so instead it’s better to pick and choose from those that interest you the most.

Thankfully, you can play the first chapter of each campaign pack for free to get a taste of the action. You’ll find a slick and detailed game packed full of content—with over 700 units, including infantry, tanks, ships, and aircraft.

If you like traditional turn-based hex gameplay, this is the game for you. It’s easy to pick up, but packs a lot of depth, and has some nice animations and effects to keep things interesting.

5. Panzer Corps 2

Panzer Corps is a beloved WW2 strategy game, and this sequel takes what worked for the original and improves upon it.

According to the developers, no other game has as many authentic World War II vehicles. There are over 1,000 unique units, each modeled with incredible detail and realistic animations. You can take charge of them in the single-player campaign or online.

Once you’re done with the game’s main content, you can use the powerful scenario editor to build your own campaigns and maps with ease. Panzer Corps 2 is so deep that you may never need to buy another WW2 game again.

6. Codename: Panzers

Codename: Panzers was first released in 2004, but it has since been remastered to work with modern systems and support larger resolutions. Despite its age, this is a game that is still worth playing thanks to its timeless tactical fun.

Across landscapes like small towns, bleak mountains, and murky swamps, Codename: Panzers plunges you into the depths of war and lets you control lots of units like a battle tank, a flame-throwing squad, an organ rocket launcher, and more.

While there is an online multiplayer mode to keep you happy, you should definitely check out the story mode which is engrossing and supported with great voice acting.

7. War in the East

War in the East is a different type of WW2 strategy game. It’s descended from a long line of tabletop war games, and it shows; it captures the look of cardboard chits on paper maps.

Despite that, it packs a huge amount of strategic heft. You wage war along the entire Eastern front, and you can play through five different campaigns. You have access to a wide variety of units, including ski troopers, engineers, pioneers, and tank destroyers.

Beyond combat, you also manage production, supply lines, weather, and fog of war effects. This is a complicated, challenging strategy game, but it’s a deep one that you can sink hundreds of hours into.

8. Men of War: Assault Squad 2

If you’re looking for a WW2 strategy game that has a lot to offer, you can’t go wrong with Assault Squad 2. It’s a top-down real-time strategy game that lets you control every unit in your squad. 200 soldiers with unique loadouts, 250 vehicles, and five different factions make for a huge amount of variety.

There’s a realistic and gritty feel here that few games manage to capture—it’s almost like starring in one of the best World War II movies. The graphics are great and help immerse in the action. You face off against other armored units, engage in sniper battles, and pit groups of infantry against the enemy in massive engagements.

Be warned that this game won’t hold your hand and you will find it very difficult. Welcome to World War II.

9. Sudden Strike 4

There’s one thing that sets Sudden Strike 4 apart from many of its contemporaries: it’s one of the few WW2 strategy games available on PS4 as well as on PC.

Beyond that, it has a lot of what you’d expect from typical WW2 RTS games: 100 units to command, zoned damage areas on tanks, building occupations, and so on. It’s a great-looking game that lets you take on three campaigns from three different sides of the war.

If you’re looking for a console-based WW2 strategy experience, Sudden Strike 4 is the way to go.

10. Unity of Command II

If you only decide to buy one WW2 strategy game, make it Unity of Command II. It’s a follow-up to the 2011 cult classic, putting you in command of the Western Allies as you manage their supply and logistics.

No two play sessions are the same thanks to dynamic campaigns that branch out with your decisions, meaning you can alter the course of history. Despite that, there’s still a keen attention to detail in the units that will please history buffs.

There’s also a scenario editor with Steam Workshop support, meaning you can build your own campaigns and download other people’s campaigns with ease.

You Can Also Play Strategy Games in Your Browser

These aren’t the only World War II strategy games out there, but they are some of the best. Whether you’re looking for tactical, operational, or grand scale battles, you’ll find what you’re looking for in the WW2 strategy games above.

If you don’t fancy buying a game right now, or just want something to dip into wherever you are, check out the best browser strategy games you can play for hours.

Read the full article: The 10 Best WW2 Strategy Games to Immerse Yourself in War

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9 Ways to Speed Up Steam and Download Games Faster

Steam is the number one choice for PC gaming. The digital distribution channel and online community is home to most games—but sometimes it runs slow.

If you’re keen to start playing this can be frustrating. To help, we’ve compiled the best tips to stop Steam throttling download speeds and other performance tweaks for faster gaming.

1. Close All Other Apps

It doesn’t matter if you use a gaming behemoth from Alienware or a $500 budget home-built gaming PC. If you’re about to start gaming, make sure you have closed any non-essential apps.

Irrelevant software running alongside Steam can use data bandwidth as well as squeeze system resources. This will impact game downloads, online gaming, and overall performance.

Web browsers, software updates, and simultaneous downloading would all come under this description. Close everything, even cloud sync tools like Dropbox and Google Drive.

You can also make some changes in the Steam client to prevent inconvenient downloads.

  1. Open Steam > Settings
  2. Under Downloads find Download Restrictions
  3. Ensure that the Allow downloads during gameplay box is clear
  4. Consider setting a schedule for downloads using Only auto-update games between

You can also terminate unnecessary processes. On Windows:

  1. Right-click the Taskbar and select Task Manager
  2. Expand to the More details view
  3. Check the Network column for anything that appears to be hogging bandwidth
  4. Select the process and End Task

Meanwhile, Linux and macOS users can also close unwanted background tasks. Here’s how to force close processes on Linux and how to close software using the macOS Activity Monitor.

Whatever the operating system, be sure that the software or process you’re trying to close isn’t vital. Run a web search to check what it is for and establish if it has any relevance to system stability or your game. If it is irrelevant, proceed to close it.

You can use the same process to close unwanted software that is hogging the processor or RAM.

2. Use Windows Game Mode

Windows users can also employ Game Mode before launching Steam. This mode pauses other activity on your computer. To enable Windows 10 Game Mode:

  1. Press WINDOWS+I to open Settings
  2. Select Gaming > Game Mode
  3. Toggle Game Mode to On

Windows Game Mode can improve Steam performance

Game Mode won’t make a huge impact, but on low spec systems it delivers a useful boost.

3. Ensure Steam Is a High Priority App

Windows users can adjust the priority of Steam, so it takes precedence over other software and processes. This can have an immediate performance boost on your system, if not on download speed.

To do this, again open the Task Manager from the Taskbar. Then:

  1. Switch to the Details tab
  2. Find SteamService.exe
  3. Right-click the process
  4. In the menu, select Set Priority > High

Enhance the priority of Steam for improved performance in Windows

It’s as easy as that.

4. Improve Steam Store Browser Speed

Ever browse the Steam Store to find a new game and found that you’re unable to play the video clips? Or found the entire client just slow to switch between the store, your library, and community modes?

These are all frustrating issues that are surprisingly easy to fix.

The Steam Store is basically a web browser, so is susceptible to the same issues as a standard browser. Clearing the cache will reduce lag in the browser, improving performance and overall speed.

  1. Open Steam
  2. Browse to Steam > Settings
  3. In the left-hand menu, select Web Browser
  4. Click Delete Web Browser Cache
  5. Click OK to complete

Delete the Steam browser cache

There is also a button to delete cookies, although this has no impact on the performance of the Steam client.

5. Install Games to a Faster HDD or SSD

One of the key issues limiting the performance of Steam is your PC’s hardware. You can upgrade your PC in several ways to improve it, but a key element is always the speed of the storage device.

While upgrading a mechanical hard disk drive (HDDs) to a faster model (say 5400rpm to 7200rpm) might help, switching to an SSD is a better option. Solid-state drives are based on the same technology as USB thumb drives; as such they’re far faster.

Whether you choose a faster HDD or an SSD, you can use this faster storage for Steam. Migrating data across is simple but requires two considerations.

First, ensure the new device is optimized and formatted.

Second, the new storage must be big enough to hold your existing Steam library, so check the capacity.

When you’re ready to move the data to the new drive, boot your PC, load Steam, and then:

  1. Open Steam > Settings
  2. On the left-hand menu, select the Downloads tab
  3. Click Steam Library Folders
  4. Find and click Add Library Folder
  5. Click the drop-down menu to select new drive letter
  6. Create a New Folder
  7. Accept the default name
  8. Click OK
  9. Click Select

Move Steam data to a faster drive for improved performance

The existing games in your Steam library will then be migrated to the new faster storage.

6. Is Steam Throttling Your Downloads?

Due to the massive demand on their servers, Steam uses routing management to reduce impact. This is known as “throttling” and prioritizes certain types of data.

If your connection has been restricted leaving you drip-dripping download data at 250Kb/s, you can tweak the Steam client’s settings.

  1. Open Steam > Settings
  2. Find Downloads
  3. Find Limit bandwidth under Download Restrictions
  4. Click the drop-down to set your maximum download limit
  5. If your ISP permits speeds faster than the maximum, set No limit
  6. Click OK

Remember to restart Steam when you’re done.

7. Choose a New Steam Server

Your selected Steam server could be the cause of slow downloads. A massive amount of data is handled by Steams servers, so this shouldn’t be a surprise. But the problem might be having the wrong server selected.

To check this and select the correct server:

  1. Open Steam > Settings
  2. Find Downloads
  3. Under Download Region, ensure the nearest server is selected

Choose a new server to speed up Steam

All you need to do now is click OK to confirm and then restart Steam for the changes to take effect.

Note that the server list is updated automatically as new servers are brought online and old units are retired. As such you should check every few months that your connection has not been updated to a slower server.

8. Can Changing Your ISP Speed Up Steam?

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) also throttle traffic from Steam and other providers. They do this to prioritize specific data types, such as online shopping and social networking over high bandwidth activities such as online gaming, downloading, and video streaming.

That’s right: often, it’s your ISP that is the problem, not Steam.

After all, a massive amount of data is handled by Steams servers—usually the service is up to the task. Just check this live graph of Steam’s bandwidth over the past 48 hours. You can drill down through the data to select regions, and even see which ISP provides the biggest bandwidth.

You can use this list as a guide to switch to a faster ISP. While a new ISP might still throttle data, if the upper speed limit is faster, and the bandwidth is available, throttling shouldn’t impact gaming on Steam.

9. Get Faster Steam Downloads With a VPN

Another way to speed up Steam is to play over a VPN. The thinking behind this is straightforward: ISPs throttle traffic, but managing encrypted traffic is a different matter. If your Steam download speed is slow, connecting a via a VPN is a smart option. It can even enhance speeds with online gaming and provide access to game servers you wouldn’t normally reach.

If you use a VPN, be sure to select a Steam server in the same country as your VPN. There’s no point using a VPN connected to a server in Toronto if your Steam server is in New York.

A great VPN for gaming is ExpressVPN. MakeUseOf readers can enjoy a great 49% discount to ExpressVPN by subscribing via this link. For more suggestions, check our guide to the best VPN services.

Don’t Suffer Slow Steam Speeds

Making these changes can seriously improve the speed of your downloads from Steam.

You’ll no longer wonder why Steam is slow—it will just work, quickly delivering your games, DLC, and more. And with a VPN in the mix, you’ll no longer be limited by the speed on offer from your ISP.

With Steam running nice and smoothly, it’s time to start playing your favorite games. Why not invite some friends around and play local multiplayer Steam games on your home network?

Read the full article: 9 Ways to Speed Up Steam and Download Games Faster

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The Best Mouse Pads for Gamers in 2020

It’s a shame to have a top-of-the-line rig, an expensive mechanical keyboard, a customizable DPI mouse, but a hand-me-down mouse mat from years ago.

Upgrading to a good gaming mouse pad can help kit out your desk, improve mouse performance, and could even save your wrists from RSI!

Let’s explore the best gaming mouse pads to finish off your gaming desk.

1. Razer Goliathus Speed Gaming Mouse Pad

Razer Goliathus Speed Gaming Mouse Pad Razer Goliathus Speed Gaming Mouse Pad Buy Now On Amazon $7.99

Let’s start with something simple yet effective. The Razer Goliathus Speed Gaming Mouse Pad is a fantastic option made by a top gaming company that doesn’t hurt your wallet.

Although it doesn’t look fancy, it’s designed to allow mice to move quickly for sharp movements while retaining precision for minute actions. Better yet, if you have a Razer mouse, you can customize it for your chosen pad.

2. Razer Firefly Chroma Hard Gaming Mouse Pad

Razer Firefly Chroma Hard Gaming Mouse Pad Razer Firefly Chroma Hard Gaming Mouse Pad Buy Now On Amazon $49.42

If you like Razer products, but want something a little more exciting than a blank pad, try the Razer Firefly Chroma Hard GamingMouse Pad. The mat itself is black, but with an attractive colored border that can sync with other Razer hardware.

This pad also has an interesting feature; a cable catch. On the mat itself, there’s an inconspicuous black bar at the top. You can tie your phone’s wire to this catch to stop it catching or dragging when you move your mouse.

3. UtechSmart RGB Gaming Mouse Pad

UtechSmart RGB Gaming Mouse Pad UtechSmart RGB Gaming Mouse Pad Buy Now On Amazon $26.99

If you like the look of the previous mouse pad, but you feel it’s a bit small, try the UtechSmart RGB Gaming Mouse Pad. It’s the best large mouse pad that balances looks with price, so you can create a cool setup without breaking the bank.

For the price, you get an impressive 31.5 by 11.8-inch mat that can fit both a mouse and keyboard. The light around the mouse pad is customizable with flashing, wavy, and breathing patterns available to mix things up.

4. Luxcoms LED RGB Gaming Mouse Pad

Luxcoms LED RGB Gaming Mouse Pad Luxcoms LED RGB Gaming Mouse Pad Buy Now On Amazon $26.99

If you want a mouse mat you can carry around, try the Luxcoms LED RGB Gaming Mouse Pad. It comes in at 31.5 by 11.8 inches, and also has an attractive color border. However, it has some added extras that make it great for tournament use.

Unlike harder models, it’s easy to roll up and store away. Additionally, the mouse pad remembers your color settings when unplugged, so you need not reset it once you arrive. Finally, the stylish artwork on the mousemat means you’ll always feel proud to unroll it amongst friends.

5. Redragon P020 Gaming Mouse Pad

Redragon P020 Gaming Mouse Pad Redragon P020 Gaming Mouse Pad Buy Now On Amazon $15.99

If you’ve played games for a long period and felt an ache in the wrists, you may have considered a wrist rest. Fortunately, there are ways to give your wrists a much-needed break while still looking stylish.

The Redragon P020 Gaming Mouse Pad does just that. Its precision-enhancing silk, anti-slip underside, and anti-curl design are fit for any gamer, but it also comes with a built-in wrist pad that takes care of your joints.

If you enjoy a drink while you play games, you probably know the pains of getting drink stains on your mouse mat. Fortunately, this Redragon mat is waterproof and can be wiped clean, so it’ll stay clean and stain-free.

6. Gimars Large Memory Foam Ergonomic Mouse Pad

Gimars Large Memory Foam Ergonomic Mouse Pad Gimars Large Memory Foam Ergonomic Mouse Pad Buy Now On Amazon $11.86

If you’d like something a little larger, try the Gimars Large Memory Foam Ergonomic Mouse Pad. It doesn’t look as stylish as the Redragon, but does come in a larger size and at a lower price point.

The wrist rest on this mouse pad is made with breathable materials, so you won’t get sweaty after prolonged use. It uses memory foam for a snug fit. It’s soft enough to feel comfortable, but tough enough to support your wrist at a healthy angle.

7. VicTsing Mouse Pad

VicTsing Mouse Pad VicTsing Mouse Pad Buy Now On Amazon $6.49

Fancy an effective mouse pad without any extra bells and whistles? The VicTsing Mouse Pad is a simple gaming mouse pad that provides a smooth surface for quick movements. Given its incredibly affordable price, it’s the best mouse pad for pinching the pennies after a big Steam sale.

Even at this price point, you still get a lot from this durable mouse pad. The surface is sleek, the underside uses a rubber grip to keep the mouse pad in place, and the stitched edges prevent wear and tear.

8. NJHX Large Gaming Mouse Pad

NJHX Large Gaming Mouse Pad NJHX Large Gaming Mouse Pad Buy Now On Amazon $14.99

In the same vein as the above product, the NJHX Large Gaming Mouse Pad keeps things simple. It’s the best gaming mouse pad for those who want an extended mouse pad with no special extras.

Despite the lack of colorful lighting or cable clips, the NJHX Mouse Pad does a fantastic job. The surface is waterproof, the mat can be folded and rolled up, and the edges are stitched to prevent damage.

9. Yucoon Extended Gaming Mouse Pad

Yucoon Extended Gaming Mouse Pad Yucoon Extended Gaming Mouse Pad Buy Now On Amazon $19.99

If you can’t stand bland mouse pads, give the Yucoon Extended Gaming Mouse Pad a try. Not only is it available in different stylish designs, but it measures an impressive 35.4 by 15.7 inches. Thus making it the biggest pad on this list.

It also has all the features you’ve come to expect from a gaming pad. Its rubber underside keeps it in one place, the stitched edges prevent your mouse or hand from catching the sides, and you can clean it with a quick wipe-down.

Improve Your Gaming Performance

The mouse pad is one of the most overlooked computer accessories out there. To get the best performance, it’s essential to have a smooth surface to better translate your hand movements to in-game actions. Fortunately, whatever your requirements, there’s a gaming mouse pad for you.

Now that you have the mouse pad sorted, why not complement it with one of the best gaming mice?

Read the full article: The Best Mouse Pads for Gamers in 2020

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The 6 Best Beginners Sim Racing Wheels for PS4, Xbox One, and PC

The world of sim racing wheels can seem daunting and expensive. Many sim racers who stream online appear to have incredible sim racing setups. Many do, and these can easily cost thousands of dollars.

But if you want to get started in sim racing, or even just improve your enjoyment of regular racing games, there are several beginner’s sim racing wheels you can try out.

So, here are the best beginner’s sim racing wheels for PS4 and Xbox One. These sim wheels are compatible with your PC, too.

How to Choose a Sim Racing Wheel?

The biggest question is budget. How much do you want to spend on a sim racing wheel? Although sim racing wheels start at a very low price, you definitely get what you pay for. There are a few considerations, such as the sim racing wheel turn radius, force feedback, pedal and shifter combinations, integrated buttons and gear shifters, and so on.

The entry-level sim racing wheels have a small turn radius, which affects your in-game driving precision. Similarly, a wheel lacking force feedback makes steering accurately that bit more difficult. It’ll be better than the jerky movements you get from a gamepad (in most cases), but still not completely accurate.

In that, you don’t want to break your budget. But ensuring your sim racing wheel does tick those boxes will provide much greater enjoyment. You should also note that you don’t have to buy the latest and greatest sim racing wheel to have an incredible experience. Some of the best beginner’s sim racing wheels hit the market years back but are still excellent options.

Now, onto the best sim racing wheels for beginners for the PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

1. Logitech G29

Logitech G29 Logitech G29 Buy Now On Amazon $314.99

Platforms: PS4, PS3, PC | Turn Radius: Up to 900° | Force Feedback: Yes | Clutch Pedal: Yes

The Logitech G29 is one of the most popular sim racing wheels, period. Many sim racing pros point to the Logitech G29 as their ideal beginner’s racing wheel, with many using it as the start point for their online racing career.

The Logitech G29 is popular for a few reasons. First, it has an excellent build quality that combines a leather steering wheel with anodized aluminum gear shifters and an overall solid base for a sim racing wheel. Buttons are plentiful, customizable, and easy to press.

Then there are the steel pedals, complete with a manual clutch, allowing you extra control and immersion in your sim racing world. There’s also the option of expanding your sim racing setup with a G29 stick shifter.

Another major plus for the Logitech G29 is its force feedback and drive, which uses a dual-motor system (known as helical gears) to provide a much smoother driving simulation than most other sim racing wheels in this price bracket. Oh, and the 24-way directional dial is a super handy car and race management feature, too.

Overall, the Logitech G29 remains one of the best beginner’s sim racing wheels available, providing some serious racing bang for your buck.

2. Logitech G290

Logitech G290 Logitech G290 Buy Now On Amazon $278.88

Platforms: Xbox, PC | Turn Radius: Up to 900° | Force Feedback: Yes | Clutch Pedal: Yes

The Logitech G290 is the Xbox version of the Logitech G29 racing wheel. So, that means they’re the same, right? Not quite. There are some differences between the PlayStation and the Xbox versions, which make the G290 slightly inferior to the G29.

For instance, the Logitech G290 doesn’t have as many buttons as the G29. It isn’t a massive loss, but those buttons do make for considerably easier in-car management during a race. Similarly, the G290 doesn’t have an RPM light like the G29. Again, it isn’t a huge loss, but the visual cue to change gear is handy at times.

That aside, the G290 uses the same helical gear force feedback system, comes with the same sturdy steel pedals, and uses the same aluminum gear shifters. Visually, the Logitech G290 is sleek and looks smart, giving a strong luxury sim racing cockpit vibe (it looks better than the G29, in my opinion).

You can expand your driving experience with the Logitech Driving Force Shifter, which works with both the G29 and the G290. The integrated gear shifters are perfect for sim racing beginners, but if you do want to expand your setup, this is the official shifter option.

3. Thrustmaster T150

Thrustmaster T150 Thrustmaster T150 Buy Now On Amazon $179.40

Platforms: PS4, PS3, PC | Turn Radius: Up to 1080° | Force Feedback: Yes | Clutch Pedal: No

The Thrustmaster T150 is an excellent entry-level sim racing wheel for the PS4, PS4, and PC. It comes with dual-pedals, adjustable force feedback, and a customizable turn radius up to 1080 degrees.

The sim wheel uses a combination of gears and belt-pulleys to provide force feedback, which can feel a little janky at times. However, as you can adjust this system, you can find a suitable level of feedback that enables smooth gameplay.

As a beginner’s sim racing wheel for the PS4, the build materials do feel somewhat cheap in places. Still, with the adjustable pedals, integrated PS4/PS3 buttons, and decent mount system, the Thrustmaster T150 is a great starting point for sim racing wheels.

4. Thrustmaster TMX

Thrustmaster TMX Thrustmaster TMX Buy Now On Amazon $178.31

Platforms: Xbox, PC | Turn Radius: Up to 900° | Force Feedback: Yes | Clutch Pedal: No

The Thrustmaster TMX is the Xbox equivalent of the Thrustmaster T150. You’ve probably noticed by now that each manufacturer launches hardware for each console—but one console usually ends up with slightly better hardware. In this case, the Thrustmaster T150 is a slightly better proposition as a beginner’s racing wheel.

However, the Thrustmaster TMX is a great option for Xbox users regardless. The major difference lies with the turn radius. The Thrustmaster TMX has a maximum turn radius of 900 degrees but otherwise uses the exact same internal hardware as the T150. Of course, the button configuration for the Thrustmaster TMX matches the Xbox, too.

5. HORI Overdrive

HORI Overdrive HORI Overdrive Buy Now On Amazon $78.58

Platforms: Xbox One | Turn Radius: 270° | Force Feedback: No | Clutch Pedal: No

If you’ve never used any sim racing wheel, the HORI Overdrive makes an interesting entry-level option. So, why is it interesting?

Well, for starters, the HORI Overdrive’s pedals are very soft, lacking serious resistance to help you gauge your acceleration and braking. You definitely have more precision than with a gamepad, though, so that’s a positive.

The wheel lacks force feedback, although there is a bungee cord resistance system and a rumble which provides some feedback when turning through corners or changing driving surface. Also, the Overdrive only turns through 270 degrees. However, you can mitigate the latter using in-game sensitivity settings, adjusting the wheel turning rate and the steering dead zone until you find a happy medium.

The HORI Overdrive reviews are full of positive experiences, with many users believing the HORI Overdrive is a great choice for the price, and the perfect option to try out a wheel controller without breaking the bank.

6. HORI Apex

HORI Apex HORI Apex Buy Now On Amazon $179.99

Platforms: PS3, PS4, PC | Turn Radius: 270° | Force Feedback: No | Clutch Pedal: No

Where the HORI Overdrive is for Xbox One users, the HORI Apex is for PS3, PS4, and PC users. Like the Overdrive for the Xbox One, the HORI Apex is an officially licensed sim racing wheel for the PlayStation.

This lets you know that it’ll work with PlayStation sim racing games (and heaps on the PC, too). The HORI Apex’s specs are the same as the Overdrive, albeit with PlayStation buttons rather than Xbox.

Second-Hand Beginners Sim Racing Wheel

If you don’t want a massive outlay when purchasing your first sim racing wheel, you can try the second-hand sim racing wheel market. There are always sim racing wheels for beginners available on eBay, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, Carousell, and the numerous other online selling sites.

Some sim racers believe beginners should buy higher-end second-hand hardware rather than lower-spec new hardware. The reasoning is that although the second-hand sim racing wheel is already used, the wider range of functionality and potential for a better experience is a better introduction to sim racing wheels for beginners.

What Is the Best Sim Racing Wheel for Beginners?

Your budget for an entry-level sim racing wheel dictates your options. If you can spring for a beginner racing wheel with more features, a larger turn radius, and so on, you should because it will absolutely impact your experience positively. But if not, don’t worry!

You can have an incredible time using almost any sim racing wheel, be that for beginners or not. I used an Xbox 360 gamepad in sim racing games for years before upgrading to a very basic sim racing wheel and had a fantastic time.

If you’re new to PC gaming, check out our list of the essential PC gaming accessories you should have!

Read the full article: The 6 Best Beginners Sim Racing Wheels for PS4, Xbox One, and PC

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The 10 Best Free MMORPGs That Require No Download

The big-name MMOs, such as World of Warcraft, EVE Online, Destiny 2, and Final Fantasy XIV, take up a lot of space on your hard drive. However, if you have a computer lacking hard drive storage, these mammoth installations can be a problem.

If you want to play MMOs without downloading any files, check out these free MMOs that you can play in your web browser without taking up any space on your hard drive.

1. Arcane Legends

Arcane Legends is a fast-paced action MMO you can play in your browser. Arcane Legends combines RPG elements with hack-and-slash gameplay, allowing you to create a group with your friends and plow through enemies of all kinds.

There are three classes to choose from (Warrior, Rogue, and Sorcerer), multiple pets to enhance your gameplay, and hundreds of thousands of items you can use to level up your character. Your party members can also combine their skills across classes to create powerful spells and hit for more damage.

One of the best Arcane Legends features is the cross-platform gameplay. While Arcane Legends is available as a free browser MMO, you can also play on Android and iOS devices.

2. Hordes

Hordes is a clan-based open-world browser MMO, featuring both Player vs. Player (PVP) and Player vs. Environment (PVE) gameplay. It has multiple environments for you to explore with your clanmates, as well as large bosses that you can only take down as a group (sort of like a raid, but not quite on the same scale… yet).

There are four classes to choose from, two factions, and three gigantic maps. There are also heaps of loot of varying rarity, plus a rune system that allows you to upgrade your existing weapons and armor.

Hordes is the work of a two-person team, one coding the game and the other one bringing the world to life with 3D assets. When you see how much effort has gone into producing Hordes and on such a minimal budget, you’ll see why it is worth playing.

3. Mad World

Mad World is a free browser MMO that integrates a lot of the latest browser technology to bring users an experience that could easily pass for a regular indie game.

In that, there are a few things that will remind you of larger games, too. For example, Mad World features a large talent tree for extensive player customization. You’re also bound to a weapon style that focuses your build type, rather than being bound to a specific class.

Other than that, the art style gives Mad World an almost unique aesthetic. The hand-drawn characters, items, and backdrops help Mad World stand out from a browser MMO crowd that is often happy to mimic the best performing games of the era.

If you prefer to download free games for offline play, check out our guide to the best open-source video games.

4. Command & Conquer: Tiberium Alliances

If you played real-time strategy games in the 1990s and early 2000s, you probably remember all-time classic, Command & Conquer. The Tiberium-focused C&C games take their lede from science-fiction, featuring cool futuristic technology you can deploy against your enemies.

Tiberium Alliances continues that legacy as a free-to-play browser MMO. After you start building your base, you have a week of protection where no one can attack you. After that, it is a free for all. Collect resources, build units, expand your base, and lay waste to the opposing faction.

Tiberium Alliances is free, but you have the option of purchasing funds to speed up your progress. You can easily go through the game without spending any real money, though, making this a great way to get your RTS fix.

C&C Tiberium Alliances is far from the only browsed-based RTS. Here are some of the best browser strategy games for you to delve into right now.

5. Realm of the Mad God

Do you prefer to shoot stuff instead of strategizing? You should check out Realm of the Mad God, an 8-bit pixelated bullet-hell browser MMO. There’s not much preamble to this game. You’re teleported by Oryx, the Mad God, to his realm to be consumed by his minions.

Team up with other players, let the bullets fly, and survive! If you can. Once you’ve defeated enough minions, Oryx will show up—but once you’ve killed him, there’s plenty more to do. Explore the Shatters, a super-hard dungeon experience, collect legendary loot, and try to get the highest stats.

Just don’t die: once you’re dead, that character is gone forever, and you’ll need to start over. As irritating as this is, it adds another level of difficulty and is a nice nod to the roguelike genre.

6. Urban Dead

Did you know that there are text-based MMOs? Urban Dead is a great way to get introduced to a fascinating genre. You start as a human, and you need to survive zombie attacks. If you get killed off, you’ll come back as a zombie unless someone can heal you.

Explore the city, find useful items, and stay alive as long as possible. And don’t forget that you can be killed off even after logging out, so be sure to find a safe place before you quit for the day (or before you use up your Action Points).

Urban Dead is a free browser MMO. However, If you want to give money to the developer, you can buy some UD merch.

7. Pirates: Tides of Fortune

Do you prefer the high-seas to zombies and bullet-hell madness? Try Pirates: Tides of Fortune instead.

Pirates: Tides of Fortune offers a more classic setup, where you build up a Haven, establish your pirate fleet, and plunder the seven seas for loot and infamy. Harvest lumber and gold, distil rum (very important!), pillage shipwrecks, and take on other pirate fleets to become the most fearsome pirate of them all.

You can also spend time working through an impressively large technology tree, which includes things like sword-fighting, gunpowder, mathematics, trade, and even flight. Join a brotherhood and get to it!

8. Dead Maze

In Dead Maze, you’re building a better tomorrow in a zombie-infested post-apocalyptic world. The free MMO doesn’t require you to download any files, although there is a version of Dead Maze available on Steam.

Back to the game. Dead Maze is an isometric MMORPG with a focus on survival. You must gather resources and work with your fellow survivors to create shelter. Your shelter must also withstand attack from zombies, which you’ll also battle as you work your way around the world, finding resources.

So far, so familiar, but Dead Maze is well worth a look. There are warring factions, quests, private housing for your characters, and a crafting system.

9. Intium

Intium is a free MMORPG you can play from your browser, developed by a team of Reddit users. Intium is not only an MMO but also a MUD-like (Multi-User Dungeon). MUDs were one of the first ways people played out MMORPGs on the early internet, allowing for detailed world-building through text without creating a heavy network overhead.

Intium features roguelike gameplay with permadeath (when your character dies, they’re gone forever). There is a substantial amount of loot, server-wide elite bosses, and quests. Furthermore, the Intium world economy is entirely community-driven. There are no NPCs or price-fixing for items, which places a strong emphasis on exploring and finding premium loot to sell (or to craft!).

10. Stein.World

Stein.World started as a part-time coding project but evolved into a free MMORPG for your browser. Like Dead Maze, you can play Stein.World without downloading any files, but there is also a Steam version available.

Stein.World features a 2D 16-bit art style that brings the fantasy world to life. You’re on a quest to recover a lost family heirloom in the shape of a priceless beer stein. There are hundreds of quests, dungeons, guilds, and even in-game professions to hone your character. The game world is extensive and receives frequent content updates, adding new weapons, tools, and other improvements.

Are Free MMOs Dying Out?

The era of browser-based free MMOs was curtailed as many popular internet browsers removed support for Java-based games. Java is considered an unnecessary security risk, although some browsers still allow third-party Java installations.

Many of the most popular free browser-based MMOs depended on Java to run. Without Java, some browser MMOs switched to a non-browser version requiring you to download a program to launch the game (like Runescape). Other browser MMOs decided to cease development from that moment, preserving the game in gaming history.

So, in that light, are free browser MMOs dying out?

As strange as it sounds, the answer is no.

As you’ve seen from several entries on this list, new browser MMOs are appearing all the time. The lure of MMOs that require no downloads remains strong. While the number of free MMOs might decrease slightly, the overall quality of story, gameplay, and artwork rises as creators use more advanced tools to craft their worlds.

What Are Your Favorite Free MMOs?

These games are great free MMOs that you can play in your browser. However, there are plenty more MMORPGs that don’t require downloading out there.

However, if you do have hard drive space to spare, you should check out the best free PC games you can play right now.

Read the full article: The 10 Best Free MMORPGs That Require No Download

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The 10 Best Local Multiplayer Couch Co-Op Games on PC

Couch co-op games, which feature local multiplayer on the same device, bring out some of the best social aspects of gaming. Far from a hobby done in isolation, these titles show that gaming can be a great addition to parties, date nights, and hanging out with friends.

And while “couch” implies gaming on a console, there are plenty of PC couch co-op games you can enjoy too. From co-op platform games to other local co-op games on Steam, these are the best couch co-op games to play on your PC.

1. Rocket League

Genre: Sports

Rocket League is a popular twist on the sports game genre. Instead of playing traditional soccer, you use remote-controlled vehicles to steer the ball and score goals against the opposing team.

This fun mash-up of genres lends itself to hilarious mayhem, with the ability to boost your vehicle, destroy others, and defy gravity. With its split-screen local multiplayer, you can play with or against another player using the same device. Team up against others online or use the game’s AI teammates to set up competitive matches against each other.

Over time the game has also evolved to include in-game events and championship seasons.

Download: Rocket League on Steam ($19.99)

2. Human: Fall Flat

Genre: Puzzle

Human: Fall Flat is a hilarious puzzle game that uses a quirky physics engine to both entertain and infuriate you as you solve puzzles for different levels. While you can play the game solo, it really comes to life as a co-op title—letting you laugh with friends as you hilariously and repeatedly fail to overcome obstacles.

The game is challenging enough to keep you invested, but also has a fundamental levity that makes it a great way to de-stress and enjoy time with friends. Along with the split-screen local multiplayer option, you can also play the game online with friends remotely.

Download: Human Fall Flat on Steam ($14.99)

3. Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince

Genre: Puzzle

The Trine series of puzzle platform games have always offered an amazing co-op experience. Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince takes the best of the older games and invigorates the series with additional abilities for characters and unique boss fights.

Up to four people can join the game, either online or in local co-op. Each character has unique abilities that play an integral role in getting past challenges. Meanwhile, the beautiful art style and offbeat humor add to the overall appeal of the game.

Download: Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince on Steam ($29.99)

4. Broforce

Genre: Platform/Run-and-Gun

Broforce combines the run-and-gun action of classic titles like Contra with a pixel-art style and over-the-top mayhem. It’s a fun title that’s heavily inspired by retro games and includes full controller support, local co-op and competitive modes, and tongue-in-cheek humor.

As you play through the game, you unlock more characters inspired by classic movies and pop culture. Not only do they provide an homage to these characters, but each character also has unique abilities and weapons. The game includes various game modes and a level editor that will keep you playing even after you’ve completed the campaign levels.

The developers of Broforce also released a free standalone set of levels called The Expendabros, to coincide with the release of The Expendables 3. If you want to get a taste of the main game, this free standalone expansion is also worth trying out.

Download: Broforce on Steam ($14.99)

5. A Way Out

Genre: Adventure

A Way Out is a unique, narrative-driven game that adds a unique spin on typical cooperative games. In A Way Out, you and a friend work together to help your characters escape from prison.

Rather than just being an action title where a friend essentially just comes along for the ride, cooperation is essential to the game’s gameplay. For example, one player may need to distract a prison employee while the other steals an item. You both need to fulfill your roles to ensure success.

If you’re looking for a more in-depth cooperative game that isn’t segmented by puzzles or levels, A Way Out provides this.

Download: A Way Out on Origin ($29.99)

6. Cuphead

Genre: Platform

Cuphead is a couch co-op platform game that stands out for its challenging levels and unique art style. The game may have cutesy visuals based on 1930s cartoons, but the difficult boss fights mean that this platformer is no child’s play.

Rather, you’ll need precision and quick reflexes in order to move through the levels on the titular Cuphead’s journey to win his soul back from the devil. The highly-rated title provides a challenge that you can enjoy on the same screen with a friend, making it an intense but enjoyable experience for those up to the task.

Download: Cuphead on Steam ($19.99)

7. The Adventure Pals

Genre: Platform

In contrast to the intensity of Cuphead, The Adventure Pals is a great option for those looking for a casual couch co-op platform game. With its quirky humor and an outlandish plot, The Adventure Pals is a really fun and whimsical game.

The relative ease of the gameplay lets you enjoy its unusual animation and storyline. Your character is tasked with trying to save his father from a villain who wants to turn him into a hotdog. Accompanied by your pet rock and flying giraffe, you will need to get past enemies and bosses in a variety of areas to succeed.

Since it’s a relatively casual game, you can enjoy the shared screen co-op mode with a friend, a partner, or a child.

Download: The Adventure Pals on Steam ($14.99)

8. Overcooked! 2

Genre: Cooking simulation

Overcooked! 2 is an incredibly fun cooking simulation game that requires you and your teammate(s) to complete cooking orders with speed and accuracy. The intensity of fulfilling orders and coordinating in chaotic kitchen levels is what draws so many people to this sometimes stressful game.

However, if you’re able to have a laugh while messing up, this is the type of game that will keep you and your friends both entertained and on your toes.

Download: Overcooked! 2 on Steam ($24.99)

9. Death Squared

Genre: Puzzle

Death Squared is a puzzle game with local multiplayer that lets up to 4 players work together to solve a level by achieving color-coded goals. Rather than simply solving puzzles, players need to reach their goals without killing their teammates—something that is often easier said than done.

The game also features 80 story levels, 40 party levels, and 45 high-difficulty levels; so it’s likely to keep you and your friends quite busy.

Download: Death Squared on Steam ($14.99)

10. Nine Parchments

Genre: Action

Nine Parchments comes from Frozenbyte, the same studio responsible for the Trine series. As a result, there’s a definite stylistic similarity in the visuals and humor of this co-operative action title.

The game involves you and other wizards completing levels by defeating enemies with spells. The gameplay is very similar to the acclaimed title Magicka, but with an easier learning curve. Mayhem ensues as players fight enemies while also trying to make sure their teammates don’t succumb to friendly fire.

As you go through the various levels, you can learn skills in different branches of magic and combine spells with other players to create combos. Both couch co-op and online multiplayer are available so that you can enjoy the game with friends.

Download: Nine Parchments on Steam ($19.99)

Play PC Couch Co-Op Games Remotely

Couch co-op games are a great way to enjoy time with friends, but what if you want to play with friends remotely? Many local multiplayer games now come with online multiplayer support as well.

But for those that don’t, there’s a program you can use to turn local multiplayer games into ones your friends can join remotely. Find out how to do this with our guide detailing how to use Parsec to play local co-op games online.

Read the full article: The 10 Best Local Multiplayer Couch Co-Op Games on PC

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How to Use Parsec to Play Local Co-Op Games Online

While most cooperative games have online functionality these days, there are still many that use the traditional, offline mode with a shared or split-screen.

So what do you do when it isn’t possible to meet up with friends to play local multiplayer games together in person? You use Parsec.

In this tutorial, we show you how to use Parsec to play local co-op games online and remotely. We also detail how to host a game on Parsec.

Local vs. Online Multiplayer Gaming

When it comes to multiplayer games, there are two major types—local multiplayer and online multiplayer. Local multiplayer refers to multiple people playing on the same device—with local multiplayer games on the Nintendo Switch being especially popular. Players either share a view or play in a split-screen mode.

Online multiplayer means that people play on different devices, often in different locations. Online multiplayer became popular through FPS games such as the Call of Duty and Battlefield franchises, but also the dawn of MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft.

Many local co-op games offer an online multiplayer mode through clients like Steam. But platformers, some indie titles, and older couch co-op games often only have local multiplayer built-in.

Parsec bypasses the restriction of local-only multiplayer by streaming your game to friends online. This allows you to turn a couch co-op game into one you can play remotely.

How to Use Parsec: Turning Local Co-Op Into Online Co-Op

Parsec lets you connect to other people’s computers and share a screen through streaming. It’s different from other screen-sharing apps since it grants session guests a limited amount of control on the screen—allowing guest players to input controls into a streamed game.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to set up Parsec to play local co-op games with your friends online.

Step 1: Download Parsec and Sign Up

parsec gaming client sign up

To download Parsec, you will need to visit the Parsec Gaming website. Parsec is available for Windows 8.1+, macOS 10.9+, Android, Ubuntu, and Raspberry Pi 3. For the purposes of this tutorial, we’ll be downloading and installing Parsec on Windows 10.

Parsec does have a web browser app. However, in order to host games, you will need to download the standalone Parsec program.

You need an account to use Parsec both as a host or as a player. Luckily, setting one up is very simple.

To sign up, simply click the link on the login screen. The program will send you to the Parsec site where you choose a username, which you can change at a later stage if needed. Once set up, you can log into your account on the Parsec client.

Step 2: Enable Hosting on Parsec

parsec gaming enable host game

To host games on your computer, you will need to enable the hosting feature. You can check whether hosting is enabled on your PC under Settings>Host. Next to Hosting Enabled, you can use the dropdown menu to enable or disable hosting.

Step 3: Add Your Friends on Parsec

parsec app add friends

To join a game with friends, you will either need to connect to their PC or they will need to connect to yours. You will all need to have Parsec accounts to do this since the program uses your unique Parsec IDs to connect you to each other.

To add a friend, visit the Friends tab in Parsec. You can either search for a friend’s username or use their unique Parsec ID.

Your friend will need to approve the request before you can connect through the program. According to Parsec, each friend receives the least amount of permissions by default. You can adjust these permissions if needed.

Once a friend is added, their PC will be included in your list of available connections when they are online. This list can be found in the Computers tab.

host in parsec computers

Step 4: How to Host a Game on Parsec

With Parsec, you can either host or join a game. Who should host the game depends mostly on who owns the game that you want to play. If you all have the game, you should connect to the person with the best internet speed and/or most powerful PC.

To host a game on Parsec, you simply need to launch the game on your PC and get your friends to connect to your session. Friends can join either by requesting to connect or by using the link generated when you share your device.

parsec join friend computer request

Once a request is approved and a connection is established, your screen is shared with your friend(s). You just need to open the game on your main screen to start streaming it.

Guests are automatically assigned gamepad controls so that they cannot interfere with other tabs or control your entire PC. You can adjust these permissions by clicking on their profile picture.

However, we recommend that only the host uses a keyboard and mouse, while the guest players use controllers. The host is also able to kick players from the game using the permissions window.

parsec guest permissions on host pc

The game detects guest controllers as if you plugged them directly into the host’s PC. The game will detect additional players and switch to its couch co-op mode.

You can now all enjoy the game together as if you were in the same room. We recommend using a Discord server (how to set up your own Discord server) so that you can talk while you play the game together to get the full local co-op experience.

Use Parsec to Play With Your Friends Online

Now that we’ve explained how to set up and use Parsec, you can play local co-op games with your friends online and remotely. Because while more games and gaming clients such as Steam support online co-op, Parsec is the perfect tool for turning couch co-op games into ones you can play remotely with friends.

And if you’re looking for some great games to play remotely with friends using Parsec, check out our list of the best couch co-op games to play on PC.

Read the full article: How to Use Parsec to Play Local Co-Op Games Online

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Why Your Games Keep Crashing: 10 Reasons and How to Fix Them

When you buy a new game, you expect it to simply work. In most cases that’s what happens. But sometimes, games crash. Sometimes it’s a fault with the game itself, while other times it’s due to inadequate hardware or a slow internet connection.

Working out why your favorite game (such as Minecraft) is crashing can be tricky. So, read on to find out why your games keep crashing and how to fix them.

Why Does Your Favorite Game Keep Crashing?

If you’re not sure what is causing your game to crash, you can take advantage of the Windows Event Viewer tool to keep a log on what is happening to your PC when the game crashes. This can be used for diagnostic purposes.

It is also worth running demo versions of games before installing the full version, just to ensure that the title will play correctly on your PC.

If games like Minecraft, Apex Legends, or Call of Duty: Warzone keep crashing, here are 10 reasons why that may be happening…

  1. Your computer’s spec is too low
  2. You overclocked too high
  3. The game’s settings are wrong
  4. Your graphic card requires too much power
  5. You need to upgrade your operating system
  6. You need to upgrade device drivers
  7. Your network isn’t fast enough
  8. Digital Rights Management is causing problems
  9. Games are running in the wrong mode
  10. You’re running too many browser tabs

Let’s explore each of these solutions in more detail.

1. Your Hardware Specs Are Too Low

It might seem obvious, but people still omit to compare their system spec with a game’s minimum requirements. You wouldn’t buy diesel for a petrol-powered car, would you? So why buy a video game without checking that it will work?

When buying games online from Steam and similar services, you can check the system requirements by reading the game’s description. Buying from a video game store? On the back of a video game box you’ll find the minimum and recommended system requirements.

If your PC meets these before installing and running the game everything should be fine. Otherwise you’ll probably experience problems with the title.

Wikipedia is also a great source of video game system specs, while the publisher’s website will provide the same information. Settle doubts or questions by checking the game’s support or fan forums for help.

Without suitable hardware, you’ll need to upgrade your PC before you can play the game. This can mean anything from buying a new gaming PC to adding extra storage space to your computer.

2. You Overclocked Too Far

Overclocking could be why your games keep crashing

Many gamers overclock their systems, pushing the CPU to a faster speed to gain performance benefits. When coupled with good ventilation and cooling, CPU overclocking can reap great results.

However, it isn’t a perfect method of increasing performance. Games can still crash.

Troubleshooting an overclocked system means resetting your processor (and GPU, if appropriate) to default settings. If this doesn’t fix the issue then there is every chance it’s related to something else.

3. Get the Game’s Settings Right

Most games, especially those with high system requirements, have a dedicated video settings screen. Designed to help you get the most out of your game, it’s common these days for games to boot with a configuration designed for your system hardware.

However, that doesn’t always work out, resulting in games crashing. It could be anything, from top end graphical experiences like MotoGP 20 to Minecraft crashing mid-game.

In some cases, your entire PC might crash, rebooting all by itself.

Avoid these problems by opening the video configuration screen for your troublesome game and lowering the settings. Switch every option down a single step, then try playing again. Repeat until you hit the right mix of performance and graphics.

Admittedly, this solution isn’t perfect. If the graphics aren’t up to scratch, it’s time to consider buying a new graphics card for your PC.

4. Your Graphics Card Is Too Powerful

Get a new GPU to fix games crashing

One common reason for games crashing is a problem with the power supply unit (PSU). This is commonly linked to the graphics adapter demanding more power than is available.

There is one simple way to resolve this. Upgrade to the best PSU capable of providing enough power to play the game.

Before swapping out the PSU, however, check that the graphics card and PC interior is clean and free from dust. A build-up can increase the temperature inside a PC and put additional load on the CPU and video card. Greater load means a higher temperature. If the build-up of dust is considerable and the fans are not sufficient for cooling, disaster will strike.

5. Your Operating System Isn’t Good Enough

Also listed in your game’s system specification is the correct operating system and version required to run the title.

Most games will run on Windows 8.1, Mac OS X 10.4 (Mojave), and Ubuntu 18.04 LTS and later. While this isn’t necessarily true across the board (some titles are still limited to Windows), it’s a good guide. Similarly, most AAA games are designed for 64-bit systems.

Naturally, the issues of operating systems and hardware are closely linked. Older hardware running Windows XP is unlikely to be suitable for running the most up-to-date video games.

6. It’s Time to Update EVERYTHING

Update video drivers to stop games crashing all the time

Upgrading hardware is expensive. Before you try this, update software and drivers instead.

Games can crash for reasons beyond (but not unrelated to) unsuitable hardware and operating systems. Video drivers, for instance, should be up to date, as should the game itself.

  • To update your video drivers, you should visit the manufacturer’s website and download the latest version of the driver. The installation may require you to restart your computer.
  • You should also look for any patches and updates for the game in question. These will be available from the publisher’s website and should be installed and applied before running. Some games will automatically check for updates and install them before they load.
  • Update your operating system to download any driver updates for devices such as network cards.
  • Download the latest graphic drivers and updates for your graphics card.

7. Network Issues Are to Blame

With online gaming, crashes can occur when network problems cause delay the game client being updated by the remote server.

Avoid this being an issue by making sure that your network speed is suitable for playing the game. You should also check your router and disable other internet applications to ensure that only the game receives data.

Avoid Wi-Fi where possible with online games. Instead, connect your PC to the router over Ethernet. If this isn’t possible due to architectural limitations, buy one of the best powerline adaptors.

8. Snagged By Digital Rights Management

Incredibly, digital rights management can cause performance issues.

In some cases, network issues can contribute to DRM hitting a game’s performance. Usually, though, the DRM client or the status of the remote server will be causing your game to crash.

If an offline play option is available here you should take it. This will prevent the DRM from checking with the remote server for suspicious activity in the game or account. Otherwise, you’ll be left with no choice but to uninstall the game.

9. You’re Running Games in the Wrong Mode

It makes sense to ensure that no other software is running while gaming. You might need voice chat software like Discord; beyond that your PC resources should be focused on running the game.

This is a rule that applies across operating systems, from Windows, macOS, and Linux, to iOS and Android. Close all other software before launching the game you want to play.

With Windows you have an additional advantage: Games Mode. This is a state that you can switch into that reduces and limits other activity. Notifications are silenced; everything is focused on the game. Open Settings (hold Win + I) then Gaming > Game Mode. Click the toggle to enable the feature.

Enable Windows Game Mode to avoid games crashing

Does this sound too good to be true? Well, it’s certainly worth trying. We tested the Windows 10 Game Mode to see if it works.

10. You’ve Left Your Browser Running With 20 Tabs Open

Shutting down other apps when gaming applies to your browser, too. You might get away with a single browser tab—anything more, however, isn’t worth risking.

So, close the endless Reddit pages, Facebook fan pages, and Twitter feed for your favorite games. If you need to access them, do so on your mobile.

Let your PC do the work you expect from it, giving you an awesome gaming experience.

Get Your Games Working Again!

By now you should know what the problem is. You have everything you need to ensure your games will stop crashing. So have fun gaming!

Are you finding that you can’t play top rated games because your hardware isn’t up to scratch? Then try one of the best cloud gaming services and stream AAA games to your computer without upgrading.

Read the full article: Why Your Games Keep Crashing: 10 Reasons and How to Fix Them