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Destiny 2: Warmind review: Everything old is new(ish) again

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Enlarge / Oh, hi Mars!

Destiny 2’s Warmind expansion ought to look familiar. It’s the solid follow-up to a thoroughly disappointing first expansionjust as House of Wolves was to The Dark Below for the first Destiny. It also brings players back to Mars, another original Destiny location, and revives the story of the titular Warmind A.I. that has run in the series’ background for years.

Said story sees the big robot brain under assault by a magic space worm. He calls for the aid of Ana Bray, a superpowered space zombie that has begun to remember her first life during Earth’s golden age. It’s a pretty compelling backdrop, especially for anybody who, like me, pored over the first game’s wikis and Grimoire Card lore. Even if you’re not hip to Destiny’s mostly hidden backstory, Warmind brings the series’ best kind of science-fantasy absurdity to the forefront.

Sadly, as with most of the plot in developer Bungie’s loot shooter, the setup is a lot less interesting in practice than on paper. Warmind’s two-ish-hour single-player campaign gives us exactly one monologue from Bray explaining the situation. Guardians (a.k.a., the space zombies) aren’t supposed to investigate their pasts, though the why of that directive is never really addressed. The regulation comes off like an overly convenient excuse to pit Bray against another speaking character from the main game, Zavala, who doesn’t trust the old Earth war machine. That mistrust is a bit odd, given that Destiny 2 is narratively and mechanically about collecting otherworldly weapons.

Meet the new gear, same as the old gear

Plot aside, Warmind offers a fairly fun clutch of missions in the Destiny 2 mold. You move through new zones killing things with what is still possibly the most rhythmic action to be found in current first-person shooters. Like the previous DLC, Curse of Osiris, some of these missions are recycled as three-person Strikes once you best the micro-campaign.

The upshot is that these story missions are more involved than standing in a room, holding the square button, and practicing headshots on incoming enemies. At least there are still some of those “classic” Destiny moments sprinkled in between. The downside is that the new Strikes feel like repeats right off the bat.

Strikes aside, there are plenty of other elements that feel like echoes of past expansions this time around. “New” exotic gear like the Eternal Warrior helmet and Sleeper Simulant fusion rifle come straight out of the first Destiny and its expansions. On one hand, getting loot I already owned and played with for three years isn’t as exciting a reward as an entirely new toy when unwrapping exotic loot drops. On the other hand, I did really miss my Suros Regime.

The high-end gear is just a bit more fun across the board, too. Alongside the Warmind expansion came a free update that, among other things, made most exotic weapons feel that much more exotic. My personal favorite change is to the Graviton Lance, which now operates better at range and spawns virulent, heat-seeking dark-energy explosions with every kill.

These weapon buffs are just the thing to spice up yet more rerun content, like the public events in the new Mars zone. I was instantly disappointed when, after unlocking the frigid open area, the first thing I found was the same Cabal Injection Rig activity from the base game. Meanwhile, fans of the original Destiny will recognize the one new public event as a slightly modified version of Warsat defense.

Escalate those protocols

There’s also a high-level activity called Escalation Protocol that feels like a wider, more open version of The Taken King’s Court of Oryx. In both, you and nearby strangers team up to kill waves of enemies and a boss that rotates weekly.

This doesn’t require the coordination of a Raid, nor the variety of a Strike, but it does provide a slightly greater sense of scale than the average public event. Hive Thralls swarm in greater numbers here than elsewhere in Destiny 2. Dealing with them, plus their much larger Knight escorts, while also completing some very light objectives, is not a one-person job (until someone finds a juicy exploitas Destiny players tend to do). It is still inconvenient that I can’t take a full fireteam of six into patrol areas, though, a fact to which Escalation Protocol’s sheer chaos draws even more attention.

I could level a similar complaint at Destiny 2‘s player-versus-player suite, the Crucible. The newly weirded-up exotics have spiced it up so much so that I’d almost say constantly staying with your three teammates and hosing anyone foolish enough to round a corner isn’t the only viable tactic. The problem is that Bungie gave us a taste of classic, six-on-six multiplayer for a limited time earlier this year. While the Crucible definitely feels more interestingless squashed flat for the sake of balanceit still slows down in spots.

Warmind’s accompanying free update does finally add ranked matches to Destiny, though. So even if you’re bored with loot from an entire console generation ago, there are new guns and cosmetics to unlock at certain ranks. The strange caveat is that none of these tweaksnot even the set of new mapsrequires Warmind. All the DLC nets you is the use of those new maps in private matches. This is a good thing when it comes to keeping the player base unified, but it does make Warmind itself a little less valuable.

And that’s the critical pickle I’m in. Warmind all by itself feels like another quality shot of Destiny 2. It’s got a new patrol zone, more loot, and a story that’s comprehensible (even if it doesn’t pay off on its promising premise). Its added high-level content (Escalation Protocol and a new Raid Lair) won’t grab headlines, but it does add more spokes to the fundamentally satisfying wheel. That’s still one hell of a step up from Curse of Osiris, which felt more like a demo than a complete product.

Yet the things I’m most excited about in Destiny 2 these days aren’t part of Warmind at all. They’re expansion-adjacent intangibles: a balance philosophy of “make all the guns good” instead of “make the good ones as weak as everything else” is one giant leap in the right direction. Ranked Crucible’s reward structure adds genuine progression to the player-vs-player combat (and here’s hoping six-player teams don’t remain a temporary feature). I’m more excited about the direction of Destiny 2 than I have been since… before Destiny 2 was released.

Warmind alone isn’t nearly enough to keep me on the Destiny 2 train until this year’s big expansion, but it was a decent excuse to see how the foundation of the game is changing. You could do worse than indulging in a bit more of the familiar Destiny 2 before some hopefully big changes on the horizon.

The good:

  • Good excuse to check out smart, coinciding balance changes.
  • New Strikes, loot, and zone feel meaningful, if not familiar.
  • Getting classic loot drops can be nice.

The bad:

  • The most exciting changes came in a free update, not Warmind itself
  • Story wastes a long-running piece of Destiny lore on a short, bland tale.
  • Getting classic loot drops can be disappointing.

The ugly:

  • Getting an old piece of loot from the first game that isn’t your favorite auto rifle.

Verdict: Destiny 2: Warmind is more of the same built on a shifting foundation. Try it if you’re curious about the direction the game is going.

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Snapchat's long-awaited redesign is smoother, can be enabled right now with root

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Back in November of last year, Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel announced that a new Android app was being built from the ground up. It’s been almost a year since then, but we’re finally seeing some movement. In fact, the new Snapchat Alpha can actually be enabled right now, so long as your device has root access.

The new interface makes a couple of visual tweaks, but its primary focus is to address Snapchat on Android’s number-one complaint: performance. The current one is rather choppy and can cause things to slow to a crawl, but those who’ve used the new Alpha version say that it’s improved noticeably in terms of speed. An emoji brush, which allows you to draw things with a selection of emoji, has been added (Update: This is apparently not new).

Screenshots courtesy of XDA.

However, not all is well. Snaps appear to still be screenshots of your camera’s viewfinder, as saved photos are of the same resolution as phones’ screens. Additionally, since this is still unfinished, there are quite a few issues. Crashes are frequent, and you can’t send chats. On top of that, the map, the all-important trophies, and Snapcodes are missing.

As stated previously, enabling Snapchat Alpha does require root. If you use Snapchat regularly, you might want to skip this given the amount of things that are still broken, but if you’re set on checking it out, XDA has a handy little guide on how to enable it. Note that you will need access to a PC with ADB. Given our poll from earlier today, it looks like about a third of you still root, so this won’t be too difficult. The other two-thirds of us will have to patiently wait for Snapchat to fix things up and make the redesign official.

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Fitness: Four reasons why it's so hard to make exercise a habit

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It’s worth finding time in your schedule, and finding a trainer or exercise buddy to add incentive.


UFC star Joe Duffy works on his boxing skills with trainer Hercules Kyvelos at Montreal's Tristar Gym in October 2017. Doing a workout with a trainer or friend helps give new exercisers motivation and accountability.


John Mahoney / Montreal Gazette files

We’ve all heard the excuse about being too busy to exercise. But with most Canadians spending 18 hours a week watching TV, it’s clear that there’s some wiggle room in the hours not already claimed by work and family commitments.

And being busy isn’t the only excuse offered up by those who try and fail to make exercise a habit. A University of Alberta research team wanted to know more about why 50 per cent of new exercisers hang up their workout gear within six months of starting. They interviewed exercise dropouts and grouped their reasons into four general themes.

The results don’t live up to the hype

With so much written about the benefits of exercise, it’s no surprise that most newbies are anxious to reap the results of a good sweat. And according to the researchers, they aren’t disappointed by how they feel in those first few weeks of a workout routine. They have more energy during the day, sleep better at night, have more endurance and feel stronger while performing everyday chores.

But as welcome as these results are, they aren’t enough to sustain the enthusiasm of those first couple of months when the benefits of regular exercise are so acutely felt. Instead, that initial satisfaction is outweighed by the effort it takes to overcome the many barriers — lack of time, inconvenience and so forth — associated with maintaining an exercise routine.

“Whereas participants expressed pleasure with the physical and psychological outcomes they experienced through participation in the exercise program, many participants also expressed disappointment with a failure to obtain all of the outcomes they had expected or hoped for, especially when it came to visible results,” reported the researchers.

Basing fitness success on inches lost is almost always cause for disappointment. It’s better to set performance goals, which are more easily achieved. Success is one of the strongest incentives to keep exercising.

Scheduling difficulties

Reserving a regular block of time in an already packed schedule is a significant challenge for new exercisers. Struggling to manage the day-to-day routine, combined with any unforeseen and often non-negotiable demands that pop up, makes getting to the gym difficult.

Exercise veterans are faced with these same challenges but are better able to take them in stride, adjusting their schedule and their workouts accordingly. Novice exercisers, however, are more likely to forgo their workout when making scheduling decisions. They’re also less tolerant or less flexible when it comes to adjusting their workout around some of the downsides of exercise, like having to do a workout during peak gym hours, when wait times to use the machines can be frustrating.

New exercisers are so vulnerable to hiccups in their workout schedule that one change to their routine — an illness or injury, a sick family member, a demanding project at work — is often reason enough to give up exercise altogether. Even the most dedicated exercisers struggle to stay on track every now and again; the difference is they see interruptions to their routine as temporary, not permanent.

Trouble prioritizing exercise

The change in mindset needed to move exercise up the list of priorities and keep it there is hard to master. Sure, family and work come first and second, but the difference between committed exercisers and exercise dropouts is that the committed believe they are better parents and better employees with exercise in their lives. As such, they see taking valuable minutes away from work and/or family for a quick workout not so much of an indulgence, but as a vital part of their physical and emotional well-being.

Those hooked on exercise head to the gym or out for a run, swim, walk or bike ride when the stress of everyday life hits hard. They also urge their family to join them in being active, making exercise a part of, not a distraction from, family life.

Going solo

Most new exercisers need a push to get off the couch, like the extra accountability that an exercise buddy or trainer offers. The importance of social support from family and friends is often overlooked by new exercisers who tend to go it alone.

Maybe it’s worry about failing that makes it tough for new exercisers to state their intentions and rely on others for support when internal motivation ebbs, but study after study suggests that having an exercise buddy or someone else to hold you accountable increases the chance of success.

Sharing your frustrations and successes makes those early days of exercise more palatable. You’re not alone at the gym trying to figure out how to select an interval workout on the treadmill, and you can share a laugh, instead of feeling embarrassed, when you wobble trying to hold a challenging pose in a yoga class.

There’s a reason for the popularity of running, cycling and masters swim clubs, and for the long waiting lists to get into old-timer hockey and softball leagues: exercise is more fun with someone at your side.

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The Quiet Man Trailers Reveal New Combat and Story Details

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More details on Square Enix’s The Quiet Man have been revealed with two new trailers featuring the game’s combat and parts of its story.

First revealed in June during Square Enix’s E3 presentation, The Quiet Man was previewed as a totally new, digital-only title that’s coming to the PlayStation 4 and PC via Steam. A teaser trailer shown during the event showed a deaf protagonist, Dane, who dispatched others with ease by using his martial arts skills, but it didn’t share hardly any more information than that. The combat trailer shown above still didn’t tell too much more about the game’s narrative or who the main character is, but it did show off more of those flashy combat scenes.

The combat looks like something that players might find in one of the Yakuza games as the protagonist takes on opponents in open streets and inside of buildings, though the fighting seems much more grounded in striking and counters as opposes to swinging nearby objects and suplexing your enemies. Certain scenes showing what look to be special takedowns are likely initiated through certain moves or counters, but it’s hard to say without seeing how the cutscene-esque finishers began.

Following up the first trailer is another called “The Quiet Man – Silence Rings Loudest.” This one deals more with the game’s story, a one-night scenario where Dane has to find out why a singer was kidnapped. The masked enemies seen in the combat trailer and in the one above stand in Dane’s way, each of them working for the masked man seen in the story trailer who’s responsible for kidnapping the singer. You’ll also see some of the blending between CGI and live-action scenes in the story trailer with the fight scenes shifting back to the animation in the combat trailer.

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“Unravelling within a single night, players take the role of deaf protagonist Dane as he fights his way through a ‘soundless’ world to discover the motives behind the kidnapping of a songstress from a mysterious masked man,” a preview for the game read. “Embark on an adrenaline-fueled motion picture like experience which can be completed in one sitting.”

The game will be made available through Steam as well as through the PlayStation Store where it’ll be a digital-only title that’s currently priced at $14.99, according to the Square Enix Store. Square Enix has a site dedicated to the game with one letter from the producer shared back in July, so expect more updates to be shared there in the future.

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