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Overwatch 2's Blizzcon Panel Reveals PvE Story Might Feature AI Allies – Screen Rant

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This year’s Blizzcon may have been a bit different than Blizzcons of years gone by, but it still brought about a wealth of information about upcoming Blizzard releases, including Overwatch 2 and a potential for AI teammates. This is great news, if true, for players of the game who prefer to fly solo, rather than in a group, an option not available in the original Overwatch.

Blizzard’s massively successful MOBA first hit PCs and consoles back in 2016, and was met with near-universal critical acclaim. Praise was largely levied at Overwatch‘s replayability value, its ever-expanding and comparatively diverse cast of characters, and its approachability for players of every skill level, thanks to its ranking systems. But while the game’s developers intended for players to always participate in teams of other human players, that practice did cause a number of issues that are more or less impossible to satisfactorily address. Gamers who couldn’t fill a six-person team with their own friends were put into games with complete strangers — strangers who could leave in the middle of a round, leading to a major disadvantage for their team, or strangers who could be potentially toxic or offensive in chat, which diminishes the experience for everyone involved.

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Related: Overwatch 2 Delay Suggested By Genji Voice Actor

While Blizzard is working to address those issues, particularly concerning toxicity in chat, it doesn’t take away from the fact that a pretty sizeable swath of the game’s fanbase would prefer to tackle rounds alone, for any number of personal reasons. And although Blizzard never intended Overwatch to be played in such a way, the will of the players is ultimately king, which may have fueled Blizzard’s potential decision to change its tune for Overwatch 2. Game director Jeff Kaplan certainly seemed to agree, during a behind-the-scenes panel interview at this year’s Blizzcon, with other key figures on the Overwatch team. The sequel, according to Kaplan and reported by Game Rant, will retain its co-op heritage, but will include friendly AI units. These were meant to address the first game’s original issues with human players dropping out of a battle mid-play by immediately supplementing the team they left behind, but this could also hint that prospective solo players may be able to fill their team’s ranks with AI allies instead of human ones.

The usage of AI as full-fledged teammates hasn’t been confirmed by Blizzard, but nor has it been denied, and frankly, it would be a massively positive addition to Overwatch 2. Taking Blizzard’s personal feelings about how Overwatch is meant to be played out of the equation, it would make the game more accessible and more appealing to gamers out there who want to engage in PvE battles on their own, or are tired of being trash-talked or left at a disadvantage if a teammate decides to up and bail. It also wouldn’t eliminate the option to compete with entirely human teams, and it might even diminish wait times with groups, since any open slots could be filled by AI allies instead of forcing players to wait for the right number of free players to join up.

Overwatch has always prided itself on its diverse cast, but after over four years, it needs to start diversifying its gameplay as well. While an update to the first game certainly wouldn’t go amiss considering the lengthy wait still in store for the sequel, players may not be so keen on Overwatch 2 if it ends up looking and playing exactly like the original, disadvantages and all.

Next: Overwatch Character Leaks: Is Yokai The Next DLC Hero?

Source: Game Rant

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Cyberattack exposes lack of required defenses on U.S. pipelines

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The shutdown of the biggest U.S. fuel pipeline by a ransomware attack highlights a systemic vulnerability: Pipeline operators have no requirement to implement cyber defenses.

The U.S. government has had robust, compulsory cybersecurity protocols for most of the power grid for about 10 years to prevent debilitating hacks by criminals or state actors.

But the country’s 2.7 million miles (4.3 million km) of oil, natural gas and hazardous liquid pipelines have only voluntary measures, which leaves security up to the individual operators, experts said.

“Simply encouraging pipelines to voluntarily adopt best practices is an inadequate response to the ever-increasing number and sophistication of malevolent cyber actors,” Richard Glick, the chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), said.

Protections could include requirements for encryption, multifactor authentication, backup systems, personnel training and segmenting networks so access to the most sensitive elements can be restricted.

FERC’s authority to impose cyber standards on the electric grid came from a 2005 law but it does not extend to pipelines.

Colonial Pipeline, the largest U.S. oil products pipeline and source of nearly half the supply on the East Coast, has been shut since Friday after a ransomware attack the FBI attributed to DarkSide, a group cyber experts believe is based in Russia or Eastern Europe.

The outage has led to higher gasoline prices in the U.S. South and worries about wider shortages and potential price gouging ahead of the Memorial Day holiday.

Colonial did not immediately respond to a query about whether cybersecurity standards should be mandatory.

The American Petroleum Institute lobbying group said it was talking with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the Energy Department and others to understand the threat and mitigate risk.

THIN STAFFING

Cyber oversight of pipelines falls to the TSA, an office of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which has provided voluntary security guidelines to pipeline companies.

The General Accountability Office, the congressional watchdog, said in a 2019 report that the TSA only had six full-time employees in its pipeline security branch through 2018, which limited the office’s reviews of cybersecurity practices.

The TSA said it has since expanded staff to 34 positions on pipeline and cybersecurity. It did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether it supports mandatory protections.

When asked by reporters whether the Biden administration would put in place rules, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said it was discussing administrative and legislative options to “raise the cyber hygiene across the country.”

President Joe Biden is hoping Congress will pass a $2.3 billion infrastructure package, and pipeline requirements could be put into that legislation. But experts said there was no quick fix.

“The hard part is who do you tell what to do and what do you tell them to do,” Christi Tezak, an analyst at ClearView Energy Partners, said.

U.S. Representatives Fred Upton, a Republican, and Bobby Rush, a Democrat, said on Wednesday they have reintroduced legislation requiring the Department of Energy to ensure the security of natural gas and hazardous liquid pipelines. Such legislation could get folded into a wider bill.

The power grid is regulated by FERC, and mostly organized into nonprofit regional organizations. That made it relatively easy for legislators to put forward the 2005 law that allows FERC to approve mandatory cyber measures.

A range of public and private companies own pipelines. They mostly operate independently and lack a robust federal regulator.

Their oversight falls under different laws depending on what they carry. Products include crude oil, fuels, water, hazardous liquids and – potentially – carbon dioxide for burial underground to control climate change. This diversity could make it harder for legislators to impose a unified requirement.

Tristan Abbey, a former aide to Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski who worked at the White House national security council under former President Donald Trump, said Congress is both the best and worst way to tackle the problem.

“Legislation may be necessary when jurisdiction is ambiguous and agencies lack resources,” said Abbey, now president of Comarus Analytics LLC.

But a bill should not be seen as a magic wand, he said.

“Standards may be part of the answer, but federal regulations need to mesh with state requirements without stifling innovation.”

 

(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Marguerita Choy)

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U.S. senator asks firms about sales of hard disk drives to Huawei

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A senior Republican U.S. senator on Tuesday asked the chief executives of Toshiba America Electronic Components, Seagate Technology, and Western Digital Corp if the companies are improperly supplying Huawei with foreign-produced hard disk drives.

Senator Roger Wicker, the ranking member of the Commerce Committee, said a 2020 U.S. Commerce Department regulation sought to “tighten Huawei’s ability to procure items that are the direct product of specified U.S. technology or software, such as hard disk drives.”

He said he was engaged “in a fact-finding process… about whether leading global suppliers of hard disk drives are complying” with the regulation.

(Reporting by David Shepardson, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

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Colonial Pipeline hackers stole data on Thursday

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The hackers who caused Colonial Pipeline to shut down on Friday began their cyberattack against the top U.S. fuel pipeline operator a day earlier and stole a large amount of data, Bloomberg News reported citing people familiar with the matter.

The attackers are part of a cybercrime group called DarkSide and took nearly 100 gigabytes of data out of Colonial’s network in just two hours on Thursday, Bloomberg reported late Saturday, citing two people involved in the company’s investigation.

Colonial did not immediately reply to an email from Reuters seeking comment outside usual U.S. business hours.

Colonial Pipeline shut its entire network, the source of nearly half of the U.S. East Coast’s fuel supply, after a cyber attack that involved ransomware.

 

(Reporting by Aakriti Bhalla in Bengaluru; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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