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Fortnite’s return to iOS via GeForce Now feels just fine

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Fortnite hasn’t been available on iOS since Apple yanked it from the App Store in August 2020, but I’ve been able to play it on my iPhone once again thanks to a closed beta on Nvidia’s GeForce Now cloud gaming service. While it’s not quite as seamless an experience as using a native app, this GeForce Now loophole works a lot better than I expected.

With this closed beta, you’ll be playing a mobile-optimized version of the game. If you’ve tried Fortnite on iOS or Android before, the layout should feel familiar — the experience is well-designed for touch, with easy-to-navigate menus and large (though finicky) onscreen controls. This GeForce Now version also supports controllers, and I’ve played most matches with my iPhone plugged into my Backbone One.

The graphics aren’t amazing, but if that means the game plays smoother, I can deal.

The game feels as responsive as if I was playing on my Nintendo Switch or on my PS5, and I haven’t had any issues with latency. Your mileage may vary based on your internet connection, of course, and maybe I’ve just had a string of good luck. But I never felt like the fact it was streaming from the cloud hindered my ability to keep up in an intense firefight. Frankly, my biggest complaint with playing Fortnite on GeForce Now on my iPhone is that the screen feels too small, and that’s probably because I’m using an iPhone 12 Mini, which I can’t fault the streaming service for.

Until Apple allows the native Fortnite app back on the App Store, Nvidia and Epic Games have made an excellent workaround. My only other GeForce Now experience was with Inscryption, and while that was also very smooth, the turn-based card mechanics of that game don’t require any twitchy movements that could be affected by lag. Fortnite is much more action-heavy, requiring fast reflexes and quick thinking, but this touch-optimized version of the game I’ve streamed from GeForce Now plays as if it was installed on my phone.

This wasn’t a wise place to drop.

That said, it’s unclear when this GeForce Now version might be available more widely. You have to request access to the closed beta, and admission isn’t guaranteed, Nvidia says on its website. The beta is also only running for a vague “limited time.” But if you’ve been wanting to jump onto the newly flipped Fortnite island on your iPhone, you might want to sign up for the closed beta. Sure, you might have to wait a while until you can check it out, but you’ll almost certainly be waiting longer for the native app to come back to the App Store.



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It’s still really easy to game Facebook’s algorithm

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Meta’s accounting of the most popular content on Facebook continues to be a confusing mess to untangle. The company released the of its “widely viewed content report,” which details some of the most-viewed Facebook posts in the United States.

And, once again, the latest report raises questions about the company’s ability to limit the spread of what Meta euphemistically refers to as “lower-quality posts.” Between January and March of this year, six of the top 20 most popular links on Facebook were from a spammy website that has since been banned by the company for inauthentic behavior.

“In this report, there were pieces of content that have since been removed from Facebook for violating our policies of Inauthentic Behavior,” the company wrote in a . “The removed links were all from the same domain, and links to that domain are no longer allowed on Facebook.”

The links all came from a Vietnam-based “news” site called Naye News. Unfortunately, Facebook didn’t share details about the actual URLs that went viral and were later removed, so there’s not much we can glean about the actual content. What we do know is that Naye News, which as Bloomberg reporter Davey Alba has never before appeared in a widely viewed content report, was able to reach a vast number of Facebook users before the company banned it. Links to Naye News appeared six times on the list of the top 20 URLs, including the two top spots. Together, these links got more than 112 million views, according to the report.

This website wasn’t the only source of questionable content that made it into the top most-viewed list. The fourth-most popular link on the list was a YouTube clip from a town hall meeting with Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, featuring a nurse making claims about COVID-19 treatments.

During a call with reporters, head of Facebook Integrity Anna Stepanov, said that links to the YouTube video were demoted in News Feed after it was debunked by fact checkers. The company also added warning labels to discourage it from being reshared. “Without these features, this link would likely have received even more reach,” Stepanov said.

But even with those measures, the link was still viewed more than 22.1 million times on Facebook. That’s more than the number of views on the original YouTube video, which currently has about 6.5 million views.

Meanwhile, another URL on the report, which got 12.3 million views, is a link to a website called “heaveemotions.com,” that now redirects to a website that appears to be meant to trick visitors into installing malware. On Facebook though, the link originally rendered a preview with meme-style text that reads: “They told me the virus is everywhere. I told them so is God. Can I get an Amen? I Bet you won’t repost.”

This looks like a typical meme but it now links to a website that appears to be filled with malware.

Screenshot/ Facebook

It’s not the first time overtly spammy content has appeared in one of these reports. In the last version of this report, the top Facebook Page was one later removed by the company for breaking its rules. Reporter Ryan Broderick later the page’s origins as a Sri Lankan content farm.

The reports, which Meta began releasing in part to suggesting far-right personalities consistently dominate the platform, are one of the only windows the company offers into what’s popular on Facebook. That’s been a key question for researchers trying to study the platform and how information, and misinformation, spreads across it. But researchers have also raised questions about how Meta was compiling these reports, which in the past have surfaced .

Notably, Meta now says it’s changing the way it evaluates what content is the most “widely viewed” on its platform. Previous reports identifying the top links on Facebook were based on any public post that contained a URL, even if the was just appended to the body of a text post. This meant that popular Pages could effectively spam their followers with random links — like to a website representing former Green Bay Packers football players — embedded in a text or photo post.

Researchers had widely criticized this approach as a widely distributed text post with a link at the end is a lot different than a link post in which the linked content is fully rendered as a preview. Now, Meta is reversing course. “Moving forward, links will need to render a preview in order to be counted as a view, as that more accurately represents what people are seeing.”

Even so, these reports are still only a limited look at what’s most popular on Facebook. The company says the list of the top 20 most-viewed links — the list that included Naye News and COVID-19 misinformation — “collectively accounted for 0.03% of all Feed content views in the US during Q1 2022.” But as always with Facebook, its sheer size means that even a fraction of a percent can equate to millions of views. At the very least, these reports show that it’s still relatively easy to game Facebook’s algorithms and spread “low quality” content.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.





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Shadow adds latest generation Nvidia and AMD GPUs to cloud gaming service

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Shadow is adding a new subscription tier to its cloud gaming service with access to the equivalent of Nvidia and AMD’s latest generation of graphics cards for an additional $14.99 a month. The new Power Upgrade tier is an optional add-on to Shadow’s existing $29.99 subscription service, bringing the total cost to a little under $45. Alongside it, the company is announcing an expansion to more countries, a new online storage service, and a service that makes its cloud-based machines available to professional users.

Unlike Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming service or Google Stadia, which only let you stream their games, Shadow’s functionality is a lot broader. It essentially offers you remote access to a Windows 10 desktop in the cloud running on powerful hardware. From there, you can install games from whatever gaming storefront you choose and run them on a machine that might be a lot more powerful than the device you’re streaming it to.

Shadow says the Power Upgrade will get users cloud-based access to a machine running an AMD EPYC 7543P CPU with four cores and eight threads, 16GB of RAM, and a “high-end GPU.” Example GPUs listed include an “Nvidia RTX 3070-class” graphics card, an equivalent Nvidia GPU “tailored for professionals,” and AMD’s latest RDNA 2-based GPUs including the Radeon Pro V620. However, you won’t be able to pick the exact GPU at checkout — it’ll be assigned based on data center availability. In contrast, Shadow’s current $29.99 tier lists the equivalent of a much older GTX 1080 GPU as its graphics card.

Shadow’s new pricing tier makes it more expensive than Nvidia’s equivalent high-end tier for its own GeForce Now streaming service, which is designed to offer RTX 3080-level hardware for $19.99 a month. Shadow is less restrictive than Nvidia, which offers a curated selection of games to play from Steam or the Epic Games Store. If you can install a game on a Windows 10 machine, you should theoretically be able to play it on Shadow.

Shadow previously launched more powerful tiers — Ultra and Infinite — back when its base plan cost just $11.99 a month. But a year later, the company increased the price of this standard tier to $29.99 a month, and, as of late 2021, its FAQ notes that Shadow has officially canceled the US launch of the two upgraded subscriptions. Spokesperson Thomas Beaufils tells The Verge that the company still has users subscribed to its Ultra and Infinite plans and that they’ve not been discontinued entirely, but it’s not accepting new signups.

Alongside the new Power Upgrade, Shadow is also announcing that it’s expanding to Canada and Austria this fall, joining existing markets like the US, UK, France, and Germany. It also has a new standalone cloud storage feature coming to Europe this fall that offers 20GB of storage for free or 2TB for €8.99 a month. Finally, the company is also offering its cloud-based machines to professional users with “custom built projects” designed to be used by anyone — from 3D artists to architects or engineers in need of powerful hardware in the cloud.

Shadow says its new Power Upgrade will be available to preorder this summer and aims to launch across all its markets in the fall.



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‘Saints Row’ developers promise that the reboot will still be fun

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It was last August that Saints Row developer Volition . The new title was intended as a swerve away from the series’ trademark preposterousness and juvenalia. Now, , the team would like to clarify that just because it’s grounded, doesn’t mean it’s not going to be fun. Saints Row hasn’t suddenly become a po-faced exploration of organized crime, and it remains just as cartoonish as you may expect, it’s just a bit more grounded in its cartoonishness.

Last year, Chief Creative Officer Jim Boone and Lead Mission Designer Jeremy Bernstein said that the Saints Row series had burned out its narrative runway. After all, when your character has conquered the Earth, descended into Hell and fought a hair-rock opera duel with the Devil, street-level crime is going to feel like a big comedown. “I’ve been wanting to clarify that!” said Creative Director Brian Traficante, “I believe you can continue that runway […] but we didn’t want to.”

“In terms of going back to the grounded tone, it took some time,” said Traficante, as the team sought to analyze and define “what is Saints Row?” That series-defining formula seems to focus on meshing fun gameplay, silly jokes, cartoonish violence and a hefty dose of reference gags. “At times, it’s a gag for a gag’s sake, but there’s a consciousness of making sure that it’s exactly what we want to do, and it’s the right time to do it,” he said. There was a focus on ensuring that there’s plenty of light moments to balance out the times in the story when things go dark.

Writer Jennifer Campbell said that the team abides by “the rule of making sure that you’re punching up, not punching down.” Campbell added that “we’re exploring a more diverse group of characters so it gives us a lot more avenues to explore, anyway.” Traficante said that the developers created “internal mechanisms” to help ensure that a broad group of people could weigh in on some of the edgier gags in the game. He added that the team wanted to craft jokes that would enable “everyone [to] be a part of the joke.”

Saints Row’s use of parody reached a fairly extreme level during the fourth game, where it ran a series of relationship-simulation sequences in the vein of Mass Effect. (Except, of course, the camera wasn’t cutting away as quickly when two characters decided to spend some alone time together.) These parodies are “definitely in the recipe,” said Traficante, but that they aren’t “front and center” in the new title, so players will need to hunt out the nods.

A pair of friends dance along inside a Cowboy-themed bar.

Volition

And players will spend a lot of time being encouraged to hunt through the world of Santo Ileso in pursuit of storytelling, gameplay and entertainment. The team has laced the city with randomly spawning discoverables, like a security fan loaded with cash, for you to find as you walk around. Traficante said that it takes testers around a week, playing full time, to work their way through the bulk of the title, which is vast and ever-growing.

As well as the breadth of the city, Volition also wanted to emphasize the depth of features like character customization. Users can expect a level of tweaking that looks to be beyond the level offered in, say, Cyberpunk 2077. You’ll be able to customize your appearance, voice and clothing, as well as the looks of your cars and weapons. And none of these features will be pay-to-use, mercifully, with everything instead unlocking the further into the game you progress.

Interestingly, the new title has a little less narrative freedom than some of its predecessors as a consequence of this richer, deeper world. This, says Jennifer Campbell, is to help imbue the game with a greater sense of purpose and meaning, bolstering the story. “We were really focused on keeping a causal chain, because you’re doing things in response to something,” she said. “You’re shooting at things because you did something earlier in the mission to elicit a response from an enemy faction,” she added, with the aim of putting “reason behind the things that we asked the player to do.” Players will feel that “their actions are affecting the game state.”

Having now seen around 45 minutes of gameplay footage, I can say that the new title focuses on a narrower definition of silly. You can melee an opponent, stick a grenade down their throat and then throw their body over to a group of enemies to blow them up. Or you can ask a friend in co-op play to pick up your car with a helicopter’s trailing electromagnet and drop you off at a mission location. There are piñata guns and footballs that stick to people hurling them up into the air, as well as a new wingsuit mechanic that enables you to bounce off a pedestrian to give yourself more flight time.

Certainly, the arrival of this Saints Row game feels like it’s going to be more of an event than it did previously. The enduring success of GTA Online’s ever-present crime simulation sandbox has sucked so much air out of the genre that having a new alternative should be a big deal: We haven’t had a true “GTA-like” game since 2016’s Watch Dogs 2. The one risk is that Saints Row is looking to perfect a game that users have now moved on from.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.



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