GeForce GTX 1080 Ti launches

Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti graphics card

Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti graphics card

The GeForce GTX 1080 Ti officially launched March 10, 2017 at a MSRP of $699. This is the latest Nvidia graphics card in the GeForce 10 series based on Pascal microarchitecture. It uses a cut down chip from the TITAN X but delivers similar performance due to it’s higher clock speeds.

Nvidia releases the “Ti” version of cards as it approaches the end of the series. No doubt this is the last graphics card in the GeForce 10 series and it saved the best for last!

GTX 1080 Ti “35 percent faster than a GTX 1080”

The company’s website markets the GTX 1080 Ti as the “World’s Fastest Gaming GPU” which is a big statement coming from Nvidia. The card was reveled late February at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang made the big reveal saying, “It’s time for something new, something that’s 35 percent faster than a GTX 1080, something that’s faster than TITAN X.” It’s hard to imagine that kind of performance but Nvidia reigns supreme at squeezing the efficiency out of it’s silicon.

What’s even more shocking is the price. With a MSRP of $699 the GTX 1080 Ti is almost half the cost of the TITAN X at it’s launch. Also the Founders Edition does not come with a price increase so you’ll be paying the same no matter when you decide to buy. Simply put, for $699 you can get the performance of a TITAN X or better!

The release of the GTX 1080 Ti also ushered in a price cut for the GTX 1080 to $499.99 and the GTX 1070 $349.99 as well. Of course these are the recommend retailer prices and not mandatory so you might end up paying a little more depending on where you buy it. At the time of writing this the GTX 1080 Ti is sold out on Nvidia’s offical site and retailers. Newegg is showing some GTX 1080 prices were lowered but only handful of models are at MSRP. I found some refurbished GTX 1070 from Newegg for $349.99 but all the new cards were more expensive.

Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti

Posted in Hardware, NVIDIA Tagged with: , , , ,

Ryzen 7 1800X, 1700X, and 1700 CPUs launch

AMD Ryzen AM4 motherboard

AMD Ryzen AM4 motherboard

Ryzen 7 1800X, 1700X, and 1700 processors were released March 2nd. These are the latest high-performance processors released by AMD based on the Zen microarchitecture. Hardware manufacturers also launched new motherboards equipped with AM4 sockets and new chipsets to take advantage of features like native DDR4 memory, USB 3.1 Gen 2 and NVMe.

This is the first major microarchitecture launch for AMD since Bulldozer in 2011. That family of processors also included Piledriver, Steamroller, and most recently Excavator generations. Although APUs were strengthened considerably in Excavator none of AMD’s CPUs could compete when it came to intense single-core performance that enthusiasts and gamers required. This resulted in Intel’s dominance in the high-performance processor space for the last six years.

Ryzen 7 sets world record for 8-core Cinebench benchmark

Thie release of Ryzen 7 CPUs is AMD’s answer to Intel’s i7 lineup. A defining feature of Ryzen 7 processors is they all sport 8-cores and 16 threads. This is huge because a majority of Intel chips are stuck on quad-core with a few octa-core that are expensive. Essentially, AMD is bringing 8-core processors to the masses at a price most can afford. Ryzen 5 chips were also announced to be released Q2 of this year.

It’s obvious the strategy for AMD is more cores but that was not very successful for Bulldozer and Excavator CPUs so what’s changed in Zen and Ryzen? The Zen microarchitecture dramatically increased it’s instructions per clock or IPC. This measures how many instructions per hertz can be computed by a processor. Originally, AMD was aiming for a 40% increase from Excavator to Zen but at AMD Ryzen Tech Day it was announced that Zen was actually performing 52% better than Excavator in benchmarks.

Benchmarks should always be taken with a grain of salt but when it comes to rendering and multi-core applications the Zen microarchitecture performs very well. The AMD Ryzen 7 1800X actually captured the world record for the Cinebench – R15 benchmark the day it launched. The AMD Ryzen 7 1800X beat out an Intel Core i7 5960X that’s clocked 680 MHz higher and costs $570 more!

Gaming benchmarks show a different story though. Video games especially depend on single-core performance because so few games really make use of every core in a processor. While AMD did make great improvements in IPC it’s still beaten out by Intel in this category and this shows in benchmarks for games. Another factor is Ryzen, AM4, and the motherboard chipsets are all brand new and could use optimization in both hardware and software.

All these chips come unlocked to allow for overclocking through the BIOS or AMD’s software. New “Wraith Coolers” were also released that provide cooling specifically designed for Ryzen chips.

Overall the AMD Ryzen 7 processors provide a good price-performance ratio. At the time of writing this you could buy a 1700 for $329.99, 1700X for $399.99 and the Ryzen 7 1800X for $499.99 though it’s back ordered on both Newegg and Amazon. This is just the start for CPUs released with Zen microarchitecture. Ryzen 5 processors are due out Q2 and there will also be APUs and server chips down the line.

Here are the specifications for Ryzen 7 & Ryzen 5 processors:

RYZEN 7 1800X 8 16 3.6 4.0 N/A 95 Now
RYZEN 7 1700X 8 16 3.4 3.8 N/A 95 Now
RYZEN 7 1700 8 16 3.0 3.7 Wraith Spire 65 Now
RYZEN 5 1600X 6 12 3.6 4.0 Wraith Spire 95 Q2
RYZEN 5 1500X
Posted in AMD, Hardware, Processors Tagged with: , , ,

BLU R1 HD is the best Android phone of 2016 for price & features

BLU R1 HD home screen

BLU R1 HD home screen

The BLU R1 HD is the best Android phone of 2016 for price and feature set. Specs include a 1.3 GHz quad-core MediaTek processor, 2 GB RAM, 16 GB of internal storage, 4G LTE all behind a 5-inch Gorilla Glass 3 display. Don’t worry about filling up the internal storage because the phone features a MicroSD slot that can accommodate 64 GB cards. The standout feature is it’s dual SIM slots though.

All this can be purchased for $60 through Amazon Prime with “Lockscreen Offers & Ads” included and without for $110. That’s right, this phone is subsidized by Amazon to show non-intrusive ads in the notification area when locked. Of course you can pay more to get the ad-free version or with some tech skills root the  phone and remove them yourself!

BLU R1 HD — Bold Like Us

BLU  or “Bold Like Us” is a relatively new phone manufacturer based in Miami, Flordia. They’ve produced other value Android phones and feature phones like the PURE XR, LIFE ONE X2, and VIVO line. All their phones come GSM unlocked to let users choice which carrier they want to use. Sometimes they let you choose two carriers thanks to the inclusion of the dual SIM slots. Although their phone’s are priced competitively they seem to offer decent hardware and up-to-date software with the more recent versions of Google’s Android operating system.

The phone was released on Prime Day, July 12 2016, and  since then has become the number one (#1) best seller in Unlocked Cell Phones on Amazon. Their is also a lesser model with half the RAM and storage but only slightly cheaper at $49.99 & $99.99 respectively. Honestly, it’s worth an extra ten bucks to get double the RAM and internal storage.

If you are the market for a new Android phone then look no further! I’ve been using it almost daily since July and have had nothing but positive experiences with it. It’s a snappy phone with plenty of speed for games and intense apps. The outside is strudy and thanks to Gorilla Glass 3 it’s quite scratch resistant on the screen. At a price you can’t beat this could become your primary phone or serve as a great backup phone. I could see international business travels would also be interested in this phone because of it’s dual SIM slots.


Posted in Android, Hardware, Phones Tagged with: , , , ,

AMD announces Ryzen processor based on “Zen” architecture

AMD Ryzen processor logo

AMD Ryzen processor logo

Yesterday AMD announced Ryzen, their latest generation high-performance processors, at the “New Horizon” fan event. This is the first CPU based on “Zen” microarchitecture which has been under development for the last four years. Besides new silicon chips, AMD also released technology dubbed “SenseMI” that makes use of sensors and artificial intelligence to deliver even better voltage, clock frequency, and cooling.

Hardware specs of the featured Ryzen CPU include 8-cores, 16-threads, 95-watt TDP all running at 3.4 GHz without boost. AMD claims performance gains of “greater than 40 percent in instructions per clock” which could equalize or inch out Intel’s current offerings.

The fan event showed off benchmarks and 4K gaming demos pitting the AMD Ryzen against Intel’s Core i7-6900K. According to the AMD press release, “Blender- and Handbrake-based image rendering and video transcoding demos showed that the new CPU can match or outperform the Intel Core i7 6900K.” These benchmarks and demos should be taken with a grain of salt but AMD did release the Ryzen Blender demo for users to download and test out themselves.

Zen-based Ryzen processors & SenseMI

Zen microarchitecture was originally shown at E3 2016 using the code name “Summit Ridge”. Details have been sparse since then leaving enthusiasts to question if they should continue to wait or opt for Intel chips. Luckily for them this announcement cements the official launch of Ryzen/Zen for the first quarter of 2017 (Q1 2017). Generally, the highest performing processors are released first followed by consumer desktop and notebook variations and ending with server and extreme models.

AMD touts “multiple architectural advances combined with platform and processing technologies” for Zen. President and CEO Dr. Lisa Su elaborated further saying, “The ‘Zen’ core at the heart of our Ryzen processors is the result of focused execution and thousands of engineering hours designing.”  Zen’s performance is bolstered by “SenseMI” technology which was also announced yesterday.

SenseMI is not a singular technology but rather “comprised of five components” according to AMD. Those components are: “Pure Power, Precision Boost, Extended Frequency Range (XFR), Neural Net Prediction, and Smart Prefetch.” The first three components revolve around embedded and integrated sensors for optimal voltage, clock frequency, clock speeds, and cooling capability. The last two utilize artificial intelligence, algorithms, and software, “that learns to predict what future pathway an application will take based on past runs.”

The success of these new Zen-based CPUs is key for AMD’s future and to challenge Intel’s dominance in the microprocessor space. No doubt the performance and price of Ryzen/Zen could very well make or break AMD in the consumer desktop market.

Posted in AMD, Hardware, Processors Tagged with: , , , ,

Install FOX Sports GO App for Fire TV and Activate

FOX Sports GO LogoInstall and activate the FOX Sports GO app on your Fire TV to access live sports programming. Football, basketball, racing and other sports can be watched easily from the app if they are being shown on FOX Sports, FS1, FS2, or your regional FOX Sports Network. You will need access to a cable or satellite subscription or a service that supports the “TV Everywhere” apps to activate the service.

There a few different ways to install the app on Fire TV. First, you could use the voice search button on the remote and say “FOX Sports” to find it. Or use the Amazon box to the left to directly get the app through your browser and it will automatically be installed to your Fire TV if you’re logged into the same Amazon account on both. You could also manually find the app by browsing to the Apps in the left menu and finding the “Featured Cable Subscription Apps” category. It’s free to download the Fox Sports GO app but you have to activate it after installation for live sports to work.

Launch the FOX Sports GO apps by selecting the logo shown above and pressing the center button on the remote. You may also have to click “Open” if you are taken to the app’s information screen. Once it loads you’ll see a white screen with different live sports streams and a grey menu to the left. Notice the sports streams thumbnails have small lock icons next to them. If you tried selecting one now it would not work because everything is locked down until you activate with your subscription information.

Activate FOX Sports GO for Fire TV with your subscription information

Go to Settings in the left menu by hitting the down button on the remote and then center click on the remote. Now select the “Sign In” box by hitting the right button and center clicking on the box. A new screen loads up that prompts you to, “Sign in on your desktop or mobile device at And Enter: KC36Z..” which loads the web page to activate.

Sign in on your desktop or mobile device at

Now the FOX Sports GO activate web page tells us to, “Enter the activation code displayed on your TV screen.” My activation code started with KC36Z.. but your activation code will be completely different because it’s unique to everyone no two people will ever have the same code. Enter your unique code shown into the Activation Code box and click the Submit button.

FOX Sports GO Activate "Enter the activation code displayed on your TV screen."

Using your cable, satellite, TV everywhere subscription info select your service provider from the logos or click “More TV Providers” to see the entire list. I was using PlayStation Vue so I had to go through more providers and then search a list for the name. Once you click the name it will redirect you to the browser page for your specific service provider and ask you to login in through their system. Lastly, you’ll be redirected back to the FOX Sports GO Activate page where it displays the conformation message, “Success! You have successfully activated Fox Sports GO.”

FOX Sports GO Succes

It will take some amount of time for your Fire TV to update but just wait. After a few seconds and your Fire TV will automatically change screens back to the settings pages letting you know it’s been activated. Now instead of a “Sign In” box it will say “Sign Out”. That’s it for the activation! Go back to the “Live TV” option in the menu to view the live streams available. You’ll notice there are no more lock icons in the thumbnails.

The specific Fox sports channels you get depend entirely upon the subscription package from your cable, satellite, or streaming service. Generally everyone would get the national Fox Sports channels like FS1, FS2, and your local Fox affiliate. Other channels you could get include your regional FOX Sports Network, FOX Soccer Plus, FOX College Sports (FCS) or FOX Deportes. In my case I used PlayStation Vue in Austin, TX and got Fox Sports Southwest as my regional FOX Sports Network.

Fox Sports GO Live Now Toronto FC vs Montreal Impact, Washington at TCU, Spurs at Mavericks, Stars, FC Southwest

Posted in Android, Apps, Fire TV, FOX Sports GO, Guide, TV Tagged with: ,

Apple releases new iPhone 7 sans headphone jack

Apple iPhone 7 "This is 7."

Apple iPhone 7 “This is 7.”

Apple released it’s new phones but unlike past versions the iPhone 7 is designed without the headphone jack. The decision to drop the 3.5 mm headphone jack is part of Cupertino’s overall design aesthetic of making devices smaller at the expense of hardware ports. Apple’s Lightning EarPods are included along with an adapter for 3.5 mm jack.

For the curious, you can use the EarPods on devices with a Lightning port after they’ve been updated to iOS 10, though I’m not sure why you’d want to. Using wired audio through the Lightning connector means you cannot be charging or connecting to a computer because it can’t do any of those simultaneously! It’s a stunning omission but by default the new iPhone 7 cannot charge and be connected to EarPods or any wired headphones at the same time.

Rumors about the change to the audio port surfaced well before Apple’s official announcement on September 7 in San Francisco. Earlier in the year a redesigned MacBook was released which consolidated almost all of the ports into single USB Type-C port but the 3.5 mm headphone jack survived. Could Apple really keep a headphone jack in a redesigned MacBook but not the new iPhone?

iPhone 7 Lightning Port & EarPods

Instead, Apple is pushing it’s propitiatory Lightning port for wired audio consumption. It released it’s own EarPods with Lightning Connector that retail for $29.00 and got some audio manufacturers on board early to have new Lightning specific devices ready for the iPhone 7. For a cool $199.95 you can pickup the JBL Reflect Aware that are advertised as a “Lightning connector sport earphone” featuring Noise Cancellation and Adaptive Noise Control.

Here’s a list of what’s included with the purchase of an iPhone 7 or Plus:

  • iPhone with iOS 10
  • EarPods with Lightning Connector
  • Lightning to 3.5 mm Headphone Jack Adapter
  • Lightning to USB Cable
  • USB Power Adapter
  • Documentation

All this might have left you scratching your head. Why would Apple make the decision to drop the standardized 3.5 mm headphone jack? Besides Apple’s design aesthetic an answer also came from Phil Schiller, Apple VP, is quoted as saying “the reason to move on [is] courage.” So there you go, Apple removed one of the most ubiquitous audio connections ever on the basis of “courage.”

Posted in 10.0, Apple Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

Steam 2016 Summer Picnic Sale Starts

Steam Summer Sale Ice Cube with Valve Logo in the Desert

Steam Summer Sale Ice Cube with Valve Logo in the Desert

The Steam Summer Picnic Sale began June 23rd after much anticipation. This sale features over 13,000 plus titles on discount and is considered to be one of the largest of the year behind the Winter Sale. Like most of of Vavle’s big sales you gain collectable trading cards that can be crafted into badges before the sale ends on July 4th at 10am PST.

Doom and Grand Theft Auto V are both top selling games discounted by 40% priced at $35.99. Other top games include Fallout 4, Rise of the Tomb Raider, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Stardew Valley, Dead by Daylight, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

Steam Summer Picnic Sale 2016

Steam Summer Picnic Sale 2016

Hardware was also prominently displayed on the homepage along side games which is a first for a major sale. Vavle’s own Steam Controller and Steam Link products along with the HTC Vive VR system and some bundles were featured.

Posted in Games, Steam Tagged with: ,

Silicon Valley’s Pied Piper Tech Explained

Silicon Valley intro logoHBO’s hit show Silicon Valley returns with Season 3 soon so I decided to take a deeper look at the technology behind the notorious Pied Piper. If you watch the show then you’ll be familiar with terminology like algorithm, compression, and “middle-out” being thrown around pretty consistently without much explanation. While the show is technically very accurate and does capture the startup turmoil around the San Francisco Bay Area it’s still a television show that for the sake of dialog and plot lines takes some liberties with the actual product that is Pied Piper.

For the most part Silicon Valley does a good job handling the technical jargon and believably of characters. Gilfoyle and Dinesh present legitimate technical issues as the developers and designers of Pied Piper and constantly banter about the best approach to take to solve said issues. But when it comes down to it, the characters don’t explicitly talk about what kind of a product Pied Piper is going to end up being. The vagueness surrounding Pied Piper is no doubt intentionally done by the show’s creators to keep techies intrigued just enough without giving away possible future plot lines.

Silicon Valley early seasons and Pied Piper’s website

First, lets look at the facts presented by the show. In the first season Richard is a programmer who creates an algorithm for compressing music as a side project. At this point it’s mostly just back-end code that through command line can crunch music down similar to how MP3s are created. Eventually, Richard meets Erlich who incubates the startup and along with the help of Gilfoyle and Dinesh win the TechCrunch Disrupt with a record-breaking Weissman Score of 5.2 by pulling together an minimal viable product (MVP) of Pied Piper intended for music streaming.

Besides the actual show the other official source of information comes directly from Pied Piper’s website, which is a real thing you can view for yourself here. The main tagline from the site is “A Middle-Out Compression Solution Making Data Storage Problems Smaller” which is prominently  displayed below the logo. Then it has the question I’m trying to answer: “What is Pied Piper?” with some fluff answers about bloated corporations and being small and focused. But then the first real answer: “business-facing compression company” and then in even bigger words, “As such, we are in the process of deploying an integrated, multi-platform functionality of all applications of our algorithm”. Still vague but with some interesting clues.

“Middle out doesn’t restrict itself to h.264 two dimensional grid or time bound patterns at all” - Gilfoyle

“Middle-out doesn’t restrict itself to H.264 two dimensional grid or time bound patterns at all” – Gilfoyle from Season 2 Episode 2

Jargon breakdown of two conflicting Pied Piper narratives

Let’s breakdown the wording presented from the website. Starting with “business-facing” that implies B2B (business-to-business) services which would no doubt be licensing the algorithm to other companies for their own use behind the scenes. But at the same time they talk about “multi-platform functionality” as if they are building their own consumer applications for iOS/Android/Windows users. Then there is the mystical “middle-out” which is simply a made up buzz word coined by a technical advisor to the show.

Not surprisingly, Silicon Valley and the website present two conflicting narratives about Pied Piper. In one it’s a just a business facing coding algorithm that would be perfect for data/cloud storage. The other is a consumer focused application for streaming music and videos with great efficiency. Honestly, I don’t even think the creators really even know which it truly is.

Posted in Silicon Valley, TV Tagged with: , , , ,

The Division Dark Zone & Loot Extraction

The Division Dark Zone Extraction Agent

The Division Dark Zone Extraction Agent

The Dark Zone is a lawless part of the The Division where players can find better loot, kill each other, or team up to fight higher level computer enemies. The higher level loot like blues and oranges are dropped by the harder non-player enemies and can be purchased by Dark Zone vendors using DZ Funds, the special DZ only currency that’s represented in purple with a capital R featured in the screenshot to the right.

Besides the currency being different there is also a Rank system that is separate from your level. Gaining experience in the Dark Zone builds up this Rank just like the regular PvE parts of the world. Higher Rank lets you open crates found across the Dark Zone map as well as being able to buy and use loot from the Vendors. Lastly, there is a separate inventory for items and gear found in the Dark Zone that is limited to only six slots. When you pick up drops in the DZ it goes into this special loot pack that will show up on your Agent’s back.

In the lore of the The Division these Dark Zone areas are still infected with the deadly virus and so that is why the DZ is quarantined from the rest of the map. Sticking true to this narrative, all the new gear you collect while in the Dark Zone is also infected and must be decontaminated before it’s used. To decontaminate you must extract the gear by calling down a helicopter and successfully attaching your loot pack before the count down timer runs out and the helicopter takes off for the Base of Operation.

There are multiple entrances to this cut throat area and where you choose to enter can determine how close you are to different parts of the Dark Zone. For one, each entrance has a different vendor with different gear. Then there are Safe Rooms that let agents take a break from the possible PvP and of course buy things from a vendor here as well. Of course there are different non-player enemies that spawn at specific points and crates that can be opened with keys. Most importantly there are Extraction Areas that let you keep the new loot you find.

Loot Extraction in the Dark Zone

On the Dark Zone map you’ll find a few Extraction Areas each with it’s own advantages and disadvantages in terms of cover, non-player enemies spawning and distance to a possible exit. These factors have to be taken into consideration because once you start an Extraction your agent will shoot a flare into the air and all agents in Dark Zone are notified you requested to extract. A count down timer will also be displayed with the time remaining until the helicopter arrives so other agents will know exactly when you’ll be the most vulnerable.

Once the helicopter has landed you’ve got about thirty seconds to get your loot bag attached before it takes off. It’s as simple as running up to the bottom of the helicopter and using the action key to attach to the cord. Of course if you get shot while running up to the helicopter or before successfully attaching then you might die and drop all the loot you were trying to rescue.

It’s advisable to have a good party of players you trust for backup and feel comfortable with unknown agents around the area. It costs nothing to request an Extraction so don’t feel bad if you don’t get it on the first try. Some player’s even request an initial Execration as a decoy at one part of the map then run to another area to call another Execration there.

The Division Dark Zone Helicopter Extraction Area

The Division Dark Zone Helicopter Extraction Area


Posted in Games, Tom Clancy's The Division Tagged with: ,

The Division Basics, Missions, Skills

The Division lets you equip two normal sized guns and a sidearm (Weapons) along with body armor, mask, knee pads, backpack, gloves, and holster (Gear). Firearms, Stamina, and Electronics are Stats you get by leveling up and from equipped Gear which gives bonuses. Firearms increases the damage of your weapons, Stamina adds extra health, and Electronics gives you more skill power. This is all found in the Inventory menu under Overview. Guns can also be given additional bonuses with Mods which are dropped as loot.

Speaking of loot, it’s the items dropped after killing hostile enemies in the world and found in chests, drawers, and other containers. Dropped loot is represented in game by a glowing pillar coming out of the ground. The color of the light pillar depends on the rarity of the item. The least rare items are white and from there it jumps up to blue and purple much like in MMOs.

Walking over the light lets you view each item or pickup all of them. Loot is unique to each player in game so you only see loot on screen that is yours, everyone else loot is hidden. Basically, pick up all the loot you can because it’s all yours and you can carry quite a bit before your backpack fills up. Remember, even if you don’t want the stuff you can sell it to a Vendor later for Credits to buy items you do want.

The Divison Overview Inventory Menu with Equipment Guns and Gears Firearms, Stamina, and Electronics are Stats

The Divison Overview Inventory Menu with Equipment Guns and Gears Firearms, Stamina, and Electronics are Stats

Once you pickup new guns or gear that can be equipped you’ll see an exclamation point (!) over those respective categories in the Overview menu. It’s not a statement of a better gun or gear just that you picked up new stuff and you should take a look. To do that you want to select a Weapon or Gear in the Overview menu like the primary weapon or body armor.

Menus will show you the options you have to equip for that category with the stats and bonuses as well as comparisons to the equipped item with up or down arrows to indicated what Stats get bumped or lowered. Every item gives you different amounts of Firearms, Stamina, and Electronics Stats so you’ll need to equip different gear to suit the needs of your play style/build. All your Gear provides a certain amount of Armor as well that is used to protect your Agent. Lastly, Stats will unlock special Weapon Talents that give your guns additional bonuses as you get better Weapons.

Besides the Overview menu there is also the Character, Pouches, and Appearance menus under the Inventory. Character and Pouches were locked in the Beta but Appearance controlled the cosmetic style of your Agent. You could swap jackets and hats to look different in game cosmetically but it does not actually provide any type of advantage.

Missions, Side Quests, and Encounters

The game has three different paths to progress the plot in the normal player versus everyone zones that you start the game in. Missions are the main plot points of the game that are big instanced events. Madison Field Hospital and Subway Morgue were the two Missions in the Beta. Before starting a Mission it requires you to pick a difficulty.

Normal is the default difficulty that generally allows you to solo with success. Hard difficulty requires a group of agents to tackle but if you need some team mates their is built in functionality to find a group  as well. Entering a Mission creates a unique instance to your world that only you and your group are playing in so you can easily replay Missions on different difficulty to grind experience and get better loot.

Side Quests have plots hooks into Missions but are optional. Encounters involve the street and adjacent buildings usually where you help out a person by taking down a gang, finding a key, and unlocking a door for an innocent civilian. You can replay Side Quests as well. If you restart your game or join a new group all your Side Quests should be reset on the map so you can them again.


Firearms, Stamina, and Electronics each have different skills to level up known as Medical, Tech, and Security. As you progress through the main Missions you start upgrading the Base of Operation and thus giving you better skills. You start off with one skill slot that lets you assign a single skill and then you’ll be able to unlock more slots.

Medical skills provide healing with First Aid and heads up world scanning with Pulse. Tech skills give you extra offensive power with Turrets and Sticky bombs. Lastly Security skills give defensive with a Ballistic Shield and different Cover abilities.


Posted in Games, Tom Clancy's The Division