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Valorant PC Game Review- Why This Game is Worth Sinking Hours Into

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Valorant PC Game Review

What is the reason why you play games? For most people, they want to have fun. For some, they want to be competitive and try their skills against other players.

No matter what your reason is, looking for fun and exciting titles to play is quite common. If you are looking for one, read further to find out why this newly released game is worth it.

This is the Valorant PC Game Review.

What is It?

Valorant is a 3D first-person shooter. If I were to describe the game in its entirety, it would be a combination of both Counter-Strike and Overwatch.

It is similar to CS:GO because there is a buying phase at the start of the round. It is also the same as Overwatch in the sense that all of the characters have unique abilities.

At the time of writing this article, the game is released with 10 characters, though you can expect new characters and maps in the future.

You can start playing with 5 characters and you can unlock the additional ones by just gaining XP. The game seems to be borrowing one of Overwatch’s rules in the sense that you can only use one character per team.

The Agents

Valorant PC Game Review 2020

All of the characters that you can choose in the game are called ‘Agents’ and there are four different types.

The first is the Sentinel which are agents that have skills that can help fortify locations. The next are Controllers that mostly have AoE abilities that are meant to disrupt enemies from pushing toward the objective.

Then, there are the Initiators. Think of them as scouts as their abilities allow you to see enemy movement, as well as form tactics to combat them in the most effective way.

Lastly, you have the duelist. Think of them as the all-around killing machines. Their abilities are perfectly suited for pushing and driving enemies away from a point.

Why Team Tactics Are Important

Unlike Overwatch where character HPs are higher, Valorant is somewhat similar to CS:GO in the sense that you can be one-shotted by enemy snipers and whatnot.

The key to winning this game is overall communication. This means that it is imperative you communicate with your teammates either through in-game commands or discord.

The current available game mode is Demolition Man and if you have played CS:GO, you should be quite familiar with this particular play.

Basically, there will be two teams. One team will be tasked to defend different bomb sites and the other team will do their best to plant a bomb.

To win the game, either team must be able to get a total of 13 wins. When your team is defending, it is important that the opposing team doesn’t plant a bomb. If that happens, the only way for you to win the round is if any of your teammates can defuse it.

It is also worth noting that it also employs a similar style of play like CS:GO. Every round, you have money to buy whatever it is that you need. The more agents you’ve killed in the previous round, the more money you get in the buying phase.

The Arsenal

At the beginning of every round, you will have the option to buy one primary weapon and a sidearm. For primaries, you get to choose either a machine gun, a shotgun, SMG, rifle, and a sniper. You also have a total of 5 different sidearms you can choose depending on your preference as well.

There was this long-standing notion in Counter-Strike games before that when you just wield a knife, that your movement speed will be much faster than wielding a gun.

Many players have reported that to be true, while others refute it and say that it is just a placebo. You may or may not believe it, but it is just interesting to point that out.

The Playables

What makes this game interesting is that you can choose any of the 10 characters that will be playable in the game. As mentioned earlier, 5 of them would be playable right off the bat while the other 5 will have to be unlocked just by playing the game.

Below are the five current playable characters in the game:

1.Sova

Valorant Sova

If scouting enemy positions is your thing, then Sova is the best character for you. As you may have already guessed, Sova is an initiator and his tracking abilities are amazing.

Here are his skills:

  • Owl Drone– A cool flying drone that allows you to mark enemies using darts. Marked enemies are tracked which means that your teammates can also see them, even behind walls
  • Shock Bolt– This ability lets Sova shoot electrically-charged arrows to an area or player. Keep in mind that although this is a great dispersing mechanism, it has the potential to damage your teammates as well
  • Recon Bolt– The Recon Bolt is Sova’s signature ability and it is where he fires arrows that can tell your teammates the enemy’s position. What’s cool is that you can do this through walls too. Although it is a cool ability, bear in mind that enemies can destroy the arrows, thus nullifying their effect
  • Hunter’s Fury– Sova’s ultimate ability, this is where he fires a laser arrow to your opponent for good amounts of damage. It can shoot through walls and you have about three charges. When one of your arrows hits the enemy, they will be marked for a brief period of time

2.Phoenix

Valorant Phoenix

Named after the mythical creature that can be reborn using its own powers, Phoenix is a Duelist and is great for pushing thanks to his ability to get back to life.

  • Blaze– Phoenix can create a wall of fire that not only damages enemy players passing through it but it can also create a barrier that is hard for them to see. The good thing is that you can also manipulate the wall so that you can block out different corners and angles
  • Curveball– A fireball projectile that can be hurled towards the enemy, leaving them blinded for a couple of seconds when it hits
  • Hot Hands– Phoenix throws a firebomb that creates a small area of fire. Enemies who are caught in it will be given a damage-over-time (DoT) debuff
  • Run It Back– Just like the Phoenix rising from the ashes, this ultimate ability allows him to come back to life. He does this by placing a particular marker and once that is placed, a cooldown timer commences. Once Phoenix is killed or once the timer expires, Phoenix will be reborn in the same spot as the marker.

3.Brimstone

Valorant Brimstone

People that want to prevent enemies from getting to specific areas would definitely love Brimstone. He is a Controller-type character that can do aerial assaults and throw grenades that can hinder enemy movement.

  • Steam Beacon– Brimstone lays down a beacon on the ground that can provide a buff called ‘Rapidfire’. As the name implies, this buffs you and your teammates’ rate of fire by 10%, as well as weapon swap and reload speeds.
  • Incendiary– The good old fashioned ‘Fire in the Hole!’, Brimstone uses a grenade launcher to hurl grenades to a specific area. Aside from the immediate blast, it can also cause damage over time in a small radius as well. Keep in mind that that small area can also damage friendlies, so be mindful of it
  • Sky Smoke– By using Brimstone’s gadget, you can deploy smoke bombs at key locations in the map
  • Orbital Strike– Have you seen the movie, Independence Day? Brimstone’s orbital strike is quite similar to that of the Alien’s laser in that movie. The laser does area of effect damage- the closer the opponents are, the bigger the damage they will receive

4.Sage

Valorant Sage

Considered a godsend by many, Sage is a Sentinel-type character that has the ability to heal and resurrect allies, as well as creating barriers to prevent enemy movement in key locations.

  • Barrier Orb– If you’ve played Overwatch’s Mei, this should be right up your alley. This is where Sage can put up a barrier- effectively blocking anyone’s entry in specific locations. The barrier can also act as a damage soak and that is why it can be an effective tool to use if you want to protect your allies in battle
  • Slow Orb– Sage throws an orb that creates an area that can slow down enemy movement
  • Healing Orb– Her signature ability, Sage can hurl an orb to a teammate, thus providing them with a Heal-over-time buff
  • Resurrection– When you think about it, you can say that Sage is both a combination of Mei and Mercy’s abilities. As the name suggests, this is where you can revive a fallen ally

5.Jett

Valorant Jett

If you like fast-moving characters, then you will definitely love Jett. A duelist that specializes in quick movements, you can easily use her to flank and kill enemies in succession.

  • Cloudburst– Provides cover for Jett’s allies by hurling a sphere that may impede enemy vision once it collides with something (either a player or surface)
  • Updraft– Gives Jett the ability to jump to greater heights. A great ability that allows you to flank enemies with ease
  • Tailwind– This is akin to Tracer’s signature ability, Jett can quickly dash forward in the same direction she’s moving
  • Bladestorm– Jett’s ultimate ability conjures up 5 throwing knives that can instantly kill any opponent. Once it kills an enemy, a charge will be given back

There are five more characters that can be unlocked just by playing the game. Rack up XP points to get your favorite ones.

Valorant Tips and Tricks

Aside from communicating with your teammates, it is essential that you know the ins and outs of the game to give you an advantage over your opponents. Here are some essential tips and tricks:

  • Know Your Agent– It is best that you familiarize yourself with the different characters. Once you’ve found one that suits your playstyle, read their abilities and put them to mind. Be particular about the range, the effects, the damage, and so on
  • Practice Makes Perfect– Of course, knowing what your favorite agent can do is just one part of the equation- you must also practice a lot with the same character. Once you’ve locked down on a particular agent, practice him/her and no one else until you’ve mastered everything that he/she has to offer
  • Get Better at Aiming– I think this should be common sense if you are playing a first-person-shooter, but it cannot be overstated. Always practice your aiming so that you get proficient in killing enemies. The good thing is that there is an option in-game where you can train for that, so do utilize it until your aiming improves
  • Remember Your Role– Every character fills a very important role in the team. Sentinels are the ‘eyes’ of the team. Duelists should drive opponents away or push toward enemy territory. Initiators should know perfect positioning to provide them with better angles to pick apart enemies and Controllers should be aware of their surroundings as they can give cover to allies or impede enemy movement and vision
  • Choose Wisely– In the buying phase, you can choose which weapon you want to get. You have one primary and one sidearm. It is important that you know the characteristics of each weapon and you have to choose one that fits your playstyle
  • Hug the Corners– One thing that you can do to kill enemies safely is to hug the corners. Pick a corner where you can get a perfect line of sight and shoot your enemies down. Controller-type characters are adept at this as they can employ traps that may block the enemy’s vision- hindering them from peeking to see if there are enemies behind walls, etc.
  • Always Communicate– No matter how good you are, always remember that this is a team game. Your success is largely dependent upon how well your team communicates with each other. That being said, you can use the game’s ping system to give certain call-outs. It is also a good idea to use discord or any other chat application for better overall communication
  • Walk It Out– When you are running, you effectively give away your position as your footsteps can be heard by your enemies. However, when you are just walking around, that won’t produce any noise whatsoever. Just walk slowly to help you get behind enemies and kill them without knowing
  • Run and Gun Don’t Work– Despite the game being fast-paced at times, always bear in mind that slow and low wins the game. What I mean is that moving while shooting is not effective and may just lower your accuracy by a lot. What you should do is find an enemy, aim down your sights, and kill them. Strafing won’t do you any good in this game, so if it means that you change your style of play, then do it
  • Be Prepared to Battle It Out– Each Valorant match is long. How long? Well, since a single match can get up to 13 rounds, you could be playing for 30 minutes to an hour just to finish one. Be prepared for long gaming sessions
  • Use a Headset– You may be using a really good sound system, but I still recommend that you use a gaming headset as it can help you immensely, especially since you can hear enemy footsteps more readily than your standalone speaker
  •  Don’t Be Stingy with Your Ultimates– If you were saving an ultimate in Overwatch, you can be forgiven. However, Valorant is different in that even small wins can be the difference between winning or losing. If you can see that your ult can kill, do not be stingy and cast that thing!
  • Get Good Gaming Peripherals– Although this is quite optional since player skill takes precedence over good gaming gear, I would still recommend that you get some nice peripherals. Aside from headsets, I would also urge you to buy a gaming keyboard and a gaming mouse that has good ergonomics and mouse sensor.

Valorant

Conclusion

Valorant is a really action-packed game that combines both strategy and player skill to win. The game has just recently left beta so its game modes and character selection are still sparse, but it is very enjoyable nonetheless.

There are some games where it can be dragged out and tedious, but for the most part, you can spend a lot of time on this one without you noticing about it.

Therefore, I can say that Valorant is truly a game worth sinking hours into.

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Amazon Luna- Everything You Need to Know About Amazon’s Cloud Gaming Service

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Amazon Luna

It seems that cloud gaming is the future as a lot of companies are pooling their resources just to make things happen.

Amazon Luna is Amazon’s foray into cloud gaming and it is going to be available soon. Read further to find out more information about this new experience.

Channel-based Platform

Amazon Luna Platform

Google has paved the way for cloud gaming to come to the fore with the release of the Stadia not too long ago. Although it was mired with a lot of different issues, it seems that the company has found a way to make things work.

Amazon also wants in on the action and although there are some similarities with Luna and Stadia, there are also some stark differences as well.

Before I begin, I just want to explain the concept of cloud gaming. Basically, instead of downloading games to your gaming PC or whatever platform you choose to install them, you will just stream those games using data centers that are scattered all over the world.

It should go without saying that you need to have a fast internet connection to make this happen and so that you will not experience high latency (which was a huge problem when Stadia launched).

That being said, the premise of Google Stadia is that you need to either purchase an individual game so that you can play it at any time (forever) or you could subscribe to the monthly plan and play the games that are on offer every month (and continue to play them so long as you’re subscribed).

With Amazon Luna, you will be presented with different channels that you can subscribe to. Each of these channels has different games on offer which makes this quite appealing for game developers to show their mettle.

Right now, the platform is still in beta and there are only two channels available at the moment- Amazon’s own Luna Plus and the Ubisoft Channel. The latter will have 50 games that you can play right away and more Ubisoft games will be added in the future.

Keep in mind that this channel-based system makes it so that developers can price their services accordingly. It remains to be seen how much Ubisoft will charge individual users, so stay tuned for that.

1080p and 4K Gaming

Just like Google Stadia, Amazon Luna will support both 1080p and 4K resolutions. Of course, the latter would be more taxing and you will need a fast internet connection to be able to enjoy high-fidelity gaming. I suggest that you get a WiFi 6 router and a compatible device to make the most out of your experience.

Cross-Platform Support

Amazon Luna Cross-Platform

Unlike Stadia, Amazon Luna is more flexible in that it supports a lot of different devices. Not only can you play on your PC, but you can also choose to play it using your iOS devices, Android phones, and you can even utilize the company’s own FireTV devices as well.

Now, there has been this entire debacle about Apple’s 30% cut on every app in its App store but the good news is that Amazon can circumvent that.

You see, when you are going to play on your iOS devices, the application will actually be a PWA or a Progressive Web App. Basically, the game that you want to play will run in a contained web browser instead of it being an actual application that you install in your device. This bypasses the whole 30% cut issue which is a good thing.

NVIDIA Hardware Use

According to a recent Steam survey, the vast majority of PC users are all using NVIDIA graphics cards. This is a good thing for Amazon Luna because it means that it can support a lot more people.

That is because the company’s cloud gaming service will use NVIDIA GPUs instead of AMD cards (which Stadia uses for graphics processing).

Supposing that Amazon Luna will be more popular than any other cloud gaming service out there, NVIDIA will enjoy huge profits as a result.

Can Be Streamed to Popular Sites

Amazon Luna Controller

Twitch is arguably the most popular streaming platform today and Amazon is looking to forge a partnership with the said service to allow you to stream your games to the popular website.

The said platform is widely used as a means of generating revenue- something that is quite popular today due to the recent pandemic.

This move also makes it appealing as well as more and more content creators can use Amazon Luna to reach a broader audience.

New Controller with Alexa Support

Amazon Luna Controller 2

Just like Google Stadia, Amazon Luna also requires you to get a special controller. The good thing is that the control will have a microphone so that you can use Alexa for specific voice commands.

What’s interesting about the Luna’s controller is that it is completely connected to the Cloud, which means that you do not have to pair it with the specific device you are going to use to play games online.

According to Amazon’s website, it should have a grippy texture and will feature low-friction thumbsticks that provide maximum performance across the board. By using the controller’s microphone, you can actually tell Alexa to fire up the specific game that you want to play, so long as it is inside the channel that you’ve subscribed to.

Conclusion

Amazon Luna is quite enticing, at least, on paper. It is shaping up to be a better cloud gaming service compared to its competitors but the service is still in beta, so there are more things that need ironing out before its official release.

Right now, there are only two channels that are available and Ubisoft hasn’t imposed its pricing yet. The Amazon Luna channel is priced at $6.99

If you are interested in getting in on the action, you can be an early beta tester by subscribing to the service.

Amazon Luna will be out sometime in October.

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Acer Nitro XV340CK Review- A Greatly Competitive Ultrawide Gaming Monitor Under $500

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Acer Nitro XV340CK Review

Ultrawide monitors used to be a niche display in that the only people who work on productivity tasks and creative workloads usually buy them.

Fortunately, the display technology has evolved and gamers, too, can enjoy a much wider screen.

Today, I am going to review the Acer Nitro XV340CK which is a 34-inch ultrawide gaming monitor that is priced competitively. 

Design

Even though this is marketed as a gaming monitor, the Acer Nitro XV340CK actually doesn’t look like it. It looks simple and I love the aesthetics, especially if you want to place this in your office.

The only thing that might make you think that this is a gaming display is that red accent that you can find on the base of the monitor but that’s about it.

Anyway, let’s start with the stand. Aside from the aforementioned red accent, the stand provides good ergonomics.

It gives you the ability to swivel the monitor a complete 360 degrees, you can tilt it to 35 degrees back and you can adjust the height up to 5.9 inches. Because this is an ultrawide monitor, you cannot put this thing in portrait mode.

I love the fact that this monitor has slim bezels. At only 0.4 inches, you can place another monitor right beside it and it wouldn’t really take a lot of screen real estate at all.

The overall build quality is good. Despite the fact that it doesn’t feel premium, at least when compared to the best gaming monitors out there, it still feels sturdy nevertheless.

For the ports, you get two Displayport 1.4 ports, two HDMI 2.0 ports, and two USB 3.0 ports. Due to the wealth of ports on offer, you can use this for your PC or your game console.

The only thing that might be cumbersome for some users is that the OSD controls are situated at the back of the monitor- particularly on the bottom right side. The buttons are also a bit smaller than usual, so you may have a hard time pressing the right ones.

Display

Acer Nitro XV340CK Review 2020

The Acer Nitro XV340CK has a 34-inch IPS display with a resolution of 3440 x 1440 and an aspect ratio of 21:9. It is the same as other ultrawide gaming monitors that you can find on the market so there is no problem with that.

You do have the option to enable the picture-in-picture mode so that you can divide the display in two if you wish to fire up two different programs at the same time. This is why it is not only a handy gaming monitor, but it can also be used for office work as well.

Its contrast and brightness leave much to be desired. With a native contrast ratio of 1048:1 and peak SDR brightness of only 247 nits, it is not the best display when it comes to these things.

However, its redeeming quality is that its colors are accurate. After calibration, I got 95% sRGB, 82% AdobeRGB, and 81% DCI-P3. It is relatively color accurate and it would have been nice for creative workloads, but its peak brightness just falls short of making it an ideal display for such use-cases.

It is also worth noting that if you are in a well-lit room that the brightness could be a huge issue. The good thing is that the display’s matte finish can help reduce glare significantly, though you will still find that it is not bright enough in some situations.

I am surprised by the fact that there is literally no color bleed on the Acer Nitro XV340CK. This is unheard of, especially since ultrawide monitors are notorious for this.

Performance

Sure, its peak brightness and contrast could have improved, but gamers are not especially focused on those things. If anything, it is the performance of the display that usually takes the cake and I am happy to report that you won’t be disappointed with the Nitro XV340CK.

Normally, with IPS panels, they tend to not have a good response time, but that is actually not the case here. At just 5.3ms, it is definitely one of the best out there even when compared to other, more premium models.

How about input lag? This is a speed monitor and as expected, input lag is minimal. At just 4.2ms, I am really blown away by the performance of this thing. Every keypress on your gaming keyboard will register almost immediately and that is really great from a competitive standpoint.

It is also worth noting that its 144Hz refresh rate is ideal, especially since most gamers are clamoring for high refresh rate displays anyway.

This is a FreeSync gaming monitor and you can enable this variable refresh rate feature in both AMD and Nvidia graphics cards.

To get a hold of the said features, it is important for you to know that you should use the DisplayPort cable that is included in the box. There is also an included HDMI cable if you want to use this display for your Xbox or Playstation consoles.

Acer Nitro XV340CK

Verdict

With all of those things being said, if I were to ask you how much this thing costs, what will be your guess? If you’ve guessed around $700, you’re wrong.

The Acer Nitro XV340CK is priced at just $450! At that price, you are getting a relatively color-accurate monitor, a really fast display with minimal input lag, and a vast number of ports that you can use for your PC or game consoles.

Sure, its contrast and peak brightness could have been improved, but if you are talking about raw gaming performance, the Acer Nitro XV340CK blows other ultrawide gaming monitors out of the way.

Just make sure that you have a nice gaming PC for this thing to work nicely. Other than that, I highly recommend the Acer Nitro XV340CK for its price and performance.

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HyperX Cloud Stinger S- A Comfortable 7.1 Surround Sound Gaming Headset

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HyperX Cloud Stinger S Review

As an audiophile, I’ve always loved HyperX’s gaming audio solution. They are inexpensive and for the price, you are actually getting sound quality that you normally would only hear from expensive products.

In today’s article, I am going to review the HyperX Cloud Stinger S. This is a budget offering that aims to improve upon the original Cloud Stinger with the inclusion of a 7.1 surround sound option.

Do I recommend this headset? Find out later on in the article.

Design

The HyperX Cloud Stinger S is actually quite similar to the original version. It has the same pleather ear cups that envelope your ears quite nicely and the clamping force of the headset itself is actually quite okay.

I’ve been receiving reports that there are some people that have problems with the tightness or, shall I say, how loose this thing can be. But that will probably be a result of the size of your head and not the actual product itself. For me, the fit was okay, but your mileage may vary.

Although this thing is predominantly made in plastic, the overall build quality is good, though I would advise you not to throw this headset when you lose a round in a MOBA game or first-person shooter.

There is a microphone on this headset and just like the original, it is not removable. It would have been nice if you could remove it when you are not using it because even if you fold the microphone (which also acts as a way of muting it), you will still see it which can be annoying at times.

This thing is quite simple and all you have for the controls is the volume slider that is located on the right ear cup. 

While other HyperX gaming headsets come with a carrying pouch, I am sad to say that the HyperX Cloud Stinger S doesn’t have one.

All you get in the box aside from the headset is a USB dongle that is attached to a relatively long cable and some documentation. And, since you use this thing completely wired, it can also be used in your Playstation or other game consoles as well.

The 3.5mm analog cable should be inserted in the USB dongle if you wish to use its 7.1 surround sound implementation, but if you are just going to watch movies or play non-competitive games, I suggest that you do not use it.

Audio Quality

HyperX Cloud Stinger S Review 2020

There are two modes that you can utilize if you are going to use the HyperX Cloud Stinger S. You can use its 3.5mm headphone jack and enjoy stereo sound or you could insert that into the included USB dongle and use the 7.1 surround sound feature.

Keep in mind that if you are going to use the 7.1 output that it is only supported on the PC since you will need the NGENUITY software to enable it.

That being said, the HyperX Cloud Stinger S’ sound signature leans more toward being bright and with a little emphasis on the bass. This seems to be the preference of the majority of gamers since lower frequencies can make those in-game sounds pop-out more.

I also love the mid frequencies as it is quite balanced as well. I’ve had no problems listening to in-game dialog and when I am using the microphone, it just works really well.

Although the high frequencies are okay, I would say that it is the weakest of the bunch, though not so much as to diminish the overall sound quality. You will still hear the sibilance of the cymbals and lead guitars, but it is not as pronounced as the lower and mid frequencies.

As for the 7.1 surround sound, you should enable it in the companion software and it is only available when you are on the PC.

Anyway, its surround sound is okay but I say this because it is a budget gaming headset. If you compare it to the more premium ones, this is subpar at best. Still, you could enable it in your favorite games but I will advise against it if you are just listening to music or watching movies.

Despite a relatively good clamping force, the HyperX Cloud Stinger S doesn’t do so well in terms of sound isolation. People around me can still hear what I was listening to, so this might not be ideal if you are playing at night and there are people sleeping.

Microphone Quality

HyperX Cloud Stinger S

There is usually this notion that budget headsets have horrible microphones but not the HyperX Cloud Stinger S. In fact, I would go on to say that it has one of the better ones on the market.

Instead of sounding tinny, the microphone quality of the Cloud Stinger S is full-bodied and my teammates can hear every word I said without any problems.

The volume of the microphone is also quite good as well. Normally, with budget offerings, you tend to sound a bit ‘too far’ but that is not the case here.

Overall, I am quite pleased with the microphone. The only thing that I do not like is that the flippable microphone may impede your vision sometimes, but I think that you can adjust to this.

Verdict

For a budget headset, the HyperX Cloud Stinger S is definitely one of the better sounding ones. I also love the fact that the microphone’s quality is top-notch and it can even go head-to-head against its more premium counterparts.

I am just a bit disappointed that you do not get a carrying pouch with this one because other HyperX gaming headsets have them. But, this is a minor inconvenience.

I did not feel the need to talk about the NGENUITY software mainly because it is pretty barebones and all you can do with it is to enable the 7.1 surround sound, adjust the volume and microphone, and that’s about it. There is no equalizer present which is quite odd.

Still, for what it is giving you, the HyperX Cloud Stinger S is highly recommended. This thing costs $60.

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Valorant PC Game Review- Why This Game is Worth Sinking Hours Into

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Valorant PC Game Review

What is the reason why you play games? For most people, they want to have fun. For some, they want to be competitive and try their skills against other players.

No matter what your reason is, looking for fun and exciting titles to play is quite common. If you are looking for one, read further to find out why this newly released game is worth it.

This is the Valorant PC Game Review.

What is It?

Valorant is a 3D first-person shooter. If I were to describe the game in its entirety, it would be a combination of both Counter-Strike and Overwatch.

It is similar to CS:GO because there is a buying phase at the start of the round. It is also the same as Overwatch in the sense that all of the characters have unique abilities.

At the time of writing this article, the game is released with 10 characters, though you can expect new characters and maps in the future.

You can start playing with 5 characters and you can unlock the additional ones by just gaining XP. The game seems to be borrowing one of Overwatch’s rules in the sense that you can only use one character per team.

The Agents

Valorant PC Game Review 2020

All of the characters that you can choose in the game are called ‘Agents’ and there are four different types.

The first is the Sentinel which are agents that have skills that can help fortify locations. The next are Controllers that mostly have AoE abilities that are meant to disrupt enemies from pushing toward the objective.

Then, there are the Initiators. Think of them as scouts as their abilities allow you to see enemy movement, as well as form tactics to combat them in the most effective way.

Lastly, you have the duelist. Think of them as the all-around killing machines. Their abilities are perfectly suited for pushing and driving enemies away from a point.

Why Team Tactics Are Important

Unlike Overwatch where character HPs are higher, Valorant is somewhat similar to CS:GO in the sense that you can be one-shotted by enemy snipers and whatnot.

The key to winning this game is overall communication. This means that it is imperative you communicate with your teammates either through in-game commands or discord.

The current available game mode is Demolition Man and if you have played CS:GO, you should be quite familiar with this particular play.

Basically, there will be two teams. One team will be tasked to defend different bomb sites and the other team will do their best to plant a bomb.

To win the game, either team must be able to get a total of 13 wins. When your team is defending, it is important that the opposing team doesn’t plant a bomb. If that happens, the only way for you to win the round is if any of your teammates can defuse it.

It is also worth noting that it also employs a similar style of play like CS:GO. Every round, you have money to buy whatever it is that you need. The more agents you’ve killed in the previous round, the more money you get in the buying phase.

The Arsenal

At the beginning of every round, you will have the option to buy one primary weapon and a sidearm. For primaries, you get to choose either a machine gun, a shotgun, SMG, rifle, and a sniper. You also have a total of 5 different sidearms you can choose depending on your preference as well.

There was this long-standing notion in Counter-Strike games before that when you just wield a knife, that your movement speed will be much faster than wielding a gun.

Many players have reported that to be true, while others refute it and say that it is just a placebo. You may or may not believe it, but it is just interesting to point that out.

The Playables

What makes this game interesting is that you can choose any of the 10 characters that will be playable in the game. As mentioned earlier, 5 of them would be playable right off the bat while the other 5 will have to be unlocked just by playing the game.

Below are the five current playable characters in the game:

1.Sova

Valorant Sova

If scouting enemy positions is your thing, then Sova is the best character for you. As you may have already guessed, Sova is an initiator and his tracking abilities are amazing.

Here are his skills:

  • Owl Drone– A cool flying drone that allows you to mark enemies using darts. Marked enemies are tracked which means that your teammates can also see them, even behind walls
  • Shock Bolt– This ability lets Sova shoot electrically-charged arrows to an area or player. Keep in mind that although this is a great dispersing mechanism, it has the potential to damage your teammates as well
  • Recon Bolt– The Recon Bolt is Sova’s signature ability and it is where he fires arrows that can tell your teammates the enemy’s position. What’s cool is that you can do this through walls too. Although it is a cool ability, bear in mind that enemies can destroy the arrows, thus nullifying their effect
  • Hunter’s Fury– Sova’s ultimate ability, this is where he fires a laser arrow to your opponent for good amounts of damage. It can shoot through walls and you have about three charges. When one of your arrows hits the enemy, they will be marked for a brief period of time

2.Phoenix

Valorant Phoenix

Named after the mythical creature that can be reborn using its own powers, Phoenix is a Duelist and is great for pushing thanks to his ability to get back to life.

  • Blaze– Phoenix can create a wall of fire that not only damages enemy players passing through it but it can also create a barrier that is hard for them to see. The good thing is that you can also manipulate the wall so that you can block out different corners and angles
  • Curveball– A fireball projectile that can be hurled towards the enemy, leaving them blinded for a couple of seconds when it hits
  • Hot Hands– Phoenix throws a firebomb that creates a small area of fire. Enemies who are caught in it will be given a damage-over-time (DoT) debuff
  • Run It Back– Just like the Phoenix rising from the ashes, this ultimate ability allows him to come back to life. He does this by placing a particular marker and once that is placed, a cooldown timer commences. Once Phoenix is killed or once the timer expires, Phoenix will be reborn in the same spot as the marker.

3.Brimstone

Valorant Brimstone

People that want to prevent enemies from getting to specific areas would definitely love Brimstone. He is a Controller-type character that can do aerial assaults and throw grenades that can hinder enemy movement.

  • Steam Beacon– Brimstone lays down a beacon on the ground that can provide a buff called ‘Rapidfire’. As the name implies, this buffs you and your teammates’ rate of fire by 10%, as well as weapon swap and reload speeds.
  • Incendiary– The good old fashioned ‘Fire in the Hole!’, Brimstone uses a grenade launcher to hurl grenades to a specific area. Aside from the immediate blast, it can also cause damage over time in a small radius as well. Keep in mind that that small area can also damage friendlies, so be mindful of it
  • Sky Smoke– By using Brimstone’s gadget, you can deploy smoke bombs at key locations in the map
  • Orbital Strike– Have you seen the movie, Independence Day? Brimstone’s orbital strike is quite similar to that of the Alien’s laser in that movie. The laser does area of effect damage- the closer the opponents are, the bigger the damage they will receive

4.Sage

Valorant Sage

Considered a godsend by many, Sage is a Sentinel-type character that has the ability to heal and resurrect allies, as well as creating barriers to prevent enemy movement in key locations.

  • Barrier Orb– If you’ve played Overwatch’s Mei, this should be right up your alley. This is where Sage can put up a barrier- effectively blocking anyone’s entry in specific locations. The barrier can also act as a damage soak and that is why it can be an effective tool to use if you want to protect your allies in battle
  • Slow Orb– Sage throws an orb that creates an area that can slow down enemy movement
  • Healing Orb– Her signature ability, Sage can hurl an orb to a teammate, thus providing them with a Heal-over-time buff
  • Resurrection– When you think about it, you can say that Sage is both a combination of Mei and Mercy’s abilities. As the name suggests, this is where you can revive a fallen ally

5.Jett

Valorant Jett

If you like fast-moving characters, then you will definitely love Jett. A duelist that specializes in quick movements, you can easily use her to flank and kill enemies in succession.

  • Cloudburst– Provides cover for Jett’s allies by hurling a sphere that may impede enemy vision once it collides with something (either a player or surface)
  • Updraft– Gives Jett the ability to jump to greater heights. A great ability that allows you to flank enemies with ease
  • Tailwind– This is akin to Tracer’s signature ability, Jett can quickly dash forward in the same direction she’s moving
  • Bladestorm– Jett’s ultimate ability conjures up 5 throwing knives that can instantly kill any opponent. Once it kills an enemy, a charge will be given back

There are five more characters that can be unlocked just by playing the game. Rack up XP points to get your favorite ones.

Valorant Tips and Tricks

Aside from communicating with your teammates, it is essential that you know the ins and outs of the game to give you an advantage over your opponents. Here are some essential tips and tricks:

  • Know Your Agent– It is best that you familiarize yourself with the different characters. Once you’ve found one that suits your playstyle, read their abilities and put them to mind. Be particular about the range, the effects, the damage, and so on
  • Practice Makes Perfect– Of course, knowing what your favorite agent can do is just one part of the equation- you must also practice a lot with the same character. Once you’ve locked down on a particular agent, practice him/her and no one else until you’ve mastered everything that he/she has to offer
  • Get Better at Aiming– I think this should be common sense if you are playing a first-person-shooter, but it cannot be overstated. Always practice your aiming so that you get proficient in killing enemies. The good thing is that there is an option in-game where you can train for that, so do utilize it until your aiming improves
  • Remember Your Role– Every character fills a very important role in the team. Sentinels are the ‘eyes’ of the team. Duelists should drive opponents away or push toward enemy territory. Initiators should know perfect positioning to provide them with better angles to pick apart enemies and Controllers should be aware of their surroundings as they can give cover to allies or impede enemy movement and vision
  • Choose Wisely– In the buying phase, you can choose which weapon you want to get. You have one primary and one sidearm. It is important that you know the characteristics of each weapon and you have to choose one that fits your playstyle
  • Hug the Corners– One thing that you can do to kill enemies safely is to hug the corners. Pick a corner where you can get a perfect line of sight and shoot your enemies down. Controller-type characters are adept at this as they can employ traps that may block the enemy’s vision- hindering them from peeking to see if there are enemies behind walls, etc.
  • Always Communicate– No matter how good you are, always remember that this is a team game. Your success is largely dependent upon how well your team communicates with each other. That being said, you can use the game’s ping system to give certain call-outs. It is also a good idea to use discord or any other chat application for better overall communication
  • Walk It Out– When you are running, you effectively give away your position as your footsteps can be heard by your enemies. However, when you are just walking around, that won’t produce any noise whatsoever. Just walk slowly to help you get behind enemies and kill them without knowing
  • Run and Gun Don’t Work– Despite the game being fast-paced at times, always bear in mind that slow and low wins the game. What I mean is that moving while shooting is not effective and may just lower your accuracy by a lot. What you should do is find an enemy, aim down your sights, and kill them. Strafing won’t do you any good in this game, so if it means that you change your style of play, then do it
  • Be Prepared to Battle It Out– Each Valorant match is long. How long? Well, since a single match can get up to 13 rounds, you could be playing for 30 minutes to an hour just to finish one. Be prepared for long gaming sessions
  • Use a Headset– You may be using a really good sound system, but I still recommend that you use a gaming headset as it can help you immensely, especially since you can hear enemy footsteps more readily than your standalone speaker
  •  Don’t Be Stingy with Your Ultimates– If you were saving an ultimate in Overwatch, you can be forgiven. However, Valorant is different in that even small wins can be the difference between winning or losing. If you can see that your ult can kill, do not be stingy and cast that thing!
  • Get Good Gaming Peripherals– Although this is quite optional since player skill takes precedence over good gaming gear, I would still recommend that you get some nice peripherals. Aside from headsets, I would also urge you to buy a gaming keyboard and a gaming mouse that has good ergonomics and mouse sensor.

Valorant

Conclusion

Valorant is a really action-packed game that combines both strategy and player skill to win. The game has just recently left beta so its game modes and character selection are still sparse, but it is very enjoyable nonetheless.

There are some games where it can be dragged out and tedious, but for the most part, you can spend a lot of time on this one without you noticing about it.

Therefore, I can say that Valorant is truly a game worth sinking hours into.

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Amazon Luna- Everything You Need to Know About Amazon’s Cloud Gaming Service

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Amazon Luna

It seems that cloud gaming is the future as a lot of companies are pooling their resources just to make things happen.

Amazon Luna is Amazon’s foray into cloud gaming and it is going to be available soon. Read further to find out more information about this new experience.

Channel-based Platform

Amazon Luna Platform

Google has paved the way for cloud gaming to come to the fore with the release of the Stadia not too long ago. Although it was mired with a lot of different issues, it seems that the company has found a way to make things work.

Amazon also wants in on the action and although there are some similarities with Luna and Stadia, there are also some stark differences as well.

Before I begin, I just want to explain the concept of cloud gaming. Basically, instead of downloading games to your gaming PC or whatever platform you choose to install them, you will just stream those games using data centers that are scattered all over the world.

It should go without saying that you need to have a fast internet connection to make this happen and so that you will not experience high latency (which was a huge problem when Stadia launched).

That being said, the premise of Google Stadia is that you need to either purchase an individual game so that you can play it at any time (forever) or you could subscribe to the monthly plan and play the games that are on offer every month (and continue to play them so long as you’re subscribed).

With Amazon Luna, you will be presented with different channels that you can subscribe to. Each of these channels has different games on offer which makes this quite appealing for game developers to show their mettle.

Right now, the platform is still in beta and there are only two channels available at the moment- Amazon’s own Luna Plus and the Ubisoft Channel. The latter will have 50 games that you can play right away and more Ubisoft games will be added in the future.

Keep in mind that this channel-based system makes it so that developers can price their services accordingly. It remains to be seen how much Ubisoft will charge individual users, so stay tuned for that.

1080p and 4K Gaming

Just like Google Stadia, Amazon Luna will support both 1080p and 4K resolutions. Of course, the latter would be more taxing and you will need a fast internet connection to be able to enjoy high-fidelity gaming. I suggest that you get a WiFi 6 router and a compatible device to make the most out of your experience.

Cross-Platform Support

Amazon Luna Cross-Platform

Unlike Stadia, Amazon Luna is more flexible in that it supports a lot of different devices. Not only can you play on your PC, but you can also choose to play it using your iOS devices, Android phones, and you can even utilize the company’s own FireTV devices as well.

Now, there has been this entire debacle about Apple’s 30% cut on every app in its App store but the good news is that Amazon can circumvent that.

You see, when you are going to play on your iOS devices, the application will actually be a PWA or a Progressive Web App. Basically, the game that you want to play will run in a contained web browser instead of it being an actual application that you install in your device. This bypasses the whole 30% cut issue which is a good thing.

NVIDIA Hardware Use

According to a recent Steam survey, the vast majority of PC users are all using NVIDIA graphics cards. This is a good thing for Amazon Luna because it means that it can support a lot more people.

That is because the company’s cloud gaming service will use NVIDIA GPUs instead of AMD cards (which Stadia uses for graphics processing).

Supposing that Amazon Luna will be more popular than any other cloud gaming service out there, NVIDIA will enjoy huge profits as a result.

Can Be Streamed to Popular Sites

Amazon Luna Controller

Twitch is arguably the most popular streaming platform today and Amazon is looking to forge a partnership with the said service to allow you to stream your games to the popular website.

The said platform is widely used as a means of generating revenue- something that is quite popular today due to the recent pandemic.

This move also makes it appealing as well as more and more content creators can use Amazon Luna to reach a broader audience.

New Controller with Alexa Support

Amazon Luna Controller 2

Just like Google Stadia, Amazon Luna also requires you to get a special controller. The good thing is that the control will have a microphone so that you can use Alexa for specific voice commands.

What’s interesting about the Luna’s controller is that it is completely connected to the Cloud, which means that you do not have to pair it with the specific device you are going to use to play games online.

According to Amazon’s website, it should have a grippy texture and will feature low-friction thumbsticks that provide maximum performance across the board. By using the controller’s microphone, you can actually tell Alexa to fire up the specific game that you want to play, so long as it is inside the channel that you’ve subscribed to.

Conclusion

Amazon Luna is quite enticing, at least, on paper. It is shaping up to be a better cloud gaming service compared to its competitors but the service is still in beta, so there are more things that need ironing out before its official release.

Right now, there are only two channels that are available and Ubisoft hasn’t imposed its pricing yet. The Amazon Luna channel is priced at $6.99

If you are interested in getting in on the action, you can be an early beta tester by subscribing to the service.

Amazon Luna will be out sometime in October.

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Acer Nitro XV340CK Review- A Greatly Competitive Ultrawide Gaming Monitor Under $500

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Acer Nitro XV340CK Review

Ultrawide monitors used to be a niche display in that the only people who work on productivity tasks and creative workloads usually buy them.

Fortunately, the display technology has evolved and gamers, too, can enjoy a much wider screen.

Today, I am going to review the Acer Nitro XV340CK which is a 34-inch ultrawide gaming monitor that is priced competitively. 

Design

Even though this is marketed as a gaming monitor, the Acer Nitro XV340CK actually doesn’t look like it. It looks simple and I love the aesthetics, especially if you want to place this in your office.

The only thing that might make you think that this is a gaming display is that red accent that you can find on the base of the monitor but that’s about it.

Anyway, let’s start with the stand. Aside from the aforementioned red accent, the stand provides good ergonomics.

It gives you the ability to swivel the monitor a complete 360 degrees, you can tilt it to 35 degrees back and you can adjust the height up to 5.9 inches. Because this is an ultrawide monitor, you cannot put this thing in portrait mode.

I love the fact that this monitor has slim bezels. At only 0.4 inches, you can place another monitor right beside it and it wouldn’t really take a lot of screen real estate at all.

The overall build quality is good. Despite the fact that it doesn’t feel premium, at least when compared to the best gaming monitors out there, it still feels sturdy nevertheless.

For the ports, you get two Displayport 1.4 ports, two HDMI 2.0 ports, and two USB 3.0 ports. Due to the wealth of ports on offer, you can use this for your PC or your game console.

The only thing that might be cumbersome for some users is that the OSD controls are situated at the back of the monitor- particularly on the bottom right side. The buttons are also a bit smaller than usual, so you may have a hard time pressing the right ones.

Display

Acer Nitro XV340CK Review 2020

The Acer Nitro XV340CK has a 34-inch IPS display with a resolution of 3440 x 1440 and an aspect ratio of 21:9. It is the same as other ultrawide gaming monitors that you can find on the market so there is no problem with that.

You do have the option to enable the picture-in-picture mode so that you can divide the display in two if you wish to fire up two different programs at the same time. This is why it is not only a handy gaming monitor, but it can also be used for office work as well.

Its contrast and brightness leave much to be desired. With a native contrast ratio of 1048:1 and peak SDR brightness of only 247 nits, it is not the best display when it comes to these things.

However, its redeeming quality is that its colors are accurate. After calibration, I got 95% sRGB, 82% AdobeRGB, and 81% DCI-P3. It is relatively color accurate and it would have been nice for creative workloads, but its peak brightness just falls short of making it an ideal display for such use-cases.

It is also worth noting that if you are in a well-lit room that the brightness could be a huge issue. The good thing is that the display’s matte finish can help reduce glare significantly, though you will still find that it is not bright enough in some situations.

I am surprised by the fact that there is literally no color bleed on the Acer Nitro XV340CK. This is unheard of, especially since ultrawide monitors are notorious for this.

Performance

Sure, its peak brightness and contrast could have improved, but gamers are not especially focused on those things. If anything, it is the performance of the display that usually takes the cake and I am happy to report that you won’t be disappointed with the Nitro XV340CK.

Normally, with IPS panels, they tend to not have a good response time, but that is actually not the case here. At just 5.3ms, it is definitely one of the best out there even when compared to other, more premium models.

How about input lag? This is a speed monitor and as expected, input lag is minimal. At just 4.2ms, I am really blown away by the performance of this thing. Every keypress on your gaming keyboard will register almost immediately and that is really great from a competitive standpoint.

It is also worth noting that its 144Hz refresh rate is ideal, especially since most gamers are clamoring for high refresh rate displays anyway.

This is a FreeSync gaming monitor and you can enable this variable refresh rate feature in both AMD and Nvidia graphics cards.

To get a hold of the said features, it is important for you to know that you should use the DisplayPort cable that is included in the box. There is also an included HDMI cable if you want to use this display for your Xbox or Playstation consoles.

Acer Nitro XV340CK

Verdict

With all of those things being said, if I were to ask you how much this thing costs, what will be your guess? If you’ve guessed around $700, you’re wrong.

The Acer Nitro XV340CK is priced at just $450! At that price, you are getting a relatively color-accurate monitor, a really fast display with minimal input lag, and a vast number of ports that you can use for your PC or game consoles.

Sure, its contrast and peak brightness could have been improved, but if you are talking about raw gaming performance, the Acer Nitro XV340CK blows other ultrawide gaming monitors out of the way.

Just make sure that you have a nice gaming PC for this thing to work nicely. Other than that, I highly recommend the Acer Nitro XV340CK for its price and performance.

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HyperX Cloud Stinger S- A Comfortable 7.1 Surround Sound Gaming Headset

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HyperX Cloud Stinger S Review

As an audiophile, I’ve always loved HyperX’s gaming audio solution. They are inexpensive and for the price, you are actually getting sound quality that you normally would only hear from expensive products.

In today’s article, I am going to review the HyperX Cloud Stinger S. This is a budget offering that aims to improve upon the original Cloud Stinger with the inclusion of a 7.1 surround sound option.

Do I recommend this headset? Find out later on in the article.

Design

The HyperX Cloud Stinger S is actually quite similar to the original version. It has the same pleather ear cups that envelope your ears quite nicely and the clamping force of the headset itself is actually quite okay.

I’ve been receiving reports that there are some people that have problems with the tightness or, shall I say, how loose this thing can be. But that will probably be a result of the size of your head and not the actual product itself. For me, the fit was okay, but your mileage may vary.

Although this thing is predominantly made in plastic, the overall build quality is good, though I would advise you not to throw this headset when you lose a round in a MOBA game or first-person shooter.

There is a microphone on this headset and just like the original, it is not removable. It would have been nice if you could remove it when you are not using it because even if you fold the microphone (which also acts as a way of muting it), you will still see it which can be annoying at times.

This thing is quite simple and all you have for the controls is the volume slider that is located on the right ear cup. 

While other HyperX gaming headsets come with a carrying pouch, I am sad to say that the HyperX Cloud Stinger S doesn’t have one.

All you get in the box aside from the headset is a USB dongle that is attached to a relatively long cable and some documentation. And, since you use this thing completely wired, it can also be used in your Playstation or other game consoles as well.

The 3.5mm analog cable should be inserted in the USB dongle if you wish to use its 7.1 surround sound implementation, but if you are just going to watch movies or play non-competitive games, I suggest that you do not use it.

Audio Quality

HyperX Cloud Stinger S Review 2020

There are two modes that you can utilize if you are going to use the HyperX Cloud Stinger S. You can use its 3.5mm headphone jack and enjoy stereo sound or you could insert that into the included USB dongle and use the 7.1 surround sound feature.

Keep in mind that if you are going to use the 7.1 output that it is only supported on the PC since you will need the NGENUITY software to enable it.

That being said, the HyperX Cloud Stinger S’ sound signature leans more toward being bright and with a little emphasis on the bass. This seems to be the preference of the majority of gamers since lower frequencies can make those in-game sounds pop-out more.

I also love the mid frequencies as it is quite balanced as well. I’ve had no problems listening to in-game dialog and when I am using the microphone, it just works really well.

Although the high frequencies are okay, I would say that it is the weakest of the bunch, though not so much as to diminish the overall sound quality. You will still hear the sibilance of the cymbals and lead guitars, but it is not as pronounced as the lower and mid frequencies.

As for the 7.1 surround sound, you should enable it in the companion software and it is only available when you are on the PC.

Anyway, its surround sound is okay but I say this because it is a budget gaming headset. If you compare it to the more premium ones, this is subpar at best. Still, you could enable it in your favorite games but I will advise against it if you are just listening to music or watching movies.

Despite a relatively good clamping force, the HyperX Cloud Stinger S doesn’t do so well in terms of sound isolation. People around me can still hear what I was listening to, so this might not be ideal if you are playing at night and there are people sleeping.

Microphone Quality

HyperX Cloud Stinger S

There is usually this notion that budget headsets have horrible microphones but not the HyperX Cloud Stinger S. In fact, I would go on to say that it has one of the better ones on the market.

Instead of sounding tinny, the microphone quality of the Cloud Stinger S is full-bodied and my teammates can hear every word I said without any problems.

The volume of the microphone is also quite good as well. Normally, with budget offerings, you tend to sound a bit ‘too far’ but that is not the case here.

Overall, I am quite pleased with the microphone. The only thing that I do not like is that the flippable microphone may impede your vision sometimes, but I think that you can adjust to this.

Verdict

For a budget headset, the HyperX Cloud Stinger S is definitely one of the better sounding ones. I also love the fact that the microphone’s quality is top-notch and it can even go head-to-head against its more premium counterparts.

I am just a bit disappointed that you do not get a carrying pouch with this one because other HyperX gaming headsets have them. But, this is a minor inconvenience.

I did not feel the need to talk about the NGENUITY software mainly because it is pretty barebones and all you can do with it is to enable the 7.1 surround sound, adjust the volume and microphone, and that’s about it. There is no equalizer present which is quite odd.

Still, for what it is giving you, the HyperX Cloud Stinger S is highly recommended. This thing costs $60.

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