Best smart thermostat 2018: heating your home using tech

Smart thermostats are excellent additions to any smart home because they let you control the temperature in your abode digitally, and intelligently. 

The best smart thermostats learn your routines, like when you leave the house in the morning and when you go to sleep at night. They also let you control them from anywhere in the world through your phone, enable you to adjust temperatures room-by-room, and even let you control your heating using your voice.

As with most technology, there are a wide range of smart thermostats, and different models each have their own particular selling points. In this guide, we’ve breaken down the best smart thermostats you can buy from the biggest names in the business: Nest, Hive, Honeywell and Tado. 

For each smart thermostat, we’ll explain their key selling points, and which particular heating requirements each one is best suited to. You may value price over smarts, or want a smart thermostat that looks like a piece of art, rather than something utilitarian. 

Because of the nature of the market, a direct comparison isn’t actually very helpful, so the units here aren’t ranked by number according to our preference. Instead, we recommend each one of these smart thermostats. It’s up to you to decide which one is best for your needs and home. 

Nest is one of the biggest names in the smart home market, and for good reason. This Google-owned company delivers well-designed, easy-to-use products that are packed with serious smarts. 

The Nest Learning Thermostat (third generation) is renowned for its ability to learn your routines and adjust itself accordingly. This means that over time your heating system can actually adapt to suit your needs, without you having to do anything. 

It also benefits from location-based features that track where your phone is, and will turn the heating on or off depending on your location. But don’t worry that it’s going to turn off the heating and leave your guests to freeze when you’re out, as its built-in sensors enable it to detect whether there’s anyone at home. 

The main criticisms of the Nest Learning Thermostat are that it doesn’t offer zonal control, and that if you’re a tech novice it can be a little complicated to set up and use. The absence of zonal control means that while you’ll be able to digitally control your property as a whole, you’ll still have to manually adjust individual radiators. 

That said, if you’re looking for a top-of-the range system Nest is a good way to go. Plus, with Google behind it, Nest is a good system to invest in if you’re planning to build a wider smart home setup.

  • Read the full review: Nest Learning Thermostat 3rd generation

Hive is owned by Centrica, one of the UK’s leading energy providers, so you can rest assured that you’re in experienced hands when it comes to your heating needs. While the company may be British, Hive products have been available in the US since 2017.

The thermostat itself is a collaboration between Hive and Swiss designer Yves Béhar, who’s responsible for everything from the August smart lock to PayPal’s brand identity. That top-quality styling makes the Hive Active Heating thermostat something you’ll be proud to have on your wall.

What’s more, Hive has an excellent ecosystem, so you’re able to control a vast range of Hive products using a single app. And its thermostat is no slouch, garnering our ‘recommended’ tag thanks to its simple interface and easy voice assistant integration. 

It’s worth noting that, like the Nest thermostat above, Hive Active Heating doesn’t support Apple’s HomeKit, so it’s best avoided if you’re already invested in Apple’s smart home ecosystem. 

With a small dial in the middle of its compact design controlling temperature, the Hive Active thermostat gives you the option of keeping things extremely simple, while being packed with features for those who want greater control of their system. 

  • Read the full review: Hive Active Heating 2

The Honeywell Evohome gives you total control over your home, with individual thermostats for each radiator enabling you to set an independent heating schedule for every room in your house.

It’s difficult to grasp what a difference this feature makes until you’ve tried it for yourself. If you live in a house where different inhabitants prefer a different temperature, or if one room always seems to be hotter or colder than the others, this system is going to be a godsend.

What’s more, it works with under-floor heating too, so even if you have a large and complicated heating system the Evohome gives you total control over all of it via an app that’s a pleasure to use. 

The control panel and radiator thermostats aren’t going to win any awards for design, coming as they do in plain white plastic, but that’s not really the point of the Evohome. It’s a simple system, without the bells and whistles of the Nest or Hive, but if you’ve got a complicated heating system that you want to control digitally, it’s hard to beat.

  • Read the full review: Honeywell Evohome

The Tado Smart Thermostat should be brilliant. It offers the zonal control of the Honeywell Evohome, a slick design that rivals the Hive, and the geofencing smarts to match the Nest, but somehow it doesn’t quite manage to pull all these features together into a cohesive system.

It’s seriously good-looking – by far the most attractive zonal control on the market – but the app is unintuitive to navigate, and compared to the incredibly user-friendly app on the Evohome, it’s positively difficult.

That’s not to say it’s a bad system – it’s still comfortably a 4-star product, and we don’t imagine anyone who buys the Tado regretting their purchase. And it’s so close to being the perfect system – the one that mixes together the best features of other offerings. The problem is, it just doesn’t manage to outshine any of its rivals.

One thing that does make the Tado stand out in this list is Apple HomeKit integration – if you’re the proud owner of a HomePod, or you’re firmly entrenched in the Apple ecosystem, this is probably the best smart thermostat for you. 

It’s also worth noting that the things keeping Tado from standing out are all software rather than hardware issues, so these could well be addressed over time. The Tado Smart Thermostat isn’t currently available in the US, but as Tado’s Cooling system is sold there we’d be surprised if it didn’t become available at some point. 

  • Read the full review: Tado Smart Thermostat

If you like the look of the Nest Learning Thermostat but don’t fancy shelling out the money for it, there’s a cheaper alternative. It definitely looks cheaper – it’s made of white plastic, with a white coating on the plastic screen that can make it hard to see the information being displayed – but it does echo the design language of the original Nest Thermostat, so you’ll be more than happy to have it on your wall.

As the Nest’s smaller sibling it benefits from industry-leading smarts, lacking only the most advanced features of the premium model which most users are unlikely to take advantage of anyway. 

The Nest E is a great example of how to streamline a flagship product to make a cheap alternative without damaging the qualities that made the original great. Make no mistake, this isn’t flagship quality for bargain price, but it’s great value for what it is.

  • Read the full review: Nest Thermostat E

If it’s available where you live, the Ecobee4 is well-worth auditioning for your smart home setup. Like other smart thermostats on our list, you can control the Ecobee4 using a smart speaker or smart hub – but, unlike any of the other entries, the Ecobee4 comes with Alexa built right in.

That means, not only is it a great thermostat that can save you bundles on your energy bill each month but it doubles as a conduit to Alexa and its 10,000-strong library of skills. Besides being able to order pizza (yes, really) the Ecobee4 can be controlled wherever you are in the world – should, say, you forgot to turn that thermostat off before your international flight.

While Ecobee may not have the same clout that Nest has garnered in the last few years, it remains one of the best thermostats on the market, bar none.

  • Now you’ve got the best thermostat, check out our Best security camera round-up

Best smart light bulbs: the best smart lights from Philips Hue to Hive

Smart lighting is one area of the smart home that just about anyone can tackle. It requires little explanation, installation, and fiddling, and before you know it, you’re enjoying the lovely hues of your new smart bulbs, controlling them with just your phone or your voice. 

Smart lighting is great because of the options you have at your disposal: You can control them with just your phone or your voice. You can change tone, brightness and even color. There’s so many options with smart lights, you may wonder what took you so long to make the switch. 

Even if you don’t pay a ton of attention to smart lighting, you have likely heard of Philips Hue. It’s definitely the biggest name in the smart lighting game, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only horse in the race – far from it. 

There are some truly excellent offerings from companies such as Lifx if you’re looking for more of a talking-point; Hive if you’re on a budget; or Nanoleaf if you’d rather your lighting be part of your home’s decor. 

Each system comes with its own pros and cons, so here we’ll talk you through the brands you should be aware of, plus which smart lighting solution will be the best fit for you and your home.

There’s a very good reason why Philips Hue is the biggest name in the smart lighting scene: it’s without a doubt one of the greatest offerings to the market. The lights produce the most natural tones of any smart lighting we’ve used, the app is easy to use, and installation is a doddle. 

That said, you can’t use the Hue lights without the hub, meaning the only way to get started is with a starter kit that’s going to set you back considerably more than just a light bulb would. 

It’s also worth noting that there are a variety of different lighting kits and bulbs available in the Hue range, so you’ve got the choice of White (which just does white light), Color (which offers over 16 million colors), and Ambient variants of both (which gives you the option of dimmer, softer tones). 

They all work from the same hub, so you don’t need a new hub for each lighting set, but it’s worth doing your research and really thinking about what you need before you invest. 

  • Read the full review: Philips Hue

Lifx is an interesting proposition in the smart lighting market. It doesn’t try to replicate the standard warm glow of a filament bulb, instead focusing on bright and vibrant colors. 

If you’re looking for a feature light, something that’s going to bathe your room in a warm red or deep purple glow, this is the one for you. With a fun color wheel and brightness settings that go from 1-100%, the customization options are so varied that they can get overwhelming at times.

But this is no gimmick light. While turning it on for the first time may give you a bit of a shock, the light it emits is actually very warm, and a real pleasure to sit in. 

Like Hue, there are a number of options with Lifx bulbs, including a ‘+’ version of its bulbs, which include a night mode that enhances the night vision of indoor security cameras by emitting a low-frequency light.

  • Read the full review: Lifx

You like light but hate light bulbs. We get you. They’re so bulb-y. So maybe Nanoleaf is going to be more up your street.

The Nanoleaf Light Panels (formerly known as Aurora) take the concept of lighting and turn it base-over-apex. Using a collection triangular panels, you create a dynamic shape on your wall (or ceiling, or both) that can shift through over 16 million different colors. 

What’s more, with the separate Rhythm Module, the Nanoleaf can even respond to audio cues from the room it’s in, so it can respond to music, putting you in the centre of your own music video.

If you’d rather decide what the light panels are going to do in advance, you can choose from a vast repository of user-created scenes that run through different aesthetically-pleasing configurations.

The original set comes with nine panels, but you have the option to add more, and there are even corner clips to enable you to create configurations that bend around corners, creeping around walls and even onto your ceiling if you so wish.

  • Read the full review: Nanoleaf Light Panels

Unlike the other lights in this roundup, the Hive Active Light is one that we recommend specifically if you’re already in the Hive ecosystem. If you’re the proud owner of a Hive Thermostat, plug, motion sensor, or Hive View camera, you’ll know that all Hive devices can all be controlled from a single app, streamlining the smart home control process.

Because all the devices in the Hive ecosystem need a hub to work (you can either get a basic hub or the Hub 360, which doubles as a security system and is much prettier), you won’t need a separate hub for your lighting.

An added bonus is that Hive recently announced that Philips’ Hue bulbs can be integrated into the Hive ecosystem, so if you’ve got this far down the list but are still thinking about the Hue range, you can go back and buy them now. 

Like the other ranges Hive has a variety bulbs, with some that change color and some that just do white. The light from them is very pleasant, although the bulbs do ‘pulse’ slightly if you turn them on using a light switch, so you need to leave the switch in the ‘on’ position and turn the lights on and off using the app.

  • Read the full review: Hive Active Light

If you’re looking for the cheapest way into smart lights, you should look at the Sengled series of light bulbs. These bulbs should set you back less than $20/£20 and while they’re only available in a basic white color, they’re everything you need to get started in the world of smart lights and include compatibility with most of the major smart home systems. 

That being said, the Sengled lightbulbs are a bit cheap and the app itself isn’t the most user-friendly or robust we’ve ever come across. There’s a major disparity between the Philips Hue and LIFX bulbs and Sengled’s – but, at a tenth of the cost, this is one of the best basic bulbs money can buy.

While we’re on the subject of cheap, versatile smart lights, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the LIFX Mini. It’s the smallest member of the LIFX family, but also the most affordable jumping off point for fresh smart home owners.

What separates the mini from the full-size fixtures is, most obviously, the size of the bulb and how much light it’s able to put off. Still, if you’re not looking to light up a massive living room and are putting them in, say, your bathroom, these should work.

Each bulb can output 16 million colors – choosable from a scroll wheel inside the LIFX app– or, if you want to control your lights hands-free, the Mini supports Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant and IFTTT.

The LIFX is well-rounded, relatively good for the price and, well, cheap. 

  • Now that you’ve got your lighting all sorted, why not check out: Best security camera: keep an eye on your home from your smartphone

Best Nintendo Switch games September 2018: the must-have games at home and on the go

The Nintendo Switch has put the house of Mario back on the map thanks to its bright and portable design, novel form factor and its fantastic catalogue of games. It really is unlike any console we’ve ever seen before.

From the Nintendo Switch’s release date there were already great adventures to dive into, like Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild, and within months the likes of Super Mario Odyssey, Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze and Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle began to make it a console to be reckoned with.

And there’s more to come. By the end of 2018 you’ll be able to enjoy a new Super Smash Bros. title, as well as new Pokemon games and a brand-new Mario Party that’s been built from the ground up for Nintendo’s handheld / home hybrid.

To think that they’re only games from the first-party development teams! Nintendo has struggled to get third-party titles on board in the past, but that’s not the case with the Switch, with a wide range of great third-party releases (from Skyrim to Little Nightmares) gracing the console.

To help you create the best possible Nintendo Switch library, we’ve collected together the best games available to download or buy right now and we’re constantly trying the latest and best Nintendo Switch games. So keep an eye out for updates to this list.

Update: The superb JRPG Octopath Traveller, dark Metroidvania-style Hollow Knight and the latest Final Fantasy adventure join our expanding list of the best Nintendo Switch games. Lengthy adventures, they’re great titles to sink your teeth into if you’re looking for a post-Zelda binge. Read on to find out more about each.

  • Looking to enhance your experience? Check out our picks of the best Nintendo Switch accessories
  • Not got the console yet? These are the best Nintendo Switch deals around

Watch our review of the Nintendo Switch below!

  • Want to know what the best Pokemon game is as well? 

Fan of old-school 16-bit RPGs? Wish they could get a HD facelift without losing the pixel-perfect magic of the 90s era? Octopath Traveller may be the game you’d dreamed for a time machine for as a kid.

Channelling the magic of the early Final Fantasy games (and published by Square Enix, naturally), it melds pixel art with polygonal environments, like a love letter to the role playing games of old.

Picking up the story of one of 8 uniquely-talented adventurers, there’s an epic world saving story to follow, a clever turn-based combat system to master and a great voice-acted script to enjoy too. 

While we’re all waiting for a new Metroid Prime game to land on the Nintendo Switch, you can still get your side-scrolling Metroidvania fix with the superb Hollow Knight.

You know the score – you’re placed in the center of a sprawling map that slowly reveals its scale as you unlock new abilities to traverse increasingly difficult traps, and take on ever-more monstrous foes. Secrets sit around every corner, and the sense of satisfaction you get when you backtrack to a previously-inaccessible location once armed with the right skills in unsurpassed in all of gaming.

Hollow Knight separates itself from other Metroidvania titles with its distinct art style (mysterious underground bug city? Count us in), and its nods to the Dark Souls series, with tough boss fights and the strangely aloof citizens of its subterranean setting. 

Captain Toad Treasure Tracker is a real gem. A re-release of the well-received Wii U title, Captain Toad is an action puzzle game that puts you in the shoes of the Mushroom Kingdom’s most lovable sidekick. While puzzles are a bit on the easier side for older ‘kids’, a term we’ll use loosely here, pint-sized adventurers will have to use their noodle to collect items without running into the paths of enemies. It’s good, clean, IQ-enhancing fun – which is the best kind of fun! 

Freshly-added to the Nintendo Switch line-up, if Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy is just half as popular on the Switch as it was for the PS4 it’s bound to do very, very well. Maybe it’s everyone’s current love of nostalgia from their earlier days? But either way, the remaster of Crash Bandicoot is bound to pull at your heart strings. It has everything you knew and loved from the original game, but everything’s been enhanced, revamped and there are plenty of new levels and adventures that have been added.

Mario and his crew are some of the most talented fictional characters in the known universe. They can golf, they can compete at the Olympics, some of them are doctors, plumbers and princesses. And now they play tennis, too. 

Mario Tennis Aces has been heralded as a combination of Super Smash Bros. and the old Mario Tennis games released on the Nintendo GameCube and N64. To that end, gameplay is lightning-quick and requires twitch reflexes. 

The big changes this time around are the new super moves that cause rackets to break and balls to fly to nigh unreachable spots on the court. They add a new layer of strategy to the long-running Mario sport franchise and fun, too.

Golden bananas, rickety minecarts and cranky kongs – the king of the gaming apes, Donkey Kong, is back!

And, if you’ve previously been a Wii U owner, it may feel like a very familiar adventure, as Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is actually a remake of that system’s simian-themed platformer. 

The Switch version is easily the definitive version of the game though, bringing not only with it the Switch’s signature handheld play, but also a new ‘Funky Mode’ that lets you take control of Funky Kong, a returning character who is just that little bit faster and able to leap just that little bit further, making a very challenging platformer a tad easier for the smaller cheeky monkeys in your family.

Star Allies is Kirby’s debut on Switch and it’s a good one and largely your familiar Kirby fare. Fans of Kirby’s previous adventures will be familiar with the colorful side-scrolling platformer gameplay and enemy absorbing powers. But there’s a new mechanic which allows Kirby to throw hearts at enemies and recruit up to three of them to his side to be controlled by either AI or real-life friends. 

Though it’s not the most engaging single-player game and might not leave long-time fans as satisfied as they might have hoped, Star Allies is a co-op experience that shouldn’t be missed, especially if you’re looking for a game to play with your kids. 

Part software, part hardware, Nintendo Labo is a must-have for anyone who enjoys Nintendo’s more quirky and play-focused ideas.

Build your own cardboard toys, play games with them, explore how they work and reprogram them to do what you want. With Nintendo Labo the only real limit is your patience and imagination. Build a fishing rod and catch a shark, build a piano and control a musical cat choir, built a robot and, well, become a robot. It’s all possible with Labo. 

Nintendo Labo is certainly one of the more original and even educational releases we’ve seen in years and it can only be played on the Nintendo Switch. 

It’s not everyone that would have had the chance to enjoy Bayonetta 2 when it was first released back in 2014 thanks to its Wii U exclusivity. Fortunately, the game has finally come to Nintendo Switch alongside its fantastic predecessor, giving it the reach it deserves. 

Bayonetta 2 is an excellent game, with fast-paced and satisfying combat, jaw-dropping animations and frankly outstanding fashion. Even better, when you purchase a physical copy of Bayonetta 2, you’ll also receive a free download code for the original game.

More than anything, this is a great way to prepare for Bayonetta 3, which has been confirmed as being in development for the Switch. 

Anyone who loves classic point-and-click adventure stories such as Broken Sword and Monkey Island will certainly want to direct their attention towards this recent release from LucasArts veteran Ron Gilbert. 

Mechanically, the game works like the classics of the genre with lots of slow-paced obtuse puzzle solving and verb-list clicking. Even visually it’s very similar to the games that have influenced it. 

If you’re tired of playing the same classics on repeat, pick up Thimbleweed Park for an excellent new addition to the point-and-click genre. You’ll travel back to 1987 for a neo-noir adventure that you won’t want to leave. 

Super Mario Odyssey is Mario’s first real outing on the Nintendo Switch and he makes his debut in style. Odyssey is a 3D sandbox adventure that sees Mario travel between a wide range of worlds to save Princess Peach from the nefarious and maritally-minded Bowser. 

Giving the old formula a bit of a refresh, this game sees the traditional Power Ups replaced with a new companion for Mario called Cappy. This sentient hat is Mario’s weapon and friend and he can be used to possess enemies and objects to solve puzzles and defeat foes.

In our full review for Super Mario Odyssey we called this game “one of Mario’s finest adventures in recent memory” and recommend that you play it now.

If you decide to pick the game up for yourself, don’t forget to check out our tips and tricks guide to help you get started.  

Even for a series like The Legend of Zelda which rarely puts a foot wrong, Breath of the Wild is an absolutely phenomenal game. 

While past Zelda games have stuck pretty closely to the formula established by Ocarina of Time (the series’ 3D debut), Breath of the Wild throws much of the established wisdom away. 

Rather than having a pre-defined order you must use to approach each major mission, Breath of the Wild opens the entire map up to you almost immediately, allowing you to approach the game in whatever order you see fit. You can spend hours just climbing trees and brewing elixirs, or you can even head straight to the game’s final boss if you’re feeling confident. 

But away from Breath of the Wild’s unique structure, it’s the puzzles themselves that make the game feel the most satisfying. While previous games rigidly allow for a single solution to each puzzle, BotW’s physics-based problem solving means that there are often multiple solutions to each challenge depending on how you combine your various skills. 

The result is a game that feels incredibly broad in scope, with so many little touches to discover that it’s hard not to fall in love with this long-running series all over again. 

  • Check out everything you need to know in our Breath of the Wild tips and tricks guide

Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U was already one of the best entries in the franchise, and the Nintendo Switch version is no different.

At it’s core the game offers the same excellent racing as the Wii U original, but there are also a number of new additions for this version of the arcade racer. 

You’ve got the return of battle mode, new characters, all the previously released DLC tracks, and the ability to hold two special items at a time to add an extra layer of strategy to your racing. 

The new game is also a great way of playing the game in multiplayer. You can play online, split-screen with up to four players or link up to eight consoles together to play multiplayer wirelessly (where you can also play with up to two players per console). 

It’s a versatile release, and well worth picking up for anyone who missed out on Mario Kart 8 the first time around. 

  • Get ahead of the competition with our Mario Kart 8 Deluxe tips and tricks

Splatoon was the closest Nintendo has ever allowed itself to get to an online shooter, and it did so by fundamentally turning the genre on its head. 

That means no guns, no bullets, and ultimately no death. Instead, you play as characters with paint guns tasked with covering the map in your team’s colors. 

You can kill (well, ‘splat’) your enemies, but you do so only in service of buying yourself time to paint more of the map without your opponents, and their painting, getting in the way. 

While Splatoon 2 is technically a sequel, in truth it’s more of the same. 

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. The original game was tightly designed and well-balanced, and while the sequel makes some minor tweaks to the gameplay, the same Nintendo charm is still present in spades. 

If you never played the original then Splatoon 2 is an easy game to recommend, but even if you did then it might be worth jumping in again to revisit it on Nintendo’s portable system. 

  • If you want to get ahead of the competition then our Splatoon 2 tips and tricks guide will help you do just that. 

If ever there was a game to show off how useful the new Joy-Con controllers can be it’s SnipperClips. 

Best enjoyed in co-op mode, the game tasks you with cutting pieces out of your geometric-shaped partner in order to solve physics-based puzzles. 

Although the puzzles themselves deftly tread a fine line between approachability and challenge, the real joy in the game is the slapstick that results as you muddle your way through each level. 

You’ll never conclusively beat a level; it will always feel as though you’ve barely scraped through, but the tension this creates is fantastic fun. 

Bandai Namco’s Little Nightmares is a big adventure on Nintendo Switch. First released on consoles and PC in 2017, this new take on the horror genre is a welcome addition to Nintendo’s portable console. 

Players take up the role of a young girl called Six, who is trapped in the Maw, a terrifying place filled with monsters that are larger than life. Across a range of platforming levels, players must help Six overcome her small stature and escape the Maw. Little Nightmares is a game with a palpable atmosphere. The different levels and their respective monsters are grim and frightening. We frequently found ourselves tense and holding our breath as we tried to get through a level. It’s unusual to get such a thrill from such thoughtful and quiet gameplay. 

The Nintendo Switch release of the game is the Complete Edition, and contains all three DLC releases, the last of which was launched in February 2018. 

Overcooked was one of the breakout indie hits of 2016, and now it’s come to the Nintendo Switch in fantastic fashion. 

There game is best played with a group of friends, which is perfect considering you always have at least two controllers with your Switch. 

But what do you actually do? In essence you play as a group of chefs trying desperately to cook meals without your customers getting angry or your kitchen catching on fire. 

With each person only able to do one thing at a time, and most meals requiring multiple stages of preparation, this forces you to split tasks up between you. The problem is that every task proceeds at a slightly different pace, meaning you’re constantly having to change your plans to deal with problems as they arise. 

It’s frantic, it’s great with friends, and it’s a perfect fit for the Switch. 

It’s tough to know what genre to describe Arms as. At its core, the game is a fighting game where you attempt to land punches on your opponent using giant extendible arms. Punch-Out this is not. 

What first appeared to be a slightly gimmicky title made to show off the Nintendo Switch’s motion-sensing controllers actually turned out to have a surprising amount of depth and strategy to it, leading to some frantic multiplayer battles. 

Nicely, the whole game can also be played with more traditional buttons rather than control schemes so you don’t have to get caught flailing your arms around on the bus when you play it as a portable game. 

  • Having trouble landing your punches? Check out our Arms tips and tricks guide

Over twenty years after its original release it’s hard to know what more can be written about one of the most influential fighting games of all time. 

Ultra Street Fighter 2 is essentially the same Street Fighter 2 that’s been continuously re-released on every console under the sun. Technically this version is based on Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo from 1994, which added super and air combos to the base game, but unless you’re a die-hard fan this likely won’t mean too much to you. 

So don’t go into this expecting a wildly different game from what you’ve played before. This is a traditional Street Fighter experience through and through, and the console’s form-factor makes it perfect for quick multiplayer sessions. 

If you want to satisfy your arcade racing itch before Mario Kart 8 Deluxe blue-shells its way onto the console in a couple of months then Fast RMX is the game for you. 

With one part Wipeout and two parts F-Zero, the game has you racing futuristic hovercraft round a series of implausible tracks at breakneck speeds. 

Fast RMX’s gimmick is that at any point your craft has either an orange or a blue polarity, which match with speed power-ups that are spread around the track. By switching your polarity as you race, you can maximize the benefits these power-ups bring. 

It’s a neat feature, but it’s overshadowed by how technically capable this game is. It looks fantastic whether you’re playing it in portable or console mode, where it will run at a solid 60 frames per second. 

It might not have the charm of its Mario-themed competitor, but Fast RMX is a great game for anyone seeking fast-paced arcade racing thrills. 

Shovel Knight is not a new game. It saw its first release way back in 2014 on the PC after it was funded on Kickstarter, and since then versions have appeared on everything from the Vita to the PS4, the Nintendo 3DS and the Wii U. 

But that doesn’t make it any less of a great game on the Switch, where its 2D side-scrolling is as tight and responsive as ever. 

Chances are you’ve played Shovel Knight on one system or another in previous years, but if you’ve yet to take the game on the go, or better yet if you’re looking to try its newest expansion pack, ‘Specter of Torment’, then the Switch is as good a place as any to satisfy your Shovel cravings. 

Another home console classic now given a new lease of life on Switch is LA Noire. It’s unusual to see 18-rated games on Nintendo consoles but it’s exciting that the Switch is building up a more mature library.

Created by Rockstar, LA Noire is a 1940s detective title which puts players in the smart leather shoes of Cole Phelps. As Phelps, you’ll dive into the seedy underbelly of LA, solving a variety of cases across the LAPD’s Homicide, Vice and Arson divisions.

Aside from letting you take a great game on the go, the Switch version of LA Noire has some neat features such as motion control support. This means you can pick up evidence at crime scenes and inspect it from every angle using the Joy-Con controllers. 

Read more of our thoughts on LA Noire for the Nintendo Switch. 

Although it’s not a port, Super Bomberman R might as well be for all the changes it makes to the traditional Bomberman formula. 

For all intents and purposes, this is classic Bomberman. You run around a maze dropping bombs, all the while trying to avoid getting caught in the subsequent explosions caused by both yourself and your opponents. 

Super Bomberman R does try to mix up the formula a little by offering a single-player campaign, but at just a couple of hours long it’s not especially engaging. 

Nope, this is a game that’s all about that multiplayer, where you can play with up to eight players locally or online. It’s here the game feels most at home, and for the most part its every bit as good as the classic Bombermans that have proceeded it. 

The biggest problem is the game’s price, which is the same as big budget triple-A games like The Legend of Zelda. For a multiplayer-only experience that’s a little bit steep, but if you see the game discounted anywhere then this is an excellent game to have on the Switch. 

This crossover has surprised a lot of people, us included. Though Nintendo’s Mario and Ubisoft’s Rabbid rabbits doesn’t seem like a combination that should work it really does.

This is a turn-based tactical game and it’s incredibly fun to play thanks to gameplay that’s satisfyingly complex and deep without being overly difficult – though the difficult increases it’s in a gradual way that doesn’t result in feelings of being overwhelmed. 

Mario Rabbids is also just a lovely game to look at – the level design is consistently fantastic and the world and its characters are adorable and colorful. Joining up with Mario lends Ubisoft’s Rabbids a charm they’ve lacked until now while Mario and co benefit from the partnership by gaining a bit more of a silly sense of humor which really benefits the Nintendo image. 

With this partnership, Nintendo has managed to secure another appealing exclusive for the Switch. 

Stardew Valley is one of those games that always felt like it was supposed to be on a Nintendo console and we couldn’t have been happier when it was released recently for the Switch.

If you’ve ever played a Harvest Moon game, you’re already familiar with the premise of Stardew Valley. Stardew Valley is an addictive farming simulator which sees you interact with townees to the point where you can literally marry them.

Stardew Valley isn’t just one thing; it’s a whole bunch of things at once. You can engage in crafting, fishing, cooking and even exploring procedurally-generated caves to mine for items and even take on monstrous enemies. 

However, do keep in mind your health and energy as you’ll need to make sure your character is in tip-top shape in order to avoid suffering from exhaustion. Lose health and you lose a considerable amount of money and items you’ve worked hard to attained. Stardew Valley will have you hooked for hours on end, for better or worse. (Better, definitely better.)

Skyrim might be a game that’s six years old, but the portability of the Nintendo Switch makes it feel fresh again. What was once an exclusively home console and PC experience can now be played on your commute and there’s no denying that holding the wild world of Skyrim in the palm of your hand is exhilarating. 

For a touch of novelty, the game also supports the console’s Joy-Con motion controls so you can swing your sword and draw your bow in real life. It’s a whole new way to play.

This is the full open world Skyrim experience for the Nintendo Switch, including all DLC. 

Read more about our thoughts on Skyrim’s arrival on Switch. 

It’s not often you get to put a free game on the Nintendo Switch list but Fortnite Battle Royale is giving us this chance. We’d be amazed if you hadn’t heard of it, but Fortnite: Battle Royale is the free-to-play hit from Epic Games which throws you into an online Battle Royale where you must fight and build to be the last person standing. 

The game was announced and launched on the Nintendo eShop during E3 2018. If you’ve not had the chance to play the Battle Royale phenomenon, the Nintendo Switch offers one of the most convenient ways to do it. Especially if you find a smartphone screen just a little bit too small to truly play your best. And if you already have an account you can move seamlessly between your Switch, smartphone, PC and Xbox console. 

If you’re a fan of Final Fantasy, then you’ll love this new version that’s just landed on the Nintendo Switch. It’s specially developed for the Switch (hence the ‘Pocket Edition’ in the title) and allows you to explore the world and characters from the fantasy franchise across ten different chapters that follow the story of Noctis, the crown prince of Lucis, on an adventure to his wedding to the Lady Lunafreya of Tenebrae.

Fortnite: Battle Royale on Switch remains free-to-play

Fortnite fans will be pleased to discover that playing the Battle Royale game online on Nintendo Switch consoles will not require a paid subscription to Nintendo’s Online service. The details of the service were revealed as part of Thursday’s Nintendo Direct announcement.

Access to the online features of many Switch games will cost a $3.99 / £3.49 / AU$5.95 monthly or $19.99 / £17.99 / AU$29.95 yearly fee.

Nintendo’s official FAQ states however that “Some games, such as Fortnite, can be played online without a Nintendo Switch membership.” The game, which is also free to download and play with integrated voice chat therefore constitutes one of the most popular free to play games in the Switch ecosystem.

In addition, Nintendo revealed several new titles for the Switch, including Luigi’s Mansion 3, Cities: Skylines and classic Final Fantasy titles.

What is Nintendo Switch Online?

Launching from September 18, the new service will provide subscribers with access to online features in the majority of prominent Nintendo Switch titles such as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Splatoon 2. Games which require the subscription to access online features will be appropriately marked in the Nintendo eShop.

The service will also offer paying members access to a library of NES games, as well as access to voice chat across titles and exclusive offers on other Nintendo products.

Via Polygon

  • Check out our list of the best Nintendo Switch games

The best BT Sport deals, offers and packages in September 2018

Looking for a clear answer on the best way to bag a cheap BT Sport deal? If you’re here, chances are you been asking yourself how much is BT Sport going to cost? Can I get BT Sport on Sky or Virgin Media instead? Can I watch the Champions League on BT Sport? You’ve asked and we’re here to answer.

On this page we’ll tell you about the best offers direct from BT (for new and existing customers) and also how to get a BT Sport package if you already have Sky TV or Virgin Media. With so many options available from each provider, we’ve simplified the listings as much as possible so you can weigh up the best option for you without the pushy up-selling you’d get in stores, shopping center booths or on the phone. Alternatively, if you’d prefer a bit of Sky Sports, we’ve also extensively covered the latest Sky TV deals available.

What’s on BT Sport?

The BT Sport Pack includes BT Sport 1, BT Sport 2, BT Sport 3 and BT Sport ESPN. Across these channels you’ll find every Champions League match live, so no more asking the pub landlord to swap over to the match you actually want to watch and upsetting those Man United supporting Southerners. There’s also a selection of Premier League matches every week.

BT Sport is also the only place to enjoy Ashes cricket next year as BT nabbed the exclusive rights to broadcast it next summer. Elsewhere on BT Sport you can enjoy the Rugby Aviva Premiership, Moto GP and much more. Sound good? Then let’s check out the latest BT Sport offers.

How to get BT Sport deals direct from BT

BT Sport deals are available as an add-on to a BT TV package and also as an extra to BT broadband. Let’s have have a look at all the options and how much they’ll cost you each month. Prices direct from BT rather than going through third parties like Sky and Virgin Media are the cheapest options available.

BT Sport offers if you’re not a BT customer yet

If you already get your TV or broadband from Sky or Virgin and your contract isn’t up for a while, you can skip this section and scroll down to the heading ‘How much is BT Sport on Sky?‘ or ‘How to get BT Sport on Virgin Media.’ 

I’m already an existing BT customer

If you already have BT broadband or a BT TV deal, good news. You can get BT Sport for less than anyone else on Sky or Virgin, maybe even for free. Take a look at the latest options for current BT customers below.

How much is BT Sport on Sky?

Rather than put up a wall between their customers, BT and Sky have reached an agreement allowing existing Sky customers access to BT Sport too. That means they’ll have the most comprehensive sports coverage in the UK. Sky customers will have to set this up through BT though rather than Sky. 

The options are simple though and BT’s website will walk you through the steps, We’ve included links below and we’ll talk you through the various options and how much they cost too.

How to get BT Sport on Virgin Media

You don’t have to go with BT broadband to get BT Sport. BT is keen to let its rivals pay them to let you in on the action too. New Virgin broadband customers can take advantage of Virgin’s superfast fibre broadband and enjoy BT Sport.

There are a few Virgin broadband with BT Sport packages to choose from, sadly they don’t include the cheapest Virgin deals. On the plus side you’re getting the shiny HD versions of the BT Sports channels in all of them. There are three main deals to choose from, although as you’re going through the transaction you might be offered extras or modest upgrades along the way.

The 31 best indie games on PC and consoles

Gaming as a whole continues to evolve over time, and our standards for the best indie games evolves with it. One of the most interesting things about the best indie games is that unlike AAA game publishers, who feel the need to monetize every single inch of their games – the best indie games simply cost what they cost and are completely free of malevolent tactics. Free of corporate influence, the best indie games will give you a glimpse into the pure artistic vision of the developers, especially if you have one of the best gaming PCs.

That’s not to say the best indie games can’t keep up with the latest Assassin’s Creed or Call of Duty, though. In fact, the best indie games regularly surpass the latest AAA games in both quality and scope, thanks to their less repetitive nature – they don’t need to rely on tired cliches and tropes to sell through millions of units.

In our guide to the best indie games, we went through the hundreds of indie games we’ve played and ranked the 30 best ones here. We mixed in classics like Braid and Dwarf Fortress, with modern indie darlings like Hollow Knight and Dead Cells. To discover all the best indie games that made our list, read on.

Linux, Windows or Mac – which one is best for you? Watch our guide video below:

Bill Thomas, Joe Osborne, Kane Fulton and Gabe Carey have also contributed to this article

Described as a sort of combination of Pokémon, Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing, we couldn’t help but recommend that you keep your eye on Ooblets until it releases at some point in 2018. This indie game is being developed by first-time studio Glumberland with the backing of the beloved Double Fine studios. The art style here curiously reminds us of Adventure Time. However, the game itself revolves around collecting creatures called ooblets in a town called, well, Oob. 

Upon doing so, you’ll be able to train and battle your ooblets against other ooblet trainers. At the same time, you’ll have to balance your ooblet training with the real-world responsibilities of being a farmer. That’s right, drawing influence from the likes of Stardew Valley, you can cultivate produce and decorate your house with various trimmings as well. You’ll also be able to join an Ooblet Club comprised of friends (NPCs) you’ll meet along the way. 

If you don’t know what to do in Ooblets, simply walk around and discover new shops and buildings that suit your interest. While you’re at it, you can open up your own shop and sell produce that you’ve grown on the farm in addition to items you’ve scavenged from throughout the world. Otherwise, you can feed the leftover crops to your ooblets to watch them level up and learn new techniques to be used in the turn-based RPG-style battles.

Expected: 2018

Jonathan Blow’s masterpiece first appears to be a simple pastiche of Super Mario Bros, with a middle-aged curmudgeon replacing the titular plumber but still seeking to rescue a princess.

But, the longer you spend in the game, the more that’s revealed to you, moving from a series of time-bending puzzles to quiet reflective texts – which doesn’t stop it from being the smartest puzzle game until SpaceChem. Blow himself has subtly hinted that the ultimate story may revolve around the atomic bomb.

First released as PC freeware by Japanese designer Daisuke “Pixel” Amaya back in 2004 after five years of 100% solo development, Cave Story predates the recent indie renaissance by a few years. Because of when and how it was first released, it’s often forgotten in discussions of indie gaming.

But this classic deserves to be on every best-of list for its loving homage to the classic action platforming games of the Super Nintendo era, its incredible music and its incredibly vibrant world. Oh, and don’t forget the hugely intuitive controls, gobs of secrets and weapons that are entirely too fun to use. If you’ve yet to enjoy this one, just put it on your backlog already.

From family-owned and operated Studio MDHR, Cuphead has connected with millions of people around the world, many of whom normally wouldn’t touch a run-and-gun platformer with a ten-foot pole. 

Although its gameplay was inspired by classic games like Mega Man and Contra, most gamers would likely compare it to a Fleischer Studios cartoon, like Betty Boop. Because Cpuhead utilizes a hand-drawn art style likened to a 1930s animation, it’s been universally praised for its gorgeous visuals.

Its beauty is more than skin deep, though, Cuphead is a challenging and engaging series of 19 boss fights, with actual levels taking place between them. And, if that’s not enough, Studio MDHR has announced the Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course DLC, with a new isle to explore, new bosses to conquer and, most importantly, a new playable character. 

Many AAA games serve as escapist power fantasies, where the player is ultimately able to dominate the game’s universe – right up until the game ends. However, many indie games serve as the opposite – like the IGF award winner and misery simulator Cart Life.

Papers Please is similar to Cart Life – it’s also an IGF winner with elements of misery about it – but it’s better, being a smart, weird sim about the compromised life of a border guard under a totalitarian regime. It’s ugly and desperate, but also innovative, uproariously funny and terribly smart.

Among the hardcore gamers of my acquaintance, Spelunky is the go-to drug. Even today, several years after its release, some of them still play it every day, despite having completed it many times over. That’s because Spelunky, an ostensibly rogue-like platformer with a definite end, is tough, varied and highly randomized.

It also has more dark secrets than a presidential candidate, meaning there are many, many ways to finish it, and its daily challenges are a sure-fire way to public humiliation.

Unfortunately, humor is often missing among games, mostly being restricted to slapstick comedy or crude one-liners. The Stanley Parable, however, is hilarious without being dumbed down. Players follow (or don’t) a very British narrator who changes the world around you, depending on your decisions.

No decision is punished, every play-through throws up new humor and weirdness. Being trapped in the closet in the Stanley Parable is more moving and funny than 9/10 of other games.

  • Further reading: Retro-me-do! Digitiser’s Mr Biffo on his top PC games of all time

It took more than nine years to make, but Owlboy was definitely worth the wait. Originally contrived for PCs and released in late 20166, the clever masterpiece of an indie game is now available to experience on Mac and Linux as well – and there’s even a Nintendo Switch version! Owlboy centers around a race of owl-human hybrid characters called, well, Owls. Of them, you control Otis, an Owl who is censured by his mentor for his inept flying skills.

The story sees Otis’ village dismantled by pirates who clearly have conflict with the Owls. As a result, Otis has to work with an assortment of villagers in-game to take out enemies. Of course, when boss battles arise, you’ll need to manage allies accordingly, as each character comes with their own set of unique skill sets to use in conjunction with one another. If you’ve ever played and enjoyed a Kid Icarus game, this is one for the books. Otherwise, play it anyway.

Similar to The Stanley Parable, Gone Home falls into the unofficially labeled ‘walking simulator’ genre. Where it diverts from the clever and philosophical Stanley Parable, however is its focus on life’s difficult realities, instead of light humor.

After arriving at your childhood home after an overseas visit, you play as 21-year-old Kaitlin Greenbriar who is greeted by a vacant house. While gameplay is essentially limited to scavenging through notes to find out where the protagonist’s family has ventured off to, the gripping story exhibits a rollercoaster of emotions, if you keep an open mind.

Only SpaceChem has mingled education with entertainment as successfully as The Kerbal Space Program. The game is simple – design and build spacecraft to take the cutesy Kerbals to the Mun and beyond.

Yet its focused use of real physics means that you’ll find yourself following NASA in building multi-stage rockets, space stations and exploring the Kerbal’s strange universe on EVAs, before bringing your discoveries back to research on the Kerbal planet – that’s if you can get off the ground at all. It’s a huge, complex, challenging and fun game, that’s smart without being preachy.

The exact opposite of the Kerbal Space Program, The Binding of Isaac is an action roguelike par excellence. Matched only by the equally visceral Nuclear Throne for replayability, you play as a young boy attempting to kill his damned siblings, his Mom, and possibly the Devil, using only his tears. Which he shoots from his eyes, of course.

With hundreds of weird modifiers to discover, endlessly touch procedurally-generated levels, and secrets galore, Isaac is a very dark take on the exploratory model established by Spelunky.

Though you might get put off by the pixel art graphics, Undertale isn’t a game that would have fit on the Super Nintendo. That’s because, in Undertale, you decisions make a huge difference in how the game ends and, more importantly, how it continues in New Game Plus.

While you play Undertale, one of the first things you’ll start to realize is the sheer freedom the game affords you. Despite its genius boss matches, you can make it through the entire nine or so hours of Undertale without killing a soul. Plus, when you go through the game a second time, you’ll bear the weight of the consequences from your previous run. Plus, now that Undertale is coming to the Nintendo Switch later this year, you’ll be able to take this genius piece of game design wherever you go.

From developer Playdead, Inside is comparable to its predecessor, Limbo, in some ways but with an added layer of depth that inspires frequent wonder. This is mostly a result of the unspoken narrative, which revolves around yet another nameless boy. In Inside, however, the boy in the story is running away from a group of men who – if you fail to stay out of their sights – will try to mercilessly kill you.

Though it isn’t quite clear why the boy is running from these men or why you should even care since you don’t know who he is, Inside will leave you begging for answers. The bleak, lifeless setting of Inside is more than worth the price of admission. Its minimalist art style alone is avant-garde enough to feel right at home in a museum. Add in a game that’s both fun to play and dripping with curiosity, though, and Inside is one of the best indie games money can buy.

Developed single-handedly by Eric Barone, Stardew Valley is undoubtedly a technical feat for that little facet alone. If you’ve ever played a Harvest Moon game, you’re already familiar with the premise of Stardew Valley – you may just not know it yet. Stardew Valley is an addictive farming simulator which sees you interact with townees to the point where you can literally marry them.

Stardew Valley isn’t just farming, though – it’s a whole bunch of things at the same time. You can go fishing, you can cook, you can craft stuff – you can even go explore procedurally-generated caves to mine for items and even attack slime-monster-things. However, you should keep in mind that your health and energy are finite, so you’ll want to keep your character rested and fed to avoid suffering from exhaustion. Pass out and you’ll lose a considerable amount of money and items you’ve worked hard to attain. Stardew Valley will have you addicted for hours on end, for better or worse. (Definitely better.)

From Canadian game developer Alec Holowka, the creator of the award-winning Aquaria (also featured on this list) and independent artist/animator Scott Benson, Night in the Woods is an unconventional side-scrolling adventure game centering around a 20-year-old protagonist named Mae who drops out of college to move back in with her parents.

Featuring a story largely based around dialog choices and mini games that put a spin on mundane tasks, like carrying boxes up the stairs and eating perogies, Night in the Woods is a timeless coming-of-age tale. Not only will you experience middle class America through the eyes of a personified cat, but virtually every interaction in-game will have you laughing aloud. And now that it’s coming to the Nintendo Switch on February 1, you’ll be able to take it wherever you go.

If you’re a fan of the recent wave of games inspired by Dark Souls, you’ll absolutely love Hollow Knight. You take control of the Hollow Knight, and lead them through the deceptively adorable landscape to take on bosses and other difficult challenges. Much like Dark Souls, it’s not immediately clear what you’re actually supposed to be doing as the narrative is intentionally obtuse. 

The Dark Souls inspirations don’t end there, however. It also adopts Dark Souls’ ‘tough but fair’ philosophy, where the game is only as hard as you make it – you can overcome anything as long as you have patience and learn from your mistakes. Hollow Knight takes these lessons from Dark Souls and injects them into a MetroidVania, with all the side-scrolling and upgrades you could possibly want. You can even play it on the Nintendo Switch now.

If you’re looking for a game that’s as unforgiving as it is fun, look no further than Dead Cells. It takes gameplay inspiration from so many places – from roguelikes, to MetroidVania to even a hint of Dark Souls, to create a unique action game that will test your limits. 

Every time you play the game, it’ll be different. And, while you’ll lose some progress each time you die, and trust us, you’ll die a lot, the game will become more and more rewarding as the complex and fluid combat becomes second nature. In the final release of the game, you’ll get access to 90 weapons, skills and abilities that will let you tailor your gameplay however you feel. 

Whatever you do, don’t get discouraged when you fail. Get up and try again, Dead Cells will only reward you in the end – which is why it’s one of the best indie games 2018 has to offer.

Introversions was one of the earliest ‘indie’ companies, releasing games like Uplink, Defcon and Darwinia whilst Vlambeer were still in short pants. After years of struggling, they’ve finally hit a huge success with Prison Architect, a game where you build, staff, outfit and manage a maximum security prison.

With smart prisoners who are willing to do anything to escape, you’ll struggle to keep them all inside – or keep them from rioting – and turn a profit. It’s still in alpha, but it’s eminently playable right now..

While something like Kerbal Space Program can actually take you to the moon, To The Moon is a game about wish fulfillment, and thrives on narrative beauty. If we were to make comparisons to films, Kerbal Space Program is Gravity, The Binding of Isaac is Saw and To the Moon is Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

You control two doctors who are exploring a dying man’s memories to implant a false memory so he can die in peace. Which is all depicted in a classic 16-bit Zelda style. It’s a rare, emotional, adult game.

Dwarf Fortress is its own genre, its own industry. This is a game that, before you’ve even set foot in it, has to generate the entire geography, mythology and history of its massive world. Then it tracks every single one of the dwarfs you’re managing down to the hairs on their legs and the particular horrible elephant murder that they witnessed and they’re now carving on an ornamental chair.

Your task is to keep the dwarves alive as they carve out their subterranean kingdom – given that insanity, monsters, and starvation plague are thrown at them at every stage that’s not easy. And dwarves, always, always mine too deep.

Run. Jump. Die. Repeat. That’s essentially the gameplay loop of Super Meat Boy, a fiendishly addictive 2D platformer that’s also bloody hard, with an emphasis on bloody. Gallons of blood is spilled as the game’s eponymous meaty hero leaps over deadly drops, spinning saws and walking chainsaws in a bid to rescue his girlfriend, Bandage Girl, from the evil Dr Foetus. Obviously. Boasting tight controls, plenty of humor and colorful graphics, Super Meat Boy lept onto the PS4 and Vita last year in style – with a Nintendo Switch release coming soon, as well. 

It might not be Playdead’s most recent game, but Limbo is timeless. Even five years after its release, the game’s haunting storyline still affects us. You play the Boy, a child with glowing eyes who’s cast into Limbo to find his sister. Making your way through a bleak and dangerous world full of hostile silhouettes, giant spiders and deadly gravitational fields, you’ll need to think quickly and perfectly time your movements if you’re going to survive.

But Limbo is much more than a simple platformer: it’s an experience, and one that has you pondering the very essence of life by the time it’s over. Deep, profound and absorbing, it’s one indie game everybody should take time out to play.

If you’re yearning for a retro-styled multiplayer archery combat game (aren’t we all?), TowerFall: Ascension is the pick of the lot. Fast, frenetic and teeth-gnashingly hard in hardcore mode, the game’s mechanics are simple: fire arrows at enemies or jump on their heads to stay alive until the round ends.

Arrows that don’t hit are embedded in walls, making for tense scenarios when you have to traverse the map while dodging enemies to retrieve them. As such, practicing until you achieve Robin Hood-esque levels of accuracy is recommended. Ascension is best experienced with friends in local multiplayer mode, which recalls Super Smash Bros’ most manic moments.

It’s not often that a platformer manages to balance challenging and engaging gameplay with an emotional and thought-provoking narrative, but Celeste pulls it off. From the developers of Towerfall, Celeste follows the story of Madeline, a young girl who decides to face her mental health issues by climbing to the top of the mysterious Celeste Mountain. Ind doing so, she learns more not only about the mountain, but about herself amid the heartwarming process. 

An inevitable classic, Celeste integrates the obvious jump, air-dash and climb controls into a brutal series of platforming challenges in upwards of 700 unique screens. And, if that’s too easy, you’ll unlock B-side chapters along the way, designed for only the bravest of hardcore players. Better yet, you don’t have to worry about waiting an eternity between each respawn. Instead, Celeste brings you back from the grave instantaneously, a welcome departure from the typically extensive load screens.

Admittedly, exclusive indie games always wind up with the short end of the stick. That continues to ring true for Golf Story, an homage to Mario Golf on the Game Boy Color developed by Sidebar Games. As it’s a debut title for the Nintendo Switch, you might have overlooked Golf Story considering it came out on the same day as Stardew Valley, but here’s what you need to know.

You don’t have to obsess over the PGA Tour to get into Golf Story, as you’re likely better off appreciating it for its RPG elements. Substituting combat for an athletic sport, you begin your adventure as a kid who is mentored by his dad before realizing he isn’t very good at golfing, something you’ll have to overcome as you pursue professional golf.

After the raging success that was the original Nidhogg, it’s a shame to see the superior sequel get thrown under the bus. Nevertheless, in spite of its controversial art style, Nidhogg 2 packs a refined, gorgeous look that the first version, a cult-classic, couldn’t even think to compete with. In still frames, we can see how this could get misconstrued, but fortunately, it’s the fun and addictive local multiplayer gameplay that makes Nidhogg, well, Nidhogg. And it’s all there in Nidhogg 2. Plus, every time you respawn, you get one of four unique weapons that only bolster the challenge.

Esteemed indie designer Jon Blow’s follow up to Braid may look like an entirely different adventure, being 3D and all, but the two are more thematically alike than you might think. The Witness, at its core, is another puzzle game that tells an interesting story through said puzzles.

This puzzler takes place in an almost equally impressionist – albeit heavily Myst-inspired – world, but it’s story is far more nuanced and mysterious than Blow’s previous. At almost every corner of this island that you’ve simply woken up on (or beneath), there is a clue as to how you got onto this island and why you’re here.

Don’t get us wrong, we liked Bastion, but we won’t deny that Transistor was SuperGiant Games’ best work to date. Much of that has to do with the convergence of action-based and turn-based RPG elements contained within its cyberpunk futurescape. Likewise, in classic SuperGiant fashion, those mechanics are complemented by a gorgeous art style and a music score so unforgettable it’ll make you want to buy the soundtrack.

Leaving key gameplay beats up to the player, the story isn’t so variable. Transistor’s main character, Red, is a renowned singer in the city of Cloudbank. However, she’s been attacked by a group of vicious robots who call themselves the Process, operated by another group called the Camerata. In her journey, she finds the Transistor, a mysterious sword with the voice of a man. Soon enough, she’ll learn more about him and how he will shake up her world.

It’s weird to think that Oxenfree came out before the first season of Stranger Things, and yet, the two properties coincidentally have a lot in common. The 80s-inspired heavy synth music composed by scntfc, for one, accentuates some truly gripping sci-fi horror centering around – you guessed it – a group of teenagers stuck on an island.

The story involves a handful of uniquely written characters, namely the main character Alex, along with her stoner friend Ren, her newfound stepbrother Jonas, her dead brother Michael’s ex-girlfriend Clarissa and her best friend Nona (who Ren happens to be in love with).

The plot is explained through branching speech dialogue, similar to Life is Strange or modern-day Telltale games, and features five different endings depending on your choices.

Exploring a surreal wilderness seems like quite the trend these days in gaming, and developer Campo Santo’s debut only serves to keep it going strong. Set in the wilderness of 1989 Wyoming, you’re Henry, a fire lookout that’s all alone in the woods after exploring something strange in the distance.

That is, save for your partner on the other line of a walkie-talkie: Delilah. She’s your only point of contact as you explore the wilderness. Will you make it back alive? Will the decisions you make help or harm the relationship with your only lifeline to the outside world, your boss? Don’t worry about those questions just yet – just look at those forestscapes!

Rust is one of the more successful indie titles of recent times. By the end of 2015 it had sold more than 3 million copies, which isn’t too shabby considering it isn’t even finished — the game has been on Steam’s Early Access scheme since launching in December 2013.

Still, it seems people can’t get enough of the Day Z-inspired survival sim. It sees you use your wits and bearings to survive its harsh open world, starting off with nothing but a rock. After gathering resources needed to build a house and weapons to fend off attackers (other online players, in other words), Rust gradually becomes more intense as you defend your growing base — or attempt to breach others’.

Fans of the original Overcooked will not be disappointed by the second installment in the chaotic couch co-op series from British indie game developer Team17.

This time your task is to defeat the ‘Un-Bread’ (zombie baked goods) that have taken over the Onion Kingdom, by battling through brand new recipes including sushi, pizza, and burgers in increasingly chaotic kitchens with up to three other people.

To add to the frantic fun, you must battle obstacles including random fires, collapsing floors, and interfering passers by, all while getting your orders out to the pass in time. 

Things get complicated incredibly quickly, and relationships, friendships, and family bonds will be tested as you work together to complete your recipes on time, making it a fun and challenging couch co-op game that will make you truly understand the meaning of “too many cooks spoil the broth.”

Google’s AI is now much better at recognizing songs that are playing

If you ever use Google Assistant or the Google app to recognize a song you’re listening to, that process should be faster and more accurate in the future, Google says – thanks to some advancements in its cloud-based artificial intelligence routines.

Sound Search (which is the official name of “hey Google, what’s this song?”) has been upgraded to use a neural network four times the size of its predecessor. It also takes samples of a song twice as frequently as before, in order to get a better idea of what you’re listening to and to increase the chances of getting a positive match.

Google says Sound Search can now automatically adjust its techniques based on whether it thinks it’s listening to a popular song or a more obscure song – the AI can use more detailed checking methods to help identify tracks that are less well known.

Name that tune

Sound Search is able to operate so quickly by using advanced machine-learning algorithms to quickly get a series of audio fingerprints for the music it’s hearing, and quickly whittle down the number of potential matches in its database.

The same technology that the Pixel phones use in their Now Playing feature – where songs are identified automatically on the lock screen, no manual effort required – has now been adapted for Sound Search, Google says. The difference is that the Sound Search database is much larger, so more false positives need to be dismissed.

Google says it’s working on making Sound Search even faster in the future, and admits that it’s still not perfect: apparently the chances of getting a good match are reduced when you’re in a very loud or very quiet environment.

  • Google Assistant will brighten your day with its new good news feature

Via CNET

Lenovo’s ThinkSmart Hub 700 bring Dolby audio to your conference room

Hot on the heels of its recently announced ThinkSmark Hub 500, Lenovo hopes to elevate the conferencing experience with the ThinkSmart Hub 700.

The new device looks almost as if a UFO is sitting on your desk, but its comical design hides a number of interesting tech features. For example, IR sensors detect when a person enters a room, and can wake up a connected display or devices within range automatically. It runs Windows 10 IoT, and is best suited for users whose laptops are locked down by system administrators, making it difficult to launch or install conferencing software or even plug in devices via USB ports.

The system integrates directly into common conferencing solutions, such as Skype for Business, Zoom or BlueJeans, and displays a quick calendar on-screen of upcoming meetings. Users simply use the jog dial on top of the device to select a meeting, and can join in with just the push of a button. Audio performance comes through loud and clear via the integrated Dolby Audio Speaker System, with enhanced speakers co-designed with Dolby.

Most importantly, the system offers both wired and wireless connectivity to allow local and remote users to quickly connect and share data and screens from multiple devices, eliminating the need to fumble about while trying to locate specific ports.

Lenovo’s ThinkSmart Software Platform integrates with the ThinkSmart Hub 700 to display detailed information such as the busiest times for a meeting room, the most popular conferencing solutions, as well a report on any connectivity or technical issues that may have occurred during a meeting.

Pricing for the ThinkSmart Hub 700 hasn’t been revealed yet, though Lenovo has said that the device will be available in the first quarter of 2019.

  • These are the best videoconferencing software of 2018

The best Bluetooth speaker of 2018 in the UAE: the best portable speakers for any budget

Best Bluetooth Speakers Buying Guide: Welcome to TechRadar’s round-up of the Bluetooth speakers you can buy in 2018. 

Even if you’ve got a dedicated AV cabinet with gold-plated speaker cables and an amplifier the size of a car engine, there are going to be those times when the portability of one of the best Bluetooth speakers just can’t be ignored.

They may need a battery top up every now and again, and a wireless Bluetooth connection does mean that you’re going to get a small drop off in audio quality due to data compression. But when it comes to convenience and price, Bluetooth speakers often can’t be beaten.

Whether you’re looking for a speaker to bring with you on your next adventure, a portable powerhouse to bring with you to the beach or a rocking wireless speaker for your next house party, there’s definitely a Bluetooth speaker out there for you. 

Need some suggestions? Here’s our list of our top picks for the best Bluetooth speakers around. Some are rugged. Some are stylish. Some are weatherproof and some aren’t fit for the outdoors – read through and take your pick. 

How to pick out the best Bluetooth speaker

One of the biggest questions we get asked when talking to folks about Bluetooth speakers is: How do I pick out the best one? 

Regardless of what features you want from your speaker, its imperative that it has a decent battery life and good level of sound quality. There’s no point in having a device packed full of features if its battery dies quickly and it sounds rubbish. All of our picks fulfil these two requirements, so when you’re picking from this list you can afford to focus more on features. 

On the features side, common requests include water-resistance (and water-proof speakers), voice calling and device charging – a feature that allows you to plug your phone or tablet into the speaker to siphon off a bit of juice when it’s running a bit low. Some of the best speakers (like the UE Boom 2) now include all three! 

Another good way to narrow down your search is to select a speaker based on the activity you’re going to do with it. A great travel speaker might not have the exact same attributes as the best home listening speaker, for example. 

That being said, we’ve tried to highlight some of the most common use cases below and have selected a speaker that fits perfectly with that scenario.

Without further ado, here are the 10 best Bluetooth wireless speakers, ranked by their price-to-performance ratio.

 The best Bluetooth speakers of 2018:  

This sequel to the UE Boom nails everything a Bluetooth speaker should be. It’s loud, yet detailed. Portable, but still incredibly durable. Plus, even better, the addition of waterproofing turns what used to be the best Bluetooth speaker around for most occasions into the best one for every occasion. 

If you’re deep in the search for your next –, or first – Bluetooth speaker, you can stop looking now. (But if you’re looking for a little more power, the Megaboom – also from UE – is a great choice, too.) 

Read the full review: UE Boom 2

As a package, the JBL Charge 3 offers a compelling set of features and excellent sound quality to boot. It punches well above its weight, playing loudly and distortion-free. 

The Charge line of speakers have been on our shortlist of recommendations for a long time thanks to the way they combine great sound quality with the ability to charge your devices over USB. 

The latest iteration maintains JBL’s dominance in the portable Bluetooth speaker market.

Read the full review: JBL Charge 3

The Bose SoundLink Mini II is relatively ancient, having been released in June 2015. However, writing off the SoundLink Mini II because of its age would be a mistake, as it remains one of the best sounding wireless speakers. 

That said, it punches way above what its size would suggest, producing deep bass, sparkling highs and a lush midrange. While most wireless speakers sound OK, the Mini II proves that small speakers don’t need to compromise on sound, and other Bose conveniences like a charging pad. 

Read the full review: Bose SoundLink Mini II

When someone asks us for a recommendation for a waterproof speaker, the UE Roll 2 was always on the top of our list. We loved the Roll 2’s unique form factor, 50-foot wireless range and, obviously, it sounded good, too. Where it was lacking was in the bass department. Logitech, UE’s parent company, has fixed the Roll 2’s lack of bass by creating the appropriately named UE Wonderboom. 

In our eyes, the UE Wonderboom bests the Roll 2 in just about every way –except for the Roll 2’s handy bungee cord. Still, ignoring that, if you’re looking for one of the best waterproof Bluetooth speakers on the market today, it’s hard to do better than the UE Wonderboom. Plus, it comes in some interesting colors, including Avocado and…you guessed it, Unicorn.

Read the full review: UE Wonderboom

The Creative Muvo 2C is a speaker than punches well above its weight in terms of its sound quality. This tiny Bluetooth speaker is one of the smallest we’ve seen to pack its own bass radiator, which results in much better dynamic range than many other speakers at this price point. Plus, it’s also feature rich in terms of its inputs, allowing you to play music either over Bluetooth, a 3.5mm jack, USB or even insert a microSD card to play MP3 files directly. 

Of course, that being said, if you spend more you’ll get a more refined sound, better bass still, and a longer battery life. But if you’re looking for a budget speaker than the Muvo 2C is hard to beat at this price. 

Read the full review: Creative Muvo 2C

B&O created a hit with the Beoplay P2. It’s a well-designed speaker that’s extremely easy to use, has a well-built companion app, and it sounds great. On top of that, the speaker is ultra-portable without compromising on much bass content. Sure, you could get something a little bigger (and stereo) for the same price, but at this size the sound quality justifies the price. The smart gestures are a nice touch too, although we wouldn’t buy the device solely for that reason.

Read the full review: B&O Beoplay P2

The Marshall Kilburn might not appear to be the best choice in Bluetooth speakers. It’s large, heavy, doesn’t have USB charging and isn’t waterproof – plus, AED 1,299 is a lot to pay for a Bluetooth speaker. 

But none of this matters because the Kilburn sounds so darn good. 

Over a month’s time, we fell in love with the Kilburn’s design, feel and pristine sound quality. There’s no other portable Bluetooth speaker on the market quite like it. It’s a head turner and conversation piece. It’s a piece of audio art that you’ll be proud to show off to your friends during a party. 

Read the full review: Marshall Kilburn

It seems just about every speaker company has a wireless speaker that can take the abuse of being outdoors and Bose, a company most well-known for its brand of excellent noise-canceling headphones, is no different. If you’re looking for something from Bose to take with you on your next hike, the AED 549 SoundLink Color II is the company’s only splash-proof speaker that can stand up to the elements with an IPX4 rating. 

Read the full review: Bose SoundLink Color II

Creative Sound Blaster Roar 2

Bringing bluntness over refinement, the JBL Flip 4 is a good Bluetooth speaker for the rugged outdoorsman in your friend circle. It’s rough, tough design makes it perfect as a portable speaker to accompany all aspects of your life while its sound is solid without worrying your home audio system.

It’s all weather friendly design is a win, but a lack of definition and distinction in the mid-range ultimately means its sound quality is not quite up to scratch when compared with some, more high-end portable speakers.

Read the full review: JBL Flip 4

The newest speaker in the Denon Envaya line is one of the first speakers to absolutely blow us away in 2018. It offers powerful, room-filling sound that will sound great to most ears, plus comes with an IP67 rating, make it both dust and waterproof. It’s also built like a tank, making it one of the most durable speakers we’ve ever laid our hands on.

Despite a nearly flawless performance, the Envaya isn’t perfect: While sound quaity is full, powerful and rich, it doesn’t have the treble bite some like and the buttons located along the side can feel stiff and difficult to operate. These are ultimately minor complaints, however, and the Denon Envaya remains a great Bluetooth speaker – easily one of the best you can buy this year.

Read the full review: Denon Envaya (DSB-250BT)

  • Now need something to listen to? Check out our collection of the best podcasts

Canelo v GGG live stream: how to watch the Alvarez-Golovkin fight online from anywhere

So here we are again. It’s rematch time for Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and Gennady ‘GGG’ Golovkin who drew controversially 364 days ago. Who will take the victory in Canelo vs GGG 2? We’re here to tell you how you can live stream the whole fight, regardless of where you are. It’s the biggest fight of the decade!

It’s fair to say that boxing fans were left scratching their heads at the end of the first Canelo vs GGG fight at the T-Mobile Arena, as one judge scored the fight as a comfortable 118 – 110 victory for Canelo, while the remaining two recorded a 115 – 113 to Golovkin and a 114 – 114 draw. Since then, a rematch has loomed and despite some delays – caused in no small part by two failed drug tests for Canelo – the Mexican has the opportunity to lock horns with his Kazakhstan counterpart once again.

Canelo’s propensity to blow out in the later stages of the big fights perhaps gives GGG the edge heading into this one, but if last year’s duel is anything to go by this will be very closely fought. It’s a tense middleweight battle that could well turn out to be a classic. 

If you’re wondering how you can watch the fight live, that’s where TechRadar comes in. We’ll tell you your viewing options in the US, UK, Canada and Australia below, and will have a top tip for how to live stream Canelo vs GGG 2 safely regardless of where you are in the world. 

Live stream the Canelo vs Golovkin fight from anywhere with a VPN 

How to watch Canelo vs GGG 2: US stream

How watch Canelo vs Golovkin fight: UK stream

How to watch Canelo vs GGG: Canada live stream

How to watch the Canelo vs GGG rematch: Australia stream