Fade the Rams against the Raiders, especially if Baker Mayfield starts

Baker Mayfield joined the team Tuesday. He might start Thursday.

The Los Angeles Rams are seriously considering starting Baker Mayfield at quarterback Thursday night against the Las Vegas Raiders.

Before making a decision, the team wants to see how last week’s starter, John Wolford, is doing after pregame warmups, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. But if Wolford is unable to go with a neck injury, Mayfield will get the nod after joining the team off waivers just two days ago.

If that’s not a sign of an all-time Super Bowl hangover, I don’t know what is. At 3-9, the Rams are trending toward the worst season ever by a defending champion. And now they’re considering starting a stranger who was quite literally the worst player in the NFL at the sport’s most important position.

I don’t know who the person is that would seriously consider betting on the Rams in the state they’re in right now. But I’m here to tell you don’t, especially if Mayfield starts.

The Raiders are favored by 6.5 points on the road, and it’s not hard to see why. It was tough to trust the Rams when their title-winning duo Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp were healthy. That’s especially the case now with their current whittled down roster, even with how disappointing the Raiders have been.

At DraftKings, 70% of money on the spread and 88% of the moneyline handle is on the Raiders.

Picking the Rams with Wolford in his second start would be one thing. But Mayfield is a special case. Of 31 qualified quarterbacks, he has the worst QBR in the NFL at 18.3. That’s more than 10 points lower than the next-worst quarterback, Davis Mills at 29.7.

Mayfield posted that rating with the team he started the season with and had time to get acclimated with. Still, he had a lower rating than Panthers backups P.J. Walker and Sam Darnold.

On the Rams, Wolford has a slightly higher rating in minimal action at 20.5. And Bryce Perkins, who started LA’s first game without Stafford, has a 25.3 rating. That’s not to say Mayfield isn’t or can’t be better than either with time, but it’s asking a lot for him to step in after a couple days on the job and put up points. Carolina only averaged 16 points in games he started.

That’s not good considering LA’s defense is allowing over 230 passing yards per game and the fourth-highest passer rating to opposing quarterbacks. It’s just the type of secondary Raiders wideout Davante Adams can feast on. And though the Rams are better against the run, Raiders back Josh Jacobs is averaging over 160 rushing yards in his last three games.

The Raiders are going to find a way to score points. I’m not so sure about the Rams.

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The FTC sues to block Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard acquisition

The FTC will try and block Microsoft from buying Activision Blizzard, citing concerns over negative effects on competition and innovation

The FTC has filed a lawsuit to block Microsoft’s $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard, The Washington Post reports, citing concerns over the deal giving Microsoft an unfair advantage in key, burgeoning sectors of the games industry and concerns over the company withholding games from other platforms. The lawsuit follows an earlier report from Politico that the commission was preparing to halt the acquisition and petitions from senators and consumer advocacy groups asking FTC Chair Lina Khan to block the deal after citing concerns that it may hamper competition and give Microsoft control over too much consumer data.

Xbox head Phil Spencer recently announced plans for a deal to keep Call of Duty – one of the most lucrative game franchises – on multiple platforms, including Steam and Nintendo. However, the FTC’s suit cites previous instances where Microsoft made similar promises to keep new titles on other platforms when the Redmond company purchased Zenimax, owners of Bethesda Softworks, and yet announced upcoming Bethesda games Starfield and Redfall would be exclusive to Xbox after all.

Khan also expressed concerns over the deal harming innovation in subscription and cloud gaming. Microsoft previously said the Xbox branch struggles to compete in any sector of the games industry, though the company also reported over $3 billion in profit from its Xbox Game Pass subscription service, which includes cloud gaming, in 2022’s third quarter alone.

When the FTC files a suit to block a merger, the case goes to an administrative court, where a judge hears evidence from both sides and issues a ruling that may block the deal entirely or impose a set of conditions Microsoft must follow for the deal to go ahead. The Washington Post’s report didn’t say when the case may be brought to court. The deal is also facing increased scrutiny from U.K. regulators, who launched a second investigation that may stretch into January 2023.

Written by Josh Broadwell on behalf of GLHF

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Best Christmas gifts for the outdoor enthusiast, check them out now

The Christmas season is upon us and if you’re looking for something to get your favorite outdoor enthusiast we have you covered.

If you’re looking for the best Christmas gifts for the outdoor enthusiast you’ve come to the right place. We’ve hand-picked some of the best outdoor gifts that one could ask for this season, and we hope you enjoy them as well.

You can click on any photo or button to purchase or search for all the outdoor gifts for Men and Women here.

Best Men’s Outdoor Enthusiast Gifts

 

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Best Women’s Outdoor Enthusiast Gifts

 

 

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Star Wars Jedi: Survivor might have a release date

The sequel to Jedi: Fallen Order could be arriving soon.

The highly anticipated sequel to Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order might have a release date. Briefly, the official Star Wars Jedi: Survivor Steam page listed a launch date of Mar. 16, 2023 (thanks, VGC).

That date is already gone, though – now replaced with a vague “coming soon” notice. Publisher Electronic Arts (EA) hasn’t made any announcement regarding Jedi: Survivor‘s release yet, so take all of this with a grain of salt. Heck, there hasn’t been much information on the game since its initial reveal trailer back in May 2022.

Gematsu managed to get a screenshot of the original Steam page listing, which you can check out below.

It’s also worth noting that during a recent EA earnings call, the publisher told investors that it plans to release a significant IP sometime before Mar. 31, 2022. Who knows what the game in question might be, but many believe it’s Jedi: Survivor. The aforementioned unveiling claimed Jedi: Survivor would be out in 2023, so there are multiple bits of evidence suggesting that the previous Steam listing was correct.

Again, nothing is certain until EA sets the record straight. Still, though, it’s looking like we might return to that galaxy far, far away soon enough.

Written by Kyle Campbell on behalf of GLHF.

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Dragon Quest Treasures preview: a twist on the usual Dragon Quest formula

Dragon Quest Treasures is a very different kind of Dragon Quest game.

Dragon Quest XI was a great game with fantastic characters, and among those characters was none other than Erik, the sly but friendly thief. Now, he’s got his own game, alongside his sister Mia, and the two of them are set on finding as much treasure as possible. That game is Dragon Quest Treasures, a maybe-prequel and a definite twist on the usual Dragon Quest formula. 

You might be familiar with the Dragon Quest Monster sub-series, and Treasures is kind of like that, but it’s also fairly different. The Monsters sub-series focuses less on the human characters in combat, and more on the monsters. They’re creature-collecting games, sort of like Pokémon, and for the most part collecting and battling these iconic Dragon Quest creatures is the main draw. 

Treasures definitely still has a big focus on the monsters, and there seems to be dozens of adorable Dragon Quest monsters to collect and fight alongside. Mostly, though, Treasures is about – you guessed it – treasure. You’ll be sniffing out and collecting a lot of treasure, and the monsters you recruit along the way are more of a means to collect more treasure than the focus of the game itself. 

The opening chapter of the game has the player taking control primarily of Mia, although Erik is certainly playable too, as they fall into a portal and find themselves in the world of Draconia. Draconia is a world filled with rare and valuable treasures, and surprisingly friendly monsters. 

You’ll meet a couple of slimes, adorably named Oozabella and Goonther, have them join your crew, and set out to find spoils. The world is absolutely filled with treasure, and it feels like the gameplay loop is developing into a cycle of accepting quests, getting sidetracked by those quests because the game tells you there’s treasure nearby, then having to take that treasure home because your inventory is full. At least, that’s been my experience so far. 

It’s a fun gameplay loop, though, and it means that you’ll spend a lot of time slowly creeping towards your goals rather than blasting through at full speed. I’m sure you probably could speed through it all if you were so inclined, and that’s probably a totally valid way to play it, but the part of the world I’ve seen so far feels a little bit small. Taking your time to go through it at a leisurely pace feels like the right path to take for the intended experience. 

In terms of combat, Treasures strays quite far from Dragon Quest games of the past, even past Monsters games. Instead of the standard turn-based fare, Treasures employs a proper action combat system, much like you’d see in something like The Legend of Zelda but much worse. 

That’s probably a touch harsh, it’s absolutely fine and it more than gets the job done. You’re just very limited in your options: you can hit, you can jump, and you can dodge. That’s about it. You do get a big super attack for each of your three party monsters, and that’s cool, but you need to do a fair amount of basic hitting to build up the meter to even use those, to begin with. 

Another core element in your arsenal is the catapult, also known as a slingshot. There’s a bunch of different slingshot ammo you can collect, some of which applies certain elemental effects, or heals allies, or even makes enemy monsters more likely to join you. 

That’s a pretty solid part of the gameplay loop, but one that I definitely can see getting a bit annoying with time. Monsters will randomly join you after battles, and you can’t seem to really do much to guarantee they’ll join, just increase the odds. Even worse, some monsters have special hats or accessories, and a lot of them are extremely cute, but if it decides not to join your party, too bad, you miss out. 

Every monster also has some sort of movement ability that helps you get around the world, too. Slimes, for example, let you jump up really high, while a Dracky could let you glide around the world. Others let you dash quickly, or evade monsters. The inability to guarantee a monster joins you means that you may be locked out of these abilities for a while, which is likely to get frustrating too, but it does seem like you should be able to navigate most places simply using the slime jump, which you’ll always have access to if you want it. 

In terms of visuals and performance, the Switch seems to be doing a very solid job of displaying and running Dragon Quest Treasures. It’s got a very classic Dragon Quest art style, leaning on simplistic design and cel-shading, and despite some other Unreal Engine games suffering a little bit on the Switch, this one seems to be rock solid. This may change in the later parts of the game, but so far it’s a very strong showing. 

Dragon Quest Treasures is a very different kind of Dragon Quest game, and some who’ve come directly from Dragon Quest XI might feel a little bit alienated by just how big of a difference that is. That said, it’s got some well-loved characters front and center, the gameplay loop is enjoyable, and even at this early stage, it looks like it’s shaping up to be quite good. 

Written by Oliver Brandt on behalf of GLHF.

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Los Angeles Lakers vs. Milwaukee Bucks, live stream, prediction, TV channel, time, how to watch the NBA

The Los Angeles Lakers will meet the Milwaukee Bucks in NBA action on Friday night at the Fiserv Forum.

The Los Angeles Lakers will meet the Milwaukee Bucks in NBA action on Friday night at the Fiserv Forum.

The Lakers are coming off a 128-109 win over the Trail Blazers on Wednesday, this was their sixth win in their last eight games. LeBron continues to lead the team in scoring. Meanwhile, the Bucks have been on fire as they have won their last three games with Giannis Antetokounmpo leading the way to a 15-5 record.

We have you covered throughout the NBA season, here is everything you need to know to stream the NBA action tonight.

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Milwaukee Bucks

  • When: Friday, December 2
  • Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: ESPN, ESPN Deportes, ESPN2 (NBA in Stephen A’s World)
  • Live Stream: fuboTV (watch for free)

NBA Odds and Betting Lines

NBA odds courtesy of Tipico Sportsbook. Odds were last updated Friday at 3:00 p.m. ET.

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Milwaukee Bucks (-8.5)

O/U: 229.5

Want some action on the NBA? Place your legal sports bets on this game or others in CO and NJ at Tipico Sportsbook.

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Blizzard Albany’s QA team has successfully voted to unionize

Blizzard Albany’s QA team will join the Game Workers Alliance, though Activision Blizzard may appeal the vote once again

Blizzard Albany’s QA team voted to unionize in a nearly unanimous decision, The Washington Post reports, marking the end of a year-long effort and several attempts from Activision Blizzard to delay the vote. The vote was 14-0, with 18 members eligible to take part. Kotaku reports that one vote was disqualified, and Blizzard challenged three more.

The Communication Workers of America will represent Blizzard Albany, and the unit joins the QA unit at sister studio Raven Software in the Game Workers Alliance.

“We knew we were gonna win, but it’s still extremely exciting and gratifying, especially because tomorrow marks the first anniversary of when we started organizing,” Amanda Laven, a QA tester in the Albany division said in a statement to the Post. 

The vote comes after Activision Blizzard made attempts to delay or halt the process, citing concerns that the entire company should be allowed to vote on whether to form a union. Labor analysts previously told the Post that such tactics are often used in the hope of diluting the voting pool and preventing organization.

Both the QA unit and Blizzard have five days to appeal the vote, and Blizzard already told employees they may seek other avenues to impede the unit’s organization.

“It is more fair and valid if the whole team has an opportunity to decide,” Blizzard leadership said again in an email to employees, according to the Post.

One Blizzard Albany employee who works in a different division told reporter Shannon Liao they were glad the QA team voted to unionize, since QA testers are almost always paid significantly less than their colleagues in other departments, and not just at Activision Blizzard.

“Unionization is an important step to countering the rampant greed that plagues the upper echelons of the tech industry, our government and the world at large,” they said.

Written by Josh Broadwell on behalf of GLHF

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The Callisto Protocol review: Overcomplicated horror action

The Callisto Protocol uses horror fundamentals to fantastic effect, but eventually slides too far into action with overcomplicated combat.

As a large mechanized platform whirrs into life and sends me hurtling toward my next near-death experience, a horrifying two-headed monster pops up and attempts to make me its breakfast. How do I – the protagonist of this review – react? Do I let out a frightened cry, or lean forward for an adrenaline-fuelled battle?

Nope. I just sigh. I’m sad to say that by that point in The Callisto Protocol’s latter half, I was thoroughly over it.

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The Callisto Protocol Jacob Lee

It’s a shame because the first half of The Callisto Protocol is a brilliant game. As you start making your way through the bowels of this massive prison on one of Jupiter’s moons, it’s a thrilling experience.

Such simple horror techniques are employed to great effect. Corridors are dark and claustrophobic, enemies leap out with little anticipation, and you slowly watch as this pristine institution becomes warped and corrupted by this horrific infection.

The soundscape is fantastic, and one of the game’s strongest points. Bumps in the distance will keep you on edge as you slowly wander, giving you an intense feeling that you’re always on the brink of being attacked. When the creatures finally do come after you, their feral growls and cries are grating on the ears in just the right way, fitting their mutated appearance as their bodies slowly rot away.

The Callisto Procotol C

It knows when silence is just as terrifying too. It creates the perfect pace as those bumps fade, leaving you with just the sound of your own footsteps. Then, as enemies come into view, you hear their growls, and you have to make yourself quiet, letting the tension ramp up until it finally bursts as you get spotted and have to fight. Then, later on, you’ll be thrown out into a blizzard and the situation will flip, with the environmental noises obscuring the sounds of the creatures that threaten you.

The combat is a lot of fun in these early hours too. The combination of the melee weapon, ranged weapon, and grav gun gives everything a really nice flow as you rapidly switch between all three to defend yourself. It mimics the panic of suddenly being attacked as you frantically use every tool at your disposal.

It’s a lot to think about, but dodging and blocking are simple enough, with you needing to move the analog stick from side to side to avoid a strike. When I was facing these early enemies, I was having so much fun with it.

callisto protocol

That isn’t entirely a good thing, though. I found that I was so capable of defending myself, with so many effective tools at my disposal, that the horror started to fade away. I wasn’t limited in any meaningful way, and so it started to feel more like an action game, with the long dark corridors just serving as a waiting time before the next combat encounter.

The longer the game went on, the further it slid into action territory, and this is where the problems start to show. As the enemies got stronger and harder to deal with, things got frustrating.

As much as I liked the combat system initially, it has some pretty major flaws. Firstly, it only really works in a one-on-one situation. If you’ve got a horde of enemies around you, then there’s very little you can do about it because you can’t see what they’re doing, and thus can’t dodge. Enemies off-screen seem to only attack you very rarely, which helps, but eventually there’s just too much to focus on and you can’t deal with it all.

The Callisto Protocol has a podcast to tell the horror game’s prologue: A man wearing a spacecuit with a bronze visor looks at the screen while a giant human with an unhinged jaw stands behind him

There are stealth mechanics, so you might think you can pick off some enemies to avoid overwhelming situations. It’s a nice thought, but it very rarely works. One reason is the fact that it’s a coin flip whether the enemies around you will remain painfully oblivious to the lengthy and noisy stealth-kill animation, or if they’ll be instantly alerted and start attacking you before the animation is even finished.

The other reason is that the game loves spawning more enemies to charge at you mid-fight, so even if you do carefully start eliminating them, the room will suddenly fill up out of nowhere, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

The other major problem with the combat system is that, in the late game, it is seemingly at odds with the enemy designs. You start getting enemies that can kill you in one hit and are virtually impervious to melee attacks. The solution, you might think, would be to switch to ranged attacks, but surprise, they can one-shot kill you at range as well, and those attacks are even harder to avoid.

You’re not given much recourse at that point, you can use the grav gun to buy you a few seconds or throw them into the abyss if you happen to be near a large drop, but that’s not an exciting way to solve the problem. Then you have to worry about your ammo and hurriedly switching between guns – which is unnecessarily fiddly – and suddenly the dodging and blocking that I described as “simple” earlier require a third hand to execute effectively.

The Callisto Protocol A

Even then, there are great things that make me want to overlook these problems. The level design is just varied enough to keep me engaged, and the pacing is masterful, knowing exactly when to put its foot down and slowly let off the gas.

If these problems with the combat had only presented themselves a couple of hours before the end of an overall solid experience, I would’ve forgiven them. They don’t, though; they start to show up about halfway through a 14-hour experience that left me in such a bad mood by the end.

While we’re on the topic, 14 hours is too long. Even if you rush a bit, the game will be about 12 hours which feels like it goes well past the peak of excitement. I’m glad they gave the story room to breathe, but it isn’t interesting enough to carry the last few hours, where I was just waiting for it to be over. I can’t help but feel I would’ve been far kinder about the game’s flaws if it was a tight 8-10 hours instead.

If you’ve been craving a survival horror experience like Dead Space, then there’s a lot you’ll like about The Callisto Protocol, but it’s not the glorious savior you might have been hoping for. With the Dead Space remake a little over a month away, it’ll be interesting to see these two games side-by-side. I had originally thought The Callisto Protocol would win out, but now I’m not so sure.

Written by Ryan Woodrow on behalf of GLHF.

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Terrell Davis interview: ‘[Video games are] the only thing I have now’

Former Broncos running back Terrell Davis reflects on how NFL Blitz helps players, including him, live out their NFL fantasies

Each year’s Madden NFL adds new layers of complexity to managing your ultimate team or nailing down the right playbook, but few sports games capture the excitement and action of arcade football like NFL Blitz. The Blitz franchise’s more recent entries might not have found eager audiences, but Arcade1Up recently brought the classic NFL Blitz games back in a big way with the NFL Blitz Legends arcade cabinet, a collection including NFL Blitz, NFL Blitz ‘99, and NFL Blitz 2000: Gold Edition. 

Former Denver Broncos running back Terrell Davis joined Arcade1Up to help promote the new cabinet and spoke with us about what makes these Blitz games so appealing over two decades later, along with what it’s like stepping back onto the digital field.

“It takes me right back to 25 years when it first came out and just loving how different it was, Davis says. “It was football, but a little bit more animated, a little bit more exciting, with a little bit of trash talking. And it just had action, not like a regular football game where you have to wait. You can speed the game up and it’s just constant.”

Davis especially appreciates the throwbacks to football as it was during the height of his career, from fields that had actual dirt to the retro uniforms, and the rankings that captured an athlete’s performance at the time. Those rankings don’t always align with how players view themselves and their colleagues, though.

“I don’t agree with all the rankings,” Davis says. “Some of them could be higher, but it’s still fun to revisit those days.”

Davis’ favorite team is, naturally, the Broncos, and he says the Blitz version of himself is “pretty good.” More importantly for Davis, who suffered a serious knee injury in 1998, playing as the ‘90s version of himself offers a chance to recapture the feeling of being on the field again

“I think ‘If this could be true, if I can run like this in real life,’ and kind of live through this game,” he explains. “[Since] I don’t play anymore, that’s the only thing I have now – just playing through the game.”

While it may be a vicarious experience, Davis believes it’s still important and imparts a kind of joy only video games can provide. He feels strongly that playing something like NFL Blitz is more than just sitting or standing there with a joystick. It lets players live out their fantasies and feel like an NFL player themselves, even if they never step onto a real-life field.

Davis says the “fantasy” part is even more enjoyable since it lets you do things you could never get away with on an actual pitch.

“If you can’t run it, drag somebody 50 yards down the field – as you’re getting hit, the ball’s flying all over the place,” he laughs. “Some of those plays kind of push the envelope and [are what] make this game so unique and fun.”

And, of course, there’s the added benefit of Davis literally seeing himself in the game. 

“That’s been one of the coolest parts,” Davis says. “I remember just seeing myself [for the first time] in an NCAA college game. It didn’t have my name. It just had a number, number 33 And I was like, ‘Wow this is pretty cool!’ And then when I got to the pros, the models improved, and you actually see your image in a game. That’s one of the coolest things ever.”

Davis believes lower barriers of entry make football games such as NFL Blitz welcoming to more people as well. Instead of having multiple tasks and players to keep up with, formations to plan, and some of the other complications in more involved NFL games, you can just jump in and go. 

This greater accessibility made it easier for Davis to teach his own son how to play Blitz, and he hopes it inspires others as well.

“If people are playing this game, they’re becoming football fans, even if they’ve never played before or even like football,” he explains. “A lot of times, that’s how you start in sports, so I’m glad to be a vehicle for that here.”

Written by Josh Broadwell on behalf of GLHF

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Shaq bet Charles Barkley $5K he couldn’t ride a kids’ bike and it was the lock of the night

Chuck vs. bikes — the content you didn’t know you needed.

It’s hard to nail bets nowadays.

Just last night, the LA Clippers trailed the Portland Trail Blazers by 18 with over three minutes remaining in the third quarter and ended up knocking off Portland, 118-112. A night before that, the Los Angeles Lakers led the Indiana Pacers by 17 points during the fourth quarter before losing on an Andrew Nembhard buzzer-beater.

But instead of placing bets, watching others do the wagering might be more fun. For example, last night on TNT’s Inside the NBA, former NBA superstars Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley made a friendly wager. Shaq bet Chuck $5,000 that Barkley couldn’t ride a kids’ bike.

No, I am not making this up. Here’s proof:

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Would Chuck have had more success on the adult-sized bike? Perhaps! But he never stood a chance against the training wheels.

Shaq ended up with the lock of the night on national television.

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