Detroit: Become Human review: Robotic in all of the wrong ways

Enlarge / You can practically hear the dramatic music swelling in this screenshot, can’t you?

For a game so focused on presenting a seamless interactive cinematic story, the most striking thing about Detroit: Become Human is its exposed seams.

Like the world’s most slickly produced choose-your-own-adventure book, the latest David Cage game lets you play with narrative conventions and mess with the inherent connective tissue of the story in some intriguing ways. But that underlying story ends up so fragmented, so poorly executed, and so clunkily written that it’s very difficult to appreciate the narrative playspace.

An unbelievable future

The year is 2038, and the city of Detroit is the center of a new manufacturing renaissance thanks to the creation of believable intelligent human-shaped androids. The world has been transformed by the existence of subservient machines that can do anything a human can do and more.

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Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 review: Meet the child of Intel and AMD’s unholy union

Samuel Axon

This new Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 is the first convertible in the XPS 15 line, but that’s not the most interesting thing about it.

Since 2010, Dell’s XPS 15 has been a reliable, 15-inch performance workhorse and a light gaming option for users who aren’t impressed by the over-the-top designs of dedicated gaming laptops. Last year’s model, for example, impressed with strong performance from the discrete GeForce GTX 1050 GPU. But discrete GPUs have many downsides. They take up space, use lots of energy, and generate a lot of heat, which impacts both portability and battery life.

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A dozen years after near-death, Star Trek’s future may be stronger than ever

On May 13, 2005, Star Trek: Enterprise ended its four-season run with the controversial two-part finale, “These Are the Voyages… ” The finale infamously brought in cast members from The Next Generation to tell the final chapter in Enterprise’s story, and it was viewed by some as a disrespectful and ignominious end to 18 almost-unbroken years of Trek on the small screen.

Generously put, many fans considered this a low point in the franchise’s history. With Enterprise, some fans blamed the anemic finale on the series’ often-uneven writing. Others blamed Rick Berman, who had been Star Trek’s Nerd-in-Chief since Gene Roddenberry’s passing in 1991. And still others blamed the rise of “darker” and more heavily serialized sci-fi fare like Battlestar Galactica (although BSG showrunner Ron Moore first dabbled in this style, largely successfully, in the latter seasons of Deep Space Nine).

But no matter who

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Xbox Adaptive Controller: A bold answer to the tricky world of accessible gaming

A look inside the Xbox Inclusive Tech Lab as they reveal their new controller with improved accessibility. (Captions available.)

REDMOND, Washington—The Xbox Adaptive Controller (XAC), slated to launch “later this year,” looks almost incomplete at first glance. The clean, confusing-looking slab, nearly the length and width of an Xbox One S, has no joysticks. The usual selection of Xbox inputs has been reduced down to a few menu buttons, a D-pad, and two black, hand-sized pads.

Don’t let the pared-down design fool you. The XAC is one of the most unique and widely useful control tools Microsoft has ever designed, and it seems poised to change the way many players interact with the games they love.

Sam Machkovech

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Porsche’s Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Sport Turismo is a heck of a hybrid

Jonathan Gitlin

In the next few months, Porsche is going to launch the Mission E, a sleek and powerful electric vehicle that might just be the most competition the Tesla Model S will have faced to date. However, the company has been electrifying some of its range for some time now.

We’ll have to wait a while for better battery tech before we get a plug-in hybrid EV (PHEV) 911, Boxster, or Cayman, but Porsche’s Panamera and Cayenne range are available now with a side helping of lithium-ion. The first PHEV Porsche appeared in 2014 in the second-generation Cayenne. It impressed us when we tested it last year, beating less powerful plug-in SUVs from BMW and Volvo when it came to fuel economy and driving fun. But the boffins in Stuttgart have been tinkering with their PHEV tech, adding more kWh, horsepower, torque, and generally refining all the software and

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Nintendo Labo tests, part one: Robot Kit’s cardboard stomps are fun but shallow

Sam Machkovech

There’s a lot to unpack with the build-your-own-controller series of Nintendo Labo kits. Figuratively, the two boxed releases, dubbed Variety Kit and Robot Kit, include many opportunities to build, play, experiment, and learn, and that’s worth exploring. Plus, they have to be literally unpacked before you can even get started—because you have to clip a zillion cardboard pieces together to turn your Switch into a range of weird toys.

As such, my colleague Kyle Orland has taken his time to play with the Variety Kit since its April 20 launch, specially because he has invited his young daughter to participate. Nintendo Labo absolutely screams parent-child participation in its advertisements, packaging, and in-game presentations, and it opens up the opportunity for families to build weird stuff like a functional piano, a motorcycle, and a Tamagotchi-like cardboard house.

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Remediating Fukushima—“When everything goes to hell, you go back to basics”

TEPCO

Seven years on from the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 2011, Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has come a long way from the state it was reduced to. Once front and center in the global media as a catastrophe on par with Chernobyl, the plant stands today as the site of one of the world’s most complex and expensive engineering projects.

Beyond the earthquake itself, a well understood series of events and external factors contributed to the meltdown of three of Fukushima’s six reactors, an incident that has been characterized by nuclear authorities as the world’s second worst nuclear power accident only after Chernobyl. It’s a label that warrants context, given the scale, complexity, and expense of the decontamination and decommissioning of the plant.

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The Ars Technica Mother’s Day gift guide

Enlarge / We’re guessing Fitbits will be a pretty popular gift this Mother’s Day, at least as far as gadgets go. (credit: Valentina Palladino)

We won’t knock anyone who treats their mom to a brunch date, a box of chocolates, or some jewelry this Mother’s Day. But being a collection of tech-obsessed androids, we’d be remiss not to argue that the right gadget can make a more lasting and practical impact on Mom’s everyday life.

We’re still working on our mind-reading device here at Ars HQ, so for now, you know your mom better than we do. If she likes her current routines, don’t try to force some new gadget into her life just because you think it’s cool. But if she has room for a new piece of tech—or just wants an update to an old one—we have a few ideas for you, the nerdy child, so you can

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Ars Technica System Guide, Spring 2018: The show-your-work edition

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty)

In the December 2017 System Guide, we discovered the unexpected. Given the bevy of pre-built computing devices now available, there’s a lot of debate and confusion about building one yourself these days. What’s the goal behind a custom PC build in 2018? What makes a certain hardware choice “right” to support that?

So rather than starting 2018 with a traditional guide—where Ars presents three build ideas and a set of specific hardware to accomplish each—we’re going to take a step back. This will be more of a meta-guide than an actual guide; we’re going to share the methods and mechanics behind putting together your favorite long-running PC building guide. So while this guide will build from a set of three major system design goals like always, this edition will go through each major PC hardware component one by one, focusing more on ideology

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Block 5 rocket launch marks the end of the beginning for SpaceX

Enlarge / SpaceX has tinkered with its Falcon 9 rocket for a decade. Now, it says it’s done. (credit: SpaceX)

Less than eight years after its maiden launch, the Falcon 9 booster has become the most dominant rocket in the world. Modern and efficient, no rocket launched more than the 70m Falcon 9 booster launched last year. Barring catastrophe, no rocket seems likely to launch more this year.

In part, SpaceX has achieved this level of efficiency by bringing a Silicon Valley mindset to the aerospace industry. The company seeks to disrupt, take chances, and, like so many relentless start-up companies, drive employees to work long hours to meet demanding engineering goals.

While founder Elon Musk’s ambitions to settle Mars get most of the public’s attention, the company’s workhorse Falcon 9 rocket, which never leaves Earth orbit, is the reason SpaceX has soared to date. And on this vehicle, Musk’s

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Oculus Go review: The wireless-VR future begins today for only $199

Enlarge / Facebook just announced the immediate retail availability of Oculus Go—and we’ve already had a week to test it. (credit: Sam Machkovech)

Surprise! Oculus released a new virtual reality headset today. The Oculus Go standalone headset is now for sale at Amazon, Newegg, and Best Buy starting at $199—yes, $199, with no other hardware required—following a retail-launch unveil at Facebook’s annual F8 conference.

What’s more, Oculus sent us a working headset last week for the sake of a review—and I have no shortage of thoughts about what Oculus has gotten right with its first “budget” VR product. Before I break down performance, software, features, and limitations, I want to set the scene by rewinding to another era in which a “futuristic” gadget sector began plummeting in price.

Let’s travel back to the very beginnings of the portable MP3 player market.

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Google I/O 2018 preview—What we’re expecting from Google’s big show

Enlarge

Google’s biggest show of the year, I/O 2018, will start up in just a few days. In addition to tons of developer talks, the show typically serves as a coming-out party for a bevy of Google announcements.

I/O hasn’t necessarily been your typical tech announcement event where months of pre-leaks reveal 90 percent of what will happen. But while we can’t know what’s coming for certain—everyone remembers those skydivers wearing augmented reality glasses, right?—we can go into this year’s show with a few informed predictions. Based on our analysis of evidence, past news, and Google’s usual release schedules, here’s what we’re expecting at Google I/O 2018.

Android P Developer Preview 2

This first one is easy. Every year Google releases a new developer preview of Android at I/O, and Google’s own schedule says we’ll get a new developer preview in “May,” the same month as Google I/O. A

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The billion-dollar question: How does the Clipper mission get to Europa?

Enlarge / The politics of getting to Europa are anything but straightforward. (credit: NASA)

LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE, Calif.—At one end of the conference room, four large window panes framed a view of the San Gabriel Mountains. Outside, ribbons of greenery snaked across the hills, a vestige of spring before the dry summer season descends upon Los Angeles.

Inside, deep in discussion, a dozen men and women sat around a long, oval-shaped wooden conference table. They were debating how best to send a daring mission, known as Europa Clipper, to Jupiter’s mysterious, icy moon Europa. Although hundreds of scientists and engineers were already planning and designing this spacecraft, the key decisions were being made in this room on the top floor of the administrative building at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

It will not be cheap or easy to reach Europa, which lies within the complicated gravitational tangle of Jupiter

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God of War (2018): How to reinvent a beloved series without ruining what works

Enlarge / “It really has been a meaningful journey full of mutual understanding, hasn’t it son?” / “Dad, let go, I want to go play with my friends!”

Hey, remember Kratos? You know, Kratos… the bloodthirsty Greek god in the God of War series who slaughtered thousands upon thousands of victims, both mortal and immortal, with an icy cold heart largely devoid of mercy?

Well… get this. What if Kratos had a kid sidekick? And what if that kid was a sickly, sensitive weakling? Wouldn’t that just be crazy?

This concept drives the new God of War reboot for the PS4, and at the start it plays out a lot like the cringe-worthy, sitcom-level twist you’d expect from such a pitch. Kratos is now bearded, slightly more aged, and relocated to the cold and unfamiliar climes of Scandinavia. He’s paying his final respects to a wife we don’t

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The way we regulate self-driving cars is broken—here’s how to fix it

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty)

Last month, an Uber self-driving car struck and killed pedestrian Elaine Herzberg in Tempe, Arizona. The tragedy highlights the need for a fundamental rethink of the way the federal government regulates car safety.

The key issue is this: the current system is built around an assumption that cars will be purchased and owned by customers. But the pioneers of the driverless world—including Waymo, Cruise, and Uber—are not planning to sell cars to the public. Instead, they’re planning to build driverless taxi services that customers will buy one ride at a time.

This has big implications for the way regulators approach their jobs. Federal car regulations focus on ensuring that a car is safe at the moment it rolls off the assembly line. But as last month’s crash makes clear, the safety of a driverless taxi service depends on a lot more than just the physical

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Huawei Matebook X Pro review: No longer just a MacBook clone

Enlarge (credit: Valentina Palladino)

Last year’s Matebook X pushed Huawei further into the PC market than it ever had been before. While it had a design that allowed it to masquerade as a trendy ultrabook, it demanded quite a few compromises from users. Its sub-par battery life and too-little memory, among other shortcomings, made the Matebook X less attractive than its shiny exterior suggested.

Huawei zeroed-in on the shortcomings of the Matebook X with its successor: the new Matebook X Pro. On paper, the new laptop appears leaps and bounds better than the original: an 8th-gen CPU, a 3K touchscreen, an estimated 15-hour battery life, and even a discrete graphics card.

But beefing up the Matebook X Pro forced Huawei to make a few sacrifices. Thankfully, those sacrifices do not overshadow the well-executed improvements that make this device a more capable laptop than the original.

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How to keep your ISP’s nose out of your browser history with encrypted DNS

Encrypting DNS traffic between your device and a “privacy-focused” provider can keep someone from spying on where your browser is pointed or using DNS attacks to send you somewhere else. (credit: Westend61 / Getty Images)

The death of network neutrality and the loosening of regulations on how Internet providers handle customers’ network traffic have raised many concerns over privacy. Internet providers (and others watching traffic as it passes over the Internet) have long had a tool that allows them to monitor individuals’ Internet habits with ease: their Domain Name System (DNS) servers. And if they haven’t been cashing in on that data already (or using it to change how you see the Internet), they likely soon will.

DNS services are the phone books of the Internet, providing the actual Internet Protocol (IP) network address associated with websites’ and other Internet services’ host and domain names. They turn arstechnica.com

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HTC Vive Pro review: Eye-popping VR, with a price that’s a little too real

Enlarge / Blue is the new black. (credit: Kyle Orland)

Headset specs
HTC Vive Pro HTC Vive
Display 2880×1600 (1440×1600 per eye) AMOLED panels 2160×1200 (1080×1200 per eye) AMOLED panels
Refresh rate 90 Hz 90 Hz
Field of view 110 degrees 110 degrees
Audio Integrated adjustable earcups with 3D directional audio support; built-in microphone Audio extension dongle to plug generic headphones to headset; built-in microphone
PC connection Custom single-piece cable with PC junction box Three-part multi-cable (HDMI, USB, power) with PC junction box
Included Accessories None Two wireless motion-tracked controllers with rechargeable 960mAh batteries, two SteamVR 1.0 room-scale tracking stations
Included games Six-month Viveport subscription (offered until June 3) Fallout 4 VR, two-month Viveport subscription
Price $799 ($1,099 with two tracking stations, two controllers) $499

With the consumer-level virtual reality “revolution” now two years old, it’s about time to start thinking about what the second generation of

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Crafty new engine tech, two electric SUVs among best at New York auto show

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Jonathan Gitlin)

NEW YORK—The New York International Auto Show opened its doors to the public on Friday morning. In recent years, it has found its place as the most important of the American auto shows—Los Angeles and Detroit have been cannibalized by CES and preempted by foreign shows, all to the Big Apple’s benefit. This year’s event didn’t disappoint, as we discovered during the press preview days held earlier this week. There will be plenty more NYIAS content from us in the next few days, but let’s kick things off with our Best Of awards.

Outstanding in the Automotive Technology Field: Nissan VC-Turbo engine

Since this is a technology publication, I’ll begin with our award for the coolest technology on display. I was tempted to give the honor to Waymo, which has just partnered with Jaguar to build tens of thousands of self-driving

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