After taking a long break from making gaming notebooks, HP finally got back in the saddle last year when it unveiled the Omen, a slim gaming laptop priced at $1,500. It generally earned respectable reviews on account of its stylish design and decent performance, but had lots of competition at that price, and its rivals often won when it came to sheer horsepower. To cover its bases, then, HP announced the Pavilion Gaming notebook, which starts at a more palatable $900 -- and might have fewer competitors at that price.

The wait is almost over, Star Wars fans: a new Battlefront is almost upon us. On Thursday, EA will open the Star Wars: Battlefront beta to all players, giving the gaming community it's first mainstream taste of online competitive multiplayer Star Wars since 2005. Can't wait? Tune in to Engadget Playdate at 6PM ET (3PM PT) on, the Engadget gaming homepage and right here -- Tim Seppala and I made a deal with Jabba the Hutt and nabbed a few PC and PS4 beta codes early. Play your cards right (by answering stupid questions in our chat) and one could soon be yours.

What would happen if you took the large, open-world chaos that defines the Far Cry series, removed the guns, vehicles, modern weapons and political character motivations? You'd have Far Cry Primal -- a survival epic staged in a re-imagined stone age. It's a different, but intriguing idea. The player takes on the role of Takkar, a lone hunter trying to survive on his own in the savage land of Oros. Really, the trailer says it all.

You can't enjoy retro games without digging the music, and a YouTube video (below) shows exactly how those tunes evolved. As explained by the 8-Bit Guy and Obsolete Geek, early PCs and Apple machines used "beeper speakers" that were driven strictly by your computer's CPU. Those only produced crude sounds, because forcing the CPU to do more actually hurt gameplay. Computers and consoles eventually got dedicated sound chips, but each used a different number of "voices," producing the distinctive differences between, say, a Nintendo NES and a Commodore 64 system.

One of Microsoft's most exciting products to date is HoloLens, and today the company revealed a new mixed reality game for the headset called Project XRay. The title was developed internally, according to Executive VP of the Windows and Devices Group Terry Myerson. Similar to the Minecraft experience on HoloLens, Project XRay also looks incredible -- particularly because you can turn most any room into your own gaming canvas. Here, though, you're wearing a holographic weapon on your arm, which you'll need to defend yourself from an attack of flying robots. Once they crawl out of the walls, you can shoot lasers at them -- yes, lasers. "Holograms behave just like real objects; they can interact with environments and with each other," said the Microsoft representative on stage about Project XRay.

You'd think that since Amazon owns Twitch, Fire TV devices would be the lead platform for its apps but that isn't the case. However, the latest update for the streaming service favored by gamers on Bezos' set-top box is pretty significant and mirrors a lot of what's available on the console and mobile apps. It even outdoes them in a few ways. Of course you can watch plenty of live streams and the top games being played, but the update also brings in profile pages so you can check out exactly who those broadcasters are and check out their archived videos while you're at it.

Ever notice that conspicuous green glow radiating off of Deadmau5's desk during his Twitch streams? There's a reason for that. It turns out the artist has been working with Razer to help launch a new music service -- one tailored specifically to promote and educate artists that use the company's gaming hardware for music production. It's called Razer Music, and it launches today.

How do you get your Splatoon fix when you're away from your Wii U? With SplatNet -- the game's newly christened web portal, of course. Okay, it's not actually that new: Japanese players have had access to the website for months, but Nintendo only just recently got around to translating the portal for international audiences. It's a convenient online hub that lets users check their weekly ranking, plan future matches with friends, view equipped gear and more.

Destiny is getting microtransactions. Unlike item cool-downs or the obnoxious stuff that's intrinsic to all those Facebook distractions that clog up your news feed, however, these purchases aren't game-impacting. No, come October 13th they'll take the form of emotes and other cosmetic items. Developer Bungie stresses repeatedly that these will not impact your performance in any way should you not buy them. "You won't lose a Crucible (adversarial multiplayer) encounter or fail to clear a raid because you didn't have the right" emote equipped, the blog post says.

"Drums are hard."

That was the verdict from my boyfriend after a raucous night playing Rock Band 4 with a group of friends. He's a guitarist, in both the physical and digital realms, and to him, Rock Band 4's drums are an anomaly. The rhythms are somehow tricky and repetitive at the same time; landing the bass pedal takes nearly perfect timing; it's a big rig that requires big motions; and the entire instrument takes a ridiculous amount of coordination. This is why my boyfriend doesn't enjoy playing the drums in Rock Band 4 -- and it's precisely why I love it.

Xbox One Controller

Xbox One users will be able to transplant one button's function to another -- without having to stump up money for a fancy new Elite controller. While that controller costs $150 (with other reasons that might warrant a purchase), Mike Ybarra, Microsoft's Director of Program Management, replied to a user to announce that new config options will come to all controllers soon -- something that is already possible on the PS4's standard peripheral. We'd wager that the settings will come alongside that tasty Xbox 360 backwards compatibility feature, coming this November.