Ten years ago, multiplayer-only games went through a severe identity crisis. More people than ever were gaming together, but they were increasingly playing online only. The small-stakes joy of twitchy experiences like Street Fighter II and Super Off Road, games meant to be played in short sessions preferably in the same room, weren't feasible anymore. Video games have always been expensive to make, so multiplayer modes had to either come packaged with other content -- consider Halo's famed multiplayer tucked alongside its single-player story -- to flesh them out or be custom built to serve hardcore players meeting up on the internet, a la Team Fortress 2, Valve's modern-day equivalent to the easy-access multiplayer of yore.

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Am I "good" at games? I don't know.

I'm 30 years old: I've been playing video games for 25 of those years, give or take, and covering games professionally for just over six years. I spent two weeks this year completing Mega Man 1 through 4. I've sunk hundreds of hours into Spelunky. Whether I'm "good" at games is up for debate; I love challenging games. Despite this, I've never loved the divisive, feverishly adored/hated Souls games (Demon's Souls, Dark Souls 1 and 2). Their challenges felt too great to overcome, their systems too inscrutable, their technical issues too great in number. They felt frustrating instead of challenging.

Bloodborne -- the latest entry in the series and the first without a "Souls" moniker attached -- changes that. This is a game I love to hate. But I mostly just love it.

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I'm not sure which is more impressive: the fact that the Archer series creators went through so much trouble to create such an elaborate Easter egg or the fact that someone was actually able to crack the multiple mind-bending puzzles needed to reveal it. And from the looks of things, we haven't even come close to the bottom of this rabbit hole.

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"I've never experienced war myself," Hajime Tabata, director of Final Fantasy Type-0, told me in an interview this past January. We were discussing why his new entry in Square-Enix's nearly 30-year-old role-playing game series often feels like a cross between The History Channel and Ridley Scott's Legend. "I haven't killed anyone or been killed. But through documentaries you can get a true feeling of fear and despair and the impact of war even if you haven't directly experienced it."

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Pixels is a live-action movie about an alien-controlled cadre of classic video game characters wreaking havoc upon humanity by turning everything they touch into, well, pixels. It's based on the charming 2010 short by the same name that Sony thought would make a great feature-length movie starring Happy Gilmore (Adam Sandler) and Paul Blart (Kevin James). A mulleted Peter Dinklage is along for the ride too, in what looks like a less challenging role than his voice work in Destiny was. His character bears more than a passing resemblance to Dog the Bounty Hunter, because sure why not? At one point, Pac-Man's creator Toru Iwatani (played by Denis Akiyama) gets his hand chomped off by the big yellow guy himself. And just when I thought it couldn't get any more stupid, out came trite "homages" to iconic scenes from Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Independence Day. All this to say: The movie looks absolutely abhorrent.

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With 20 million-plus PlayStation 4 consoles sold to date and over 80 million PlayStation 3s in homes worldwide, Sony has plenty of reason to make Vue, its TV-streaming service, a cornerstone of the platform. The subscription-based service, which officially launches today in New York, Chicago and Philadelphia, is more than just a Sling TV clone, too. Vue offers not only a mixture of live and on-demand content from cable networks like Discovery Communications (e.g., TLC, OWN, Animal Planet) and NBCUniversal (e.g., Bravo, CNBC and E!), but also broadcast TV from NBC, CBS and FOX. And thanks to cloud storage, PS Vue also features what Sony's calling a "virtually unlimited" DVR. It's the company's take on a streaming experience that "redefines television."

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The history behind Nintendo's flip-flop on mobile gaming

Did you hear the one about Nintendo "never" putting its content on mobile platforms? About how Nintendo makes its own hardware specifically intended to cater to its software? About how it would dilute those "brands" (think: Mario, Zelda, Donkey Kong) to put them on hardware other than Nintendo's?

Clearly Nintendo isn't so worried about that, as it announced plans last evening to work with Japan mobile game giant DeNA on moving its many brands over to mobile. Or, as Nintendo describes the relationship: a "business and capital alliance to develop and operate new game apps for smart devices and build a new multi-device membership service for consumers worldwide." Sounds like a blast!

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Virtual reality was the belle of this year's Sundance Film Festival. Immersive exhibitions displayed on face-hugging headsets told powerful stories in lifelike worlds, in 360 degrees and with the viewer in control of the camera. Virtual reality brought Syria to an audience in Utah and made those same people fly like birds over San Francisco. Blogs and news programs lit up with stories about the future of storytelling, some including grand predictions about VR films going forward. But, now, the buzz is fading and a question remains: Do filmmakers in Hollywood think that virtual reality is the future of cinema?

"No. I don't think so."

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Upgrading my living room with the Sonos Playbar and Sub

For a long time now, I've been reading (and writing) about Sonos' audio devices, filled with jealousy toward anyone who could afford to spend more than just a few minutes with them. Sure, I've briefly tried them at trade shows, but to really judge the merits of audio gear like the Playbar and Sub, you need the proper amount of soak-time. Well, I finally got my chance. Over the last two months, I've been using the basically $1,400 pair ($699 each) in my living room to handle audio from my TV and also play a little music. With an easy setup and stellar sound quality, it's easy to become smitten with Sonos. Indeed, it didn't take long before I was hooked.

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Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate on the Nintendo 2DS

It was roughly two months ago that I received a midnight email from our gaming editor Ben Gilbert. The subject: "Review Code -- Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate for 3DS." The email: "Assuming you want this?" I didn't. Sure, I'd played an older Monster Hunter on the Wii a few years back, but I gave up 15 hours in, shortly after the grueling tutorials ended. I've always felt like I should be into the series, though. I'm into RPGs; I'm into grinding. I use up the precious few vacation days I have crawling through Persona Q's dungeons or leveling up familiars. So I decided to offer up 100 hours of my free time to see if I could learn to love Monster Hunter. I tried so hard to love it.

But I failed.

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Why is Valve getting into virtual reality? Why is Valve making Steam Machines and the Steam Controller? Why did Valve make its own Linux-based operating system? Why did Valve make the Steam Controller? Why is Valve releasing its game engine, Source, for free? It's the Steam economy, stupid!

Valve's game store boasts "over 125 million active accounts worldwide." How does Valve keep growing that store? By literally everything else it does. Here's Valve president Gabe Newell explaining it to us last week at GDC 2015:

"We're trying to build standard interfaces and standard implementations that other people can use. Because, to be honest, we're going to make our money on the back end, when people buy games from Steam. Right? So we're trying to be forward-thinking and make those longer-term investments for PC gaming that are going to come back a couple years down the road."

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It's time have your voices heard. In the dog-eat-dog world of technological innovation ... Ok, ok, enough with the K9 metaphors. Let's just get to the point: Nominations for the 11th Annual Engadget Awards end at midnight PT tonight. We've given you a head start with a few suggestions, but feel free to write in your own in the ballots below -- if you haven't placed your votes already. You don't have to make nominations in every category, but selections should be for products available in 2014.

We'll announce the winners during a very special awards ceremony on March 25th. Let's just say the competition is rrrrruff ...

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Alex Schwartz expected robes. His development studio, Owlchemy Labs, received a cryptic email from Valve, one of the largest and most mysterious companies in the gaming industry, on an otherwise normal day in October: The message contained a secrecy agreement, plane tickets and the vague assertion that this was all about something related to virtual reality. Owlchemy responded with suspicion and intrigue. "What the hell is this? Who's coming? What is this all about?" Valve responded, "We can't say anything more. Just come."

So, Owlchemy did.

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With the exception of some special internet offers, until now the (legit) way to get HBO has been straightforward -- order it from your cable company along with a big TV bundle. Today, Apple and HBO took a leap over that paywall by announcing their partnership to launch the internet-only HBO Now. The only problem? That combination brings its own set of restrictions, and if you want a way around them, then help could come from a most unlikely source: your cable company.

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