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Gaming and esports influencers and executives dish on their most dreaded video game bosses



Gaming and esports influencers and executives dish on their most dreaded video game bosses

As executives flow in from the media, entertainment and sports sectors, the proportion of genuine, dyed-in-the-wool gamers occupying leadership positions at gaming and esports companies declined in recent years. Influencers are gaming less, too, with popular streamers such as Ludwig Ahgren spending less time simply playing in front of an audience in favor of MrBeast-style content creation.

Still, gamers form the nucleus of the gaming and esports community, and bona fide gamers are still very present at all levels of the industry. In gaming and esports marketing, authenticity is key, and lifelong gamers understand the community better than anyone.

As shown by the success of Elden Ring this year, challenging, narrative-based titles are still ideal for many core gamers. Digiday reached out to 14 prominent executives and influencers in the gaming and esports industry to ask about their most dreaded video game boss — and why.

Here’s what they said:

Activision Blizzard vp of global business research and marketing (and author) Jonathan Stringfield:

“A riddle: What do you call it when you are stuck in a tiny room with a giant bug who can almost instantly squash you? Answer: A health potion chugging competition, which is indeed the only viable strategy for fighting Duriel, a Diablo 2 boss that was inflicted upon us all once again with Diablo 2 Resurrected. The fact that Duriel is the ‘Lord of Pain’ seems fitting, as he is by far the most painful part of the game — I’d rather go toe-to-toe with Diablo himself.”

Annie Scott Riley, CMO of esports company Version1:

“I am still mad at Rennala, Queen of the Full Moon in Elden Ring. In her first phase, before you can damage her, you have to attack these army-crawling, occasionally levitating ‘scholars’ who are chucking books at you. This isn’t particularly difficult once you understand the warning signs for falling chandeliers — chaotic much? Then, in her second phase, you’re transported to this moonlit, magical realm. It’s distractingly majestic, and her spells are crazy; she summons shadows of other bosses to gang up on you.

“I’ll be honest, I couldn’t solo her at all, but with the help of a kind stranger to divert her attention, I was finally able to take her out. Unfortunately, a millisecond later, I was hit by her final sorcery, which meant I absorbed her runes and then died — in the realm of the second phase. Which can never, ever be accessed again. So I won, but I lost everything I came in with, plus whatever I would have earned. Nightmare fuel. Miyazaki is a magnificent madman.”

Twitch streamer and YouTuber Hannahxxrose:

“My most dreaded video game boss is definitely the Ender Dragon in Minecraft. It’s super daunting to fight and is a big risk to lose your loot, especially if you’re speedrunning the game. Despite me playing the game for 8 years now, I’ve only ever defeated it once — and I needed help from some friends!”

Josh “Caru” Glodoveza, VP of talent at Fanjoy:

“For me, it’s the Wall of Flesh from Terraria. Imagine a literal wall of flesh with multiple bloodshot eyes, and eyes with a mouth and sharp teeth. It spawns in the underground and will chase you till the very end of the game’s map, until there is no room left to escape. I feel it’s a great metaphor for life, about being put into corners and bealaning forced to make do with the situation you are in. Although it’s the final boss before the game goes into Hardcore and opens a whole array of even harder challenges. To me, that sounds like going into adulthood. I can face some of the biggest challenges right now, but it doesn’t mean they will stop coming, and I just have to adapt and take it day by day.”

Brian “Saintt” Baroska, head coach of the Call of Duty League’s Minnesota Røkkr:

“One of the hardest bosses I’ve ever faced was the optional boss Sigrun in the most recent God of War game. That boss gave me so much trouble to the point that I lowered my game difficulty from hard mode all the way down to easy after dying 100-plus times.”

Twitch streamer and Evil Geniuses team member ARUUU:

“I think my most dreaded boss of all time is Lady Yunalesca from Final Fantasy X. I often wonder if it’s because I was a child when I played the game, or if it really was just that difficult. I remember crying to my brother to beat it for me, because I had been stuck on it for days. Overall, though, she’s pretty difficult, and felt nearly impossible to beat. Even my brother was getting frustrated and annoyed with it.”

Mark Flood, director of North American operations at Astralis:

“Literally any Elden Ring boss, because I never beat any of them.”

(As a follow-up:) “F Elden Ring.”

Michael Ashford, CEO of the Esports Awards:

“Whitney’s Miltank [from Pokémon Gold and Silver] still gives me nightmares from my childhood; the impending doom as Rollout continued to work its way through my under-prepared team taught me some valuable life lessons.” (Disclosure: This boss is this Digiday reporter’s pick, too.)

Washington Post games reporter Gene Park:

“It’s Sword Saint Isshin, the final boss of Sekiro. I spent almost an entire week trying to beat him, an experience so draining that it almost turned my feelings on the game inside out. I don’t want to revisit Sekiro now that I know he’s waiting. I just couldn’t get the timing perfect enough for as long as the fight demanded. It’s not a fight I want to experience again, and I’ve only played Sekiro once more since.”

Paul Mascali, head of esports and gaming at PepsiCo:

“Personally, my most dreaded boss would be Jack of Blades from Fable. I always struggled with the second phase of that boss fight. Took me hours to finally beat it!”

Cory Vincent, vp of integrated solutions at NRG:

“For me personally, Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! was the original Dark Souls. No matter how young I was, or how old I get, I just don’t think I’ll ever have the skills or reflexes to beat him.”

Steven Salz, CEO and co-founder of Rivalry:

“Back in the vanilla World of Warcraft days, it would be Onyxia for sure. This is the first years of WoW, where only one or two guilds had cleared it in the server. The Ventrilo coordination days. I’d say it was dreaded because it was complex to get a 40-person raid to do everything they were supposed to do, and it would reset for a week if you failed. Everyone wanted the drops, so just the anxiety of winning the roll as well if your class item dropped. Just a stress-fest.”

Twitch streamer (and 2K NextMakers mentor) Mitsu:

“Most dreaded in-game boss? Half-Life’s last boss, The Nihilanth. An imposing and challenging last boss, capable of teleporting you to dangerous side rooms, summoning powerful floating enemies, and having a very difficult to access weak spot — there is no more fitting a last boss after traversing the already notoriously difficult world of Xen.”

John Jung, vp of operations and studio at Evil Geniuses:

“Literally every boss in Witcher 3 terrified me. I could not play this game at night.”

Gil Hirsch, CEO and co-founder of StreamElements:

“After hitting all the combos at Horizon Forbidden West’s Training Pits, The Enduring reminded me what a great boss fight was all about: an endless loop of taking a beating, incremental improvements, false hopes, setbacks, repeat. Until you land that final blow, thrilled and exhausted.”

Joshua Brill, head of marketing at Fnatic:

“To be completely honest, the final Doctor Neo Cortex boss scene [in Crash Bandicoot] wasn’t the hardest — evading the voodoo mask spirits Aku Aku and Uka Uka by jumping around and eventually spinning Doctor Neo Cortex down a wormhole — but it still sticks in my mind as a final boss that made me sweat a lot at 10 years old. The climatic metal music will always make it timeless for me!”

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Microsoft Teams is finally fixing this ear-splitting annoyance




Microsoft Teams is finally fixing this ear-splitting annoyance
Four people in a meeting room video conferencing with four remote participants.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

One of the most irritating (and slightly painful) parts of joining a Microsoft Teams call could soon be fixed by a new update.

The video conferencing service is a popular choice for many companies, meaning calls with large numbers of participants joining at the same time, and from the same location (such as a meeting room) are a common occurrence. 

However, often when multiple people join a meeting in the same room, a feedback loop is created, which causes echo, which in most cases quickly escalates to howling – with Microsoft likening the noise to when a musician holds the mic too close to a loudspeaker.

Teams’ howling

Fortunately, a new fix is coming for Microsoft Teams users. In its entry in the official Microsoft 365 roadmap (opens in new tab), the new “Ultrasound Howling Detection” describes how it aims to prevent this noise for users on Windows and Mac across the world.

Microsoft says that the update should mean if multiple users on laptops join from the same location, it will share with the user that another Teams Device is detected in their vicinity and is already joined with audio to the current meeting. 

If a user has already joined with their audio on, Microsoft Teams will automatically mute the mic and speakers of any new the person who then joins the call, hopefully putting an end to the howling and screeching feedback.

Thankfully, the update is already listed as being in development, with an expected general availability date of March 2023, so users shouldn’t have to wait too long to enjoy.

The news follows a number of recent updates largely aimed around improving the audio quality on Microsoft Teams calls using AI and machine learning.

The new updates are the result of using a machine learning model trained on 30,000 hours of speech samples, and include echo cancellation, better adjusting audio in poor acoustic environments, and allowing users to speak and hear at the same time without interruptions.

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Mike Moore is Deputy Editor at TechRadar Pro. He has worked as a B2B and B2C tech journalist for nearly a decade, including at one of the UK’s leading national newspapers and fellow Future title ITProPortal, and when he’s not keeping track of all the latest enterprise and workplace trends, can most likely be found watching, following or taking part in some kind of sport.

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Shazam! Fury of the Gods trailer breakdown: 6 thing you might have missed




Shazam! Fury of the Gods trailer breakdown: 6 thing you might have missed
Shazam points at someone off camera in Shazam! Fury of the Gods

Shazam! Fury of the Gods lands in theaters on March 17.
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

The final trailer for Shazam! Fury of the Gods has debuted online – and it looks even more charming, funnier, frenetic, and darker than its predecessor.

Shazam’s sequel flick arrives in theaters worldwide on March 17, so it’s about time we were given another look at the forthcoming DC Extended Universe movie (read our DC movies in order guide to find out where it’ll fit in that timeline). Luckily, Warner Bros. has duly obliged. Check it out below:

Okay, there’s some messy CGI and a slightly corny vibe about Shazam 2. But hey, the first problem can be ironed out before the superhero film takes flight, while the latter is part of what makes this movie series spellbinding (see what we did there?).

But we digress – you’re here because you want to find out what you missed from Shazam! Fury of the Gods‘ new trailer. Below, we’ve pointed out six things you might have overlooked. So, what are you waiting for? Shout “Shazam!” and let’s dive in.

1. Who are the Daughters of Atlas?

Kalypso hands Hespera the wizard's staff in Shazam! Fury of the Gods

New movie, new villains. (Image credit: Warner Bros.)

For a film centered around Shazam, we don’t actually see the titular superhero appear in the official trailer for the first 20 seconds.

Instead, we get another glimpse at Fury of the Gods‘ villains, aka the Daughters of Atlas. The powerful trio comprises the power-hungry Hespera (Helen Millen), dragon-riding Kalypso (Lucy Liu), and Athena (Rachel Zegler), the latter of whom seems particularly torn about how the sisters are going about their business.

So, why are they gunning for Shazam and his superpowered foster siblings? Essentially, when Billy Batson was gifted his abilities by Djimon Hounsou’s wizard in the film film (available now on HBO Max), one of those powers was the Stamina of Atlas. The Daughters of Atlas aren’t too happy about their father’s ability being passed down to a child, so they want to take back what is theirs – and they’ll do it so by any means necessary.

2. Mythological monsters

A dragon prepares to breathe fire at one of Shazam's fellow heroes in Shazam! Fury of the Gods

Shazam isn’t the only person taking flight in Fury of the Gods. (Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Shazam’s first DCEU outing featured some horror-imbued creatures in the form of the Seven Deadly Sins. How, then, do you go about topping (or, at the very least) matching what came before? Throw in a bunch of myth-based monsters, of course.

Kalypso’s imposing dragon is the most notable inclusion. It feature prominently throughout the trailer, and we even get an amusing Game of Thrones reference from Shazam – “Hey, Khaleesi!” – in the movie. Hey, Warner Bros. loves to mention its suite of IPs in as many of its films as possible.

But Kalypso’s wyvern isn’t the only fairy-tale-based beast we see. Minotaurs, griffons, and demonic unicorns are just three of the other monsters who’ll turn up in Fury of the Gods. Basically, don’t expect this to be an easy fight for Shazam and company to save the world.

3. You can’t get the staff these days

Hespera uses the wizard's staff as Kalypso looks on in Shazam! Fury of the Gods

“So I just point it and then what?” (Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Saving earth from a new titanic threat will be even harder when Shazam’s adoptive family are stripped of their powers, too. And it seems that the staff, which was wielded by Hounsou’s wizard in the first movie, is the key to giving and taking those abilities away.

In 2019’s Shazam!, the titular hero gave powers to his foster siblings to help him combat the Seven Deadly Sins and Doctor Sivana. They’ve still got those power in Fury of the Gods, too, but they won’t have them for long, based by what the trailer suggests.

The footage shows Freddy Freeman and Mary Bromfield being drained of their abilities by the Daughters of Atlas at various points. The trio are using the wizard’s staff to rob the teens of their powers, so it’s clearly of major importance to the movie’s main players. 

Later, we see Shazam wielding it – not before he asks the wizard to take his powers back, mind you, when he becomes convinced he can’t defeat the Daughters of Atlas. Anyway, Shazam’s brandishing of the staff suggests he needs it to boost his own abilities if he’s going to defeat the movie’s antagonists and give his siblings their powers back. Expect the staff to play a vital role in Fury of the Gods‘ plot, then.

4. Prison break

Djimon Hounsou's wizard blows som magic dust out of a prison window in Shazam! Fury of the Gods

Time to break out, Mr. Wizard. (Image credit: Warner Bros.)

In order to get the wizard’s staff, it seems the Daughters of Atlas go after Hounsou’s magic wielder to obtain it.

We see Hounsou’s character imprisoned at various points, including a shot of Hespera chastising him for giving the power of the gods to Billy, Freddy, and company. “You ripped it from our father’s core,” she tells him, which implies Hounsou’s wizard might not be as mighty and heroic as we were led to believe.

Anyway, Hounsou’s wizard interacts with Shazam later in the trailer, so he clearly escapes captivity. Whether he does so alone, or he enlists Shazam’s help – does that magic-infused dust, which he sends through his prison cell window, have something to do with it? – is unclear. Regardless, we’ll see Hounsou’s character break out at some stage.

5. Is that you, Doctor Strange?

Shazam flies past some rotating buildings in Shazam! Fury of the Gods

Where have we seen this kind of aesthetic before? (Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Remember when we said Zegler’s Athena doesn’t seem as keen to destroy earth as her sisters? That’s because, at the 1: 14 mark, we see her use her powers with a uncertain look on her face. You wouldn’t look like that if you were convinced you were doing the right thing, would you? 

Based on the fact she’s pushed away by Kalypso (using the staff no less), seconds later, it seems she’ll be swapping sides at some stage.

Interestingly, it seems the wizard’s staff can do more than give or take a person’s powers away. One perceived ability certainly has an air of the Doctor Strange/Marvel-based mystic arts about them. Just look at the Escher-style nature of how the scenery bends and folds in on itself when Athena is pushed back, and when Shazam evades numerous buildings at the 1: 44 mark. We’d be very surprised if DC and Warner Bros. didn’t take a leaf out of the MCU’s book with such an aesthetic.

6. Light the way

Shazam prepares to fight Kalypso and her dragon in Shazam! Fury of the Gods

A yellow bolt out of the blue. (Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Shazam and his fellow superheroes get a costume upgrade in Fury of the Gods. The group’s threads are more streamlined and less plastic-looking this time around, which is pleasing to see.

Fans had been worried, though, that these suits wouldn’t feature one of the first movie’s most underrated (if somewhat tacky) aspects: the glowing lightning bolt on Shazam’s chest. Shazam’s costume in the 2019 movie was manufactured in a way that allowed the bolt to physically light up, avoiding the problem of having to add awkward lighting effects during the post-production phase.

Thankfully, Shazam! Fury of the Gods‘ official trailer confirms that Shazam’s lightning bolt will glow. However, given the sleeker look of the costumes this time around, it appears that the illumination effect has been added in post. Regardless of how it’s been implemented, we’re just glad it’s a feature that’s been retained.

For more DCEU-based coverage, find out where we placed 2019’s Shazam! in our DC movies ranked article. Additionally, read up on the best superhero films of all-time or check out how to watch the Batman movies in order.

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As TechRadar’s entertainment reporter, Tom covers all of the latest movies, TV shows, and streaming service news that you need to know about. You’ll regularly find him writing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, and many other topics of interest.

An NCTJ-accredited journalist, Tom also writes reviews, analytical articles, opinion pieces, and interview-led features on the biggest franchises, actors, directors and other industry leaders. You may see his quotes pop up in the odd official Marvel Studios video, too, such as this Moon Knight TV spot (opens in new tab).

Away from work, Tom can be found checking out the latest video games, immersing himself in his favorite sporting pastime of football, reading the many unread books on his shelf, staying fit at the gym, and petting every dog he comes across.

Got a scoop, interesting story, or an intriguing angle on the latest news in entertainment? Feel free to drop him a line.

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You can lock Chrome incognito tabs on Android now. Bring it to the PC!




You can lock Chrome incognito tabs on Android now. Bring it to the PC!

Chrome logo on a phone with a lock image over it

Image: Deepanker Verma / Pexels

Author: Alaina Yee
, Senior Editor

Alaina Yee is PCWorld’s resident bargain hunter—when she’s not covering PC building, computer components, mini-PCs, and more, she’s scouring for the best tech deals. Previously her work has appeared in PC Gamer, IGN, Maximum PC, and Official Xbox Magazine. You can find her on Twitter at @morphingball.

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