With all the loot box shenanigans we’ve witnessed this year, you might have, while searching for more information, accidentally stumbled across something by the name of Loot Crate. Unlike the reviled loot boxes, Loot Crate isn’t a digital gambling scam. Instead, Loot Crate is a physical, subscription-based mystery box you receive in the mail that contains a bevy of geek-related material. Moreover, Loot Crate isn’t the only available service. Alongside the vanilla Loot Crate Classic, the Loot Crate company supplies geeks with anime-themed items with Loot Anime, gaming swag with Loot Gaming (Loot Crate also sells Halo, Minecraft, Fallout, Call of Duty, and Destiny 2 themed boxes), and film/TV merchandise with Harry Potter, Firefly, Marvel, and Star Trek themed boxes. Loot Crate also has a rival in the form of Geek Fuel, which is more expensive than Loot Crate Classic but contains more (and more expensive) merchandise. While I don’t have a Geek Fuel box to compare to a Loot Crate, I received a different subscription box for Christmas, The Curiosity Box. This mystery box is a joint venture between the company behind Geek Fuel and the YouTube Channel VSauce, which is admittedly cool. So, without further ado, let’s get into what sets apart a Loot Crate from a Curiosity Box and determine which is right for you.
WHAT’S THE SAME
On the surface, Loot Crate and The Curiosity Box seem similar. They arrive in big cardboard boxes and contain random items. Well, not precisely random; each box focuses on a different theme, and the items provided center around that theme. While a lot of geeks subscribe to these boxes for various bits of swag, perhaps the biggest draw is the exclusives. The companies behind these subscription services make deals with other firms to create unique pieces of merchandise that are literally impossible to find anywhere else, aftermarket/marked up eBay sales notwithstanding. Some of these exclusives are just color variants of readily available products, such as a glow in the dark Funko POP Groot figure and orange Quantum Mechanix Tribble.
Most exclusives, however, aren’t available elsewhere in any other form and include items like the The Walking Dead art print, the Yeti temporary tattoo, the tower of magnetic rings, and “collectible” pins.
Furthermore, while most exclusives are decorative, some are practical items, such as a pen shaped like the Sledge Saw from Dead Rising 3 and light-up beverage coasters with periodic symbols.
Finally, these subscription boxes have some of the most awesome, exclusive, geeky shirts this side of ThinkGeek or Hot Topic.
The exclusive items tend to be the best pieces of merchandise in each box and are usually worth the price of the subscription alone. Usually.
Let’s get this out of the way: the most obvious differences are the prices and subscription models. Loot Crate Classic is about $20 per box and comes once a month, while The Curiosity Box is well over $50 and arrives once every three months. More importantly, these boxes are designed for two completely different audiences. The Loot Crate (and likely by extension Geek Fuel) is aimed primarily at adults or older teenagers and provides geek-related decorations and practical items, such as the Dead Rising 3 pen, Star Wars and Deadpool fridge magnets, and a Mega Man car air freshener.
Also, Loot Crate tends to include non-exclusive products that are part of a series. Case in point, during my brief stint with Loot Crate, I received (among other things) a Kidrobot Glow in the Dark Ooze Action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle vinyl figure and a Funko ReAction Alien figure. I got Donatello and the titular Alien, respectively, but I easily could have found Leonardo or Ripley in my Loot Crate subscriptions instead. However, since The Curiosity Box is almost exclusively made up of exclusive items, there is no element of randomness and everyone receives the same merchandise.
While Loot Crate caters to the video game, movies, comics, television, and everything pop-culture side of geekdom, The Curiosity Box is more science oriented and is designed for the family. For example, parents who bought the Summer 2017 Curiosity Box got to enjoy a t-shirt, a set of periodic table beverage coasters, a magnetic ring tower, a t-shirt, and a Nikola Tesla (as a sloth) enamel pin, while children will have fun with a temporary tattoo, a unique embroidered sticker patch, a solar system wall decal and poster set, a mobile microscope, and a castle cross-sections book. Finally, the Summer 2017 Curiosity Box came with the Universe Sandbox 2 Steam game, which is fun for all ages.
Since each Loot Crate and Curiosity Box contains new themes and items, you might find the contents of one particular box more to your liking than another. For example, one Curiosity Box contained a “grow your own glow in the dark crystals” kit, while another included a plush of The Curiosity Box’s mascot, the orange octopus Inq. Meanwhile, past Loot Crates have contained a Batman mug, a Doom Marine Funko POP figure, and the One-Punch Man manga.
While I only have personal experience with Loot Crate and The Curiosity Box, they are not your only options for subscription boxes. Geek Fuel is another decent mystery box, and it has come with its fair share of good products, including a South Park: The Fractured But Whole shirt, a Loony Toons Kidrobot blind box vinyl figure, and an exclusive Legend of Zelda pixel sword power bank. While I cannot recommend the Loot Crate, Curiosity Box, or Geek Fuel (or other) subscription boxes enough, you should research each to know what you should expect from these services. Sure, you technically can’t know what to expect since each box is supposed to be a mystery, but look into each specific subscription and figure out which one is right for you. Which do you think tends to have the best exclusives? Which box caters to your interests? These questions are important and will severely impact your enjoyment. Of course, luck also plays a big role, but that’s also part of the fun.
4 Most Interesting Crossovers in Gaming
Gaming crossovers are a great way to bring in new people and drive up interest in a title. With that being said, crossovers aren’t as rare as they once were. More and more gaming companies are now embracing crossovers, to the point that some may say that it has lost its appeal. And while this is true to some degree, there are still crossovers that are really effective when it comes to adding a whole new dimension to a game. To prove our point, we’ve put together a list of five of the most interesting crossovers.
Forza Horizon 4: Halo
Forza Horizon 4 is the eleventh installment in the Forza series. The Forza series is known for its ability to emulate realistic racing conditions and offer accurate representations of real-world cars. And while they’ve partnered with car manufacturers before, Forza Horizon 4 features one of the most interesting collaborations in the entire series.
For a series that prides itself on realistic racing, Forza also knows when to cut loose and have a little fun. Nothing exemplifies this more than the Halo crossover that features Master Chief and the iconic Warthog.
Fortnite: Travis Scott
Fortnite is no stranger to crossovers. But if we had to pick one as the most interesting it would have to be the Travis Scott concert. Not only did this crossover include custom skins and emotes but it also paved the way for one of the most unique digital experiences of 2020.
The Verge’s article on the Travis Scott crossover details that the crossover included an interactive digital concert that turned the Fortnite island into a music stage. What’s great about this crossover is that it hints towards a future wherein music and video games will be working hand in hand to deliver immersive musical experiences to millions of people from all over the world.
Merge Dragons: Rick and Morty
When you think of the popular TV show Rick and Morty, a fantasy puzzle game isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. This is what makes this Rick and Morty crossover so interesting. The sheer absurdity of this crossover shows what gaming collaborations can achieve when one thinks outside the box. The game features original dialogue spoken by the characters that matches their characteristics from the show. It is a fun addition to the puzzle game.
However, this crossover shouldn’t be too surprising as Rick and Morty have appeared in other games, demonstrating how they have become pop culture icons. The comic nature of the duo makes them perfect for every type of genre, including slot games. Foxy Bingo’s pop cultured-themed slots include an official Rick and Morty game that features the iconic imagery and characters from the show. The show has also produced its own game in the form of the Pokémon-clone Pocket Mortys. One thing that all of these games have in common is that they maintain the show’s penchant for fun and wacky adventures. This is seen in Merge Dragons with the exclusive cow-dragon hybrid featured in the crossover event.
Mortal Kombat 11: Rambo
While crossovers in fighting games aren’t exactly new, Mortal Kombat has always had a knack for creating interesting crossovers for their iconic fighting game. One way that they’ve done this is with the inclusion of popular film characters. The franchise has had everyone from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Jason of the Friday the 13th franchise appear in their games.
However, the latest iteration of the game may have topped all of the previous crossovers. This is because Mortal Kombat 11 features John Rambo of the legendary Rambo franchise as one of its available fighters. To add to this, CNet’s article on Mortal Kombat 11 details that Sylvester Stallone voiced the digital John Rambo. This is certainly a treat for fans of the popular action film franchise, as they can finally play as one of the most influential action heroes of all time.
Google Drive will Shut Down in 2018
It seems like yesterday when Google introduced Google Drive 5 years ago. Back then, people didn’t have a good grasp about what Cloud Storage did. Nowadays, there are many Cloud Storage services that it’s only a matter of preference to choose one for your file keeping needs. However, what struck me as an oddity was how Google Drive will pull their Google Drive service come 2018.
That’s right, Google Drive will completely shut down on March 12, 2018. With the software no longer being supported on December 11, 2017. People will have several warnings about this, for now, so they will have plenty of chance to switch to the new version of Drive, Backup and Sync.
This new program is basically a combination of the features between Google Drive and Photos. It’s readily available now for Windows and OSX systems and will be the new host for the Cloud storage. Alternatively, users can get a hold of Drive File Stream, which will become available on September 26, 2017.
The core differences between DFS and BaS come when you compare how they help customers. As shown in the image below:
A day without Google Drive.
It seems like users will have their first experience without Drive today though. Because as of this morning, the service was down for many users who constantly used the GSuit app. According to the independent site Downdetector, more than 7,000 users are experiencing issues with the service. This has been going on since 10:04 AM EDT, but the number of reports has been lowering afterward. You can check the stats here.
It’s a shame to see Google Drive go. To be frank, it was my preferred Cloud Storage option besides MEGA. However, it’s not a huge inconvenience considering they are not shutting down a Cloud Storage service altogether. So we at least have that.
Avast vs Bitdefender: battle for best free Antivirus
It’s the nightmare scenario. You’ve spent an evening browsing the less wholesome corners of the Internet and you think you might have picked something up. Your computer is running slowly, a strange dancing lady keeps appearing on your task bar and you keep getting redirected to strange websites. This all could have been avoided if you’d just had a good antivirus. The recent rise in cyber crime has made malware protection more important than ever. Unfortunately many providers ask for a subscription fee. Luckily for all us cheapskates/broke people among us there are plenty of free options out there. A lot are fairly useless but there’s two worth your time. It’s Avast vs Bitdefender in the battle for the best free antivirus.
Can a free anti-virus program really be trusted?
Free anti virus programs sometimes have a bit of a bad reputation. Many of them amount to little more than advertising platforms that provide little in the way of useful protection. In fact sometimes it can feel like the free anti-virus is worse than the viruses it is supposed to protect you from. The fact is that a free antivirus will always lack the features of their paid counterpart.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t still get top notch protection. Many of the best paid services do offer free version that provide pretty solid protection. Think of it as a sort of demo. They’ll give you the basic protection that you need to stay safe but if you want access to the advanced features you’ll need to pay up.
We chose our two champions based on two of the most common suggestions. The stage is set, it’s Avast vs Bitdefender. So how do the competitors measure up in the battle for the best free antivirus.
Avast is a household name when it comes to free antivirus. It has consistently rated highly on free antivirus lists. Their 2017 free version comes packed with a whole host of features that go above and beyond what you would expect from a free package.
Before we get into those free features let’s answer the important question. How well does Avast protect you from Malware? The answer to that is, pretty effectively. Avast 2017 has received positive feedback from a number of independent testing labs. AV-Comparatives gives Avast two advanced and two advanced + ratings, which is a fairly impressive result. Not all results are as good with AV-TEST only giving Avast a score of 15.5/18.
These ratings show that Avast free ships with some fairly comprehensive malware protection with some minor drawbacks, usually related to performance. The free version can protect against various types of Malware and can even help to defend its users from Potentially unwanted Programs (PUPs). It handily detects and shuts down pretty much ever kind of Malware lurking out there.
Avast is also excellent at helping to protect you from phishing attacks. Phishing attacks have been used in many high profile breaches recently, including NotPetya. Phishing is tougher for an antivirus program to deal with because it relies on tricking the user into believing that a fake website is legitimate. Avast’s anti-phishing tools work on all three of the major browsers (IE, Firefox and Chrome) and it displays a semi-transparent logo telling you that the site is unsafe.
Avast Free comes with an impressive array of extra features at no additional cost
Avast free really ups the game with a pretty impressive suit of free features that you wouldn’t expect it to ship. These range from the wifi-scanner to password scanners. Some of these “bonus features” require a purchase in order to utilize all of the bells and whistles but the stuff on offer is still impressive.
Avast’s password manager is one of the more surprising inclusions. While not as comprehensive as a dedicated offering it should still be sufficient for the majority of users. It will handle any basic password management problems that you throw at it. It will help you create a really solid master-password (Hint: Think passphrase). You can then use this master program to access all of your other passwords. Once these are added Avast will then let you add your passwords and automatically fill them in when you revisit a new site. It can even warn you about weak or duplicate programs.
Another strong feature that might tip the scales for Avast vs Bitdefender is the wifi inspector. Contrary to what the name suggestions, it can inspect any kind of Internet connection, wired or wifi. Basically it checks the security of your network and gives you a report on the security status of all your devices. If it finds a problem it will flag it and then give you suggestions about how to improve your security.
Avast also comes with a whole host of other small features. It can check for typos in your website address, block unwanted trackers, flag any unsafe websites and even has it’s own “safe browser” for when you are using your card or bank account. Basically, Avast comes packed to the brim with features.
Avast takes the kitchen sink approach
Avast free offers excellent protection and a huge number of features for free. You will have to deal with the odd nag screen and it may attempt insert itself into your email signatures, although there’s an easy fix. You will of course get more features if you opt for the pro version but it’s not strictly necessary unless you really want a few extra features.
BitDefender is another free antivirus that regularly scores high in tests and that is often recommended as a solid choice. It doesn’t come with Avast’s bells and whistles but its virus protection is one of the best free products on offer today. Is that enough to give it an edge over Avast?
Bitdefender free might lack many features of the commercial version but it uses the exact same anti-virus software. This means that Bitdefender is boasting some of the best free protection on offer right now. So how does it compare to Avast?
Bitdefender has received positive ratings from a range of independent labs. AV-Comparitives has given them an advanced+ rating in every single category, which is more than a little impressive, especially for free software. It also got strong ratings from AV-test, scoring 17.5 out of ten, which blows Avast out of the water. That said, the difference isn’t that big but it does give Bitdefender a bit of an edge.
Bitdefender’s primary strength lies in its incredibly good anti-phishing software. Bitdefender has some of the best anti-phishing software out there and it is in part due to the way that it protects users. Not only does Bitdefender search for a database of phishing websites it also does its best to protect users from other kinds of scams and fraud, such as dating scams or escrow scams. The free version will just tell you that is blocked a phishing attempt but it does provide you with the same protection as the paid.
Bitdefender free takes a slimmed down approach by only offering basic protection
Whereas Avast throws features at its users Bitdefender free keeps things simple. What you get is a simple clean interface that will let you protect your computer from any threats. No more, no less. If you don’t want a whole host of other features and you’re just after comprehensive solid anti-virus protection then your best choice is definitely Bitdefender. It might be slim but it’s definitely effective.
Avast vs Bitdefender, who wins the battle for the best free antivirus
There isn’t really a clear cut answer to this question. Both Avast and Bitdefender fit into their own niches that will appeal to different kinds of users. Which one is best for you will really depend upon what you want out of your free antivirus.
Avast certainly has the edge when it comes to the features on offer. It ships with a solution for just about every problem. Some users may find many of the features unnecessary and will feel as though Avast is a little bloated.
Bitdefender on the other hand ships with nothing but the bare bones protection that you need. It also has an edge over Avast when it comes to protecting you from phishing scams, even if the two have comparable protection against Malware.
In the end, when it is Avast vs Bitdefender your victor will be heavily down to personal preference. Both services are excellent at what they do and are aimed at very different audiences so it will depend upon your needs.
That said, this is a battle and there needs to be a winner. I prefer a simple approach and so Bitdefender edges this one out with a technical victory but there is almost nothing in it.
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