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This MSCHF Puzzle—and the Chance of $2 Million—Brought My Family Closer

This MSCHF Puzzle—and the Chance of $2 Million—Brought My Family Closer

Without a concrete reference image or a single context clue, every bit of progress is tentative. Should this red corner be in the foreground or the background? Is the next piece in this row going to be horizontal or vertical? Does this piece actually belong here or does it just happen to fit OK? It’s a stab in the dark. Every piece is a needle in a haystack that makes no sense. 

MSCHF says that even if some pieces are missing, or aren’t put together exactly how they should be, the big-picture QR code should still work. At this point, I’m not 100 percent certain whether any of the pieces are where they should be. Not even the edges. I wish I was joking. But solving this puzzle has become a matter of pride, and I’m motivated by spite as much as the potential winnings. 

Luckily, I’ve had backup—at least 10 family members, my best friend, my partner, one boisterous Boston terrier, and varying degrees of determination. It’s become a ritualistic bonding experience for myself and my loved ones worth more than $1, $30, or $2,000,000. Call it Stockholm syndrome, but this puzzle is one of my favorite things I’ve bought all year. As of publication, we’re about halfway through solving the first puzzle. The sweepstakes end in February 2024. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned about finishing in time.

Big Picture

This puzzle may be irritating, but it isn’t impossible. Others have solved it. We can solve it. Many a pep talk has been had. My mom has said many times, “We have to be smarter than the puzzle.” We’re smarter than the puzzle, right? 

Quickly after unboxing, the puzzle took a place of pride in the center of my parents’ living room. I’d come over to visit and ponder for a moment, putting a piece or two into place. Kids would emerge from their bedrooms to grab a snack and take a gander to try and fill a missing section. Small talk led to hours of conversations around a table, staring at a sea of blue with little black dots, trying to figure out how the pieces fit. I called my 9-year-old sister a psychopath—what kind of person puts together three pieces independent of an edge? My mom scoffed at me—what kind of person moves from one place to another instead of building methodically? (Note: She didn’t ask what kind of person calls a child a psychopath.) 

We laughed about what we’d buy with our winnings, despite “winning” in this context being defined as jumping for joy when we finally got a corner solved. I said I’d buy the lake house of my dreams; my brother said he’d buy the lake house of my dreams and invite everyone else over. We cursed our hereditary myopia and poor overhead lighting. We checked the time, saw it was 3 am, and swore we’d only work on it for a little bit longer. 

This puzzle gave my family something to do with our hands and minds during a particularly difficult chapter of our lives. When maintaining vigil during the last few days of my terminally ill grandmother’s life, she couldn’t respond, but the nurses said she could probably still hear us. The movies make it look easy, but in reality, filling the silence of a room for multiple days is difficult. There are only so many stories you can share, sentiments you can pass on, or passages you can read. We were at a loss for what to do or say. 

12 Best Wireless Gaming Headsets (2021): PS5, Switch, PC, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, Xbox One

12 Best Wireless Gaming Headsets (2021): PS5, Switch, PC, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, Xbox One

We’ve rounded up a wide selection of the best gaming headsets we’ve tried, but there are countless others on the market. Our list is great if you want recommendations so you don’t have to deal with combing through all the options. But if you want to explore for yourself, here are a few important things to look for in a good headset.

Audio quality: It seems like it would go without saying, but we’re saying it anyway: You can’t always tell from a spec sheet how a headset will sound. A well-made stereo headset can sound better than a poorly made 7.1 Dolby Atmos surround sound set. Check reviews to get a sense of how a headset performs in real life.

Surround sound options: Modern headsets have gotten very good at recreating or simulating surround sound in headsets with systems like Dolby Atmos for Headphones or DTS:X. These systems are particularly impactful in games where you want to be able to hear exactly where an enemy is firing at you from. Be sure you can turn the surround sound on or off.

Comfort: This is another subjective category, but if you’re going to wear a headset for hours while you’re gaming, it’s important that it doesn’t hurt. A heavy headset pressing against your temples can give you a headache after a while. Look for headsets that have adjustable, ergonomic designs, plenty of cushioning, and are generally lightweight.

An adjustable boom microphone: If you plan to use your headset for online gaming, a good microphone is important. Many headsets come with boom mics that can be positioned in front of your mouth. Some are removable, while others can simply be rotated or bent away from your mouth when they’re not in use. Make sure you get the kind that’s right for your needs.

Visible mic muting and indicator LEDs: It’s important to know when you’re broadcasting audio so you don’t accidentally share your private conversations with your teammates. Some mics mute automatically when you flip them upward, while others use a dedicated mute button. We particularly like headsets that include red LEDs that indicate when you’re muted, which can be helpful.

Mic monitoring so you can hear your voice: If you want to keep tabs on how you sound to your teammates, and not sound like you’re yelling while playing, mic monitoring is a feature that lets you hear your own audio through your headphones. Optimally, you can adjust its volume. When you listen to a podcast or radio talk show, chances are, those folks are using some form of mic monitoring so they can hear themselves as well as others.

Equalizer (EQ) and customization tools: Games, movies, and TV shows are mixed differently, and when you’re listening, you might want to emphasize different aspects of the audio signal. Custom EQ presets let you set different balances for watching a movie versus playing a game, or even have different balances on a per-game basis.

The Best Crossplay Games for Consoles and PC

The Best Crossplay Games for Consoles and PC

However, as shooter veterans know, playing with a keyboard and mouse provides a considerable advantage in terms of aiming. So if you’re on a console, you can choose to turn off crossplay and stick to players on your own platform. PC players, on the other hand, are stuck with the feature turned on, so just hope you’re better at clicking heads than someone with a control stick.

Genshin Impact  (Free)

Genshin Impact game artwork

Courtesy of miHoYo

In developer miHoYo’s action RPG gacha game Genshin Impact, players can join each others’ adventures to tackle challenges together by sharing a UID code. This works across all the platforms the game supports, including Windows, PlayStation 4 and 5, and Android and iOS. The company has also announced a Switch version but hasn’t announced a release window. When it does arrive, it should also be cross-compatible with all the other platforms.

Genshin Impact, somewhat uniquely, supports cross-saving as well. So if you decide to play on your phone for a little while, you can keep all your progress when you go back to your console. It’s a nice addition that makes this title one of those rare games where you can play anywhere with anyone and feel like you’re jumping into the same game.

Rocket League  (Free)

Rocket League game artwork

Courtesy of Psyonix

Psyonix’s Rocket League has proved that its concept of “What if soccer, but with cars?” is an enduring one. And thanks to using Epic’s Online Services platform, players on PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, or PC can all play together. Interestingly, PC players that play the game via Epic Game Store or Steam can participate in the cross-platform action, despite Steam being a rival game store to Epic. Who says we can’t all get along?

Fall Guys  (Free)

Fall Guys screenshot featuring characters running

Courtesy of Devolver Digital

When Fall Guys came on the scene, it was overshadowed by Among Us, but it has still maintained a healthy player base. This game is a battle royale—though the most adorable one you’ve ever seen—where 60 players compete in game-show-style obstacle courses and arenas to be the last person (er, jelly bean) standing. Best of all, it’s recently gone free-to-play, so you don’t have to spend a dime to try it out.

Overcooked! All You Can Eat  ($40)

Overcooked AYCE game featuring platforms in space

Courtesy of Team17

If you enjoy the chaos of working in a professional kitchen … well, then you’ve probably never done it in real life. Fortunately, Overcooked! All You Can Eat is a lot more fun than a real job. This game requires players to cooperate to prepare, cook, and plate food for customers in a rapid-fire environment. This version has added crossplay across a wide variety of platforms, so you can recruit chefs from just about anywhere.

No Man’s Sky  ($60)

No Man's Sky game artwork

Courtesy of Hello Games

For a game that began life starring an isolated spacefarer exploring a vast and unfathomably lonely universe, any kind of crossplay is already a significant change. But as Hello Games has continued iterating on No Man’s Sky, it has added online multiplayer features where you can bump into other travelers. You can interact with players across Windows, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PlayStation 4 and 5. (It’s also coming to the Nintendo Switch in 2022.) It’s not a huge amount of platforms compared to most other titles on this list, but given how unique this game’s development is, it’s a worthy addition.

14 Xbox Game Pass Games Worth Playing

14 Xbox Game Pass Games Worth Playing

Xbox Game Pass is one of the few subscriptions I’ve kept around while other services got the chop. The $15 monthly fee for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate feels worth it because I get to choose from over 100 titles and regularly download new additions. In a year the cost breaks down to about the price of three AAA games.

An Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription comes with access to EA Play and Xbox Live Gold. If you’re not interested in online multiplayer games, Microsoft offers a more budget-friendly tier that costs $10 a month. For gamers not on Xbox, PC Game Pass ($10/month) has many of the same titles. (Got a PlayStation or Switch? Check out our guide to the most popular game subscription services.)

To help you choose which ones to download first, WIRED sifted through the Game Pass catalog and rounded up outstanding titles we think you’ll enjoy. From recent releases to satisfying throwbacks, our genre-spanning picks for the best Game Pass games have a little something for all players.

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20 Outstanding Online Co-Op Games to Play With Faraway Friends

20 Outstanding Online Co-Op Games to Play With Faraway Friends

It is not always possible to round up your friends to play couch coop games, but there are a ton of titles that let you keep the fun going from afar. We assume you are familiar with classics like Minecraft, Fortnite, Among Us, Left 4 Dead 2, and GTA Online, so we have hand-picked a fresh alternative list of the very best online co-op titles.

Our picks cover all kinds of genres: squad-based ninja brawlers, first-person paranormal investigations, pixelated farming simulators, and many more. No matter what you and your friends are into, there’s a PlayStation, Xbox, Windows PC, or Switch experience listed here that’s worth checking out.

Updated May 2022: We added eight games, including Valheim, Phasmophobia, Gang Beasts, and Warhammer: Vermintide 2, and removed several titles. 

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