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9 great reads from CNET this week

We play Cyberpunk 2077 and the VR version of Myst, delve into the energy costs of the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S, and consider what facial recognition has in store for 2021.

This is a happening time of year for video games. It's the holiday shopping season, which means lots of gift-giving involving consoles, games and accessories -- including, if you can snag one, the big next-gen systems: the PlayStation 5, the Xbox Series X and the Xbox Series S.

As for games, a hot new arrival is Cyberpunk 2077, an epic adventure seven years in the making. Our Dan Van Boom says it "delivers a playground so expansive you could play until actual 2077 and still probably not see everything" -- and he offers a list of 9 things he wished he knew before he started in. Meanwhile, Scott Stein considers the new VR version of the classic game Myst; playing on the Oculus Quest 2, he says, "makes Myst feel more like a living world."

And Jackson Ryan has done a deep, deep dive into how much energy you'll burn for every hour you play, and what that means for climate change. Hint: "Sony and Microsoft have built the most energy-intensive game consoles to date."

Those are among the in-depth features and thought-provoking commentaries that appeared on CNET this week. So here you go, these are the stories you don't want to miss:

Xbox Series X, PS5 and the climate crisis: The carbon cost of next-gen

Sony's and Microsoft's monolithic new consoles are designed to power a decade of play -- but are they sustainable?

PS5 and Xbox Series X

Cyberpunk 2077: An enormous game that lives up to enormous hype

Commentary: After more than seven years of anticipation, Cyberpunk 2077 launches Thursday. It's everything fans hoped it would be.

Johnny Silverhand in Cyberpunk 2077
CD Projekt Red; screenshot by Dan Van Boom/CNET

Japan's asteroid sample returns home, poised to reveal solar system's secrets

Hayabusa2 delivers ancient samples to Earth, ending a historic, six-year mission to asteroid Ryugu.

Hayabusa2 return capsule blazing across the sky above Coober Pedy, South Australia

The sample return capsule blazing across the sky above Coober Pedy, South Australia.

Morgan Sette/Getty Images

Facebook chased lie after lie after lie in 2020

The pandemic, US elections and outrage over racial injustice created a perfect storm for social media misinformation.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies remotely as Senator John Kennedy listens

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies remotely as US Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) listens during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in November titled, "Breaking the News: Censorship, Suppression, and the 2020 Election." 

Getty Images

Google's 2020: Search giant clashes with DC over antitrust, misinformation

After feuding with its employees, Google is now crossing swords with lawmakers and regulators.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai testifies on screen before a congressional hearing
Getty Images

Myst has arrived in VR, and it's a perfect fit

The classic game comes to Oculus Quest, and it's great. But I really want a new sequel.

Video game Myst in virtual reality
Cyan Worlds

AirPods Max hands-on: Apple's $549 headphones raise the noise-canceling bar

They cost a small fortune, but so far, we're impressed.

Apple's AirPods Max headphones
David Carnoy/CNET

How World of Warcraft keeps its story straight

A "signature story" across games, books and comics. A team of in-house historians. A corkboard and lots of string. Herein lies a tale of lore and order.

World of Warcraft exiles reach dungeon
World of Warcraft/Blizzard Entertainment

Facial recognition's fate could be decided in 2021

A number of lawsuits and legislative measures mean the debate over the use of facial recognition is poised to ramp up. 

Facial recognition
Malte Mueller/Getty Images
Now playing: Watch this: Cyberpunk 2077 has its glitches, but still worth playing