The Initiative’s first game is Perfect Dark!

Welcome back gamers! All the speculation about the first game being made by Xbox game studio The Initiative can finally be put to rest as it has been announced (during The Game Awards) that they are officially working on a new project simply titled Perfect Dark. Watch the video below and enjoy it.

For the newcomers reading this, The Initiative is a game studio that was established a few years ago to make high-quality video games for Xbox consoles and the Xbox ecosystem as a whole. While it took them two years to reveal their first project, The Initiative is very notable for having hired several high-profile talents. Previously I wrote about them hiring Lee Davis and Lauren Garcia from Sony’s acclaimed studio Naughty Dog.

The Initiative is one of the twenty-three game studios under the Xbox hierarchy. Right now there is pressure on Microsoft to release high-quality, exclusive games in 2021 and beyond so that the sales drive of the Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X can be sustained. 2021 will indeed be a crucial year for the Xbox ecosystem because by then the gamers’ demand for 1st party games will be great and expectations of high-quality gaming experiences, art and technical performance of games running on the Xbox Series consoles are inevitable. Such trends will continue beyond 2021.

The above video of the first unveiling of Perfect Dark looks really good and slick, and clearly the developers are trying to give it a distinctive look. It should be noted that Joanna Dark’s face was not shown. There is passion within The Initiative on reinventing the Perfect Dark franchise. Watch the official developer interview video below.

As you can see in the above video, the team is really aiming high on making the new Perfect Dark. They also have the hardware and tools to help them realize the high ambitions they have for the game. That being said, it will be a few years before that new game will be released. More on the upcoming game, pay close attention to the words of The Initiative leader Darrell Gallagher posted at Xbox.com. Here’s an excerpt:

With Perfect Dark, we’re aiming to deliver a secret agent thriller set in a near-future world.

We have built the Perfect Dark team at The Initiative by bringing in some of the most talented game makers from around the industry who all share a passion for storytelling, world-building and creating memorable game experiences. With the full backing from Xbox Studios to re-imagine one of the best loved IPs from gaming history, we couldn’t be more excited to share some of our early ideas.

While I never got to play a Perfect Dark game in the past, I am looking forward to the new game starring Joanna Dark. I hope to see the new game have a third-person view with gameplay laced with stealth, shooting and exploration. I also hope it will also have some fast-paced sequences of driving or flying that would put gamers into the heat of action. If the developers decide to present it as a first-person shooter, that would be fine with me. It’s nice to see that Microsoft decided to revive the long-dormant PD franchise (which they inherited after acquiring Rare in the early 2000s) and have The Initiative lead the way creatively. Now that the unveiling has been done, only time will tell how the game’s development will turn out during this pandemic.

In ending this, posted below are some gaming-related videos for your enjoyment.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

For more Xbox-related stuff, check out the Xbox Series Philippines Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/XboxOnePH

Largest launch in Xbox history declared

Welcome back fellow Xbox fans, geeks and gamers! The new generation of console gaming has begun with the twin-launch of the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S done around the world. Even though there were not too many images of gamers and long-time Xbox fans lining up at retailers or at special launch-related events to buy the new consoles (due to the pandemic which changed life and business the way we know it), the launch has been declared the largest in Xbox history.

On Twitter, Xbox chief Phil Spencer posted: Thank you for supporting the largest launch in Xbox history. In 24 hrs more new consoles sold, in more countries, than ever before. We’re working with retail to resupply as quickly as possible. You continue to show us the connective power of play is more important than ever.

As you can see above, Spencer declared the launch as being the largest just as he thanked those who supported it. While no sales figures were provided, he stressed that more new consoles were launched in more countries this time which means that they already exceeded the respective launch of Xbox One in 2013. In retrospect, Microsoft sold over a million units of Xbox One at launch.

The new generation of console gaming has officially started with Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S now making their way through retailers worldwide.

With regards to supply, Spencer stated that they will resupply their retailers so that those who failed to secure a unit at launch won’t be left behind. It should be stated that retail giant Amazon told a certain number of their customers that Xbox Series X units ordered through them won’t be available until the end of the year. It should be noted that Amazon itself is a rival a Microsoft’s when it comes to cloud-related business and making gaming available to billions of people around the world. Delays regarding the two Xbox Series consoles also hit Canada and the United Kingdom. When it comes to launching games overseas, Yakuza: Like a Dragon reportedly (note: local publication Game Watch the source) has been delayed. Team Xbox needs to work on these issues.

In relation to the launch, EA Play has been made available to Xbox Game Pass (XGP) ultimate subscribers. This means that the said subscribers who own Xbox consoles – including the brand new Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S – will be provided EA Play membership for free and this will enable them to are able to play many games. Think about the many sports games, first-person shooters, role-playing games (RPGs), racing games and many other games from EA being offered apart from the many games already listed under Xbox Game Pass own lineup. Definitely there is no shortage of games to play at launch and backward compatibility is also a factor. With regards to the Xbox ecosystem, XGP Ultimate subscribers will be able download and play games from EA Play’s library on their Windows 10 personal computers starting this December.

By the way, do you own a copy of the acclaimed Xbox One-exclusive Gears 5? The said game has been relaunched along with the Xbox Series consoles with technical optimization for the said machines. The main campaign of the game has been updated and includes Dave Bautista (presented as WWE’s Batista) as Xbox icon Marcus Fenix. This is the closest thing Xbox and Gears of War fans will have to a live-action movie adaptation. For the newcomers reading this, Bautista appeared in two Guardians of the Galaxy movies, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame and the James Bond movie Spectre.

More on Gears 5, the game takes advantage of the new technology of the Xbox Series consoles and this means heavily reduced load times, utilization of Quick Resume (now one of the most notable new features only on the new consoles), reduced input latency (meaning improved responsiveness), variable rate shading (a key feature of AMD’s RDNA 2) and the super smooth 120 frames-per-second frame rate in Versus mode. With regards to Xbox Series X, the game is presented in 4K resolution thanks to the Ultra-HD pack and Ultra-Spec graphics that were previously only made available to PC gamer. As if that was not enough, developer The Coalition prepared new features for the Gears 5 campaign, new achievements (worth almost 100 Gamerscore points), etc.

Gamers of Gears 5 transitioning from Xbox One consoles into Xbox Series consoles will be delighted to know that it will take only a push of a button to download the update and download the next-generation version of the game via Smart Delivery for free!

In relation to the availability of Xbox Series consoles, over forty new games (including 30 games optimized for the new generation) have been made available and Team Xbox made the effort to ensure that Xbox Series consoles owners will play the best versions of the games they owned (for consoles) across the generations. While a lot has been showcased about the acclaimed Forza Horizon 4 optimized for the new consoles, it should be noted that Halo: The Master Chief Collection has also been optimized and ALL Halo games have been improved to run at higher resolutions and higher frame rates as well. Being a long-time Halo gamer myself, being able to replay past Halo games way above the 30FPS limits alone is very enticing.

When it comes to the near future, be aware that starting November 18, 2020, cloud gaming will debut in Australia, Brazil, Japan and Mexico via the Project xCloud Preview program.

Project xCloud General Manager and Head of Product Catherine Gluckstein wrote: In each of these four markets we’ll begin with this Preview to test, iterate, and gather your feedback. And next year, we’ll move to the next step and bring cloud gaming to these markets as part of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate; this is an important step in our journey as we look to reach more gamers around the world. 

2020 has brought challenges to all of us, but we hope that cloud gaming simply opens up new ways for you to play when and how you choose. Enjoy Master Chief anywhere and everywhere when you play on your phone, get some laps in on Forza while someone else occupies the TV, or to try out a new-to-you Xbox game. Cloud gaming makes it possible to play those top titles on your Android phone or tablet. 

Come join us in Preview as we test and learn in Australia, Brazil, Japan and Mexico. During this Preview you’ll have access to a curated library of great games for free, including favorites from Xbox Game Studios such as “Minecraft Dungeons,” “Halo: The Master Chief Collection” and “Forza Horizon 4” in addition to some fantastic content from our partners such as “Black Desert,” “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds,” and “Yakuza 0.” 

Our Project xCloud Preview is currently supported on Android phones and tablets through the Xbox Game Streaming (Preview) app in the Google Play Store, available in English, Spanish, Portuguese and Japanese.

Anyone who wants to join can register online.  

Finally, GameSpot published a feature article highlighting their recent talk with Phil Spencer about Xbox and several related topics.

I find notable how the head of Xbox reacted towards GameSpot’s mentioning of a Bloomberg report which said that several developers in Japan have been approached by Microsoft about acquisition.

Let’s see how receptive gamers in Japan are towards the new Xbox consoles.

When asked if there was any truth to the report, Spencer responded: I don’t think so. I say, I don’t think so… I mean, I’m not in every meeting that every team has, but I’ll say not from me. Most of the opportunities that we’ve had to date have been a long-lasting relationship, and so, I don’t think we’re out there with our business card, throwing them out on the corner, trying to find people. I’ve talked about my affinity for Japanese studios and thinking back in the day when we had more games that were created in Japan as part of our first party, I’m excited when the deal closes to get to spend more time with Tango [Gameworks] and the work that they’re doing. So it’s an area that I’m interested in, but no, I don’t think it’s… I think that’s not accurate.

Spencer also expressed his view about the Asian market from a gaming standpoint and noted how different the Japanese market is compared to those in Korea, China and Southeast Asia. He also stated that he has an affinity for all the amazing creators based in Japan and he spent a lot of time there and wants to make sure those creators see Xbox as a great place for their games. It should be stated, in relation to what was said, that a free downloadable demo of Dragon Quest XI S is now available via the Xbox Store. The blockbuster Japanese RPG will be released in full on December 4, 2020 for Xbox One, Windows 10 PC and – via backward compatibility and XGP – on Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S.

Back to the interview, Spencer mentioned Mistwalker and their notable Xbox 360 JRPGs Lost Odyssey and Blue Dragon. Eventually, the interview focused on the upcoming RPG Elden Ring and when asked about it, the head of Xbox stated: I’ve seen actually quite a bit. I’ve played quite a bit.

In closing this article, here are some gaming-related videos for your enjoyment.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

For more Xbox-related stuff, check out the Xbox Series Philippines Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/XboxOnePH

Looking good on the way to Xbox Series consoles launch, Part 8

Welcome back fellow Xbox fans, geeks and gamers! The 9th console generation is about to begin with the twin-launch of the premium Xbox Series X and the budget-friendly Xbox Series S next-generation consoles! Team Xbox also announced that they will be organizing a launch-related celebration on November 10 which will be international in scope. At this stage, there have been no scandals, no controversies and no negative vibes towards Microsoft’s next-generation consoles and this is truly a major improvement over the debacle of 2013 that doomed Xbox One before it even launched.

Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S.

So what is the latest? Things are look really good as several journalists, bloggers and YouTubers officially published their respective reviews of Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, the units of which they already have and recently they were granted a week of time to test the machines, play games and observe it all for reviewing.

CNET.com’s Dan Ackerman described Xbox Series X as “a reductive evolution, fine-tuning and perfecting what worked so well in the Xbox One line.”

For his part, Geoff Keighley posted: “Xbox has nailed a fast, fluid, powerful console experience. it is a dream to use; the most player-friendly Xbox yet. Everything from the UI to the experience makes play more seamless.  I love the snap-in storage + quick resume.”

“Xbox has built a great foundation for developers to build on. The launch lineup is not great. I find myself mostly playing existing Xbox One titles that load faster and have some graphical tweaks,” Keighley added. “That said it’s incredible this console is launching in a pandemic.”

Over at The Verge, Tom Warren wrote: “Microsoft’s intention with this new generation is to bring a PC-like experience to a console. You can feel it throughout the Series X and even the smaller Series S. If you upgraded from a GTX 1060 gaming PC to an RTX 3080 PC right now, you’d get the same Windows 10 you know and access to the same games you’ve been playing for years. Everything would just feel faster and look better, and you’d be ready for the latest and greatest games.”

Now check out the Xbox Series console reviews in the form of videos below.

If you are having trouble understanding what the Xbox Series consoles feature and what makes them different from each other, check out the official FAQ.

As seen above, pre-launch hardware reviews of Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S are strongly positive and not even the lack of a launch killer-app (note: red hot video game). Super smooth gameplay, lesser latency, backward compatibility, much shorter load times, quick resume, 60FPS (60-frames-per-second) frame rate being the new normal for the next generation, and much more will define the next-generation experience with Xbox.

When it comes to exclusive video games, there is Gears Tactics to enjoy at launch although its appeal will most likely be limited to strategy game fans (note: those who enjoyed XCOM games of recent years) and Gears of War fans. For the foreseeable future, the exclusive games supporting the Xbox Series consoles (plus Windows 10 PCs and smartphones within the Xbox ecosystem) will come in due time. As there are almost twenty-five game studios working under the Xbox Game Studios group (which already includes the Bethesda studios), production of exclusive games is already underway and once they are ready, expect around five exclusive games released per year starting next year.

And then there is the 3rd party game support which is strong for Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. Launching along with the two mentioned consoles is the cross-generation game Assassin’s Creed Valhalla which should really shine running on next-generation technology.

In an article on Xbox.com, Xbox Wire Editor-in-Chief Will Tuttle wrote: “the visually stunning Valhalla is the perfect way to kick off the next generation of gaming on Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. I’ve been playing the game on Xbox Series X and have been blown away by just how good it looks and feels. On Xbox Series X, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla runs in glorious 4K at a buttery 60 frames per second and truly feels like a next-gen title. Upon completing a brief prologue, I found myself in the English countryside, surrounded by verdant fields and trees adorned with vibrant fall foliage. This was where the power of the Xbox Series X really became evident.”

“Standing next to a stream, I marveled at the way light shimmered and reflected off of the surface. When I walked through a stand of trees, I looked up to see rays of light streaming through the leaves above me, while the tall grass at my feet swayed in the breeze. Riding my horse to the top of a nearby mountain, I was blown away by the sweeping vistas that greeted me, all bathed in the orange glow of the setting sun,” Wittle added. “Ubisoft has always created immersive worlds to explore in the Assassin’s Creed franchise. Not only does Assassin’s Creed Valhalla on Xbox Series X continue that tradition, it pushes it to the next level by creating a world that feels like it’s more alive than any I’ve ever seen before. Even as I played the game, I found myself pausing to soak in the atmosphere or just sit quietly in a forest, enjoying the sound of birds chirping and wind rustling through the leaves.”

As Watch Dogs: Legion (available already) has already been confirmed to run on the next-generation Xbox consoles with ray-tracing,  the other upcoming game that owners of the mentioned new consoles should look forward to is the much-delayed Cyberpunk 2077 which will be enhanced on new technology.  Sure the game looks great already on the aging Xbox One but it will look and flow even better on Xbox Series X and Xbox Series X. As for the delay, the video below has key details about Cyberpunk 2077 that will give you insight as to why it was delayed in the first place. The game is set for a December 10, 2020 release.

In ending this, here are more gaming-related videos for your viewing pleasure. Before proceeding, I want to thank all of you and the others who read my many previous Xbox-related articles leading up to the launch of Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. I can confirm that many of you readers helped my website achieve big milestones with regards to online hits (page views). This past October, this website reached more than 29,000 hits worldwide and its lifetime hits (since January 4, 2019) is slowly reaching 250,000 hits worldwide. Once again, I thank you for your viewership and come back here soon for more Xbox-related updates and other geek stuff!

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

For more Xbox-related stuff, check out the Xbox Series Philippines Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/XboxOnePH

Looking good on the way to Xbox Series consoles launch, Part 4

Hey Xbox fans and gamers! Have you been following the recent updates leading to the inevitable launch of the Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X? Let’s start first with these two videos from Colteastwood! Watch, learn and enjoy these because the heavy hitters (hot exclusive games) for the Xbox ecosystem are coming out after the launch of the two Xbox Series consoles!

The launch games lineup for November 10, 2020, which includes cross-generation games that will be optimized for the new consoles, don’t look that red hot but rest assured, the excitement will only begin that day and will only get even better starting 2021. Speaking of 2021 games, check out my article about the Xbox-exclusive The Gunk.

What are the launch games for Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X? Here’s the list:

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla (Smart Delivery)

Borderlands 3 (Smart Delivery)

Bright Memory 1.0 

Cuisine Royale (Smart Delivery)

Dead by Daylight (Xbox Game Pass + Smart Delivery)

Devil May Cry 5: Special Edition 

DIRT 5 (Smart Delivery)

Enlisted 

Evergate

The Falconeer (Smart Delivery)

Fortnite 

Forza Horizon 4 (Xbox Game Pass + Smart Delivery)

Gears 5 (Xbox Game Pass + Smart Delivery)

Gears Tactics (Xbox Game Pass + Smart Delivery)

Grounded (Xbox Game Pass + Smart Delivery)

King Oddball (Smart Delivery)

Maneater (Smart Delivery)

Manifold Garden (Smart Delivery)

NBA 2K21

Observer: System Redux

Ori and the Will of the Wisps (Xbox Game Pass + Smart Delivery)

Planet Coaster (Smart Delivery)

Sea of Thieves (Xbox Game Pass + Smart Delivery)

Tetris Effect: Connected (Xbox Game Pass + Smart Delivery)

The Touryst (Xbox Game Pass + Smart Delivery)

War Thunder (Smart Delivery)

Warhammer: Chaosbane Slayer Edition 

Watch Dogs: Legion (Smart Delivery)

WRC 9 FIA World Rally Championship (Smart Delivery)

Yakuza: Like a Dragon (Smart Delivery)

Yes, Your Grace (Smart Delivery)

With a great mix of 1st party exclusive games, new intellectual properties (IPs) and 3rd party games that cover vast genres and types of games, there will always be something new and fun for gamers who use Xbox consoles and Windows 10 PC. Even gamers who have not yet subscribed to Xbox Game Pass (XGP) won’t be left out.

Remember years ago when PlayStation fanboys criticized Xbox for the lack of exclusives and lack of great games? That is all over and the huge amount of games produced by Team Xbox’s 1st party game studios (including the game studios of Bethesda) will be released once completed…and the beauty of it is that the wait for the hot exclusive games won’t take too long. As reported by Colteastwood in the above videos, Xbox fans can expect exclusives like Avowed and The Outer Worlds 2 from Obsidian Entertainment, the next Doom from id Software, Forza Horizon Festivals from Playground Games, and the Perfect Dark-related 3rd-person action-stealth game from The Initiative. These are just a few of the upcoming heavy hitters coming to Xbox and Windows 10 gamers. As Colteastwood confirmed, Xbox Game Studios are currently producing at least forty games.

Going back to the November 10, 2020 launch, the early batch of games for Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X are not satisfying enough, there is backward compatibility on the new consoles that will not only ensure you get to play games from past Xbox console generations, you will get to play them with visual enhancements (example: improved frame rates reaching up to 60FPS) and much reduced loading times.

In an Xbox.com article dated October 13, 2020, Compatibility Program Lead Peggy Lo confirmed their team’s respect for fans’ gaming legacy. She stated: We believe your favorite games and franchises, your progression and achievements, your Xbox One gaming accessories and the friendships and communities you create through gaming should all move with you across generations. We also fundamentally believe that not only should you be able to play all of your games from the past without needing to purchase them again, but they should also look, feel and play better on the next generation of Xbox consoles.

And then there are the hot details Xbox fans can expect regarding backward compatibility on the new consoles. Here’s an excerpt:

Games play best on Xbox Series X and Series S

Backward compatible games run natively on the Xbox Series X and S, running with the full power of the CPU, GPU and SSD. No boost mode, no downclocking, the full power of the consoles for each and every backward compatible game. This means that all titles run at the peak performance that they were originally designed for, with significantly higher performance than their original launch platform, resulting in higher and more steady framerates and rendering at their maximum resolution and visual quality. Backward compatible titles also benefit from significant reductions in load times due to the massive leap in performance from our custom NVME SSD at the heart of the Xbox Velocity Architecture.

Auto HDR for everyone

Modern games often implement high dynamic range (HDR) to improve overall visual quality. HDR allows a game to render a much larger range of brightness values and colors. This gives an extra sense of richness and depth to the image when compared to a standard dynamic range (SDR) image. For example, the light from a flashlight looks much brighter and red flowers look much more vibrant.

However, thousands of Xbox games shipped before HDR was first introduced with Xbox One S, and even for some Xbox One games, developers simply didn’t have the development resources or time to implement HDR. With Xbox Series X and Series S we are introducing a new feature named Auto HDR. Auto HDR automatically adds HDR enhancements to games which only shipped with SDR. Auto HDR enhances the visual quality of an SDR game without changing the original artistic intent of the game. Auto HDR is implemented by the system so developers don’t have to do any work to take advantage of this feature. Also, since Auto HDR is enabled by the console’s hardware, there is absolutely no performance cost to the CPU, GPU or memory and there is no additional latency added ensuring you receive the ultimate gaming experience.

If you want to play your legacy Xbox games with a much higher frame rate for the best experience, such improvements are also confirmed as part of the backward compatibility feature on the new consoles. Check out the details below:

Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S bring next-gen performance to your favorite games. Higher, steadier framerates make games feel smoother, resulting in more immersive gameplay. Many improvements are the result of the custom designed processor that allows compatible games to play and leverage the increased CPU, GPU and memory from the new consoles. In addition however, the backward compatibility team has developed new methods for effectively doubling the framerate on select titles. While not applicable for many titles due to the game’s original physics or animations, these new techniques the team has developed can push game engines to render more quickly for a buttery smooth experience beyond what the original game might have delivered due to the capabilities of the hardware.

To emphasize the above, Team Xbox showed via YouTube the 2015 game Fallout 4 running at a buttery smooth 60FPS on Xbox Series S! Watch below!

With regards to enhanced visuals via backward compatibility on the new consoles, Peggy Lo wrote: On the Xbox One, we were able to provide a curated list of titles that were enhanced for the Xbox One X via the Heutchy method. This allowed titles from Xbox 360 that rendered at 720p and original Xbox games that ran at 360p to play at 4K on Xbox One X, well beyond the capabilities of their original platform. The Heutchy method continues to be used to bring a variety of titles to 1440p on Xbox Series S and 4K on Xbox Series X.

Improved texture filtering is also coming to backward compatible titles on both Xbox Series X and Series S. On Xbox One X, a portion of the catalog benefited from increased anisotropic filtering, improving image quality of games. On Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, 16x anisotropic filtering has been enabled for nearly all backward compatible titles so you can experience the very best visuals the games have to offer.

With Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X, the future of next-generation gaming is very bright and promising, even more exciting than what Sony is offering with PlayStation 5 (PS5). Supporting the excitement for the Xbox ecosystem is Team Xbox’s very powerful bridge to the past (legacy gaming) with backward compatibility that also enhances the old games when played on the new consoles.

Peggy Lo further wrote: The backward compatibility team has been working hard to make all the games you love and remember available to you on Xbox Series X and Series S. Playing the games will be just as easy and magical as it’s always been. Simply insert your favorite backward compatible Xbox One, Xbox 360 or original Xbox disc into your Xbox Series X, install the game, and you’ll be ready to play. Your digital library will instantly appear and ready for download on the console when you sign in. If you’ve already installed your games to an external drive, you can bring that with you to the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. This all happens with no additional cost to you. And, with cloud saves, you’ll jump right back in where you left off.  For those of you still enjoying Xbox 360, cloud saves will soon be free to all Xbox 360 users, making transferring your favorite games to Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S even easier.

In ending this, posted below are gaming-related videos for your learning and excitement for the next-generation!

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

For more Xbox-related stuff, check out the Xbox Series Philippines Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/XboxOnePH

Looking good on the way to Xbox Series consoles launch

Things are looking really good for Microsoft’s Team Xbox as far as launching their next-generation machines Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X is concerned. The two upcoming consoles will launch officially on November 10, 2020 in America and some other parts of the world. Xbox Series S in America is priced at $299 and while the premium Xbox Series X (which has a 4K Blu-ray disc drive) is priced at $499.

At this stage, the last thing any company wants to go through is a pre-launch blunder or controversy that would discourage consumers from buying the new products. While the final lineup of launch games for Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X has yet to be declared, there are notable developments that are already delighting Xbox fans and casual gamers. No, it’s not about the megaton Xbox – Bethesda deal that gamers are still talking about. Something else, really.

Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X.

Firstly, there is really good news that the promised backward compatibility feature on Xbox Series X is not only working but also enhanced the games tested. Screen Rant wrote: Games that are locked at 30 frames per second on Xbox One are able to easily hold a locked 60 frames per second on the Xbox Series X, even with upgrades in resolution. They also added: The ability of the Xbox Series X to play older games may end up being a bigger deal now than Microsoft expected. The game industry has been hit with lots of delays this year, mostly as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning both next-gen consoles will have lighter than expected launch lineups.

Den of Geek meanwhile reported that Rise of the Tomb Raider, Sekiro, Hitman 2 and even the 12-year-old Grand Theft Auto IV all ran better on Xbox Series X than they ever did in their respective original consoles of release. More on GTA4 (first released on Xbox 360), Den of Geek wrote: Even some older titles are “rescued” by the power of the Xbox Series X. The report highlights Grand Theft Auto 4 as a game that not only infamously struggled on the Xbox 360 (where it was borderline unplayable at times) but even burdened the mighty Xbox One X. On Xbox Series X, though, Rockstar’s sometimes controversial classic hits that fabled 60 FPS benchmark and even does so while offering enhanced visuals and improved load times.

Take note that Den of Geek and Screen Rant took references from Digital Foundry’s video that highlighted their testing of backward compatibility on Xbox Series X which you can watch right below…

Secondly, the load times related to the backward compatibility all showed clear improvements on Xbox Series X. Remember how long it took your Xbox One console to load up Red Dead Redemption 2? Remember what you did during all the times your Xbox 360 or Xbox One console struggled to load up the game? Those times are history!

According to The Verge, massive changes to the load times were the most significant improvements. They wrote: Games like Sea of Thieves, Warframe, and Destiny 2 have their load times cut by up to a minute or more on the Series X. In Destiny 2, for example, I can now load into a planet in the game in around 30 seconds, compared to over a minute later on an Xbox One X and nearly two minutes in total on a standard Xbox One. These improved load times are identical to my custom-built PC that includes a fast NVMe SSD, and they genuinely transform how you play the game — you can get more quests and tasks done instead of sitting and looking at a planet loading.

Warframe and Sea of Thieves are equally impressive with their load times now. I can now open Warframe and the game is ready to play just 25 seconds later. That same load takes literally a minute longer on my Xbox One X. Sea of Thieves now loads to menu screens in around 20 seconds, with another 28 seconds to load into a session. On my Xbox One X, it takes a minute and 21 seconds to even load the game initially, and then another minute and 12 seconds to get into a game session.

None of these games have been fully optimized for the Xbox Series X either. This is simply Microsoft’s backward compatibility support in action.

Thirdly, there is also the issue of game performance. To be specific, it’s about frame rates and consistency related to Destiny 2, Warframe and Sea of Thieves. The Verge wrote: Destiny 2 is a great example of a game that was held back by the weaker CPU and slow HDD in the Xbox One X. It’s a title that hit native 4K previously, but the 6 teraflops of GPU performance in the One X was bottlenecked by a laptop-like CPU and an old spinning hard disk. This meant the game was stuck on 30fps.

While Bungie has committed to enhancing Destiny 2 for the Xbox Series X and PS5 with 60fps support, it already feels faster without the patch. I would regularly notice frame rate drops in Destiny 2 on the Xbox One X when things got a little hectic on screen during a public event or in a raid with mobs of enemies coming at you. I haven’t seen a single stutter running Destiny 2 on the Xbox Series X.

This console has also improved other parts of Destiny 2 that were slow on the Xbox One. Loading into the character menu sometimes takes a few seconds on the Xbox One X, but on the Series X it feels like I’m playing on my PC as it’s near instant.

On the other two games, they wrote: I’ve noticed similar improvements across Warframe and Sea of Thieves, where games just seem to automatically benefit from the CPU, SSD, and GPU improvements to run more smoothly.

When it comes to multiplayer performance and compatibility, The Verge wrote: The other benefit to the Xbox Series X and this next generation is that games aren’t separated out like they were in the shift from Xbox 360 to Xbox One. Back then, you could only match Xbox One players in a lot of games, leaving out friends who still played on the Xbox 360. In every multiplayer game I’ve tested on Series X, I was able to join friends who were using an Xbox One and match against other Xbox One players.

See? Things are really looking good in the run up to November 10 launch of Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X. Backward compatibility ensures that your huge collection of games played (as recorded in your Xbox LIVE account) in previous generations’ Xbox consoles will NOT go to waste and, at the same time, the said feature is a great way of preserving video games from the past. I personally am happy about this not simply because I am nostalgic but because there are some great games from the past that need playing such as Lost Odyssey (Xbox 360), Halo 3 (Xbox 360), Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (Xbox 360), Fallout New Vegas (Xbox 360) and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (original Xbox).

In addition, the tests showed that previous generation games are not only playable on the next-generation Xbox but they also perform better, load much faster and will have varying visual enhancements. And then there is also cross-play for multiplayer. Just imagine how that would impact online multiplayer as we know it.

In ending this, posted below are Xbox-related videos for your learning and excitement for the next-generation! Be confident, fellow Xbox fans! This coming new generation of console gaming will be much more fun than the current one! Team Xbox truly cares about us gamers, much more so than Sony’s PlayStation team!

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

For more Xbox-related stuff, check out the Xbox Series Philippines Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/XboxOnePH

My Observations: Future Bethesda games being exclusive on the Xbox ecosystem lock out competitors

For so long have many people criticized Team Xbox of Microsoft for being too weak with their 1st party games and for having not enough exclusive games. Such criticism does not matter anymore because Microsoft made the heavy investments in expanding their Xbox Game Studios member developers through acquisitions and such developments further escalated with Microsoft acquired ZeniMax Media and have game publisher Bethesda integrated with Team Xbox.

Think about it. Bethesda game developers moved Xbox Game Studios teams from 15 to a whopping 23! This also means that Microsoft effectively owns the established Bethesda intellectual properties and game franchises of Dishonored, Doom, Prey, Wolfenstein and the best-selling franchises Fallout and The Elder Scrolls! Very clearly Microsoft spent $7.5 billion very strategically and as a result, the Xbox 1st party lineup of developers and franchises easily overwhelmed those of PlayStation.

Future games of these established video game franchises – plus the upcoming game Starfield – will be available only through the Xbox ecosystem. What Microsoft owns, Sony and Nintendo cannout touch.

This bring me to my next point – the Xbox ecosystem exclusivity of Bethesda’s future games and franchises! This is the one topic that made PlayStation fanboys disappointed and very uneasy, and I spotted a lot of them on Twitter. Why? For starters, the Xbox ecosystem is composed of the Xbox consoles (Xbox One and its variants, plus the upcoming next-generation Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X), Windows 10 PC plus the many millions of smartphones that will be able to play games via streaming (with Project xCloud).

More on the exclusivity of Bethesda’s future games for Xbox, here is an excerpt from Yahoo! Finance’s interview with Xbox division head Phil Spencer.

Spencer confirmed that ZeniMax games will appear on Microsoft’s xCloud the same day they are released in retail, making the service even more worthwhile for dedicated gamers.

But it also leaves the question as to whether Microsoft will bring ZeniMax games to competing consoles like the PlayStation 5 and Nintendo Switch. Making games exclusive to a single console can be incredibly lucrative, as it forces gamers to buy certain systems to access their favorite games.

Microsoft, however, has also shown that it’s willing to share such properties with rivals as evidenced by its decision to put “Minecraft” on the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch, as well as Android and iOS.

“In terms of where games will show up, our commitment is that our games will show up in Game Pass, PC, and on console and be available on xCloud,” Spencer said. “In terms of other platforms, I think we’ll take it on a case-by-case basis.”

As seen at the end of the above excerpt, Phil Spencer’s “our games” quote refers clearly to what games Microsoft owns and that already includes Bethesda’s games. He went on to confirm his company’s games will be released for the Xbox console users and Windows 10 users through the fast-growing Xbox Game Pass subscription service and Project xCloud. There definitely is no PlayStation console included. Even though Spencer did not mention the word “exclusive”, he confirmed the exclusivity when he referred to their games and the Xbox ecosystem. If PlayStation gamers really want future games of Wolfenstein, Fallout and The Elder Scrolls on PlayStation 5 (PS5), they can shout all they want but Sony cannot make it happen for them because it is Microsoft who has the final word to make that happen. Hence the “case-by-case basis” words of Spencer.

Of course, Microsoft did not spend $7.5 billion only to make Bethesda games and franchises available on non-Xbox platforms. They already invested so much on Xbox Game Pass and Project xCloud, now is the time for them to fill it with exclusive content and gamers who want the Bethesda games will need a Windows 10 PC and/or an Xbox console (note: the next-generation Xbox Series consoles are recommended since Xbox One is on its way out). For Microsoft making Bethesda games available on PS5, Nintendo’s Switch (and its successor) is a self-defeating move.

As for Yahoo! Finance’s mentioning of Minecraft being a multiplatform release, they did not mention the fact that the said game was already available on other platforms BEFORE Microsoft acquired Mojang in 2014. Clearly this is not the same with the Xbox-Bethesda deal, and Microsoft will use Bethesda properties as leverage against Sony and Nintendo when it comes to exclusive content for the Xbox ecosystem.

The next-generation console competition is only heating up and Team Xbox has the advantages! Nintendo and Sony cannot do anything to compel Microsoft to have Bethesda release The Elder Scrolls VI, Starfield and Fallout 5 on their respective consoles. Those two do not own Bethesda and Sony’s exclusive games deals with Bethesda is only temporary at best. After that deal ends with no renewal, there will be no more new Bethesda games for PlayStation gamers and they will only have to settle with old ones like The Elder Scrolls Online, Skyrim, Fallout 4.

In the near future, this upcoming fantasy RPG will be available only on Xbox Series consoles and Windows 10 PC through Xbox Game Pass and Project xCloud.

For the role-playing game (RPG) genre, Team Xbox already has the very talented inXile Entertainment (Wasteland 3) and Obsidian Entertainment (The Outer Worlds) making even new exclusive RPGs for the Xbox ecosystem. Add Bethesda’s Starfield, The Elder Scroll VI and the unannounced Fallout sequel, then it is very clear that the Xbox ecosystem will be the best destination for gamers who love compelling, fun and enduring RPGs. Meanwhile, Sony itself does not have the talents nor the resources to make their own high-quality RPGs which is why they desperately signed a timed-exclusive deal with Square Enix to have Final Fantasy XVI first on PS5.

Again, all of these details and developments show that the $7.5 billion Xbox-Bethesda deal is for the long-term and Microsoft now has the means to build up the Xbox ecosystem in terms of content, features and the global userbase. It should be noted that the franchises of Doom, Fallout, Dishonored, Wolfenstein and Elder Scrolls have many millions of dedicated fans and to continue enjoying future games they will definitely be flocking into the Xbox ecosystem (goodbye Sony and Nintendo gamer communities). It truly is a megaton, video game industry shaking business deal that really caught Sony and Nintendo off-guard. I should state that the promise of future Bethesda releases alone will convince gamers (the Bethesda franchise fans, the casual gamers and hardcore gamers) to buy Xbox Series S or Xbox Series X even though the forming lineup of launch games does not look too hot. It will be in the 2nd year of the next-generation Xbox Series consoles that the real blockbuster exclusive games will come out and attract gamers who want the best gaming experiences that can only be found in the Xbox ecosystem. Lastly, the Xbox-Bethesda deal ensures that Team Xbox will not suffer from any lack of exclusive games in the years to come. We will see if Nintendo and Sony can keep up with Team Xbox’s pace, only this time without new games of Doom, Fallout, Elder Scrolls.  

In ending this, watch these Xbox-Bethesda videos from Colteastwood and Rand al Thor 19. Watch and listen very closely. 

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

My Observations: Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X

What a roller coaster ride that has been. The leaks were made and the speculating is all over. Microsoft is officially launching its next-generation game consoles Xbox Series S (economic all-digital model) and Xbox Series X (premium model) on November 10, 2020 with prices of $299 and $499 respectively! Pre-ordering of the consoles will begin on September 22, 2020.  

Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S together!

In an Xbox.com article, Xbox division chief Phil Spencer stated: On November 10, a new generation of console gaming begins. That’s when our vision becomes reality with the most performant, immersive and compatible next-generation console gaming experiences, and the freedom to play your games with your friends, anytime, anywhere.

For the newcomers reading this, the premium Xbox Series X was officially announced many months ago and it was only very recently that the budget-friendly Xbox Series S was officially announced (after the leakages, take note).

So what are the differences between the two? Posted below for your general reference are the official specs from Xbox.com

The most obvious difference starts with the GPU with the Xbox Series S having 32 lesser compute units (CUs) as well as a lower frequency per CU compared with the premium Xbox. This results the Xbox Series S also having 4 teraflops of GPU power or barely one-third of the more powerful one. The $299 Xbox also lesser GDDR6 RAM and lower bandwidth. In terms of resolution, Xbox Series X can render visuals in native 4K resolution (3840×2160) while the less powerful Xbox can do up to 1440P. Both of them, however are expected to deliver similar results when it comes to frame-rates. On storage, Xbox Series S has 512GB SSD (solid state drive) which is roughly half that of the premium console. If you enjoy watching movies on Blu-ray or 4K Blu-ray discs, or if you intend to use physical copies of video games, the Xbox Series X has a 4K Blu-ray disc drive while the cheaper Xbox has no such drive at all (note: it’s all digital).

Considering the huge $200 price difference, the two next-generation Xbox consoles will appeal to different kinds of gamers and eventually other consumers who want to improve their home entertainment (or in the case of individuals living away from their families, the personal entertainment) set-up. I can imagine gamers who enjoy playing video games using their PC monitors (at the desks inside their bedrooms or in the house study), who prefer digital downloads over physical media for their games, and looking for bargains will be attracted to Xbox Series S. Gamers who still use optic media for their games, who want to upgrade their movie viewing experience with their 4K TV at home (and start collecting movies on 4K Blu-ray disc format), who want a lot more SSD storage available, and who want the best of 4K gaming will finds Xbox Series X a preferred machine.

Gamers who started their respective Xbox legacies (with Xbox LIVE accounts) for more than one console generation should be happy to know that their old Xbox-related game collection will NOT go to waste as both Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X have been confirmed to be backward compatible with original Xbox, Xbox 360 and Xbox One titles. The beauty with Xbox backward compatibility is that the old games will not only be played, they will have visual enhancements too.

More on the Xbox Series S, the $299 tag price is indeed very enticing especially during this time of pandemic and economic uncertainty. The cheaper console, which has a surprisingly small size compared with other game consoles, is literally a very powerful beast performance wise and (like the premium Xbox) it also has ray-tracing.

Microsoft’s Head of Platform Engineering and Hardware Liz Hamren confirmed the following details: Xbox Series S delivers the same next generation speed and performance that define Xbox Series X. It is similar in CPU and has the identical I/O performance as Xbox Series X, making it easier for developers to deliver the same great performance, while rendering at a lower resolution. Xbox Series S delivers 4x the processing power of an Xbox One console and supports experiences up to 120fps, more immersive and responsive gameplay with support for hardware-accelerated DirectX Raytracing and Variable Rate Shading. In addition, Xbox Series S includes 512GB of custom SSD storage and is powered by the Xbox Velocity Architecture, delivering more than 40x the I/O bandwidth of an Xbox One resulting in faster loading times, steadier frame rates and Quick Resume for multiple titles.

You’ll also experience the same great audio on Xbox Series S that you will on Xbox Series X with Spatial Sound, including support for Dolby Atmos. What’s more, support for Dolby Vision via streaming media apps like Disney+, Vudu and Netflix will be available across Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X at launch, and Dolby Vision support for gaming will come first to our next-gen Xbox consoles in 2021.

As of this writing, I noticed a number of gamers online expressing concern about the 512GB SSD storage on the Xbox Series S. On face value, 512GB looks insufficient considering the sizes of video games and DLC (downloadable content) today. Like the premium console, the SSD storage of Xbox Series S can be upgraded by means of using the proprietary Xbox Storage Expansion Card which will be a very expensive affair for consumers and the sad thing is that traditional SSDs cannot be used.

When it comes to digital services and subscriptions, Microsoft is really going all-out with brand new offerings via the Xbox All Access program which will start in twelve nations. Take note that the wildly popular Xbox Game Pass is included!

Xbox Prdouct Marketing General Manager Jeff Gattis announced the following details: Whether you’re upgrading to the newest consoles or joining the Xbox family for the first time, with Xbox All Access, you can get everything you need to play — an Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S and 24 months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate — from $24.99 a month for 24 months with no upfront cost. We’re also excited to bring Xbox All Access to more fans around the world this holiday, and to offer existing Xbox All Access members more flexibility in their upgrade option.

With Xbox All Access you not only get the latest consoles, but also an instant library of over 100 high-quality games for console, PC, and Android mobile devices (Beta).  Plus, you get all new Xbox Game Studios titles the same day they release, including Halo Infinite. What’s more, starting this holiday Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and Xbox Game Pass for PC members get an EA Play membership at no additional cost.

And then there is EA Play!

As if that was not good enough, there is also Dolby Vision for Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S! Read the details at Dolby.com

With Xbox Series X at $499 and Xbox Series S at $299 backed with very enticing online offerings and features that promise strong value for customers, it is clear that Microsoft is looking strong with launching the two next-generation consoles even though Halo Infinite has been delayed beyond launch. Times like this, I wish that the Xbox-exclusive The Gunk was launch title.

Without Halo Infinite as the showcase of the next-generation launch, Microsoft will have to rely on 3rd-party video games (both cross-generation and next-generation that will be released along with or shortly after the new consoles’ launch) looking and playing great on the next-generation Xbox consoles to convince gamers to make the technological jump forward early. It’s already confirmed that Ubisoft’s much-awaited Assassin’s Creed Valhalla will not only run at 60FPS on Xbox Series X but also in 4K resolution! Considering the open-world design of the said game, playing it the “4K60” way should be mind-blowing to gamers.

It is also clear is that, with the latest Xbox development, Sony has challenges to overcome when it comes to announcing the prices and offerings related to launching its two PlayStation 5 (PS5) consoles – one with a disc drive and the other without. $299 is a very hard launch price for Sony to match with the drive-less PS5, and it should be noted that PS5’s backward compatibility is limited to PS4 games (in other words, Mark Cerny and his team failed to find ways to make PS1-PS2-PS3 game discs play on their upcoming console). PS5 games look interesting but none of them convinced me to buy Sony’s new console. My choice is Xbox Series X because I know the exclusive games coming out in the next two years will be worth the wait plus I love the Gears of War, Halo and Forza Motorsport franchise of games. I also want the premium Xbox for my Blu-ray movie collection and, eventually, the start of a new collection of movies in 4K Blu-ray discs.

In ending this piece, I recommend you watch the videos from Dealer Gaming, Colteastwood and Digital Foundry.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

My Observations: Time for Rare and Microsoft to emphasize Everwild’s gameplay and features

Time for Rare and Microsoft to emphasize Everwild’s gameplay and features

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Everwild developed by Rare and published by Microsoft.

I have to admit that it’s been quite a long time since Xbox game studio Rare released a game that captivated me. I’m talking about their two games that launched with the Xbox 360 – Perfect Dark Zero and Kameo: Elements of Power.

They went on to make Viva Piñata, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts (a major disappointment), Kinect Sports, Kinect Sports II, Kinect Sports Rivals (the commercial failure), Killer Instinct, Rare Replay (the compilation of their legacy), and Sea of Thieves (which never interested me). Lastly, I should mention that Rare’s next project Battletoads is coming out on August 20!

When I least expected it, Rare caught my attention at last during the XO19 this past November when their newest game was unveiled…Everwild. The game is being developed specifically for the next-generation Xbox Series X and Windows 10 PC (also coming to Xbox Game Pass) and below is the announcement trailer.

The first time I saw that trailer, I was captivated with the great looking visuals which had stunning digital art work and smooth animation. When I noticed the characters move in the game and they faced a scenic view with birds flying in the air, I had the impression that Everwild is an adventure-type game that may have open-world exploration elements. It should be said that the animation and artistic design of the wild animals are astounding to see! By the time the trailer ended, I hoped to see more of it as I am fond of open-world games (and games with wide-open areas that still satisfy gamers’ open-world interests) with adventuring and exploration.

And this past July, Microsoft released the 2nd trailer for Everwild during the Xbox Games Showcase which you can see below…

That Xbox Games Showcase Everwild trailer looks more amazing and having replayed it more, it is clear to me now that it is an adventure game (confirmed at the game’s Xbox.com page) with a world to explore. It also shows that the characters do interact with animals, even to the point of making changes to the natural environment. There are also mystical acts performed. Even with such details visualized, Rare and Microsoft have yet to emphasize clearly (and in detail) how exactly Everwild will play and what it will feature. In reality, beautiful visuals can only go so far on selling the game and ultimately it is the fun factor and engagement that need to be strong to really connect with gamers.

My questions for Rare and Microsoft are as follows:

Is Everwild a single-play game with co-op as options or is it an online multiplier game?

Does Everwild have a living, breathing open-world or will it have separate wide-open areas meant to be explored and discovered?

Apart from interacting with animals and the environment, will the game have a good amount of action scenes to keep gamers engaged?

Does Everwild have creature/monster hunting? Village building?

Will the game have some role-playing game (RPG) elements in terms of leveling up the characters?

Will Everwild launch along with Xbox Series X?

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A shot the July 2020 trailer of Everwild.

Being very interested with Everwild, I really hope that the publisher and developer will get their acts together to emphasize more of their game’s gameplay and features. It would be very nice if they could not only show more gameplay footage but also demonstrate how the game plays in live fashion in an upcoming Xbox-focused event. I personally enjoy open-world games that have lots of exploration, action and a solid story to follow, and I hope that Everwild will have such values. If Everwild will indeed by an open-world game, it could literally break the mold with its out-of-this-world concept and possibly feature action scenes that don’t involve guns. Rare’s game just might provide the open-world experience radically different (from the likes of Grand Theft Auto, Saints Row, etc.) and still deliver a ton of fun. Really, it’s high time for the game makers to emphasize the game! Oh yeah, I’d like to see Phil Spencer or Colteastwood or Dealer Gaming organize an interview with the creative team at Rare to talk about the Everwild!

For official and general information about Everwild, visit https://www.xbox.com/en-US/games/everwild

Speaking of upcoming Xbox events, check out the following YouTube videos about a possible August event by Microsoft done by Colteastwood and Dealer Gaming.

By the way, have you heard about the leak relating to the long speculated Xbox Series S? Watch these videos by Dealer Gaming and Rand al Thor 19.

In closing this, here is a video by Gaming Bolt. If you are an Xbox One owner, it should convince you to look forward to Xbox Series X.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

Looks like Xbox will be the haven for fantasy RPG enthusiasts in the 9th console generation

Looks like Xbox will be the haven for fantasy RPG enthusiasts in the 9th console generation

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A shot from the trailer of Avowed.

With the Xbox Games Showcase behind us all, it is becoming clear that Xbox as an ecosystem is turning into a haven for gamers who love playing fantasy role-playing games (fantasy RPGs).

Let me emphasize my point starting with a key development from the 3rd party support that I never anticipated, a development announced during the pre-show period prior to the Xbox Games Showcase of July 23.

I’m referring to the announcement of DRAGON QUEST XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition by Square Enix coming this December to Xbox One (note: the Xbox Series X guarantees backward compatibility), Windows 10 PC and the fast-growing Xbox Game Pass subscription service! Watch the video below and check out Dragon Quest creator Yuji Horii make his verbal presentation.

While Dragon Quest XI was previously released on other game consoles since 2017, its announcement for Xbox is still highly significant not simply because the game’s Definitive Edition will come with a lot of extra stuff and fun content but mainly because it marks the first-time ever that the Dragon Quest franchise becomes part of the Xbox ecosystem.

“I’m hugely pleased to finally see DRAGON QUEST make its Xbox debut,” Horii stated.

For the bigger picture, the Dragon Quest RPG franchise is over 30-years-old. While the Final Fantasy RPG franchise is wildly popular in the West in terms of video game sales, the same cannot be said with the Dragon Quest franchise of games.

Square Enix’s decision to release Dragon Quest XI’s Definitive Edition on Xbox One, PC and the XGP service could not only help itself sell more games (both physical and digital copies) to Xbox and Windows users who understand English, but also set the foundation they need to potentially release even more Dragon Quest games in the Xbox ecosystem.

While I can only speculate on what exactly was discussed in the business negotiations between Microsoft’s Xbox team and Square Enix (note: Xbox head Phil Spencer confirmed visiting Japan to meet game creators and publishers there), in my view Microsoft tried hard to earn the trust and support of Japanese game creators/publishers to add variety of games for Xbox/PC users. The debut of the Dragon Quest series on Xbox is most likely the result of that.

When it comes to fantasy RPGs, Dragon Quest itself is highly significant given its commercial history and cultural impact with Japanese gamers. If the Definitive Edition of Dragon Quest XI (which is now up for pre-order) sells enough with Xbox gamers, it may lead to even more DQ games released in the future.

Next reason why Xbox as an ecosystem will be the haven for gamers who love fantasy RPG is because of the confirmed revival of Microsoft’s very own Fable RPG franchise being developed by a team within Playground Games (Forza Horizon series) for Xbox Series X and Windows 10 PC.

To put things in perspective, Fable is composed of three main fantasy RPGs developed by Lionhead Studios for the original Xbox and Xbox 360. While the main games (Fable, Fable II and Fable III) were flawed respectively, they resulted mostly positive reviews from the critics and many millions in game sales. Since after Fable III, however, the series went downhill in terms of quality and reception. Not only was Fable Legends canceled, Lionhead Studios itself closed down.

The trailer that end the Xbox Games Showcase of July 23 confirmed that it was indeed true that Fable as a franchise was being revived with the Forza Horizon studio doing the hard work.

Now there were concerns raised by gamers about Playground Games’ ability to not only make the new Fable game but how it will live up to the legacy and the factors that defined the game franchise.

Pay close attention to what Xbox executive Matt Booty said in an article by The Guardian related to Fable: “I just look at what Playground has done with the Horizon series – that attention to detail, the ability to represent these naturalistic landscapes. They also have a real passion for the IP and a unique point of view on what’s core to Fable. Everything I’ve seen as the game progresses tells me this is going to be a very high-quality release.”

In addition, the upcoming new Fable game will NOT be an MMO (massively multiplayer online) game but an action-oriented RPG with the single-player experience in mind. Having finished Fable and Fable III myself, this is great news and anyone looking for compelling single-player campaigns in the fantasy RPG genre can be confident with the new Fable game.

For those of you who never played any Fable game before, below is a retro review of Fable III for your viewing pleasure.

Of course, how exactly Playground will craft the new game and decide what kind of features it will have, and how it will balance between old features and new features for gameplay remains a mystery. Still there is hope that it will be high quality product since the Forza Horizon developer have people who previously worked on big projects that have nothing to do with racing games. Listen to the excerpt in Dealer Gaming’s video below.

“With any kind of franchise like that, where you’ve had existing versions, there’s always that balance between what you’re going to bring forward, what still stands up, and what you want to add that’s new,” he says. “It’s like the challenge of making a new Star Wars movie – there’s stuff that everyone wants you to bring along, but then you’ve got a responsibility to take that to new places and I trust Playground has a good vision for that,” Booty added in The Guardian.

If the new Fable game turns out great, it should inspire other game developers to make more action-oriented fantasy RPGs for the next-generation Xbox Series X.

Finally, the other factor as to why the future is bright for fantasy RPG enjoyment on the Xbox ecosystem is Avowed, the ambitious new first-person fantasy RPG developed by RPG specialists Obsidian Entertainment for Xbox Series X and Windows 10 PC.

Beyond the trailer, here are some details. The game is set in the world of Eora which itself is part of Obsidian’s established Pillars of Eternity games franchise. In terms of gameplay, not much has been revealed but the trailer suggests first-person movement and action will be the core way of playing which is fine by me since I played Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Fallout 4. Potentially, Avowed will feature exploration of a large fantasy world laced with mysterious creatures, magic, varied locations and eventually varied quests to take part in. There is no release date yet although it is speculated it will be released in 2022. As it is being made for Xbox Series X, gamers sticking with their aging Xbox One consoles should upgrade if they really want Avowed.

Having enjoyed The Outer Worlds (a sci-fi, first-person shooting RPG) so much on my Xbox One, I really believe Microsoft made the right move on acquiring Obsidian and providing them the resources and time to make something that will be enjoyable and engaging. I also believe that from a business point of view, the Xbox executives know there is a huge group of gamers/consumers who are willing to spend good money on big budget, content-heavy, deep exploration fantasy RPGs like Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. I am confident Team Xbox knows their history that a great majority of the 3.4 million copies of Skyrim sold within the first two days of release in 2011 were on Xbox 360 (more than double what was on PS3).

As such, by now the Xbox executives should believe that making similar ambitious games like Skyrim makes great business sense and Avowed being made for Xbox Series X alone adds great value to the Xbox brand and ecosystem.

With Microsoft heavily investing in Avowed, this should attract the attention of other game publishers/developers who have vested interests in making fun, lengthy single-player RPGs to make such games on Xbox Series X.

Conclusion

With the new Fable, Avowed and the Definitive Edition of Dragon Quest XI coming in the foreseeable future, the Xbox as an ecosystem will be the hot spot for gamers who love fantasy RPGs. Apart from those future RPGs, there are already several Final Fantasy RPGs already available on Xbox not to mention the past Fable games and past RPGs developed by Obsidian such as Dungeon Siege III, Pillars of Eternity and Pillars of Eternity II.

Be confident, gamers! Xbox’s appeal to gamers will no longer be limited to Halo, Forza and Gears of War. Microsoft’s two fantasy RPG franchises will break the mold and raise the level of enjoyment and engagement for Xbox fans and new gamers. Do not forget that there are other Xbox game studios that have yet to reveal their upcoming exclusive games on Xbox Series X. Who knows? There could be even more fantasy RPGs coming from those studios! What else? If the 3rd party game developers and publishers are watching the rise of prominence of Xbox in the 9th console generation, they may go ahead in bringing even more video games to Xbox Series X!

In ending this, posted below is Colteastwood’s newest video about the next big Xbox digital event…


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

My Observations: Xbox Games Showcase

It has finally happened. Microsoft organized this past Thursday the much-awaited digital event Xbox Games Showcase. Let me cut to the chase that, for the most part, I actually enjoyed watching. It’s not a perfect showcase of games for Xbox fans and other gamers, but it sure is a major improvement over the disappointing 3rd party games showcase of last May.

For one thing, Xbox head Phil Spencer himself confirmed that less than ten of the fifteen Xbox game studios had prepared for the showcase. This is not surprising because it takes a lot of time and work to make video games nowadays and it is a fact that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic had forced game developers (as well as countless other surviving businesses) to adapt the work-at-home model which tremendously slowed down production. Regardless, the showcase included unveilings of five new first-party games.

“What you’ll see today is how Xbox game studios are harnessing their passions to bring their dreams to life,” Phil Spencer said in his welcome message to viewers.

With those words declared, here is what I think about the games that I personally find the most interesting or the most notable (note: not all games discussed below are exclusive to Xbox Series X), and what it all means for the upcoming launch of the next-generation Xbox Series X console and the remaining life of the Xbox One.

The showcased games

Halo Infinite

Two long years since I first saw the original unveiling of Halo Infinite, the gameplay demonstration of the game (note: it actually ran on a PC, NOT the Xbox Series X itself) was actually worth the long wait even though there were some imperfections. What made it compelling to watch was the presentation of the ring world’s environment which recaptured the wonder and beauty of the original landscape first seen in 2001’s Halo: Combat Evolved (note: I’m talking about the landscape where Master Chief first crash-landed). Apart from the in-game environment, the gameplay rocked with the classic Halo formula of shooting (fast-paced and intense) which got shook up with the implementation of the grapple plus a few new animation sequences and moves seen on the Covenant. It’s classic Halo but also modernized in terms of look and gameplay.

What caught my attention was the freedom for gamers to explore an entire Halo ring confirmed by 343 Industries’ Studio Head of Halo Chris Lee. Even though the term open-world was not stated, this confirms that Halo Infinite will have a much bigger in-game environment and locations for gamers to discover. Hopefully, this also means that there will be a wide variety of activities to do on the locations very much like other open-world games. The game demonstration is only a taste of what is to come. Not only that, Lee also confirmed that the game will run at 60 frames-per-second (60FPS) which for me is the sweet spot for playing in the modern age.

When it comes to imperfections, I saw some pop-in during some sequences of the demo and there also seemed to be some slight dips in the frame rate during the most intense sequences. Right now, 343 Industries still has months left to optimize the game not only for Xbox Series X but also the aging Xbox One. Now I wonder how the developers will be able to get good enough performance from the basic Xbox One (which I own) and the slightly upgraded Xbox One S to play Halo Infinite. One last thing…I should express my disappointment over the revelation that the demo did NOT run on the Xbox Series X hardware itself.

To Microsoft and 343 Industries, please, please make the best you can with Halo Infinite using real Xbox Series X hardware! Also, please at least try to include ray tracing at launch, not after launch. Disappointments aside, I know you guys can do better and I still am looking forward to this game. The ball of time is on your side of the court, Microsoft and 343 Industries. You still have time!

Everwild

Everwild is a brand, new game developed by Rare (Sea of Thieves, Perfect Dark games) mainly for Xbox Series X and Windows 10 PCs. First unveiled months ago, the new video of the game at the Xbox Games Showcase showed a lot more of the game with what looks like a wide-open world to explore with lots of wildlife and creatures that are out of this world. The animation also looks great. My only problem here is that the new trailer had scenes done in a cinematic fashion and left no clear sign as to HOW THE GAME WILL PLAY. Will it be a single-player game or an online-multiplayer game? Will it have a good combat system? What is the story if any? Please, Microsoft and Rare, do explain if Everwild will be fun to play. Enough with the beauty and take time to really define the game. Thanks.

As Dusk Falls

This new game by Int./Night and Microsoft is easily the most intriguing of the Xbox Games Showcase. It’s described as an interactive drama that will follow and explore the lives of two families across thirty years starting with a robbery in Arizona. Players will determine the fate of the characters by making choices (kinda like the Choose Your Own Adventure pocket books in concept). At least in this game’s trailer, there is a clever mix of 3D polygons with 2D art. If I were you gamers, don’t just ignore this game. If you are already an Xbox Game Pass subscriber, As Dusk Falls will launch on Day One on the said service.

Avowed

The rumors turned out to be true and I’m very happy to say that the RPG specialists Obsidian Entertainment is working on a brand new, fantasy role-playing game (RPG) titled Avowed. Set in the fantasy world of Eora, Avowed is a first-person view RPG. Having played Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Elders Scrolls V: Skyrim on Xbox 360 long ago plus last year’s The Outer Worlds (by Obsidian) on Xbox One, I really am looking forward to this new game and I have full trust in Obsidian’s, dedication, legacy and specialty on making RPGs that are fun and compelling.

To say the least, Avowed will mark the beginning of a new fantasy RPG property (soon to be a franchise…) for the Xbox ecosystem as a whole adding variety for Xbox fans who love fantasy RPGs alongside the already established Fable.

Speaking of Fable…

Fable

The long-time rumor is also true! Fable is being revived and the new game is being produced by Playground Games, the very same studio behind the best-selling and highly acclaimed Forza Horizon series! While the above trailer is purely cinematic and carried nothing to suggest gameplay, at the very least the Fable franchise is on its way back after years of being dormant. What I hope to see next time is real-time gameplay complete with how the Playground employees can present the fantasy world in this new generation of console gaming. I personally enjoyed playing the original Fable and still managed to get some fun from the disappointing Fable III. For the future of Fable, things are looking promising.

Forza Motorsport

While this one is too short and lacked gameplay sequences, the Forza Motorsport official video composed of real-time graphics (note the Footage Captured In-Engine posted on the lower-left corner of the video) is very impressive and the future of next-generation simulation racing looks very bright. I know the experts of Turn 10 are working hard with the new Xbox Series X technology as I write this and in terms of presentation of the Xbox Games Showcase, this extremely short look of things to come from the Forza Motorsport franchise is ironically one of the best (and most transparent) presentations from Microsoft. Too bad Halo Infinite was used with a PC and lacked transparency on its presentation which Microsoft knew. More on the game, I wonder if Forza Motorsport will be the definitive title of the next-generation sim race from Turn 10 following 2017’s Forza Motorsport 7. Gamers expected Forza Motorsport 8 as the title. The video presentation’s shortness is a missed opportunity for Microsoft and the developers to show a lot more of what simulation would look and feel like on Xbox Series X. An additional sixty seconds of in-game footage with some gameplay sequences (like driver’s seat view with steering wheel) would have made the Forza Motorsport video even greater and more engaging. Now that the Xbox Games Showcase is over, we can only wait as to what MS and Turn 10 can update us with. Right now, I am passionate with simulation racing thanks to the Forza Motorsport franchise and I am confident that the next entry coming out on Xbox Series X will be worth the wait.

Tell Me Why

Here’s another new Microsoft-published game that surprised me. Tell Me Why is developed by DONTNOD, the same team behind Capcom’s Remember Me and Square Enix’s Life is Strange. Given the French game developer’s dedication on making original, narrative-driven games, Tell Me Why follows twins Alyson and Tyler and players will get to use their unique bond to unravel mysteries in their lives. Visually, it does not have the next-generation look as the game itself was made specifically for Xbox One and Windows 10. How it will look on Xbox Series X remains to be seen. This should attract the attention of gamers who enjoyed Life is Strange games.

Psychonauts 2

This multi-platform game made by Double Fine will be released sometime next year and I should say that what was shown during the Xbox Games Showcase made me confident about it. For the newcomers reading this, Psychonauts 2 is the sequel to the award-winning 2005 game Psychonauts (then published by Majesco Entertainment) and as a platforming game this one could stand out in the modern age for its artistry, creativity and promised fun gameplay. Microsoft promised that the game will be optimized for Xbox Series X.

Honorable mentions

The Outer Worlds: Peril on Gorgon

I love Obsidian Entertainment’s work in The Outer World which is easily one of the best RPGs I’ve ever played in this current console generation. As such, the revelation of the previously announced story downloadable content (DLC) is something I find very delighting and it sure gives me another reason to replay The Outer Worlds on my Xbox One. The Peril on Gorgon DLC’s description is as follows: A severed arm and a mysterious message lead the crew of the Unreliable to the Gorgon Asteroid, formerly the site of one of Halcyon’s most ambitious and disastrous scientific undertakings – now a lawless den of monsters and marauders. Wealthy recluse Minnie Ambrose tasks the crew with finding answers about Dr. Olivia Ambrose, her mother and the doomed project’s disgraced director, but they are soon ensnared in an intrigue that will change the colony forever.

The Outer Worlds: Peril on Gorgon will be released on September 9, 2020.

Destiny 2: Beyond Light

It’s kinda weird to see Destiny 2: Beyond Light part of Xbox Games Showcase, the same event highlighted by Halo Infinite. This is because Bungie created Halo on its own before they got involved with Microsoft and played a major role in the respective success of the original Xbox and Xbox 360 consoles with several acclaimed Halo games that sold a lot. Now that it is no longer involved with Activision, Bungie is now a standalone developer and publisher, and the Destiny games franchise is what they are carrying now. The above video presentation looks good and energetic.

Conclusion

Overall, the Xbox Games Showcase was good, not great. The efforts to showcase the 1st party games and the potential of next-generation gaming Xbox Series X were made but felt uneven here and there. Halo Infinite had a good presentation but there were shortcomings that prevented it from being great which is too bad because the game was supposed to highlight Xbox Series X and prove that there is a promising future of fun and engagement with the Halo franchise. Ironically, the very solid but short video presentations of Forza Motorsport and Avowed proved to be better efforts on selling Xbox Series X than Halo Infinite. When it comes to disappointments, I should point to the complete lack of new stuff regarding Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II.

While imperfect, the Xbox Games Showcase still had nice surprises that kept me interested enough to finish it. At the very least, Xbox Games Showcase was a big improvement over the disappointing showcase of 3rd party games last May.

Now that the Xbox Games Showcase is over, Microsoft and its Xbox teams still have time left to improve their efforts to sell their games and prove that Xbox Series X will be worth buying for the next several years of home entertainment. They also still have time to emphasize how the optimization of games on Xbox Series X and how the Smart Delivery can be beneficial to gamers.

In ending this, watch Colteastwood’s interview with Xbox’s Major Nelson.


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