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

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: Bethesda now part of Team Xbox

As I start to write this, I still am in a state of shock over the most ambitious video game business announcement that I never anticipated would happen particularly with Xbox. People are already talking about it a lot right now. I’m referring to Microsoft’s megaton acquisition of ZeniMax Media which is the parent company of game publishing giant Bethesda Softworks. The deal is worth $7.5 billion (in cash) and it includes acquiring Bethesda Softworks, Bethesda Game Studios, id Software, ZeniMax Online Studios, Arkane, MachineGames, Tango Gameworks, Alpha Dog, and Roundhouse Studios. The said studios have a combined work force of more than 2,300 employees. This megaton development alone makes me want to acquire an Xbox Series X unit even more!

To put things in perspective, below is an excerpt (with key parts in bold) from the Xbox.com blog post by Xbox head Phil Spencer:

Bethesda’s games have always had a special place on Xbox and in the hearts of millions of gamers around the world. Our teams have a close and storied history working together, from the amazing first DOOM, and its id Tech engine, innovating games on PCs to Bethesda bringing their first console game to the original Xbox, the groundbreaking The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. Over the years I’ve had many deep conversations with the creative leaders at Bethesda on the future of gaming and we’ve long shared similar visions for the opportunities for creators and their games to reach more players in more ways.

Just as they took the bold first steps to bring The Elder Scrolls franchise to the original Xbox, Bethesda were early supporters of Xbox Game Pass, bringing their games to new audiences across devices and have been actively investing in new gaming technology like cloud streaming of games. We will be adding Bethesda’s iconic franchises to Xbox Game Pass for console and PC. One of the things that has me most excited is seeing the roadmap with Bethesda’s future games, some announced and many unannounced, to Xbox console and PC including Starfield, the highly anticipated, new space epic currently in development by Bethesda Game Studios.

Like us, Bethesda are passionate believers in building a diverse array of creative experiences, in exploring new game franchises, and in telling stories in bold ways. All of their great work will of course continue and grow and we look forward to empowering them with the resources and support of Microsoft to scale their creative visions to more players in new ways for you.

All of our work, and the foundation of our relationship with you, starts with a commitment to deliver a breadth of amazing games to discover and play on Xbox.  Over the last few weeks, we’ve been excited to share more detail on important elements of a plan we’ve been building towards for years. A plan that is the fulfilment of a promise, to you the Xbox player, to deliver the most performant, immersive and compatible next-generation gaming experiences, and the freedom to play blockbuster games with your friends, anytime, anywhere. Today is a landmark step in our journey together and I’m incredibly energized by what this step means for Xbox.

As confirmed by Spencer, the acquisition of Bethesda is more than just adding to Xbox Games Studios existing lineup of game makers and more than just adding games for Xbox and PC gamers to play. The acquisition also means adding even more games to the fast-growing and successful Xbox Game Pass subscription program which recently saw its subscribers reach 15,000,000+ (a jump of 50% in less than six months’ time!). The addition of Bethesda’s iconic franchises – Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Wolfenstein and Dishonored to name some – will surely add tremendous value to Xbox Game Pass and even more exciting is the confirmation that Bethesda’s upcoming sci-fi Starfield will also be added! These developments are already exciting gamers to order Xbox Series S or Xbox Series X as I write this.

Think about it. If you are already a paying Xbox Game Pass subscriber by the time Starfield gets released, you can simply visit Xbox LIVE and download the said game for free (because you already paid for the subscription). Those who are not XGP subscribers will have to pull out a lot of money to buy Starfield at the retail store or elsewhere online.

Already Team Xbox and its many Xbox Games Studios are already creating new and exclusive games for Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X plus PC. Microsoft no longer has a shortage of console exclusives and all the criticism thrown at them (“Xbox has no exclusives!”, “Xbox has no great games!”) are meaningless now. The addition of Bethesda studios into the many Xbox Game Studios further ensures more exclusive games in the years to come and this alone gives Microsoft a huge advantage over Sony and Nintendo!

This brings me to another sensitive topic: the Bethesda projects that are exclusive to others or are multi-platform in arrangement. Bethesda currently has two games that are exclusive to Sony’s PlayStation 5 (PS5) and Phil Spencer made clear that Microsoft will honor the exclusivity commitments of those games. In short, the Bethesda-Sony deal for those two games won’t be scrapped. Other Bethesda games coming to platforms that are not Xbox-related will happen on a case-by-case basis with Microsoft having the final decision. All of these are part of the complications that come with acquiring a huge game publisher with existing deals made with other platform makers.

But if you look into the far future, the Xbox-Bethesda megaton deal will eventually lead to sequels of Fallout, Elder Scrolls and other franchises that will be released exclusively on Xbox platforms and PC, and the Bethesda brand will remain. Bethesda’s famous role-playing game (RPG) franchises alone makes Xbox an even more attractive ecosystem for gamers who love RPGs. Think about it! Imagine playing Fallout and Elder Scrolls sequels (or remastered versions of Skyrim or Fallout 4) on Xbox Series X years from now enjoying all the massive content presented with 4K resolution, 60 FPS frame rate, great visuals and much shorter load times. With Microsoft having the more technologically superior console (Xbox Series X compared to PS5 with disc drive) and a much bigger and stronger 1st party game lineup, gamers will realize the benefits of the Xbox-Bethesda deal.

If Microsoft wants to make even more money and sell more, they can always decide to make Fallout and Elder Scrolls sequels available on PS5 and other platforms (even on Nintendo’s next-generation console). Microsoft acquired Mojang years ago and kept Minecraft available on multiple platforms (including those of Sony, Nintendo, iOS and more). When it comes to the next console generation with Bethesda’s many games being played, I expect their multi-platform games to look and play better on Xbox Series X than on PS5.

With Bethesda and Obsidian Entertainment together with Team Xbox, producing a sequel to Fallout New Vegas is no longer an impossible dream!

I should also state that Microsoft having Bethesda under its extensive corporate umbrella and ownership of the many intellectual properties (IP) of the company means that the dream of producing sequel to Fallout New Vegas is no longer impossible! Microsoft also owns Obsidian Entertainment, the very same team that worked with Bethesda for Fallout New Vegas, and they can decide to assign them to produce a sequel complete with a lot of human, technological and financial resources to back them! While I love the idea of Obsidian making Fallout New Vegas 2, I personally prefer they keep focusing on making their major fantasy RPG Avowed (ironically an ambitious game described as something to rival Bethesda’s Skyrim) and making a next-generation sequel to The Outer Worlds (which I love playing). A new Fallout New Vegas can be released on Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X AFTER the respective releases of Avowed, Starfield and Elder Scrolls VI many years from now.

Apart from the very promising benefits gamers will soon have from the Xbox-Bethesda deal, Microsoft also deserves praise for their transparency with gamers about their next-generation consoles, their expanding 1st party game studios lineup, Xbox All Access, Xbox Game Pass and the like. Transparency aside, Team Xbox also proved to stay honest and well organized with gamers unlike Sony’s PlayStation division. Watch the videos below regarding Sony…

The Xbox-Bethesda deal alone motivates me even more to acquire an Xbox Series X console and also sign up at last on Xbox Game Pass. I am certain that I am not the only geek experiencing the excitement about the very bright future of fun, engaging and high-value gaming with Xbox. With Bethesda’s RPG franchises alone, Xbox is already the best and definitive ecosystem for people who love playing role-playing games (note: Microsoft has Avowed coming and hopefully a The Outer Worlds sequel from Obsidian, plus established support from Square Enix with a Dragon Quest game coming out this December). This is something that Sony (even with Final Fantasy XVI a timed exclusive on their PS5) and Nintendo cannot match! Going back to Bethesda, they really had gone a long way and their decades-old history of doing business with Microsoft is undeniable. The very first time I played a Bethesda game on Microsoft hardware was none other than Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion on Xbox 360 and that was way back in 2006. In the past decade, I played Skyrim on Xbox 360 and Fallout 4 on Xbox One. Personally, I am happy that Microsoft acquired Bethesda with not only the Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X in mind but for the long term…the far future!

In ending this, watch these videos from Dealer Gaming, Colteastwood, Rand al Thor 19 and Zalker 87 for additional insight about the Xbox-Bethesda deal!

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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: Movies and video games at DC FanDome

Today, DC Comics fans had a day-long blast of excitement as a result of the DC FanDome event that was global in scope. To be clear, DC FanDome is multi-media in terms of the presentations of DC Comics franchises, projects and talents. As such, comic book publishing giants like Jim Lee plus Hollywood talents like Gal Gadot, Patty Jenkins and Zack Snyder were present online to showcase DC’s projects (ranging from comic books to animation, video games and motion pictures).

For this article, I have decided to narrow the scope down to movies and video games. The following movies and video games caught my attention and for each, I’ll share my honest opinion. Let’s start with the movies…

The movies

Wonder Woman 1984

Wonder Woman 1984, as I made clear before, is my most wanted superhero movie as I loved the 2017 movie (and has the iconic scene that will be remembered for a long time) and I deeply enjoyed Gal Gadot’s portrayal of the Queen of all Superheroes. While it is disappointing that the current pandemic delayed the Wonder Woman 1984 and made its future theatrical release uncertain, the newest trailer eased the pain of waiting for me and I should say that I love what was shown. The great stuff shown seem to reflect the deepening creative synergy between star Gal Gadot and director Patty Jenkins. What surprised me the most was that Warner Bros.’ marketing team went on to show Dr. Minerva in her anticipated physical form as Cheetah in battle with Wonder Woman. I was hoping that the filmmakers and the marketing team would keep the Cheetah appearance secret until the film’s opening. Regardless, I am very excited for Wonder Woman 1984 and if you want to prepare yourselves for it, I highly recommend reading Wonder Woman #9 (1987) which was George Perez’s modernizing of Cheetah.

The Batman

The DC FanDome trailer showed that this newest cinematic Batman directed by Matt Reeves starring Robert Pattinson looks really impressive. In terms of aesthetics, The Batman appears to share the visual style and gritty touch of Batman Begins. Robert Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne/Batman has a very rough look, so much so he made me forget that he played a vampire before. When it comes to presenting the characters, Reeve’s Batman (along with his equipment) looks radically different from Zack Snyder’s Batman, and Catwoman in this new movie has a more grounded-in-reality look. In what appears to be a sign of rough action coming, the short clip showing Pattinson’s Batman quickly and painfully beating a thug in front of others looks very Intriguing. With regards to the setting, director Reeves stated before that the film’s story is set within the DC Universe but it will be done without cameo appearances and without fan service elements that would suggest a shared universe. It will be its own story and, more importantly, it will redefine Batman once again. This movie is currently scheduled for a 2021 release.

The Suicide Squad

After a long wait for concrete details, the official unveiling of The Suicide Squad under the direction of James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy films) is well worth it and even though there are no plot details, the new movie looks pretty promising to be fun (at least in terms of spectacle). How James Gunn will be able to make an enjoyable movie, I can only imagine him mixing up the characters, have their personalities clash or slide well with each other, and deliver the action. Again, there are no details about what the story is but safe to say this one is no cheap movie and chances are good it will make moviegoers forget about the cynical presentation of the 2016 Suicide Squad movie (which I admit I enjoyed to a certain extent). Apart from the return of Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, Joel Kinnaman as Rick Flag, Viola Davis as Amanda Waller, and Jai Courtney as Captain Boomerang, the cast has notable additions like martial artist/fitness model Mayling Ng as Mongal, Michael Rooker sa Savant, and Idres Elba as Bloodsport!

Zack Snyder’s Justice League (AKA The Snyder Cut)

Believe it or not, I personally am not too excited for this so-called more definitive version of the 2017 Justice League movie under Zack Snyder. To a certain extent, I had my enjoyment of the 2017 Justice League but ended up disappointed it never had an epic presentation to match its epic concept. As much as I love seeing DC Comics’ premier superheroes get together to save the world from tremendous danger, I am not convinced to avail of HBO Max (note: this director’s cut is not going to cinemas) streaming to watch the anticipated Snyder cut. In my honest view, Justice League of 2017 has been done and it seems like a backward move to revisit the film even in the form of a more specific vision of Zack Snyder. Regardless, Snyder’s vision of the JL will be realized in 2021. How it will impact the status of the current DC Comics cinematic universe remains to be seen.

The video games

Gotham Knights

Gotham Knights, developed by WB Games Montréal and published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, is an action-adventure game set in the city of Gotham which, once again, has been struck by criminals. As seen in the above gameplay showcase, Mr. Freeze struck Gotham and Batgirl and Robin join forces to take him on. In terms of game design, Gotham City is an open-world environment and players will be able to select and play as Nightwing or Red Hood or Robin or Batgirl. Batman is out of the spotlight this time which explains why the other four characters are needed. How this new video game will perform critically and commercially remains to be seen. Can it sell without letting players play as the iconic Batman? Gotham Knights is being made for Windows 10 PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X.  

Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League

This other game from Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment is very notable not because of its concept of the Suicide Squad going against the Justice League, but simply because it is the first new game in many years made by the acclaimed Rocksteady Studios which is best known for the main Batman Arkham video games. As of now, we only have a cinematic (non-gameplay) trailer emphasizing its concept. While details about the gameplay are unavailable, the city environment in the trailer suggests the game may come with an open-world design similar to what Rockstead did in Batman Arkham City and Batman Arkham Knight. Whatever Rocksteady is doing, they should be able to deliver the fun stuff. Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League is being made for Windows 10 PC, PS5 and Xbox Series X.

In closing this, I recommend you watch the latest video of YouTuber Dealer Gaming which has insights about Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League and Gotham Knights. You’ll also learn the latest regarding Xbox Series X.

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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. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. 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

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.


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

Are You Ready for the Next Generation of Xbox Gaming?

Are You Ready for the Next Generation of Xbox Gaming?

Previously I expressed what I hoped to see in the upcoming Xbox games showcase by Microsoft. Now that it has officially been announced that the event – Xbox Games Showcase – will take place officially on July 23 at 9AM Pacific Time in the United States, the moment of truth is at hand for the Xbox team led by Phil Spencer, their technology partners and makers, and, of course, the loyal Xbox fans and others who love video gaming.

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Take note of the details here.

To makes things clear for everyone, Xbox’s Aaron Greenberg stated via Twitter: I know everyone is excited for Xbox Games Showcase next Thursday. Seen some wild expectations so if helpful this show has one focus, games. No business, devices or similar news, just games. A whole show about hour long focused on games. Hope you enjoy it!

Greenberg’s Twitter statement made clear that the July 23 event will be all about the video games and that expectations that go beyond games are unnecessary. What is clear is that the showcase itself is an opportunity for Microsoft to show to the world what its many Xbox game studios are working on for future release on the next-generation Xbox Series X console.

On Xbox.com, Greenberg wrote: Xbox Game Studios is pushing the industry forward with a huge variety of games, all of which support services and features that put the player first, including Xbox Game Pass and Smart Delivery.

He also confirmed that there will be the first-ever preview of the campaign gameplay from the much-anticipated Halo Infinite.

For his part, Xbox head Phil Spencer emphasized that gamers and fans are essential in their video game business efforts and the launch of the new console generation. He wrote:

At Xbox, we listen to what you – players, game developers, and content creators – tell us you want from the future of gaming. Based on your feedback, we’re building a future where you and your friends can play the deepest, most immersive and interactive games ever created across your Xbox console, PC, and mobile devices.

At the dawn of the next generation, it’s important to be clear about what you can expect from the future of Xbox.

Our vision has one hero at the heart of it all: You.

With regards to the next Xbox generation, Spencer stated:

Xbox Series X is designed to deliver a new level of fidelity, feel, performance and precision never seen before in console gaming. All games will look and play best on Xbox Series X – whether they come from our 15 Xbox Game Studios, like Halo Infinite, or from our world-class publisher and developer partners. Packing over 12 teraflops of GPU power including new technologies like hardware-accelerated Direct X raytracing and variable rate shading, and with four times the processing power of an Xbox One X, Xbox Series X enables developers to provide you with transformative gaming experiences through richer, more dynamic living worlds, more realistic AI and animations, and support for higher frame rates including support for up to 120 FPS.

Xbox Series X also enables you to spend less time waiting and more time playing, as it virtually eliminates load times with the 40x boost in I/O throughput from last generation. With our custom next-generation SSD and Xbox Velocity Architecture, nearly every aspect of playing games is improved. Game worlds are larger, more dynamic and load in a flash, and fast travel is just that – fast. The Xbox Velocity Architecture also powers new platform capabilities like Quick Resume, which enables you to seamlessly switch between multiple titles and resume instantly from where you last left off without waiting through long loading screens. Right now, Xbox Series X is in the hands of our 15 Xbox Game Studios teams and thousands of third-party developers, empowering them to create a new generation of blockbuster games for you to enjoy.

Furthermore, Spencer stressed that the subscriber system Xbox Game Pass will continue and provide gamers choices when it comes to games (complete with Day One releases of games under Xbox Game Studios) and memberships. He added that Xbox Game Pass and Project xCloud will be offered together this September at no additional cost for those who already signed up for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.

Backward compatibility, which is one of the most defining features of the Xbox experience in this current console generation that has been very positively received by gamers, will continue and anyone who acquires an Xbox Series X unit will be able to play games of four console generations right from the start.

The brand new Smart Delivery will be in effect and this means that gamers – (Spencer’s own words) don’t need to buy the same game twice – once for the current console generation and once for the next generation. You always have the best available version of supported games on whatever Xbox console you are playing on, at no additional cost. If you own a title that supports Smart Delivery like Destiny 2, Gears 5 and Halo Infinite, you automatically have access to the version that plays best on your Xbox console. Highly anticipated games from the world’s biggest developers, like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Cyberpunk 2077, Marvel’s Avengers and more have already committed to supporting Smart Delivery and more will be announced soon.

The Xbox games up for showcase

As I write this, we are just days away from seeing the Xbox Game Showcase happen. This is easily the one big event that Microsoft will organize themselves and there is very little room for errors to happen. With the focus on games, we can already rule out the possibilities of Microsoft formally announcing the rumored Xbox Series S (Xbox Lockhart), the launch price for Xbox Series X, and the like.

Previously, I mentioned what I hope to see happen or showcased. Let me go a bit further with the following:

Halo Infinite – Already confirmed by Aaron Greenberg to be featured, I should say that showing how the game will play is exciting. I hope to see not just the action and shooting, but also see the rumored open-world gameplay get implemented. Frankly enough, I have gotten tired of linearity in the level designs (no matter how wide open specific areas got) of Halo games and therefore having a more open-world design will be very welcome. In addition, I really am curious as to what situation Master Chief has gotten into as far as the story goes, especially given the disappointing story and conclusion of Halo 5: Guardians. I only hope that uninteresting characters like Agent Locke will be limited to strictly supporting roles or short appearances, and that the plot will be more character-driven following Master Chief. As for The Banished, I’d really like to see them brought to life within the main storyline of Halo and become the new opposition for Master Chief to take on.

Obsidian Entertainment’s fantasy RPG – Previously I hoped to see RPG specialist Obsidian Entertainment announce a sequel to their hit game The Outer Worlds which would add tremendous value to the Xbox brand by being Xbox-exclusive. In his July 7, 2020 video (related to the Xbox Games Showcase), YouTuber colteastwood stated that Obsidian has hundreds of people working on the next fantasy RPG to rival the awe and wonder of the Elder Scrolls franchise. Considering that The Outer Worlds is still new, it makes more sense for Obsidian to work on a brand new project than a sequel to the mentioned sci-fi RPG. I hope that the fantasy RPG project is real and that it would be announced that it exists and is progressing with production. I don’t expect to see a trailer announcing it but if Microsoft and Obsidian could pull it off this early, that would be great!

Check out colteastwood’s video here.

A new Perfect Dark game – Whether it will involve Xbox studio The Initiative or not, it is high time for the Perfect Dark game franchise to be revived with a big budget production involving great game makers who could ensure a new game will be a lot of fun. I really hope that Microsoft will at least announce a new Perfect Dark game is coming for Xbox Series X and assure that the protagonist Joanna Dark herself will come back big time. While the past Perfect Dark games had been first-person shooters, having the new game redesigned as a 3rd-person view, action-adventure game much in the style of Splinter Cell (if possible, mixed with some of the rapid firing of Gears of War games) will be a welcome development. Apart from crafting a new PD game for the sake of selling games, it is high time also to explore more of the universe that Joanna Dark is in, not to mention emphasizing her character for the new generation of Xbox fans. There is so much untapped potential in the Perfect Dark IP and I hope Microsoft have decided to really invest in it. In my honest opinion, Perfect Dark can add even more excitement to the Xbox brand alongside the shooter, action-oriented Halo and Gears of War.

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Joanna Dark and the Perfect Dark franchise returning big time?

Potential surprises? Well, if Microsoft announces that their studio Undead Labs would temporarily move away from the State of Decay series to make a brand new, single-player, story-focused open-world game involving zombies and monsters, that would be something! Announcing the reboot and complete redesign of the Crackdown game franchise can still surprise. What would really be surprising would be an announcement of a sequel or a prequel to Lost Odyssey with or without Mistwalker, and that it would be redesigned from the ground up (because Lost Odyssey’s design is outdated by today’s standards). I personally do not expect to see the Xbox team revive the Lost Odyssey franchise but, who knows what will happen on July 23?

While Microsoft clearly stated that their showcase will be focused on the games, I believe they will make room for an exception – the announcement of something so significant they will really have to make an exception and that would be the acquisition of Warner Bros. Interactive which has several experienced game studios under its umbrella including the acclaimed Rocksteady (Batman Arkham games) and NetherRealm Studios to name a few. As reported already, Microsoft has been exploring the possibility of acquiring WB Interactive as a result of WB’s parent company AT&T considering selling off WB’s game division to raise funds and pay off a massive debt. Compared to other reported potential WB Interactive buyers like Activision, Electronic Arts, and Take-Two Interactive, Microsoft has the financial muscle (and the ambition to strengthen its gaming business drive which includes producing new content) to make the deal.

YouTuber Dealer Gaming discussed the possible buyout of WB Interactive in this video below.

The Xbox Games Showcase is only a few days away from happening. Better get yourselves ready for the expected excitement and surprise as this is easily the single most important event yet from team Xbox in a long time.

See you soon!


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