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: 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

Get ready for more excitement and discovery in The Outer Worlds DLC “Peril on Gorgon”, set for release on September 9, 2020

Hey fellow gamers and geeks! Let me start by saying that even though I really enjoyed finishing the acclaimed sci-fi role-playing game The Outer Worlds three times on my Xbox One since the initial release, I still have yet to publish my official review of it here.

Apart from being busy with private sector duty, I spent time exploring what the initial release of the Obsidian-developed game had to offer in terms of its content, characters and the outcome of its storytelling which was decided by making decisions. As much as I kept on playing and exploring the game in each playthrough, I could not find ways to visit the other planets in the system and this made me decide to wait first for the DLC. The other reason why I have not published my review is this…I decided to wait first for the announced DLC to be released.

After several months of waiting, Microsoft-owned developer Obsidian Entertainment (Fallout New Vegas) and publisher Private Division finally confirmed on July 23, 2020 (same day as the Xbox Games Showcase) that the first downloadable content (DLC) expansion for The Outer Worlds is titled Peril on Gorgon which will be released for gamers who own the game on Xbox One (note: the main game and the DLC will also work on Xbox Series X), PS4, Switch and PC on September 9, 2020.

Some things await visitors on Gorgon.

To be more specific, Peril on Gorgon is actually the first of two narrative expansion DLCs from Obsidian/Private Division that can be purchased individually or bundled at a discount in The Outer Worlds Expansion Pass. Quite obviously, the copy of The Outer Worlds is required for the DLC to work. If I were you, pay close attention to details on The Outer Worlds listing on your online gaming network for updates about the DLC and expansion pass.

Back to the first DLC coming, you must be wondering what Peril on Gorgon is about. Watch the trailer below first.

Here’s an excerpt straight from Obsidian’s website:

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.

As far as the announcement trailer and above description go, the DLC has an asteroid as the setting and the concept of it as the location of a facility is indeed intriguing. How exactly will it connect to the main story remains to be seen. I personally intend to play The Outer Worlds with a new (4th playthrough) once I download Peril on Gorgon.

Dead bodies on the floor of a nice looking place…did the robot ahead had anything to do with them?

What new features will Peril on Gorgon bring to those who already played The Outer Worlds? Below is an excerpt from Obsidian:

Intrigue and danger: Search an abandoned Spacer’s Choice facility and encounter a cast of new characters as you uncover the mystery behind the sudden cancellation of the Gorgon Project.

New locations: Explore the treacherous canyons of the Gorgon Asteroid and encounter enemies that have been warped by science.

More science weapons: Discover three outlandish new science weapons, including the P.E.T. (Pest Extermination Tool), an exciting new melee weapon that draws in enemies for close-range attacks.

Expanded character customization and lore: An increased level cap, additional perks and flaws, wholly new armor sets, and several variants for existing gear. Plus, dig into the story of the Gorgon Asteroid with new Portable Phonograph audio logs that reveal the salacious secrets of a scientific experiment gone wrong.

As seen above, Obsidian not only made efforts to add more variety (if not depth) to the game’s narrative plus new places to explore, they also came up with new science weapons that may improve the battle system. Additional perks and flaws might just improve the way players can customize their characters. As for the new variants for gear and new armor sets, here is hoping their usefulness in the game will really be felt.

You should look forward to more shooting in this DLC, especially since there will be new science weapons.
Are you interested in spending more time drinking at the bar?

What concerns me is the apparent lack of new monsters to fight. Not only were there no new monsters mentioned in Obsidian’s confirmed DLC details, there were monsters from the original game that appeared in the Peril on Gorgon trailer albeit with different colors.

But then again, the trailer is only a taste of things to come. Perhaps Obsidian is keeping more of the new stuff secret and will just let us gamers buy the DLC, play it and found out what it really has. I hope they will add at least two new species of monsters plus a larger, stronger superior monster per species.

How long will the DLC be in return for the price of downloading? According to a GameRant.com article (citing Polygon.com), players can expect an estimated length of 6 to 8 hours on the new adventure citing the claims of The Outer Worlds director Carrie Patel that it should take about as long as the main game’s Monarch hub. Potentially, the DLC could last more than eight hours if players would really push themselves hard to explore just about every spot in each location and exploring the different outcomes via the decision-making sequences. There is also the possibility that a high number of enemies and monsters may have been set up by the developers to challenge gamers.

Peril on Gorgon DLC is coming out on September 9, 2020.

While there is a build-up for Peril on Gorgon, I wish that Microsoft, Obsidian and Private Division would work together somehow to showcase The Outer Worlds being optimized for the next-generation Xbox Series X. In fact, when it comes to optimizing previous Xbox console generation games running on Xbox Series X, I don’t think Microsoft has done enough to emphasize that and there are roughly three months left before the launch of their new console!

Speaking of Xbox Series X, I urge you to watch this brand new video about the console by Dealer Gaming! Follow him on Twitter now!

For more video game news, features and updates, come back here soon.

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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

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

Screenshot_20200801-074115_YouTube.jpg
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

What I Hope to See in Microsoft’s Xbox Digital Event this July

This past May, Microsoft organized its first digital event of the year highlighting upcoming games produced by their publishing partners and independent developers for its next-generation Xbox Series X console. In case you missed that, watch the video.

Okay. There were several games showcased but in my honest opinion, the event felt underwhelming overall due to the presentation – there was just not enough real-time gameplay sequences shown as there was too much emphasis on showing the games’ concepts in a more cinematic fashion. Even The only games from that digital event that interested me were Dirt 5 and The Ascent.

This July, Microsoft has another digital event coming only this time it will be a showcase of upcoming Xbox Series X video games made by varied game studios working under the Xbox banner. A date has yet to be announced as of this writing.

As this will be a showcase of products from the 1st party game makers and announcements from Microsoft to prove their dedication with the next-generation of gaming, I hope to see the following happen.

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  • Halo Infinite showcased in both cinematic and real-time gameplay demonstration – It has been two years since Halo Infinite was first announced and with the expected Xbox Series X launch happening late this year, the time is right to emphasize that game’s concept with real-time cinematic scenes and show how it plays and what new gameplay features have been implemented by 343 Industries. Here is hoping that the developers have learned from the mistakes they made with Halo 5: Guardians.
  • Forza Motorsport 8 and Forza Horizon 5 announced together – this is a long shot but I hope to see the next-generation games of both Forza Motorsport and Forza Horizon to be announced in the same event as this will be Microsoft’s chance to show why Xbox Series X will be the console of choice for gamers who love cars and racing (be it simulation or open-world) as well as the machine that will give racing-driving car developers all the resources and opportunities they need to make their dream projects come true. There’s no telling yet if the expected Forza Motorsport 8 will be a launch title with Xbox Series X but it is clear that a follow-up to Forza Motorsport 7 is already due. As for Forza Horizon 5, I don’t expect it to be released until 2022 but an early announcement would not hurt. Going back to Forza Motorsport 8, if any gameplay footage will be shown, here is hoping it will run in 4K resolution with 120 frames-per-second frame rate and ray-tracing turned on.
  • New Fable – Considering how long the next-generation Fable RPG (popularly referred to as Fable 4) has been rumored to be in production under Playground Games, this year is the right time to finally confirm it and show at least some concept art if no gameplay footage is available. The game makers should also make clear if the new Fable is a sequel or a reboot, and more importantly, emphasize what its fantasy concept will be, what kind of gameplay can be expected, and what the game’s tone will be like.
  • Brand new, 1st party open-world video game – When it comes to open-world games involving Microsoft, I am NOT a fan of the Crackdown franchise of games and I certainly don’t want to see that game series to continue at all. Considering how many game studios are working under the Xbox banner, I’d rather see a brand new open-world game that will not only be different from Crackdown but be a lot of fun (regardless of what its concept will be), be very engaging and be made with high-grade quality production values. It will also be an opportunity for an Xbox game studio to make an open-world adventure game that can be different from the fantasy, crime or post-apocalyptic concepts.
  • The Outer Worlds sequel plus new RPGs from Obsidian Entertainment – I love playing and replaying The Outer Worlds on my Xbox One, and I certainly hope to see Obsidian Entertainment announce a sequel (at least show a video), only this time it will be Xbox-exclusive now that they are owned by Microsoft. Given the very positive critical and commercial success of The Outer Worlds, making a sequel that can be bigger and even better is the way to go. Going beyond The Outer Worlds, I hope that brand new RPGs will be announced.
  • More from Ninja Theory – I hope to see more of what Ninja Theory could do. They already showed a video of Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II some months back and I hope they will show actual gameplay of it this time. Apart from that upcoming sequel, it would be nice to see what new games they are working on will be announced.
  • The Initiative’s first game – The Initiative is a new game studio set up by Microsoft which reportedly has a lot of very talented game developers working together in Santa Monica, California. What they are working on remains unknown but I hope that at least an announcement about their first game will be made.
  • Xbox Series S console – While I personally want the Xbox Series X to replace my aging Xbox One, to see the rumored Xbox Series S console (expected to be smaller, less powerful and more affordable) get confirmed and showcased will still be welcome. I hope to see it having a very compact design (note: most likely it will come without an UHD Blu-ray drive), very good graphical and technical performance and a $199 tag price.
  • At least one new game each from the other Xbox game studios announced – The other Xbox game studios like Undead Labs, Rare, inXile Entertainment, Double Fine and Compulsion Games should each have something new to be announced. I’m talking about new, Xbox-exclusive games that gamers are willing to wait for to be completed and released. As for The Coalition, I don’t expect a new Gears of War sequel to be announced yet.
  • $399 launch price for Xbox Series X – This is something I really hope will be confirmed by Microsoft. Considering that Microsoft itself can afford to lose some money on launching hardware as they make money from Xbox Game Pass and paid services and game sales via Xbox LIVE, a $399 launch price will definitely make Xbox Series X a very attractive next-generation console for consumers. Granted, the technologies and components for Xbox Series X are surely expensive (apart from the amount of money spent on developing the console) and the Xbox One X itself was launched at $499 in 2017, but still a $399 launch price is not impossible for Microsoft to pull off. In terms of competition, the attractive launch theoretical launch price will add tremendous pressure to Sony to follow suit with PS5.

Now that those are the things I hope to see, we can only wait for Microsoft to announce exactly when this July they will organize their digital event. Stay tuned!


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

Latest Previews of Resident Evil 3 Remake Revealed Too Much

Hey fellow gamers and geeks!

Chances are, you may have seen the latest video previews of the much-awaited remake of Resident Evil 3 as published by varied media outlets like IGN, GameSpot and others in coordination with Capcom.

Like anyone else, I am personally excited for the remake and I was fortunate enough to have played the original version of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis on the original PlayStation way back in 1999. How different were the times back in 1999 – no Xbox LIVE yet, no Facebook, no Twitter, no Instagram and no YouTube yet.

Out of curiosity, I went on to watch the video previews of the RE3 remake hoping to see the latest.

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Jill in an encounter with Nemesis.

To my regret, it turned out that Capcom gave the gaming press too much to show. In short, spoilers were made without restraint. Apart from story and character details, there were key sections and visual elements from the game that I believe should have been kept secret. Those details, sections and visual elements could have been saved as big surprises for the gamers (especially the millions of younger gamers who never played the original Resident Evil 3), but they were spoiled! How unfortunate it was for me to have seen them.

In writing this, for those who have not yet seen those recent video previews, I will not share those here. In fact, I urge you to avoid seeing them. Regarding new stuff from those previews, I only used two screenshots to keep spoilers very minimal here.

What I can share here that is not a spoiler at all is that Capcom’s developers implemented a modernized way of dodging in the game effectively even as the default 3rd person, over-the-shoulder is used. The way it looks, dodging in the remake seems more responsive than the hit-or-miss dodging in the original RE3.

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Jill and Carlos.

Just wait for the game’s April 2020 release instead and enjoy the game with limited exposure to the online previews (including text articles that shared a lot of the spoilers that the recent video previews carried).

You have been warned.


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

A Look Back at Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

In this age of photo-realistic 3D graphics in video gaming, I sure miss the days when 2D gaming and highly detailed pixel art were the standard. I’m referring to the so-called 16-bit era of the Super NES/SNES (Super Nintendo Entertainment System) back in the 1990s.

In 1991, Super Star Wars was released on the Super NES and it became a big hit with the gamers, the critics and fans. That game was heralded as one of the best video game adaptations of movies.

Naturally, a follow-up to that game was released in 1993 – Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.

That being said, here is my retro gaming review of Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.

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The experience of using a Rebel speeder to bring down an AT-AT walker with the cable remains awesome.

Developed by Sculptured Software and LucasArts and published in America by JVC, this game is based on The Empire Strikes Back which today has been considered to be the greatest Star Wars movie ever. Of course, in order to make a cohesive video game adaptation out of the classic movie, a lot of liberties were taken when it comes to following the story. This was inevitable as the game developers needed a lot of creative freedom to make a cohesive video game.

Early story (and some notable differences from the movie)

Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back begins with Luke Skywalker riding a Tauntaun. Unlike the movie, Luke (controlled by players) visits some places of the wasteland of Hoth, notably caverns and hills fighting several forms of wild life (including wampa beasts), and even some probe droids.

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Luke jumping on to a wampa beast.

Unlike the movie, Luke does not get rescued by Han Solo in the wilderness. Instead he defeats a giant-sized probe droid and a giant-sized wampa beast (as in-game bosses) and make his way back to Echo Base to rejoin the rebels. Upon returning at the base, he finds it filled with Imperial troopers and their machines (where are Luke’s fellow rebels?) and fights his way through to fly a rebel speeder (note: without the movie co-pilot Dak) and proceed in the Battle of Hoth.

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This never happened in the movie.

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Luke jumping into a snow speeder without a co-pilot.

Back at Echo Base, Han Solo (player-controlled) has to make his way through a wave of Imperial enemies and machines to meet Princess Leia, secure her and ride away on the Millenium Falcon. The Falcon (player-controlled) enters the asteroid field being attacked gradually by over twenty TIE Fighters. Once all of them have been eliminated, the Falcon jumps into light speed (which contradicts the movie).

Gameplay

Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back is composed mostly of 2D, side-scrolling action sequences in which players control their characters moving from left to right in order to make the game progress. The sequences are filled with lots of action-packed moments mainly due to the MANY enemies challenging the players plus sequences of shooting, jumping and using special weapons (note: the thermal detonator was awesome to use). When it comes to filling up the health meter of your character, defeating enemies result random releases of hearts (symbolizing health) which you need to pick up. Key side-scrolling segments of the game will have players facing off with in-game bosses or enemies that are large, intimidating and have their own health meters for players to reduce to zero.

As typical with most 2D side-scrolling games of the era, this game is really tough and will take gamers some patience and perseverance to complete.

What really stood out in this game are the makeshift 3D segments (made possible by Mode 7) which were pretty extensive and really interactive. The Battle of Hoth in Mode 7 was pretty engaging as players get to fly a rebel speeder over a snowy field complete with lots of Imperial enemies (including the AT-ST walkers and the AT-AT walkers) and each of them is composed of multiple 2D sprites making them look 3D as the speeder moves around. Apart from simply shooting, the interactive sequence of tagging an AT-AT walker with a cable, flying around it and wrapping it with the cable, and then watching it fall to the ground really is an awesome gaming experience which really showed how hard the game developers pushed 2D visuals and pixel art.

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A Mode 7 sequence late in the game had players using an X-Wing fighter.

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The Battle of Hoth was a great and lengthy use of Mode 7.

Apart from the Battle of Hoth, there was also another Mode 7 sequence involving the X-Wing Fighter approaching Cloud City. That particular sequence was noticeably shorter and did not have a standout action sequence as it was limited to the X-Wing Fighter simply shooting Bespin fighters. Another non-2D segment was the Millenium Falcon’s flight through the asteroid field which was done with the cockpit view (first-person view exactly) in which you move a cursor for targeting and moving the ship to. This segment was pretty tough because players were not only required to eliminate more than 20 TIE Fighters but also avoid incoming asteroids and maintaining the Falcon’s energy shields (which serves as a health meter)

Going back to the 2D side-scrolling segments, the use of the lightsaber by Luke remains a lot of fun to do. Not only could he slash bad guys, he could use the lightsaber defensively protecting himself from incoming energy blasts (which get deflected by the lightsaber). On the offense, Luke can jump into the air and spin with the lightsaber turned on making him an aerial slasher over the bad guys.

In keeping with the theme of the movie showing Luke Skywalker learning to be a Jedi, the Dagobah segment in the game has Luke gaining varied Force powers and he also has a separate Force energy meter. The Force powers can be used in subsequent segments of the game and they are quite useful when Luke encounters Darth Vader as the final boss in Cloud City.

The fights with Darth Vader were nicely designed. With creative freedom, the game developers expanded on Darth Vader’s use of the Force to move several pieces of debris and machines towards Luke who has to defend himself from all sides. Fighting Darth Vader with the lightsaber was tricky and for the most part, I had Luke slashing on villain with just enough space between them and many times I had Luke use the lightsaber on him while jumping and spinning in the air. Defeating Vader was a requirement to complete the game.

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Very nice artwork made for the storytelling cut scenes.

Finally, like in Super Star Wars, players can also play as Han Solo (special attack: grenade throw) and Chewbacca (special attack: offensive spin) but only in specific segments of the game supposedly to keep in line with its story.

Conclusion

Even by today’s standards, Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back is still a high-quality video game that is a lot of fun to play with even though it is tough (a password system is used for in-game progress so that gamers can come back to continue) all throughout. Gameplay aside, the presentation of visuals and audio is also very solid. The sprites for the in-game characters, enemies, machines and animal were detailed to look at while the background art were immersive (like in the movies, Cloud City, Hoth and Dagobah had their distinctive visuals). The Super NES audio chip was greatly used on recreating 16-bit sound from the movies, especially John Williams’ movie scores and lightsaber sound effects.

Take note that this game was released in 1993 which is significant in the sense that people had moved on since the release of the movie Return of the Jedi (1983) and the Star Wars prequel trilogy did not begin until 1999 with Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. This game was released at a time when 2D gaming was still in strong demand and most gamers did not expect that 3D polygonal graphics would reshape video gaming eventually. In retrospect, the polygon-focused gaming consoles Sega Saturn and the original Sony PlayStation launched in late 1994 or more than a year after Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.

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The inevitable battle between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader.

I myself had lots of fond memories playing this game back in the mid-1990s. I simply endured the many challenges of it and ultimately had a lot of enjoyment completing it. I even replayed the game from the start even though I knew how the game presented the ending and key story elements of the movie. I also got to replay The Empire Strikes Back on home video around the time I played this game.

Believe it or not, Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back was the first of the Super Star Wars trilogy on the Super NES that I actually played. After completing it, I borrowed the Super Star Wars cartridge from a friend and later bought a copy of Super Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. I completed those two other games and I can clearly say that Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back remains the best in game design, the best in terms of fun factor and the most memorable of them all.

If you love Star Wars and you want the best 16-bit era video game (note: you’ll need a working Super NES console or Nintendo’s Virtual Console for any Super Star Wars game) experience of it, Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back is highly recommended.


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

Resident Evil 3 Remake Coming Out April 2020 (UPDATED January 16, 2020)

Early this year, I had a grand time playing the big budget remake of Resident Evil 2 on my Xbox One. Because I had a lot of fun and engagement with that particular game, I wish that a remake of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis (which I enjoyed a lot back in 1999) would be made.

For those of you who missed the hot news, Capcom formally announced that a remake of Resident Evil 3 is being produced and it will be released for Xbox One, PS4 and PC on April 3, 2020!

Watch the trailer here now.

For those who never played Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, that game was originally a spin-off but was titled like a sequel since there was an agreement back then for RE games released on PlayStation to have their titles numbered. Sure RE3 lacked the depth of the acclaimed Resident Evil 2 (released in 1998) in terms of storytelling, production values and fantasy concept but it proved to be a whole lot of fun and it went on to sell over 3 million copies worldwide.

The 2019 remake of Resident Evil 2 sold more than 5 million units worldwide. Considering its commercial and critical success, the announcement of Resident Evil 3’s remake hardly is surprising. What I do find surprising, however, is that the new game will be released much sooner than expected. Come to think of it, RE3 on PlayStation was released over a year after RE2.

Now we take a look at the remake of RE3.

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Like the Resident Evil 2 remake, a 3rd-person shooting view is implemented. (visual source – RE3 Developer Diary Video)

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Resident Evil 3’s story begins a day before the events of RE2 and it explores more of the streets and alleys of zombie-fested Raccoon City.

No surprise, the developers used the same game engine from RE2 on RE3 remake. They also implemented the 3rd-person views (including the by-the-shoulder view when aiming to fire) and controls.

Like its 1999 version, RE3’s story took place a day before the events of Resident Evil 2. Before Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield arrived in Raccoon City, the outbreak (caused by the top secret virus of Umbrella) took place causing a lot of people to become zombies. Somewhere along the way, Jill Valentine (now wearing dark pants and a sleeveless top) avoided getting infected but finds herself in the middle of an entire city with many zombies and other monsters lurking on the streets, the alleys and inside varied establishments. Her goal is simply to escape and survive somehow.

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The ever familiar Brad Vickers.

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A rougher looking Carlos Oliveira.

As Jill struggles, something tall, strong and grotesque walks around the city…Nemesis. Unlike the zombies and monsters around, Nemesis exists to search and destroy members of S.T.A.R.S. (Special Tactics and Rescue Service). That happens to be the same team Jill was part of and she becomes a target. Complicating matters is the sudden presence of armed Umbrella Biohazard Countermeasure Service personnel (which includes Carlos Oliveira).

While the official game trailer showed bits and pieces of what will come with regards to storytelling, too little was shown about the gameplay which, in my analysis, will be very similar in style and execution to RE2’s remake but this particular remake may have more gameplay features to make it distinct like the unpredictable dodging of the 1999 RE3, more sprinting sequences, an improved 180-degree turn and, eventually, decision-making in key moments of storytelling scenes (which is a major new feature of the 1999 RE3).

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The modernized look of Jill Valentine. Do you miss her tube top and mini-skirt from the 1999 Resident Evil 3? (visual source – RE3 Developer Diary Video)

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Nemesis looks a bit redesigned for this game.

Like the RE2 remake, the characters of this game have been redesigned to look modern. Carlos Oliveira, who was a temporary playable character in the 1999 Resident Evil 3, now has shaggier hair and facial hair. Jill Valentine does not start the game with her 1999 look (the tube top and mini-skirt) but rather with dark pants and a sleeveless top. Gamers who want the 1999 styles of Carlos and Jill to be in the game can do that by pre-ordering the new game which will grant paying gamers the Resident Evil 3 Classic Costume Pack. Xbox One gamers who want to pre-order it now can do so at GameStop.

What surprised me about the remake announcement was the inclusion of Resident Evil: Resistance which is an an asymmetrical online game. My personal interest on it is low, however.

The Resident Evil 3 remake is a wish come true for me personally. I’m looking forward to its April 2020 release although I still would like to see Capcom release more previews to show more gameplay features so that gamers will have a clear idea as to how it will play. Going back to the late 1990s, Resident Evil 3 was more action-oriented than Resident Evil 2.

UPDATE – January 16, 2020

Recently Capcom released a new trailer and new screenshots of the fast approaching remake of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis.

For your enjoyment, watch the trailer here now.

This time around, the newest trailer shows more of the modern redesign of the famous RE villain Nemesis with a touch of photo-realism. What surprised me was Nemesis using a flame thrower and from the looks of it, it seems that the game developers are trying to adjust the gameplay (specifically with the encounters between Jill and Nemesis) somewhat  and make the experience for gamers different. Since the push for more in-game realism was implemented in Resident Evil 2’s remake, it would be outlandish to show Jill get hit by a rocket from Nemesis (who was armed with a rocket launcher in the original Resident Evil 3) and not get killed in the new game.

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A closer look at Nemesis.

It’s a safe bet that the game developers have multiple encounters between Jill and Nemesis set up in the game. I can imagine playing as Jill firing her shotgun at Nemesis who would either be standing (and firing flame towards Jill) or be walking close to her for an intended neck grab or punch. That being said, having a rocket launcher does not make much sense.

I still remember the times when I controlled Jill in the original RE3, I got hit by one of Nemesis rockets only to suffer damage (not instant death).

There was also more of Carlos (the other playable character) and his armed companions of the Umbrella Biohazard Countermeasure Service (UBCS) as well short story clips of him with Jill. Anyone who played and finished RE3 of 1999 will be familiar with the interactions between them.

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Carlos O. and his shaggy look.

What struck me the most in the newest trailer was the modern redesign of the Hunter shown during the short clip of Carlos encountering one. That particular Hunter resembles the amphibian-type Hunter in the original RE3. There is another variant of the Hunter from the old game colored red and dark grey, and I can only wonder what that would look like in the new game.

While I did not expect Capcom to fully reveal everything through trailers and interviews, I still wonder the following:

  1. If ever Nemesis will run around in this new game (like he did in the original RE3), how can such a feature work efficiently given the use of the 3rd person, over-the-shoulder view for the player’s control? Nemesis running in the old game made sense and even though the tank-like controls of the time were clunky, they were still good enough to move Jill around and dodge (by means of button-pressing). The static camera angles of the old days gave players a nice view where to move Jill around zombies or monsters.
  2. Will weapon upgrades or special items be made available for players to pick-up once they temporarily defeat Nemesis in each encounter (like in the original RE3)?
  3. If the game developers will allow Jill to enter and explore Raccoon City Police Station (like in the original game), how much of it will be open for temporary exploration?

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For Jill Valentine fans.

That’s it for now. Come back here soon for new updates.

Macross at Toycon 2019

Sorry for this late feature but I wish to share to you geeks and hobbyists that during the 2019 edition of the Toycon held this past June at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City, I spotted the display of Macross.

I’m a Macross fan and I always make it a point to find stuff related to my favorite anime franchise whenever a convention happens. Here are some that I spotted during the Toycon.

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The YF-19 from Macross Plus and its weapons on display. Behind it are varied video games and manuals.

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A close look at these mean machines. The one on the right reflects the model of used by Hikaru in the first few episodes of the 1980s Macross anime TV series complete with holding Lynn Minmay for safety.

At the 2nd level of the convention center was a function hall which has a large display of collected items of varied entertainment franchises. The one showcasing Macross had toys, action figures, plastic models, video games, music CDs and some printed materials.

What caught my attention was the display of the YF-19 from Macross Plus complete with its weapons in full view.

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Memories of the 1980s anime TV series as well as the 1984 classic movie Macross: Do You Remember Love? entered my mind.

Also seeing an original copy of the 1990s Sega Saturn video game adaptation of Macross: Do You Remember Love? instantly made me remember playing and enjoying the PlayStation version of that game. The Sega Saturn game can be seen in the picture below.

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Art, books, soundtracks and the Sega Saturn video game.

As much as I enjoyed the display of Macross memorabilia, I regret to say that I was unable to find any more related collectibles or products for sale among the many vendors at the lower level during the Toycon. I searched for whatever Macross stuff I could find (t-shirts, comic books, action figures, models, cards and others) but ended up with nothing.

Then again, it should be surprising at all. Macross as an entertainment franchise is not exactly popular here in the Philippines and Macross Mania in the country has ended long ago. To say the least, the popularity of Macross here in the Philippines is limited to older fans and collectors. Anime is a lot more popular among Filipinos in this modern age but that does not mean Macross found a new nor large audience.

If ever the legendary Shoji Kawamori (whom I met at AsiaPOP Comicon Manila in 2017) or any notable Macross-related talent comes here in the Philippines, only then will the Macross brand gain attention.

 

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Another close look.

If you love anime or Macross, then I invite you to read my retro movie review of Macross: Do You Remember Love? right here. I also wrote about the famous Lynn Minmay here.


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