Xbox-exclusive fantasy RPG Avowed is looking very exciting according to WCG’s Jez Corden

Over a year ago, I wrote about the Xbox ecosystem (Xbox One, Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X and Windows PC) becoming the haven for gamers who love fantasy role-playing games. Take note that article was published before the earth-shaking announcement of Xbox-Bethesda which has since been finalized with full integration which was clearly reflected in the successful E3 2021 digital event.

The integration of Bethesda easily made the future much more promising for the Xbox ecosystem to be the definitive haven for gamers who crave for fantasy RPGs as well as sci-fi RPGs (note: Bethesda’s Starfield will launch exclusively on Xbox on November 11, 2022).

Among the many Xbox game studios is Obsidian Entertainment which is an established RPG maker which Team Xbox acquired in 2018. As seen in the 2020 Xbox games showcase, Obsidian has been working on Avowed, a first-person fantasy RPG that is perceived to be comparable with The Elder Scrolls franchise of Bethesda.

Recently, Windows Central Gaming published an article about Avowed authored by Jez Corden and it has a lot of hot and useful details! The details are so great, I am excited and also confident about Avowed as well as Obsidian Entertainment’s full potential getting realized with the heavy funding and creative freedom they have under Team Xbox.

To put things in perspective, posted below are selected excerpts from the WCG article. Some parts in boldface…

Avowed’s fantasy world is set within Obsidian’s very own Pillars of Eternity fantasy universe.

Excerpt 1

Sources familiar with internal plans have reached out to us in recent months offering details on Avowed, moving through pre-production towards a playable alpha state. Indeed, Obsidian is likely close to having a working early version of the game, with many mechanics and core gameplay pillars already implemented. I can’t be sure how old some of the footage I’ve seen is, and there’s a good chance it’s far further along.

For those who don’t know, we’ve only seen Avowed in a pre-rendered CGI trailer thus far. The game is set in the Pillars of Eternity universe, known as the World of Eternity, and utilizes a first-person viewpoint similar to Obsidian’s The Outer Worlds.

The Outer Worlds fans already have plenty of reasons to be excited about Obsidian’s upcoming slate, given that The Outer Worlds 2 has been confirmed. Avowed seems to be based on a similar, albeit enhanced engine from The Outer Worlds, complete with action-oriented first-person combat and deep RPG exploration and narrative systems. We were told Avowed will feature multiple class playstyles and borrow from Skyrim’s two-handed combat system. You could wield two daggers and be a stealthy rogue, or dive into archery with a two-handed bow. You could use a combination of swords and magic, or go full two-handed magic, which is required to wield some of the game’s more potent spells and abilities.

Avowed will feature many elements Pillars of Eternity fans will be familiar with. Wizard spells like Jolting Touch, which can fry enemies with forks of lightning, will be present. Two-handed spells like Fireball are conjured using complex-looking hand gestures, but decimate enemies in a storm of magma and fire. I also saw status effect spells like Fetid Caress, imbuing enemies with corrosive poison. Weapon enchantments seem to be a big feature too, with magically enchanted swords and frozen arrows, as examples. Pillars-style guns may also appear in the game, similar to the muskets and arquebuses found in the original two titles. Familiar creatures such as the lizard-like Xaurips will appear, alongside much larger and deadlier threats, all the way up to wyverns and drakes.

The combat seems to be more loadout-based than The Elder Scrolls, which gives you mountains of spells in a gigantic list. Warriors will get access to more physical attacks like swordplay, powerful kicks, and shield bashes, while casters will be given a range of spellbook options to customize and tailor their combat style, with attacks bound to specific buttons.

Excerpt 2

Imagine what you could discover in a mysterious fantasy location like that once Avowed finally gets released.

If The Outer Worlds was Obsidian’s take on a Fallout-style game, Avowed is undoubtedly Obsidian’s take on The Elder Scrolls. The two-handed, first-person combat style is unmistakable, but there are obvious differences in early documentation.

At least directly compared to the likes of Skyrim and Oblivion, Avowed seems to be a far more colorful game, reminding me far more of The Outer Worlds. Luminescent cave mushrooms, verdant forests awash with gigantic flora, and hulking sunlit temples complete with skeleton-infested depths and tombs are plentiful. It came as a bit of a surprise given the game’s original trailer, which seemed like it was trying to strike a much darker tone, save for the neon spell effects.

Pillars of Eternity does seem to take environmental interactivity a bit further than The Outer Worlds too, complete with swimming capabilities. We’ve even heard of destructible environments, using lit torches and fire spells to burn down blocked entryways too. Fire spells leave areas coated in flames too, which cascade against walls and floors.

The content I saw does represent a pre-alpha state with certain aspects like lighting and textures not fully implemented, which is one reason I’m not sharing the documentation I’ve been shown. The finished art style is expected to elevate what we saw in The Outer Worlds, though, with a brighter, more lively color palette, although it could end up looking a bit darker akin to the debut trailer. I only saw a couple of areas, although it could represent the diversity of locale styles Obsidian aims to deliver.

As for the story and layout, I can only speculate. I’m not sure whether it will go full-blown open world like the modern Elder Scrolls games or utilize something more like The Outer Worlds’ hub system, which connects large areas with an overworld map, complete with interior areas and dungeons. I’d expected it to be the latter, as it gives Obsidian greater control over the pacing of the narrative, which is one of the studio’s biggest strengths. There is some evidence that it may go fully open world though, given previous job listings (thanks for the tip, Camonna Tong).

Even in its pre-alpha state, Avowed looks like it plays extremely well, with refined action RPG combat set in a vibrant, medieval fantasy world I cannot wait to explore.

Whew! That was a heavy load of details successfully recorded by Jez Corden! Before I go further, I recommend you follow him at Twitter. I also recommend to you all to read Corden’s full article at https://www.windowscentral.com/details-xbox-exclusive-avowed-obsidian-outer-worlds-meets-medieval-fantasy

As seen in the above excerpts from Corden’s hot article, Avowed is more than just Obsidian’s fantasy RPG inspired by The Elder Scrolls. With a first-person view design set in a fantasy world within the established Pillars of Eternity fantasy universe of Obsidian, the Xbox-exclusive Avowed has elements carried over from the hit sci-fi RPG The Outer Worlds (which I loved replaying) and from Pillars of Eternity (which is not surprising). In short, Avowed will have its own flavor and style in terms of game design and creative ideas while still potentially be compared with The Elder Scrolls.

As much as I love The Elder Scrolls RPGs like Oblivion and Skyrim from Bethesda, there were certain shortcomings in those games with regards to storytelling and characterization. Obsidian Entertainment proved itself to be great on telling a story (complete with branching narratives, decision-making and consequences), defining characters for players to interact with and still immerse players deeply with great gameplay and in-depth role-playing. Those very things I mentioned were realized in The Outer Worlds and I am excited to see how Obsidian can replicate those in a fantasy RPG. I should also state that I am looking forward to The Outer Worlds 2 which should be released a few years from now.

As long as the RPG makers can maintain greatness as the production goes on, Avowed can easily become Obsidian’s next gem waiting to be unveiled and it can potentially impact positively the way we gamers enjoy fantasy RPGs. On top of that, it could become the must-have and must-play fantasy RPG experience that can only be availed only on Xbox!

Lastly, read below what Obsidian Entertainment stated on July 2020.

At Obsidian Entertainment, we’re committed to what we’ve been doing for the past 17 years – making incredible worlds for you to play in your way. And with Xbox Game Studios behind us, we can’t wait to bring even more awesome worlds to all of you.

In closing this piece, posted below are Xbox-related videos for your viewing pleasure.

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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

Team Xbox’s presentation at the Tokyo Game Show 2021

Recently I saw via GameSpot’s YouTube channel the Tokyo Game Show 2021 livestream presentation of Team Xbox which lasted about an hour. To say the least, it was indeed a big improvement over what Xbox presented during the 2020 edition of the TGS. There were no major announcements comparable with what were revealed during the last E3 but Team Xbox and its partners in Japan showed there were exciting things for gamers to look forward to.

From Team Xbox.

For one thing, Xbox Cloud Gaming launched in Japan as well in several other places around the world bringing together a massive community of gamers through the Xbox platforms (consoles, PC and mobile devices) who in turn will be able to play over a hundred games through the Xbox Game Pass (XGP) paid subscription service. Team Xbox is focused on reaching over a billion people in 26 countries across five continents and Japan itself is indeed essential not only as a market but also the place where several small and independent game creators have listed through the ID@Xbox program which itself has two hundred Japanese indie games. Xbox Game Pass itself has over a hundred Japanese titles and Bandai Namco’s SCARLET NEXUS is the newest addition to the service.

This video by Dealer Gaming has excerpts from the livestream.
A finely made Japanese visual emphasis on Xbox Cloud Gaming and more. Play anywhere!
The newest Japanese addition to XGP!

As expected, Forza Horizon 5 was part of the TGS Xbox livestream and it would be interesting to see how the game, along with the Xbox Series consoles, will perform commercially and critically among the gamers in Japan this December. Don’t forget Japan’s video game legacy of producing many racing games. What surprised me was the inclusion of the upcoming Xbox-exclusive, Arkane-developed game Redfall which is set for a 2022 release. Check out the Xbox Japan YouTube videos below…

More on Japan-made games, the long-running King of Fighter series is back with a new installment coming to Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X and Windows 10 on February 2022…The King of Fighters XV (stylized as KOF XV) and below is the trailer. You can also order the game now.

Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising from Rabbit & Bear Studios also made an appearance during the livestream. Some gameplay footage was shown from the upcoming action RPG which you can see below…

Bethesda’s Todd Howard presented the upcoming Xbox-exclusive sci-fi RPG Starfield which will not only be released globally on November 11, 2022, it will be fully localized for the Japanese. Pay close attention in the next video…

The Xbox-exclusive sci-fi RPG Starfield!

Team Xbox chief Phil Spencer, who delivered his opening remarks and reaffirmed their commitment on Japan, its gamers, game creators and business partners, had a nice on-screen talk with the legendary game creator Shinji Mikami (famous for the Resident Evil game franchise) who is the founder and one of the top officials of Japan-based Tango Gameworks. Watch the video below…

The head of Xbox and the legendary Shinji Mikami.

Overall, the TGS 2021 Xbox livestream was fun, surprising and exciting even though there were no major game announcements. I should say I find it baffling that no firm release date for CrossFireX was revealed even though it was announced before that the game will come out on Xbox this year. Apart from the Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Cloud Gaming announcements and the emphasis on a global audience through Xbox platforms, a lot of games were shown and the independently made video games made by Japanese and Korean creators like Craftopia, The Good Life, RPG Time, Mighty Goose, Lapin, Unsouled and Eternal Return had their own moments of showcase during the livestream. To say that Xbox has no games is a blatant lie and the current leadership of Team Xbox is totally different compared to what was during the unfortunate Xbox One era.

Japan is the fastest growing market for Team Xbox in the world. The growth of Japanese gaming market as claimed by Spencer is indeed real even though the PlayStation-biased members of the media consistently ignore it. Apart from realizing the Japanese growth, Team Xbox is committed to help bring those games around the world for gamers to enjoy. For the full recap of the livestream, click here.

Spencer and his team have been working hard with global gaming in mind. Just before they started their TGS 2021 livestream, they announced that Dolby Vision Gaming has been made available on Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X.

For the newcomers reading this read the excerpt below…

Dolby Vision takes gaming to the next level through incredible brightness, color, contrast, and detail.  Games in Dolby Vision automatically map to any display that supports Dolby Vision, delivering players the benefit of seeing the best possible picture available. Dolby Vision is also compatible with next-generation features available on Xbox Series X|S such as DirectX Raytracing, automatic low-latency mode (ALLM), Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), and up to 120FPS depending on the capabilities of your TV.

On the Xbox platform, an updated version of the Edge browser was released and it is capable of playing Stadia games and even access Discord. The said browser is unsurprisingly available on Xbox One and the two Xbox Series consoles. With regards to the ongoing supply problem, Phil Spencer confirmed that getting a new Xbox console will still be challenging going into 2022. How much components Team Xbox and its console manufacturers can receive from the suppliers right now is a mystery but there certainly is an ongoing chip shortage that not only affect game consoles but all other devices and even cars. Finally, Team Xbox hired Crystal Dynamics as a co-production partner with their own studio The Initiative to make the Perfect Dark reboot.

With the TGS 2021 Xbox livestream over, the excitement for gaming will truly begin within this fourth quarter. November will see the release of Forza Horizon 5 while December will not only have the highly anticipated exclusive Halo Infinite but also The Gunk (another exclusive game) and the flashy space shooter Chorus.

In ending this piece, here are some Xbox-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

Tokyo Game Show 2021 (TGS 2021) Xbox livestream set for September 30

With Gamescom 2021 and the Tokyo Olympic Games over, video gaming will be highlighted in Japan with this year’s edition of the annual Tokyo Game Show happening at the end of this month and Team Xbox has a new online event set to be streamed on September 30, 2021 (6PM Tokyo Standard Time).

Tokyo Game Show is set for September 30 to October 3.

Before you Xbox fans and gamers get too excited, there is a need to control your expectations first as Aaron Greenberg of Team Xbox tweeted: Well since you asked, @tokyo_game_show is a show for our players in Japan and across Asia. Expect regionally relevant updates, but no major reveals or announcements as our game teams are focused on continuing to ship big releases across October, November, and December.

With major announcements and special reveals ruled out, there will still be fun stuff to show but with Japan and Asia in mind during the 50-minute Xbox livestream. Microsoft’s approach to this event may not be as high-profile as the Xbox-Bethesda games showcase of June but what is clear is that Team Xbox is focused on achieving growth in Japan’s video games industry and already a record number of Japan’s independent game makers have received Xbox development kits.

TGS 2021 is also an opportunity for Team Xbox to emphasize what they have to offer gamers of Asia this coming holiday season. While nothing clear has been made, they could show the latest about Halo Infinite with footage of the single-player campaign. They could also show Psychonauts 2 with the accolades it gained, plus some more new footage of Forza Horizon 5, and reveal details of the limited edition Halo Infinite-themed Xbox Series X console for the Japanese market. Xbox Game Pass (XGP) promos and Xbox LIVE updates for Japan are expected.

TGS 2021 could also be the ideal time for Team Xbox to finalize and announce a precise release date of CrossfireX which has been scheduled for a 2021 release. There are only a few months left before the year ends and I believe that the Tokyo Game Show is the ideal time to announce a solid release date with a huge online audience present.

More on Japanese-related gaming, I can only wish that Rabbit & Bear Studios head Yoshitaka Murayama will make an appearance during the Xbox TGS 2021 livestream and give updates about the developments about their two games Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising and Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes. Previously, it has been announced that those two games will be released on Xbox Game Pass. Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising and Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes will be released in 2022 and 2023 respectively.

There is also Tango Gameworks, a Japan-based game studio owned by Bethesda and Xbox. I wish to see some updates from them for the Xbox livestream, especially when it come to future games.

Watch out for the TGS 2021 Xbox Livestream at the official YouTube channel of Xbox at https://www.youtube.com/c/xbox

In ending this piece, here are some Xbox-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

A Look Back at Secret of the Stars (SNES)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from playing Secret of the Stars and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Welcome back, video game enthusiasts, fans of Japanese role-playing games (RPGs), 1990s arts and culture enthusiasts, fellow geeks and video game collectors!

If you were already a gamer who enjoyed playing games at home with the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES or Super NES) back in 1995, chances are you heard about the buzz about the hot RPGs that were released for the console at the time. Square released Chrono Trigger (which is now a classic) and Secret of Evermore while Capcom released Breath of Fire II.

That same year, Tecmo (the company best known for Dead or Alive video games) tried to score well with RPG enthusiasts and other SNES-owning gamers of North America by releasing Secret of the Stars which itself turned out to be the English-language version of the Japanese role-playing game (JRPG) Aqutallion.

This RPG caught my attention when I read about it in gaming magazines. After completing Final Fantasy II (actual title Final Fantasy IV) and Final Fantasy III (AKA Final Fantasy VI) on the SNES in 1994, there was a period several months when I was not able to play another RPG and had to settle with other types of games (note: I had a lot of fun with Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and Super Star Wars: Return of the Jedi). In the 4th quarter of 1995, I finally obtained a copy of the Tecmo-published RPG.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Secret of the Stars (or Tecmo Secret of the Stars as presented on the game cover).

The cover of the game.

Early story

The story begins with a young lad named Ray who gets oriented with some people at the house of Mrs. Sonya. By merely asking a question, she reminds him about his personal search for a crest which once belonged to his father. Sonya also revealed that their island has been hit by several earthquakes which caused many wild animals to arrive.

Ray travels to the nearby town talking with the locals who gradually update him about what has been happening. Someone reveals to him that a journeyman arrived and talks about something called Kustera and Aquatallion.

Ray meets with the journeyman named David who is a native of Kustera. After reminding Ray that his father was the great Aqutallion, he emphasized that an evil being called Homncruse is a major threat to everyone and must be stopped. He tells Ray that he must seek out the crest of the stars to become an Aqutallion warrior and be able to defeat Homncruse.

Ray gets urged to go to the mountain to find the crest…

Quality

Imagine yourself arriving in this town for the first time. Which place should you visit?

To put things straight, Secret of the Stars has the basic elements of turn-based role-playing that involves the heavy use of menus for item management, fighting, defense, item use and others. The most unique game design feature here is the ability to switch between parties as the game goes on but what is clear is that the party involving Ray is the default party.

On the creative side of things, the concept about Ray being the chosen one to protect his people, lead a group composed of individuals to not only fight evil beings or monsters and achieve goals on quests (read: this includes going through personal trials at different sites in order to receive additional powers) and take on Homncruse and his evil agents has always been generic and the overall game design reflects that as well. Being the protagonist, Ray is clearly the most developed character but the same cannot be said about Tina, Cody, Leona and Dan who are all uninteresting.

Red slime? More like purple!

The production values of this game are clearly sub-par and the weak Japanese-to-English translation is only the tip of the iceberg. With the exception of the monster and enemy designs, Secret of the Stars looks like an 8-bit game and really stood out among 16-bit RPGs of its time when it comes to field of inferiority and primitiveness. The level designs lack creativity and the location background art lacked variety. When it comes to the story, its concept was interesting at first but there really is not much depth to it nor are the characters worth caring about.

What really defined this game is its slow-pacing in terms of interactivity. Adding even more to the sluggishness of the game are the slow movements of your character (representing your party) on-screen and the rather high rate of random battles. There is also a lot of grinding (defeat enemies in lots of repetitive battles to gain experience points to level up) required and the sad thing is the level-up is not very rewarding especially when you take into consideration the many enemies or monsters who are often strong with high hit points each.

The sluggishness and tedium are so bad, Secret of the Stars really turned out to be more of a chore than an actual fun game to play. It is so bad, the game’s unique feature of allowing players to control the 2nd party (Kusterans) became even more tedious and pointless to do. It is so bad, you will care less about the story of Ray, and you will prefer to ignore the other characters even more. It’s so bad, you won’t care anymore about Ray’s quest and the danger Homncruse has on the people.

Conclusion

Do you know someone named or codenamed Badbad?

Secret of the Stars was a bad RPG for its time and clearly it was a waste of money. On my experience, I ended up being very disappointed not only because of the game’s quality but also because of an absence of fun and the fact that my time playing it became a big waste. For me personally, this JRPG was definitely the worse SNES experience of 1995. It seems like the game developers made this game to literally torture gamers.

Overall, Tecmo’s Secret of the Stars should be avoided!

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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

A Look Back at Suikoden II (1999)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from playing Suikoden II (English version, released in 1999) and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Even though I have not played that many Japanese role-playing games (JRPGs) on consoles over the past several years, I am really excited about the upcoming RPGs that will be released on Xbox Series X and the future JRPGs I am looking forward to are Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes and Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising developed by Rabbit & Bear Studios (led by Yoshitaka Murayama).

Who is Yoshitaka Murayama? He created the memorable Suikoden (AKA Genso Suikoden) RPG franchise during his time with Konami, specifically the first three games. I myself played and finished Suikoden on the original PlayStation in 1996 and it was a lot of fun thanks to the combined efforts of Murayama (who did the scenarios and game direction) and his teammates such as Junko Kawano (who did the design), Miki Higashino (who did the music along with four other teammates) and some others.

Then in 1999, the sequel to Suikoden was released and I can never forget the day I bought it at a local game store and rushed home with a lot of excitement to start playing it on our then aging PlayStation console.

So you must be wondering…how did I find the sequel? Was it an improvement over its predecessor? Did Murayama and the key creators do better than what they did in the first game? You can all find out in this look back at Suikoden II, published by Konami for the PlayStation (PS1).

The cover of the North American version of Suikoden II.

Early story

The story begins with two youngsters – Riou (your character whose name can be modified) and Jowy – who are close friends since childhood now serving the Highland Army as members of their youth brigade. They spend time in a military camp in the forest as a peace treaty between two great forces is pending (note: Highland has been in conflict with the City-State of Jowston).

As some soldiers expressed desires to go home once the peace has been finalized, Riou and Jowy are ordered by their commanding officer Rowd to go back to their tent and sleep. However, a surprise attack happened which alerted them. As soon as the two close friends left their tent, they are shocked to see parts of the camp burning. Their officer Rowd informed them that their enemy is responsible for the attack and deliberately broke the peace agreement. Riou and Jowy are told to take the mountain path to the east and save themselves before it is too late.

Fearing that they might get ambushed in the woods, Jowy tells Riou that they should return to camp. Upon returning, they quietly witness the unexpected presence of Highland prince Luca Blight who gets briefed by Rowd. As it turns out, the attack on their camp was not committed by the opposing forces but rather it was all a self-inflicted operation by Highland. Rowd’s instruction to some of their selected soldiers to head east was a set-up. What happened was all part of a plan by Highland to escalate the conflict by blaming their losses on Jowston. Luca Blight expressed clearly that a peace treaty with Jowston and its states was not needed, and he strongly believes in the power of Highland to conquer them all.

Jowy and Riou (upper-right corner) quietly witness the conversation between prince Luca Bright and the captain.

After learning the shocking details, Riou and Jowy decide to leave for the cliff to the north as a way of escape. At the cliff, Rowd catches up to the two. Fortunately, Riou and Jowy were successful in defeating Rowd’s soldiers and pave the way for their escape. Before fleeing, they marked a rock and promised to return to that same place if ever they get separated.

Riou and Jowy jumped off the cliff and get separated. Some time later, Riou wakes up and finds himself in the presence of three men. One of them identifies himself as Viktor, the leader of an army of mercenaries and an ally of Jowston. Another member of the mercenary army in blue arrives and he is Flik.

Being powerless, Riou marches with them to the headquarters of the mercenary army…

Quality

Luca Blight (with sword) is a lot more than just being evil as the game’s main antagonist.

Having played Suikoden a lot in 1996, I got familiar with the game design, the varied battle systems and other features that made it a solid RPG on its own. As for Suikoden II, I can clearly say that Murayama and his creative team built up on their foundation (in the first game), expanded the fantasy concept dramatically and ultimately made an extensive series of improvements and additions over each and every aspect of the sequel!

I’ll start first with the storytelling and writing. Compared to its predecessor, I found Suikoden II to be deeper and it took great advantage of the fact that the plot took place just years after first game and by this time the established world, the cities, tribes and geopolitical concept have been developed so much – backed with solid writing – they all become a lot more believable. In the middle of the great conflict are the three main characters Riou, Jowy and Nanami whose exploits and portrayals are pretty rich and lively to follow. It’s kinda like following the love triangle of Hikaru, Misa and Minmay through the war in the classic Super Dimension Fortress Macross anime TV series, except that you – the player – get heavily involved as Rious by making decisions that affect yourself and others, leading missions, building up a community (and force) of over 100 members, and overcoming challenges related to the conflict between Highland and Jowston.

The great news here is that the Riou-Jowy-Nanami emotional arc was written to be dramatic, engaging, intriguing and sentimental which ultimately will make you feel for them just as you make your way through the many events and twists of the war story. Beyond these three key characters, it should be noted that the scenarios are excellently executed and really showed how lively the fantasy world of Suikoden II really is. I’m talking about the portrayal of the many, many supporting characters and the interactions you have with them as the plot moves forward. Remember how lively your troops were in welcoming you back after winning your first army battle? Such a scenario was well directed and scripted, and the supporting characters you recruited really had their moments of participation which make sense within the narrative. I also should mention that the opposition figure of the game – Luca Blight – is still a powerful and complex villain in JRPGs even by today’s standards. Luca Blight is not evil for the sake of being evil, but if you pay close attention to the details about his background as the game’s story goes on, you will realize he is quite a complex character whose evil made sense within the narrative. Very clearly, the writing and storytelling done by Yoshitaka Muraya is not only greater than in the first game, but also very inspired.

Viktor, who also appeared in the first game, continues to be an important supporting character in this sequel! He is one of several characters from Suikoden who returned.

On the gameplay and design, Suikoden II’s exploration of the world, towns and locations uses good old 2D graphics. The big difference here is that the 2D visual elements are more varied in terms of detailed sprites for non-playable characters (NPCs) and interactive characters, and visually the sprites as well as the art used for the in-game environments looked more polished (clearer, smoother and less pixelated). The controls are responsive enough for my taste, and it is also nice that my character moves faster while exploring. More on exploring, I do confirm that there are indeed more locations to visit (including those that are part of the quests related to finding the 100+ characters) and the art made for the locations are more varied as well.

More on the gameplay, two types of battle systems from the first game are back but with refinements. First to talk about is the party battle system in which players get to control a group of up to six members who face off with enemies by group, or a single powerful boss-type enemy. During the party battle, you get to pick options as to what type of action each member of your party will do – Attack, Magic (note: this involve Runes), Item or Flee (note: if your party is much stronger than the opposition, Bribe or Let Go options will appear).

The party battle system is a lot of fun and not too stressful.

The way the battles are designed, as in the first game, is smooth, very visually appealing (thanks to the dynamic camera and fine level of detail of the sprites and animation) and fun to watch. Adding further depth to the party battles are the combined attacks involving at least two characters. Take for example Flik and Viktor doing the cross-attack, or Riou and Nanami performing a series of combo attack moves in strong coordination with each other. These combined attacks are not only fun to perform and see, but also encourages you to experiment by mixing up characters (specifically combatants) and paying attention as to which characters they can do combined attacks with. This alone will encourage you to complete the 108 characters of your force.

The use of Runes has been improved a lot in this game as the combatants now have three slots to equip Runes (note: these slots gradually open up as characters’ levels go up). Runes are essential to use magic spells in battles and the improvement of the Runes – plus the Run Affinity system – add more variety in the battles.

The 2D sprites are very visually appealing, especially when you watch the characters perform varied forms of action during the party battle.

Compared to other Japanese RPGs, the party battles here are much less stressful even though a random encounter system is used. There is also the option for automated attacks, which spares you from having to choose options for each member of your party to perform when fighting the enemies. Granted, I went through lots of random encounter battles and some challenges, but ultimately the stress level and tedium were very low. Doing party battles is fun overall.

The 2nd battle system inherited from the first game is the duel. Duels happen the least throughout the game but each time they happen, they can be quite engaging to do. As the one-on-one battle between your character and an opponent begins, you will see them in a 3D realm with the dynamic camera capturing the action. Your options are mainly Attack, Wild Attack and Defend, and before you can pick an option, you must pay attention first to the clues (note: taunts) from your opponent which can help you anticipate his/her/its next move. While the visuals are clearly improved, the duel is pretty much the same as in the first game.

Duels happen in a 3D environment with the characters still presented as 2D sprites that are not only highly detailed but also are smoothly animated.
Like in the party battles, duel sequences also have a dynamic camera system complete with zoom during the action.

The 3rd battle system – army battles – is clearly the most revised part of the game as it is radically different from the army battles of the previous game. This time the army battles involves the heavy use of a tactical map (where you move units in a grid-like system). Your units – composed of mainly characters you recruited, including the non-combatants – can be moved on the map to counter an enemy unit. Then a short, animated battle sequence will commence and based on the statistics of each unit, the winner and loser of the sequence will be determined. Take note that in events of defeat, recruits can die permanently. As such, it is important to pay attention to not only the statistics but also the types of troops you have such as archers, healers, knights, and foot troops. When controlling units on the map, your options are Attack, Wait and Rune. It is also very entertaining to see how the characters react (with dialogue, no less) to the battles. Overall, the army battle system here is clearly much deeper and more strategic than what was used in the first Suikoden.

The army battles in this game are more tactical than what was presented in the first Suikoden. This is also the main map used for such battles.

Battles aside, there are also lots of things to do related to exploration. For one thing, there are these fun-filled mini-games the game creators set up such as fishing (note: not as boring as it may sound), the whack-a-mole game, rope climbing, Chinchirorin (dice game in a bowl) and, the most exciting and deepest of them all, the cooking contest game. When you fully invest your time into each of these mini-games, you will not feel relieved from the stress of battles and exploration, but also have a lot of fun free of stress. I enjoyed these a lot myself.

If you enjoyed building up your fortress in the first game, you will experience that here also! Building up your stronghold is related to your recruiting of people and some of them have certain talents that will establish key parts of your place like a store, a Rune shop, aa tavern, a restaurant, an armor shop and even a detective agency to name some! It may take an effort to have all possible establishments get realized in the game but I promise you, they are all worth it and you will feel thankful that you got to recruit lots of people. The other reward of building up your fortress is the establishment of a thriving community of people!

Your party members can take a bath and even use the collected artifacts as decorations. This is one of the many side activities you can do at your stronghold.
The cooking contest mini-game is easily the best in the game! This alone will encourage you to keep searching for recipes during your adventures!

With regards to continuity with the first Suikoden game, the game developers implemented certain content (locations, dialogue, story and characters) that get unlocked by having your preserved Suikoden saved game content successfully loaded with Suikoden II running on PS1. I’m talking about being able to meet and even recruit Suikoden hero Tir McDohl, plus meeting even more characters from the first game. Very clearly, this is a clever presentation of fan service done by Murayama and his creative team who paid attention to the feedback of the first Suikoden.

The music done by Miki Higashino and Keiko Fukami are very varied and many of them reflect the places you get to visit, the emotional scenes you witness and the epic moments that happen. The great news here is that each and every tune in the game was made and performed with special care. This game’s soundtrack really stands out high among Japanese RPGs of the 1990s and even by today’s standards, it still is a great soundtrack to listen to.

If there are any flaws in this great game, it is the English translation itself as there were typographical errors, mistranslations and even NPCs with lines of dialogue that made absolutely no sense. Clearly there was a rushed job with the translation.

Conclusion

The political aspect of the game’s story is simple and never overwhelming.

I really love Suikoden II and very clearly, it is a major improvement over its predecessor (which itself was a solidly good RPG). Suikoden II is a labor of love done by Murayama and his creative team and the result is a true epic RPG that has so much enjoyable stuff and high replay value for gamers. Its quality is still great and by today’s standards, Suikoden II is indeed a classic RPG that gamers should play even though Konami itself does not care to make it more accessible in this modern age of gaming.

Given the legacy of Suikoden II and the fact that Konami showed no signs of reviving the Suikoden RPG franchise, now is the time to look forward to Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes which Murayama and his team are developing for release in 2023 for Xbox consoles, Xbox Game Pass and other platforms. Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes clearly has strong Suikoden vibes and the distinct combination of 2D sprites with 3D polygonal environments, plus its party battle system strong resembles that of Suikoden and Suikoden II!

Overall, Suikoden II is highly recommended!

Now if only Konami would change its ways to make Suikoden II more accessible (go way beyond the PlayStation online store and ecosystem) to gamers by releasing it digitally through Xbox LIVE, Steam, Xbox Game Pass and other online stores or ecosystems. Paying hundreds of dollars for a legitimate hard copy of the game is simply too much.

There is nothing like building up your stronghold and seeing your recruits become part of its development as well as your campaigns.

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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

The significance of Eiyuden Chronicle RPGs coming to Xbox!

As I viewed the Xbox-Bethesda games showcase live on my PC, I got delightfully surprised when the two Eiyuden Chronicle Japanese role-playing games (JRPGs) – Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes and Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising – were revealed and confirmed to be coming to Xbox Game Pass (XGP) separately in the near future. Really, I never anticipated that the Eiyuden Chronicle games developed by Rabbit & Bear (led by Suikoden creator Yoshitaka Murayama) would appear in the showcase nor did I anticipate they would be added to XGP (on Xbox consoles and PC) which has many millions of active subscribers worldwide.

To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the official press release (titled: Microsoft partnership announcement at E3, franchise trailer, and website launch) from the Eiyuden Chronicle official website.  Some parts in boldface…

Revealed today during the Xbox E3 showcase, a new trailer for the Eiyuden Chronicle franchise formally announcing that 505 Games, Rabbit & Bear Studios, and Microsoft are bringing legendary game developer Yoshitaka Murayama’s (Suikoden I & II) latest JRPG adventures, Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising and Hundred Heroes, to Xbox Gamepass. Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising is set to release in 2022, and Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes is set to release in 2023.

This is the companion game Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising coming to Xbox Game Pass in 2022.

Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising is the first entry in the franchise and a companion game to Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes that is set in the same world and tells the pre-war tales of various characters who will appear in the main game. The action-RPG melds key backstory with fast-paced combat, town-building mechanics and 2.5D platforming, and is set to release in 2022.

This is what Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes looks like. Coming to Xbox Game Pass in 2023.

“We’ve been working hard on the Eiyuden Chronicle franchise and love to see the amazing reactions from fans following our trailer at the Microsoft E3 event,” said Studio Lead Yoshitaka Murayama. “We’re telling a rich story with the Eiyuden Chronicle franchise, so much so that we couldn’t possibly tell it all within the confines of a single game. We set out to solve that problem with our companion game Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising which features key backstory to the main game and a completely different gameplay style.”

Studio Lead Yoshitaka Murayama and Director Osamu Komuta are joining forces once again to bring an unforgettable journey into their fully-realized world of Allraan. In Eiyuden Chronicles: Hundred Heroes Rabbit & Bear Studios are taking the turn-based strategy game experience to the next level with a fine crafted six-character battle system. The developers are using meticulously created 2D sprites and 3D backgrounds to deliver a riveting story with over 100 playable characters and engaging gameplay that’s meant to bring players a modern take on classic JRPGs.

And here’s the video…

Since I first heard about its successful Kickstarter campaign, I have been following the news about Eiyuden Chronicle, specifically the Hundred Heroes game which was the precise project of the said campaign. Why? Because that game was clearly designed as an inspired successor (or spiritual successor as others call it) to the early Suikoden RPGs of Konami. When I was still a PlayStation fan, I was fortunate to have played and enjoyed a lot Suikoden and Suikoden II on the original PlayStation. Rabbit & Bear Studios head Yoshitaka Murayama was the producer, writer and game director of Suikoden, Suikoden II and Suikoden III (on PS2) during his time with Konami. 

Other than the Eiyuden Chronicle franchise coming to XGP, the announcement of the companion game Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising coming out first (2022) was also very surprising. It was just unexpected but still it made sense as the developers really have a huge concept and a living universe of the Eiyuden Chronicle franchise that just could not fit in one single game. Clearly Murayama and his creative team are up to something that could shake gamers’ love for Japanese RPGs for the better eventually.

Significance to Xbox

A character in Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes about to throw a strong punch at the monster during a battle.

Back on August 2020, I expressed confidence that Xbox as an ecosystem (the consoles, PC, cloud and Xbox Game Pass) will become a haven for gamers who love fantasy role-playing games (fantasy RPGs). That article was published before the megaton announcement about Microsoft acquiring ZeniMax Media (to integrate Bethesda with Xbox) and the addition of the Elder Scrolls fantasy RPG franchise further adds credibility to Xbox for fantasy RPG enjoyment (as well as RPGs as a whole).

So where can the Eiyuden Chronicle RPG franchise fit in? For one thing, Xbox fantasy RPG enthusiasts who love Suikoden or those who enjoy turn-based strategy, or those who are looking for nice alternatives to Square Enix’s Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest games on Xbox can experience something new and fun with the Rabbit & Bear Studios-developed JRPGs. It is also clear that the Eiyuden Chronicle RPGs help fill the perceived lack of JRPGs on this current Xbox console generation.

The combination of highly detailed 2D sprites and 3D polygonal environments makes Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes look radically different from most JRPGs on Xbox.

Second, gamers will be able to experience role-playing with the game design and storytelling philosophies of Yoshitaka Murayama. In addition, Murayama’s production team created a very unique visual style that combines highly-detailed, well-animated 2D sprites (pixel artworks) with 3D polygonal environments combined with strategic camera angles and movements. The way I see it, it seems to be an inspired take on modern gaming’s visuals while still retaining that artistic link back to the glory days of the Suikoden game franchise.  

In this age of high-definition, highly detailed polygonal graphics and 120FPS frame rates, it is refreshing to see Murayama and his team use pixel artworks as a key visual element in their presentation with Eiyuden Chronicle JRPGs.

Third, the battles seen in Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes strongly resemble the functions and speed of what I enjoyed in Suikoden and Suikoden II on the original PlayStation console. Unlike other turn-based Japanese RPGs of the 1990s, battles in the early Suikoden games were NEVER stressful and grinding was not too present. Even during times in Suikoden or Suikoden II when I needed to have my characters level up to be stronger, doing so with battles was smooth and painless. The trailer of Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes even showed the developers pushing the battle design of their game, going beyond the limits of the early Suikoden games. In one sequence, they showed one of the playable characters in the foreground firing a shot at a monster far into the background. This could suggest strategic placings for battles and we will find out soon how this will turn out.

Fourth, having Eiyuden Chronicle JRPGs in the Xbox ecosystem adds more variety into the current lineup of upcoming fantasy RPGs. Even with the likes of Elder Scrolls VI (which Phil Spencer mentioned during the Xbox-Bethesda games showcase), Fable and Avowed, I believe that Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising and Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes will fit in very nicely and even attract a lot gamers who want a lot of fun with role-playing on their Xbox consoles. I also believe that the global Xbox fans community can provide Murayama and his team a suitable audience of not only buyers of their games but also help establish a large base of fans for the Eiyuden Chronicle game franchise.

The addition of the Eiyuden Chronicle JRPG franchise makes fantasy role-playing on Xbox even more exciting! It is also another great reason to sign up for Xbox Game Pass subscription!

That being said, I urge you my readers, fellow Xbox fans, fans of Suikoden and others who love playing fantasy RPGs that we all have the time and opportunities to acquire our own copies of the two Eiyuden Chronicle JRPGs upon release on the Xbox ecosystem and help Murayama and the rest of his team fulfill their goals with their fantasy RPG franchise! We can also convince Team Xbox to get more involved with Rabbit & Bear Studios to ensure that future installments of Eiyudin Chronicle will come to Xbox!

Think about the future of fantasy RPGs on Xbox: Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes, Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising, Avowed (Xbox-exclusive), Fable (Xbox-exclusive) and Elder Scrolls VI (Xbox-exclusive)…I want them all on Xbox via Xbox Game Pass!

In ending this piece, here are some Eiyuden Chronicle and Xbox-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

Xbox-Bethesda Games Showcase delivered the great stuff!

I can start by saying the Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase was indeed worth the wait and even though it was not perfect (a few games shown that were not too interesting and a certain 1st party exclusive game had an excessive amount of time of the showcase), Team Xbox, Bethesda and their strategic partners in gaming succeeded in delivering the great stuff. There were so many games, including very promising Xbox-exclusive games and many new additions into Xbox Game Pass (XGP), the people who hated Xbox became silent during the showcase and some time after!

To put things in perspective, those of you who missed out on the livestream – plus the Xbox haters whether they saw it or not – I encourage you to watch the Xbox-Bethesda Games Showcase YouTube video below. Take your time.

So you must be wondering what I think about the showcase.

Other than the fact that it was efficiently organized, nicely paced and the Xbox and Bethesda executives/producers had a nice physical stage that gave the online event a more impressive viewing atmosphere, the amount of games – from the big budget productions to the smaller, indie productions – was incredible! Then again, that should not be a surprise at all! Not only did Phil Spencer and the Xbox core team learned from last year’s standalone games showcase, the integration of Bethesda and its games being mixed with the others (from the 3rd party game makers and other Xbox game developers) resulted a powerful lineup for the whole world of gamers to see! Not only that, there is a huge load of games to be added into Xbox Game Pass which I am confident will attract even more gamers to join in and subscribe!

As for the games and key moments that I found engaging, I should say that starting the showcase with Starfield (with Todd Howard as presenter) in the form of a teaser trailer (which used real-time graphics powered by the Creation 2 engine) was very surprising as I anticipated it to be shown somewhere in the middle of the event. Regardless, I enjoyed it a lot and, in a way, it was like Team Xbox and Bethesda decided to confirm the release date and the Xbox-exclusivity of the game once and for all.

Todd Howard presenting Starfield early in the showcase.

The trailer looked great and it shows what kind of environment and visual style Bethesda is aiming for. It also shows that Howard and his team are aiming for something unique and fresh apart from what they did with The Elder Scrolls and Fallout. The moment I saw the 11-11-22 appear as the trailer played, I quickly realized that, in light of this pandemic, Starfield will be released on November 11, 2022 and I immediately understood that it’s not yet time for them to show gameplay footage. More importantly, Starfield is indeed an Xbox-exclusive title coming to Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and Windows PC! That’s right! The Xbox fans who want Starfield but are still stuck with the aging Xbox One, they still have time to upgrade by acquiring an Xbox Series console (which is still hampered by supply constraints) or having a Windows PC that is capable of running the game.

What Microsoft owns, Sony and Nintendo cannot touch! Starfield is exclusive to Xbox!

Given its late 2022 release date, I believe that next year’s edition of the Xbox-Bethesda showcase will show Starfield with gameplay footage! As written in Xbox.com: Starfield is the first new universe in 25 years from Bethesda Game Studios, the award-winning creators of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Fallout 4. In this next generation role-playing game set amongst the stars, create any character you want and explore with unparalleled freedom as you embark on an epic journey to answer humanity’s greatest mystery.

Next is Halo Infinite!

After the stage presentation by Bonnie Ross and Halo franchise veteran Joseph Staten, Halo Infinite was shown with real-time (in-engine) graphics emphasizing more of the in-game environment of the Halo ring and, more notably, the story concept was emphasized more with the iconic Master Chief floating through space (he even took a moment to look at one of his fellow soldiers who died) and meeting a new female AI who eerily resembles Cortana (who was the villainess in Halo 5: Guardians). Then they showed a real-time preview of the multiplayer of the game which was impressive.

Unlike last year, Halo Infinite looks so much better and it was clear that serious adjustments were made to achieve the next-generation look. The signature look of the Halo franchise has been maintained but with much more striking visual details and a really smooth frame rate.

While the multiplayer is very impressive, I find it baffling that they did not show any single-player gameplay footage as I hoped to see them improve over last year’s disappointment. While it is clear they have yet to complete the game in time for the 2021 holiday season (even an Xbox One version has been confirmed) and probably were not prepared to show single-player gameplay footage in the showcase, I speculate that Team Xbox and 343 Industries could be preparing another presentation of Halo Infinite at this year’s Tokyo Game Show (TGS 2021) which will be an online event.

As for the minimal showing of the story concept of Halo Infinite, I am satisfied with that right now and I prefer that 343 Industries and the Xbox marketing team should refrain from spoiling the plot (which is too common in Hollywood blockbusters) and save it for gamers to find out. I am confident right now that this new game has what it takes to exceed Halo 5: Guardians. What Team Xbox needs to do announce a final release date.

When it comes to the smaller, indie productions, the Japanese RPGs (JRPGs) Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes & Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising really surprised me! I never expected these spiritual successors to Suikoden to be part of the showcase at all!

As written in Xbox.com: 505 Games, Rabbit & Bear, and Microsoft are teaming up to bring the next incredible JRPG adventure by legendary game storyteller Yoshitaka Murayama to Xbox! We’re also thrilled to present the first official Eiyuden Chronicle franchise trailer for you today.

Studio Lead Yoshitaka Murayama (Suikoden I & II) and Director Osamu Komuta are joining forces once again to bring us an unforgettable journey through the world of Allraan.

Anyone who played the first two Suikoden games will notice the similarity of aesthetics in this upcoming game.

Wow! Not one but TWO Eiyuden Chronicle games are coming to Xbox consoles and Xbox Game Pass with one in 2022 and the other in 2023! Having been a Suikoden fan as well as having played Japanese RPGs on consoles long ago (note: I was a PlayStation fan along the way), I am very delighted about this latest announcement. The Eiyuden Chronicle games add even more to the build-up of Xbox becoming the premier destination and ecosystem for gamers who love playing role-playing games (RPGs)!

For more on the Eiyuden Chronicle franchise of games, I encourage you to visit them at FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

More on RPGs, I recently expressed I wanted more science fiction RPGs (sci-fi RPGs) from Team Xbox. As Starfield has been confirmed as Xbox-exclusive for 2022 from Bethesda, RPG specialist Obsidian Entertainment made my wish come true with the announcement of The Outer Worlds 2! That was easily one of the highlights of the showcase for me personally as I love Western RPGs and I replayed The Outer Worlds many times! Watch this CGI trailer!

There is so much to love in the 2019 multi-platform RPG The Outer Worlds and in recent times its full vision and concepts – both of which were limited by time and budget – were finalized with the release of the two DLC packs. Now that The Outer Worlds franchise is under the full control of Team Xbox, it is inevitable that Obsidian Entertainment will have tremendously more resources and access to better technologies (note: imagine certain game engines made by Bethesda being utilized by Obsidian) to make their grander concepts and new gameplay features come true in The Outer Worlds 2! This is another Xbox-exclusive RPG to look forward to after Avowed which Obsidian is focusing on right now.

Next that interested me is The Ascent.

Having seen the game a year ago, The Ascent has very nice visuals, a solid art style, a nice presentation of future technologies and most notably a lot of action that are so good to look at. It’s coming out on July 29, 2021 already and I am confident it will be a hit with Xbox Game Pass subscribers. Microsoft made the smart move on approaching the game makers. The Ascent will launch exclusively on Xbox game consoles (including Xbox One) and Windows PC.  

Psychonauts 2 also caught my attention.

Even though I never got to play the original Psychonauts from a long time ago, the sequel still impressed me and sparked my interest with regards to platform action, adventuring and the visual concepts from the mind of Tim Schafer. It should be noted that Microsoft acquired Double Fine and purchased the publishing rights from the previous owner. Psychonauts 2 is set for an August 25, 2021 release. 

Contraband is a future project exclusive to Xbox Series consoles and PC.

The CGI trailer was pretty cryptic and at best only showed visual concepts that should be realized in the form of gameplay in the future. Very clearly, this is an Xbox Game Studios project in partnership with Avalanche Studios (Mad Max, Just Cause games). As written in Xbox.com: Contraband is a co-op smuggler’s paradise set in the fictional world of 1970s Bayan, and our most ambitious and spectacular game to date. We’re taking everything that we’ve learned from 18 years of being at the forefront of creating beautiful, vast open game worlds filled with stunning vistas and incredible emergent gameplay moments.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl was really eye-catching.

I can confidently say that this game is very atmospheric, gritty and even horrifying. It’s a first-person shooter designed to grab the player and pull him/her deeply into its ravaged in-game setting. I can speculate that this game could push players to come up with the courage to not only endure its challenge but also overcome the horror elements along the way. This one’s heading to Xbox Series consoles and PC on April 28, 2022.

As for Team Xbox’s newest exclusive racing game, Forza Horizon 5 turned out to be real and the same goes with its Mexico setting. This one’s coming to all Xbox consoles and Windows PC on November 9, 2021!

Forza Horizon 5 is a stunner on Xbox Series X! The photo-realism is so high (from the specific parts of the car right up to the many elements comprising the vast open world) this new game made by Playground Games could easily convince people they were looking at real-life, physical objects and places.

As written on Xbox.com: Forza Horizon 5 showcases powerful, all-new graphical features. Experience sweeping vistas and scan the distance to see the adventure that lies ahead. Encounter the smallest of details throughout the world which is rendered with striking realism, down to the smallest details like the light that glows through each needle on a Cholla cactus. Our Mexican HDR sky captures illuminate the world to the point that you will feel as if you are right there. And thanks to Xbox Series X|S, ray tracing is utilized in Forzavista to make the cars look even more true to real life.

I am looking forward to playing Forza Horizon 5 on Xbox Series X!

To my surprise, Xbox chief Phil Spencer appeared near the end of the Xbox-Bethesda showcase and gave the remarks. He did say that they had one new thing to show and it’s another exclusive thanks to Bethesda’s developer Arkane Austin…Redfall! Watch this CGI trailer and just imagine how they turn its visual concepts into actual gameplay in the near future. I find this intriguing and unique.

As written in Xbox.com: Redfall is coming exclusively to Xbox X|S and PC in Summer 2022 and will be available with Game Pass on day one.

Conclusion

The Xbox-Bethesda showcase is not only great…it also shows that with the full-backing of Microsoft, the integration with Bethesda, the 23 active Xbox game studios, and strong business relationships with game makers/publishers going on, Team Xbox is stronger than ever and Phil Spencer’s leadership is something worth emulating. They have what it takes to make video gaming more exciting and more enjoyable than even the Xbox 360 console generation. 30 games showcased (with a great majority of them heading to Xbox Game Pass) and with many Xbox-exclusives among them, the years-old belief that Xbox has no games is dead and those who keep on moving with that belief are just wasting their lives and spreading their poisonous thoughts through social media.

As for Xbox fans and all others who love video games, the Xbox-Bethesda showcase is more than just a grand presentation of gaming…it is a celebration of the love and enjoyment of video games as well as the benefits capitalism makes for consumers! As seen in the showcase, there is definitely something for most gamers and their tastes. Now is a good time for newcomers in gaming to join the Xbox community and ecosystem.

Gaming on Xbox is more exciting and more promising than ever! In due time, gamers from around the world will be able to enjoy games on Xbox consoles and Windows PC!

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: Did the Xbox-Bethesda games showcase live up to your expectations? On a scale 1 to 10 (lowest to highest), how would you rate the showcase? What was the biggest surprise among the major games and the small, indie games? Was the inclusion of the Eiyuden Chronicle games in the showcase surprising to you?

What do you think about Forza Horizon 5 and its Mexico setting? Does the announcement of The Outer Worlds 2 make you excited about playing RPGs only on Xbox consoles and Windows PC? Was the confirmation of the Xbox-exclusivity of Starfield surprising to you? Do you look forward to playing Redfall and/or S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl in 2022?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

In closing this article, posted below are Xbox-related videos for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!

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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

Yes! I want more sci-fi RPGs from Team Xbox, Bethesda and Obsidian!

As a geek, I often enjoyed the science fiction (sci-fi) genre of entertainment. Star Wars made its mark in movies, video games (note: I enjoyed playing Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic on the original Xbox console), toys and comic books. I love watching V: The Original Miniseries and in recent times I successfully bought myself a Blu-ray copy of it to enjoy it all over again in high-definition. On Xbox 360, I enjoyed heavily replaying the three Mass Effect games (2007-2012) and even had one last replay of the entire trilogy using the backward compatibility feature on Xbox One a few years ago.

When it comes to recent gaming, I deeply enjoyed playing The Outer Worlds in its full design and concept (note: with the Peril on Gorgon and Murder on Eridanos DLC expansion packs included) from start to finish on my aging Xbox One console. That sci-fi RPG developed by Obsidian Entertainment is the best of its kind that I have played in the 8th console generation.

For the future, there are two things that keep me really interested in the sci-fi RPG sub-genre of video gaming as well as gaming on Xbox.

First is Bethesda’s Starfield which is anticipated to be exclusive to Xbox and PC and may be released in 2022. As the Xbox-Bethesda showcase on June 13 is approaching, my anticipation for Starfield is growing even though the key details about it remain a mystery. Having played Bethesda’s Fallout 4 on Xbox One and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim on Xbox 360, I can imagine Starfield having 3rd person and 1st person views with in-depth exploration, varied forms of interacting with other characters and NPCs (non-playable characters), and shooting plus some melee combat.

The brand-new sci-fi RPG from Bethesda!

As Starfield is sci-fi in concept, there will surely be lots of gameplay features that will make it different from Fallout and Elder Scroll games, and stand out among sci-fi RPGs. I am anticipating space travel, spaceship battles, visiting planets, customizing spaceships, encountering alien lifeforms, the exploration of space stations and more. Such sci-fi concepts remind me of what I enjoyed in Mass Effect games and in The Outer Worlds, but given Bethesda’s RPG design and approach to gameplay, I am confident that Starfield will have features that will make it different as far as sci-fi concepts and game design go.  

The lack of clear details about Starfield only make its anticipated unveiling at the Xbox-Bethesda special event even more attractive. I am confident that Todd Howard will make the big presentation of it.

Second is the future of The Outer Worlds as a game franchise under the control of Team Xbox and Xbox game studio Obsidian Entertainment (note: they were acquired in 2018). To make things clear, game publishing label Private Division (under Take-Two) has the publishing rights of the original game that came out to multiple platforms in 2019. As to who owns the The Outer Worlds as an intellectual property, it is Microsoft which is the result of its acquisition of Obsidian (the creator of The Outer Worlds) which happened during the development of the said game. That being said, Private Division and Take-Two stake is limited to the first game. The rest (note: future iterations) belong to Microsoft and Team Xbox and Obsidian will be managing it.

A quick look back at 2019’s The Outer Worlds.

To put things in perspective, check out this excerpt from Gamasutra’s May 19, 2021 article which was updated with clarifications from Take-Two. Some parts in boldface…

A spokesperson from Private Division, the American publisher owned by Take-Two, has explained the company won’t be involved with “future iterations” of The Outer Worlds franchise, noting that Obsidian and owner Microsoft will be steering the ship moving forward.

Microsoft has been looking to expand its stable of first-party titles for some time, having spent huge sums of cash on a variety of studios over the past few years, such as its recent $7.5 billion acquisition of Bethesda.

Although the company purchased Obsidian back in 2018, The Outer Worlds developer worked with Take-Two’s subsidiary Private Division to publish the game. Recent remarks from Take-Two president Karl Slatoff had indicated that relationship would continue, but an update from Private Division has confirmed that Microsoft now intends to take charge of the franchise.

“Private Division is still supporting and marketing The Outer Worlds, including the upcoming release of Murder on Eridanos DLC on Nintendo Switch,” said the company. “Moving forward, Obsidian and Microsoft will be publishing future iterations in the franchise, and we’re absolutely thrilled to see where they take it.

Now that it is clear that Microsoft, Team Xbox and Obsidian Entertainment have The Outer Worlds under their belt and with commercial and critical success achieved with the first game, it is anticipated that the developers behind it may announce a sequel during the Xbox-Bethesda showcase on June 13. Here’s an excerpt from Windows Central Gaming’s recent article

Building content for E3 takes a huge chunk of dev time, and many of these games are just in deep content development right now, rather than being prepped for marketing materials.

Obsidian, however, could appear in a big way. I’ve been told conflicting information about the possibility of Avowed being at the show, which is Obsidian’s first-person RPG set in the Pillars of Eternity universe, making me think there’s a 50/50 chance we could see something on it. I’ve also been told that, surprisingly, Outer Worlds 2 may be announced.

And then there is this video by Colteastwood mentioning that Obsidian is ready to announce The Outer Worlds sequel at the June 13 showcase.

I believe it is inevitable that Starfield and The Outer Worlds will be confirmed very soon as Xbox and PC-exclusive franchises (beyond the games, take note) of the sci-fi RPG sub-genre.

While I can only speculate what story concept, characters and game design for Starfield will turn out with under Bethesda, I can imagine future games of The Outer Worlds getting more varied in terms of game design, characters, settings, in-game environments, storytelling, exploration and more now that Obsidian has better resources under Team Xbox.

As it is clear Obsidian is very busy already working on the fantasy RPG Avowed, it is very likely they will make the announcement of the sequel to The Outer Worlds in the form of a CGI trailer. As to how The Outer Worlds 2 will turn out in the years to come, I hope the developers will add spaceship battles (with real-time shooting on other ships for great interaction), more boarding of other spaceships, more varieties of monsters and enemies to fight with on-foot, building a brand-new colony or settlement and the like.   

With the upcoming Starfield and future The Outer World games under the Xbox umbrella, sci-fi role-playing games will not only establish Xbox as the haven for RPG enthusiasts in the years to come but also help increase the Xbox Game Pass (XGP) base of paying subscribers, help increase the Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X console userbase and help the overall Xbox LIVE membership grow a lot! Also imagine the many other fans of The Outer Worlds on the PS4 and Nintendo Switch (who don’t own Xbox consoles) buy Xbox Series consoles for the sequels.

More on the sci-fi RPG sub-genre, I can say that Team Xbox, Bethesda and Obsidian have a potential gold mine once their upcoming games turn out great, keep gamers very happy and convince them and other enthusiasts of RPGs and science fiction to come back for more.

If the current success of EA’s Mass Effect: Legendary Edition indicates anything, it only serves as a reminder that the Mass Effect franchise’s greatness happened long ago and EA and BioWare themselves still have yet to achieve brand new success with the said franchise without resorting to nostalgia.

The way things are right now, Team Xbox/Bethesda/Obsidian are in better positions than EA/BioWare when it comes to making great sci-fi RPGs. For the Xbox fans who love RPGs and science fiction, the games from Bethesda and Obsidian are sure to be exclusive on their consoles plus Windows PC.

To watch the Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase on June 13, posted below are the links for your reference.

In closing this article, posted below are Xbox-related videos for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!

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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

Team Xbox needs to deliver great stuff and surprises on June 13, 2021

We all know that the Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase is fast approaching and it certainly is the most anticipated digital event for fans of both Xbox and Bethesda. The June 13, 2021 event will surely have a lot of eager fans waiting not only for exciting new games but also truly great stuff.

Get ready for this, Xbox fans, Bethesda fans and all others who love video games.

Previously, I posted what I hoped to see at the Xbox-Bethesda event. In relation to those, it is clear that while things are looking strongly positive ever since the integration of Bethesda into Xbox, Team Xbox itself and its head Phil Spencer still have a lot to prove on June 13. In fact, the stakes are much higher now and there is simply no room left for any error. They have to deliver great stuff this time around and they really need to exceed last year’s Xbox Games Showcase (which I found to be good but not great) not by just a few feet higher but many miles higher.

Simply put, good enough is simply NOT good enough this time around.

What I meant earlier by great stuff that needs to be delivered by Team Xbox refers to the following: fulfilling the highly anticipated showcases of Halo Infinite and Starfield complete with all the relevant details (including final release dates); showing more of their 1st party games being made by their many Xbox game studios; and confirming what games were finalized between Xbox Publishing and 3rd party game makers. They should also show more gameplay footage by means of demonstrations, make new announcements with regards to improving the already enjoyable Xbox Game Pass (XGP) service, and come up with surprises that will be remembered with excitement!

For Starfield, I believe it is high time for Xbox-Bethesda to showcase the game a lot with gameplay footage and confirm once and for all that it is indeed exclusive to Xbox Series consoles and Windows PC…all of these with Todd Howard as the presenter whenever possible. Such details will strengthen the fans’ trust in Xbox-Bethesda, and at the same time silence the people who hate Xbox.

What Microsoft owns, Sony and Nintendo simply have no rights to.

More on 1st party games and projects, Team Xbox should provide at least updates (if not gameplay demos or trailers that use captured gameplay footage or short video clips about the productions) of games they announced previously such as Fable, Forza Motorsport, Avowed, Perfect Dark and Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II.

When it comes to the unexpected (AKA the surprises), it would be exciting to see the following happen if ever possible:

  1. Xbox Publishing announcing that it has made a deal with Deep Silver and secured the rumored Saints Row 5 as an Xbox-exclusive game.
  2. Team Xbox (through its publishing arm) announcing that it has renewed its ties with Mistwalker to create a sequel to the Xbox favorite JRPG Lost Odyssey…with Hironobu Sakaguchi as presenter.
  3. Konami announcing the release of all Suikoden RPGs on Xbox LIVE and Xbox Game Pass.
  4. Sega announcing a remastered version of Shining Force III (with all 3 chapters translated into English for the first time ever) for release on Xbox LIVE and Xbox Game Pass.
  5. Xbox game studio and RPG specialist Obsidian Entertainment – already very busy making Avowed – announcing a sequel to The Outer Worlds (confirming that Microsoft has rightfully gained control of the franchise) exclusively for Xbox Series consoles and PC.
  6. Capcom announcing a new Dead Rising game – be it a sequel or a series reboot – exclusively for Xbox Series consoles and PC.
  7. EA and BioWare announcing a brand-new Mass Effect game at the Xbox-Bethesda event.
  8. Square Enix announcing it will release Dragon’s Quest XII on Xbox LIVE and Xbox Game Pass with series creator Yuji Horii doing the presentation.
  9. Capcom announcing a remake of Resident Evil: Code Veronica (much in the styles of the remakes of Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3)

To watch the Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase on June 13, posted below are the links for your reference.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: When it comes to the unexpected, what kind of announcements would really surprise you at the Xbox-Bethesda event? Do you hope to see Halo Infinite truly have an open-world design? Do you think that Mexico will be the setting for Forza Horizon 5? Is Starfield your most anticipated game from Bethesda right now? Do you think it is possible for a Lost Odyssey sequel to be made? Do you believe that Phil Spencer and the rest of Team Xbox have what it takes to deliver great stuff and surprises in the Xbox-Bethesda special event?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

In closing this article, posted below are Xbox-related videos for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!

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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

Xbox-Bethesda games showcase on June 13, 2021!

It has been more than two months since publisher Bethesda got integrated into Team Xbox as a result of Microsoft’s acquisition of ZeniMax Media (Bethesda’s parent company). Since then, the executives of Bethesda and Xbox worked together and made declarations during a special event in which Xbox head Phil Spencer confirmed that there will be Bethesda-produced exclusive games coming to Xbox fans via platforms that have Xbox Game Pass (XGP).

And now, something more exciting is scheduled to happen next month! In fact, it will happen in just a few more weeks’ time!

It has been announced by Team Xbox that the Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase will take place on June 13, 2021! It is a digital event that will be streamed worldwide.

The official cover image of the Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase!

To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the Xbox.com article written by Xbox Games Marketing General Manager Aaron Greenberg. Some parts in boldface…

Today, we are thrilled to announce the Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase will stream on Sunday, June 13 at 10:00 a.m. PT. The show will be focused on games from Xbox Game Studios, Bethesda, and many game creators from our partners around the world.

You’ve told us how excited you are about welcoming Bethesda into the Xbox family, so we know you’re going to want a front-row seat to the Xbox & Bethesda Games showcase – a 90-minute show packed with everything you want to know about the epic gaming lineup coming out of this partnership, the incredible games coming to Xbox this holiday, upcoming releases on Xbox Game Pass, and more.

You’ll be able to watch the Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase in a variety of ways. Be sure to visit any of the links below before the show starts:

Wow! That announcement by Greenberg went straight to the point! This is something to delight the many, varied fans of Xbox and Bethesda. How exactly will be organized remains to be seen and this alone is interesting because in previous years, Team Xbox and Bethesda had their own separate showcase events which drew huge audiences (both physically and online). From this point on, the suspense leading to the official announcements truly begins.

The combined powers and talents of Xbox and Bethesda will be emphasized heavily on June 13, 2021.

Speaking of announcements, I hope that the following will happen at the 90-minute Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase

  1. Starfield coming to Xbox consoles and PC this year (note: a 2022 release would not be surprising). Trailers and gameplay demonstration emphasizing Starfield’s concept and uniqueness would really excite the fans. Todd Howard should lead the presentation.
  2. Halo Infinite to be shown with trailers, in-depth gameplay demonstration and a November 2021 release date. Improvements on quality and overall design should be emphasized and help gamers forget the disappointing 2020 first unveiling of the game.
  3. Forza Horizon 5 with trailers, gameplay demonstration, the rumored Mexico setting and a 4th quarter of 2021 release date.
  4. Avowed with trailers and more details about its concept, game design and characters.
  5. The Outer Worlds sequel announcement.
  6. The rumored Hideo Kojima-Xbox partnership confirmed as real and with a game announcement.
  7. Fable update with details about its concept, gameplay and characters.
  8. Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II update with gameplay footage, and a 2022 release date.
  9. Forza Motorsport franchise update with clarification as to what the next game could be called.
  10. Collaboration or special projects between Team Xbox and Konami, Capcom, Sega and other game publishers to ramp up Xbox-exclusive content as well as add more games to Xbox Game Pass.
  11. Psychonauts 2 unveiling.
  12. IO Interactive project exclusive to Xbox get unveiled.
  13. The Gunk (Xbox-exclusive) update with new gameplay footage shown. It only makes sense because the game is supposed to come out this year.
  14. Square Enix announcing more RPGs coming to Xbox Game Pass.
  15. Indiana Jones video game update with trailers and details about its concept and game design.
  16. Updates about Doom, Wolfenstein and other Bethesda game franchises.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What do you hope to see in the June 13 games showcase of Xbox-Bethesda? Are you eager to see Starfield, Forza Horizon 5 and Halo Infinite as the must-have Xbox exclusives for late 2021 to early 2022? Are you hoping that Starfield will be released for Xbox consoles and PC this year? Are you hoping to see Bethesda also announce sequels to Doom, Wolfenstein and Dishonored franchises? Is 2022 considered too late a release for Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II? If the rumored Hideo Kojima-Xbox partnership turned out to be real, what kind of games do you hope will be realized? Do you think the rumored projected of IO Interactive for Xbox will be revealed? Do you hope to see Konami digitally release its Suikoden RPGs on Xbox Game Pass and the Microsoft Store?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online. In closing this article, posted below are Xbox-related videos for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!

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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