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

Xbox-Bethesda excitement intensifies as Phil Spencer emphasizes exclusive games plus key Bethesda games got added to Xbox Game Pass (XGP)

There is no denying that the completion of the most significant video gaming business deal of this modern age of and the integration of Bethesda into Team Xbox are leading to a brighter future in electronic entertainment not only for Xbox fans and PC gamers but also for all other people who can afford gaming.

Yesterday, the fusion between Bethesda and Team Xbox was emphasized even further as top executives from both sides took part in a roundtable meeting titled Bethesda joins Xbox which was shown worldwide online. The YouTube video has been posted below for your convenience and viewing pleasure.

Here are a few notable parts of the roundtable event. Firstly, and most notably, Xbox chief Phil Spencer cautiously spoke about the plans regarding exclusive games that Xbox fans have been eagerly wanting to find out (note: key portions in bold).

“We have games that exist on other platforms, and we’re going to support those games on the platforms they’re on. There are communities of players. We love those communities and will continue to invest in them. And even in the future, there might be things that have either contractual things, or legacy on different platforms, that we’ll go do. But if you’re an Xbox customer, the thing I want you to know is this is about delivering great exclusive games for you that ship on platforms where Game Pass exists, and that’s our goal, that’s why we are doing this,” Spencer said.

Even as Microsoft-controlled Bethesda has games and fan communities on other platforms that will be supported, Xbox customers are still priorities for them and Xbox Game Pass is a key factor as it has many millions of subscribers around the world who use Xbox One consoles, Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X and Windows 10 PC.

While no titles were mentioned by Spencer, I am confident that Bethesda’s upcoming games like Starfield and Elder Scrolls VI will be released for Xbox Series consoles and Windows 10 PCs and be made available via Xbox Game Pass in the near future.

In my view, and in response to the whining of the PlayStation fanboys (who are agonizing over the Xbox-Bethesda deal) and of the people who hate Xbox spotted on social media, it does not make business sense for new Bethesda games (especially those made with big budgets for at least 3 years) to be released on PlayStation and Nintendo platforms since they are not connected with Xbox Game Pass.  If you look at Team Xbox closely, they are working hard to sell not only gaming hardware, software and DLCs, but also subscription services. In this case, Xbox Game Pass is essential and with 18 million subscribers already counted, the said subscription service is generating billions of Dollars of revenue for Team Xbox per year. Will Sony and Nintendo be willing to have Xbox Game Pass offered to their respective customers for the sake of availing new Bethesda hot new games? Unless something drastic happens, such a scenario won’t happen.

Going back to Spencer’s confirmation of exclusive games for Xbox customers, the integration of Bethesda into Team Xbox easily ensures that Xbox fans will not only have a lot of exclusive titles coming from the well-established publisher (and its many studios), they will also have a wide variety of the types of games from ALL the 23 Xbox Game Studios. The first-person shooter (FPS) genre exclusives to look forward to are Halo Infinite, the next Doom, the next Wolfenstein, the next Rage, the next Prey and so on. RPGs? Try Starfield, Elder Scrolls VI, Avowed, Fable, the next Fallout and the next The Outer Worlds.

Rest assured, Xbox fans have a whole lot of exclusive games to look forward to from Bethesda’s studios and the other Xbox Game Studios in the near future. These assured exclusive games should convince gamers to buy Xbox Series S or Xbox Series X, and then sign up immediately for Xbox Game Pass.

Going back to the media event, Todd Howard took note of the marvel of backward compatibility (itself a great, pro-gamer feature on Xbox) and described how awesome it is that old creations such as the RPG Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is not only playable (on current Xbox technology) but also nicely presented in 4K resolution showing how much life it still has all these years. In relation to that, Aaron Greenberg announced that Team Xbox is already working on providing FPS Boost (enhanced frame rates) on backward compatible games of Bethesda.

And then there is the other big announcement made during the roundtable event…Bethesda adding twenty games into Xbox Game Pass for subscribers to enjoy!

Specifically the games added into the said subscription service are: Dishonored Definitive Edition, Dishonored 2, Doom (1993), Doom II, Doom 3, Doom 64, Doom Eternal, Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Elder Scrolls Online, The Evil Within, Fallout 4, Fallout 76, Fallout: New Vegas, Prey, Rage 2, Wolfenstein: The New Order, Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, and Wolfenstein: Youngblood.

Those mentioned games are available on Xbox Game Pass now.

In ending this, posted below for your viewing pleasure are varied gaming-related videos…including one video about the March 17, 2021 release of the next DLC expansion for The Outer Worlds (developed by Obsidian Entertainment which itself worked on Fallout: New Vegas for Bethesda long ago).

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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 Initiative’s first game is Perfect Dark!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Looking good on the way to Xbox Series consoles launch, Part 3

I should say it out loud. I am a long-time Xbox gamer (and I was once a PlayStation fanboy until I started playing Halo: Combat Evolved, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Forza Motorsport on the original Xbox console) and it is great that the next-generation Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X consoles will have backward compatibility right from the start.

Specifically, I started my Xbox journey (with an official Xbox LIVE account) in 2006 with the Xbox 360 console. I played lots of great games on that console such as Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Halo 3, Forza Motorsport 4, Lost Odyssey, Assassin’s Creed III, Grand Theft Auto V, Red Dead Redemption, Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and the Mass Effect trilogy just to name a few.

Even though the current 8th console generation was not too rosy for Xbox due to the weak 1st party game support on the part of Microsoft, I still enjoyed gaming on my Xbox One. The Outer Worlds was one of the best sci-fi RPGs I have ever played. Fallout 4 was just as engaging and as immersive Skyrim in my experience. Also I had great fun playing Red Dead Redemption 2.

That being said, I certainly do not want my past Xbox generation game collection – both physical media and digital copies – to just go to waste. This is why I really appreciate Team Xbox for implementing backward compatibility on the two Xbox Series consoles which will launch less than a month from now. I myself enjoyed replaying my favorite Xbox 360 games on my Xbox One  (a few among them were Red Dead Redemption, Lost Odyssey and the entire Mass Effect trilogy) and having the same feature for the next-generation is a very good thing!

On Xbox.com, Director of Program Management for Xbox Series X Jason Ronald explained the efforts their team made since the big breakthrough of 2015 plus other details about the tremendous addition of value backward compatibility brings to the Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X. Excerpt below:

Our compatibility journey began with the announcement of Xbox 360 Backwards Compatibility coming to Xbox One at E3 2015. I clearly remember that first magical experience of jumping into one of my favorite Xbox 360 games, Final Fantasy XIII, and instantly resuming where I had left off years before as if no time had passed at all. I was instantly transported back to that special time and all the great memories and personal connections I have made through gaming. The energy and passion from the community continues to motivate us to this day.

Through a tremendous amount of hard work, technical innovation, and partnership with the industry’s leading creators we were not only able to bring more than 500 Xbox 360 games to Xbox One, we were able to go back even further into the archives and resurrect some of your favorite franchises from the original Xbox. The very same team who created new innovative ways to preserve and enhance your existing catalog of games on Xbox One is the same team pushing the envelope again with Xbox Series X.

Maintaining compatibility presents a massive technical challenge as fundamental system and chip architectures advance across generations. Developers highly optimize their games to the unique capabilities and performance of a console to provide the best experience for their players. To make the Xbox Series X our most compatible console ever required both significant innovation in the design of the custom processor as well as the unique design of the Xbox operating system and hypervisor at the heart of our next generation platform.

With more than 100,000 hours of play testing already completed, thousands of games are already playable on Xbox Series X today, from the biggest blockbusters to cult classics and fan favorites. Many of us in Team Xbox play on the Xbox Series X daily as our primary console and switching between generations is seamless. By the time we launch this holiday, the team will have spent well over 200,000 hours ensuring your game library is ready for you to jump in immediately.

As seen in the paragraph right above, the 100,000 hours figure is very significant and it shows that no shortcuts were taken with regards to play testing and quality assurance. That figure is only rising and that is great dedication for not only Xbox fans with huge game collections but also consumers in general.

It should be noted that the more affordable Xbox Series S console will run backward compatibility a bit differently since it cannot render visuals in native 4K (it can however upscale in 4K). A September 14, 2020 update to Ronald’s article states:

the Xbox Series S runs the Xbox One S version of backward compatible games while applying improved texture filtering, higher and more consistent frame rates, faster load times and Auto HDR. As for next generation titles, Xbox Series S was designed to be the most affordable next generation console and play them at 1440P at 60fps.

The premium Xbox Series X console, unsurprisingly, has huge advantages for anyone who loves playing past games via backward compatibility. Enhanced visuals? Check! Improved frame rates? Check! Heavily reduced load times? Check! Much better performance? Check! Check out the excerpt below:

Not only should gamers be able to play all of these games from the past, but they should play better than ever before. Backwards compatible games run natively on the Xbox Series X hardware, running with the full power of the CPU, GPU and the SSD. No boost mode, no downclocking, the full power of the Xbox Series X for each and every backward compatible game. This means that all titles run at the peak performance that they were originally designed for, many times even higher performance than the games saw on their original launch platform, resulting in higher and more steady framerates and rendering at their maximum resolution and visual quality. Backwards compatible titles also see significant reductions in in-game load times from the massive leap in performance from our custom NVME SSD which powers the Xbox Velocity Architecture. As I play through my personal backlog as part of our internal testing, all of the incredible games from Xbox One and earlier play best on Xbox Series X.

The team was not content to just rely on the increased hardware performance to improve your playing experience. The team developed new platform level capabilities to ensure all of your games continue to get even better. In partnership with the Xbox Advanced Technology Group, Xbox Series X delivers a new, innovative HDR reconstruction technique which enables the platform to automatically add HDR support to games. As this technique is handled by the platform itself, it allows us to enable HDR with zero impact to the game’s performance and we can also apply it to Xbox 360 and original Xbox titles developed almost 20 years ago, well before the existence of HDR.

In addition, the new Quick Resume feature was designed to not only work with new games, but it can also be enabled for backward-compatible titles. Quick Resume enables players to resume exactly where they left off, across multiple titles, ensuring gamers can get right back to the fun in an instant.

Website Gaming Bolt recently published their own video explaining the so-called secrets of backward compatibility on Xbox Series X.

Going back to Jason Ronald’s article, it should be noted how dedicated their team is towards fans. The excerpt below:

Beginning with Xbox One X, the compatibility team developed brand new innovations that could be applied to a hand curated list of titles to enhance them even further than what was possible when they were first created. Techniques such as the Heutchy method, which enables titles to render with increased resolutions up to 4K, or applying anisotropic filtering to improve the final image quality bring these classic games up to modern standards, better than ever before.

With all of the additional power and advancements of the Xbox Series X, the compatibility team now has a veritable playground of new capabilities to innovate and push the limits of game preservation and enhancement. The compatibility team has invented brand new techniques that enable even more titles to run at higher resolutions and image quality while still respecting the artistic intent and vision of the original creators. We are also creating whole new classes of innovations including the ability to double the frame rate of a select set of titles from 30 fps to 60 fps or 60 fps to 120 fps.

The team also continues to listen to feedback from the community on additional titles you would like to see added to the compatibility program.

With the enhancements confirmed, check out Window Central Gaming’s comparative YouTube video of Monster Hunter World running on Xbox One X (currently the most powerful gaming console available) and Xbox Series X.

As of this writing, the backward compatibility feature on the Xbox Series consoles covers lots of titles of Xbox One, Xbox 360 and the original Xbox. What is expected not to be included are Kinect motion sensor games released on Xbox 360. On the side of PlayStation, PS5 is backward compatible with PS4 games only. Until now, Jim Ryan and Mark Cerny still have not figured out ways to make PS5 a compatible with the many, many games of PS1-PS2-PS3. Perhaps they never tried to do it at all, letting down their fans and consumers in general. It is weird because Sony used to be the shining example of video game backward compatibility starting with PlayStation 2 (PS2). Backward compatibility continued in the next generation with PS3 but only for the initial units. Subsequent PS3 consoles were made without the compatibility.

In ending this article, here are some more videos about Xbox Series X backward compatibility for your learning and enjoyment.

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

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