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

Halo Infinite set for December 8, 2021 release, limited edition Xbox Series X console announced

As far as Halo Infinite and the 20th anniversary of the Halo franchise are concerned, the Xbox Gamescom 2021 livestream looked more like a warm-up as Team Xbox officially announced during the Gamescom 2021 Opening Night Live event that much-anticipated Halo game will be released worldwide on December 8, 2021. To add more punch to Halo Infinite’s release date, a limited edition Xbox Series X console and a commemorative Xbox Elite controller were also announced. Watch the videos below…

To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the GameSpot report. Some parts in boldface…

Halo Infinite will finally release on December 8, Microsoft announced as part of the Gamescom Opening Night Live event on Wednesday. The date was no surprise, as it leaked earlier in the day.

The intro cinematic for Halo Infinite’s multiplayer season one was also revealed, along with a special-edition Halo Infinite Xbox Series X console and a special-edition Xbox Elite controller.

Some parts of the Halo community shared their disappointment over a release date in December for being later than they would have wanted. The 20th anniversary of Halo and Xbox is November 15, but there was never any indication or suggestion that Microsoft would launch Halo Infinite on or close to that day to celebrate the milestone.

A release date in December would be the latest ever in the year for a mainline Halo game. Halo: Combat Evolved launched in November 2001, Halo 2 debuted in November 2004, Halo 3 came out in September 2007, and Halo 4 launched in November 2008. Halo 5, which is the latest entry in the mainline series, premiered in October 2015.

It is no secret that 343 Industries is having difficulty completing Halo Infinite which was supposed to have launch in November 2020. The said game will be released this December with the single-player campaign and multiplayer features. The Forge and co-op campaign features will follow later.

While it is a relief for anxious Halo fans that Halo Infinite has a finalized release date, there are still no new updates regarding the single-player campaign nor anything new about the new in-game story Xbox icon Master Chief is involved in. Now that Halo Infinite will be released WEEKS PAST the actual 20th anniversary of the Halo franchise, Team Xbox has limited time to aggressively promote and emphasize the game. Meanwhile, the marketing and promotion of the other Xbox-exclusive Forza Horizon 5 is on high-gear and with no clear obstacles on the way to its November 9, 2021 release.

Halo at 20

In celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Halo entertainment franchise, Team Xbox will release on November 15, 2021 the limited edition Halo Infinite-themed Xbox Series X console for $549 as well as Halo Infinite Limited Edition Elite Series 2 controller. To put things in perspective, posted below are excerpts from Xbox.com…

The limited edition Halo Infinite-themed Xbox Series X console.

Celebrate Halo’s 20th anniversary and the upcoming launch of Halo Infinite with this custom designed, first-ever Limited Edition Xbox Series X. This design was inspired by the expansive Halo universe and is wrapped with dark metallic paneling accented by iridium gold. Above the armor there is a custom star pattern as seen from the surface of Zeta Halo that extends to the top of the console and onto the fan. Below the stars, the top vent is accented in Cortana-themed blue.  To top it off, the console powers on and off with custom Halo-themed sounds. The controller included in the bundle features a matching design on the front, an iridium gold 20-year mark on the back, as well as side-and-back grips to accommodate all play styles.

Play on our fastest, most powerful console ever and become the hero in Halo Infinite with a downloadable copy of the game included with this bundle. Halo Infinite on Xbox Series X|S boasts up to 4K and 60 frames per second, and Multiplayer Arena supports up to 120 frames per second, advanced 3D Spatial Sound, and more. And, with new features like Quick Resume, Auto HDR, and framerate boosting, the entire catalog of Halo games gets better on next gen.

The Elite Series 2 controller.

Also announced today, we’re excited to get the Halo Infinite Limited Edition Elite Series 2 in your hands. Ready for any mission with a custom design inspired by the Master Chief’s iconic armor, this controller features a battle-worn, matte metallic green with an iridium gold D-pad and comes with an arsenal of swappable components and a custom carrying case emblazoned with the iconic UNSC insignia. For that Spartan-like precision, use the custom thumbstick tension adjustment tool that you can even wear like a dog-tag so you’re always ready to fine-tune your combat experience. When you’re not using your controller, keep it powered up on the laser-etched charging dock or with the custom charging cable. And, when Halo Infinite releases, don’t forget to show off this one-of-a-kind design in multiplayer sessions with an exclusive Halo Elite controller weapon charm only available with the purchase of the Halo Infinite Elite controller.

But there is even more! Team Xbox also announced the Halo Infinite Edition Razer Kaira Pro headset as well as the Halo Infinite Special Edition Seagate Game Drives for Xbox! The Seagate-made game drives (mobile hard disk drives) are priced at $99.99 for 2 terabytes and $159.99 for 5 terabytes!

The headset.
The portable drives from Seagate.

On the commercial side, Team Xbox is moving on high-gear promoting Halo’s 20th anniversary with the above products. Their true challenge remaining is ensuring that Halo Infinite will be a great game for release. Any new updates about the game and how it will turn out upon release will be seen.

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

What caught my attention during the Xbox Gamescom 2021 showcase

The Xbox Gamescom 2021 digital event has passed and it turned out to be different from the acclaimed Xbox-Bethesda event. Just before it happened, Team Xbox’s Aaron Greenberg posted on Twitter stating: Running about 90 min & focused on game updates coming this year. So to set expectations, no new reveals or major surprises, but fun stream with our amazing hosts @vicious696 @kateyeager !

It was different in terms of tone, upcoming games, and announcements but ultimately it was still fun. In case you missed the Xbox Gamescom 2021 live stream, it is posted below for your viewing pleasure…

What caught my attention

Remember when I first wrote about The Gunk which was originally slated for a September 2021 release exclusively on Xbox? After such a long period of no updates from developer Thunderful, a brand-new trailer of the game was shown during the Gamescom showcase of Microsoft and what is notable was that it turned out to be the first look on its gameplay! Watch and look closely at the new The Gunk trailer below…

According to the Xbox.com article written by Thunderful’s game director Ulf Hartelius, The Gunk will finally be released this coming December (previously targeted for September 2021 release). Read the excerpt below. Some parts in boldface…

We’re extremely happy to have finally revealed our first gameplay trailer during the gamescom 2021 – Xbox Stream.

Early on, we decided to use Unreal Engine 4 to bring this story to life. It not only allows us to rapidly prototype and iterate, but it also offers us incredible flexibility and powerful graphics tools that have made the jump from 2D to 3D extremely smooth for the team. On top of that, we added some of our own super cool tech to do things like give the gunk a life of its own. From the outset, our goal was for the gunk to have this mesmerising quality, something you can just sit and watch bubble away for ages, like a lava lamp.

Partnering with Xbox has been incredible, and we wanted to leverage the power of the Xbox ecosystem to its fullest potential. We’ve made a massive effort to ensure that whatever platform you play on, you will experience our full vision of The Gunk.

As is to be expected, we’re using Smart Delivery to best support all Xbox platforms. On Xbox One, you can expect a stable 30fps experience that offers the beautiful art design and graphical flourishes that you have seen in our trailer. If you’re playing on Xbox Series X|S or a high-end PC, everything is dialled up and we aim to provide you with a smooth 60fps gameplay experience at up to 4K resolution.

Considering the high expectations that Forza Horizon 5 and Halo Infinite are the premier Xbox-exclusive games set for the 4th quarter this year, The Gunk is a welcome Xbox-exclusive addition that gamers can look forward to especially if they are searching for science fiction adventuring laced with exploration. Personally, I am looking forward to The Gunk!

State of Decay 2 was surprising. While I never got to play any State of Decay game, this update for the game (which was first released in 2018) looks like a serious attempt to resonate with dedicated franchise fans as it will deliver the original map of the first game (launched on Xbox 360) which will be presented with an open-world aesthetic. The said update is coming out on September 1, 2021. Watch the trailer below…

More on State of Decay 2, here is an excerpt from the Xbox.com article written by Will Tuttle. Some parts in boldface…

In this new version of the iconic map, players will learn about the latest developments in this area, discovering new characters and storylines and resolving long-running plot threads.

Players can also look forward to six new bases, as well as unique weapons and outfits that can only be found in Trumbull Valley. New missions and new achievements await those who choose to settle on this new map.

In addition, we are proud to announce that State of Decay 2: Juggernaut Edition has surpassed 10 million players since its launch, a major milestone reflecting the success and popularity of the ultimate survival-sim game.

I never played the original Dying Light game and am not a fan of zombie-related gaming, but Dying Light 2: Stay Human was intriguing and entertaining to watch during the Xbox Gamescom 2021 event with lead game designer Tymon Smektala and animation director Dawid Lubryka of Techland doing the presentation. To see more of the game, watch the video below…

Here’s an excerpt from the Xbox.com article. Some parts in boldface…

The designers at Techland put a lot of attention to parkour animations. There are thousands of them, making navigation feel incredibly smooth. We wanted to make it as close as possible to the real world, while keeping all the moves fun and easy to pull off. But what takes exploration to the next level is your new set of skills—and gear! Oh yes, you don’t have to rely on your body alone. From the new paraglider to the ever-useful grappling hook, you’ll be able to make the most epic runs. They’ll often take place hundreds of meters above the street level. There are also ropes to swing on, rope bridges, trampolines, elevators—you name it. Of course, you’re going to need some practice before you master the navigation.

Survival is not just about moving around, however. Parkour is like yin to creative combat’s yang. Combine the two, and you’ll truly have a chance to see another sunrise! In Dying Light 2: Stay Human, the way you approach enemies can — and should — differ after you consider some factors. First of all, the faction you’ve sided with can impose (or prefer) a certain style of playing. Some like to steamroll through the enemy, others prefer to be more subtle about it. But ultimately, you choose how you play, so another thing to watch out for is who you’re facing. Between the Infected and the various factions surviving in the city, everyone will try to take you down in a different way. Some enemies will act alone. Some will work in a group. It’s good to learn the different behavior patterns and recognize what kind of weapons your enemies are carrying.

Dying Light 2: Stay Human was first announced during the Xbox event of the E3 in 2018 and in January 2020, it was announced that the game would be delayed. The game is set for a December 7, 2021 release for multiple platforms.

Crusader Kings III, which was released on personal computers in 2020, is coming to Xbox Series consoles as well as Xbox Game Pass (XGP) although a clear and specific release date has yet to be announced as of this writing.

I find this one interesting as I enjoyed simulation, strategy and role-playing games on PC before. I also enjoy playing games that allow gamers to make decisions out of the choices offered and show what happened next. Already an assurance has been made that Crusader Kings III has been optimized for Xbox Series consoles. Check out the excerpt from the Xbox.com article below. Some parts in boldface…

The Xbox Series X|S adaptation of Crusader Kings III will take advantage of the many strengths of the system, bringing special benefits. For example, the Xbox Series X|S internal SSD will allow for ultrafast loading times will enable you to easily switch between the game and a playthrough or tutorial you are checking out on YouTube.

The UI has been customized to work with the Xbox Wireless Controller, including the addition of radial menus, ensuring that none of the depth and detail of the Crusader Kings III experience has been lost in translation.

The release date for Crusader Kings III for Xbox Series X|S will be announced soon, but we can already commit to having this title available on Xbox Game Pass on day one. We hope that the Xbox community will grasp the opportunity to play one of the most popular strategy titles in the world.

Last but not least is Forza Horizon 5 which is set for a November 9, 2021 release and it is only looking even better and more promising. Check out the two newest videos below…

Playground Games are really experts in their craft with regards to open-world racing games as you can see in the above videos. The Mexico setting is just waiting to be explored and I am confident there will not only be a lot of locations to visit but also surprises and very exciting races to compete in. Check out the excerpt from the Xbox.com article below. Some parts in boldface…

As you play through Forza Horizon 5 and explore our expansive version of Mexico, you can expect cargo planes, an active volcano, a race to the festival under beautiful Mexican skies, and more. You’ll see exciting sights like the Ford Bronco Badlands atop the active, snow-capped Gran Caldera volcano, the 2020 Corvette Stingray tearing up the asphalt towards a dust storm in the Mexican farmland, and the Porsche 911 Desert Flyer crashing through the dense jungle tree canopy.

And finally, you’ll get to experience the stunning Mercedes-AMG ONE at full speed along Mexico’s sunbaked rocky coast.

Conclusion

The Xbox Gamescom 2021 digital event served its purpose with regards to games coming to the Xbox ecosystem this year (note: Psychonauts 2 got another pre-launch boost) as well as delivering updates for Xbox Game Pass subscribers as well as new stuff for Xbox gamers who rely on cloud services for their gaming needs. The Xbox-exclusives presented (led by Forza Horizon 5) are not as high-caliber as those showcased in the Xbox-Bethesda event of months ago, but still there is something exciting for the Xbox ecosystem and its gamers to look forward to.

In my honest view, Team Xbox and 343 Industries missed an opportunity to give gamers a much-needed update about Halo Infinite which, as of this writing, still has no solid release date and lacks serious updates about the single-player campaign! By now, the positive vibes from the multiplayer previews have faded and the recent reports about Halo Infinite are discouraging. While Japan is having very serious COVID-19 problems, the 2021 edition of the Tokyo Game Show is still on as of this writing. Will we see Team Xbox organize a Tokyo Game Show-related digital event to emphasize Halo Infinite and provide the much-needed updates? We will find out soon. Really, the pressure is now on 343 Industries to ensure Halo Infinite will be great to play.

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

Psychonauts 2 coming to Xbox and other platforms on August 25, 2021

Before I start this, I should state that I completely missed out on the original Psychonauts video game as I did not own an original Xbox console nor a PlayStation 2 console back in 2005. I learned about that old game through online articles and video game magazines of the time. By the time I bought my Xbox 360 in 2006, I have forgotten about Psychonauts.

A few years ago, the brand of Psychonauts returned with online buzz as Microsoft acquired Double Fine and established it as an Xbox game studio. During Team Xbox’s E3 2019 conference, Double Fine founder Tim Schafer made an appearance and delivered his remarks. Schafer went on to clarify that their studio’s culture and independence won’t be affected under Xbox Game Studios. The sequel Psychonauts 2, which was first announced in 2015, was first revealed visually with a trailer in late 2018.

This past June, Psychonauts 2 was shown worldwide during the successful Xbox-Bethesda games showcase. I personally was pretty impressed with the video prepared for the showcase.

In recent times, Psychonauts 2 gained a lot of buzz not simply because its August 25, 2021 release (for Microsoft Windows, MacOS, Linux, PlayStation 4 with compatibility with PlayStation 5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S plus the Xbox Game Pass subscription service) date is nearing but rather some members of the gaming media got to play it. For you enjoyment, check out these most recent videos of Psychonauts 2.

So what exactly is Psychonauts 2 about other than being a sequel? Based on what has been shown so far, it is a 3rd person-view platform game with elements of action, adventuring, exploration puzzle solving and cinematic storytelling.

Players will get to play as Razputin “Raz” Aquato who could leap through the air, run around, do acrobatic moves and, most notably, use psychic abilities (which includes levitation, telekinesis and pyrokinesis). As the game progresses, players will explore cleverly designed levels and meet with several NPCs (non-playable characters), and learn new details related to the plot.

The one on the foreground is Raz.

At its official page at Xbox.com, this upcoming game has been described as follows: Psychonauts 2 serves up danger, excitement and laughs in equal measure as players guide Raz on a journey through the minds of friends and foes on a quest to defeat a murderous psychic villain.

Other than being a game meant for fun, Psychonauts 2 touches on themes of mental health, respect and empathy. On the mental health issue, check out the excerpt from the Washington Post’s Psychonauts 2 article quoting Tim Schafer below…

For the second game, Schafer said he made sure each level has a unique setting, reflective of a character’s mental state, a specific art style and an additional gameplay challenge such as having to move through relative gravity or bubbles. Double Fine enlisted mental health experts to review the game, and to suggest ways to improve the game.

“They’re just small changes, sometimes to language [to make it less] stigmatizing, or depictions of characters, often just very simple changes can make the game less harmful to more people. More inclusive and more people able to enjoy the game because you’re more sensitive to what people are going through,” Schafer said.

Best on Xbox Series consoles?

Recently, data regarding resolution and frame rates plus HDR support and VRR support of the game per platform was published. GamesRadar.com noticed that Psychonauts 2 performs better on Xbox Series S than on PS5 as Sony’s new console runs the game via backward compatibility with the PS4 version.

Xbox Series X console owners looking forward to the new game can expect the following technical details of Psychonauts 2 – 3840 x 2160 resolution at 60FPS and the 1440p/120Hz mode is also available. Those who own last-generation Xbox consoles can expect the game to run at 1920 x 1080 resolution at 30FPS on the basic Xbox One, and 3840 x 1080 at 30FPS on Xbox One X.

Conclusion

The in-game environments look enticing for exploration!

The way I see it, it would be best to buy and play Psychonauts 2 on Xbox Series X to enjoy the game at its best technical performance and most lively presentation made possible with the best gaming console hardware available. Of course, the gamers and Psychonauts franchise fans who don’t have an Xbox can avail of the new game on other platforms. What is clear is that Psychonauts 2 looks very promising and we will soon find out how much of an impact it will make on gamers and game critics. Remember, this is a labor of love of Tim Schafer and his team, and at the same time it is exceptional that a sequel was made at all! Watch out for Psychonauts 2 on August 25, 2021.

In ending this piece, here are some Psychonauts 2 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

Forza Horizon 5 on Xbox consoles, PC and Xbox Game Pass this November!

If you are looking for a great looking and fun-filled racing game this year, the one to go for is definitely Forza Horizon 5 coming out on November 9, 2021 on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One, Windows PC and on Xbox Game Pass (XGP)!

Very notable for having an excessive amount of time to itself during the Xbox-Bethesda games showcase,  Forza Horizon 5 is the newest entry in the best-selling game franchise developed by Playground Games. For the newcomers reading this, the Forza Horizon game franchise that started in 2012 is known for its open-world approach to racing which is more focused on street racing action and stunts (in contrast to the realism focus of the Forza Motorsport series of simulation racing games). The fictional Horizon Festival is an essential part of the core concept of the Forza Horizon series. Creatively, the said festival moves from one country to another as seen in each game of the series – Colorado in Forza Horizon, Southern France and North Italy in Forza Horizon 2, Australia in Forza Horizon 3, and Scotland and England in Forza Horizon 4.

This year, Forza Horizon 5 is set in Mexico which looks stunning as the game was not only made with the most modern Xbox technologies but also the experts of Playground Games really proved what they could do both artistically and technically. The result is a highly photo-realistic game (note: ray-tracing available in Forzavista mode), high frame rates (60FPS performance mode included), super smooth gameplay and a whole lot more!

For greater perspective, watch this demo video that was part of the Xbox-Bethesda games showcase…

As seen in the above video, Forza Horizon 5 is more than racing and exploring the diverse locations of Mexico…it was made to be a whole lot of fun to play. The expedition looks really adventurous while the Pinata Park and Events Lab emphasize creative fun racing! This is racing game design that must be experienced!

And there is more! Check out this excerpt from the official Forza blog emphasizing Forza Horizon 5. Some parts in boldface…

Experience a deep and rewarding campaign, where you’ll meet new characters and determine the outcome of their Horizon Story missions. You’ll take on expeditions across the map, battling the elements in hundreds of the world’s greatest cars.

In multiplayer, experience the most social and connected experience we’ve ever created. The Horizon Open takes the best parts of the traditional Forza Horizon online competitive experience and smashes them all together. Seamlessly jump into Races, Drift challenges, Eliminator sessions, and more. Horizon Tour is your chance to meet up like you would at a car meet and race co-op against Drivatars on circuits all over the map, forming up as a convoy as you hop from one race to the next. From there, you can head to the Horizon Arcade, where you quickly and seamlessly take on some truly wild challenges and minigames with other players.

Next, our creator community can hit up the EventLab. Imagine the Blueprint Builder you’re familiar with in modes like Super7 and Blueprint races, but blown way out with a powerful new toolset that includes custom races, challenges, stunts, entirely new game modes and so much more that you control, down to the rules of the game itself.

After that, it’s time for Gift Drops, like a personalized Barn Find Blueprint. Tune a car, paint it, then leave it hidden for others to find somewhere on the map. It’s a whole new way to share your prized cars with friends or others online.The social aspect of Forza Horizon 5 is huge, with systems like Kudos that allow you to reward other players for positive acts and encourage clean, friendly driving, as well as the Forza LINK system, which enhances your ability to join up with other players by recognizing the things you like to do and finding other players to do similar things with.

Wow! Not only are the experts of Playground Games making Forza Horizon 5 fun and engaging, they are also working hard on making it the most accessible game socially speaking. This is a major Xbox-exclusive game to watch out for this November. Not only will Forza Horizon 5 stand out well among the many, many games on Xbox Game Pass, it will stand out among all racing games for this year and even into 2022!

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

The Xbox-exclusive game Contraband

Until now, there is still a lot of positive reactions and discussions about the huge impact the Xbox-Bethesda games showcase of June 13 left on gamers. While not perfect, it was a great showcase with lots of Xbox-exclusive games coming and among the newly announced exclusives was Contraband, a new game being developed by Avalanche Studios (Just Cause game franchise) in cooperation with Xbox Game Studios. It is being developed specifically for Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X and Windows 10 PC and it will be added to Xbox Game Pass (XGP).

Here again is the video…

On June 14, Xbox Games Marketing General Manager Aaron Greenberg wrote on Twitter: Excited to announce big new AAA Xbox Games Studios exclusive game we are making in partnership w/ the talented team at Avalanche Studios (team behind games like Just Cause). Contraband, a co-op smuggler’s paradise set in the fictional world of 1970s Bayan.

To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the Xbox.com article written by Contraband game director Omar Shakir. Some parts in boldface…

Three years ago, we started talking with our partners at Xbox Game Studios about what a co-op smuggler’s paradise would look like and how we could bring it to life together. Today, at the Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase, we finally announced what our team has been working on, Contraband.

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.

To fully deliver on our vision for Contraband, we have an amazing team at Avalanche Studios that are pushing the boundaries with the next generation of our Apex Engine, the technology behind all our games, including the Just Cause series. We built the engine to unlock the creativity of our developers and we’re excited to take full advantage of the unique capabilities of Xbox Series X|S.

What caught my attention was the name Bayan as the fictional setting of the Xbox-exclusive game and it could be a veiled reference to my native Philippines. For us Filipinos, “Bayan” or “bayan” is a common term in reference to a nation or to a local region/province and down to a local community. In the Filipino culture, when someone meets a different person who comes from the same province he/she originated from, that said person is referred to as “kabayan” or “kababayan”.

And there is something I noticed in the captured screenshot below. Please pay close attention to the captions I wrote.

The interior design and furniture in the background were pretty common here in the Philippines in previous decades.

Going back to the general description of Contraband, it will have an open-world environment (which Avalanche Studio specializes on) with co-op play and with an emphasis on smuggling. What is not clear is whether or not it will share key technical aspects with the Just Cause games and the 2015 Mad Max video game such as having a 3rd-person perspective with an option to switch to 1st-person view in key sequences in the game. How much realism can we expect from the developers? Will they be able to come up with new action sequences and brand new gameplay features that they have yet to do?

Even without gameplay footage shown during the Xbox-Bethesda game showcase, I can say that I am very interested on Contraband and I look forward to the eventual release of new information and gameplay footage in the months to come. I am also happy that even though Team Xbox has 23 game studios, they still pushed through with making deals with 3rd party game developers to produce exclusive titles. Remember, Team Xbox today has the full support and financial backing of Microsoft which itself continues to be very profitable as a corporation! For the future, I don’t expect Team Xbox to slow down on making exclusive-game deals with 3rd party game studios.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: Are you excited about the Xbox-exclusive Contraband knowing that the same team behind the Just Cause games are developing it? What is your favorite of all the video games made by Avalanche Studios?

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

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

Xbox strategies taking shape with Microsoft’s full support and strong dedication!

We are just days away from the highly anticipated Xbox-Bethesda games showcase! Very recently, Team Xbox emphasized further its overall strategy of delivering interactive entertainment that goes way beyond the traditional model of selling consoles and games, and behind it all they have the full support of Microsoft itself!

Let’s start with the special presentation involving both Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Xbox chief Phil Spencer. Watch the video and listen very closely.

“Gaming is fundamentally aligned and woven in our mission as a company,” Satya Nadella said. “When you talk about Xbox’s mission to bring the joy and community of gaming to everyone on the planet, which I absolutely love, this is precisely what I think of when we think about Microsoft’s mission, which is to empower every person, every organization on the planet to achieve more. As a company, Microsoft’s all-in on gaming.”

Microsoft’s CEO confirmed that the corporation has indeed gone all in for Team Xbox and this is clearly a radical change compared to what happened in the previous console generation when the team was not a true priority for the corporation.

When it was a non-priority within the corporation’s hierarchy, Team Xbox was severely limited in producing first-party exclusives, severely limited in making big-time partnerships with other game developers/publishers, and designed a very flawed console with Xbox One. The result was a doomed 8th console generation (or the 3rd Xbox console generation) and the Xbox One sold much less than Xbox 360 worldwide and could not match the high number of exclusive games on Sony’s PlayStation 4 (PS4). Phil Spencer did what he could since taking over as Team Xbox chief.

That is all in the past now! With the full support of Microsoft and with Phil Spencer and his team now a clear priority for the corporation, Team Xbox has a lot of momentum moving forward in this 9th console generation. Mega publisher Bethesda has been integrated into Team Xbox and there will be Bethesda-produced exclusive games that gamers with Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and Windows PC can look forward to. With 23 game developers under the Xbox Game Studios umbrella, several 1st party exclusives are already being produced like Avowed (plus the expected The Outer Worlds franchise) from Obsidian Entertainment, Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II from Ninja Theory, the next-generation Forza Motorsport game from Turn 10 Studios and Perfect Dark from The Initiative to name a few. When it comes to paid subscription services, it was reported that Xbox Game Pass (XGP) subscribers reached 18,000,000+ and right now Sony and Nintendo have no serious services of their own to compete with it. I should also mention Team Xbox is continuing with plans of acquisitions of game developers.

With the forward momentum clear, we can now take a look at the strategies as published in Xbox.com written by Xbox Wire Editor-in-Chief Will Tuttle. Some parts in boldface…

Xbox Game Pass is Changing the Way We Discover, Connect, and Play

  • Xbox Game Pass members play 30% more genres and play 40% more games. And more than 90% of members said they played a game that they would not have tried without Game Pass.
  • On average across the Game Pass library, partners see engagement go up by more than 8x when they enter Game Pass.
  • Whether it’s purchasing games inside or outside of what’s available in the library, or purchasing additional content for the games they like, members spend 50% more than non-members.
  • Xbox Game Pass has become a true discovery engine, a platform for connection and community, and is driving game sales. New insights we’re sharing today include:
    • Since we started our partnership with EA Play in Game Pass Ultimate, our players have been engaging with EA’s subscription service in a significant way. Compared to before the integration, EA Play has seen record usage on Microsoft platforms, driving hours played on these platforms up by more than 200%. As a result, EA’s incredible portfolio of games has reached and gained millions of new fans on the Xbox platform.
    • The new Square Enix game Outriders is in Game Pass and was also the #1 selling digital game on Xbox during its launch week and a top 10 selling digital game on Xbox in the month of April. Game Pass helped introduce millions of players to the game.
    • During launch week, MLB: The Show 21 was the biggest sports game of the past year on Xbox and the second biggest sports game of all time on Xbox. Game Pass added millions of new fans and grew Major League Baseball’s player base significantly. MLB: The Show 21 was also the #1 selling paid game on Xbox for the month of April. 

Xbox and Xbox Game Pass are Coming to More Screens

  • Xbox is working with global TV manufacturers to embed the Xbox experience directly into internet-connected televisions with no extra hardware required except a controller.
  • Xbox is exploring new subscription offerings for Xbox Game Pass so more players around the world can experience the most immersive and fun games across devices, geographies, and financial realities.
  • Xbox is working with telecommunications providers on new purchasing models like Xbox All Access, which allows consumers to buy both a console and Game Pass for a low monthly price, rather than spending money up front.
  • Xbox is building its own streaming devices for cloud gaming to reach gamers on any TV or monitor without the need for a console at all.
  • Cloud gaming through Xbox Game Pass Ultimate will launch in Australia, Brazil, Mexico, and Japan later this year.
  • In the next few weeks, cloud gaming on the browser will open to all Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members. With Edge, Chrome, and Safari support, players will be a click away from gaming on almost any device. 
  • We’re in the final stages of updating our Microsoft datacenters around the world with our latest generation of hardware, the Xbox Series X. This means gamers will see faster load times, improved frame rates, and experience Xbox Series X|S optimized games.
  • Later this year, we’ll add cloud gaming directly into the Xbox app on PC and integrate it into our console experience to light up scenarios like try before you download

An Incredible Pipeline of Games

  • With more than 23 studios worldwide creating games for Xbox, our goal is to release at least one new, first party game into Game Pass every quarter. Role playing games, shooters, strategy titles, adventure games, and more are all being built by our first party teams to ensure that there is a steady stream of compelling exclusive content to explore.
  • Our independent developer program ID@Xbox has earned developers over $2B dollars since the program’s inception, with over 2000 titles launched and many more on the way. This model is now being used for ID@Azure, allowing independent devs to build cloud-based experiences. These programs bring new voices from diverse backgrounds into the world of game development.
Xbox Game Pass is leading the way when it comes to paid subscription services on video games and it will be made more available to gamers around the world, including those who cannot afford an Xbox console.

Whew! That was an overload of details above! As the Xbox-Bethesda event on June 13 is focused on games (and possible studio acquisition announcements), it makes sense for Team Xbox to make clear what their strategies are and what developments are happening.

To examine the above information, Microsoft is taking Xbox and Xbox Game Pass to newer heights that the traditional model of selling consoles (hardware) and games cannot reach. The Xbox-Windows connectivity has been re-emphasized and it has indeed been working for XGP users who are paying $15 a month. Moving forward, Xbox will be integrated into smart TVs/HDTVs (connected to the Internet) and the only hardware needed is the Xbox controller. Once Microsoft’s deals with telecommunication firms have been finalized, consumers can buy a console (most likely Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X for gamers who want high-end experiences) and XGP through Xbox All Access and pay it all on a monthly basis (this will spare consumers from the trouble of paying so much for a new Xbox console at retail). This also shows the benefits of subscribing over doing over-the-counter retail transactions. Furthermore, the Xbox ecosystem will eventually become more accessible to many millions more gamers (who cannot afford consoles) through their Internet-connected HDTVs/smart TVs using streaming devices with cloud functionality.

Think about all those highly ambitious strategies and how they can eventually positive impact interactive entertainment and even expand video gaming as we know it. Nintendo and the PlayStation team at Sony (hey Jim Ryan, are you still learning yet?) did not anticipate this latest barrage by Team Xbox, nor have they formulated new ways to enhance the gaming experience and attracting many more consumers who cannot afford game consoles.

Whether you like it or not, Team Xbox is clearly pushing hard with its plan to reach many millions more consumers around the world without being limited by the traditional console business model. Consumers will be offered a lot of choices as to how they want to play games via Xbox and how they want to enter the Xbox ecosystem based on their respective financial standings and purchasing power. Consumers also love being offered multiple options which Nintendo and Sony seem to ignore. It seems the Japanese traditions of doing video game business set Nintendo and Sony back.

The consumer can become the center of gaming with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate!

Let me ask you readers: Are the new strategies by Team Xbox look exciting or complicated to you? Are you a gamer who wants to enjoy high-definition gaming at home without the hassle of buying a new console? Do you prefer to acquire an Xbox Series X through a subscription with your telecommunication provider? If you are running a retailing joint selling video game hardware and software, what do you think about the newest Xbox strategies announced?

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

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

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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