Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard shakes gaming industry!

It has been a few days since the industry shaking announcement was made – Microsoft will acquire gaming giant Activision Blizzard for almost $69 billion and that means major additions (games, intellectual properties, game development talents, technologies and more) coming to Team Xbox for gamers to enjoy within the Xbox ecosystem.

This is easily the most unbelievable and most intriguing video game business development since the Xbox-Bethesda deal (deal completed in 2021). Unbelievable because nobody (other than the Microsoft and Activision Blizzard executives) saw this deal would happen at all even though Team Xbox made clear it would push on with acquisitions. Intriguing because Activision Blizzard itself has been controversial in very negative ways (for references, click here, here and here) which brings major challenges for Team Xbox to solve once the acquisition has been completed.

To begin with, let’s take a look at the reactions and analysis of Xbox YouTubers and gaming media in the videos below…

And now, for even greater perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the official Xbox-Activision-Blizzard announcement on Xbox.com written by none other than Phil Spencer himself and he now has a new work title…CEO of Microsoft Gaming. Now pay close attention to the details below. Some parts in boldface…

As a team, we are on a mission to extend the joy and community of gaming to everyone on the planet. We all know that gaming is the most vibrant and dynamic form of entertainment worldwide and we’ve experienced the power of social connection and friendship that gaming makes possible.

As we pursue that mission, it is incredibly exciting to announce that Microsoft has agreed to acquire Activision Blizzard.

Over many decades, the studios and teams that make up Activision Blizzard have earned vast wellsprings of joy and respect from billions of people all over the world. We are incredibly excited to have the chance to work with the amazing, talented, dedicated people across Activision Publishing, Blizzard Entertainment, Beenox, Demonware, Digital Legends, High Moon Studios, Infinity Ward, King, Major League Gaming, Radical Entertainment, Raven Software, Sledgehammer Games, Toys for Bob, Treyarch and every team across Activision Blizzard.

Until this transaction closes, Activision Blizzard and Microsoft Gaming will continue to operate independently. Once the deal is complete, the Activision Blizzard business will report to me as CEO, Microsoft Gaming.

Upon close, we will offer as many Activision Blizzard games as we can within Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass, both new titles and games from Activision Blizzard’s incredible catalog. We also announced today that Game Pass now has more than 25 million subscribers. As always, we look forward to continuing to add more value and more great games to Game Pass.

The fantastic franchises across Activision Blizzard will also accelerate our plans for Cloud Gaming, allowing more people in more places around the world to participate in the Xbox community using phones, tablets, laptops and other devices you already own. Activision Blizzard games are enjoyed on a variety of platforms and we plan to continue to support those communities moving forward.

As a company, Microsoft is committed to our journey for inclusion in every aspect of gaming, among both employees and players. We deeply value individual studio cultures. We also believe that creative success and autonomy go hand-in-hand with treating every person with dignity and respect. We hold all teams, and all leaders, to this commitment. We’re looking forward to extending our culture of proactive inclusion to the great teams across Activision Blizzard.

Around the world, there is no more exciting venue for fun and connection than video games.

Wow! That was once massive and strategically worded announcement there by Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer! Not only does this great development prove that Microsoft continues to go all-in on gaming through Team Xbox, it also shows partially what the long-term video gaming business will be for them, Activision Blizzard’s teams and the consumers who collectively own game consoles, desktops, laptops, smartphones and other devices with access to the Xbox network and ecosystem. The acquisition, once approved, will help Team Xbox gain a strong presence in the lucrative mobile gaming industry.

Very clearly, the business of video games is no longer limited to game consoles, software and online gaming networks which is something that Japan-based Sony and Nintendo should realize. The console-only approach of business is itself a hindrance on reaching out to billions of people who play games, as well as an obstacle to achieve massive business growth not for the short term but for the long term.

The most recent games of Activision Blizzard franchises like Call of Duty, Starcraft, Warcraft, Crash Bandicoot and Spyro have been released on game consoles and Windows PC. There is also the mobile gaming titan Call of Duty: Mobile under Activision. These facts proves that the acquisition by Microsoft makes business and technical sense.

When it comes to Xbox gaming, I believe that in due time, future installments of established Activision Blizzard game franchises as well as brand new intellectual properties will become Xbox-exclusive after the completion of the acquisition and as long as Activision Blizzard has no signed agreements with PlayStation or Nintendo related to console exclusivity of games. What is the basis for this? Take a look back at what Phil Spencer said before

“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,”

Going back to Spencer’s Xbox-Activision-Blizzard announcement, he specifically confirmed that Xbox Game Pass (XGP) subscribers has reached 25 million already, and things will only get exciting as more Activision Blizzard games will be added into the service! Expect lots of Call of Duty games, Crash Bandicoot games, Tony Hawk games and more! Xbox Game Pass will become even more varied with its game selection from the Xbox game studios and that means the subscription service will become even more attractive, even essential, to gamers who want great value for their money.

Apart from Activision Blizzard’s games and intellectual properties, Microsoft will also inherit the many employees working under AB’s game studios as well as their proprietary technologies (game engines, rendering software and the like) and have them integrated into Xbox Game Studios.

Easily the biggest video game development of 2022!

Right now, there is still a long road ahead for the Xbox-Activision-Blizzard deal to endure first heading towards competition. Don’t forget that the deal is still subject for review by the regulators. The people who hate Xbox and even Activision Blizzard out there can always rant a lot, complain a lot and spew lots of nonsense but nothing changes the fact that the Xbox-Activision-Blizzard deal does not really constitute a monopoly in the video game industry. The said industry is much bigger than most people know and there are several other game publishers out there whose combined market values heavily outweigh Microsoft, Activision Blizzard and even Bethesda combined. As for the internal side of things, I believe that Microsoft has what it takes to end the negativity within Activision Blizzard, solve the related problems and straighten things out. It will take a few years but I believe improvements will happen. By then, more entertainment content will flood the Xbox ecosystem as well as Xbox Game Pass!

Truly now is a great time to be part of the Xbox ecosystem as more great games will be coming in! Personally, I am looking forward to play Activision Blizzard’s games on my Xbox Series X through Xbox Game Pass!

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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 with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/

Even more fun and more compelling gaming experiences await gamers on Xbox in 2022

There is no denying that 2021 saw Team Xbox got its groove back as the current Xbox ecosystem (composed of Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One and Windows PC) got filled with not only excellent games but also with the continued rise of Xbox Game Pass (XGP) as the best subscription service in gaming! The most recent additions of backward compatible games also added depth into the Xbox network for users – especially long-time Xbox gamers – to enjoy.

2021 Xbox-exclusive games like Halo Infinite, Forza Horizon 5, and Flight Simulator were acclaimed games and they really showed what the Xbox Series consoles could do when it comes to giving gamers a true, fun-filled next-generation experience.

On the production side of Xbox gaming, the $7.5 billion acquisition and integration of Bethesda (through ZeniMax) into Xbox already showed nice results and there will be even better results in the form of brand new games in 2022.

For some insight on 2022 Xbox gaming, watch the following videos below…

Expect 2022 to be a much bigger and more exciting year of gaming on Xbox in terms of exclusive games, multiplatform games and XGP! Techland’s Dying Light 2 Stay Human will be released on February 4 which should please gamers who have long been waiting for it. Coming out on February 10 is CrossfireX which will have a story oriented single-player campaign as well as robust multi-player system. The high-profile FromSoftware RPG Elden Ring will be unleashed on February 25.

Tunic, a timed Xbox-exclusive game, will be released on March 16 and to this day it continues to get compared with The Legend of Zelda due to its design and art style. Die-hard players of Grand Theft Auto V who wish to replay the game and its multi-player features with the benefits of playing it on Xbox Series S or Xbox Series X will get something from Rockstar Games as the next-gen update for the game will be released sometime this March. For those who love crime-oriented open-world games that are not connected with the GTA franchise, there is the Saints Row reboot which has been delayed to August 2022.

Warhammer 40,000: Darktide, which promises to give gamers a lot of action and cooperative play to enjoy, shall be released on Xbox Series consoles, Windows PC and Xbox Game Pass sometime this year. Similarly, Square Enix’s sci-fi Japanese role-playing game (JRPG) Star Ocean The Divine Force will be released sometime this year. If the game will be released in the 3rd quarter or 4th quarter this year, then it is likely Square Enix will announce the release date at this year’s E3 convention. Still on JRPGs, Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising from developer Rabbit & Bear Studios and publisher 505 Games should be come out sometime this year on Xbox consoles, Windows PC and Xbox Game Pass. A final release date might be announced soon. Another notable video game that should be released sometime this year is Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League which has the potential to be a big hit as it was made by the same developer behind the three most acclaimed Batman Arkham games.

When it comes to the more high-profile exclusive Xbox games set for release this year, Xbox fans as well as S.T.A.L.K.E.R. franchise fans should know that S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl will be released on December 8, 2022 on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and Windows PC. The game, which will also be released through Xbox Game Pass, promises to deliver a massive open-world for gamers to get lost in and experience lots of action mixed with horror elements. Redfall, another Xbox-exclusive made by Arkane Austin under Bethesda, should be released sometime in the 2nd quarter this year on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Windows PC and Xbox Game Pass. Expect a pre-release showcase before or during the 2022 of E3.

What is widely considered to be the most anticipated Xbox-exclusive game of 2022 is Bethesda’s next big RPG Starfield which will be released on November 11 for Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Windows PC and Xbox Game Pass. This game’s production is being led by Todd Howard and he and his team at Bethesda Softworks are really challenging themselves to immerse gamers into a brand new, science fiction universe that will emphasize space travel, colonized planets, discovering the unexplored and getting involved in the uneasy peace between the major factions. It is inevitable that a major showing of Starfield should happen at E3 2022 or in an upcoming digital event of Team Xbox.

The above mix of games are just some of the many new games coming to Xbox this year. In fact, there is a possibility that Team Xbox could release some more Xbox-exclusive games this year such as the yet-to-be-showcased Forza Motorsport (note: the latest entry of the FM franchise Forza Motorsport 7 was released way back in 2017) for example. They could also announce new and even timed exclusive games coming through Xbox Game Pass within the year. As for other upcoming undated Xbox-exclusives like Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II and Contraband, I wish those games will be released this year.

Whatever lies ahead, expect 2022 to be more exciting than 2021 when it comes to Xbox games and experiences. There is nothing that Xbox haters and jealous fanboys could do to derail the Xbox machine and its strong momentum.

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

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

CrossfireX all set for release on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and Xbox One on February 10, 2022

After much waiting and anticipation on the part of gamers wanting to play Crossfire X, it has been officially announced that the said rapid-fire first-person shooting (FPS) game will be released on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and Xbox One on February 10, 2022! To get yourselves engaged with the release date announcement, watch the newest CrossfireX trailer below.

Now that you have seen the trailer, we can take things into perspective with the official press statement written by Smilegate West’s marketing team lead Jaren Wade and published through Xbox.com with the excerpt posted below. Some parts in bold face…

Attention mercenaries: It’s almost time to fight alongside the Global Risk and Black List factions, when CrossfireX makes its console debut on February 10, 2022. The world-renowned first person shooter makes its way to Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One consoles early next year and we can’t wait to see where the fight takes Xbox players.

It has been a long road for CrossfireX, full of excitement and feedback from our passionate community. We apologize for being unable to meet the 2021 expectations for the game’s release. A 2021 release date was something the entire team was striving for and unfortunately, we had to make the difficult decision to push the game’s launch back into early 2022. The CFX team wants to respond to that passion we’ve seen and share more about the game as we move forward to the February release together.

We wanted to share another glimpse at the single-player campaign with a new trailer at The Game Awards 2021. CrossfireX’s single-player component is developed by the master storytellers over at Remedy Entertainment. Working with Remedy has allowed CrossfireX to really dive into the narrative possibilities that has existed in this franchise, and we thank them for being able to bring those possibilities to life. We cannot wait for you to try Operation Catalyst and Operation Spectre when both campaigns launch alongside the CFX multiplayer in February 2022.

Soldiers and a machine behind them.

Speaking of the multiplayer component, one question that has been going around the community since the summer is what exactly are the Legendary Mercenaries? Teased by Executive Producer Mr. Boo, these characters are special transformations found in the game’s Modern modes.

Previously the Legendary Mercenaries were the final phase of the Tactical Growth System, which allows players to choose temporary buffs during Modern mode matches. They have since been separated due to balancing issues and now you can become these fearsome foes through the Modern mode exclusive Kill Streaks and Death Streaks. We wanted to share more information regarding these Legendary Mercenaries which are also known as The Boogieman.

Kill streaks grant additional match specific perks by consecutively securing enough kills. Death streaks are slower to activate, but allow you to make a comeback and turn the tides of battle. At the end of each of these streaks, you’ll get your chance to transform into the Death King. This Legendary Mercenary that dual wields twin SMGs, making him devastating in close quarters combat. In addition to his unique weapon, the Death King also has higher HP and speed compared to regular mercenaries. His ultimate skill allows him blink backwards after unleashing an AOE attack, making it a useful tool to escape from dangerous situations.

The Death King is just one of many different Legendary Mercenaries. With each multiplayer season, The Boogieman will be updated bringing a new set of abilities and skills to further showcase your dominance on the battlefield.

Finally, we cannot thank our community enough for its patience and we hope you enjoyed the new look at our single-player campaign. We’re excited to meet you in game in February 2022 and we can’t wait to see how you utilize The Death Knight in battle.

CrossfireX has a single-player campaign and a multiplayer campaign to entertain gamers.

For the newcomers reading this, CrossfireX is an Xbox-exclusive game and it is the latest entry in the CrossFire franchise of games that started South Korea on Windows PC way back in May 2007. Smilegate is the developer and publisher of the games and when it comes to CrossfireX, they collaborated with Remedy Entertainment (the same team behind Alan Wake, Quantum Break and Max Payne games) to make the single-player campaign which will come with an original story. Remedy has an established record of making games with stories, characters and memorable fictional settings or worlds and this convinced the CrossFire makers to team up with them.   

Personally, I never got to play any CrossFire game but with CrossfireX coming to Xbox consoles exclusively in a few months’ time, I’m interested with it. Recently I just finished Halo Infinite’s single-player campaign which was truly an epic gaming experience on my part. Maybe CrossfireX’s single-player campaign might have something new and enjoyable as Remedy is in-charge of it. In line with the CrossFire series’ legacy, its multiplayer aspect should guarantee bouts of fun-filled shooting and action. Whatever happens, watch out for CrossfireX on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and Xbox One on February 10, 2022!

The new year 2022 will be another fun-filled, exciting and engaging year of Xbox-exclusive games and experiences that will delight gamers, and even the fanboys who hate Xbox will have new reasons to stop their bigotry and have fun on Xbox.

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

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

The latest gameplay footage of Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II is very impressive!

Just hours after playing the first five hours and thirty-seven minutes of Halo Infinite on my Xbox Series X which I greatly enjoyed, I got to watch YouTube videos of The Game Awards (hosted by Geoff Keighly). And for the 3rd straight year of the said awards, Team Xbox unleashed another visual showcase for Xbox fans and gamers in general to enjoy about the future of gaming. I’m talking about the gameplay reveal of Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II, the high-profile Xbox-exclusive game being made by Ninja Theory for Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X and Windows PC.

That being said, I urge you all to watch the official gameplay footage below…

Wow! That was a very cinematic and artistic looking gameplay showcase of the Senua’s Saga! When I first saw it, I had this first impression that it was all just a pre-rendered cinematic but when I saw the key moments of gameplay – particularly with Senua carrying the sharp sticks to throw at the monster much like a javelin – I realized it was a game designed to give gamers the cinematic look and interactivity mixed together.

The footage shown had a very cinematic look thanks to the extremely high amount of detail not only on the real-time graphics used but also on the animation and the overall artistic design and work (great job there, Ninja Theory talents!). In addition, the facial expressions, acting and motion-captured action done by Melina Juergens (official Instagram and Twitter) really pushed the immersion even higher!

Very detailed visuals combined with a very unique art style.

For the newcomers reading this, Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II is the sequel to the acclaimed 2017 multiplatform game Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice which was developed and published by Ninja Theory at a time when they were still an independent studio. That particular game was not just a fancy looking action-oriented game…it had a daring concept of tackling psychosis on top of its already intriguing fantasy concept and unique game design.

Going back to Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II, what was shown recently was not the first time it was showcased at The Game Awards. The 2019 edition of the said awards saw the official unveiling of Xbox Series X and the sequel which really generated a lot of positive buzz and showed how serious Team Xbox really is when it comes to creating compelling video games going into this current console generation.

Melina Juergens as Senua is very life-like, right down to the on-screen emotions.

As Ninja Theory is now officially part of Team Xbox as a developer under Xbox Game Studios, it comes to no surprise that Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II is an Xbox-exclusive game being made for the Xbox Series consoles and Windows PC. As there is no Xbox One version at all, this shows that the new game is aiming high with the latest console and PC technologies and that many millions of gamers around the world will eventually have unique gameplay experiences as well as new levels of immersion with Senua’s Saga.

As for the people who hate Xbox and the console fanboys who believe that there should be no exclusive games for Xbox, you are all just wasting your lives with your video game prejudice and you are also proving that video game-related bigotry is true. Similar to Xbox-Bethesda, Ninja Theory is NOT obligated to release new games on consoles that are not Xbox-related. Even though Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice was a multi-platform hit, Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II is absolutely not coming to PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 and Nintendo Switch (not even the eventual Switch successor). Your emotion-led demands for Senua’s Saga to be released on your non-Xbox console do not count as law.If you really want the sequel but vehemently oppose anything Xbox, there is the Windows PC for you. You have a choice!

As of this writing, Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II does not yet have a final release date. That being said, let’s just keep waiting for Ninja Theory to full complete and polish the game first.

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

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

Forza Horizon 5 is a super-charged, fun-filled game that must be played!

Ever since I started subscribing to Xbox Game Pass (XGP), I’ve been playing the universally acclaimed Forza Horizon 5 a lot on my Xbox Series X and as of this writing, it is my most played game. Why? Because each time I play it, Forza Horizon 5 keeps on offering me a lot of opportunities to have fun from joining races, touring the fictionalized Mexico setting to taking part in very interesting, tourism-inspired missions/quests.

My name on the plate license.
Out in the open!
I made it in the Hall of Fame!

What I can confirm to you all is that this Xbox-exclusive open-world racing game made by Playground Games consistently delivered a lot of enjoyable stuff for me to discover and experience while also respecting my freedom of choice as to where can I go, what races should I compete in, what places can be discovered and a whole lot more! Very clearly the developers made the game with entertainment in mind and given the exceptional game design concept of the Forza Horizon series as a whole, they delivered a very unique car-oriented video game that keeps on moving into uncharted territories that most other racing games have not achieved.

Forza Horizon 5 is not your typical racing game. It has a fictionalized Mexico as the massive in-game world that is waiting for players to discover complete with the distinct environmental features, architectures, and ancient structures that reflect the nation’s rich culture.

At the Horizon Mexico site.
Speeding along the bridge!
That is the volcano!

There are also a whole of races or competitions for you to choose from. If you love racing at high speed on roads, there’s a lot of them. You love off-road racing and are willing to test your ability to drive over mud, sand, dirt or over some vegetation? Lots of those races are available! If you are looking for unusual challengers to compete with, there are special races in which you get to test your skill and might against a speeding train or an airplane or jet skiers! Not only that, there are also these very enduring special races that are over 30 miles long and I personally love the endurance test while performing my best against all the competitors which make the crossing the finish line a very satisfying experience!

Like its predecessors, Forza Horizon 5 is also rich with customization of your cars and even your in-game avatar (who has a voice and lots of lines to speak with). The cars you have can be customized at a Horizon outpost or in your in-game home, and you will have options with regards to vehicular paint, designs and car parts. Not only that, you can also upgrade the car parts and make your car more powerful and move to a higher rating.

A nice place to enjoy the view!
This is a very intense race!
The in-game sky and clouds have that photo-realistic touch.

When it comes to customizing your avatar, you can choose from several pre-designed human models and then adjust the hair style, hair color, prosthetics (note: if you really want this), physical expressions and most notable of all, you will have lots of options on your avatar’s shoes and clothes (shirts, jackets, trousers, skirts and dresses plus hats and eyewear to name some).

Going back into the Forza Horizon 5’s digital Mexico, there will also be some nicely designed places that you can purchase as your avatar’s home and each one is strategically located in different areas that reflect the local look and culture. As of this writing, I already purchased 6 homes, including two each with a 7-figure price tag.

One of my six homes as of this writing.
My newest home that cost 2,000,000 in in-game currency.
If you really want to earn more in-game money, you’ve got win and level-up a lot!

As of my last Forza Horizon 5 session, my car collection is still less than a hundred and already I sent out about ten cars as gifts (note: the barns) for a variety of gamers who play the game. As I was focused on raising money to buy all the homes in the game, my purchasing of new cars has been slow and this only motivates me to keep on joining races, raise as much money from each race and also relying on random winnings from the spin-a-prize sequences. I checked the in-game car shop and I am very impressed with the wide selection of hundreds of cars offered by many vehicular manufacturers from around the world. I like the Porsche cars that made it into the game!

When it comes to gameplay variety, gamers will not only have lots of races to join in, there are also these varied, driving-oriented quests that each have their own story concept and characters who will interact with your avatar. These quests include helping out in stunt car sequences for a movie production, helping a scientist with finding date in key locations, etc. Not only that, there are also these barns to find that each have the remains of an old vehicle that could be restored to working condition. And then there are these timed, limited events/activities you can join in.

A great view of only a portion of the game’s fictionalized Mexico.
A short clip from one of the special activities I took part in.
This Porsche is fast and highly responsive in terms of control! It’s worth spending money on!

I’ve played Forza Horizon 5 for a little over 15 hours now and I can only speculate that there are still a lot more to discover within the game by default. Combine all of those with the seasonal or special events/activities, there is always something new to do and discover in the game!

With Halo Infinite launching in a few more days, I’ve got to play more of Forza Horizon 5 because if the sci-fi shooter is as great and as immersive as what the YouTubers (who had access to 10 hours of the single player campaign) then that would most likely be my regular game to play on Xbox Series X.

As I have yet to complete Forza Horizon 5 as of now, this piece I am writing is NOT a game review but rather my opinion piece based on what I experienced with the game so far. What I can declare is this: if you love cars, exploring, adventuring, good music and if you want the best enjoyment available on Xbox Series X right now, then Forza Horizon 5 is a must-have and must-play game! Forza Horizon 5 is truly a very great game loaded with lots of fun stuff to keep any gamer busy and happy!

I love playing Forza Horizon 5 on my Xbox Series X!

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

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

Xbox 20th Anniversary celebrated!

Believe it or not, Xbox is now 20-years-old and I’m not just referring to the line of video game consoles from Microsoft. Xbox today is also a following of dedicated fans as well as a very thriving ecosystem that covers Xbox game consoles as well as Windows PC! Xbox is also home to popular game franchises such as Halo, Forza Motorsport, Forza Horizon and, by means of Bethesda’s integration into Team Xbox, the established franchises of The Elder Scrolls, Doom, Dishonored, Fallout and many others!

The other night, I got to watch live the Xbox 20th anniversary celebration via the official Xbox YouTube channel and I can say that it was worth the wait since it was first announced coming. That being said, I posted below for your viewing pleasure the very Xbox 20th anniversary celebration video which lasts a little over 30 minutes…

Wow! That was a blast of nostalgia, the Xbox development history, games and big-time entertainment there! Were you able to absorb all of that in just one viewing?

Cutting through the stuff, I can say that I was surprised to see 343 Industries announce the sudden release of the Multiplayer Beta of Halo Infinite which itself has a December 8, 2021 release for its very promising single-player campaign. Watch the video below…

That looked awesome! That being said, I should not be surprised of the sudden release of the multiplayer beta because November 15 is the anniversary date of the original Halo: Combat Evolved, and this year also marks 20th anniversary of the said game and the Halo franchise as a whole. Another reason not to be surprised by the announcement is the fact that the multiplayer feature of Halo Infinite was very positively received since it was first unveiled months ago. I believe that having millions of Halo fans play Halo Infinite’s multiplayer beta will add to the growing anticipation of the single-player campaign’s release which is only weeks away from happening. At the same time, I should state that Halo Infinite’s multiplayer aspect will not be limited to last a few years but will be updates more and more and be able to last even more years than any multiplayer feature of past Halo games!

Moving on, I am very delighted with the announcement by Team Xbox that a lot more classic games (from past Xbox consoles) have been made compatible with Xbox One, Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S! Among the new additions into the Xbox backward compatibility program were Dead or Alive 3, F.E.A.R., Max Payne, Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, Oddworld: Munch’s Odyssey, Ridge Racer 6, Skate 2, and TimeSplitters 2 to name some.

Adding even more awesomeness to this backward compatibility development is the confirmation enhancements (note: frame rates, resolution, etc.) being applied on classic games making them play best on Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X! Posted below is the excerpt from the Xbox.com article containing the very specific details…

Backward Compatible Games play best on Xbox Series X and Series S

A core tenet since the very beginning of the backward compatibility program has been to not only preserve the games you know and love, but also to enhance them using the latest technology so they look and play better than ever before while still staying true to the original creator’s vision. With Xbox Series X|S, we introduced innovations and improvements such as FPS Boost, Auto HDR, and faster loading times, which breathed new life into classic titles.

  • Every backward compatible title added today will experience improved visual quality with Auto HDR on supported displays, which automatically adds HDR enhancements on Xbox Series X|S.
  • Original Xbox games will experience a resolution increase on all Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One consoles on supported displays.
    • 4x resolution increase on Xbox Series X and Xbox One X
    • 3x resolution increase on Xbox Series S
    • 2x resolution increase on Xbox One S and Xbox One
  • Players will experience even smoother gameplay on 11 titles added today via FPS Boost, which doubles the original framerate up to 60 FPS, including F.E.A.R., F.E.A.R. 3, Binary Domain, and NIER.
  • We are also excited to announce we enabled FPS Boost on 26 more titles from the existing catalog including top requested titles such as the entire Gears of War franchise, Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas, Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Dragon Age: Origins, Dead Space 2 & 3, Alan Wake and Sonic Generations.
  • And beginning today, FPS Boost is rolling out to 33 titles via Xbox Cloud Gaming (Beta) that were previously enhanced on Xbox Series X|S including Fallout 4, Fallout 76, and The Evil Within 2.

Players can easily toggle FPS Boost as well as Auto HDR on or off under the “Manage Game” section for any title. You decide how you want to experience your favorite games, whether in their original form or enhanced with Auto HDR and FPS Boost enabled.

Having played Xbox games since the original Xbox console, I can say that the enhancements on old games running on any Xbox Series console is very delightful. Very soon I will replay The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion on my Xbox Series X console to rediscover its open-world and quests while enjoying the 60FPS frame rate which will make it a buttery smooth gameplay experience! In relation to these, check out the following videos below showing classic Xbox games enhanced on Xbox Series X.

My Xbox story

Some of you might be wondering what my Xbox story is and how does the Xbox 20th anniversary resonate with me. I can tell you right now my personal experience on witnessing the very launch of the original Xbox game console way back twenty years ago!

The day was November 15, 2001. I was in Hawthorne, California and back then I was still a PlayStation gamer who just happened to be intrigued by Microsoft’s entry in the video game industry.

Being very curious and interested, I hiked all the way to the nearest Best Buy. As I did not have much money, I simply went there to enter and observe. Shopping was not the point of my visit.

As I approached Best Buy through the parking area, I noticed a group of about ten people lined up outside as well as some people entering. It turns out the ones who lined up were there for the Xbox console launch, ready to purchase and waiting for their respective turns. Since I was not there to buy the console, I went inside without hassle.

The original Xbox console with Controller S (which was released in 2002 replacing the original bulky controller).

As it turned out, inside Best Buy, there was a controlled approach organized by the retailer to ensure that the customers buying Xbox, its games and peripherals would have ample time to pick up what they wanted and go to the counter for payment and exit. In other words, it was a turn-based approach on launching the Xbox console locally in a very orderly manner. I also learned that the customers waiting outside the front each had numbers for the Xbox console launch.

While walking around, I saw the original Xbox consoles in their boxed stacked together for the numbered customers to pick up. I also saw shelves of Xbox games and accessories nearby.

Among the customers I witnessed buying the Xbox, I saw a lady moving forward with her pushcart full of varied products (DVDs, CDs, video games and more) and the Xbox stood out among them all! That was a sight to behold!

And that was my personal Xbox 20th anniversary testimony for you all!

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

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

Pay close attention to Xbox Game Studios Publishing and the exclusive games being made by their partners

Nothing changes the fact that Team Xbox and its 23 game studios are hard at work producing exclusive games that will provide years’ worth of fun-filled content to Xbox console gamers, PC gamers and the many millions who subscribed to Xbox Game Pass (XGP).

Were you able to read my recent article about Stoic (The Banner Saga) and its current work on an exclusive game with Team Xbox? For those who missed out on it, Team Xbox is actively working with varied game studios (examples: Avalanche Studios on Contraband, and IO Interactive on Project Dragon) on producing even more Xbox-exclusive games and the said studios are still free being independent entities.

Very recently, Miles Dompier of Windows Central Gaming wrote an in-depth article about the moves and projects of Xbox Game Studios Publishing in cooperation with the independent game makers. To start with, watch this WCG video of WCG and Miles Dompier…

To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from Dompier’s article. Some parts in boldface…

In addition to a staggering first-party future including titles like Hellblade 2, Fable, Everwild, Starfield, and many more, we also know of roughly 10 Xbox Game Studios Publishing titles potentially in the works. Xbox understands that strategic partnerships on games published through Xbox may make more sense than outright acquisitions when it comes to building meaningful relationships with developers. And who knows? Maybe some of these teams will love their experience working with Xbox, which could lead to more permanent relationships.

For now, we’ll be recapping all the Xbox Game Studios Publishing projects we currently know about as well as revealing one brand new codename. Here are several reasons why we should all be very excited about the future of Xbox Game Studios Publishing.

Xbox Game Studios Publishing codenames

As Dusk Falls is still in production.

Let’s start with the small list of Xbox Game Studios Publishing titles that have officially been announced so far. First up, we have the interactive drama As Dusk Falls. This stylized game from Interior/Night promises an engaging narrative with player choice driving the story. As it stands, there’s no release date or window for this project.

Next, we have the upcoming co-op heist title Contraband from open-world experts Avalanche Studios. Set in the 1970s, this seemingly ambitious open-world game allows players to execute the perfect heist with unique vehicles and gadgets. While there’s no official release date yet, we’ll likely get more details on the project sometime in 2022.

Now we’ll touch on some Xbox projects we’ve previously covered or teased in the past. The infamous Project Dragon from IO Interactive has been in the rumor mill for quite some time now. This action RPG aims to deliver a vast and ongoing multiplayer fantasy experience. A release or even reveal may be a ways off here, but it’s still exciting to think about the possibilities.

Project Belfry is another exciting potential Xbox exclusive. According to Jeff Grubb and his luscious mane, this side-scrolling brawler from The Banner Saga developers Stoic Studios is comparable to the PlayStation exclusive Dragon’s Crown in terms of gameplay, but will feature the painted art style this team is known for.

An Xbox Game Studios Publishing title that has me particularly interested is Project Shaolin. Reportedly in development by BrassLion Entertainment, this action RPG will reportedly feature an anime aesthetic and focus on the legendary hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan. With four-player co-op and a seasonal loot system, this project sounds right up my alley.

Fans of 4X strategy titles like Civilization should be interested in the upcoming Project Indus from developer Oxide Games. With turn-based strategic elements, city building, empire advancement, espionage, diplomacy, and warfare, this should scratch a specific itch for fans of the genre.

As you can see in Dompier’s article above, the Xbox-exclusive projects made by independent game makers are in production and will fill the gaps on the Xbox portfolio to not only provide content for console, PC and Xbox Game Pass gamers but also to meet the varied tastes or interests of gamers. Action-oriented role-playing? Project Shaolin! Interactive drama? Watch out for As Dusk Falls!

The years-old belief that “Xbox has no games” is idiotic and totally untrue by today’s standards. I know there are lots of Xbox-haters and console fanboys out there who just keep bashing Xbox by lying and ranting, disregarding the many upcoming Xbox-exclusive games and even dismissing the growing business partnerships Team Xbox made with independent game companies and even the Microsoft-SEGA strategic alliance. Whatever the Xbox-hating mob does, nothing changes the trend that gaming on the Xbox ecosystem will only grow bigger, offer gamers lots of choices and become a lot more fun than ever before. Speaking of growing excitement, watch out for the Xbox 20th Anniversary Event online today (November 15), the universal acclaim of Forza Horizon 5, the December 8 release of Halo Infinite, and the December 16 release of the Xbox-exclusive The Gunk!

For the complete details about Xbox Game Studios Publishing and the future Xbox-exclusives, I encourage you all to read Miles Dompier’s article at https://www.windowscentral.com/xbox-game-studios-publishing-secret-weapon-new-exclusives

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

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

Xbox-exclusive The Gunk all set for December 16, 2021 release!

The wave of high excitement and fun for both Team Xbox and all the gamers playing on Xbox One, Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X or Windows PC continues to be felt as the universally acclaimed  Forza Horizon 5 achieved tremendous success before and during launch in terms of being played by MILLIONS of gamers around the world! The success was so tremendous, Team Xbox chief Phil Spencer confirmed it on Twitter!

In addition, the Grand Theft Auto Trilogy – The Definitive Edition just launched digitally and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas became available on Xbox Game Pass (XGP). Oh yes, Bethesda just released The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Anniversary Edition which has new content related to its predecessors The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (note: this I played on Xbox 360 way back in 2006.)

Adding even more to the excitement of gaming on the Xbox ecosystem, Thundeful announced officially via Xbox.com that The Gunk will be released worldwide on December 16, 2021 exclusively on Xbox One, Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X, Windows PC and also on Xbox Game Pass! To start with, watch the latest video about the game below…

Personally, I am interested in playing The Gunk on Xbox Game Pass as soon as it becomes available. At the same time, I am more interested in the talents of game developer Thunderful which is responsible for the SteamWorld franchise of games. I never got to play any SteamWorld game before and as such, The Gunk will be the first Thunderful-made game for me to play ever!

The Gunk, as it turns out, will NOT be the last Xbox-exclusive coming from Thunderful. In fact, the SteamWorld developer is working on another console-exclusive game for Xbox Series consoles and the aging Xbox One which will be released in 2023…Planet of Lana. Check out the trailer below…

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

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

Xbox-exclusive Forza Horizon 5 gathers lots of rave reviews!

The high excitement for gaming on Xbox One, Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X, Xbox Game Pass and Windows PC is real right now as Forza Horizon 5 gained lots of rave reviews from video game critics and YouTubers! As of this writing, the Playground Games-developed Xbox-exclusive game is averaging a score of 91 (out of 100) out of 81 published reviews according to Metacritic!

If you are wondering how does Forza Horizon 5 looks like and what the reviewers said, we can start by taking a look at each of the following video reviews below…

And now, let’s take at some text-based reviews of the game with key quotes highlighted. I highly recommend you read each of their respective reviews for the best possible insight and immersion.

Windows Central Gaming: Forza Horizon 5 is grand and beautiful. It also launches on more platforms simultaneously than any previous Forza game, giving people more ways to experience everything this game across Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC, and Xbox Cloud Gaming through Xbox Game Pass. Absolutely a game of the year contender for 2021, Forza Horizon 5 is the quintessential choice among the best racing games.

TheGamer: Collectively, Forza Horizon 5 does everything right, and in doing so makes Playground Games’ latest entry into the Forza franchise an absolute must-play for any racing enthusiast or casual racing fan.

Game Revolution: Forza Horizon 5 is the best Forza yet and, not only that, but it also makes a strong case for being the best racing game period. A joyous combo of arcade racing and simulation-level depth, all wrapped up in a beautiful bow thanks to its diverse, expansive Mexico setting, this is an unmissable iteration in what is arguably gaming’s most consistently fantastic series.

Press Start Australia: I’ve played a few open-world racers in my time, but I’m not sure I’ve ever come across one so feature-rich. It really is comprehensive, nailing the scope of its world while filling the world with meaningful things to do, offering a suite of multiplayer and co-op possibilities, and free-roam of a boiled-down vision of Mexico that’s begging to be explored.

Now that the game critics and YouTubers have spoken, it is clear that Forza Horizon 5 is a great game just waiting to be played by gamers worldwide and the 3-year wait for it is worth it. Playground Games worked hard to make the Xbox-exclusive racing game and it looks very polished and almost flawless. Forza Horizon 5 is set for a general release worldwide on November 9, 2021. If the rave reviews it gathered have convinced you already, you can acquire a copy (digital or physical) online here, here, here or here to name a few.

Very clearly, the age of “Xbox has no games” is over and Forza Horizon 5 is just one of many upcoming Xbox-exclusive games realized. Given the open-world racer’s massive critical success, it is clear that Team Xbox has indeed reached a turning point heading towards a new age of super fun and high quality Xbox-exclusive games. Neither Sony nor Nintendo has anything to compete with Forza Horizon 5 with regards to the open-world racing genre. Now is only the beginning of a new age of high excitement for Xbox fans (reminder: Xbox 20th anniversary celebration will take place on November 15, 2021) and anyone who loves games on Xbox platforms and Windows PC! I believe Forza Horizon 5 will impress even the most rabid Xbox-haters when they play it enough. I would not be shocked if Gran Turismo creator Kazunori Yamauchi is playing Forza Horizon 5 in secret somewhere, to learn from it so he can complete his work on Gran Turismo 7.

In closing this piece, posted below are Xbox and Forza Horizon 5-related videos for your viewing pleasure.

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

The Banner Saga developers and Team Xbox working together on a new Xbox-exclusive game

Can you feel the excitement of video games right now? The highly acclaimed Forza Horizon 5 is just days away from launching globally while the anticipated Xbox 20th anniversary celebration on November 15, 2021 is gradually approaching! A little over a month from now, Halo Infinite will be released globally and already its single-player campaign is very promising.

Adding more to the excitement was the recent article written by Jez Corden (the same guy who wrote the recent hot scoop about the Xbox fantasy RPG Avowed) about another Xbox-exclusive game being made by Stoic Studio, the team behind The Banner Saga trilogy of games. The said game is referred to as Project Belfry.

To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from Jez Corden’s article published recently by Windows Central Gaming. Some parts in boldface…

I mentioned a couple of weeks back about a codename ‘Belfry’ I’d discovered pertaining to an upcoming Xbox game on my Xbox Two podcast show with YouTuber Rand Al Thor 19. Up until now, I wasn’t sure exactly what the game was, besides a vague reference to bell towers. I knew Stoic was building a game with Xbox too, but it wasn’t until Jeff Grubb put the final pieces together on his show today that everything fit into place. Grubb also gave us key details about the game and some snippets about what to expect.

Project Belfry will sport similar painted art styles to that found in The Banner Saga, depicted above, while sporting side-scrolling brawling combat, similar to the likes of the PlayStation exclusive ‘Dragon’s Crown’. Grubb specifically linked the art style to the anime movie ‘Princess Mononoke,’ which sounds like it could be quite gorgeous indeed. The “Belfry,” hinted at by the game’s codename, will form some sort of base for crafting and upgrades, too.

Belfry is another title joining what seems to be a vast expansion of Xbox Global Publishing’s footprint, working with developers big and small to bring more titles to Xbox Game Pass. We’ve seen larger studios jump on board, featuring Avalanche on Contraband, and we have strong rumors about Project Dragon, built in partnership with Hitman’s IO Interactive. Belfry may be on the smaller side, joining the action RPG from Brass Lion Entertainment codenamed Shaolin, but given the quality of The Banner Saga, Project Belfry may well punch far above its weight.

If you haven’t already, you should definitely give The Banner Saga a go, given that it’s now available as a neat and tidy trilogy package. Your decisions carry over between games too, affecting the way the story pans out in a big way.

Now watch this video about The Banner Saga trilogy below. It should give you an idea about what kind of games Stoic Studio makes and what kind of visuals you can expect from them.

While I myself have not yet played any games of The Banner Saga, the above scoop by Jez Corden (with acknowledgement to Jeff Grubb) is indeed very pleasant and only shows that new and more Xbox-exclusive games are coming. The catch here is that this an exclusive project that does not involve any of the internal Xbox game studios at all business-wise. Xbox Global Publishing is an arm of Team Xbox that negotiates and deals with independent game developers for new projects exclusive on the Xbox ecosystem. This Stoic-made Xbox project should remind you about Contraband, the upcoming Xbox-exclusive game made by Avalanche Studio, the team responsible for the 2015 Mad Max game.

As it is true that Team Xbox will continue to acquire more game studios and while fully funding the many, many Xbox-exclusive games in production for release in the near future, it is really nice to see that they are still negotiating with independent game studios to make exclusive stuff. It comes to show that Microsoft values business partnerships and they are aware that there are lots of game studios or even publishers which are not yet willing to be acquired as they still prefer to be independent even though they may be struggling financially. Just recently, Microsoft and Sega started a new business partnership in the form of a strategic alliance. That being said, the Stoic Xbox project called Project Belfry is something to look forward to.

By the way, have you all bought yourselves an Xbox Series S or an Xbox Series X console? Have you subscribed to Xbox Game Pass already? The definitive edition of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas will launch on XGP on November 11.

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

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