Xbox 20th Anniversary products launching on November 15, 2021

This year, the 20th anniversary of Xbox will be celebrated on November 15, 2021 and on that very day, commemorative products will be released for the fans and any gamer looking for new, high-quality products to have this holiday season! For the newcomers and the Xbox fans reading this, this 20th anniversary development is completely different from the Halo Infinite game and products launch set for December.

To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the recent Xbox.com article written by Xbox Senior Product Marketing Manager Jerrica Tsujikawa. Some parts in boldface…

November 15 will mark 20 years of gaming together! Fans helped shape what Xbox is today and we can’t wait to see what the next 20 years will bring.

Today, we celebrate our history together with the 20th Anniversary Special Edition Xbox Wireless Controller and 20th Anniversary Special Edition Xbox Stereo Headsetlaunching November 15 and available for pre-order now. We were inspired by our favorite memories together from the last 20 years and created not one, but two unique accessories to commemorate this milestone.

20th Anniversary Special Edition Xbox Wireless Controller

Sleek and sentimental – all in one package. The 20th Anniversary Special Edition controller is a fresh spin on the translucent green of the original Xbox Debug kit. The body of the controller features a translucent black finish with silver internals so you can see every detail. The nostalgic, green Xbox button brings us back to the first green Xbox logo. The iconic color can also be found on the back grips and around the hybrid D-pad.

The 20th Anniversary Special Edition controller benefits from all the features of our newest Xbox Wireless Controllers, such as improved ergonomics, better cross-device connectivity, a dedicated Share button and reduced latency. You can also easily pair and switch between your devices including the Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Windows PCs, Android and iOS via Xbox Wireless, and Bluetooth technology.

When you connect this controller to your Xbox Series X|S console, you will unlock an exclusive 20th Anniversary dynamic background.

Connect your 20th Anniversary Special Edition controller to your friends Xbox Series X|S to gift them this dynamic background as well! Once you choose another background, however, this one will disappear, and you will need to re-connect the 20th Anniversary controller to unlock it again.

The 20th Anniversary Special Edition Xbox Wireless Controller launches November 15 and is available for pre-order today for $69.99 USD in select Xbox markets worldwide and can be purchased at various retailers, including Microsoft Store.

20th Anniversary Special Edition Xbox Stereo Headset

Built upon our new  Xbox Stereo Headset, this 20th Anniversary Special Edition is something truly special. The headset similarly features a translucent black body with silver internals so you can see what brings this headset to life. Green accents on the boom mic, inside and outside of the earcups. The left disc is marked with our 20th Anniversary logo in our iconic green and the right dial has our Xbox logo imprinted, as seen on the Xbox Wireless and Stereo Headsets.

Just like our new Xbox Stereo Headset, enjoy ultra-soft large earcups and superb audio and chat quality. You can adjust the volume by rotating the right earcup or quickly mute incoming noise with the convenient on-ear control. The headset also supports spatial sound technologies including Windows Sonic, Dolby Atmos, and DTS Headphone: X (may require additional purchases or app downloads).

The 20th Anniversary Special Edition Xbox Stereo Headset launches on November 15 and is available for pre-order today for $69.99 USD in select Xbox markets and can be purchased at the Microsoft Store and other retailers. The headset is only available at the Microsoft Store in APOC/EOC.

The above article also includes details about two other upcoming products – the Razer Universal Quick Charging Stand for Xbox – 20th Anniversary Limited Edition and 20th Anniversary Xbox Gear. Check out the images below…

For complete details about Razer Universal Quick Charging Stand for Xbox – 20th Anniversary Limited Edition and 20th Anniversary Xbox Gear, click https://news.xbox.com/en-us/2021/10/07/celebrate-20-years-of-play-with-20th-anniversary-hardware/

Things are really looking great and the future of Xbox is more promising than ever before. Xbox fans and gamers who want the best and most enduring sessions of fun have Forza Horizon 5, Halo Infinite and The Gunk to look forward to before the end of 2021. 2022 will be even more exciting on the Xbox ecosystem with games like Starfield, Redfall, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl, Saints Row reboot and Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising to name some!

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

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

Team Xbox’s presentation at the Tokyo Game Show 2021

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

From Team Xbox.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Xbox-exclusive sci-fi RPG Starfield!

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

The head of Xbox and the legendary Shinji Mikami.

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

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

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

For the newcomers reading this read the excerpt below…

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

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

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

In ending this piece, here are some Xbox-related videos for your enjoyment.

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

Crystal Dynamics partners with The Initiative on developing Xbox-exclusive Perfect Dark reboot

There sure was a lot of buzz that rocked the Xbox gamers community. This was about the breaking and very surprising news that the Square Enix-owned game developer Crystal Dynamics (best known for the Tomb Raider trilogy of 2013-2018) has joined Xbox game studio The Initiative as a partner on the development of the Perfect Dark reboot being made exclusively for Xbox platforms.

The Initiative and Crystal Dynamics are co-producing Perfect Dark.

To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from PureXbox.com’s article. Some parts in boldface…

Here’s some breaking news – The Initiative has announced it will be partnering with Crystal Dynamics to help it bring the new Perfect Dark game to the next generation.

Crystal Dynamics is best known for series such as Tomb Raider and was also behind the Square Enix project Marvel’s Avengers. In a follow-up tweet, The Initiative noted how the game was still “early in development”.

Although Crystal Dynamics has a lot of history with third-person action titles, it’s worth noting how this new entry in the Perfect Dark series is still being referred to as a “first-person” spy thriller.

Eurogamer has also pointed out how The Initiative was originally founded by the former Crystal Dynamics boss Darrel Gallagher, and how Tomb Raider reboot director Daniel Neuburger is also part of the Perfect Dark team.

Posted below are the tweets from The Initiative and Crystal Dynamics…

Read closely.

Furthermore, Xbox chief Phil Spencer stated on Twitter: Great to see continued momentum and progress on PD. Thrilled to have Crystal Dynamics partnering with The Initiative.

While it is indeed surprising that another game developer, not owned by Team Xbox, would come in to assist in the production of the upcoming Perfect Dark, it still makes sense not just because The Initiative’s Gallagher and Neuberger used to work for Crystal Dynamics, but also because the ambitious Xbox game studio (formed in 2018) was meant to be small and agile (additional reference here) and be able to work with partners on the production side of things of projects. The Initiative clearly does not have the workforce of 100 to 200 people it needs to make Perfect Dark and that is exactly where the Square Enix-controlled game developer comes in.

Remember Lost Odyssey, the very memorable Japanese role-playing game (JRPG) exclusive on Xbox 360? A lot of gamers remember Mistwalker as the developer of that game in relation to Hironobu Sakaguchi’s (AKA Final Fantasy creator) involvement and studio leadership, and yet the other team involved – Feelplus – is often overlooked. The other Xbox 360-exclusive JRPG Blue Dragon had Mistwalker and Artoon as co-developers. Artoon did much of the software development work.

Going back to Perfect Dark, I speculate that The Initiative will be more focused on the game’s overall design, the planned gaming concept and supervision with Crystal Dynamics doing the software development and other technical aspects of production.  The most recent Crystal Dynamics-developed games I played were the first two games of the Tomb Raider reboot trilogy…the 2013 game on Xbox 360 and the first sequel on Xbox One. I also played Shadow of the Tomb Raider on Xbox One but that game was mainly developed by Eidos-Montréal. I should state that I had the most fun playing the Tomb Raider games made by Crystal Dynamics even though Shadow of the Tomb Raider had new gameplay features.

While Marvel’s Avengers clearly received a mixed reception from video game review writers and even cost Square Enix a bundle of money, there is still no reason to worry about Crystal Dynamics negatively affecting the development of Perfect Dark. On the contrary, Team Xbox granted its game studios a lot of creative freedom along with continuous funding which I believe will benefit both Crystal Dynamics and The Initiative on making the Xbox-exclusive reboot. The internal attitudes and atmosphere of producing Perfect Dark will be totally different from that of Marvel’s Avengers. I would not be surprised to see Crystal Dynamics learn from their shortcomings during the making of the superhero video game with Square Enix. It should be noted that Gallagher’s history of work and management with Crystal Dynamics will ensure a bond of trust between the Tomb Raider developer and The Initiative. Trust between the collaborators is essential to ensure production will progress and be completed on time. The speculation that Perfect Dark’s production is in trouble (leading to Crystal Dynamics’ involvement) is just nonsense!

With The Initiative and Crystal Dynamics now co-producing the return of Joanna Dark, we can only wait until the next big update of the game gets released. Perhaps at E3 of 2022?

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

Space Shooter Chorus set for release on Xbox consoles on December 3, 2021

Are you looking for a new and exciting shooter-type video game on your Xbox? You might want to check out Chorus (stylized as Chorvs)as it was recently announced that it will be released on Xbox platforms (Xbox One, Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X) on December 3, 2021, and the good news is that you can order a copy of it now online and receive the Elder Armor Skin Set.

In case you are wondering, Chorus is a science fiction 3D space shooter developed by Deep Silver FISHLABS and published by Deep Silver. You get to play as the female pilot named Nara and you must guide her on a quest to destroy the dark cult that made her. You will get to fly an AI-controlled spaceship called Forsaken and together you will not only travel through the depths of space and engage in battle, but also explore lots of places that will test your abilities to fly and figure which paths to take.

To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from the game’s official announcement published on Xbox.com written by Deep Silver’s Global Community Manager David Robson. Some parts in boldface…

This flight into an asteroid field looks really intriguing and suspenseful.

Chorus is an exciting sci-fi adventure where you play as Nara, an ace pilot with a haunted past, alongside her sentient starfighter, Forsaken, as you unravel their mysterious backstory and join their fight for redemption.

A cinematic single-player experience, Chorus empowers you with devastating weapons and mind-bending abilities, known as the Rites of Power, to fight to free the galaxy from the oppressive cult, the Circle.

Huge structures like that are just waiting to be explored.

Nara’s journey spans across the galaxy and beyond the boundaries of reality in a dark new universe teeming with mystery and rife with conflict. Explore epic locations, such as sprawling space stations and strange plains of existence beyond our own, and experience thrilling zero-g dogfights; the fast-paced spectacular action evolves the spirit of classic space shooters.

Originally unveiled during last Summer’s Inside Xbox eventChorus will support Smart Delivery on the Xbox family of consoles, ensuring players get the best experience on both Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S with a single purchase.

The game is also fully engineered to take advantage of Xbox Series X|S hardware, you can enjoy glorious sci-fi visuals, 4K resolution at 60fps, advanced enemy ship destruction, higher quality volumetrics, and richer environmental effects.

Nothing like communicating with someone while enjoying a magnificent view of space.

Based on the 2020 unveiling video and the most recent video, Chorus sure looks flashy and it is easily the most eye-catching 3D polygonal space shooter of this new console generation. Games of this kind are not too many and if the game turns out to be very good, it could win the approval of game critics and the gamers themselves. I personally am interested with Chorus but also cautious. While its art direction and use of 3D polygons and effects look great, I am concerned that the gameplay might lack variety and end up being repetitive. Will there be many interesting objectives to accomplish within the game apart from the typical fly-search-attack approach seen in many other shooter-type games? Will the story cutscenes be compelling for gamers when it comes to following the story? Will the in-flight communication with other characters be varied and interesting? Will there be a lot of customization options for your spaceship? Will there be options for players to make decisions that would affect the story? We can only find out this December.

Players will be offered options to customize their spaceship.

To its credit, Chorus has a story concept that looks promising on face value and if the game developers could strike a fine balance between storytelling and gameplay to ensure bouts of fun for gamers complete with a good amount of variety, then the game might just be a hit waiting to be realized. As stated in the official announcement above, this game has been made to take advantage of the advanced technologies of the Xbox Series consoles ensuring that gamers will have a truly great looking game on both 1080p and 4K. The version on Xbox Series X is, unsurprisingly, the 4K60 (4K resolution with 60 frames-per-second frame rate) experience gamers will find. Anyone looking forward to Chorus should mark their calendars for December 3, 2021!

In closing this piece, posted below are Xbox-related videos for your viewing pleasure. Also do not forget to watch out for the Xbox livestream of the Tokyo Game Show on September 30, 2021.

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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

Brand New Saints Row game coming to Xbox consoles on February 25, 2022

If you are a fan of the Saints Row series of video games or if you are a gamer who is constantly looking for fun-filled, action-packed open-world games, be aware that the brand new Saints Row game is coming to Xbox One, Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X on February 25, 2022! It is indeed a series reboot and already you can order a copy of it for your Xbox by clicking here.

For your excitement, watch this official announcement video…

The next video below is about the production of the game which includes words from varied creators at Volition plus actual gameplay footage. Watch closely and pay attention.

Now to put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from the Xbox.com article written by Deep Silver Volition chief creative officer Jim Boone. Some parts in boldface…

Saints Row is back and better than ever! We’ve completely rebooted the game, with a brand-new setting, new characters, and new tone, bringing the Saints franchise up to date for today’s gamer.

The game is set in Santo Ileso, a vibrant fictional city set in the American Southwest with nine unique districts and two deserts, currently controlled by three enemy factions: Los Panteros, The Idols, and Marshall Defense Industries.

You start out as the future Boss, our charismatic murder machine, and you get to decide who you want to be, with extensive customization options; you literally get to be Self Made. You team up with your three best friends, Neenah, Eli, and Kevin and begin your mission to rise to the top and build your criminal empire.

However, as this is Saints Row, it’s not an easy ride. You must defeat the three enemy factions and take Santo Ileso as your own. Experience epic gunfights and highspeed chases as you explore the biggest and best Saints Row playground ever, laced with the signature humor the series is known for.

An arsenal of extensive, customizable weapons is all available to you, with cars, bikes, VTOLs, helicopters, and wingsuits all adding to the enormous fun. And two-player co-op means you can enjoy all this with a friend.

Shooting and high-speed chases are part of the Saints Row formula of gameplay.

I am personally very interested with this brand-new Saints Row game. I first got to play the original Saints Row on Xbox 360 way back in 2006 and it was one of my first games on the console. That original game was developed by Volition and published by THQ. I had even more fun with Saints Row 2 and I had the best and most fun-filled gaming sessions with Saints Row: The Third. Saints Row IV turned me off, however, as it was way too outlandish and it was made at a time of uncertainty.

Going back to the Saints Row reboot, based on the above details and the short gameplay clip, I still see some traces of the key gameplay features that defined the Saints Row franchise’s first three games. Players will get to lead a gang and gain respect as they build themselves up in the presence of rival gangs within a fictional city that is divided into sections. The feature of customizing your weapons and vehicles is also back. Also it has been confirmed that character customization is back.

Honestly, this creative design as the default look of the “Boss” that gamers will get to play is ugly and ill-conceived. Good thing that gamers will be allowed to customize their character.
How many cactuses have you spotted in your city?

Here is hoping that more updates about the features and setting of the new Saints Row game will be released over the next few months heading towards the February 2021 launch. I am hoping that the game developers will seriously pay attention to the features that made the Saints Row: The Third so much fun such as owning properties, cyber blazing and the signature activities like Mayhem, Snatch, Insurance Fraud, Trafficking, Heli Assault, Tank Mayhem and Professor Genki’s Super Ethical Reality Climax.

As the new Saints Row is a reboot and has a very brand new setting as well as an obvious Millennial-inspired cast of characters (it looks like there are some woke, politically correct and diversity-obsessed people inside Volition), it is uncertain if most of the above-mentioned gameplay features will be included.

Saints Row and Xbox

The new in-game setting reminds me of Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico.
A helicopter lifting a car. The in-game action should be wild like before.

Nothing changes the fact that the Saints Row franchise really started commercially on the Xbox 360 even though the very first game started development as a PlayStation 2 project. That first game sold over 2 million copies as an Xbox 360-only release while Saints Row 2 saw stronger reception on Xbox 360 than on PlayStation 3 and went on to sell 3.4 million copies worldwide by September 2010. The peak of the franchise Saints Row: The Third, which was released November 2011, sold more than 5 million copies worldwide as reported by GameSpot.

The connection between the Saints Row and Xbox brands is notable and real even though it is not obvious enough to be noticed. In my experience, I played the first SR games on my Xbox 360 and by the time I played the 3rd game, my console was already aging. Fortunately my Xbox 360’s problems did not prevent me from fully enjoying Saints Row: The Third.

When backwards compatibility on Xbox One was realized, I replayed the three SR games on my console and had a lot of fun replaying them. As for the remastered version of Saints Row: The Third, I have yet to play it but it has been confirmed to run at 60-frames-per-second with dynamic 4K resolution on Xbox Series X. Just imagine how the new Saints Row will run on Xbox Series X.

Will the Saints Row reboot be a fun and engaging game to play once it finally comes out? We will only find out on February 25, 2021.

In ending this piece, here are some Xbox and Saints Row-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

A Look Back at Suikoden II (1999)

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

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

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

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

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

The cover of the North American version of Suikoden II.

Early story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quality

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

Overall, Suikoden II is highly recommended!

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

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

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

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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