My Observations: Bethesda now part of Team Xbox

As I start to write this, I still am in a state of shock over the most ambitious video game business announcement that I never anticipated would happen particularly with Xbox. People are already talking about it a lot right now. I’m referring to Microsoft’s megaton acquisition of ZeniMax Media which is the parent company of game publishing giant Bethesda Softworks. The deal is worth $7.5 billion (in cash) and it includes acquiring Bethesda Softworks, Bethesda Game Studios, id Software, ZeniMax Online Studios, Arkane, MachineGames, Tango Gameworks, Alpha Dog, and Roundhouse Studios. The said studios have a combined work force of more than 2,300 employees. This megaton development alone makes me want to acquire an Xbox Series X unit even more!

To put things in perspective, below is an excerpt (with key parts in bold) from the Xbox.com blog post by Xbox head Phil Spencer:

Bethesda’s games have always had a special place on Xbox and in the hearts of millions of gamers around the world. Our teams have a close and storied history working together, from the amazing first DOOM, and its id Tech engine, innovating games on PCs to Bethesda bringing their first console game to the original Xbox, the groundbreaking The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. Over the years I’ve had many deep conversations with the creative leaders at Bethesda on the future of gaming and we’ve long shared similar visions for the opportunities for creators and their games to reach more players in more ways.

Just as they took the bold first steps to bring The Elder Scrolls franchise to the original Xbox, Bethesda were early supporters of Xbox Game Pass, bringing their games to new audiences across devices and have been actively investing in new gaming technology like cloud streaming of games. We will be adding Bethesda’s iconic franchises to Xbox Game Pass for console and PC. One of the things that has me most excited is seeing the roadmap with Bethesda’s future games, some announced and many unannounced, to Xbox console and PC including Starfield, the highly anticipated, new space epic currently in development by Bethesda Game Studios.

Like us, Bethesda are passionate believers in building a diverse array of creative experiences, in exploring new game franchises, and in telling stories in bold ways. All of their great work will of course continue and grow and we look forward to empowering them with the resources and support of Microsoft to scale their creative visions to more players in new ways for you.

All of our work, and the foundation of our relationship with you, starts with a commitment to deliver a breadth of amazing games to discover and play on Xbox.  Over the last few weeks, we’ve been excited to share more detail on important elements of a plan we’ve been building towards for years. A plan that is the fulfilment of a promise, to you the Xbox player, to deliver the most performant, immersive and compatible next-generation gaming experiences, and the freedom to play blockbuster games with your friends, anytime, anywhere. Today is a landmark step in our journey together and I’m incredibly energized by what this step means for Xbox.

As confirmed by Spencer, the acquisition of Bethesda is more than just adding to Xbox Games Studios existing lineup of game makers and more than just adding games for Xbox and PC gamers to play. The acquisition also means adding even more games to the fast-growing and successful Xbox Game Pass subscription program which recently saw its subscribers reach 15,000,000+ (a jump of 50% in less than six months’ time!). The addition of Bethesda’s iconic franchises – Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Wolfenstein and Dishonored to name some – will surely add tremendous value to Xbox Game Pass and even more exciting is the confirmation that Bethesda’s upcoming sci-fi Starfield will also be added! These developments are already exciting gamers to order Xbox Series S or Xbox Series X as I write this.

Think about it. If you are already a paying Xbox Game Pass subscriber by the time Starfield gets released, you can simply visit Xbox LIVE and download the said game for free (because you already paid for the subscription). Those who are not XGP subscribers will have to pull out a lot of money to buy Starfield at the retail store or elsewhere online.

Already Team Xbox and its many Xbox Games Studios are already creating new and exclusive games for Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X plus PC. Microsoft no longer has a shortage of console exclusives and all the criticism thrown at them (“Xbox has no exclusives!”, “Xbox has no great games!”) are meaningless now. The addition of Bethesda studios into the many Xbox Game Studios further ensures more exclusive games in the years to come and this alone gives Microsoft a huge advantage over Sony and Nintendo!

This brings me to another sensitive topic: the Bethesda projects that are exclusive to others or are multi-platform in arrangement. Bethesda currently has two games that are exclusive to Sony’s PlayStation 5 (PS5) and Phil Spencer made clear that Microsoft will honor the exclusivity commitments of those games. In short, the Bethesda-Sony deal for those two games won’t be scrapped. Other Bethesda games coming to platforms that are not Xbox-related will happen on a case-by-case basis with Microsoft having the final decision. All of these are part of the complications that come with acquiring a huge game publisher with existing deals made with other platform makers.

But if you look into the far future, the Xbox-Bethesda megaton deal will eventually lead to sequels of Fallout, Elder Scrolls and other franchises that will be released exclusively on Xbox platforms and PC, and the Bethesda brand will remain. Bethesda’s famous role-playing game (RPG) franchises alone makes Xbox an even more attractive ecosystem for gamers who love RPGs. Think about it! Imagine playing Fallout and Elder Scrolls sequels (or remastered versions of Skyrim or Fallout 4) on Xbox Series X years from now enjoying all the massive content presented with 4K resolution, 60 FPS frame rate, great visuals and much shorter load times. With Microsoft having the more technologically superior console (Xbox Series X compared to PS5 with disc drive) and a much bigger and stronger 1st party game lineup, gamers will realize the benefits of the Xbox-Bethesda deal.

If Microsoft wants to make even more money and sell more, they can always decide to make Fallout and Elder Scrolls sequels available on PS5 and other platforms (even on Nintendo’s next-generation console). Microsoft acquired Mojang years ago and kept Minecraft available on multiple platforms (including those of Sony, Nintendo, iOS and more). When it comes to the next console generation with Bethesda’s many games being played, I expect their multi-platform games to look and play better on Xbox Series X than on PS5.

With Bethesda and Obsidian Entertainment together with Team Xbox, producing a sequel to Fallout New Vegas is no longer an impossible dream!

I should also state that Microsoft having Bethesda under its extensive corporate umbrella and ownership of the many intellectual properties (IP) of the company means that the dream of producing sequel to Fallout New Vegas is no longer impossible! Microsoft also owns Obsidian Entertainment, the very same team that worked with Bethesda for Fallout New Vegas, and they can decide to assign them to produce a sequel complete with a lot of human, technological and financial resources to back them! While I love the idea of Obsidian making Fallout New Vegas 2, I personally prefer they keep focusing on making their major fantasy RPG Avowed (ironically an ambitious game described as something to rival Bethesda’s Skyrim) and making a next-generation sequel to The Outer Worlds (which I love playing). A new Fallout New Vegas can be released on Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X AFTER the respective releases of Avowed, Starfield and Elder Scrolls VI many years from now.

Apart from the very promising benefits gamers will soon have from the Xbox-Bethesda deal, Microsoft also deserves praise for their transparency with gamers about their next-generation consoles, their expanding 1st party game studios lineup, Xbox All Access, Xbox Game Pass and the like. Transparency aside, Team Xbox also proved to stay honest and well organized with gamers unlike Sony’s PlayStation division. Watch the videos below regarding Sony…

The Xbox-Bethesda deal alone motivates me even more to acquire an Xbox Series X console and also sign up at last on Xbox Game Pass. I am certain that I am not the only geek experiencing the excitement about the very bright future of fun, engaging and high-value gaming with Xbox. With Bethesda’s RPG franchises alone, Xbox is already the best and definitive ecosystem for people who love playing role-playing games (note: Microsoft has Avowed coming and hopefully a The Outer Worlds sequel from Obsidian, plus established support from Square Enix with a Dragon Quest game coming out this December). This is something that Sony (even with Final Fantasy XVI a timed exclusive on their PS5) and Nintendo cannot match! Going back to Bethesda, they really had gone a long way and their decades-old history of doing business with Microsoft is undeniable. The very first time I played a Bethesda game on Microsoft hardware was none other than Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion on Xbox 360 and that was way back in 2006. In the past decade, I played Skyrim on Xbox 360 and Fallout 4 on Xbox One. Personally, I am happy that Microsoft acquired Bethesda with not only the Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X in mind but for the long term…the far future!

In ending this, watch these videos from Dealer Gaming, Colteastwood, Rand al Thor 19 and Zalker 87 for additional insight about the Xbox-Bethesda deal!

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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

My Observations: Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X

What a roller coaster ride that has been. The leaks were made and the speculating is all over. Microsoft is officially launching its next-generation game consoles Xbox Series S (economic all-digital model) and Xbox Series X (premium model) on November 10, 2020 with prices of $299 and $499 respectively! Pre-ordering of the consoles will begin on September 22, 2020.  

Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S together!

In an Xbox.com article, Xbox division chief Phil Spencer stated: On November 10, a new generation of console gaming begins. That’s when our vision becomes reality with the most performant, immersive and compatible next-generation console gaming experiences, and the freedom to play your games with your friends, anytime, anywhere.

For the newcomers reading this, the premium Xbox Series X was officially announced many months ago and it was only very recently that the budget-friendly Xbox Series S was officially announced (after the leakages, take note).

So what are the differences between the two? Posted below for your general reference are the official specs from Xbox.com

The most obvious difference starts with the GPU with the Xbox Series S having 32 lesser compute units (CUs) as well as a lower frequency per CU compared with the premium Xbox. This results the Xbox Series S also having 4 teraflops of GPU power or barely one-third of the more powerful one. The $299 Xbox also lesser GDDR6 RAM and lower bandwidth. In terms of resolution, Xbox Series X can render visuals in native 4K resolution (3840×2160) while the less powerful Xbox can do up to 1440P. Both of them, however are expected to deliver similar results when it comes to frame-rates. On storage, Xbox Series S has 512GB SSD (solid state drive) which is roughly half that of the premium console. If you enjoy watching movies on Blu-ray or 4K Blu-ray discs, or if you intend to use physical copies of video games, the Xbox Series X has a 4K Blu-ray disc drive while the cheaper Xbox has no such drive at all (note: it’s all digital).

Considering the huge $200 price difference, the two next-generation Xbox consoles will appeal to different kinds of gamers and eventually other consumers who want to improve their home entertainment (or in the case of individuals living away from their families, the personal entertainment) set-up. I can imagine gamers who enjoy playing video games using their PC monitors (at the desks inside their bedrooms or in the house study), who prefer digital downloads over physical media for their games, and looking for bargains will be attracted to Xbox Series S. Gamers who still use optic media for their games, who want to upgrade their movie viewing experience with their 4K TV at home (and start collecting movies on 4K Blu-ray disc format), who want a lot more SSD storage available, and who want the best of 4K gaming will finds Xbox Series X a preferred machine.

Gamers who started their respective Xbox legacies (with Xbox LIVE accounts) for more than one console generation should be happy to know that their old Xbox-related game collection will NOT go to waste as both Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X have been confirmed to be backward compatible with original Xbox, Xbox 360 and Xbox One titles. The beauty with Xbox backward compatibility is that the old games will not only be played, they will have visual enhancements too.

More on the Xbox Series S, the $299 tag price is indeed very enticing especially during this time of pandemic and economic uncertainty. The cheaper console, which has a surprisingly small size compared with other game consoles, is literally a very powerful beast performance wise and (like the premium Xbox) it also has ray-tracing.

Microsoft’s Head of Platform Engineering and Hardware Liz Hamren confirmed the following details: Xbox Series S delivers the same next generation speed and performance that define Xbox Series X. It is similar in CPU and has the identical I/O performance as Xbox Series X, making it easier for developers to deliver the same great performance, while rendering at a lower resolution. Xbox Series S delivers 4x the processing power of an Xbox One console and supports experiences up to 120fps, more immersive and responsive gameplay with support for hardware-accelerated DirectX Raytracing and Variable Rate Shading. In addition, Xbox Series S includes 512GB of custom SSD storage and is powered by the Xbox Velocity Architecture, delivering more than 40x the I/O bandwidth of an Xbox One resulting in faster loading times, steadier frame rates and Quick Resume for multiple titles.

You’ll also experience the same great audio on Xbox Series S that you will on Xbox Series X with Spatial Sound, including support for Dolby Atmos. What’s more, support for Dolby Vision via streaming media apps like Disney+, Vudu and Netflix will be available across Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X at launch, and Dolby Vision support for gaming will come first to our next-gen Xbox consoles in 2021.

As of this writing, I noticed a number of gamers online expressing concern about the 512GB SSD storage on the Xbox Series S. On face value, 512GB looks insufficient considering the sizes of video games and DLC (downloadable content) today. Like the premium console, the SSD storage of Xbox Series S can be upgraded by means of using the proprietary Xbox Storage Expansion Card which will be a very expensive affair for consumers and the sad thing is that traditional SSDs cannot be used.

When it comes to digital services and subscriptions, Microsoft is really going all-out with brand new offerings via the Xbox All Access program which will start in twelve nations. Take note that the wildly popular Xbox Game Pass is included!

Xbox Prdouct Marketing General Manager Jeff Gattis announced the following details: Whether you’re upgrading to the newest consoles or joining the Xbox family for the first time, with Xbox All Access, you can get everything you need to play — an Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S and 24 months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate — from $24.99 a month for 24 months with no upfront cost. We’re also excited to bring Xbox All Access to more fans around the world this holiday, and to offer existing Xbox All Access members more flexibility in their upgrade option.

With Xbox All Access you not only get the latest consoles, but also an instant library of over 100 high-quality games for console, PC, and Android mobile devices (Beta).  Plus, you get all new Xbox Game Studios titles the same day they release, including Halo Infinite. What’s more, starting this holiday Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and Xbox Game Pass for PC members get an EA Play membership at no additional cost.

And then there is EA Play!

As if that was not good enough, there is also Dolby Vision for Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S! Read the details at Dolby.com

With Xbox Series X at $499 and Xbox Series S at $299 backed with very enticing online offerings and features that promise strong value for customers, it is clear that Microsoft is looking strong with launching the two next-generation consoles even though Halo Infinite has been delayed beyond launch. Times like this, I wish that the Xbox-exclusive The Gunk was launch title.

Without Halo Infinite as the showcase of the next-generation launch, Microsoft will have to rely on 3rd-party video games (both cross-generation and next-generation that will be released along with or shortly after the new consoles’ launch) looking and playing great on the next-generation Xbox consoles to convince gamers to make the technological jump forward early. It’s already confirmed that Ubisoft’s much-awaited Assassin’s Creed Valhalla will not only run at 60FPS on Xbox Series X but also in 4K resolution! Considering the open-world design of the said game, playing it the “4K60” way should be mind-blowing to gamers.

It is also clear is that, with the latest Xbox development, Sony has challenges to overcome when it comes to announcing the prices and offerings related to launching its two PlayStation 5 (PS5) consoles – one with a disc drive and the other without. $299 is a very hard launch price for Sony to match with the drive-less PS5, and it should be noted that PS5’s backward compatibility is limited to PS4 games (in other words, Mark Cerny and his team failed to find ways to make PS1-PS2-PS3 game discs play on their upcoming console). PS5 games look interesting but none of them convinced me to buy Sony’s new console. My choice is Xbox Series X because I know the exclusive games coming out in the next two years will be worth the wait plus I love the Gears of War, Halo and Forza Motorsport franchise of games. I also want the premium Xbox for my Blu-ray movie collection and, eventually, the start of a new collection of movies in 4K Blu-ray discs.

In ending this piece, I recommend you watch the videos from Dealer Gaming, Colteastwood and Digital Foundry.

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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

My Observations: Time for Rare and Microsoft to emphasize Everwild’s gameplay and features

Time for Rare and Microsoft to emphasize Everwild’s gameplay and features

Screenshot_20200811-160448_YouTube.jpg
Everwild developed by Rare and published by Microsoft.

I have to admit that it’s been quite a long time since Xbox game studio Rare released a game that captivated me. I’m talking about their two games that launched with the Xbox 360 – Perfect Dark Zero and Kameo: Elements of Power.

They went on to make Viva Piñata, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts (a major disappointment), Kinect Sports, Kinect Sports II, Kinect Sports Rivals (the commercial failure), Killer Instinct, Rare Replay (the compilation of their legacy), and Sea of Thieves (which never interested me). Lastly, I should mention that Rare’s next project Battletoads is coming out on August 20!

When I least expected it, Rare caught my attention at last during the XO19 this past November when their newest game was unveiled…Everwild. The game is being developed specifically for the next-generation Xbox Series X and Windows 10 PC (also coming to Xbox Game Pass) and below is the announcement trailer.

The first time I saw that trailer, I was captivated with the great looking visuals which had stunning digital art work and smooth animation. When I noticed the characters move in the game and they faced a scenic view with birds flying in the air, I had the impression that Everwild is an adventure-type game that may have open-world exploration elements. It should be said that the animation and artistic design of the wild animals are astounding to see! By the time the trailer ended, I hoped to see more of it as I am fond of open-world games (and games with wide-open areas that still satisfy gamers’ open-world interests) with adventuring and exploration.

And this past July, Microsoft released the 2nd trailer for Everwild during the Xbox Games Showcase which you can see below…

That Xbox Games Showcase Everwild trailer looks more amazing and having replayed it more, it is clear to me now that it is an adventure game (confirmed at the game’s Xbox.com page) with a world to explore. It also shows that the characters do interact with animals, even to the point of making changes to the natural environment. There are also mystical acts performed. Even with such details visualized, Rare and Microsoft have yet to emphasize clearly (and in detail) how exactly Everwild will play and what it will feature. In reality, beautiful visuals can only go so far on selling the game and ultimately it is the fun factor and engagement that need to be strong to really connect with gamers.

My questions for Rare and Microsoft are as follows:

Is Everwild a single-play game with co-op as options or is it an online multiplier game?

Does Everwild have a living, breathing open-world or will it have separate wide-open areas meant to be explored and discovered?

Apart from interacting with animals and the environment, will the game have a good amount of action scenes to keep gamers engaged?

Does Everwild have creature/monster hunting? Village building?

Will the game have some role-playing game (RPG) elements in terms of leveling up the characters?

Will Everwild launch along with Xbox Series X?

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A shot the July 2020 trailer of Everwild.

Being very interested with Everwild, I really hope that the publisher and developer will get their acts together to emphasize more of their game’s gameplay and features. It would be very nice if they could not only show more gameplay footage but also demonstrate how the game plays in live fashion in an upcoming Xbox-focused event. I personally enjoy open-world games that have lots of exploration, action and a solid story to follow, and I hope that Everwild will have such values. If Everwild will indeed by an open-world game, it could literally break the mold with its out-of-this-world concept and possibly feature action scenes that don’t involve guns. Rare’s game just might provide the open-world experience radically different (from the likes of Grand Theft Auto, Saints Row, etc.) and still deliver a ton of fun. Really, it’s high time for the game makers to emphasize the game! Oh yeah, I’d like to see Phil Spencer or Colteastwood or Dealer Gaming organize an interview with the creative team at Rare to talk about the Everwild!

For official and general information about Everwild, visit https://www.xbox.com/en-US/games/everwild

Speaking of upcoming Xbox events, check out the following YouTube videos about a possible August event by Microsoft done by Colteastwood and Dealer Gaming.

By the way, have you heard about the leak relating to the long speculated Xbox Series S? Watch these videos by Dealer Gaming and Rand al Thor 19.

In closing this, here is a video by Gaming Bolt. If you are an Xbox One owner, it should convince you to look forward to Xbox Series X.


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