Tokyo Game Show 2021 (TGS 2021) Xbox livestream set for September 30

With Gamescom 2021 and the Tokyo Olympic Games over, video gaming will be highlighted in Japan with this year’s edition of the annual Tokyo Game Show happening at the end of this month and Team Xbox has a new online event set to be streamed on September 30, 2021 (6PM Tokyo Standard Time).

Tokyo Game Show is set for September 30 to October 3.

Before you Xbox fans and gamers get too excited, there is a need to control your expectations first as Aaron Greenberg of Team Xbox tweeted: Well since you asked, @tokyo_game_show is a show for our players in Japan and across Asia. Expect regionally relevant updates, but no major reveals or announcements as our game teams are focused on continuing to ship big releases across October, November, and December.

With major announcements and special reveals ruled out, there will still be fun stuff to show but with Japan and Asia in mind during the 50-minute Xbox livestream. Microsoft’s approach to this event may not be as high-profile as the Xbox-Bethesda games showcase of June but what is clear is that Team Xbox is focused on achieving growth in Japan’s video games industry and already a record number of Japan’s independent game makers have received Xbox development kits.

TGS 2021 is also an opportunity for Team Xbox to emphasize what they have to offer gamers of Asia this coming holiday season. While nothing clear has been made, they could show the latest about Halo Infinite with footage of the single-player campaign. They could also show Psychonauts 2 with the accolades it gained, plus some more new footage of Forza Horizon 5, and reveal details of the limited edition Halo Infinite-themed Xbox Series X console for the Japanese market. Xbox Game Pass (XGP) promos and Xbox LIVE updates for Japan are expected.

TGS 2021 could also be the ideal time for Team Xbox to finalize and announce a precise release date of CrossfireX which has been scheduled for a 2021 release. There are only a few months left before the year ends and I believe that the Tokyo Game Show is the ideal time to announce a solid release date with a huge online audience present.

More on Japanese-related gaming, I can only wish that Rabbit & Bear Studios head Yoshitaka Murayama will make an appearance during the Xbox TGS 2021 livestream and give updates about the developments about their two games Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising and Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes. Previously, it has been announced that those two games will be released on Xbox Game Pass. Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising and Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes will be released in 2022 and 2023 respectively.

There is also Tango Gameworks, a Japan-based game studio owned by Bethesda and Xbox. I wish to see some updates from them for the Xbox livestream, especially when it come to future games.

Watch out for the TGS 2021 Xbox Livestream at the official YouTube channel of Xbox at https://www.youtube.com/c/xbox

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

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

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

Xbox Gamescom 2021 digital event set for August 24

Are you gamers and Xbox fans looking for something exciting? You won’t have to wait too long as it has been announced recently that Team Xbox will be organizing a new digital event in the form of a livestream in connection to Gamescom 2021 (stylized as gamescom 2021) which will take place on August 24, 2021!

To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the Xbox.com article written by Xbox DACH Communications Lead Sandro Odak. Some parts in boldface…

August is always a very special time for us at Team Xbox. This time of the year we would normally pack our stuff and meet our fans and community in Cologne, Germany at gamescom. This year, however, gamescom will be a 100% virtual experience that you can tune in to from all over the world. The good news is that Xbox will be at gamescom 2021 and you can join with your very own front-row seat as we share the latest updates and gameplay for some of the biggest games coming soon to Xbox.

Here’s an overview of what you can expect from us at gamescom 2021:

Tune in for all the action at the gamescom 2021 Xbox Stream

To warm you up for gamescom week we’ll be airing the official gamescom 2021 Xbox Stream, hosted by Parris Lilly and Kate Yeager. Join us on August 24 at 10:00am PT/6:00pm BST/7:00pm CEST to learn more about our biggest exclusive games line up ever.

You’ll get in-depth updates from some of our previously announced Xbox Game Studios titles alongside some of our third-party partners, including some of the incredible titles coming to Xbox this holiday, upcoming releases to our monthly subscription service, Xbox Game Pass, and much more.

You can watch the show on YouTubeTwitchFacebook GamingTwitter, and select regional sites like VK.com in Russia and Bilibili in China. To make sure all of our fans around the globe can enjoy the stream, we plan to offer support for 30 languages, along with our English Audio Descriptions and American Sign Language. We hope to provide additional accessibility support for the live broadcast in additional languages.  

Gamescom Opening Night Live and Bethesda MainStream

As many of us gather virtually for the largest annual gaming event in Europe, Geoff Keighley will again be hosting gamescom: Opening Night Live. Tune in on August 25 at 11:00am PT/7pm BST/8:00pm CEST. You can watch gamescom: Opening Night Live on TwitchYouTubeTwitter and Facebook Gaming.

You can also join our friends over at Bethesda Germany in a livestream program over several days, starting August 26. Tune in to Bethesda’s MainStream on Twitch.

Connect with the global Xbox community and special guests

Something that we always loved about the physical event of gamescom was the energy of the gaming community coming together. When we all met in the past, we were able to connect, talk and play together and celebrate one of our greatest passions: videogames. We couldn’t imagine gamescom without this and therefore, we’re happy to announce that we will be hosting a gamescom special edition Xbox FanFest this year – an activity that has had a long tradition during the in person show. We’ll be sharing more details very soon, so keep your eyes open on http://www.xbox.com/fanfest and Xbox social channels, including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for the latest updates.

As you can see above, there are no signs that any new Xbox-exclusive games will be announced as the there is focus on first-party games that were announced already. I also do not expect much updates regarding first-party and third-party games coming out in 2022 and beyond. In fact, Team Xbox’s Aaron Greenberg posted on Twitter stating: Our @Xbox stream is focused on game updates coming this year. So to set expectations, no new reveals or major surprises, but team has a fun stream planned with our amazing hosts @vicious696 @kateyeager!

By focusing on what is coming out this year from Team Xbox’s own games, I see that Gamescom 2021 will be the ideal event for the following: promoting Forza Horizon 5 hard and formally announcing the finalized 2021 release date for Halo Infinite.

The one racing game to buy and play this November.

Forza Horizon 5 is all set for a November 9, 2021 release and reviving marketing and publicity of the game with the anticipated millions of gamers tuning into Gamescom 2021 makes a lot of sense for Team Xbox to execute. It is likely that new videos of the game will be released that should keep gamers and potential new customers remembering the open-world racer in the final months heading towards launch day. The event is also an opportunity for any motoring or corporate-related sponsorships to be announced in connection with Forza Horizon 5.

Do you think Halo Infinite will be released this November or December?

Gamescom is, in my view, a crucial opportunity for Team Xbox and 343 Industries to finally put an end to all the uncertainty by announcing a solid release date for Halo Infinite in the form of a brand-new trailer with an emphasis on the single-player campaign and the plot involving the iconic Master Chief. Showing off brand-new gameplay footage related to the single-player campaign would also be helpful. It’s been some time since the well-received Xbox-Bethesda showcase happened and the lack of a specific release date is disturbing. The positive feedback and excitement about Halo Infinite’s multiplayer feature are pretty helpful in building up anticipation but all of that could just fade away when gamers get fed up waiting for the release date to be finalized not to mention waiting for answers about Master Chief’s next adventure. Literally speaking, the ball is now on the court of Team Xbox and 343 Industries to make their move and Gamescom is the most timely event to pull it off at (note: Tokyo Game Show 2021 will take place more than a month later).

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

The Xbox-exclusive game Contraband

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

Here again is the video…

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

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

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

Contraband is a co-op smuggler’s paradise set in the fictional world of 1970s Bayan, and our most ambitious and spectacular game to date. We’re taking everything that we’ve learned from 18 years of being at the forefront of creating beautiful, vast open game worlds filled with stunning vistas and incredible emergent gameplay moments.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The significance of Eiyuden Chronicle RPGs coming to Xbox!

As I viewed the Xbox-Bethesda games showcase live on my PC, I got delightfully surprised when the two Eiyuden Chronicle Japanese role-playing games (JRPGs) – Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes and Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising – were revealed and confirmed to be coming to Xbox Game Pass (XGP) separately in the near future. Really, I never anticipated that the Eiyuden Chronicle games developed by Rabbit & Bear (led by Suikoden creator Yoshitaka Murayama) would appear in the showcase nor did I anticipate they would be added to XGP (on Xbox consoles and PC) which has many millions of active subscribers worldwide.

To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the official press release (titled: Microsoft partnership announcement at E3, franchise trailer, and website launch) from the Eiyuden Chronicle official website.  Some parts in boldface…

Revealed today during the Xbox E3 showcase, a new trailer for the Eiyuden Chronicle franchise formally announcing that 505 Games, Rabbit & Bear Studios, and Microsoft are bringing legendary game developer Yoshitaka Murayama’s (Suikoden I & II) latest JRPG adventures, Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising and Hundred Heroes, to Xbox Gamepass. Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising is set to release in 2022, and Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes is set to release in 2023.

This is the companion game Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising coming to Xbox Game Pass in 2022.

Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising is the first entry in the franchise and a companion game to Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes that is set in the same world and tells the pre-war tales of various characters who will appear in the main game. The action-RPG melds key backstory with fast-paced combat, town-building mechanics and 2.5D platforming, and is set to release in 2022.

This is what Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes looks like. Coming to Xbox Game Pass in 2023.

“We’ve been working hard on the Eiyuden Chronicle franchise and love to see the amazing reactions from fans following our trailer at the Microsoft E3 event,” said Studio Lead Yoshitaka Murayama. “We’re telling a rich story with the Eiyuden Chronicle franchise, so much so that we couldn’t possibly tell it all within the confines of a single game. We set out to solve that problem with our companion game Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising which features key backstory to the main game and a completely different gameplay style.”

Studio Lead Yoshitaka Murayama and Director Osamu Komuta are joining forces once again to bring an unforgettable journey into their fully-realized world of Allraan. In Eiyuden Chronicles: Hundred Heroes Rabbit & Bear Studios are taking the turn-based strategy game experience to the next level with a fine crafted six-character battle system. The developers are using meticulously created 2D sprites and 3D backgrounds to deliver a riveting story with over 100 playable characters and engaging gameplay that’s meant to bring players a modern take on classic JRPGs.

And here’s the video…

Since I first heard about its successful Kickstarter campaign, I have been following the news about Eiyuden Chronicle, specifically the Hundred Heroes game which was the precise project of the said campaign. Why? Because that game was clearly designed as an inspired successor (or spiritual successor as others call it) to the early Suikoden RPGs of Konami. When I was still a PlayStation fan, I was fortunate to have played and enjoyed a lot Suikoden and Suikoden II on the original PlayStation. Rabbit & Bear Studios head Yoshitaka Murayama was the producer, writer and game director of Suikoden, Suikoden II and Suikoden III (on PS2) during his time with Konami. 

Other than the Eiyuden Chronicle franchise coming to XGP, the announcement of the companion game Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising coming out first (2022) was also very surprising. It was just unexpected but still it made sense as the developers really have a huge concept and a living universe of the Eiyuden Chronicle franchise that just could not fit in one single game. Clearly Murayama and his creative team are up to something that could shake gamers’ love for Japanese RPGs for the better eventually.

Significance to Xbox

A character in Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes about to throw a strong punch at the monster during a battle.

Back on August 2020, I expressed confidence that Xbox as an ecosystem (the consoles, PC, cloud and Xbox Game Pass) will become a haven for gamers who love fantasy role-playing games (fantasy RPGs). That article was published before the megaton announcement about Microsoft acquiring ZeniMax Media (to integrate Bethesda with Xbox) and the addition of the Elder Scrolls fantasy RPG franchise further adds credibility to Xbox for fantasy RPG enjoyment (as well as RPGs as a whole).

So where can the Eiyuden Chronicle RPG franchise fit in? For one thing, Xbox fantasy RPG enthusiasts who love Suikoden or those who enjoy turn-based strategy, or those who are looking for nice alternatives to Square Enix’s Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest games on Xbox can experience something new and fun with the Rabbit & Bear Studios-developed JRPGs. It is also clear that the Eiyuden Chronicle RPGs help fill the perceived lack of JRPGs on this current Xbox console generation.

The combination of highly detailed 2D sprites and 3D polygonal environments makes Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes look radically different from most JRPGs on Xbox.

Second, gamers will be able to experience role-playing with the game design and storytelling philosophies of Yoshitaka Murayama. In addition, Murayama’s production team created a very unique visual style that combines highly-detailed, well-animated 2D sprites (pixel artworks) with 3D polygonal environments combined with strategic camera angles and movements. The way I see it, it seems to be an inspired take on modern gaming’s visuals while still retaining that artistic link back to the glory days of the Suikoden game franchise.  

In this age of high-definition, highly detailed polygonal graphics and 120FPS frame rates, it is refreshing to see Murayama and his team use pixel artworks as a key visual element in their presentation with Eiyuden Chronicle JRPGs.

Third, the battles seen in Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes strongly resemble the functions and speed of what I enjoyed in Suikoden and Suikoden II on the original PlayStation console. Unlike other turn-based Japanese RPGs of the 1990s, battles in the early Suikoden games were NEVER stressful and grinding was not too present. Even during times in Suikoden or Suikoden II when I needed to have my characters level up to be stronger, doing so with battles was smooth and painless. The trailer of Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes even showed the developers pushing the battle design of their game, going beyond the limits of the early Suikoden games. In one sequence, they showed one of the playable characters in the foreground firing a shot at a monster far into the background. This could suggest strategic placings for battles and we will find out soon how this will turn out.

Fourth, having Eiyuden Chronicle JRPGs in the Xbox ecosystem adds more variety into the current lineup of upcoming fantasy RPGs. Even with the likes of Elder Scrolls VI (which Phil Spencer mentioned during the Xbox-Bethesda games showcase), Fable and Avowed, I believe that Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising and Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes will fit in very nicely and even attract a lot gamers who want a lot of fun with role-playing on their Xbox consoles. I also believe that the global Xbox fans community can provide Murayama and his team a suitable audience of not only buyers of their games but also help establish a large base of fans for the Eiyuden Chronicle game franchise.

The addition of the Eiyuden Chronicle JRPG franchise makes fantasy role-playing on Xbox even more exciting! It is also another great reason to sign up for Xbox Game Pass subscription!

That being said, I urge you my readers, fellow Xbox fans, fans of Suikoden and others who love playing fantasy RPGs that we all have the time and opportunities to acquire our own copies of the two Eiyuden Chronicle JRPGs upon release on the Xbox ecosystem and help Murayama and the rest of his team fulfill their goals with their fantasy RPG franchise! We can also convince Team Xbox to get more involved with Rabbit & Bear Studios to ensure that future installments of Eiyudin Chronicle will come to Xbox!

Think about the future of fantasy RPGs on Xbox: Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes, Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising, Avowed (Xbox-exclusive), Fable (Xbox-exclusive) and Elder Scrolls VI (Xbox-exclusive)…I want them all on Xbox via Xbox Game Pass!

In ending this piece, here are some Eiyuden Chronicle and Xbox-related videos for your enjoyment!

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