FCC Filing Points to New Xbox One Design at E3

With Sony pretty much confirmed to launch a new PS4K/4.5 later this year, the pressure is on at Microsoft to respond. It’s no surprise then that rumours have been consistently popping up about a new Xbox One being in the works. Through digging in the FCC filings, one crafty and intrepid fan has found information that points to a new revision of the Xbox One that Microsoft submitted back in March.

According to the filings, there are two separate devices that might be Xbox Ones. These are part numbers 1682 and 1683. 1683 has an NDA that lasts till June 25th, just a week or so after this years E3. This suggests we may see a reveal at E3 with the launch to come in the weeks to follow. 1683 seems to point towards a slimmed down variant of the Xbox One with improved 802.11ac support added on.

1682 has its own NDA that lasts until July 29th, which means it likely won’t be associated with E3. Interestingly, July 29th is the same day as the Windows 10 1 year anniversary and the drop of the Windows 10 Anniversary Update. Perhaps this Xbox One model might have something to do with Microsoft’s push on UWP. As we’ve noted before in our analysis of UWP, the new programming paradigm allows console like optimization for several different hardware platforms at the same time. The move to UWP would make a Xbox One revision much easier to develop for and ease the burden of having multiple consoles/platforms to target. It will be interesting to see what Microsoft will have for us on July 29th, with so many things happening at the same time.

How To Make Titanfall 2 Better – Mechs With Swords!

We all love video games which stretch the imagination and add a new form of combat to the mix, be that controlling drones to spot your prey before they see you or having echo goggles to locate the biggest threat before you’ve even left your cardboard box, Titanfall did the opposite. Rather than going small, Titanfall wanted to make combat bigger, and it did so by introducing giant mechs, so how will Titanfall 2 beat this? Mechs with Swords!

Titanfall had two battlegrounds mixed into one, the fast and agile pilots running for cover amongst the giant towering Mech suits that seemed to rain down on the battlefield. When it came to combat you would often find yourself preparing a volley of rounds only to have a shield deflect them back at you, a fate which often caused pilots and mechs alike to fall, so the natural inclusion of swords will topple the shields kill count in classic mecha style!

With Titanfall 2 also offering a campaign mode, something that was sorely missing from the original, players can expect to enjoy the chaos on PC, Xbox One, and PS4.  With the original game suffering from a post-release drop in players, let us hope that Respawn, its creators, and masterminds, are able to keep the game running longer so more are able to enjoy the mecha battles that they will always crave for.

Quantum Break is Microsoft’s Fastest Selling Game This Generation

Quantum Break is a third-person action adventure game which incorporates episodes from a live-action television programme. These episodes contain segments which showcase the impact of any decisions you make. This is a revolutionary concept which greatly enhance the narrative’s immersion factor. The game was developed by Remedy Entertainment, the studio behind iconic classics including Max Payne and Alan Wake. It’s not all been good news though because the PC version barely functions and suffers from horrendous optimization.

This is surprising given Remedy’s PC background and love for the platform. Not only that, the PC edition opts for the same form of temporal reconstruction as the Xbox One. Unfortunately, a lot of the problems are to do with the game’s engine and Remedy isn’t confident that they will be able to fix these widespread issues. On a more positive note, Quantum Break has rapidly become Microsoft’s fastest selling exclusive this generation outperforming other giants such as Halo 5, Ori and the Blind Forest and Sunset Overdrive for the opening week period. On another note, the Xbox One version became the UK’s best-selling boxed game and just pipped DIRT Rally. This is great news for Microsoft and Remedy Entertainment.

Annoyingly, this isn’t going to be any consolation for PC gamers struggling to play Quantum Break on high-resolution monitors with extreme hardware. Microsoft might feel the console version has been a resounding success but this isn’t the case on the company’s Universal Windows Platform initiative. Honestly, the evidence is pointing towards the PC version being made at a very late date which was rushed for release.  This is a shame and I would have preferred to see a delayed PC release with improved optimization. Whatever the case, we should applaud Remedy for creating such a successful game, and I really hope the PC version is sorted out in the future.

Quantum Break Dev Says Bugs Likely Can’t be Fixed

Over the last week, it looks like Microsoft’s new Universal Windows Platform has claimed another PC game victim. Designed to unify the diverse Windows platforms and bring Xbox One exclusive to Windows 10, it’s turning out that UWP may only port over broken games. This is exactly what has happened with Quantum Break, with the developer Remedy claiming unresolvable problems with UWP and their Northlight engine.

So far, Quantum Break has been running like a dog, with inconsistent performance across all GPUs, especially Nvidia. Even the top end card are having trouble keeping above 30FPS and 60 seems impossible, even on 1080p. This is before you even consider the host of graphical and texture bugs which range from superficial to downright obnoxious. While Remedy promised to look into the issues, it seems like some are out of their hands.

According to PR rep Thomas Puha, texture pop-in are due to the quirks of the Northlight engine and graphical ghosting “just a result of the temporal reconstruction. Just the way we render things”. With the bugs baked into the engine, it begs the question how this game got approved to ship for PC. On the flip side, the game runs perfectly fine on the Xbox One. It seems like UWP just isn’t ready to port games over from the Xbox One over to PC just yet.

Hopefully, the issues that can be fixed will be resolved eventually and future UWP play titles won’t have as many issues. In the end, a console port still is a console port even if it uses the fancy new UWP.

Gears of War 4 Release Date Confirmed

The Gears of War franchise has rapidly become one of Microsoft’s most successful exclusives and gained popularity for its no-nonsense, frantic action. Instead of trying to implement a heartfelt story with dramatic twists, the intense gameplay has always been the series’ main attraction. While it’s not necessarily a system seller like Halo or Forza, it’s certainly a great addition to the Xbox’s line-up. In a post on Xbox Wire, Adam Fletcher, Director of Community from the Coalition announced the release date of Gears of War 4. Here is the statement in full:

“Gears fans, mark your calendars, as the next chapter in the Lancer-revving Gears of War saga is set to begin on Oct. 11 with the release of Gears of War 4.

It’s been almost a year since Gears of War 4 made its global debut at E3 2015, and today’s announcement is set to ignite a chain of upcoming revelations about what’s in store for JD Fenix and the next generation of Gears heroes.

Gears of War 4 marks the beginning of an epic new saga for one of gaming’s most celebrated franchises, as a new band of heroes rises to confront a fearsome new threat. Harkening back to the dark and intense roots of the original classic, fans can expect a familiar, yet distinct evolution of gameplay, including brutal and intimate action, a heart-pounding campaign, genre-defining multiplayer and stunning visuals powered by Unreal Engine 4.

Eager to get a taste of Gears of War 4 before October? Don’t miss the multiplayer beta kicking off this month!

Beginning on April 18, fans who’ve played Gears of War: Ultimate Edition on Xbox One or Windows 10 will be able to join the beta on Xbox One, which will expand to all Xbox Live Gold members on April 25. For more information on what to expect from the beta, check out our recent announcement highlighting the full details, and stay tuned to Xbox Wire and GearsofWar.com for more exciting news in the coming weeks and months.”

Unfortunately, the announcement doesn’t provide any information about a PC version. I fully expect the game to be released on PC in the future especially when you consider some vague statements have been made about its production. Sadly, it looks like the game will remain an Xbox One exclusive for the current period and not have a similar simultaneous release schedule like Quantum Break.

Dear Esther to Arrive on PS4 And Xbox One This Year

Dear Esther is possibly the first commercially successful release opting for almost zero gameplay which spawned a brand new genre focussing on a game’s plot instead of its core mechanics. Commonly referred to as ‘walking simulators’, the genre contains numerous examples of highly revered titles including Gone Home, The Stanley Parable and lots more! On the other hand, some users feel many of these experiences cannot be classified as games and offer a poor value proposition. Even though Gone Home received widespread critical acclaim, there’s many consumers who believe it’s wildly overrated.

Whatever the case, my introduction into this genre stems from Dear Esther. At the time, I found a little peculiar and couldn’t really comprehend the game’s premise. Once again, it seems to divide opinion according to the user reviews on Steam. Dan Pinchbeck the creative director of Dear Esther’s announced today that the game will be releasing on the current generation consoles sometime this year:

We’ve always known that Dear Esther would continue its story,” 

“.. and we’re delighted to be writing that story with Curve Digital. Dear Esther is a hugely important game to us, so it’s great to know it’s in very capable hands – we’re excited to see the reaction from PlayStation 4 and Xbox One players.”

The console editions will feature “subtle tweaks” to modify the experience to better suit the console audience. Furthermore, a brand new director’s commentary mode offers an insight into the development process. There’s no current word regarding the price point and if the game will receive a physical release. I expect this to be disclosed in the coming months. I’m interested to see the reaction from console players and sales because Dear Esther has already been in a Humble Bundle basic tier package. Perhaps, this will impact on the sales figures, but then again, consumers might simply want to add it to their console collection.

Microsoft Releases Statement on Xbox neXt Rumor

Yesterday, we reported on a rather interesting development regarding an undisclosed project entitled Xbox neXt. This information was acquired from David Gardner’s LinkedIn profile, the Visual Design Leader at Xbox. Of course, whenever any evidence comes to the forefront, it’s important to not jump to conclusions and wait for official confirmation. This hasn’t taken long and a Microsoft spokesperson told IGN:

“Xbox neXt was an old internal team name for a group that worked on releasing Xbox One and is not related to a future console,”

“We have nothing further to share.”

This clearly debunks any suggestions that the Xbox neXt is a recent phenomenon and Microsoft’s attempt to create an updated Xbox One with enhanced power. Saying that, just because the Xbox neXt refers to an early phase in the Xbox One’s development, it doesn’t mean Microsoft isn’t working on new hardware. Whenever a console is released, research and development starts on designing the next console. Phil Spencer has clarified Microsoft’s intentions to stick with the Xbox One, and release a big update in the form of a brand new system. It’s unlikely that they’ll offer a hardware revision apart from redesigning the fairly clumsy housing and opting for a slimmer frame.

On another note, Sony is apparently producing the PlayStation 4.5K due to the technical demands of virtual reality. The company is really wanting to push PlayStation VR and the current PlayStation 4 isn’t powerful enough. In contrast to this, Microsoft hasn’t really shown any interest in virtual reality technology for this console generation. Perhaps, this is due to the incredible Hololens or they believe it’s going to be a considerable amount of time before VR becomes affordable. Whatever the case, at least Microsoft has clarified the situation in a very clear manner and addressed concerns regarding the Xbox neXt project.

Microsoft Will “Never Force” Gamers to Compete Cross Platform says Phil Spencer

It is a growing trend amongst games to consider the inclusion of cross-platform play between PC and the current consoles. Even Microsoft’s own Windows Universal Platform and potential plans to make the Xbox One upgradable is making the line between the PC and console fuzzier than ever. Despite this, the head of Xbox, Phil Spencer wants to make sure that there are differences between the platforms.

Speaking at Microsoft Build’s keynote, Spencer explained that just because a number of games are coming to both the Xbox and the PC, doesn’t mean that there will be any kind of requirement forcing all games to be multi-platform between the PC and Xbox. He also explained that he wants to make sure that players using different control methods for their game won’t be forced to play against others using a different method.

“I’ll never force somebody in our games whose playing with a controller or a mouse and keyboard to play against somebody with a different control scheme,” he said. “Mouse and keyboard rotation speed is faster than controller. We know that, you’ll lose.”

That said, he wants to leave it up to the developers in regards to the available control methods and cross-platform support in their games. Exactly how these cross-play restrictions will be placed based on control scheme is currently hard to tell, with controllers already an option for many PC games and the Xbox One already confirmed to be getting support for mouse and keyboard controls in the future.

Has The Latest Ghostbusters Release Date Been Leaked by Newegg?

Ghostbusters is one of the most recognizable franchises ever devised and spawned a number of interesting games. For example, the ZX Spectrum version of Ghostbusters featured a wacky take on the iconic theme tune and surprisingly advanced mechanics for the time. Moving to the modern era, Activision released Ghostbusters: The Video Game in 2009. The gameplay revolves around shooting in the third person perspective and is very impressive when compared to other officially licensed video games. I still feel it’s a little bit underrated despite good reviews and is well worth checking out.

Not so long ago, a trailer was released showing the upcoming Ghostbusters reboot which caused some controversy. This is because of the predominately female cast including s Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones in the lead roles.  Whatever your views, it’s clear the initial unveil received a mixed reception and there’s some skepticism surrounding the film prior to its availability in cinemas. To coincide with the film’s release, Activision is reportedly releasing a game but there’s not much information regarding the genre or release date. However, US retail giant, Newegg has listed the PlayStation 4 version with a release date of 7/12/2016. Of course this could simply be a placeholder and delays are quite common when producing video games on the latest consoles.

Saying that, I’m sure Activision is keen to unveil the game as quickly as possible when the film is still in everyone’s minds to create a sense of excitement. It’s important to be wary of licensed games because they have a pretty terrible history. The most pertinent of example of this is Rambo which has some of the worst design decisions and graphics I’ve seen for a long time. Personally, I’m looking forward to the new Ghostbusters video game and hope it lives up to its predecessor.

Xbox Chief Talks “Xbox One-and-a-Half”

Following strong speculation that Sony is to launch an advanced version of PlayStation 4, dubbed the PS4.5, to offer stronger support for the PlayStation VR headset and 4K output, Xbox Chief Phil Spencer has spoken about the potential of Microsoft jumping on the bandwagon and releasing an “Xbox One-and-a-Half”.

Speaking to press following his keynote at the Microsoft Build 2016 conference, Spencer said, “I’m not a big fan of Xbox One-and-a-half. If we’re going to move forward, I want to move forward in big numbers.”

“For us, our box is doing well,” he added. “It performs, it’s reliable, the servers are doing well. If we’re going to go forward with anything, like I said, I want it to be a really substantial change for people–an upgrade.”

While Microsoft may not be revising the Xbox One as the “Xbox One-and-a-Half”, Spencer has spoken in past weeks about offering hardware upgrades for its console as part of the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) initiative.

“When you look at the console space, I believe we will see more hardware innovation in the console space than we’ve ever seen,” Spencer said last month. “You’ll actually see us come out with new hardware capability during a generation allowing the same games to run backward and forward compatible because we have a Universal Windows Application running on top of the Universal Windows Platform that allows us to focus more and more on hardware innovation without invalidating the games that run on that platform.”

Square Enix Considering “Higher Spec” Version of Final Fantasy XV for PC

While Square Enix has not yet confirmed that its forthcoming JRPG epic Final Fantasy XV will arrive on PC, it seems that, if it does, it will be a “higher spec” version running on DirectX 12. The current version of the game, due out for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 later this year, was built using DirectX 11 “generation tech.”

“The DX11 generation tech used for #FFXV is for console only,” a Tweet from the official Final Fantasy XV Twitter account reads. “Once FFXV is out on console we may look at a higher spec version for PC.”

Whether this “higher spec” PC version of the game actually see the light of day is yet to be decided, though, despite admissions from Square Enix that it is “aware of the big call for a PC version.”

“Unfortunately we weren’t able to do simultaneous development on a PC and console version for XV,” FFXV Director Hajime Tabata told Engadget. “We had to focus on the console version and our goal was to maximize, optimize everything for the HD consoles. Once that’s done, then we will definitely take a good, hard look at PC and what we need to do, and consider all our options. But right now we aren’t decided, we’re still considering a lot of things.”

The free Platinum Demo of Final Fantasy XV is available for download on PS4 and Xbox One now.

Microsoft UWP Will Help More Xbox Exclusives Arrive on PC

Microsoft’s Universal Windows Platform (UWP) program – an effort to unify Windows PCs with Xbox One, amongst other platforms – may have been branded a “sneaky manoeuvre” by Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney, but the company has revealed that its new UWP ecosystem will mean more Xbox One games will see concurrent release for PC.

During the keynote at the annual Microsoft Build conference, Xbox Chief Phil Spencer told the audience that the shared UWP code between PC and Xbox One will allow games developed for either platform to be ported to the other with ease.

“We’ve said from the start, we want Xbox One to be a great place for games, and also a great place for developers of all sizes, so you can create new games and application experiences,” Spencer said.

The Universal Windows Platform effectively means that writing code for one UWP platform automatically makes a game, app, or piece of software compatible with any and all systems that fall under the UWP banner. Windows 10 and Cortana have already started to roll out for Xbox One, while Quantum Break is due to hit both Windows 10 and Xbox One next week, which seems to be just the start of Microsoft’s overarching plan.

“With the Universal Windows Platform we’re able to drive it at 4K and 60 frames a second, the highest fidelity we’ve ever delivered,” Chris Tector, Senior Software Architect for Turn 10, said later. “The universal aspect that’s a real true promise for us is the ability to write our code once. We’re still going to tailor that experience so that it’s the best thing you can get on Xbox, the best thing you can get on PC.”

“But what it means is it’s reduced the development time for us and that really surfaces not only in the code that we write, but also the toolset that we get to use,” Tector added. “And that’s the thing that’s going to grow the most over time. Our goal as a first party is to make sure that platform that everyone’s running on is the best one they can deliver games on.”

Turn 10 Creative Director Dan Greenawalt agreed with his colleague, saying, “The Universal Windows Platform is great for the game developers and gamers alike. It’s going to become even more powerful as a way of delivering amazing experiences across all of the devices in the Windows ecosystem.”

 

 

 

Windows 10 Anniversary Update to Bring More GPU Features to UWP Games

While the release of Xbox exclusives to Windows 10 under the UWP program is undoubtedly a positive, there are still many questions about the Unified Windows Platform. Due to the limitations on UWP and making it universal and more sandboxed, certain features common to games are unavailable. Fortunately, it looks like Microsoft will be adding some of these features to UWP with the Windows 10 Anniversary Update.

According to Microsoft, the changes to UWP are due to the negative feedback when Microsoft first released games based on the platform. Firstly, modding and overlay capability will be added. This will allow PC gamers to mod to their heart’s content hopefully, one of the highlights of PC gaming. Overlays will bring back the ability to have Afterburner or other apps run alongside the game to provide extra functionality.

More importantly, AMD’s FreeSync and Nvidia GSync support will be added. The adaptive refresh rate technology from the two graphics firms has been one of the biggest improvements to gaming in recent years and support should have been built-in from the get-go. While these moves go some way to alleviating some of the more prominent problems, the question remains if UWP is the way to go for future PC games due to their more restrictive and closed down nature.

Tom Clancy’s The Division Was More Popular Than Black Ops for a Moment

Tom Clancy’s The Division has attracted a lot of attention, with it making a staggering $330 million during release week alone. With such high levels of sales is it really any surprise that the game became the most popular title on Xbox one?

The Division has risen to the most popular title on Xbox One, knocking off Activision’s call of Duty: Black Ops III, a favourite for many games and a series that seems to claim the most popular title every year when the next in the series releases. With no exact numbers, it’s hard to tell how much (or how little) the Division had overtaken Black Ops III but by the time, we managed to grab wind of this, Black Ops III had already regained its title, hinting that the competition is closer than people might expect. Thanks to VG247 for grabbing a shot of the Divisions title, shown below.

The Division doesn’t look to be slowing either, starting with its large opening week momentum, people are keen to see how the game progresses with patches being released regularly to deal with players troubles and issues in the game such as the inability for players in safe zones to even get a quest. You can see the current chart (as of 27th March 2016) below, showing that Call of Duty III is back at the top, but maybe for only a little while.

The Division is grabbing some help with mods, such as the SweetFX Mod responsible for turning the game into a 4K experience within the game. Are you a player of the Division? Is it worth the hype? Have you stopped playing it? Tell us about your experience with the game in the comments.

Microsoft Wants to Know If You’ll Sell Back Your Digital Games

With the internet as fast as it is, and people gaining access to bigger and bigger storage options at cheaper prices, it comes as no surprise that people prefer the method of digital delivery for games. Being able to click a button and play a new release only minutes afterwards removes the need to travel to a store, collect a copy (if there is even one in the store) and then return home and wait for it to install. The problem being is returning or selling the copy, something Microsoft is keen to know about for your digital games.

The problem with digital games is that because they have nothing to physically return, companies are often hesitant to offer refunds or returns. Steam, one of the world’s leading digital distribution software’s, only recently updated its terms and conditions to offer returns on a wider scale than the previously accepted “paid and unplayed” model.

As part of their customer survey, Microsoft has recently been asking their users would they sell back their digital games for store credit?

In the question, they give (as an example) that the “sold back” games would give you 10% of their paid value as store credit. Meaning that £50 game would nab you £5 store credit to spend on your next game. Many would argue that 10% is barely anything of the original price while others would argue that it’s better than the games currently filling up your collections collecting digital dust.

What do you think? Would you take the offer and trade in some old games if you were offered 10% store credit?

Sony Responds To Microsoft’s Invite For Cross Platform Play

Which console do you play on? The choice is impacted by a lot of things, from being able to play those exclusive releases to the unique hardware options one console features. One of the biggest factors for consoles is often the ability to play with others, with groups of friends often getting the same console in order to play together. Microsoft wants to enable cross-platform play and recently invited others to join them in the plan, an invite Sony has now responded to.

Sony’s statement includes that they have been “supporting cross-platform play between PC on several software titles starting with Final Fantasy 11 on PS2 and PC [since] back in 2002”. The statement goes on to say that they “would be happy to have the conversation with any publishers or developers who are interested in cross platform play”.

Given that Sony and Microsoft are responsible for the leading consoles when it comes to online multiplayer it could be interesting to see the two gaming networks merge together to create a united gaming network, enabling people from every console to play games together with nothing but their skills separating them.

With friends who own one or both of the consoles, I think that creating a uniform platform for cross-console play could only put more focus on the hardware that people use and the skills they hone to play their games.

Sony Open to Considering Cross Platform Play

One of the biggest dreams of gamers has been cross-platform play, being able to play with friends on all different platforms. Shortly after Microsoft expanded some Xbox One titles to Windows 10 PCs, the software giant dropped a major bombshell, that they would allow Xbox One titles to have crossplay, provided their competitors allow it. Now Sony has responded and has said they are open to considering the idea.

Sony’s statements on the issue have been vague and hard to understand for now. In a statement to Gamespot, the company had this to say: “PlayStation has been supporting cross-platform play between PC on several software titles starting with Final Fantasy 11 on PS2 and PC back in 2002. We would be happy to have the conversation with any publishers or developers who are interested in cross-platform play”

While it appears to say that Sony is open to talks about allowing cross-play, it doesn’t really say that Sony will allow it. From the sounds of it, Sony is a bit wary of allowing unfettered cross-platform play, wanting to look at it on a game by game basis. It may well be that Sony is holding their cards close to see how Microsoft will react. Rejecting Microsoft may look bad but opening up things too much risks losing some PSN users. On the other hand, the PS4 could also gain some users leaving the Xbox and the 2 consoles still continue to cater to different audiences today.

Trailer Released for Fallout 4 – Automatron

Many of you have no doubt played Fallout 4, or like me, you’ve likely completed it too. Personally, I was more than a little disappointed with how the game ended, and felt little desire to venture out into the wasteland after the credits rolled, but with new content on the way, I may be convinced to pick up a Fat Man once again.

The new DLC is set to hit Fallout 4 just next week, and to celebrate, Bethesda has release their latest trailer, showing us a nice slice of what we can expect in a few days time.

The Automatron DLC will feature a new character called the Mechanist, who has released violent robots into the Commonwealth. Guess what the good news is? You get to go destroy them all! Not only can you unleash hell in the old gun-crazy fashion, but you’ll also be able to build your own robots, customise them, paint them, give them voices and hopefully more. If that doesn’t sound cool, then nothing does! We can’t wait to see what future DLC ideas Bethesda has come up with.

“The mysterious Mechanist has unleashed a horde of evil robots into the Commonwealth, including the devious Robobrain. Hunt them down and harvest their parts to build and mod your own custom robot companions” – Bethesda

Automatron is launching on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC on March 22nd, with a price of $9.99.

Amazon.JP Delivering Japanese Video Games Worldwide!

We all like that new game smell. Opening up the post to find that new game, the case screaming for you to open it up and slide in the disk. Sometimes the game you want to play isn’t available in your country, a case that is most common with Japanese releases. Don’t worry, as Amazon.JP has started delivering Japanese video games worldwide.

With select games and even consoles now available for international shipping, you can enjoy some of those releases that you’ve missed out over the years. Currently, the offer only applies to items sold directly by Amazon.jp with international shipping.

In order to do this, you may want to view Amazon.jp in English, an option that you can find on the right-hand side of a product page (shown below).

With fair prices for games like Dark Souls 3 costing just ¥ 6,473 (around £41 without shipping), you could soon find yourself building up an international collection of games. Some consoles these days don’t care about the region of the game, for example, the PS4 and Xbox One while others you may have to reorder to enjoy the Japanese releases (the Wii U and 3DS among them).

Are you looking forward to ordering your first game from Japan? What games are you going to pick up? Tell us your experience in international games and delivery services in the comments below.

Epic Games Founder Declares War on Microsoft’s UWP Initiative

Earlier this week, Microsoft unveiled its Universal Windows Platform (UWP) initiative, which intends to unify Windows PC and Xbox One under one homogenous strategy, but also forces game publishers to submit to the company’s distribution model. An influential member of the games industry, however, thinks the program could prove a disaster for consumers, and one that must be fought.

Tim Sweeney, founder of Epic Games, developer of the Gears of War series, thinks that UWP is Microsoft’s attempt at monopolising the PC gaming ecosystem, at the expense of developers, publishers, and distributors alike.

“In my view, this is the most aggressive move Microsoft has ever made,” Sweeney writes in a op-ed piece in The Guardian. “While the company has been convicted of violating antitrust law in the past, its wrongful actions were limited to fights with specific competitors and contracts with certain PC manufacturers.”

“This isn’t like that,” he adds. “Here, Microsoft is moving against the entire PC industry – including consumers (and gamers in particular), software developers such as Epic Games, publishers like EA and Activision, and distributors like Valve and Good Old Games.”

“Microsoft has launched new PC Windows features exclusively in UWP, and is effectively telling developers you can use these Windows features only if you submit to the control of our locked-down UWP ecosystem. They’re curtailing users’ freedom to install full-featured PC software, and subverting the rights of developers and publishers to maintain a direct relationship with their customers.”

Sweeney closes his piece with a call to arms, to both gamers and developers: “As the founder of a major Windows game developer and technology supplier, this is an op-ed I hoped I would never feel compelled to write. But Epic has prided itself on providing software directly to customers ever since I started mailing floppy disks in 1991. We wouldn’t let Microsoft close down the PC platform overnight without a fight, and therefore we won’t sit silently by while Microsoft embarks on a series of sneaky manoeuvres aimed at achieving this over a period of several years.”

Image courtesy of UploadVR.

How Microsoft (Probably) Envisions Xbox Hardware Upgrades

With all the talk about Xbox One hardware upgrades and their universal platform, it’s important to really understand how Microsoft is approaching this problem. While some commentators are viewing their change in strategy as a shift to a PC-like ecosystem, a deeper read of Microsoft’s statements reveals a more Apple iOS-like approach.

Traditionally, consoles have come out generation by generation, with the latest one supplanting the next. In order to play the latest and greatest games, one would have to buy the latest console and playing games from previous consoles required the previous console. Microsoft is planning to change this with the Xbox One, allowing for hardware to advance within a console generation, with backwards and forwards compatibility. This allows users to keep playing their old games as well.

In order to get the backwards and forwards compatibility between games and consoles, Microsoft is using their UWP (Universal Windows Platform) to build UWA (Univeral Windows Applications). This is possible because the Xbox One is fundamentally a customised PC, and some think that a new hardware upgrade is easily done due to the simple architecture and uniform software. The concern though is that like PC systems, the variants of  Xbox One’s become like another PC and will suffer from fragmentation in features and performance, losing the traditional console benefit of one hardware platform to target.

In my view tough, Microsoft is pushing a similar yet distinct path from PC, more akin to iOS. With iOS, Apple has several concurrent iOS devices generations with different hardware. However, all my applications work on most iOS devices, with older iOS devices using older versions of the application if necessary, with fewer features. This is even simpler for the Xbox One as there will still probably only be 2-3 hardware variants, easy enough to target and optimise for. Just like with iOS applications, UWA games can scale to the hardware neatly, with each console variant using the resources (physics effects, resolution, texture quality) best suited to it and compiled at the time of installation.

With UWA, it will take minimal effort to ensure old games run on the new console hardware and any failure to optimise is covered up by the improved hardware. To run new games on older consoles, developers simply use fewer models, less complex physics, lower resolution and lower quality textures. However, the overall gameplay should remain the same and the overall experience the same. The ability to play purchases bought for a previous console removes the sting of rebuying games when the console is replaced.

As always with Microsoft, their statements and PR side of things are never as clear as they need to be. Hopefully, Microsoft will be able to implement their plans well and the future where console gaming libraries are just like Steam will finally come to pass.

Rise of the Tomb Raider Was Running in DX12 at Xbox Showcase

Microsoft has been eager to show off new screenshots from Rise of the Tomb Raider, but what’s interesting is that these screenshots were not from the Windows 10 version of the game, but the Xbox One version. To make matters even more interesting, Microsoft has now confirmed that what they revealed was the DX12 version of the game running on the Xbox One.

The demo was shown at the Xbox Showcase Media Event, and Rise of the Tomb Raider was playable at the Xbox Spring Showcase while running in DirectX 12. This is great news for gamers, as more DX12 software is working its way to market, but adds further fuel to the fire that a DirectX 12 patch will be coming to the PC in the near future. Nothing has been confirmed officially, but you can be certain that it’s coming.

“DirectX 12 Showcase: Rise of the Tomb Raider, Ashes of the Singularity, King of Wushu – Square Enix, Snail, and Stardock showcased their latest DirectX 12 enhancements for Rise of the Tomb Raider, King of Wushu, and Ashes of the Singularity on Origin PCs, iBUYPOWER Revolt 2, and Maingear PCs. Ashes of the Singularity is taking advantage the DirectX 12 multi-adapter technology, allowing PCs to use multiple GPUs, even from different manufacturers. Rise of the Tomb Raider was playable for the first time at the Xbox Spring Showcase running DirectX 12.” said Microsoft.

https://youtu.be/kAQRwtfhtFU

What games are you hoping to play in DirectX 12 on PC and even on Xbox One? Are you hoping they get updated to support the new API or are you more interested in upcoming releases? Let us know in the comments section below.

Killer Instinct to Arrive on Windows 10 March 29

Microsoft is really ramping up their Xbox One and Windows 10 collaboration for games. With Forza 6 Apex and Gears of War Ultimate already set to arrive soon  or already arrived, Killer Instinct will be following along shortly on March 29th. The game will be available from the Windows store and what’s more, all DLC from the Xbox One will be available for the Windows version after a pretty quick update process.

As  UWA (Universal Windows Application) based on the UWP (Universal Windows Platform), Killer Instinct comes with all the pros and con, namely it may not feature the full set of usual PC tweaks and features. That, however, is expected of most console ports these days anyways so it really isn’t that much of an issue. The system requirements are pretty tame as well, with only an i5 750/Phenom II x4 965, 4GB of ram and GTX480/HD 5850 being the minimum. The recommended isn’t that much beefier at i5 4670K/FX 4300, 8GB ram and GTX670/HD 7950. Of course, Windows 10 is required. You can see the full spec list below.

Minimum

  • OS: Windows 10 64-bit
  • PROCESSOR: Intel Core i5-750 @ 2.67 GHz/ AMD Phenom II X4 965 @ 3.4 GHz
  • MEMORY: 4 GB RAM
  • GRAPHICS: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480/ AMD Radeon HD 5850
  • DIRECTX: Version 11
  • NETWORK: Broadband Internet connection

Recommended

  • OS: Windows 10 64-bit
  • PROCESSOR: Intel Core i5-4670K @ 3.4GHz/ AMD FX-4300 @ 3.8 GHz
  • MEMORY: 8 GB RAM
  • GRAPHICS: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670/ AMD Radeon HD 7950
  • DIRECTX: Version 11
  • NETWORK: Broadband Internet Connection

Xbox One Hardware Upgrades Could End Console Generations

Xbox Chief Phil Spencer has revealed that he is considering the introduction of hardware upgrades for Xbox One, as part of its “Universal Windows Platform” program, which aims to unify Microsoft’s console with PC platforms, in a move which could spell the end of future Xbox generations. Speaking to Polygon, Spencer explained that Microsoft sees the PC as a platform of innovation for gaming, and so the company wants to shift the Xbox into that sphere.

“We see on other platforms whether it be mobile or PC that you get a continuous innovation that you rarely see on console,” Spencer said. “Consoles lock the hardware and the software platforms together at the beginning of the generation. Then you ride the generation out for seven or so years, while other ecosystems are getting better, faster, stronger. And then you wait for the next big step function.”

“When you look at the console space, I believe we will see more hardware innovation in the console space than we’ve ever seen,” he added. “You’ll actually see us come out with new hardware capability during a generation allowing the same games to run backward and forward compatible because we have a Universal Windows Application running on top of the Universal Windows Platform that allows us to focus more and more on hardware innovation without invalidating the games that run on that platform.”

Spencer sees the unification of various platforms as a boon to those who want to play older games, too, as the PC ecosystem, and relevant upgrades, would support broader backwards compatibility.

“We can effectively feel a little bit more like we see on PC, where I can still go back and run my old Doom and Quake games that I used to play years ago but I can still see the best 4K games come out and my library is always with me,” he said. “Hardware innovation continues while the software innovation is able to take advantage and I don’t have to jump a generation and lose everything that I played on before.”

Quantum Break Bigger on Xbox One Than PC – Price Revealed

Forthcoming third-person action shooter Quantum Break, developed by Alan Wake producers Remedy Entertainment, is now available to pre-order for Windows 10, with the store page revealing that the install size of the game is less than on Xbox One.

According to the page on the official Microsoft Store, the Windows 10-exclusive version of Quantum Break will be 36.18GB, compared to 44.09GB on Xbox One.

Windows 10:

Xbox One:

The Windows 10 version will feature:

  • XBOX LIVE: Stay connected to the Xbox Live community, view achievements, watch game clips, chat with friends and more. Record, narrate, and share your most epic gaming moments with built-in Game DVR.
  • XBOX LIVE: Store saved games in the cloud and continue playing on a different PC right from where you left off. Play with your Xbox One Controller for Windows using the wired or wireless adapter.

While the specifications are listed as:

  • MINIMUM SPECS: CPU: Intel Core i5-4460, 2.70GHz or AMD FX-6300; GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX760 or AMD Radeon R7; RAM: 8 GB; Hard Disk Space: 55 GB; DX12 capable GPU; Windows-compatible keyboard/mouse
  • RECOMMENDED SPECS: CPU: Intel Core i5-4690, 2.70GHz or AMD equivalent; GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX970 or AMD Radeon R9; RAM: 16 GB; Hard Disk Space: 55 GB; DX12 capable GPU; Xbox Game Controller
  • SUPPORTED OS: Windows 10 (64-bit version only)

Quantum Break is out for Windows 10 and Xbox One on 5th April.

DOOM Will Run at Same Resolution and Frame Rate on All Platforms

Id Software has announced that its new not-quite-a-sequel but not-quite-a-reboot DOOM announced that the forthcoming first-person shooter will run at 1080p and 60fps on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4.

“We want players to wonder how DOOM and idTech 6 [game engine] games can be so visually stunning at 60 frames-per-second at 1080p on all platforms, when other titles cannot even achieve a similar look at 30 frames-per-second,” Lead Project Programmer Billy Khan told the Bethesda blog. “Our goal is to be the best-looking game at 1080p at 60fps.”

Presumably, as far as the PC release is concerned, the 1080p/60fps standard will be its minimum default, with more powerful systems able to support higher resolutions and frame rates.

“idTech 6 allows the artists and designers to quickly decorate the world with fine details,” Khan explained. “idTech 6’s physically based renderer and dynamic lighting system allows our artists to make our characters and environments more realistic and stunning than ever before.”

“Many on our tech team worked at Crytek before, so we’ve known and worked with each other for some time,” Lead Renderer Programmer Tiago Sousa added. “It’s been an interesting and productive venture, learning about idTech foundations and researching where and how we will take it to new levels.”

DOOM is set for release on PC, Xbox One, and PS4 on 13th May.

Capcom Announces Resident Evil Re-Releases to Celebrate 20th Anniversary

You just can’t keep a good T-virus down. Capcom has announced that, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Resident Evil franchise, it is releasing the fourth, fifth, and sixth games in the saga on Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

While critical response to both Resident Evil 5 and 6 was variable, at best – players were unhappy at the games ditching the survival horror in favour of a more action shooter style – Resident Evil 4, only the second game of the series to be directed by visionary Shinji Mikami, is still considered one of the best games ever made.

“In March 1996, the world was introduced to the first Resident Evil game, which helped shape survival horror as we know it and has since brought you some of the most loved games of all time,” the official Capcom announcement reads. “You’ve been able to play through the origins stories that started everything with the recent releases of Resident Evil and Resident Evil 0, and we’ve confirmed that a remake of Resident Evil 2 is on the way.”

“Since then, the series and story have evolved to amp up the action and introduce new epic gaming moments with Resident Evil 4, 5 and 6. If you haven’t had a chance to play these yet or if you’ve been wanting to play them on your current consoles, we’ve got good news for you. Starting with Resident Evil 6 on March 29, all three games will be available for PS4 and Xbox One for an MSRP of only $19.99 / €19.99 / £15.99 each.”