This week we're looking at a big Hitman hire, comments from CD Projekt RED on The Witcher and Cyberpunk 2077, Fable co-creator's willingness to reboot the franchise, Crackdown explosions and more!
We're also giving away a code for The Division's Season Pass to one lucky commenter! Simply leave a reply and join the discussion for a chance to win.
Every week, I give my take on some of the biggest Xbox news, rumors and talking points in one handy post every weekend. You can also rely on this weekly column to catch up with all the latest game releases.
Welcome to the latest edition of This Week in Xbox One News.
Former Fable developers express interest in rebooting the franchise
Lionhead Studios is facing closure, following the cancellation of its experimental 4v1 RPG Fable Legends. The UK-based studio has been a mainstay of first-party development at Microsoft for many years, and to see it shutdown has made for some pretty painful reading, both for fans and those directly affected by its closure.
The culling of Fable Legends leaves a large RPG-shaped hole in Microsoft's Xbox One lineup. Fans across the internet have been discussing whether Microsoft should hand the franchise to a second-party developer, or whether they should just shelve it altogether. I feel that Fable never realised its full potential, across its three core titles or its spinoffs. The whimsical action RPG never achieved true blockbuster success, but enjoys a passionate fanbase, as seen by the bittersweet hashtag #LionheadMemories spreading through Twitter.
Although it's unlikely to lead to anything concrete, Fable co-creator Simon Carter responded to a fan question about the possibility of rebooting the franchise, prompting positive reactions from both fans and former developers.
While there's little chance that Microsoft will react to a few tweets — regardless of how passionate — I do think that shutting down the entire studio on the back of reactions to Fable Legends' closed beta seems a tad heavy-handed. Here's hoping Microsoft doesn't kill the franchise entirely, particularly because it's one of the few games that features my melodic West Midlands accent...
The Division loses its director to Hitman's Io Interactive
Tom Clancy's The Division has already delivered piles of (hopefully uncontaminated) cash into Ubisoft's coffers, becoming their fastest selling title of all time. The loot-driven connected shooter has only been available for a short time, but many people have already hit the level cap, and are waiting patiently for future updates. Another recent title that has people waiting for updates is the recent Hitman reboot.
For those who don't know, Hitman is essentially an open-world puzzle game that tasks players to assassinate targets in complex sandbox simulations. Owing to its episodic format, Hitman only has a single level available so far (not counting its brief training missions), but Io Interactive are working hard to update the game with new missions, targeting a monthly release cadence.
We've discussed some of our impressions of Hitman in the most recent episode of our OneCast Xbox podcast, and all signs are positive so far (providing that additional content arrives promptly). Either way, it seems that publisher Square Enix feel encouraged by the new Hitman reboot enough to have grabbed The Division's former game director, Ryan Barnard:
"As we continue to grow our commitment to the Hitman game franchise, it's with tremendous excitement that we can announce another great addition to the Io-Interactive family. Ryan Barnard comes to us after having recently finished his work on Massive Entertainment's "The Division" and will join the Io-Interactive in the newly created role of Gameplay Director."
"Ryan will focus on expanding on the near-endless possibilities of gameplay that a game like HITMAN possesses. This means heading up the future efforts of three of our very core teams – gameplay, online and world – which will be no small task. Ryan's contributions to game design over the years show he's the ideal person to spearhead the coming efforts. We are very happy to add his talent to the pool of great people working at IOI."
The news bodes well for Hitman, which seems to have returned to its roots after the disappointingly linear Hitman Absolution. We'll have some Hitman impressions up some time next week if you're interested, thanks to my podcast partner-in-crime, Mr. Matt Brown.
Crackdown 3 dev shines the spotlight on explosions
Cloud-powered crime fighter Crackdown 3 is heading to Xbox One this year, with a multiplayer beta scheduled for the summer. Crackdown 3 utilizes the Microsoft Cloud to augment its processing capabilities, bringing unprecedented destruction physics to its multiplayer mode.
As you might imagine, explosions are pretty important to Crackdown's gameplay, and the developers over at Microsoft Studios shared a blog post detailing the attention they're giving to the game's explosives.
"In Crackdown 3, explosives take front-and-center when it comes to the destructible world we're building for multiplayer, and for the open-world playset of campaign. Whether you're deploying a cluster grenade to disassemble a squad of mechs, or taking down a skybridge while another player runs across, or toppling a tower to create a path for your teammates to infiltrate the enemy's stronghold — explosives and the explosive skill are a critical part of making every corner of the Crackdown world versatile and exciting."
Dave Mongan closed by saying he can't wait to see how players use the tools on offer to blow up Crackdown 3's world; we can't wait either, Dave!
No 'Witcher 4' planned, CD Projekt RED to put 'everything' into Cyberpunk 2077
The Witcher 3 has been nothing short of a massive success story. The game has turned CD Projekt RED into a powerhouse, and The Witcher 3 beat out The Last of Us to become the most awarded game of all time.
All eyes are now on Cyberpunk 2077, CD Projekt RED's often-teased but little-revealed sci-fi RPG based on the tabletop game of the same name. In an interview with GameSpot, CD Projekt RED co-founder Marcin Iwinski discussed the possibility of future Witcher games, and how the studio is going all-out for Cyberpunk 2077.
When asked whether or not The Witcher 3 was the final game in the series, Marcin Iwinski gave a definitive "yes," before saying they might revisit the franchise some time in the future. Iwinski also emphasized that the studio is taking a well-deserved break, ahead of putting everything into Cyberpunk:
"I was asked about it before, whether there will be Witcher 4 and whatnot, but I'm saying we love the world, we are big fans of [Andrzej Sapkowski's] writings, but yeah. If something happens maybe somewhere down the line, but we don't have anything planned. Honestly speaking, there's nothing we are working on right now. I think we need to rest; we spent the last 14 years in this world and we love it, but right now it's Cyberpunk time and we have to put everything we've got and then some and deliver."
"Maybe we'll come back, maybe we'll tell some different stories at some point, but right now I think we've promised Cyberpunk, and it's time to do some work here."
"Right now, we have the success of The Witcher 3, people played it and people loved it. So it's even more responsibility. The fact that Witcher 3 performed so well allows us to be even more ambitious with Cyberpunk 2077. Right now, it's on our shoulders to deliver here. The next time you hear about Cyberpunk 2077 we will show something and it must be f---ing great."
Be sure to check out the full interview over here.
CD Projekt RED bosses recently promised to investors that Cyberpunk 2077 will be even more ambitious than The Witcher 3, hopefully they'll have something "f---ing great" to show us at this year's E3.
Giveaway – Tom Clancy's The Division Season Pass!
Are you enjoying The Division? If you're loving it as much as we are, then you'll probably be interested in the season pass. We have it on good authority that Ubisoft are planning extensive support for their connected tactical shooter. The coming months will [bring free feature updates, in addition to three large paid expansions as part of the game's season pass. If you'd like to know more about what Ubisoft Massive have in store for the season pass, check out the trailer right here.
To enter, simply leave a comment below and join the discussion on this week's Xbox news!
The winner was NeoFreeman, congrats!
ICYMI - Some of Windows Central's biggest Xbox articles of the week
- Xbox in your PC: The Universal Windows Platform is premature, but not evil
- Sony 'PlayStation 4.5' rumored with upgraded graphics; will Microsoft follow suit?
- The Xbox One Spring Sale kicks off on March 20 with console bundles starting from $299
- Halo 5: Guardians digital edition is just $30 this weekend for Xbox Live Gold members
- Halo Wars added to backward compatible titles for Xbox One Preview members
- Alan Wake, Castlevania: SOTN and PAC-MAN added to the Xbox One backward compatibility list
- Microsoft launches two limited edition shadow design Xbox One controllers for $70
- Windows 10 UWP apps will be available for Xbox One owners sometime this summer
- Five reasons I'm loving Tom Clancy's The Division, so far!
- Microsoft: Cortana for Xbox One is 'coming along great' but no word on release
New Xbox One game releases for the week ending March 20th, 2016
101 Ways To Die - Platformer, Puzzle & Trivia - Four Door Lemon / On The Metal
"Using all your murderous creativity, a generous helping of weaponry, a passing knowledge of physics and a large dose of violence to the poor helpless Splatts, you'll help the Professor rewrite his classic book of recipes, titled... 101 Ways To Die!"
Shred It! - Racing & Flying, Sports & Recreation - EM Studios Ltd
"It's time to get back to paper nature! Shred It! is an innovative endless runner by Extra Mile Studios. Snowboard your way down a never-ending hill in a beautiful paper-craft world."
Spareware - Shooter - Rusto
"Gather your cybernetic friends and assemble your robots for a mercilessly brutal 4-player cooperative top-down shooting mayhem! Venture into the dystopian domed city of Helsinki and its infinite possible layouts to free the AI protector HelOS."
Dungeon of the Endless - Other, Strategy & Simulation - Amplitude Studios
"Dungeon of the Endless is a Rogue-Like Dungeon-Defense game, in which the player and their team of heroes must protect the generator of their crashed ship while exploring an ever-expanding dungeon, all while facing waves of monsters and special events as they try to find their way out..."
Shadow Complex Remastered - Shooter - Epic Games Inc.
"ChAIR's fresh twist on classic side-scrolling design with modern, cutting-edge gameplay is amplified in Shadow Complex Remastered, featuring all of the content from the award-winning original game, updated with graphical enhancements, all-new dynamic melee take-downs, and additional Achievements and Master Challenges."
Shantae and the Pirate's Curse - Action & Adventure - WayForward
"As a pirate, Shantae gains new weapons to advance her quest, slay monsters, battle epic bosses…and hopefully get her magic back in the bargain! But can she really trust her deadliest enemy?"
Tetrobot and Co. - Puzzle & Trivia - Neko Entertainment
"Tetrobot is the world's most popular and reliable robot, but he's not perfect. That's why I, Maya, have built him a microscopic little brother, Psychobot. Help me guide Psy through Tetrobot's cogs and circuits: by swallowing blocks of matter and spitting them out, we can repair anything."
Joe Dever's Lone Wolf - Role Playing - 505 Games Srl
"Lone Wolf is back in video game form with a brand-new story, a deep combat system, stunning graphics and much more! Acclaimed author Joe Dever played an active role in the development of the game and his new narrative follows on from his classic 1980's gamebook, shedding a new light on Lone Wolf's world, Magnamund!"
Sheltered - Strategy & Simulation - Team17 Digital Ltd.
"After a global apocalypse, a frightened family find their way to a deserted shelter, where they try to survive. You take on the role of protecting four family members. Their wellbeing and survival is your responsibility. One mistake, one bad decision and a loved one is gone, forever. Sheltered is a world where death is permanent."
EA SPORTS™ UFC® 2 - Sports & Recreation - Electronic Arts
"EA SPORTS™ UFC® 2 innovates with stunning character likeness and animation, adds an all new Knockout Physics System and authentic gameplay features, and invites all fighters to step back into the Octagon® to experience the thrill of finishing the fight."
And that's a wrap!
I've been marching slowly towards The Division's level cap, but I've found my free time a little warped by none other than Quantum Break. We'll begin a series of previews on Remedy's upcoming cinematic shooter as early as next week, so expect a ton of videos, streams, articles, giveaways and commentary on next week's episode of #OneCast.
What have you been playing this week? What do you make of this week's Xbox news? Let us know below for a chance to win a season pass for The Division!