Welcome to our weekly ICYMI for Xbox news!
We'll still be posting major Xbox announcements in the main feed. However, I'll be collecting some of the more nuanced news, rumors and talking points into one handy post every weekend! You can also rely on this weekly column to keep up to date with all the latest game releases too.
So without further ado, here's the latest edition of This Week in Xbox One News.
343i detail Halo 5's Arena multiplayer banning and matchmaking systems
Microsoft has been vocal about their intentions for Halo 5 in the eSport space. For the game to gain significant multiplayer traction, they need to ensure its signature competitive aspects are rock-solid. 343i have outlined some of their intents to keep online play balanced and fair while taking action against transgressors.
Arena is intended to be Halo 5's 'pure' multiplayer mode, where players vie for control of power weapon spawns on a level playing field. Micro-purchasable REQ pack power-ups are unavailable in Arena and are instead available in the game's more chaotic Warzone mode.
Competitive Skill Rating (CSR)
In Arena, players will be ranked using a Competitive Skill Rating system. Each rank is split into six tiers, and you can only ascend by winning. By linking it with victories, 343i hope that it'll encourage team play over kill-counts. There are seven ranks in total per playlist, which were renamed to Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Diamond, Onyx, and Champion following player feedback.
Losing will lower progression between tiers within a rank, but you'll never rank down from losing. When players step into multiplayer for the first time, they'll play a few placement matches that will determine their skill level for Arena matchmaking moving forward.
The final ranks of Onyx and Champion work a little differently. Players in these ranks can see their CSR numerically, and can compare their scores with other players. Only the top 200 players in each playlist will get awarded the accolade of Champion.
Certain playlists are tied to seasons, which reset on a monthly basis. If you play as part of a season, your CSR will be reset each month, and you'll be able to compete against your previous best rankings. Players who participate in Seasonal Arenas will earn cosmetic rewards unique to that particular month.
343i will also use season boundaries to implement patches and balance changes to the game based on telemetry and player feedback.
343i prioritises match quality above all else, and Halo 5 will attempt to match you with players of equal skill, based on your CSR. As seen with Killer Instinct, the game will open up to other CSR levels if it cannot find matching players in a timely fashion.
To emphasise Arena's pure competitive nature, all of its matches begin at the start - you cannot join an Arena game in progress. This system could cause problems when players quit team-based games, creating uneven teams. 343i will discourage quitting by issuing temporary bans to people who leave games early (there's no word on the length of these bans). Additionally, XP and REQ points will only deposit once matches have ended. Whether or not these incentives will work remains to be seen - but players who frequently quit games that are in progress will be tracked by Halo 5's full-blown banhammer.
Banning in Halo 5 appears to be an automated progress. The following behaviours will be tracked and measured by the Microsoft Cloud:
- Quitting matches
- Betrayals or team killing
- Idling (AFK)
- Intentional suicides
- Excessive disconnects
If players are found to engage repeatedly in negative behaviours listed by 343i, they can be banned entirely from Halo 5's matchmaking system. The length of the ban is determined by the severity of the offenses, and also whether the player has been banned previously. Ban lengths are cumulative, meaning that the more often you get banned, the longer the bans will become, so play nice!
343i seem utterly serious with their intentions to turn Halo 5 into a respected eSport, adding tools for spectators and running a year-long closed multiplayer beta. Halo 5 multiplayer opens up to press later in the week, so stay tuned for our hands-on impressions and Twitch streams moving forward.
Halo 5 launches on October 27th as a Xbox One exclusive.
EA head talks down HD remakes, backwards compatibility
EA's COO Peter Moore recently discussed backwards compatibility and HD remakes with IGN.
On the subject of HD remakes, Peter Moore said that EA prefers to "push forward", and that they simply don't have the time to produce them.
..."It feels like pushing stuff out because you've run out of ideas. [...] Remakes, because of who we are, and this broad portfolio of intellectual property. You add all that together, I don't know where we find the time to do remakes, we're a company that just likes to push forward."...
Peter Moore conceded that HD remakes can be a good source of revenue, this seems to be particularly true for studios like Capcom, who benefitted so heavily from rebuilding Resident Evil that they've now committed to HD remakes as part of their business strategy.
..."For a lot of companies, remakes are a way to drive revenue. It's sub-cost, it's an IP that's there, you can remaster, and that's great. We don't do that here. I don't think that's ever been in our culture."...
Surprisingly, Peter Moore doesn't seem convinced by backwards compatibility either, describing it as something gamers aren't "ever going to use":
..."In the old days, backward compatibility was to convince your mom to buy the new console -- not that you were ever going to use it. Once you got it? Those things went in the drawer, or on eBay."...
Considering the piles of older games sold on Steam on a daily basis, I'd argue he's missing the potential it holds for digital sales on Xbox One, but oh well. Regardless of Moore's assertions, EA games are coming to the Xbox One, as outlined by Phil Spencer back at Gamescom. Still, I would've liked to have seen Mass Effect 1 with a bit of extra polish, what do you think?
Bethesda explains how Agility works in Fallout 4, and tantalises with a live-action trailer
Fallout 4 is almost here, and earlier in the week Bethesda took to YouTube to remind us, launching an awesome live action trailer. In the latest game, you emerge from a Vault-Tec bomb shelter 200 years after a nuclear holocaust. Fallout games are known for their open-ended nature, allowing you to play however you like, and Fallout 4 looks to be no different.
Bethesda has also been publishing videos to detail Fallout 4's S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stats system, most recently to explain Agility. In Fallout 4, allocating more points into Agility will allow you to use the V.A.T.S. slow-motion targeting system more frequently, as well as deliver benefits for stealthy characters, evading enemy attacks and improving reload speed. Bethesda have already detailed Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, and Intelligence, meaning there's only Luck left to detail. The wait is almost over!
Fallout 4 launches on November 10th for PS4, Xbox One and PC.
Divinity: Original Sin details console controls ahead of its Xbox One launch
Acclaimed turn-based RPG Divinity: Original Sin is launching on Xbox One very soon, and this latest video details how they've altered its systems for controller play.
Divinity: Original Sin was partially funded by Kickstarter, and promised a return to the golden age of isometric turn-based RPGs, albeit with a modern twist. Judging by the game's Metacritic site and user scores, it seems as though they did a pretty good job. Stay tuned to Windows Central to find out how the Xbox One version stacks up in the coming weeks.
Divinity: Original Sin launches on Xbox One on October 27th, and is already available on PC.
ICYMI - Some of Windows Central's biggest Xbox articles of the week
- Crimsonland: Achievement Guide for Xbox One, Steam, and more
- Microsoft to expand New Xbox One Experience to every opt-in preview user this weekend
- Microsoft says the 'vast majority' of Xbox One owners with Kinect still use the hardware
- Check out Xbox's new Community Calendar, available now to NXOE insiders
- Halo 5: Guardians achievement list detailed ahead of Oct. 27 release
- Microsoft to stream six-hour live Halo 5 launch event on YouTube on Oct. 26
- Here's a quick look at Cortana on the Xbox One dashboard preview
- Xbox One controller remapping arrives to New Xbox One Experience
- The Witcher 3's first expansion 'Hearts of Stone' is available now for Xbox One and PC
- Return to Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty with 'Alf's Escape' for Xbox One
New Xbox One game releases for the week ending October 18th, 2015
Bedlam - Shooter - RedBedlam
"Pitched as a shooter for those who survived online gaming in the 80s and 90s, Bedlam takes a look through an iconic time in online gaming serving up some authentic gaming nostalgia with up-to-date graphics and gaming features."
Rock 'N Racing Off Road DX - Classics, Racing & Flying, Sports & Recreation - EnjoyUp Games
"Get ready to enjoy Off Road races with your friends and family! Rock'N Racing Off Road DX offers the most entertaining and exciting races, with loads of skids, crashes and amazing jumps. You will have several modes of play, such as Cup mode, time trial and multiplayer with the option of up to 8 Players at a time."
Crimsonland - Shooter - 10tons Studio
"Thousands of aliens, mutant lizards, giant spiders and more are on the attack - can you survive the onslaught? Crimsonland is a top-down dual stick shooter where the screen is filled with literally hundreds of enemies."
Laserlife - Music - Choice Provisions
"Do our memories die with us, or do they live on somewhere, waiting to be discovered? Somewhere in the cosmos, the body of a long dead astronaut floats alone through space. A strange presence with the power to rebuild memories and relive lives attempts to stitch together a human's past."
Toto Temple Deluxe - Family / Platformer - Juicy Beast Studio
"Toto Temple Deluxe is a fast-paced, local-multiplayer king-of-the-hill style game in which players must steal an egg-laying goat from their friends and try to keep it on their own head for as long as possible. You know, normal stuff. Infinitely dash in any direction to swiftly move around and powerfully headbutt the goat carrier to steal its four-legged booty."
Back to the Future: The Game - Action & Adventure - Telltale Games
"Six months after Back to the Future Part III, the DeLorean time machine mysteriously returns to Hill Valley – driverless! Marty McFly must once again go back in time, or else the space-time continuum will be forever unraveled!"
Teslapunk - Classics / Shooter - klutzGames
"Teslapunk is a classic 2D shoot-em-up with fast-paced arcade gameplay. You have to defend earth against an invasion from Mars lead by Emperor Zangórax who back on Mars is a popular DJ by night and a frantic invader by day."
Goosebumps: The Game - Action & Adventure - WayForward
"The walk home from school today is going to be a lot spookier than usual… Your sleepy neighborhood's been overrun by monsters! Werewolves prowl the woods, Gnomes roam underfoot, and scarecrows walk at midnight."
Minecraft: Story Mode - Episode 1: The Order of the Stone - Action & Adventure - Telltale Games
"THE ADVENTURE OF A LIFETIME IN THE WORLD OF MINECRAFT As Jesse, you'll embark on a perilous adventure across the Overworld, through the Nether, to the End, and beyond. You and your friends revere the legendary Order of the Stone: Warrior, Redstone Engineer, Griefer, and Architect; slayers of the Ender Dragon."
WRC 5 FIA World Rally Championship - Racing & Flying - Kylotonn Racing Games
"WRC 5: the best rally simulation. Find all the cars, all the drivers and all the official rallies of the 2015 FIA World Rally Championship in THE racing simulation standard."
Wasteland 2: Director's Cut - Role Playing & Strategy - InXile Entertainment
"From the Producer of the original Fallout comes Wasteland 2, the sequel to the first-ever post-apocalyptic computer RPG. The Wasteland's hellish landscape is waiting for you to make your mark... or die trying. With over 80 hours of gameplay, you will deck out your Desert Ranger squad with the most devastating weaponry this side of the fallout zone, test the limits of your strategy skills, and bring justice to the wasteland."
The Jackbox Party Pack 2 - Family, Puzzle & Trivia, Social - Jackbox Games
"The sequel to the party game phenomenon The Jackbox Party Pack, featuring FIVE fresh, rib-tickling party games! Games include: 1) The runaway hit bluffing game Fibbage 2 (2-8 players) with over 500 brand-new questions, more than 2x the original."
And that's a wrap!
This week I've been wholly immersed in the bleak world of Wasteland 2: Director's Cut for Xbox One - a game I wasn't sure I'd like but I have since become hopelessly addicted. We're also planning some extensive Halo 5 coverage over the next few weeks, so keep Windows Central in your cross-hairs for all the latest and greatest.
What have you guys been playing this week? What's piqued your interest from this week's Xbox One news? Kick off discussions below!