Welcome to our weekly ICYMI for Xbox news!
We're also giving away a copy of Star Wars: Battlefront for Xbox One to one lucky commenter! Simply leave a reply and join the discussion for a chance to win.
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.
Missed The Division's Alpha? Check out these leaked gameplay videos
Tom Clancy's The Division makes up part of Ubisoft's 2016 onslaught, and if the queues I saw at Gamescom and EGX were any indication, interest in this game is on the high end (to say the least).
In The Division, you play as a member of an eponymous organisation tasked to uncover the causes behind a massive pandemic. The disease spread on bank notes, causing society to collapse in less than a week. The Division agents are supposed to be self-sufficient soldiers, capable of completing missions independent of command. The game has heavily connected multiplayer elements, such as asynchronous PVP, but it can also be enjoyed entirely solo without teaming up, or fighting against other players.
Be sure to check out the videos as soon as possible, as Ubisoft will likely issue takedown notices soon.
The Division launches on March 8th for Xbox One, PS4 and PC.
Phil Spencer discusses cloud compute for third party games, backwards compatibility and more
Xbox head Phil Spencer frequently engages fans on Twitter, and he's had quite a bit to say in the past week.
Regarding Titanfall 2, a fan asked whether the game would lose access to Microsoft Azure as a result of it going multiplatform. Of course, the first Titanfall became a poster-child for Azure, appearing in commercials to tout the way Microsoft's server infrastructure helped power the game's A.I., analytics and more. Phil Spencer replied that Azure is available to any game, even PS4 exclusives - after all, Microsoft Azure is a large business in its own right.
..."Azure services are available to any game, even other platform's exclusives. We wouldn't keep someone from using."...
It might work out cheaper for EA to use its internal server infrastructure to power Titanfall 2. Whether or not it can keep up with Microsoft Azure in terms of quality and features is another matter entirely, though. Considering Respawn Entertainment own the Titanfall IP, and studio head Vince Zampella stated that he partnered with Xbox specifically for Azure, there's every chance we could see Titanfall 2 remain in the Microsoft cloud.
Phil Spencer also fielded a few questions about backwards compatibility. Regarding previously announced backwards compatible titles such as Halo Wars and Call of Duty: Black Ops 1, Phil said that the dates for those titles haven't yet been announced, but the team were actively working to get them ready for Xbox One.
..."We test the games we put into BC thoroughly so just takes time. A lot of interest in a lot of games, team is working hard."...
..."We said BO1 was coming, and it is, I didn't say it was coming in December. Team is actively working on it."...
..."So to clarify, we haven't confirmed any Jan games. We have confirmed monthly but not the games yet."...
Phil also replied to an inquiry about backwards compatibility for the original Xbox, stating that an achievements system would need to be figured out beforehand. As noted by justinmorgan57, backwards compatibility for the original Xbox is potentially easier to accomplish than the Xbox 360, as it shares an x86 hardware architecture with the Xbox One.
..."As you said, we'd need to try to figure out achievements I think, not easy to do that."
Motiga updates fans on the status of its upcoming Xbox One and Windows 10 universal game, Gigantic
Gigantic is an upcoming shooter/MOBA hybrid for Xbox One and Windows 10. Gigantic is special, not only for its great gameplay but because it'll be among the first games released as a Universal Windows App across Xbox One and the Windows 10 Store.
Sadly, the game's independent developer, Motiga, recently suffered layoffs - but the remaining staff are soldiering on, and recently provided fans with an update on Gigantic's progress.
..."Our vision for Gigantic has not changed, and we believe we are making something unique and special and awesome. We are not re-imagining the last big thing. We are striving to build the next big thing. Our plan for that is a combination of unique playable heroes, dramatic battles, and massive guardians."
Motiga noted that switching Gigantic from two separate clients to a single, Universal Windows App has been a difficult challenge, but the developer strongly believes in Microsoft's vision for the Universal Windows Platform, as noted below.
..."We also believe Microsoft's vision for the future of Windows 10 gaming is a strong one: one account shared across Windows 10 PCs and Xbox One consoles, one Gamertag and Gamerscore, with any purchases you make available to you on both platforms, with opt-in cross-device play. The underlying technical changes to support this unification have been a huge undertaking, even for a company like Microsoft, but it will mean a much better experience for gamers in the long run."...
Early next year Motiga will ship a new build to its closed beta testers on Xbox One and Windows 10. This new version will be a Universal Windows App, possibly the first available on both Xbox One and Windows 10 PC. Some of the benefits include improved matchmaking, changes to the core gameplay mechanics and tons of additional content. Read the full list of improvements over on the Gigantic blog here.
I've played the game at Gamescom, and, despite not being a fan of MOBA-type games, Gigantic helps gamers accustomed to all sorts of genres find enjoyment in its third-person, team-based gameplay. If you haven't checked out Gigantic before, you can do so over on GoGigantic.com, and if you believe in Microsoft's universal app vision, keep a firm eye on Gigantic.
Konami is hiring for a new Metal Gear following an exodus of Metal Gear developers
If there was an annual award for this year's most reviled publisher, I'm pretty sure Konami would top 2015's proceedings. The drama between Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima and IP owner Konami has dominated video game news over the past year. Hideo Kojima and Konami recently unceremoniously parted ways, but that hasn't stopped Konami's plans for one of gaming's most beloved franchises.
Kojima's contract forbids him from discussing his time at Konami (and apparently, from attending award ceremonies), but the reports haven't been pretty. Beyond removing Hideo Kojima's name from Metal Gear Solid marketing and box art, Konami is reported to have made life very difficult for the staff working under Kojima.
The supposed 'power struggle' between Hideo Kojima and Konami resulted in the abrupt cancellation of a wildly anticipated Silent Hill sequel, a Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain that was quite obviously rushed to completion. Reportedly, Konami also began treating uninvolved Kojima Productions staff very poorly, resigning video game developers to menial jobs, installing CCTV cameras in offices and hiring supervisors to monitor breaks.
Konami strangely denied reports that Kojima was leaving the company following MGSV's completion. Unsurprisingly, that turned out to be a fabrication, as Kojima recently re-opened Kojima Productions as an independent studio, signing a deal with Sony to build a PS4 and PC game with a small team comprised of former Metal Gear developers.
If you're a game developer looking for work, and Konami's reported behaviour doesn't bother you, you might be interested to know that the studio has begun hiring "highly skilled" developers to build the next Metal Gear. It doesn't sound like a smartphone game, at least.
Regardless of whether or not the reports about Konami's strange behaviour are true, it's quite obvious that the studio has a long journey ahead of it to regain consumer trust. Metal Gear is, at least for now, synonymous with Hideo Kojima.
EA and Visceral are hiring for a Star Wars action adventure game
In a piece of job listing news that fills me with far more optimism than a Kojima-less Metal Gear, former Assassin's Creed producer Jade Raymond and Legacy of Kain writer Amy Hennig could be working with Visceral Games to develop the Star Wars action adventure game that we so very desperately deserve.
Visceral (Dead Space, Battlefield Hardline) are known to have been working on a Star Wars game for some time, but this new job listing offers tantalising hints about the game's nature.
..."THE CHALLENGE AHEAD: BRING YOUR SYSTEM GAME DESIGN SKILLS AND SAVVY AND YOUR LOVE OF STAR WARS TO VISCERAL GAMES, EMBRACING AND CONTRIBUTING TO THE PROJECT VISION IN AREAS OF HERO CONTROL/MECHANICS, AI BEHAVIORS, COMBAT/WEAPONS, CLASS DESIGN, SKILLS/PROGRESSION, ENEMY DESIGN, STORY AND BOSS ENCOUNTERS."...
..."Experience working on 3rd person action/adventure games, demonstrating major contributions in the areas of hero control schemes, enemy design, navigation mechanics, and combat."...
..."Experience working with a game engine and using scripting tools to assemble heroes, enemies, AI, and interactive objects by collecting and implementing animations, models, audio, and effects into one complete system."...
..."Extensive understanding of the systems design process including motion models, weapons tuning and feel, enemy concept and design, tools/upgrades, economy, balance, testing, etc."...
Given Jade Raymond's experience with open-world action adventure games like Assassin's Creed and Watch Dogs, EA could be onto a serious winner here. As someone still basking in the glow of The Force Awakens, I surely hope we'll get a glimpse at next year's E3.
Giveaway - Star Wars Battlefront for Xbox One
This week we're giving away an Xbox One copy of Star Wars: Battlefront! Simply join the discussion below to enter.
The winner was Lazy666Beard! Congrats! To everyone else, check back next week for another giveaway!
ICYMI - Some of Windows Central's biggest Xbox articles of the week
- Check out how much time your Xbox One controller spent in your hand during 2015
- Hacker group claims it brought down Xbox Live this week, pledges to do it again
- Minecraft for Xbox gets huge free update with new blocks, mobs and more
- Gigantic to get fresh beta build with new characters and more in early 2016
- Super Party Sports Football review: Soccer meets physics puzzles on Xbox One
- Halo: Reach, Fable III, and 14 other Xbox 360 games gain Xbox One compatibility
- Forge map editor is part of the newest free update for Halo 5: Guardians
- Acclaimed RPG The Banner Saga will fight its way to the Xbox One on Jan. 12
- Plex on Xbox One is now free to use
- Review: Fallout 4, post-hype post-apocalypse
New Xbox One game releases for the week ending December 20th, 2015
ARK: Survival Evolved (Game Preview) - Action & Adventure, Survival - Studio Wildcard
"Stranded on the shores of a mysterious island, you must learn to survive. Use your cunning to kill or tame the primeval creatures roaming the land, and encounter other players to survive, dominate... and escape!"
And that's a wrap!
This week I've been struggling through ARK: Survival Evolved in between sessions of Star Wars: Battlefront and Star Wars: The Old Republic - it's almost as if a recent movie had some influence on me.
It's encouraging to see the backwards compatibility list grow this week, even if it was just over a dozen titles. Hopefully, Microsoft will increase the visibility of backwards compatible titles on the Xbox Store, and release sales figures to entice some of the other heavy hitters on the UserVoice request page. Mass Effect 2 and 3, Red Dead Redemption and Elder Scrolls V would've been a pretty swell Christmas present.
Will you be stepping away from gaming for the holidays? Or is the vacation from work simply an excuse to play even more? Join the discussion for a chance to win Star Wars Battlefront for Xbox One!
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Update 6: Microsoft wants all of TikTok, but Trump's order may interfere
The Financial Times reports that as part of negotiations, Microsoft is now inquiring whether it can buy all of TikTok, instead of just the business in the US., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. This new plan would include India and Europe (and excluding China).
Surface Duo and double Dans take over this week's Android Central podcast
Need even more Surface Duo in your life? Check out the latest Android Central podcast, in which Daniel Rubino and Daniel Bader (double the Dans!) discuss Surface Duo, Microsoft's Samsung love affair, and Project xCloud.
This is the best Windows 10 tablet you can buy right now
There are many Windows 10 tablets on the market, but it's hard to sort through the rubbish. Here's our picks for the best Windows 10 tablets you can buy right now. At the top of our list is the Surface Pro X, which we think is the best due to its ARM processor, large display, and thin form factor while still packing good battery life and excellent performance.
Complete list of Xbox One Dolby Atmos games
Dolby Atmos creates a realistic, immersive soundscape, but is not featured in every game. These are all Xbox One games with baked-in Dolby Atmos support so far.