This Week in Xbox: Aaron Greenberg plays Sea of Thieves, Skate 4 spam, Killer Instinct meets Halo

We're also giving away a copy of Disney Infinity 3.0 (Starter Pack) to one lucky commenter! Simply leave a reply and join the discussion for a chance to win.

Every week, I collect some of the biggest Xbox news, rumors and talking points into 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.

Microsoft's Aaron Greenberg offers insights into Xbox's 2016 line-up in a new interview

IGN recently interviewed Xbox marketing chief Aaron Greenberg for a whopping 90 minutes. Throughout the interview, Greenberg discusses Xbox history, his role at the company and much more – if you're a fan of Xbox, it's definitely worth checking out. If you're after some highlights, then look no further.

Scalebound is an upcoming Xbox One exclusive from Platinum Games, famed for Metal Gear Rising and Bayonetta. The game was originally slated to launch this year but has been delayed into early 2017 – partially to further improve the game, and partially for strategic reasons.

"As we're looking at the lineup for this year, and where [Platinum] are [with Scalebound], what their aspirations are – that game is super-aspirational. We want to be able to give them enough time and resources to do that. So strategically, give it time to breathe; let's make sure we can give it enough space. First and foremost, always make sure the game is great."

New IP can be tough to bring to market, as there are no previous mass-market expectations and comparatively fewer word-of-mouth discussions to draw people in. By shipping the game in early 2017, when there's typically a drought of heavy-hitters, Scalebound will get the spotlight attention it deserves, and won't have to compete with staple brands like Call of Duty for attention.

On the topic of console wars, Greenberg emphasized that the rivalry is a lot friendlier than forums, and social media would have you believe:

"We play and compete, but after the game we shake hands. We all feel really fortunate that we get to work in this industry. And while we compete, there's a [mutual] admiration. It's how we connect and what makes this industry so special and unique. There's no hatred or any of that. I think what you see, unfortunately, sometimes online, is not really reflective. We're human people; we're often friends. We'll go out to dinners and spend time together. We obviously don't share secrets. But at the end of the day, it's a closer, friendlier industry than what people think."

Regarding the upcoming shared-world pirate game Sea of Thieves, Aaron Greenberg noted that he'd played a prototype of the game, which featured core mechanics without the visual polish that'll ship with the final product.

Aaron discussed the freedom Sea of Thieves will afford players, and referenced how players will have to work together to properly manage their ships using humorous examples:

"So we were playing with Kudo [Tsunoda] and Phil [Spencer], so Kudo just jumps in the water and jumps onto another ship, he goes AWOL. Then you don't see him for a while and then he comes back around and starts blasting cannons at their ship. On the other hand, there's this guy called Hanno Lemke who runs our European studios now and Rare reports to him, and he's a super high-integrity guy. We've been in meetings all day, and I'm like 'I'm finally playing games!' So I start running around and start hitting him with a fish. And he's like, 'What are you doing? There's water down below. We've got to raise the anchor; we gotta set the sales...' So he starts putting me to work. You know, it's just a fun example of an early prototype of the game. But it's just so much fun."

Aaron also provided insights into how the studio goes about marketing Xbox products, developing games, and snippets about how Satya Nadella has steered the company's culture in a new direction. Even if you're not a Xbox fan, the interview provides a unique insight into the way Microsoft works on the consumer side of things. I highly recommend checking it out.

Killer Instinct trailer reveals Kim Wu, Halo's Arbiter

Forming part of Microsoft's 2016 Xbox line-up is Killer Instinct's Season 3, and yesterday saw the latest addition to the fighting game's ever-expanding roster. Kim Wu is a demon killing martial-artist, complete with Chinese spirit dragons. At the end of Kim Wu's trailer, Iron Galaxy teased the next K.I. guest character, who happens to be none other than Halo's Arbiter.

Since the inclusion of Rash from Battletoads, Iron Galaxy said the studio are planning to introduce more characters from other franchises into the game – and delivering the Arbiter shows their commitment.

Season 3 will also include tons of balance changes to the fighting game, which are listed in detail right here. Killer Instinct will also return to the prestigious EVO fighting game tournament this summer for the third time.

I'm thinking about doing a round-up for the best Microsoft-owned characters that would Killer Instinct as playable guests. RAAM from Gears of War is an obvious choice, but what about an Age of Empires priest? Who would you like to see in Killer Instinct? Let us know in the comments.

Square Enix reveals latest Final Fantasy XV battle footage

Final Fantasy XV has been in development for over a decade, and this year, we'll finally see the game launched on Xbox One. To celebrate, Square Enix are holding a March event in Los Angeles titled Uncovered, where further details on the long-awaited 15th entry in the core Final Fantasy series.

In the video, we see the game's protagonist, Noctis, and his A.I. companions infiltrate a Niflheim military base, complete with gigantic Magitek mechs and stealth-assassination gameplay. It's not long before the team is discovered, and we get a look at the real-time acrobatic combat Square Enix prototyped in Final Fantasy Type-0. The trailer also reveals Aranea, a Dragoon commander in the antagonistic Niflheim army.

As a fan of the classic series, seeing Final Fantasy chase a broader audience with simplified hack-and-slash combat is a tad frustrating, but as Type-0 demonstrated, a compromise between those classic strategic elements and real time combat does seem possible. Hopefully, both fans of the classic and modern Final Fantasy games will find something to enjoy in Final Fantasy XV.

If you'd like to know more about Final Fantasy XV's on-going development, director Hajime Tabata discussed the game for an hour on Square Enix's Active Battle Time Report. Check that out right here.

Instagram users flood EA with requests for Skate 4

Some gamers turn to to make demands of developers, and others try to rouse interest with impassioned essays on Reddit's game boards. Others turn to NeoGAF, stirring discussions on its popular forum, in hopes that a publisher may take notice, others might spam individual devs on Twitter. Fans of EA's skateboarding franchise Skate however, have adopted a different approach.

Like many big publishers, EA ensures it has a social media presence on all of the big networks. EA has various YouTube channels, Twitter accounts, Facebook pages, but also, an Instagram feed, full of pictures from its upcoming titles. Rather than discussing the topics presented by EA's social media team, however, Instagram users have been flooding the comments sections with "Skate 4", and variants thereof.

There hasn't been a core Skate title since the Xbox 360 days back in 2007. The campaign might've erupted from the over-hyped and underwhelming Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5, which attempted to bank on nostalgia for its beloved PS1 classics but failed to deliver due to bugs, uninspiring designs and various other issues. The game languishes at a shocking 38% on Metacritic.

I think it's a safe bet that EA has received the Skate feedback loud and clear. I'll bet we'll see a Skate 4 announcement sooner rather than later, perhaps at EA's public showcase events later this year.

Giveaway – Disney Infinity 3.0 Xbox One Starter Kit

In honor of Richard Devine's Disney Infinity 3.0 obsession, we're giving away a Xbox One starter kit! Disney Infinity 3.0 features a Star Wars action adventure and various other game modes suitable for all ages. It also comes with the tools necessary to start a Disney Infinity model collection, if you have the wallet for it!

The winner was jdnorthwest, congrats! Check back next week for another giveaway.

ICYMI - Some of Windows Central's biggest Xbox articles of the week

New Xbox One game releases for the week ending January 31st, 2016

Level 22 - Stealth / Strategy & Simulation - Moving Player


This War of Mine: The Little Ones - Action & Adventure / Strategy & Simulation - Deep Silver

"In war, not everyone is a soldier: This War Of Mine: The Little Ones provides a gritty, dramatic and thought provoking experience of war through the perspective of a group of civilians that are trying to survive."

The Living Dungeon - Strategy & Simulation - RadiationBurn

"Bring the excitement of playing a dungeon tournament board game to your screen, in beautiful gruesome detail. There really is nothing quite like The Living Dungeon."

AIPD - Shooter - Blazing Badger

"Enter the AI arena and fight evil artificial intelligences with a variety of weapons and modifications. AIPD is a top-down coop twin-stick shooter with a visual style that is an homage to 80s neon art styles, pioneered by games like Minestorm on the Vectrex console system or feature films like TRON."

Amazing Princess Sarah - Platformer - Haruneko Entertainment

"You are Sarah, princess of the peaceful realm of Kaleiya. The quiet life of your kingdom was lost the day your father was seduced and then kidnapped by Lilith, a demon mistress. Her only desire is to dominate your empire and kill you."

Sparkle 2 - Puzzle & Trivia - 10tons

"A long time ago five enchanted keys were created. The keys were scattered around mysterious lands and still remain undiscovered. Many have come to find them, and so far all have failed. Will you find the keys and unlock the secrets, or will you join the endless ranks of souls forever trapped within these lands?"

LEGO® Marvel's Avengers - Action & Adventure - Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment Inc.

"Avengers Assemble! The best-selling LEGO® Marvel video game franchise returns with a new action-packed, Super Hero adventure."

And that's a wrap!

This week I've been hitting The Division's closed beta hard, and will be sharing my thoughts in greater detail here on Windows Central in the near future. As a sneak peek though, the experience on offer in The Division's extremely limited beta was equal parts tantalizing and exciting. Polished gunplay, deep RPG systems, and incredibly detailed world design have all the makings of a blockbuster for Ubisoft, whether or not the full game can fully deliver remains to be seen. I've also been hitting Gigantic's closed beta this week, which I can't discuss due to a non-disclosure agreement... (I hope they won't mind me saying that it's also rather awesome so far.)

What have you guys been playing this week? Let us know in the comments for a chance to win Disney Infinity 3.0!

Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden is a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by tea. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his XB2 Podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!