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This Week in Xbox - 'Witcher 4' unplanned, Fable devs want reboot, 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.

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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.

See Hitman on Amazon (opens in new tab)

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!

See Crackdown 3 on Amazon (opens in new tab)

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

New Xbox One game releases for the week ending March 20th, 2016

101 Ways To Die (opens in new tab) - 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! (opens in new tab) - 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 (opens in new tab) - 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 (opens in new tab) - 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 (opens in new tab) - 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 (opens in new tab) - 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. (opens in new tab) - 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 (opens in new tab) - 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 (opens in new tab) - 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 (opens in new tab) - 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!

Jez Corden is a Senior Editor for 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 caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

90 Comments
  • Loving the division but like you said I am one of the players that got to level 30, still played on as the game offers so much more. Crackdown 3 and cyberpunk are shaping up to be great games to watch out for
  • I'm very excited for Crackdown but I hope it doesn't rely too much on online play, I used to like my offline hours destroying things!
  • Loving the division, but crackdown 3 looks immense
  • Here's hoping!
  • Crackdown looks intense
  • Thoroughly enjoying the Division!  Great game!
  • Loved The Division when it was in Alpha and Beta. Picked it up yesterday and look to ignore my adult responsibilities. 
  • Division has taken up my sleeping hours. Now I'm sleeping just 4 hours after all that tiring work in the office and 3 hours travel time in train.
  • 3 hours? That's pretty far...
  • Fable reboot from all the way beginning. Digital remastered would be nice. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • I don't have The Division yet, but the season pass might just pursuade me to purchase a copy.
  • Absolutely loving the division and especially loving it on Xbox One due to the exclusive content first and the loads of achievements it has. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Yes, I hope I can get the season pass, itll come great dor when i get to level 30, already at level 19!
  • Fable reboot would be great. Crackdown 1&2 were great can't wait for the 3rd. I'm enjoying The Division. Lumia 1520 beast & Galaxy Note 5!!
  • Love Division and love Hitman aswell. Crackdown 3 looks good, but i cant wait Quantum Break! Fingers Crossed.
  • I would love the Division. Just sayin'...
  • Want the game!
  • Crackdowd 3 must be totaly crazy game. The Division is great game, but after complete the story is too empty. Need new fresh content!!
  • I'm watching all my friends play The Division, so I probably have to get it fast before they leave me behind.  
  • Would love to see fable reboot in case they're doing it
  • Hope Ubisoft give good content for The Division
  • Crackdown 3 is looking great!  I would love to try out the Division!
  • I've never played a crackdown game, but this looks good so I'll keep it on my radar. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • I was a huge fan of the original Crackdown, so am excited to see what the new game offers. The Division has been fun, but I've noted a decent amount of repetition if the quests offered.
  • Still haven't played witcher 3 but loved the first two, should probably get on that
  • wow Would like to have a Season pass. not for me, but for a friend. so we can be sure that we always have the same Content ^^
  • giveaway
  • Looking to pick up The Division soon. Looks great!
  • Playing halo to get the 343i skins. The crackdown explosion certainly looks interesting. Posted from Windows Central for Windows 10
  • Excited for Crackdown, hope to hear and see more at E3 this year and play the multiplayer beta later this year. The Division definitely has a good stream of content planned for the next year, so I hope I can get the season pass!
  • I hope that they reboot fable. That was/is one of my favorite titles. I agree that it never truly realized it's full potential Posted from Windows Central for Windows 10
  • Thanks for the giveaway
  • I hope they reboot the Fable series. I really enjoyed them.
  • Me too!
  • Would love to win
  • I'm very interested in the cyberpunk 2077. I think it's good for the witcher to rest between new installments.
  • Fable needs to be rebooted, they kept getting progressively worse with each installment. I hated that your Hero got less heroic with each game, you character needed gloves to even be able to use magic in Fable 3. I loved Fable 1, but yeah the series had a lot of unrealized potential. 
  • Just starting the division. Gameplay is smooth and I'm sure I'll get captured into the story and play a bunch! Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • they all look awesome Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • I'd love to see a reboot of the Fable games, I've been a big fan of all of them so far, even play them on Xbox one. I've also cannot wait for the newest Crackdown game, really enjoyed the first two. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Would love to win the Season Pass, since the game's been a great time so far! For Fable, I'd rather it just go away myself. It doesn't seem to be drawing new fans very well, so its potential hinges on avoiding any loss of current fans. Instead, I think Microsoft would do well to start a new RPG franchise altogether. If Lionhead has ideas for the Fable franchise that it really wants to get out there, I dont' see why a new franchise couldn't implement some of them. Regardless, I think Microsoft really does need a big RPG in its software library.
     
  • Scalebound could do the trick, but as a second party game the idea of sequels seems sketchy.
  • Well, I meant more first -party. Scalebound just seems to be the Xbox-exclusive from Platinum, who is seemingly doing it for everyone (Bayonetta on Wii U, Nier on PS4). RPGs are represented OK on XB1 (Dying Light, Witcher, Mordor, Fallout, etc.), but Microsoft needs to make its own for a change.
  • I had high hopes for Phantom Dust in that role, seems the project is gone now though.
  • It all depends of the success of scalebound. I hope people buy this game. I see it releasing in a good month next year. Hoping for the best!
  • IDK if I'll get it. I was into it when it was announced, but the first gameplay looked very clunky/sluggish. It wasn't especially fun looking, kind of like a less-fun DMC 4. I'm sure it'll get changed some over the next year or so, though (meaning 1.5-2 years from when the gameplay was first shown).
  • Well, Crackdown is build the same way and it's a sequel, so who knows. More like "PG don't do sequels" - at least Kamiya-san gave that statement.
  • Bayonetta 2? They are also doing a sequel to Nier, as well as the Star Fox reboot. Oh, and they did a MGS game, though it wasn't a plot-based sequel.
  • Amazing,right? What the boss says and the company does are not always the same. On the other side Kamiya has been quiet and not commenting much on Scalebound. Makes it look more like one-shot project. But he tends to talk more about their games after they are released. Only time (and market response) will tell...
  • So true. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • I was playing Ori and the Blind Forest this week but woulln't mind to save NYC!
     
  • Would love to win the Season Pass!
    For me it was actually an Ori's week.
     
  • Crackdown is on my must play list.  Glad to see Witcher will be getting a break.  Too much of a good thing may dilute the franchise.   Cyberpunk is not my type of game.  But, heck maybe it will surprise me. ​Division.  I have been playing it this past wek.  It has been a mix bag.   Some great work but, has it's issues. Fable reboot.  That gets my upvote.  The 4v1 wasn't bad it (the graphics were definitely nice).  On paper it sounds great.  But,  like Evovle, it didn't hold my interest with enough variety or balance.  Perhaps if they could do a strong single player reboot of Fable with a better multi player option that was 4v1  (or 4v4 & not free to play) it be a day one purchase for me.
  • "The culling of Fable Legends leaves a large RPG-shaped hole in Microsoft's Xbox One lineup" Not really.  Fable Legends wasn't an RPG in any way.  At best it was a MOBA.  There are plenty of already released RPGs on the XB1 platform, just not much in the immediate release future.
  • I meant their exclusives, but even then I guess they have Sea of Thieves and Scalebound.
  • Let me feel some Division love ❤☺
  • The Division is great!
  • Looking forward to trying The Division!
  • Forza 5 and Need for Speed!
  • Looking forward to Crackdown
  • I'm really looking forward to Cyberpunk 2077!
  • I would absolutely love to win the season pass pa pa pa pa please lemme win
  • Just got the Division and played through the beginning, great game so far! Though quantum break is what I am really waiting for.
  • You can't predict what CD Project capable of after witcher 3. I didn't play anything like it before, they proved themselves as one of the best games makers. Waiting for anything they make even if it's a Tetres game.
  • Wanting to play division with some friends, after buying a lumia 950 when it arrives to my coutry
  • The division is funnnn Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • The Division would be fun to play
  • There is just not enough hours. Im not sure if it comes down to picking what your gonna play or what you are gonna miss out on. Real life has a huge impact on my gaming life.
  • Goodbye my Fables there will always be a place in my heart! Hitman same game as all the others, broken down into episodes to make the most money. And why does cyberpunks teaser scream Bubblegum Crisis 2040!! Which don't get me wrong it looks pretty interesting!!
  • Loving playing The Division so far! Not to 30 yet and still quite a bit left to do before hitting the dark zone up more but really looking forward to the future of the game as well. Haven’t had a chance to play Witcher 3 yet but can’t wait to try it out soon. Even though they were never as good as say Skyrim or Morrowind, the Fable games were lots of fun and had their own unique quirk and great stories. I would really love to see it live on in some way, would prefer a 4 to a reboot.
  • Season Pass please!
  • I've never really played fable but I did hear good things I think a reboot would be a good idea.
  • Hoping to win!!! ;p
  • Unique name there... Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Gonna be a nice month of April games on Xbox One. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Lionhead will be missed. Peter may have promised the world and fallen short, but he kept the studio in the spotlight and had people talking about them. If he hadn't left, I think they'd still be going.
  • It's good to see that we still have good thing coming :)  For Fable, i don't think that they will kill the franchise, maybe It will be put on hold waiting for really good idea but we will definetly see another Fable game.
  • Excited for crackdown 3 to prove azure for gaming
  • No witcher 4 :(
  • Pretty excited about Crackdown 3. I hope we get to see more at E3 this year. I'm so hyped for that and gears of War 4!
  • I'm silly levels of excited for Crackdown 3 and Cyberpunk 2077. Played the table top RPG for Cyberpunk and loved it. Feeling pretty good about  the titles coming out over the next year or so.
  • I still think there should be some upgrade discount for owners of the previous Shadow Complex.
  • The division is great! Just wish my friends would jump on more!  I would love for a fable reboot! Please make it happen! I'm a huge fable fan and I'm sad to see Lionhead go. I hope we see another fable in the future!
  • Fable 1 and 2 were so good! I'd love a reboot of the series. As for The Divsion, I've been absolutely addicted to it. Hoping they release an update to make the punishments for going rogue less severe though.      
  • Ohhh that Season Pass looks interesting! :)
  • Great contest. I agree #BringBackFable Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Division season pass giveaway!? Count me in. In other news I'm digging the blue shadow controller. And did I hear news about a PS4.5 to run at 4K? Microsft responding in kind would be very nice if they do.
  • King chicken kicker all the way a fable reboot using the beta graphics would be great loved all the fables
    As for the division awesome game loving it
    And no witcher 4 gutted back to witcher 2 then
    Another game am hyped for tc:wildlands
  • Great game. Would love the season pass.
  • No Witcher 4????? Nooooo!!! What is steampunk anyway?