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.

Next big Xbox One update will be in February

Last week, Microsoft delivered the New Xbox One Experience dashboard update to the general public. The update contained a more intuitive design, a fresh guide menu, improved load times and Xbox 360 backwards compatibility. Mike Ybarra and the Xbox platform team aren't satisfied, though, as they're already making plans for future updates.

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Speaking to Major Nelson on his official podcast, Mike stated that the engineering team have already begun discussing how the next Xbox feature update will look. He explained that the next Xbox updates will arrive in February 2016 to ensure the console's OS remains stable over the holiday period.

During the podcast, Mike Ybarra also discussed Xbox One's backwards compatibility. Phil Spencer tasked a team to work on a solution for the feature, given its popularity on the Xbox One's UserVoice page. After a six-month investigation, Microsoft's engineers began to uncover a way to emulate the Xbox 360 hardware within the Xbox One, despite the physical differences.

..."A lot of those ideas are patented right now, so we don't like to go into the details, because it is very confidential engineering. But it really was that moment, and some people can remember the day in which we got a couple of things working, and some of the games up and running. We were like, maybe we can do that."...

If you haven't read it already, Mike Ybarra offered some hints as to what future Xbox One updates may contain in our recent interview. Don't forget to check out Major Nelson's podcast over here.

Xbox take a jab at Sony over backwards compatibility, Phil Spencer touts "deep" selection of games incoming

Speaking of backwards compatibility, Xbox UK appear to have taken a jab at Sony in a video showcasing backwards compatibility. A couple of years ago, Sony infamously trolled Microsoft for its now removed disc restrictions with a sarcastic instructional video. Xbox UK produced a similar video, during which they ask, "why pay for games you already own?", likely referencing Sony's questionably priced Playstation Now streaming service. I see what you did there, Xbox UK.

Additionally, Phil Spencer recently took to Twitter to reiterate that Microsoft has a large list of upcoming backwards compatible - beyond the 104 currently available.

..."We have a very good and deep collection of games coming. I've looked at the list and I think gamers will enjoy whats to come."...

A quick perusal of the UserVoice page reveals Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Red Dead Redemption and various Call of Duty games to be among the most requested titles. We know that Bethesda is on board with Fallout 3, 2K Games are bringing Bioshock - whose parent company also owns Rockstar Games, the powerhouse behind Red Dead Redemption and Grand Theft Auto. Despite speculation to the contrary, Activision has also pledged their support with Call of Duty: Black Ops, indicating that other titles in their back catalog might arrive as well.

What games would you like to see the most? I'm all about Mass Effect. Speaking of which...

EA might be bringing its Xbox 360 library to Xbox One via EA Access

Microsoft headlined Xbox One backwards compatibility with the Xbox 360 game Mass Effect, a game in one of EA's most prominent franchises. The first game, however, was published by Microsoft Studios, prior to EA's purchase of its developer - Bioware. I'm speculating, but it seems that Mass Effect 1's X360 publishing rights made it easier for Microsoft to include the game in the first wave of backwards compatible titles. However, many fans were disappointed by the absence of the EA-published Mass Effects, 2 and 3.

Part of the issue with Mass Effect 2 and 3 is the multiple-disc format the games come in, but that shouldn't affect digital versions. EA are on board with the program, though, having bought Mirror's Edge to the platform already. Rather than throwing their entire back catalog at Microsoft, EA might be taking a more considered approach for its wider portfolio. In a Twitter exchange (via ICXM), EA said it was considering bringing its Xbox 360 titles to the Xbox One via EA Access:

..."We're investigating adding backwards compatible EA games to EA Access in the future. Stay tuned."...

EA Access is already a highly regarded for its value, delivering exclusive early access demos, tons of free games and other discounts. Were it to add its Xbox 360 back catalog as well, I suspect subscription numbers will only increase further.

Star Wars: Battlefront balance tweaks outlined

Speaking of EA, Star Wars: Battlefront is nearly here! Battlefront's developer, DICE, recently took to its official blog to detail some of the balance tweaks made to the game since its open beta a few weeks ago:

Partner and Party System

Joining and playing a game of Star Wars Battlefront with friends should be as easy and smooth as possible, and we've done several tweaks in this area. For instance, it will be possible to join a friend via the Xbox Friends app, and you'll also be able to see your party friends in-game (look for green dots on the map) - but you cannot spawn on them.


Speaking of spawning, we've listened to your feedback on how this was handled on Hoth. Here, we've added combat areas that are different for Rebels and Imperials to mitigate spawn camping, and the spawn distances for the two teams have been adjusted on the first uplink.

Vehicles and Weapons

To make your fights as fun and fair as possible, several tweaks to vehicles and weapons have been made. The Cycler Rifle, for instance, has been balanced with bullet drop and slower projectile speed for more deserving kills.

Walkers should be mighty - but not invincible - so weak spots have been added to the AT-AT and AT-ST vehicles. Furthermore, damage balancing is vital for a fair game, and we've tweaked this balance for how vehicles, troopers, Star Cards, and ion weapons stand up against each other.

Heroes and Villains

Playing as Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, or any other of the Star Wars Battlefront heroes and villains is something we want to feel truly special, and to achieve this we've made several tweaks. Two things we decided to remove were the automatic damage done to heroes over time, and the ability of getting health back when killing enemies. Ultimately, we think this will perfect the power fantasy of playing as these characters.

I'm happy to see tweaks to the spawning system, which led to battles devolving into spawn-camping shooting galleries. The addition of bullet drop to certain weapons and weak points on Imperial walkers should add a layer of complexity I felt the game was sorely lacking. What do you think of the changes?

Star Wars Battlefront launches on PS4, Xbox One and PC on November 17th, 2015.

Tom Clancy's: The Division picks up new details thanks to new Q&A session

Ubisoft recently hosted a new Q&A session for their upcoming multiplayer RPG-shooter hybrid, The Division. The Division pits players in an abandoned New York City following a global pandemic that threatened to wipe out civilization. The game features quasi-MMO elements such as asynchronous multiplayer, players can either work together or compete for survival, and even betray each other to further their own goals.

Ubisoft answered a raft of fan questions in the video (often via Surface), which I'll summarise here:

  • Player skills, such as healing abilities or offensive abilities are assigned to the right and left bumpers. You can only have two active skills at a time, but you can swap out any that you've unlocked at whim via the game's menu. Doing so in combat isn't "recommended", but seems possible.
  • Weapons can be customised with scopes, muzzles, new magazines and other attachments, but also have a cosmetic slot for changing the paint job or pattern.
  • You can access four independent character slots.
  • You can customize your appearance, including hats.

The Division has suffered multiple delays, but it looks both ambitious and promising in equal measure. I saw the game running live on a Xbox One at 2014's Gamescom convention, and even in that early build I was intensely impressed (particularly by the sadly cancelled companion app). Are you interested in The Division? Let us know below.

The Division launches on March 8th, 2016, for Xbox One, PS4 and PC.

Fallout fun - check out this NPC battle featuring 1000 Deathclaws

Fallout 4 has already cleaned up shop, shipping 12 million copies worth a whopping $750 million dollars. As expected, Fallout 4 videos are hitting YouTube thick and fast. Gameplay, game guides, those familiar (but hilarious) glitches, but there's also some awesome NPC battles. The best I've seen so far comes from Cosmic Contrarian, linked above, whose beastly PC pitched 100 Brotherhood of Steel knights against 1000 Deathclaws.

I'd really like to see what 100 knights vs. 10000 ghouls would look like, but I'm not sure what kind of crazy setup you'd need to accommodate such a blood bath!

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

New Xbox One game releases for the week ending November 15th, 2015

Gems of War - Puzzle - 505 Games

"From the creators of Puzzle Quest, play the new Puzzle/RPG/Strategy mash-up, GEMS OF WAR! Battle against epic bosses or other players. In Gems of War, you battle your foes not just with swords and sorcery, but with a puzzle board!"

Fallout 4 - RPG / Shooter- Bethesda Studios

"Bethesda Game Studios, the award-winning creators of Fallout 3 and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, welcome you to the world of Fallout 4 - their most ambitious game ever, and the next generation of open-world gaming."

Rise of the Tomb Raider - Action & Adventure- Crystal Dynamics

"Featuring epic, high-octane action moments set in the most beautifully hostile environments on Earth, Rise of the Tomb Raider delivers a cinematic survival action adventure where you will join Lara Croft on her first tomb raiding expedition."

And that's a wrap!

This week, like millions of others, I've been fully immersed in the ruined world of Fallout 4. Hopelessly addicted, scavenging building supplies, creating forts everywhere, sneaking through skeletal buildings, stomping feral ghouls, wielding a pistol in one hand and a Pip-Boy 3000 in the other - I can't get enough.

I think it's a bit of a shame that Rise of the Tomb Raider had to share a launch window with Fallout 4 this week. Rise is a tremendous game, but I think it's fair to speculate that it'll be overshadowed by the radioactive might of Fallout 4 for quite some time.

What games have you guys been playing this week?

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