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.
Assassin's Creed Syndicate sales impacted by damaged consumer confidence
Although most outlets seem to regard Assassin's Creed Syndicate as a return to form for the franchise, the sales thus far have been disappointing according to a recent investor's call. While discussing Ubisoft's quarterly financials (which included a general 57.2% hit in revenues for the first half of its fiscal year), Ubisoft outlined the problems Syndicate has been facing in the marketplace (via Gamasutra):
.."Clearly in our first week we were impacted by what happened with Assassin's Creed Unity. Black Flag was 50 percent below Assassin's Creed III in its first week. At the end of the year it was close to III, and after two years it was way above III."...
Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot added:
..."We seem to experience the same sales curve as [Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag]. [...] Versus Unity, Syndicate was down in the first week but nicely outperformed it in its second week as it benefitted from positive word of mouth."...
Guilletmot didn't respond to questions about whether Syndicate was outperforming Unity across the same two week period. Instead, he emphasised Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag as an example of a title that beat its predecessor after a slow launch. I haven't had chance to try out Assassin's Creed Syndicate myself, but I've heard pretty good things. If you've tried it, how does it stack up against the previous titles? Let us know below.
Bethesda detail some of the improvements made to their Creation Engine for Fallout 4
Bethesda recently released a blog post detailing some of the improvements they've made to the engine powering Fallout 4.
..."As always, our world features fully dynamic time of day and weather. To create that volumetric light spilling across the scene (sometimes called "god rays") we worked with our friends at NVIDIA, who've we worked with dating back to Morrowind's cutting-edge water. The technique used here runs on the GPU and leverages hardware tessellation. It's beautiful in motion, and it adds atmospheric depth to the irradiated air of the Wasteland. Like all the other features here, we've made it work great regardless of your platform."...
..."When a rain storm rolls in, our new material system allows the surfaces of the world to get wet, and a new cloth simulation system makes cloth, hair, and vegetation blow in the wind."...
..."The player can go anywhere in the world at any time of day, so we added dynamic post-process techniques that enhance the vibrancy and color of our scenery for maximum emotional impact. Our virtual cameras received a major upgrade as well. "...
The blog post also delivered a ton of new screenshots, showing the way different weather effects can impact a scene's mood.
Can excessive hype be fatal?
Fallout 4 lands next week on November 10th, for PS4, PC and Xbox One.
Bioware teases Mass Effect Andromeda with a celebratory N7 day video
Mass Effect Andromeda is likely to be one of the crown jewels for 2016's holiday game line-up. We don't know a great deal about the new title, besides the fact it'll use the Frostbite engine, focus on a human-led expedition into the uncharted Andromeda galaxy, and it'll feature a big focus on exploration. To celebrate N7 day (November 7th, with N7 being the brand name of Shepard's iconic armor), Bioware released the above video narrated by the female version of Commander Shepard.
In the video, Shepard effectively passes the torch to the new cast of characters, saying: "We will say goodbye, and you will look back one last time and know, that wherever you go, we will be with you."
There's every chance the video is just a nod to fans of the series, but as far as I know, it could also mean that the Andromeda expedition launch was overseen by Shepard her/himself, possibly taking place some time before the end of Mass Effect 3. Who knows?
Blizzard explains why Overwatch isn't free to play
At Blizzcon, Blizzard revealed that Overwatch is coming to consoles in addition to PC. They also revealed that the game isn't a free-to-play title, despite sporting a MOBA-like hero-based gameplay model. When asked by Polygon, Blizzard's Jeff Kaplan explained that character switching mid-match is too central to Overwatch's gameplay to lock heroes behind pay walls.
..."We really made the decision on the business model based on what we thought was right for the gameplay. If you've played a lot of Overwatch, you know that hero-switching is a core part of it - it's a really fun dynamic part. The difference maker between Overwatch and other games is the fluidity in the team compositions and matching what the other team's doing."...
..."A lot of the free-to-play models that we were exploring involved people not having access to enough heroes to make those team compositions actually viable. We really didn't want to change the core gameplay and limit it in some way just to make the game free-to-play."...
When asked if Blizzard will include more heroes as DLC, Kaplan explained that Blizzard has yet to decide:
..."In terms of if we decide [to add post-launch DLC], it would be a combination of us wanting for us to make more heroes and the community feeling like new heroes should be added to the game - if they think the metagame's stale and it would really mix it up or we're really excited to add this damage type or that gameplay mechanic. Then I think it's a matter of exploring the health of the game post-launch, what the community's like, what is the community tolerant of and not tolerant of. But our entire focus is those 21 heroes at launch."...
..."It's not one of those things where we know exactly what we're going to do and we're waiting to spring it on you. We're reading all the feedback right now and taking it into account."...
Overwatch appears to blend elements of MOBA games with team-based shooting mechanics seen in the likes of Team Fortress 2. There are tanks, high damage characters, ability counters and ultimate attacks. Team-play appears thoroughly paramount, more akin to League of Legends than Call of Duty.
How do you feel about Overwatch being a fully-priced title? Let us know below.
Overwatch launches on June 21st, 2016 on PS4, Xbox One and PC.
Star Wars Battlefront gameplay launch trailer shows off Boba Fett, Emperor Palpatine
Star Wars Battlefront is almost here, and EA have launched this slick trailer to remind us. Battlefront is an accessible first and third person multiplayer shooter that EA touts as the "ultimate" Star Wars experience. Players can collect power-up tokens that spawn randomly on the game's sizable maps to take temporary control of iconic vehicles, super weapons or staple franchise heroes.
Regardless of how Battlefront reviews, the game is likely to sell in ridiculous quantities. Launching on November 17th, Battlefront shares a general marketing push with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which is wholly likely to be the biggest cinema event of the past decade.
I have mixed feelings after playing Star Wars: Battlefront's open beta test a few weeks back. While I enjoyed my time with it, I found the mechanics to be a tad simplistic, and for me, the mash up of Star Wars heroes served to break the fantasy rather than enhance it. What do you guys think?
Star Wars: Battlefront launches on November 17th for Xbox One, PS4 and PC.
Day-Z for Xbox One delayed
Microsoft announced at E3 that Day-Z would be hitting the Xbox One Preview Program some time in 2015, sadly that no longer seems the case. The game's developer, Bohemia Interactive, confirmed the news on Twitter back on November 4th.
..."The main focus of the @dayzdevteam is the PC version, while a first console prototype is expected in Q1 2016."...
Day-Z is an MMO tactical shooter hybrid that puts players in a zombie apocalypse sandbox. Players are tasked to manage their survival while running the risk of being murdered and looted by other players within the game's world. The game begun life as a mod for ARMA 2, highly praised for its emergent, dynamic gameplay. It was later being picked up by the ARMA developers themselves to be built into a stand-alone title - expected to be completed in 2016.
Rise of the Tomb Raider developers are considering reviving Legacy of Kain
Crystal Dynamics have quite a storied history as developers, responsible for classic titles like Gex and Pandamonium. Besides their work on Tomb Raider, Crystal Dynamics are perhaps best known for the Legacy of Kain action-adventure series.
..."It's a 50/50 chance. We have in-house developers who really want to make that game. It's interesting because people look back at our history and our franchises and see that we have some really iconic IPs. So gamers wonder 'Where are they and what are they doing?' Well, we're always tossing around and talking about ideas. It really is 50/50."...
As someone with fond memories of Soul Reaver (whose World of Warcraft character is named after the game's protagonist), the possibility is more than enticing. Who knows, perhaps Microsoft could step in to save another Crystal Dynamics project in exchange for another controversial exclusivity period! Maybe. Maybe not.
ICYMI - Some of Windows Central's biggest Xbox articles of the week
- Overwatch: Origins Edition and Collectors Edition contents revealed
- Some Xbox One Call of Duty: Black Ops III gamers hit with DLC download issues
- Some Fallout 4 Pip-Boy Edition pre-orders have been cancelled by GAME in the UK [Update]
- Blizzard's Overwatch coming to the Xbox One in Spring 2016
- Battleborn gets hit with a delay, will now be released on May 3, 2016
- Sky TV in the UK confirms its app is coming soon for the Xbox One
- Review: Divinity: Original Sin brings immense co-op roleplaying for Xbox One & PC
- Fallout 4 launch trailer shows the people and places of post-apocalyptic Boston
- Quantum Break director teases PC version, confirms Alan Wake 2
- Preview: Hands-on with Rise of the Tomb Raider's first few hours (spoiler free)
New Xbox One game releases for the week ending November 8th, 2015
The Peanuts® Movie: Snoopy's Grand Adventure - Action & Adventure - Activision
"Take Snoopy on a grand adventure through amazing environments, created in his imagination, as he tries to find Charlie Brown and all his friends."
Need for Speed™ - Racing - Electronic Arts
"Become the ultimate icon of today's urban car culture in Need for Speed™, featuring Five Ways to Play and a huge open world to race and explore from dusk 'till dawn."
Call of Duty®: Black Ops III - Shooter - Activision
"Call of Duty: Black Ops III combines three unique game modes: Campaign, Multiplayer and Zombies, providing fans with the deepest and most ambitious Call of Duty ever. The Campaign has been designed as a co-op game that can be played with up to 4 players online or as a solo cinematic thrill-ride."
And that's a wrap!
This week I've been hitting Divinity: Original Sin pretty hard, trying to finish it off before Fallout 4 lands. It's not Xbox related, but I've been watching the World of Warcraft expansion news coming out of Blizzcon quite intently, wondering if Blizzard will ever be able to recapture the magic that led WoW to 12 million subscribers at its peak. I also interviewed Xbox OS development lead Mike Ybarra last week, and I'll be posting that up tomorrow, you won't want to miss it!
How do you guys feel about this week's Xbox One news? What have you been playing? Let's discuss it in the comments!
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Benchmarking the new Surface Book 3 15 with GTX 1660 Ti and 10th Gen i7
Although it's too early for a review, here are some initial benchmarks from the new Surface Book 3 15-inch with a Core i7 and NVIDIA GeForce 1660 Ti (Max-Q) and how it compares to Surface Book 2 and other premium laptops. Spoiler: While the CPU is just OK, that 1660 Ti definitely bumps up the Book 3's potential.
Minecraft Dungeons has a major secret Diablo fans will love (spoilers)
Minecraft Dungeons is here, and I can't stop playing it. As we dive deeper into the end game, we keep finding more and more secrets, and one has been found now that Diablo fans will love.
Halo 2's PC launch instability was unacceptable, and Halo 3 can't repeat it
The launch state of Halo 2's multiplayer on PC was simply unacceptable, and the fact that the game was allowed to release in this state raises serious concerns about how future Halo ports, especially Halo 3, will turn out. Here's why this can't happen again if Halo is to be successful on the PC platform.
Best Minecraft Fan-made Art, T-Shirts, Stickers, Posters, and more!
Minecraft has become a global phenomenon over the years, and its fans have created tons of awesome different Minecraft-themed accessories and apparel for others to enjoy. Here are some of our favorites!