Saturday, 12 September 2020

PS5 Showcase Announced for September 16

ps5

With Microsoft having revealed the pricing and launch date of the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, the onus is now on Sony to reveal more of their next-gen plans with the PS5. News regarding the same will be coming next week, with Sony having announced a PlayStation 5 Showcase broadcast for Wednesday, September 16.

Sony says that the broadcast will be roughly 40 minutes long, and will feature updates on games coming to the PS5 at launch and beyond, from both first party studios and third party development partners. Nothing about whether or not the console's price or release date will be announced has been mentioned, but you'd imagine that now would be the right time to reveal those details.

We can probably expect to see more of Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Moraleswhich will be a launch title for the PS5 this Holiday, while hopefully, the Demon's Souls remake will also be present in some capacity- though what new games could be announced remains to be seen.

Recent reports have suggested that the PS5 will be priced at $499, with the Digital Edition retailing for $399, and that the console will be out by mid-November (November 19, if retailer listings for PS5 accessories are anything to go by).

Stay tuned to find out whether there's any truth to those reports. The showcase broadcast will go live on Wednesday at 1 PM PDT / 9 PM BST / 10 PM CEST.


Xbox Series S – 15 Things You Need To Know Before You Pre-Order

The Xbox Lockhart has been rumoured for about two years now, and leaks had been ramping up over the past month or so. They ramped up so much, in fact, that Microsoft were basically forced to reveal the console – officially called the Xbox Series S – in full. Now, after a flurry of activity over the last couple of days, we know the crucial launch information for Xbox's next generation that we've been waiting for for months. Here, we're going to focus on one of the two consoles it'll be entering the ninth console generation with, and talk about the key things you should know about the Xbox Series S.

FORM FACTOR

Microsoft already surprised quite a few people when they revealed what the Xbox Series X would look like back in December, and it's fair to say that they did so once again with its less powerful counterpart. With the black circular vent dominating one side of the console, the Xbox Series S definitely has a unique look. It's much slimmer than the Series X, and it's being billed as the smallest Xbox console ever. While we don't know the exact dimensions of the box, we do know that it's 60% smaller than the Xbox Series X.

ALL-DIGITAL

xbox series s

Microsoft have been moving further and further into digital territory these last few years. It started with the Xbox One S All-Digital Edition, and for next-gen, they'll be continuing that trend. The Xbox Series S is going to be an all-digital console, which means that if you want a disc drive in your Xbox, you're going to have to go with the Xbox Series X.

1440p AT UP TO 120 FPS

xbox series s

4K gaming is something that many people have been hoping will become the industry standard with next-gen consoles, and while that's definitely what the Xbox Series X is going for, the Xbox Series S is still going to fall short of that. Microsoft have designed the console to target 1440p resolutions- that said, it won't be making any sacrifices in the frame rate department. As per Microsoft, the Xbox Series S is capable of achieving frame rates of up to 120 FPS, and while it remains to be seen just how frequently (or how well) it will do that, we can at least be assured (hopefully) that it will regularly hit 60 FPS.

SSD

xbox series s

The inclusion of a solid state drive is something that both the PS5 and the Xbox Series X have been emphasizing quite a bit, and the Xbox Series S, too, is going to have an SSD. It will feature the same NVMe SSD as the Series X, with the same 2.4 GB/s uncompressed and 4.8 GB/s compressed bandwidth. As far as storage capacity is concerned through, it will be making some sacrifices, coming in at 512 GB as compared to the Xbox Series X's 1 TB.

SSD EXPANSION

xbox series s

512 GB is not a lot of storage space, especially seeing as games just keep growing larger and larger as time passes- you will, however, have the option to expand your storage. Microsoft have confirmed that the 1 TB SSD expansion card they're releasing in partnership with Seagate will work with the Xbox Series S, just as it will with the Series X. What the price of that SSD expansion will be remains to be seen, but a recent report suggested a rather steep price of $220.

CPU 

xbox series s

The Xbox Series S' CPU is perhaps its most impressive element. While it's making sacrifices to varying degrees in many areas in order to be sold at its much cheaper price, as far as its processor is concerned, the console is more or less identical to the Series X. It has the same 8 core AMD Zen 2 CPU, with a nearly identical bandwidth of 3.6 GHz, which comes to 3.4 GHz with SMT enabled (as opposed to the Series X's 3.8 GHz, or 3.6 GHz with SMT enabled).

GPU

xbox series s

While its CPU is impressive, the GPU is probably where the Xbox Series S has taken the biggest hit. Though built on the same RDNA 2 architecture, the Xbox Series S' GPU hs 20 compute units at 1.565 GHz as compared to the Series X's 25 compute units at 1.825 GHz. In terms of clock speeds, this comes to 4 teraflops, which is significantly lower than the Series X's 12.15 teraflops.

3X THE GPU PERFORMANCE OF XBOX ONE

xbox series s

Just because the Xbox Series S is going to be noticeably weaker than the Series X in the GPU department doesn't mean it's not going to be next-gen. Microsoft have stated in pretty explicit terms that its GPU is still a huge step-up over current-gen console hardware. In fact, Xbox Series S' GPU allegedly offers three times the performance of the Xbox One GPU. How accurate that is in practice remains to be seen, but here's hoping it will be enough to be able to keep up with what developers will need to make true next-gen experiences.

RAM

xbox series s

Xbox Series S' RAM, too, makes some sacrifices to ensure a cheaper price for the console. It has a 10 GB GDDR6 RAM, which is split across two pools. One is an 8 GB pool which will run at 224 GB/s, while the smaller 2 GB pool will run at 56 GB/s. While we'll need to wait a while to see how this affects development of next-gen games, the hope remains that the RAM won't prove to be a bottleneck for developers.

RAY-TRACING, VRR, VRS, AND MORE

xbox series s

Though the Xbox Series S is less powerful than the Xbox Series X in many ways, Microsoft have ensured that the weaker console still boasts of many of the most important technical leaps the latter is making. That means that the Xbox Series S will support hardware-accelerated ray-tracing, variable rate shading, variable refresh rate, ultra-low latency, and other system-level features, such as Quick Resume.

VELOCITY ARCHITECTURE

xbox series s

The one aspect of the Xbox Series X's hardware that Microsoft have been touting more than anything else is the Xbox Velocity Architecture, the catch-all term they've given to several elements that work together to make streaming much faster, including hardware decompression, Direct Storage, and Sampler Feedback Streaming. Collectively, they reduce the workload usually put on the CPU for data transfers, make streaming of assets more efficient, and also make on-the-fly decompressing faster. Crucially, the Xbox Series S makes use of the Velocity Architecture in all its glory, without any cutbacks.

AUDIO

xbox series s

The audio department is another area where Microsoft are looking to keep their next-gen experience uniform across both their new consoles, which means the Xbox Series S boasts the same audio tech and features as the Xbox Series X. To be more specific, the Series S will have Spatial Sound, which includes support for Dolby Atmos.

LAUNCH TITLES

While the technical aspects of the console are, of course, perhaps the most crucial element that you'll be considering before deciding whether or not to purchase the console will be its library. So what games is the Xbox Series S launching with? Well, we've known for a while now that Bloober Team's ambitious horror game The Medium is going to be a launch title. On top of that, recently, many other games have also been confirmed as launch titles for the Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X, including the likes of Watch Dogs: Legion, Assassin's Creed Valhalla, Yakuza: Like a Dragon, DiRT 5, The Falconeer, Tetris Effect Connected, and more.

PRICE AND PRE-ORDERS

xbox series s

Outside of the game, the other most crucial thing most prospective consumers will be considering is the price, which is something that Microsoft have finally revealed after months of waiting. The Xbox Series S will launch at a shockingly reasonable price of $299. Sure, that comes with some sacrifices in terms of the hardware, but $299 at launch for a next-gen console is a very compelling price. Pre-orders for the Xbox Series S will be going live on September 22.

XBOX ALL-ACCESS

Microsoft have made it abundantly clear on multiple occasions over the last few months that they're going to go big with Xbox All-Access, their financial program, and they've revealed the full details on that now. With Xbox All-Access, for no upfront cost, you will be getting an Xbox Series S along with 24 months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for $25 per month for 24 months. The total comes up to $600, which, incredibly enough, is lower than the cumulative price of the console and 24 months of Game Pass you'd be paying otherwise (which would come up to $660). Starting this Holiday, Xbox All Access will be available in 12 countries, namely the United States, the UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, France, Sweden, Poland, South Korea, Finland, Denmark, and Norway.


Xbox Series X – 15 Things You Need To Know Before You Pre-Order

They sure took their sweet time, but Microsoft have now finally pulled back the curtain on the next generation of Xbox completely. On top of recently revealing the Xbox Series S, they also confirmed the pricing and release date of the Xbox Series X, and with pre-orders for both consoles going live on September 22, it finally feels like next-gen is within touching distance at long last. As we count down the days to the launch of the new Xbox consoles, in this feature, we're going to talk about the key details you need to know about the flagship model that Microsoft are entering the ninth console generation with.

VELOCITY ARCHITECTURE

While the PS5 is putting most of its eggs in the SSD basket, the Xbox Series X has some tricks up its sleeve as well, and the one piece of their next-gen architecture puzzle that Microsoft have been putting under the spotlight most often is the Xbox Velocity Architecture. As Microsoft puts it, it is the "the ultimate solution for game asset streaming in the next generation." With its custom SSD, hardware accelerated decompression, the new Direct Storage API, and Sampler Feedback Streaming working together in conjunction, Microsoft says that the Velocity Architecture "provides a new level of performance and capabilities well beyond the raw specifications of the hardware itself." All of which is to say that you can expect shorter load times, and larger, more dynamic worlds that will be much smoother to traverse and explore.

GPU

xbox series x image

The Xbox Series X's GPU is by far its most impressive component, and easily the most impression GPU we've seen in a console to date. It boasts 52 compute units, each running at 1.82 GHz, all of which translates to 12.15 teraflops of clock speed. More than anything else, it is the Xbox Series X's GPU that Microsoft have been backing their claims of it being the most powerful console in the world on.

CPU

Xbox Series X_S

Almost equally as impressive as the GPU is the Xbox Series X's CPU. The console uses a custom AMD Zen 2 chip, which has a bandwidth of 3.8 GHz without simultaneous multi-threading (or SMT), and 3.6 GHz with SMT. Notably enough, the much weaker Xbox Series S' CPU is nearly identical to the Series X's processor- though it does make significant sacrifices in areas such as the GPU and RAM.

RAM

xbox series x controller

The Xbox Series X has a 16 GB GDDR6 RAM, which sounds impressive, of course, though there are some considerations that need to be kept in mind. Its RAM is split across two pools- 10 GB of that has a bandwidth of 560 GB/s, while the remaining 6 GB has a bandwidth of 336 GB/s. Architectures that spit their pools can be tricky and prove to be a bottleneck for even the most powerful consoles, though hopefully, the impressive bandwidth of both those pools will help the console overcome some issues. Whether or not that will be the case – or if such an issue will even exist in the first place – remains to be seen.

SSD

xbox series s

The SSD is the one area where it feels like the Xbox Series X is at a clear disadvantage when compared to the PS5 from a tech perspective- but it certainly is no slouch. Its custom 1 TB NVMe SSD a compressed throughput of 4.8 GB/s and a raw throughput of 2.4 GB/s, which is impressive no matter how you cut it, especially compared to what consoles have had to work with in the past. No, it's not on the PS5's level- but on its own merits, it's still an important component of the console. 

RAY-TRACING

 

Ray tracing is something that's been making waves in the PC gaming space for a few years now, and with next-gen, consoles are finally going to catch up. The Xbox Series X is confirmed to have hardware-accelerated ray-tracing support, which means players can expect much more realistic and dynamic lighting, reflections, and shadows in games, which should really help bring games' worlds to life better than ever before.

RESOLUTION AND FRAME RATE

forza motorsport xbox series x

With all the technical improvements that the Xbox Series X is making , prettier visuals in games that run better is something that everyone is expecting. And Microsoft are certainly making bold promises in that area. They've said that they're prioritizing performance over resolution with the Xbox Series X, with support for up to 120 FPS (some games, such as DiRT 5, are already confirmed to feature 120 FPS options). Meanwhile, on the resolution front, the Xbox Series X is said to be capable of delivering 8K visuals. Whether or not it actually does that enough (or at all) remains to be seen, but we can at least expect 4K to become much more standardized in the coming years.

FORM FACTOR

Xbox Series X

Unique physical forms seems to be a common thread across all next-gen consoles, and that trend started when we got our first look at the Xbox Series X late last year. Its monolithic tower design is certainly unlike anything we've seen in the console space, and it's clear that it's going to be a pretty bulky box. Its dimensions have been confirmed to be 151 x 151 x 301 mm (or 5.94 x 5.94 x 11.85 inches). If you're looking for something smaller, maybe look into the Xbox Series S. 

NEW CONTROLLER

xbox series x controller

Microsoft are taking an "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" approach with the Xbox controller as they head into the next generation (which is evidenced by the fact that the Xbox One controller will be compatible with the Series X), but you can still expect some improvements in the new controller. It has a new and improved d-pad, boasts lower latency, has special textures on the triggers, bumpers, and grips, and, of course, it finally has a dedicated Share button.

BACKWARD COMPATIBILITY

xbox series x controller

Backward comptibility is something that Microsoft have been pushing a great deal over the last few years, and they're going to keep that momentum going with the Xbox Series X. The next-gen console is going to be able to play the vast majority of Xbox One games at launch, in addition to all the Xbox 360 and original Xbox games that are already playable via their back compat program, while more games will continue to be added as well. Crucially, Microsoft have also confirmed that the Xbox Series X's backward compatibility will be boosting older games on a system level, including increasing frame rates and resolutions, and in some cases even adding HDR to games that didn't originally have it.

NEW UI

The Xbox Series X's launch will also go hand-in-hand with a new UI (which, incidentally, will also be applied to the Xbox One). The new user interface is being billed as faster, cleaner, and more efficient. There's a more streamlined landing page, new utilities (such as a search function shortcut buttons in the guide), improved connectivity and social features, and more.

LAUNCH TITLES

Watch Dogs Legion

Halo Infinite was going to be the Xbox Series X's big launch title this Holiday. That's now been delayed into 2021, which is obviously a huge blow- but there's still going to be some major games available on the console on day 1. The Medium, Watch Dogs: Legion, Assassin's Creed Valhalla, Yakuza: Like a Dragon, DiRT 5, Gears Tactics, and The Falconeer are just a few of the games that have been confirmed as Series X (and Series S) launch titles so far.

ANNOUNCED UPCOMING EXCLUSIVES

halo infinite

There's going to be plenty to look forward to in the time following the Series X's launch, especially where exclusives are concerned. Microsoft have spent a fair bit of money over the last couple of years in a bid to bolster their first party portfolio, and hopefully, we'll see the results of that not long from now. Quite a few first party exclusives have been confirmed for Xbox Series X and Series S up until now. There's Halo Infinite, of course, while others, such as Fable, Forza Motorsport, State of Decay 3, and Everwild have also been confirmed. 

PRICE

Xbox Series X_retail box art

"What does the Xbox Series X cost?" That's a question we've been asking for months, and finally, we have an answer to that question. Microsoft have confirmed that the console will launch at a price of $499. That's not exactly cheap, sure, but given the console's impressive hardware, as well as the inherent value it will have thanks to things such as Xbox Game Pass and its backward compatibility, that's actually a pretty compelling price point. 

XBOX ALL-ACCESS

Of course, if that $499 seems like a steep price that you don't want to pay, Microsoft have Xbox All-Access financing plan for you. There's no upfront cost, and for $35 per month for 24 months, you get an Xbox Series X, bundled with 24 months of Xbox Game Pass, for a total of roughly $860. That's roughly the same amount you'd pay for those otherwise, so as financing deals go, it's actually quite good.


The Gunk Dev Explains Xbox Exclusivity, No Plans to Launch on PlayStation or Switch

The Gunk

Image and Form Games have established themselves as one of the best indie developers in the industry over the years thanks to multiple excellent games in the SteamWorld series, but with their next game, they're doing something rather different, and much more ambitious. The Gunk is a 3D third person action-adventure game, and it's been on the minds of many since its recent reveal.

Curiously though, the game has been confirmed as an Xbox console exclusive, leading many to wonder why the developer decided that, and whether The Gunk will eventually release on other consoles as well. These were questions we posted to game director Ulf Hartelius in a recent interview, and got some interesting answers.

Hartelius told us that with The Gunk being some a major step forward for Image and Form Games, they wanted to find a "strong partner."

"Since making this game is such a big step for us we knew we wanted to find a strong partner and Microsoft had been excited about it since our earliest conversations," he said.

But will The Gunk eventually fund its way to PlayStation and the Nintendo Switch as well? It doesn't seem that way. When we asked Hartelius the same, he responded, "Unfortunately not."

Of course, there's every chance that plans might change and The Gunk manages to find its way to non-Xbox consoles down the line- but as things seem right now, it seems like console players will only be able to play the game on Xbox.

The Gunk is scheduled to launch in September 2021 for the Xbox Series X, Xbox One, and PC. Stay tuned for our full interview with Hartelius.


"Not Exactly A New Consideration" – More Developers React To Xbox Series S Specs

xbox series s

Microsoft finally unveiled their Xbox Series S earlier this week (or maybe it's more accurate to say they had the system revealed for them), and it sent out quite the waves. The system will offer a relatively cheap entry point into next generation gaming with lower end specs than its big brother, the Xbox Series X. But there was some degree of concern shown from some within the developer community especially about the system's RAM, which is decidedly on the lower end. You can read about that through here. However, it's worth noting not all of it was negative, as some devs just saw it as meaning a little extra work, and that's nothing new.

Taking to their Twitters, several noted names gave their opinion on the box. Probably the most positive voice was Game Director Robert Bowling who said he didn't agree with the concerns of 'bottlenecking' and that having to optimize games for various SKUs was nothing new. It's obviously a thing with PC, but he said devs are already having to do this with current systems and their midgen refreshes. While a little less positive than him, Remedy Entertainment's Communications Thomas Puha and Flavorworks Creative Director Jack Attridge gave similar statements, saying it's all about making choices about what to prioritize and perhaps needing extra time, though also stated it's nothing particularly new.

It wasn't all sunshine, though, as Dan Weiss of Squanch Games went on a long form tirade against the system, clearly not a fan. But even he concluded that he didn't think the issue would necessarily be a major one for third parties, and the biggest causalities would be first party titles or those developers who focus solely on Xbox, as they will be stuck to that baseline. We'll have select entries from Weiss' Twitter below and you can check on the link for the full thing as there's lots of colorful language. It's worth the read as he does describe his points well.

It seems there's quite the range of emotions about Microsoft's latest box here. As always, it'll be interesting to see where it falls, because as of now it's all theoretical until games are being designed and start coming out. The Xbox Series S will launch alongside the Xbox Series X on November 10th.


Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time Remake Reveal Was Seemingly From An Older Build

prince of persia the sands of time remake

After many years of the series being absent we got the announcement of a remake of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time coming at the beginning of next year. The reception was…somewhat mixed, especially to the game's visuals. There was much assumed about the budget and development time, with many thinking the game was a low budget effort at revisiting the legendary title. The developer has since denied that was the case, saying it was more that they hoped to create a unique visual style. Now it seems to come out that the reveal was based on an older build of the game, and we got a peek at a screen from a newer one.

Gadgets 360 did an interview with the developers of the title and while it was not explicitly stated that the reveal was from an older build, Game Director Pierre-Sylvain Gires said they would continue to be polishing the game up to its 2021 release. The site also was given a new screenshot from a very obviously different build. You can see it below alongside the same shot from the reveal trailer, and they look about night and day.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Remake will release for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC on January 21st, 2021 with a Switch version potentially coming later.

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prince_of_persia_remake_new build vs old build


PS5 Model Numbers And Retail Box Contents Leaked Via Hong Kong Retailer

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We now know pretty much everything there is we need to about Microsoft's next generation launch. The Xbox Series S and X will both launch November 10th for $299 and $499, respectively. On the Sony side still there is mystery both about the launch as well as the price. But one thing we did find out was what the model numbers and what's in the box.

Known leaker Daniel Ahmad, also known as ZhugeEX, leaked out the contents of what will come in a retail box for a PS5 via a Hong Kong retailer. You can see the model numbers for both the disc version as well as the digital edition. It comes with exactly what you expect: the system, a HDMI cable, a AC power adapter, a USB cable, an instruction manual and the pre-installed Astro's Playroom. The only thing not expected here is that the base does come with the system. Hey, it's not the most exciting leak, but gotta take what you get.

As it stands, we don't know when the PS5 will launch, though most expect it will be in November. Recent rumors have pegged the system at $499 for the main system on par with the Xbox Series X, and $399 for the digital edition, but it remains rumor until Sony makes the announcement, hopefully, soon.


Kena: Bridge of Spirits Delayed to Q1 2021

kena bridge of spirits

It might not be a huge AAA blockbuster game, but Kena: Bridge of Spirits has looked like one of the most exciting PS5 launch titles since the moment it was revealed back in June. Quite a few have been excited to get their hands on the game this Holiday- sadly, it seems like it's going be a slightly longer wait than expected.

Developer Ember Lab recently took to Twitter via the game's official account and confirmed that Kena: Bridge of Spirits has been delayed to Q1 2021. The developer says that transitioning to working from home due to COVID-19 has caused development to slow down more than they'd expected, and so, "for the best of the game and the well-being of the team", they've made the decision to delay its release.

"We will use this time to give the game the polish it deserves and deliver an experience that meets our vision and your expectations," Ember Lab writes in its statement. You can read it in full below.

When it does release, Kena: Bridge of Spirits will be available on PS4, PS5, and PC. It will support free next-gen upgrades for those who get it on PS4.

Kena: Bridge of Spirits isn't the first PS5 launch title to be delayed. Less than a month ago, Arkane and Bethesda announced that Deathloop's launch had also been pushed back into Q2 2021.


Xbox Series S Won't Support Xbox One X Enhancements for Backward Compatible Games

xbox series s

At $299, the Xbox Series S offers incredible value for a next-gen console, but while it's a very consumer-friendly price, the console's specs – which are significantly lower than the Xbox Series X – have been concerning to many people. While it remains to be seen what effect exactly those deficiencies will have on next-gen games, we do know that backward compatible games running on the Xbox Series S will be affected.

Microsoft have confirmed following speculation regarding the same that the Xbox Series S won't apply Xbox One X enhancements to backward compatible games (which makes sense, given that the console isn't capable of rendering 4K resolutions). Instead, it will run the Xbox One S versions of backward compatible titles, while also adding its own previously confirmed enhancements, such as improved texture filtering, higher frame rates, and adding HDR to games that didn't originally have it at launch.

"Xbox Series S was designed to be the most affordable next generation console and play next generation games at 1440p at 60 FPS," a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement to Gamespew. "To deliver the highest quality backwards compatible experience consistent with the developer's original intent, the Xbox Series S runs the Xbox One S version of backward compatible games while applying improved texture filtering, higher and more consistent frame rates, faster load times and Auto HDR."

Microsoft have previously said that they have prioritized faster frame rates over resolution with the Xbox Series S (which is allegedly capable of up to 120 FPS gameplay), so as disappointing as this might be to many, it doesn't come as much of a surprise. 4K wouldn't have been possible on the Series S anyway, and it's worth noting that the console will still be adding enhancements of its own.

For more on Xbox Series S and its specs, make sure to read our recent in-depth tech analysis of the console's hardware through here.


Roller Champions Delayed to Early 2021

roller champions

Ubisoft announced their free to play multiplayer sports title Roller Champions at E3 last year, following which it has been made playable to some people through its alpha periods. The game was due for its full 1.0 launch later this year, but that launch, it seems, has been pushed back.

During their Ubisoft Forward show yesterday, Ubisoft confirmed that Roller Champions' full launch has been delayed, and pushed back by a few months. Though the exact release date hasn't yet been announced, the company says that it will be releasing some time in early 2021.

When it does release, Roller Champions will be available for PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, iOS, and Android. Whether or not it will also get a next-gen release isn't something Ubisoft have mentioned anything about, so that remains up in the air for now. In the meantime, you can check out roughly an hour of gameplay footage for Roller Champions through here.


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