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Sunday, 18 October 2020

Xbox Series X/S Titles Could be Made Playable on Xbox One Via Cloud Streaming, Phil Spencer Suggests

xbox logo

The PS4 and the Xbox One aren't going to go away any time soon. Microsoft and Sony (not to mention several major third party devs and publishers) intend to keep supporting the current-gen consoles for at least a year or so even after their successors have launched, thanks to their large install bases. But it's possible that Microsoft might end up keeping the Xbox One around even longer than that.

Speaking to Kotaku in a recent interview, head of Xbox Phil Spencer said that though Microsoft's focus with cloud streaming currently remains on PC and mobile devices, it's possible that they might end up making it available on Xbox One too, thus allowing owners to play Xbox Series X/S games.

"When we think about Xbox One, absolutely, we think it could be a good way for us to bridge generations and be able to let people play those games," he said.

Talking about how the process of developing and maintaining the required infrastructure for cloud gaming is going, Spencer said, "I don't think it's years off," he said. "It's just work to get done. We know how to do it."

There have been rumours in the past that have suggested that Microsoft could end up releasing a next-gen SKU that would be a streaming-only box, though Microsoft have denied these rumours. It remains to be seen just how far Microsoft will take cloud streaming, and how quickly they will do it, but the potential is certainly exciting.


Halo Infinite Campaign and Multiplayer Could Possibly Launch Separately, Phil Spencer Suggests

halo infinite

Halo Infinite was going to be the big flagship launch title for the next generation of Xbox this Holiday, but 343 Industries' first person shooter unfortunately be had to delayed into next year to allow the developer more time to work on the game, with no specific new release date set yet.

Speaking recently about the shooter and what its launch might look like in a recent interview with Kotaku, Xbox boss Phil Spencer said that there's no update on the game's situation for now, before mentioning some interesting future possibilities. Spencer said that releasing Halo Infinite's campaign and multiplayer components (the latter is confirmed to be free-to-play) is something that 343 Industries will decide, and it's a possibility- but if they do, they'll want to ensure that they're still delivering a complete experience.

"Bonnie [Ross, head of the Halo franchise] and the team will go drive those decisions," Spencer said. "But I think we want to make sure people feel like they have a Halo experience. I think we can look at options like that."

"So, yeah, I think that's something to think about, but we want to make sure we do it right," he added.

The possibility of Halo Infinite being shipped in parts is something that Phil Spencer has spoken about in the past as well, though developers 343 Industries have stated that the same was never seriously considered as a viable option. Whether that ends up happening in the future remains to be seen.

Halo Infinite is in development for Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, and PC. Though it'll be launching in 2021 instead of Holiday 2020 as was originally planned, Microsoft do not intend on dropping plans for the game's Xbox One release.

Recently, 343 Industries brought in Joseph Staten, who was deeply involved with the Halo franchise back in the Bungie days, to serve as the project lead on Halo Infinite's campaign. Read more on that through here.


Xbox Boss Acknowledges Having to Develop for Xbox Series X and Series S is Additional Work for Devs

xbox series x xbox series s

Microsoft are adopting an interest approach as they enter next-gen, with the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S offering significantly different specs at significantly different prices to different audiences. That's great from a consumer's perspective, but for developers, who now have to factor in an additional spec list to support while making games, it's additional work.

Xbox boss Phil Spencer is aware of that, as you might expect, and acknowledges that it is indeed additional workload, Speaking in an interview with Kotaku, Spencer said that though developers now have to work with two performance specs, Microsoft have gone ahead with their dual-console approach to "expand the market."

"Absolutely, it is work," Spencer said. "There's no doubt about that. The fact that you have two performance specs now, I'm not going to stand here or try to PR somebody and say two different specs is the same as having one spec. It's not. We're doing this because we want to expand the market."

In the same interview, Spencer also said that the Xbox Series S actually loads some games after than the Xbox Series X, and that the former will end up selling more than the latter in the long run.

The Xbox Series X and Series S will both launch globally on November 10.


PS5's Fan Will Continue to be Optimized in the Future With Firmware Updates

ps5

After the PS4 and its ridiculously loud fan, the hope was that Sony would invest in a better and more efficient cooling solution for the PS5. Based on recent report and impressions, it seems that that's exactly what they've done, with what has been reported as an unusually expensive cooling solution being described by media as quiet and efficient.

And it seems Sony plans on continuing to optimize the console on that front even after launch. Speaking in an interview with 4Gamer (via ResetEra), Yasuhiro Otori, the head of PS5's mechanical and thermal design team, said that Sony will continue to collect data on the PS5's fan's performance, and will make adjustments to it based on that data with future firmware updates.

"Various games will be released in the future, and data on the APU's (Accelerated Processing Unit) behaviour in each game will be collected,," he said. "We have a plan to optimise the fan control based on this data." Further context from 4Gamer.net adds: "PS5 has three temperature sensors on the main board to control the fan speed based on the internal temperature of the APU and the highest temperature of the three temperature sensors. These fan control parameters will also be updated via online updates."

Recently, it was revealed that the console's large cooling fan is one of the primary reasons for its massive size. Read more on that through here.


Releasing More Xbox Games on Switch "Doesn't Feel Sustainable" – Phil Spencer

nintendo switch

Microsoft have adopted a very non-traditional approach to several things in recent years (and will clearly continue doing so in the future), but seeing Xbox first party titles being released for the Switch has been quite surprising, with the likes of Ori and the Blind Forest and its sequels having come to Nintendo's platform.

Microsoft have, of course, suggested in the past that those releases don't indicate similar long-term plans for Switch support. But it's worth noting that after they said that, Ori and the Will of the Wisps ended up coming to the Switch. So going forward, what exactly should we expect to see from Microsoft as far as Switch releases are concerned?

Speaking in an interview Kotaku, Xbox boss Phil Spencer said that continuing to consider Switch releases for Microsoft games on a game-by-game basis "doesn't feel sustainable", adding that Microsoft would rather support devices that have full Xbox ecosystems in place.

"In order to really support it, I would want a full Xbox ecosystem somewhere," Spencer said. "And that probably means things like Live and Game Pass and stuff."

This falls in line with similar recent comments by Spencer, who remarked some time back about how competing platforms weren't interested in having full Xbox ecosystems on their devices.

There are other things to consider as well, of course. For instance, Bethesda has been an active supporter of the Switch ever since the console released. They are now owned by Microsoft, of course, who have said that whether or not future games made by Bethesda will come to the Switch (or even PlayStation) will be decided on a case-by-case basis.


Banjo-Kazooie and Conker Revivals Are Up To Rare, Says Phil Spencer

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The Xbox One generation has seen Rare successfully redefining itself after some tumultuous years under Microsoft's leadership, but it's still a very different developer from what it used to be back in the day. During the N64 era, under Nintendo's ownership, Rare was constantly developer industry-defining titles such as Perfect Dark, Banjo-Kazooie, Conker's Bad Fur Day.

Of course, Microsoft owns these franchises now, and all of these have been dormant for a long time, which means there's been more than a few questions about and demands for their revivals. If reports are to be believed, we might see Perfect Dark returning to some extent not long from now– but what about the likes of Banjo-Kazooie and ConkerBanjo particular is a franchise that millions of fans have been begging for a revival of.

According to Xbox boss Phil Spencer though, whether or not those franchises will come back isn't a decision that has to be made by Microsoft, but one that has to be made by Rare. Speaking in a recent interview with Kotaku, Spencer said that those revivals are up to the studio, before adding that Rare liked trying out new things, mentioning Sea of Thievesthe upcoming Everwildand the recently released Battletoads.

"I leave it up to the studios in terms of the things that they want to go work on," Spencer said. "I have a lot of respect for Rare and the work that they do. They do like building new things, and they've seen success with Sea of Thieves. I think they're really excited about Everwild. But also the response to Battletoads was nice. And I think [partner studio] Dlala did a good job with the game. And so I think it's just always a balance. My inbox is full of: 'Let every studio do new [intellectual property].' And also: 'Why have you brought back Crimson Skies and Blinx?

There's been no shortage of Banjo-Kazooie rumours over the years, of course. Just in the last year or so, Yooka-Laylee developer Playtonic has had to make multiple statements to quash rumours that it was developing a new Banjo game.

Meanwhile, Rare's Everwild is currently in development for Xbox Series X/S and PC, but has no firm release window. Sea of Thieves will be optimized for the next-gen consoles at launch.


More Xbox Series Console Iterations Already in the Works, Xbox Boss Suggests

Xbox Series X

The Xbox Series X is an impressive console in terms of its specs and the hardware. It is, clearly, the more powerful of the next-gen consoles releasing this Holiday- though it is outdone by the PS5 in one area. Sony's console has an SSD that is far faster than the Xbox Series X's (or any other SSD on the market, for that matter)- so does Microsoft have any plans on making improvements to their own console to bring its SSD closer to the PS5?

The question was recently posed to Xbox boss Phil Spencer in a recent interview with Kotaku. Spencer, surprisingly enough, said that Microsoft will  look to improve upon hardware with future console iterations, suggesting that work on them is already underway.

"I think, like you've seen in past generations, that we will iterate on hardware," Spencer said. "We've already started, right? Our team doesn't go away, when we kind of lock the spec. Some of it is cost. That's always the important thing. How do you drive down the cost of the console in the parts that are there, but also just looking at areas in terms of what are the next iterations that you might do?"

It wouldn't be too surprising to see Microsoft (or even Sony) releasing mid-generation refreshes with more powerful hardware, especially seeing as they already did so this generation with the Xbox One X (and Sony with the PS4 Pro).

Less than a month ago, Spencer also said that Microsoft is planning for future hardware releases as well, so there's that.

For now, we have the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S to look forward to, both of which launch globally on November 10.


Xbox Series S Actually Loads Some Games Faster Than Series X, Says Xbox Boss

Xbox Series X_S

The Xbox Series X/S and the PS5's SSDs have been emphasized greatly by Microsoft and Sony respectively, as well as various developers in the industry, and while the new consoles are going to benefit from their solid state drives in several ways, the one that we're going to see right off the bat and that's going to be immediately noticeable is load times, which are going to be cut down in games significantly.

You'd think that the Xbox Series S, which is considerably weaker than the Xbox Series X, will show less impressive results than its more powerful counterparts in this area, but it seems that's not quite the case. Speaking with Kotaku, Xbox boss Phil Spencer said that the Xbox Series S has "surprised" him in terms of how it performs, before adding that it actually loads some games faster than the Xbox Series X does, since it's loading in lower-res assets.

In the same interview, Spencer also said that Microsoft expects the Xbox Series S to sell more than the Series X in the long-term. Read more about that through here.

The Xbox Series X/S launch globally on November 10.


Watch Dogs: Legion Will Run at 4K/30 FPS With Ray-Tracing on Xbox Series X and PS5

Watch Dogs Legion

Watch Dogs: Legion is out in less than a week, but life several other major multiplatform games released in the coming weeks and months, it's going to release as a cross-gen title. A couple of weeks after its launch in late October, Ubisoft's open world game will also be releasing for Xbox Series X/S and PS5.

Ubisoft have previously talked about some of the improvements the game will feature on next-gen consoles, such as ray-tracing and faster load times, but now, we know exactly what resolution and frame rate it will be targeting on the newer hardware as well. In a recent AMA on Reddit, Lathieeshe Thillainathan – live producer on Watch Dogs: Legion confirmed that the game will run on the PS5 and Xbox Series X at 4K and 30 FPS with ray-tracing enabled.

Many would have been hoping that the game would also support a performance mode for faster frame rates, as several games will when they release this Holiday, but Thillainathan did not go into whether that's going to be the case. Resolution and performance for the game's Xbox Series S version are also yet to be revealed.

Watch Dogs: Legion is out on October 29 for PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Stadia, on November 10 for Xbox Series X/S, and on November 12 for PS5. You can check out the game's PC requirements through here.

Details on microstransactions in Watch Dogs: Legion were recently revealed. It's also been confirmed that the game will be playable offline, while cross-play support will be coming in a post-launch update.


Assassin's Creed Valhalla – 15 Features You Need To Know

After a well-earned year-off in 2019, Assassin's Creed is soon returning with a game that's set to continue the run of form the series has been in. Valhalla is promising to deliver yet another vast, sprawling open world action RPG, and there's plenty that Ubisoft have revealed about it that's got us more than just a little excited to get our hands on the game. To that end, with less than a month left until the game's launch, in tis feature, we'll be going over 15 crucial details you should know about Assassin's Creed Valhalla.

PREMISE

Assassin's Creed Valhalla

After having gone further back in the series' timeline than any previous game, first with Origins in 2017 and then again with Odyssey the very next year, Assassin's Creed Valhalla skips ahead once again, set in the 9th century during the Viking invasion of Britain (which is still over 300 years before the events of the first Assassin's Creed). Players will play as Eivor, a Viking warrior who leads clan across the ocean to Britain, to settle the lands and find a new home for themselves. All of this will, of course, be set within the framework of a modern-day storyline, where Layla Hassan will once again return as protagonist.

MORE STORY INFO

The kings and rulers of Britain won't take kindly to the presence of Viking raiders in their borders, as you might imagine, which means players will come up against several foes (and potential foes) in Assassin's Creed Valhalla, including the kingdoms of Northumbria, Wessex, Mercia, and East Anglia. Eivor will negotiate, form alliances, and go to war with these kingdoms as they look to make a new home for themselves in foreign lands. 

Meanwhile, British kings won't be the only foes Eivor will have to face. A group of Vikings known as the Sons of Ragnar Lodbrook – followers of the legendary Viking warrior – will also be runnong amok in England, and will be crossing paths with Eivor.

LORE

assassin's creed valhalla

We've spoken enough about British kings and Vikings and modern-day storylines. What about actual Assassins and Templars? That's what the series is about, after all. Well, the conflict between the Hidden Ones and the Order of the Ancients – which kicked off in Assassin's Creed Origins – is still ongoing, and sometime during Valhalla (probably during the early hours of the game), Eivor will come into contact with one of the Hidden Ones and become involved in this ancient war.

The developers of Assassin's Creed Valhalla have been stressing this one point quite a lot- that fans invested in the series' lore will find plenty to be excited about in Valhalla. There's a pretty large gap between the story told in Origins and the one told in Assassin's Creed 1, so hopefully, this game will bridge those two stories effectively.

EIVOR

assassins creed valhalla

So what exactly is Eivor's backstory? Eivor's parents died at a young age, at which point, King Styrbjorn of Forberg took them in and raised them as his own child. That means Eivor also has a brother by adoption, Sigurd Styrbjornson, who is five years older and being groomed to follow in his father's footsteps as a warrior and a ruler, with Eivor as his right hand. The relationship and (possible) conflict between the two siblings might spell interesting things for the story.

CHOOSING YOUR GENDER

assassins creed valhalla

Assassin's Creed Odyssey introduced male and female protagonists to the series, giving players the option to play as one of two twins, Kassandra or Alexios. Valhalla's approach is a little different. Eivor is indisputably the protagonist here, but you can change their gender. Valhalla's devs claim that they've found a way to work that choice into the series' lore and how this choice will even function with an Animus, so that's something to look forward to. Meanwhile, once you've made your choice, you're not locked into it, since you can change Eivor's gender whenever you want.

MAP

The worlds and settings of Assassin's Creed games have always been one of the series' biggest strengths, and there's plenty to look forward to with Valhalla as well. Ubisoft have said that its world is going to be "a bit larger" than the world of Odyssey, which was already massive. In Valhalla, England will let you explore the kingdoms of Wessex, Northumbria, East Anglia, and Mercia, within which there will be several cities and towns to visit as well, such as London, Winchester, and Jórvík (which would be modern-day York). Meanwhile, a chunk of Norway will also be included in the map (probably as the area you'll be in in the earlier hours of the game, before setting sail for England).

SIDE QUESTS

assassin's creed valhalla

One of the more interesting changes Ubisoft are making to Assassin's Creed Valhalla will work is how quests and side quests will work- in that it seems like there are now no traditional side quests, more or less. Narrative director Derby McDevitt described it best when speaking with us in an interview a few months ago. "One of the first things we asked ourselves when making Assassin's Creed Valhalla was, 'does the traditional main quest / side quests format work for a Viking who invades a hostile country?' he said.

"After some deliberation, we made an early decision to change the usual RPG formula drastically and focus on telling more long-form stories with high stakes, sprawling arcs, and huge emotions," McDevitt explained to GamingBolt. "So rather than playing one long main story and, for example, one hundred miniature stories, players will experience many key stories that each have the epic scope of a feature length film. Many of these connect to Eivor's personal journey, others feel more stand-alone, but all are related to Eivor's and their clan's desire to carve out a permanent place of their own in England."

WORLD EVENTS

assassins creed valhalla

On top of these multiple sprawling questlines, in Assassin's Creed Valhalla, players will also be able to take on smaller, individual optional quests. These will be known as World Events, and you'll have to chance upon them yourself through organic exploration, since these won't be logged into your quest log or appear on your map.

Speaking to us about the game's new quest structure, McDevitt said, "By embracing this format, it left us a lot of room for smaller and more intimate narrative moments scattered throughout the world, moments we call World Events — countless small little happenings, side stories, and surreal encounters that players may engage with as they see fit. They won't be tracked in your quest log, but they'll tug at your curiosity."

PROGRESSION

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With Assassin's Creed now having completely committed itself to becoming an RPG series, you'd expect Valhalla to be juggling a lot when it comes to progression- and that certainly seems to be the case. For starters, instead of traditional levels, players will now have a Power Level, which will be determined by the skills that you have unlocked.

Which, of course, means there will be a deep skill tree system to dive into as well. There will, of course, be an entire loot and gear side of things to manage, while on top of everything, players will also be able to look for Books of Knowledge in the world to unlock new Abilities, which will be deadly attacks that will require adrenaline in combat.

COMBAT

Assassin's Creed's combat has been improving steadily with each game in recent years, and it seems Valhalla looks set to continue that trajectory. Gear is supposed to be a lot more unique, for starters, while Valhalla now also lets you dual wield every single weapon in the game (yes, you can also dual-wield shields). There are also 25 unique enemy archetypes in the game, each of whom will challenge the player in unique ways. Enemy can also use the environment to their advantage, coordinate with each other during combat, and at times even find ways to adapt to how Eivor is fighting.

STEALTH

assassin's creed valhalla

Given how drastically different Assassin's Creed is now than what it started out as, it's a little hard to remember at this point- but once, Assassin's Creed was all about the stealth. Sure, stealth remains an important part of the series even now, but it's definitely been pushed to the sidelines, while stealth mechanics in the series also tend to be a bit too dated and shallow.

With Valhalla, we're in line for some changes and improvements. Social stealth is returning, for one, and you'll have to make use of it as you look to infiltrate British cities, towns, and kingdoms- they're not just going to let a Viking raider walk in, are they? Meanwhile, the Hidden Blade is back, as are one-hit kills- though they will still require some level of skill with a QTE prompt of sorts. 

RAIDS AND ASSAULTS

assassins creed valhalla

You wouldn't be much of a Viking if you weren't raiding and pillaging, and it seems there will be plenty of that to go around in Assassin's Creed Valhalla. Raids will see payers gathering a crew of soldiers (that you will be recruiting throughout the game), taking a longship, and then heading to a village or settlement to, well, raid it. Meanwhile, there will also be large-scale assaults in Valhalla, similar to the Conquest Battles in Odyssey, which will be set-piece moments where you will be leading your Viking warriors as you storm fortresses and castles.

CHOICES

Just as it was in Odyssey, players will be shaping the narrative in Assassin's Creed Valhalla with their own choices well. Ubisoft haven't gone into too much detail about this, but they have said that while the story still has to stick to certain beats in order to remain largely historically accurate, choices will play a crucial role in shaping Eivor's personal journey and many other stories throughout the game. 

MYTHOLOGY ELEMENTS

Assassin's Creed has always had a hint of fantasy and mysticism, but it's been tapping into that much more heavily in recent years, first with Origins, then even more so with Odyssey, and especially with expansions for both games. Valhalla will be continuing in that direction as well. Its developers have said that there will be plenty of mythological and fantastical elements in the game's world, and though the main, larger story is still very much going to be rooted in reality, there will be several such elements on the fringes, from the massive wolf known as the Black Shuck to the three mystical beings known as the Daughters of Lerion and more.

NEXT-GEN

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Like most other major multiplatform games releasing this November and beyond, Assassin's Creed Valhalla is going to be a cross-gen game. It will release for Xbox Series X and Series S on November 10, and for PS5 on November 12. It will run at 4K and 60 FPS on the Series X and PS5, in addition to improvements to clutter density, shadow quality, higher resolution textures, load times, and more. Free next-gen upgrades will also be supported on both, PlayStation and Xbox.


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