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New Xbox One UI focuses on speed; completely overhauls home screeen

From its first unveil back in 2013, the Xbox One has had the same UI resembling the Metro look of Windows 8. Now, Microsoft will be addressing perhaps the greatest complaint about the interface with a completely overhauled design doing away with the tiles system.

This new interface introduces a pop-out menu from the left side of the screen — similar to the current snap center on the Xbox One. The pop-out menu seems to draw a bit from the original Xbox 360 blades guide that slid in from the left in a similar fashion — albeit the designs of the two are very different.

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Final Fantasy VII Remake Announced

Sony’s E3 press conference revealed a visually stunning remake of Final Fantasy VII, incurred by sheer force of will from popular fan demand. The remake will be directed by Tetsuya Nomura and is aptly dubbed Final Fantasy VII Remake.

Whether or not the game will appear outside PS4 was not confirmed, but Square Enix said in their showing that gamers can “Play if first on PlayStation” which would imply that the game will release on other platforms.

Whether or not Microsoft, the main competitor to Sony, will be host to this nostalgia filled recreation of the Final Fantasy VII world is still to be seen.

More details will be announced in the near future.

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Xbox One E3 2015 games recap | Halo 5, Mass Effect Andromeda, Gears of War, and more

“Boom”

That’s all Larry Hryb had to say to those watching the press conference when Microsoft unveiled a complete surprise announcement that will likely bode extremely well for them in encouraging Xbox 360 gamers to jump to Xbox One. Backwards compatibility was announced earlier today at their E3 briefing, and the reception has been almost universally positive.

Though the ability to play Xbox 360 games on the Xbox One marked the biggest news of the day, there was so many incredible games and more from their showing to give gamers ample reason to be excited for this holiday season and beyond.

Here is a collection of all the games shown at Xbox One’s E3 2015 briefing:

Games

Phil Spencer has reiterated time and time again of the importance of video games as the primary focus of the console and Xbox’s E3 showed some great returning IPs and notable new ones as well.

Halo 5: Guardians

While we’ve already got to see a bit of the multiplayer gameplay in the past Microsoft showcased some small information about the story’s direction and what playing in the recently revealed squad system that Halo 5 will introduce.

ReCore

Not much is known so far about this new IP and Xbox exclusive, but it has peaked the interested of some Xbox One owners and with good reason. The CGI trailer was done very well and with developers from Metroid Prime and the creator of the Lost Planet and Dead Rising games, Keiji Inafune, the game looks promising. Players will take on the role of one of the last remaining humans and work to “forge friendships with courageous robot companions and lead them on an epic adventure through a mysterious, dynamic world.”

No release date announced.

Gears of War 4

Outside of Halo, Gears of War may be the most treasured exclusive franchise and a new sage begins on the Xbox One. A Gears of War 4 gameplay trailer shows some new faces — as well as some new enemies, but the iconic factors of the franchise are still prevalent with the Lancer Assault Rifle and its accompanying chainsaw as well as the same dark tone of the gameplay. While the game doesn’t release until the holiday season in 2016, fans can get their Gears of War fix with a beta of available now on Xbox One!

Mass Effect: Andromeda

As the original Mass Effect is now brought to the Xbox One with the backwards compatibility feature now available on the new generation console, gamers who’ve never played the Mass Effect can get a taste of the series and build some excitement for the next installment in the franchise game. The trailer displays some of the world environments that players can look forward when it releases in Q4 2016.

Forza Motorsport 6

While a bit of Forza Motorsport 6 was leaked by the Japanese Xbox.com page, the new night racing and weather effects change give players some new experiences on top of the staple racing game of the Xbox platform. New 24 player online racing and some improved collision effects are also to come when it releases September 15.

The Division

While Tom Clancy’s The Division won’t be an Xbox One exclusive, this third-person shooter will be coming to Xbox One first as a free beta. Sign up here.

Gigantic

This highly stylized arena combat game from Microsoft with “freedom of movement, play-style choice, and towering Guardians makes 5×5 competition more accessible and fun than ever.”

Fable Legends

Fable started as an incredible franchise on the original Xbox and with the first two games receiving great praise, the series has struggled to reach same level of prestige as the first two. Fable Legends looks to change that with an emphasis on co-op play with a group of four players working together to survive and flourish in Albion later this year.

Id@Xbox Games

Microsoft’s desire for a greater indie library on their new generation console is coming to fruition with a plethora of new games ranging a vast assortment of genres and styles will give the Xbox One library a wonderful boost in it’s overall quality.


 

What was the best Xbox One exclusive shown off at E3?

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Xbox One E3 2015 | Backwards compatibility announced!

And it gets better.

Following Bethesda’s E3 conference from yesterday, Microsoft made waves at E3 with a series of fantastic announcements and reveals — but nothing was more remarkable than the new backwards compatibility that was announced.

Almost all games downloaded to your Xbox 360 console can now come straight over to your Xbox One console. There will be no additional cost to gamers — “we won’t charge you to play your games” and all saved data, add-ons, and achievements will remain when you play it on the Xbox One.

Another surprising aspect of the news is that each game will remain fully functional online. Multiplayer will work just as it would on the 360 console itself.

xbox one borderlands 360
Enjoy the advanced features of your Xbox One like Game DVR, Screenshots and Windows 10 streaming.

This feature will begin rolling out to the public this holiday season, but Xbox Preview members can check it out right now with a limited selection.

While not all games are included from the start during this holiday season, the vast majority will be and the rest will slowly be ported over time. Mass Effect, Halo: Reach, Perfect Dark Zero, and so many other favorite games from the previous generation will now be available on the Xbox One.

The attitude of the announcement was very confident as they took some fairly evident shots at the PlayStation 4’s streaming service which allows gamers to play previous games for $3 per five hours. Though the confidence that Microsoft spoke with was with good reason.

For all Xbox 360 owners that were on the fence this is a major swaying factor for them to turn to the Xbox One with their current games remaining playable on the console.

Combining this with the new $125 price tag that gamers can get when turning in their Xbox 360 or PS3, Phil Spencer and Microsoft has steadied the Xbox One in the gaming ecosystem and is poised to take a massive demographic to their new generation console.

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Oculus Rift Pre-E3 Press Conference – All You Need To Know

The Oculus Rift has been a long spoken about Virtual Reality head-mounted display. Birthed from Kickstarter around 3 years ago, it has grown at a tremendous pace. This has led to many admirers from all over the tech industry. In July 2014, internet superpower Facebook purchased Oculus VR for a staggering $2 billion.

On June 11, Brendan Iribe led a pre-E3 press conference showcasing the Oculus Rift. The final consumer unit was revealed as well as an array of exclusive titles. Here’s all you need to know:

The Device Itself

Oculus Consumer Unit

The Oculus Rift consumer unit is very similar to what we’ve seen. It is smaller, looks a lot more comfortable and is meant to be far lighter (you can hold it in one hand with ease). It has a custom display and optics as well as two OLED screens that deliver low persistence.

As you look around there’s no motion blur or judder. Visual clarity is very important to those at Oculus and the way Iribe spoke about the device, it was pretty evident.

It features a wireless sensor which sits neatly on your desk. This is designed to measure depth. The Rift itself is covered in fabric and is meant to “slip on like a baseball cap.”

Iribe also mentioned the importance of sound and how the virtual reality experience isn’t just visual but also audible. The Rift comes with (removable) headphones in order to enhance the experience.

Partnership with Microsoft

How important is this partnership?
How important is this partnership?

Then came the news everyone is talking about. Phil Spencer (Head of Xbox) took to the stage to announce that every Rift will ship with an Xbox One controller and adapter. Rift will have native support with Windows 10 and will also have the ability to stream Xbox One games a la Remote Play. You will be sitting in a virtual living room and playing Forza. Great for when the your television is not available.

DirectX 12 has been developed with the device in mind to make sure that using a Rift on a Windows machine will be a seamless experience.

The Games

Edge of Nowhere

An array of games was shown for the Oculus Rift, including Edge of Nowhere by Insomniac Games. A third person action adventure set in the Antarctic. A grueling test of wits and bravery as you scale across a mountainous terrain using makeshift weapons.

CCP (the brains behind EVE Online) showed a short demo of Eve Valkyrie. A multiplayer dogfighting shooter where you helm a spaceship allowing you to enjoy a fully immersive space war.

Amongst the other games were Chronos (Gunfire Games). A third person adventure RPG with some very interesting gameplay elements. You get to explore an atmospheric fantasy world. The unique leveling mechanic means that as you get older, the way you approach the game changes.

Some other games mentioned included VR Sports Challenge, AirMech VR, Lucky’s Tale and more. The most interesting and arguably most important factor of the game slate was the developers signed up to work with Oculus. Square Enix, Ready At Dawn, and Harmonix are just some of the names on an impressive list.

Developer List

Developers

Anna Sweet (Head of Developer Strategy) reiterated how Oculus have been working closely with Unity and EpicGames. This means the Rift works natively with Unity 5 and Unreal Engine 4. Two of the top game engines today.

Also mentioned was the revamping of Oculus Share; the platform that allows developers to self-publish, discover, download and experiment with a plethora of Rift related technologies. More pertinent was the ten million dollars that Oculus have pledged to help the Rift indie developing community. A real push for all the indie developers out there.

The Software

Oculus have been working closely with Microsoft, Nvdia, and AMD to make sure the Rift works straight out of the box. As soon as you wear the Rift and activate it you boot straight into Oculus Home.

Oculus Home is the Rift’s dashboard — the portal for everything Oculus related. It puts all your Rift games in one place. You can see what’s new, what’s featured and what games your friends are playing. A neat feature is that before you purchase a game, you get to experience a full virtual reality preview of the game in question.

There is also a 2D interface that allows you to stay in touch with your friends as well as browse, manage, and download games.

The Oculus Touch

Oculus Touch 2

Palmer Luckey, the founder of Oculus, made the final announcement of the press conference. As well as having each Rift ship with an Xbox One controller the team at Oculus are constantly working on innovative ways to improve virtual reality input. The latest being the Oculus Touch (prototype name: Half-Moon).

The Oculus Touch is a pair of wireless controllers designed to be held in each hand respectively. This allows for the users to experience “hand presence” – the feeling that your hands are also part of the virtual world you are experiencing.

Oculus TouchThe Touch lets you interact with the virtual world such as picking up a gun and shooting or throwing it. The precise manipulation of virtual entities is key to creating a fully immersive VR world and this is one of the many pieces of technology that Oculus are offering. The Touch also allows for communicative social gestures such as pointing or waving.

The controllers themselves have traditional buttons, analog sticks and a hand trigger. This trigger allows you to use your index finger to shoot a gun for instance. Oculus are also aiming for a “low mental load.” Low mental load is the idea that we shouldn’t have to think about what we are doing when using the Rift. The user experience should be a natural and fluid understanding. As always with Oculus they are taking massive strives into making virtual worlds a reality.

Pricing and Release Date

Unfortunately there were no pricing or bundles announced for the Oculus Rift. The only remnant of a release date they gave was Q1, 2016. The timeframe we have all really been expecting.

Everything at the press conference will be available at E3 so hopefully we can hear about some hands-on reactions.

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Halo 3 ODST (MCC) brings a polarizing Halo experience to Xbox One | Review

When Halo 3 ODST first released back in 2009 on the Xbox 360 it was met with some conflicting criticism. This first-person shooter released for a full $60 but some suggested the amount of content within the game was simply not enough to warrant that. Other disagreed, as it gave Halo fans a new experience along with an incredible story playing as an Orbital Drop Shock Trooper. This approach gives players a new vulnerability and a new take on combat in Halo games.

As the game re-releases on the Xbox One for a very modest $5, it would feel wrong not to have an extended review of the game branching off the full Master Chief Collection review. (If you haven’t read it yet check it out here!)

While Halo 3 ODST is not actually part of the direct story of Master Chief, much of its campaign ties in very well and in a fairly clear manner with the beginning of Halo 3 starting just as ODST ends. Like Halo 3, the fighting is focused on Earth — unlike Halo 3, players take on a role of a much more humble ODST soldier. Throughout the game players cycle through five soldiers with the Rookie serving as the single chararcter players consistently come back to as he tries to uncover the mystery of where his lost squad mates are.

Gameplay

Halo 3 ODST mixes a stealthy approach to combat and the classic Halo formula and it yields fantastic results.
Halo 3 ODST mixes a stealthy approach to combat and the classic Halo formula and it yields fantastic results.

Gameplay wise, the game plays directly off of the Halo 3 engine, but for those that never liked the run-and-gun Halo style that has become synonymous with the franchise this gameplay may be more enticing to you. As an ODST soldier your player is just a tad slower than the Master Chief and also has significantly weaker shields and health. This forces players to turn elsewhere for a tactical advantage — and that advantage comes in stealth.

ODST focuses immensely on stealth when playing as the Rookie, but does open up a bit more when playing as the other characters in missions. When not on a specific mission players continue as the Rookie searching the New Mombasa streets for your team. When going through the world as the Rookie the game invokes a feeling of needing to be careful — needing to be smart about each approach to combat.

The entire game slows down with this new approach and offers gamers a much greater opportunity to appreciate the art-design, music, and other aesthetics that make the game so unique in the Halo universe.

Though when you do take control of the other characters and the fire-fights get a bit more intense the classic Halo feel comes out in a fairly balanced way. Your character is still weak, but stealth isn’t a necessity. Even six years after it released this balance plays perfectly.

Story

Each piece of the puzzle brings you closer to unlocking the mystery surrounding the ODST squad.
Each piece of the puzzle brings you closer to unlocking the mystery surrounding the ODST squad.

While the gameplay is terrific, the story is what will likely draw most fans in. Taking place on Earth in the African city of New Mombasa, Halo 3 ODST takes players through five individual stories of each member of a single ODST squad that had their mission derailed by another commanding officer — Captain Veronica Dare.

As the squad “prepares to drop” into battle their drop-pods are sent awry into the New Mombasa city after their intended place of descent — a covenant cruiser — jumps into slip-space.

From the beginning players take on the role of the aforementioned Rookie who the game pulls back to after each mission. The Rookie is a completely silent protaganist, but the rest of the squad is as vocal as they can be with Gunnery Sergeant Buck, played by Nathan Fillion, being the most prominent of them all.

Also joining the team is Mickey, Dutch, Romeo, and Captain Dare.

The events of Halo 3 ODST are crucial for any fan of the Halo lore. Sergeant Buck and his role in Halo 5 can be traced back to what happens with his ODST squad — though for the sake of avoiding any spoilers, nothing specific will be mentioned in this review.

The entire game plays as a mystery on the Rookie’s end and uncovering that serves as the primary focus all game long. The story is greatly benefited by a collection of audio logs that can be found throughout the city. These audio logs explain the story of Sadie and Vergil — the superintendent program for managing New Mombasa’s public services. While the story is fantastic to play through without this side story, it is truly fulfilling when you find them all. All in all, the Halo 3 ODST campaign is one of the best stories you can currently play on the Xbox One.

Firefight

While the Xbox One version of Halo 3 ODST omits a popular multiplayer game mode that was originally included in the game, it is only fair to make mention of it. Halo 3 ODST includes a 4-player online co-op mode called Firefight which offers a wave-by-wave experience of mowing down covenant. The mode takes small sections of the ODST campaign and creates an area for players to defend together. Firefight is an excellent side to the main game and offers a great arcadey-style with an unlimited number of rounds. A squad simply plays until they run out of a lives with each wave getting subsequently stronger. Though the game mode was good fun, it is but one small drawback in an overall, great game.

Roundup

Good story, good gameplay. What’s not to like?

Halo 3 ODST is well worth the five bucks that Microsoft will be charging for the DLC to the Master Chief Collection. The gameplay is still spectacular, and the mood is set wonderfully playing as the Rookie and the way it contrasts to the typical Halo games is done so tastefully. And while Master Chief isn’t a main character in the game, the story of this squad and what happens in New Mombasa is intrinsic in the overall story of Halo and Buck’s progression ties in fittingly with the upcoming Halo 5.

9/10

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Halo 5 to include 15 free maps in DLC; no Gold required for online co-op play

In a major move to continue their work building a better relationship, developers of Halo 5, 343 Industries has elected to include 15 free multiplayer maps as DLC on top of the 20 maps included in the game’s launch. In addition, 343i will not require Xbox Live Gold for players to play online co-op. This is a major move for both 343 and Microsoft to help the Halo fanbase continue flourishing.

The information comes from the most recent Gameinformer digital release that included a detailed breakdown of some new information and things to expect from Microsoft’s E3 2015 press conference on June 16.

Also noted is the reveal of a new multiplayer mode at E3. This mode will include “all aspects of the Halo sandbox.” It has been in development for years prior to this reveal and it is likely to be a major keynote of Microsoft and 343 Industries multiplayer presentation.

Some notable changes to the classic Halo gameplay formula to come from 343i
Some notable changes to the classic Halo gameplay formula to come from 343i

Halo 5 promises to bring back a greater arena style feel with gamers getting a taste of some close-quarters combat in the game when the beta released back in late December to mid January. However, this news suggests that the grand fire-fights that many fans of the series love will still be just as present as ever.

Outside of the online player vs player multiplayer, the co-op experience looks rejuvenated as well with the ability to jump into a co-op campaign or drop-out without interrupting the game. This ties in to new information showing that both Master Chief and Spartan Locke will always be accompanied by a team of 3 A.I. partners.

Halo 5 is due to release October 27, 2015 on Xbox One and will retail at $59.99. More information will come at E3 2015 June 16-18.

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Forza Motorsport 6 leak shows new info regarding gameplay, tracks, and cars

A gaffe on the part of Xbox Japan has revealed a bit of information regarding Forza Motorsport 6 about two weeks earlier than it should have. Self proclaimed as “the most beautiful and comprehensive racing game of this generation,” the small glimpse fans are getting shows some incredible visuals, and details regarding the gameplay, tracks, and cars.

Forza Motorsport 6 will include over 450 cars all to be raced in 1080p, 60 fps. The game includes dynamic weather with puddles on the road impacting your drive. Also confirmed is night racing which suggests dynamic day/night cycles will be included as well.

Each of these cars are compeltely customizable and “immaculately recreated” with complete working cockpits and full destructibility.

26 tracks will come at the release with more almomst certainly to release down the road as DLC. The initial 26 include both Rio, a track from the first Forza game, and Daytone.

Two-player splitscreen and the drivatar are both again confirmed for Forza Motorsport 6. A change however, is a boost in online multiplayer from 16 players in Forza 5 to 24 players in this upcoming release.

A more in depth look at Forza will be revealed at E3 June 16-18.


The Forza games always look good and they just keep getting better.
The Forza games always look good and they just keep getting better.
Two-player split screen returns along with 24-player online multiplayer.
Two-player split screen returns along with 24-player online multiplayer.
Take to the streets in the dark this time around with night racing.
Take to the streets in the dark this time around with night racing.
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Halo 5-related secret message displays in Xbox UK ad

343i and Microsoft have unveiled a new, seemingly normal trailer for the upcoming Halo 5: Guardians release. With many bits and pieces of details being laid out to be uncovered by fans, 343i continues that trend in their latest trailer.

The new video displays a “hacked” screen with a UNSC and ONI logo overlay interrupting a regular Xbox One games commercial. Two versions of the commercial exist — one with Battlefield: Hardline and one with the UNSC “hack” interruption.

The hacked screen includes a binary code that, when translated, directs people to huntthesignal.com. When heading to the site on desktop platforms nothing is really shown, but on mobile platforms there is an eerie countdown ending on May 6.

All of this is a part of the Hunt For Truth ARG viral campaign from Microsoft that began near the end of March. Check out the Halo 5-focused secret message in the trailer below.

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New Spartans unveiled in Halo 5 cover art

The intriguing battle between the classic hero, and the mysterious new-comer has just gotten a bit more complex with Microsoft’s last art release showing a collection of new Spartans — including what is likely Blue Team, Master Chief’s former squad, in the bottom left corner for those familiar with the Halo lore.

It seems those sided with Spartan Locke are some exciting familiar faces from past Halo games as well. For the first time, major characters of the ODST game will be intertwined with the core story as Buck and Romeo join Locke. Macer, another main characer with ties to Locke is also featured in this blown-up piece of the major art release.

Spartan Locke will be getting help from some familiar faces in Halo 5.
Spartan Locke will be getting help from some familiar faces in Halo 5.

The narrative consisting of Master Chief and Spartan Locke’s turmoil amidst the covenant attacks on human ground is already generating extensive positive buzz around the franchise — which was certainly much needed after the negative publicity 343 Industries underwent during The Master Chief Collection’s release.

Microsoft’s involvement of the fans did an excellent job to promote the franchise with the #HuntTheTruth trend on twitter and other social media platforms. The fans were the ones who actually went out and pieced together clues left behind to reveal this new cover art, and in-turn the animated video that even furthers the excitement.

Halo 5 is due to release at the end of 2015 (October 27) exclusively on the
Xbox One.