Category: PC

“The best line-up in Xbox history”

Microsoft have rather boldly stated that their 2015 line-up represents the best in Xbox history, PR should be taken as it is and they’re always likely to say that but I wanted to look into their statement and see how it competes to what I consider to be the best time in Xbox history which was the same time in the Xbox 360s life-cycle, the second full year after launch: 2007, huge year for gaming and Xbox in general.

Here is 2015 in full:

  • Screamride (Frontier Developments) 06/03
  • Ori and the Blind Forest (Moon Studios) – 11/03
  • State of Decay: Year One Survival Edition (Undead Labs) – 28/04
  • Halo 3: ODST (343 Industries/Ruffian Games) – 30/05 [Halo MCC DLC]
  • Rare Replay (Rare) – 04/08
  • Gigantic (Motiga) – August
  • Gears of War Ultimate Edition (The Coalition/Splash Damage) – 25/08
  • Forza Motorsport 6 (Turn10 Studios) – 15/09
  • Halo 5 Guardians (343 Industries) – 27/10
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider (Crystal Dynamics) – 10/11
  • Fable Legends (Lionhead Studios) – “Holiday 2015”

The year started off a bit slow for them despite 3 launches around March/April, Ori and the Blind Forest is a fantastic game which will take some competing with to be their best game of the year but never the less, it was well supported by the mid-tier Screamride and remaster of their 2013 hit State of Decay.

From early August though Microsoft have thrown gaming budgets out of the window with some great remasters in Rare Replay and Gears of War Ultimate Edition along with 5 entirely new games which focus around all of their big franchises with a side helping of Gigantic and Tomb Raider, a new (timed) exclusive to the stable.

I think this line-up is certainly great if you like Xbox, perhaps it could have done with being spread out a bit better during the year but games need to be given the right amount of time in the oven to fulfil their potential and I think it will do big numbers for them this holiday. The only thing I think is missing is a new AAA IP, Ori, Screamride and Gigantic are new but not in that AAA space so much. Quantum Break was originally intended to be that game in the line-up but has been moved to early 2016 to give it a bit of room to breathe and for that game it’s definitely the right choice. The biggest game for Microsoft is undoubtedly Halo 5 Guardians in October and that will be a huge release for them but overall its a great line-up.

But how does it compare to 2007? Looking at the line-ups, Microsoft include Tomb Raider, a third-party exclusive in their line-up so I think Lost Planet and Bioshock should be included too, given they were the same sort of deals:

  • Lost Planet (Capcom) – January [Western Release]
  • Fusion Frenzy 2 (Hudson Soft) – January
  • Crackdown (Realtime Worlds) – February
  • Forza Motorsport (Turn10 Studios) – May
  • Shadowrun (FASA Interactive) – May
  • Bioshock (Irrational Games) – August
  • Blue Dragon (Mistwalker/Artoon) – August [Western release]
  • Halo 3 (Bungie) – September
  • Project Gotham Racing 4 (Bizarre Creations) – October
  • Viva Piñata Party Animals (Krome Studios) – October
  • Scene It? Lights Camera Action (Screenlife/WXP) – November
  • Mass Effect (Bioware Corp) – November

A massive line-up of 12 titles, even if you were to take away the third-party exclusives it’s still a massive line-up with something for everyone, new IPs, reboots, sequels and spin-offs, it had literally everything and would be very difficult to top but Microsoft are certainly trying.

For me 2007 does come out in front, it was such a huge year and looking at the sort of franchises that were birthed or brought great sequels to the table in that year it was one of the biggest in gaming for releases ever.

2015 might not quite be able to top 2007 which was an insane year but it’s certainly not far off and just goes to show the incredible line-ups Xbox consoles have had in the past and have to look forward to as well. The Xbox 360s early years, whether through exclusives by default due to the late launching PS3 or Microsoft’s own line-up was a fantastic console.

Both Xbox 360 and One had a large amount of exclusives at launch and had slightly less from Microsoft before the next holiday in between but I’m going to go on record and say I think 2016 may be the year that will topple 2007 from the summit of Xbox history, we know quite a few things that are intending to release there already and much like 2007 brings new IPs galore to the platform with some sequels as well:

2016:

  • Quantum Break (Remedy Entertainment) – Early 2016
  • ReCore (Armature Studios/Comcept) – Spring 2016
  • Scalebound (Platinum Games) – 2016
  • Sea of Thieves (Rare) – Holiday 2016
  • Gears of War 4 (The Coalition) – Holiday 2016
  • Crackdown (Cloudgine) – TBC

Phil Spencer has hinted at some releases before E3 2016 along with what we know of ReCore’s announcement at E3 being for “Spring 2016 and I think Scalebound will join ReCore and Quantum Break in the first half of 2016 with Crackdown joining Sea of Thieves and Gears of War 4 in the latter half of the year. Rare creative director Sim Woodroffe was retweeting and responding to articles on his twitter which mentioned a Holiday 2016 launch for Sea of Thieves so I think at this time it’s certainly a possibility.

With Gamescom aimed to show off Microsoft’s 2016 titles there are also a few other titles that could end up launching next year from internal developers or other partnerships they have going, Forza is a franchise that releases a game every year and we know Undead Labs have signed on for more State of Decay and given its been two years since it originally launched in June 2013 I think it’s a possibility:

  • Twisted Pixel – Unannounced project
  • Press Play – Unannounced project
  • Forza 2016 – New Forza entry from Playground Games?
  • State of Decay – The next title as part of their multi-title multi-year partnership with Microsoft

Even if as I said 2015 doesn’t match 2007 I think next year is going to be a huge year for Xbox and by far their biggest. They said they have their best line-up ever and I think in general with some huge partnerships and exciting properties in development both new IPs and entries in established franchises, they are right, this is the best overall line-up they’ve ever had, we’ve never had it better and things are only going to continue to move forwards from here.

Roll on Gamescom (and Rare Replay!) in early August.

Microsoft Studios – Current projects list (E3 2015 Super Mega Turbo Edition)

E3 2015 Edition

First-party studios:

  • 343 Industries – Halo 5: Guardians (Xbox One) / Halo: The Master Chief Collection updates (Xbox One)
  • Big Park – Entertainment and sports apps (Xbox One)
  • Decisive Games – Unannounced strategy game
  • [Fun]ction Studios – Hololens development
  • Good Science Studio – Hololens development
  • Lift London – Touch Devices Project / 3 unknown projects
  • Lionhead Studios – Fable Legends (Xbox One/PC) / New IP
  • LXP – Hololens development
  • Mojang – Minecraft (PC/Mobile/Hololens) / Scrolls (PC/Mobile)
  • Press Play – Kalimba (Xbox One/PC)
  • Rare –  Sea of Thieves (Xbox One/PC) / RareReplay (Xbox One)
  • Team Dakota – Project Spark (Xbox One/PC)
  • The Coalition – Gears of War 4 (Xbox One) / Gears of War Ultimate Edition (Xbox One/PC)
  • Twisted Pixel – “AAA” game
  • Turn10 – Forza Motorsport 6 (Xbox One)

Second party studios (publishing relationships or contract work): (more…)

Microsoft 2015 E3 Conference Review

A very interesting show for Microsoft that focused mainly on their 2015 releases and the same for their 3rd party partners with a few exceptions. Xbox has by far the best first party line-up for the latter part of the year and this showed in their conference, where it was light was in showing their 2016 line-up with the exception of Gears of Wars 4 and ReCore.

GearsUE

For me the conference was pretty good but a tale of two sections really, Microsoft had a fantastic start with new gameplay for Halo 5 Guardians, a new IP in ReCore and then two big announcements in Backwards Compatibility and the Elite controller then moved on to 3rd party and indie games, and then back to first party games, Hololens and the Gears of War finale. The first half an hour was always going to be hard to match but the second hour didn’t quite get going as much for me although there were some definite highlights.

In terms of actual new announcements of first-party games I was a bit disappointed, we got two brand new games both of which are new IPs: ReCore (Comcept/Armature) and Sea of Thieves (Rare), ReCore was my favourite game of the show so far, the concept is interesting and I’m all about new IPs so it hit the spot perfectly for me I can’t wait to see more which will almost assuredly be Gamescom as its due out in Spring 2016 and the developers said to IGN that we would see more in the next couple of months. (more…)

Bethesda E3 Conference review

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Bethesda’s first E3 conference to me was an interesting test for them to see what worked and what didn’t, it wasn’t full of new announcements but it was a very solid show that didn’t hide too much behind curtains, there were five pillars to the show:

  • Doom
  • Battlecry
  • Elder Scrolls (Online/Legends)
  • Dishonored (II and Definitive Edition)
  • Fallout (4/Shelter)

They showed a ton of Doom like they need to, id have a lot to prove after various cancelled versions and reboots before finally coming to this idea and they made sure to let everyone know about all of it, two decent sized campaign demos, multiplayer trailer, SnapMap which looked cool then there was another trailer in the post show with Adam Sessler and Morgan Webb, its due for release in Spring 2016. (more…)

Ratings Boards #2: More games coming to Xbox One

Round 2 of my compilation of newest games rated by PEGI (EU), USK (Germany) and ESRB (US)

Magnetic: Cage Closed

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  • Developer/Publisher: Guru games/Gambitious Digital Entertainment
  • Rated: PEGI
  • Visit: Website – Steam page

“First person puzzle game where the player manipulates magnetic forces to accomplish their goals. The mechanics are focused around a single tool: The Magnet Gun which allows you to create electromagnetic fields with either positive or negative charges.”

FORCED (more…)

Microsoft are making the right moves in the PC market, so far

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In their early console days both the Original Xbox generation and early Xbox 360 years a key pillar of Microsoft’s content and support was from getting generally PC only developers/publishers over to their console, these games weren’t at the time necessarily “megatons” or massive additions to the library but they were generally high quality titles that fit in well to their line-up.

The platforms benefitted from console exclusive partnerships with companies like Valve (Half Life 2 – Xbox, Left 4 Dead 1/2), Bethesda (Morrowind, Oblivion), id Software (Doom 3),  Lucasarts (Armed and Dangerous, Star Wars KOTOR 1/2, Republic Commando) and Ion Storm (Deus Ex Invisible War/Thief Deadly Shadows). On the other side of the coin they also got PC developers to make exclusives for them like DICE (Rallisport Challenge/Midtown Madness), Epic (Gears of War/Shadow Complex), Crytek (Ryse), Bioware (Jade Empire/Mass Effect) and Lionhead (Fable and the cancelled BC before acquiring them in 2006) as well as others.

I believe this was always been a cornerstone of how Microsoft ran their Xbox division, yes the console was the focus but they didn’t discriminate from PC releases or getting PC developers on their platform and not on Playstation. (more…)

The Swapper Review

RulezPlay Screenshot 2015-06-04 23-13-56

The Swapper by Finnish developer Facepalm Games is an atmospheric puzzle game set deep in space, originally released in May 2013 on Steam, in August 2014 on Playstation 4, Playstation 3 and PSVita and now in June 2015 it finally comes to Xbox One!

As you land on a seemingly abandoned space station you soon find a mysterious device called “The Swapper” which allows the user to create clones of themselves (up to 4) and swap themselves between these clones and by using both of these different types of abilities you can fully explore the station. Game progress comes in the form of orbs, you get to certain doors and it will tell you how many orbs you need to collect to pass through.

RulezPlay Screenshot 2015-06-04 23-16-50 (more…)

Twisted Pixel working on a “AAA game”

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Some pre-E3 info I’ve noticed from a relatively new employee on Linkedin is that their next game, by one person at least, is being referred to as a “AAA” game.

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Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 23.08.57

(Via Linkedin)

This is quite interesting, especially given the studio is only at 26 people according to Linkedin and even if that number was slightly wrong I doubt they are very far north of 30-35, I also like the enthusiasm of “amazing up coming AAA title” and “some super duper cool AAA game”, at least he is positive about the project being worked on!

So what does AAA mean? Well, AAA is often a budget/scope/resources indicator I’ve always thought, how much is the publisher spending on the game? Is it a big budget game for the studio? And this is where I think I understand what is meant in context here. (more…)

Microsoft trademarked “Xbox Sports” in late 2012, Joe Montana NFL 16 link/rumours and E3 unveil

See the update at the bottom for more information

There have been some rumours recently that Microsoft creating an NFL game under the name of “Joe Montana NFL Football 16” with the following details making up the rumour, I’ve cut the details down a lot and there is much more definitely worth reading at the link itself (skip over it if you have seen the details before)

  • Xbox One and PC only with Microsoft Studios as the publisher. They’re taking early advantage of the Windows 10 cross-plat tech and the game will be out as part of 10’s 3-month launch cycle in the middle of this year, releasing in mid-late July
  • The game is called Joe Montana NFL Football 16. First-party stipulations that the NFL has always left open & the NFL’s exclusive relationship with Microsoft allows for Microsoft to have an NFL game.
  • The game was demoed and it went well. Actually, “well” is an understatement. People went crazy. NDA’s were and still are in place for them. That’s why you haven’t heard anyone saying anything, but a lot of people are having a very hard time because what they seen was unbelievable and it’s been impossible to go back to Madden or even take Madden seriously after that. It’s like, how you felt when you had an NES and you saw Sega Genesis for the first time. The step up in quality is THAT big.
  • 2K is involved. Should be obvious from some tweets/re-tweets and comments both Joe Montana and Damon Grow have made. Some tech and manpower was purchased from 2K and is deeply incorporated into this game.
  • The franchise mode will be able to be managed on mobile devices and it’s really deep.
  • The iMFL app was never meant to be released. Its entire production was a prototyping run for its franchise mode and management system with the intent of using it in Joe Montana NFL Football 16. Even the TechCrunch interview was part of the staging.
  • There are a few important modes. One is a story mode and it’s pretty cool. Think NBA 2K My Player. That’s what you’re getting.
  • The graphics, animations and AI are all obscenely good and modern. It looks like a game that was built for this new generation, not just a port over from last generation with a ton of sloppy tweaks. The animations are easily the most crisp of any sports game ever made. Comparing the animations to Madden, it’s going make Madden look like a PS1 game by comparison. (Via Operation Sports.com)

(more…)

Ultratron Review

RulezPlay Screenshot 2015-05-27 18-38-34Ultratron by Puppy Games is a retro-futuristic inspired robot blasting twin-stick shooter with collecting money and power ups to bolster your humanoid battle droid then take him into the arena and shoot your way to higher scores. It takes after such games as Robotron 2084 and is a really fun game which is easy to get into.

It uses the standard twin-stick set-up with right thumbstick for shoot and left thumbstick for moving the robot around, if you have any smart bombs blow them up with the right trigger and right bumper is a speed boost if you’ve bought the ability. When you complete a level your multiplier increases to a maximum of 5 which is lost if you get hit, the multiplier boosts your score and the cash you can pick up, different enemies drop different amounts. There are also various power ups to collect which you get from shooting a spider droid which occasionally darts across the screen. (more…)

Ratings Boards #1: Downloadable games coming to Xbox One

The PEGI and USK (Europe/Germany) ratings boards are usually a very good sign of what games are coming soon because age rating a game is usually one of the last things that come through in the development process.

I won’t bother with games already dated or released, instead just focusing on the ones that we didn’t really  know would be out soon along with a small description of the game, for those interested. Sometimes you get the odd game that is strangely rated but never released for a platform but the majority of these games are announced for Xbox One and it’s just some evidence they might be appearing soon:

Penarium

Penarium

  • Developer/Publisher: Self Made Miracle/Team17 Digital
  • Rated: PEGI/USK
  • Visit: WebsiteSteam page

(more…)

Mini-reviews #2: The Walking Dead Season 1& 2, Retro City Rampage DX and Flockers

Telltale’s The Walking Dead Season 1 & 2 (Xbox One):

I didn’t write about my experience with Season 1 so I will put both of them together. My first exposure to Telltale’s style of more recent games with Game of Thrones and I’ve enjoyed that a lot, going back to The Walking Dead I can really see where the style came from and how it evolved between the two seasons and then on to Game of Thrones.

The more important thing I guess is the story here and despite not knowing much about the series whether through comic books, TV shows or anything else I really like how its done, the story moves on quickly and the pacing is excellent. It’s important to have something interesting happen every episode to make people want to play the next one much like in a TV series but with such bite sized chunks of content its impressive how well they manage to do that.

My least favourite episode was the 500 Days one from the end of Season 1 which was used to bridge the gap as it felt unfocused but both seasons are great and well worth playing, I enjoy the choices you have to make and then seeing the consequences for those choices as you move forwards, with all the different options at the end of Season 2 I’m not sure where they will take it really but it ends on a great cliffhanger. (more…)

Lifeless Planet: Premier Edition Review

RulezPlay Screenshot 2015-05-20 02-11-15I really enjoyed Interstellar, I thought it was great and possibly even one of my favourite films, it was so good that I actually bought the Blu-ray with the art book which is unusual for me! Thats how much I liked it tough and I was always disappointed there wasn’t some of proper story focused planet space exploration game to go with it (anyone who mentions the iOS game will be blacklisted!).

Enter Lifeless Planet: Premier Edition, which I’ve been looking forward to since it was announced for Xbox One at E3 2014 . It really scratched that itch of exploration and discovery for me, it’s not an action game with big explosions or an RPG with a deep level of progression its an adventure platformer which allows you to experience what it would be like to seek life on another planet, before finding an abandoned Russian town on it that is.

RulezPlay Screenshot 2015-05-20 01-37-18

Rough landing

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Hype: The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt (19th May)

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The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt by CD Projekt Red finally comes out this week for Xbox One, Playstation 4 and PC, the epic RPG has been long awaited by fans of the franchise and newcomers alike.

“The world is in chaos. The air is thick with tension and the smoke of burnt villages. The fearsome Empire of Nilfgaard has struck again, ravaging the hapless Northern Kingdoms. The once mighty who tried to use Geralt for their own gain are now gone. In these uncertain times, no one can say what fortune holds in store, who will bring peace to the world and who will cause it only misery. But a force darker and deadlier emerges. The petty men and women commanding tin-plated armies fail to understand that their conflict is child’s play compared to the Wild Hunt, the otherworldly threat which now looms. These ghastly spectral riders have for ages plagued humankind, bringing misery to the world. Yet this time the Wild Hunt seeks one person in particular: the one individual Destiny itself bestowed upon Geralt, the one soul Geralt considers kin.”

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Featuring a fantastic looking open-world the game looks like a true next-gen game and behemoth of a game to get stuck into. My first exposure to The Witcher franchise was when it came to Xbox 360 and I had a great time playing that, the world felt alive and great, it had a deep and interesting story with lots of different gameplay features and mechanics that I enjoyed a lot and I think this will out do its predecessor in every way. (more…)