Halo Infinite Now Slated for Fall 2021 Release

Halo Infinite was supposed to be a launch title for the Xbox S|X and as we all know, that did not happen. 343 made the right call after the July 2020 campaign demo that was less than stellar to delay the title. However, we did get Craig the Brute out of it, so there was at least one positive thing that came out of it.

Halo/Bungie veteran, Joseph Staten was brought back on at 343 to help right the ship and get the highly anticipated title whipped into shape. Hopefully, under Staten’s direction Halo Infinite meet lofty expectations and bring a much needed exclusive the the Xbox Series X that can really show off what the hardware can do.

Staten details his plan in a recent Halo Waypoint blog post. There are some great details, particularly with how the graphics are shaping up. Looks like Craig the Brute will be more emotive and less stoic when the game finally launches in 2021

[Source: Halo Waypoint]

Xbox Dumps Cortana—Updates to Home Screen UI Underway

Microsoft announced that changes are coming to the Xbox One’s user interface.

First off, the home screen will be getting a face lift. Secondly, Cortana is being dumped. Cortana is going to need to pack her bags and find some place else to go. She’s a strong, brave, and independent AI so she will be fine, you’ll see.

Cortana being strong, brave, and independent.

Other than Cortana getting kicked to the curb, the updates to the home screen UI are welcome change.

“The Home on Xbox One is the first thing you see when you turn on your Xbox One, and we want to deliver an easy and seamless experience for you to navigate your console. We’ve heard your feedback and have continued to iterate on Home to get you into your gaming experiences faster and keeping more of your content front and center. With today’s update, we’re experimenting with a streamlined user interface.

With this new experimental Home design, the first thing you’ll notice is we’ve removed the Twists from the top of Home in favor of separate buttons that launch your gaming experiences. The goal is to let you jump into Xbox Game Pass, Mixer, Xbox Community and Microsoft Store quicker than ever. We’ve also shifted things around to make more room for your recently played titles.”

Microsoft

Xbox Insider members already have access to the new UI. The new UI will be rolled out to everyone this fall.

[Source: Microsoft]

Microsoft Announces Xbox Game Pass Service

Microsoft has announced today via the official Xbox Blog, a new service called Xbox Game Pass, that will give gamers access to hundreds of titles for $9.99 per month.

At Xbox, we put gamers at the center of everything we do and remain committed to giving you the freedom to play the games you want, with the friends you want, on the devices you want. This year is shaping up to be an exciting one for gamers. As we prepare to launch Project Scorpio this holiday, bringing the most powerful console ever made to the Xbox One family of devices, we continue to make platform improvements to connect the growing community of players on Xbox Live and add to a robust and diverse portfolio of games across Xbox One and Windows 10.

Today, we’re continuing our commitment to give you more options to diversify and expand your library of games with Xbox Game Pass, a new gaming subscription service coming later this spring. Xbox Game Pass gives you unlimited access to over 100 Xbox One and backward compatible Xbox 360 games – all for $9.99 per month.

Sounds like a Microsoft version of EA Access or a gaming version of Netflix, if you will.

An interesting concept, and at one time, this would’ve resonated with me. I love gaming (obviously), but I can’t see myself using this service to its full potential to justify the cost. I also have concerns over the size of library and quality of the library.

Microsoft promises that new games will be added every month and that subscribers will get additional discounts if you want to purchase game add-ons or DLC. You don’t need to be an Xbox Gold subscriber to sign-up for Game Pass, but you won’t be able to play multiplayer games, which is a bit of a bummer.

Xbox Game Pass is slated for launch Spring 2017.

[Source: http://news.xbox.com/2017/02/28/introducing-xbox-game-pass/#8h280JBK6Rbhe3bw.99%5D

[Source: http://www.xbox.com/en-US/games/xbox-game-pass%5D

Middle-Earth: Shadow Of War Officially Announced

After Target let the cat out of the bag early, Warner Bros. has officially announced the sequel to 2014’s Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, Middle-earth: Shadow of War.

The slated release date for the title is August 22, and it’s coming out on PC, PS4, and Xbox One. To add a wrinkle, since we live in an interesting (some would say confusing) state of console gaming, the title will also be interchangeable between PS4 and PS4 Pro, as well as the Xbox One and the Xbox Scorpio. It will also be an “Xbox Play Anywhere” game, so the WB is covering all their bases.

An official official gameplay reveal is scheduled for March 8, so more to come.

Microsoft Shows off a Bit of the Sea of Thieves Technical Alpha

Sea of Thieves, the upcoming open world action-adventure game from Rare and Microsoft Studios for seems to be coming together nicely.

Microsoft has released a video of the latest updates to the technical alpha and the game is looking like a stunner. Graphics aside, the title looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun.

I wasn’t cool enough to get into the alpha, so I guess the video will have to suffice.

Awwww Snap – Xbox One Snap Feature Gets the Boot

The much ballyhooed “snap” feature touted at the Xbox One launch is getting sent to the scrap heap. Microsoft’s Ybarra states that this is in order to free up system resources, for “bigger things.”

This news comes on the heals of the recently announced Xbox One system update, which is being rolled out to members of the Xbox Insider program first.  Microsoft promises that this latest update will noticeably improve the console’s performance.

With the Latest Update, the Xbox One Becomes More Accessible

The Xbox One is getting a software update soon, and along with all the standard UI tweaks is coming a feature that will help disabled gamers.

Microsoft calls the new feature Copilot and it essentially allows two Xbox One controllers to act as one unit. According to the official Xbox blog,

This will help make Xbox One more inviting to new gamers needing assistance, more fun by adding cooperative controls for any game and easier for players who need unique configurations to play — whether that is with hands apart, hand and chin, hand and foot, etc…

Anything that gets more people gaming is a good thing.

[Source: Microsoft]

Latest Xbox One Update Can Significantly Boost Download Speeds

Incremental software updates can be pretty dull. Usually the changes are barely noticeable or simply staging things for a bigger more exciting update later. The latest software update for the Xbox One however, has a very welcomed improvement that will be very noticeable.

Waiting hours for a game to download is a problem for many gamers who spurned physical media. This is an issue on the PS4 and Xbox One, but it feels a lot more pronounced on the later. The latest software update however, for the Xbox One can boost download speeds from 40% to 80%. That’s nothing to sneeze at.

Of course, your download speed can be impacted by your own home network contention or if you have a crap ISP. Also, if you’re playing a game online, download speeds can be slower as the console will prioritize gameplay over downloads.

Phil Spencer: “Nearly 50% of XB1 owners playing BC games”

Phil Spencer is puffing his chest out a bit here and really, who can blame him? The Xbox One backwards compatibility program is a great service and sets it apart from the competition.

These numbers are really not all that surprising though, if you think about the all of the Xbox 360s sold (shit-ton) and games purchased (massive shit-ton). Also, I’m sure they have counted folks like me who tried the backwards compatibility once and then never went back to it again.

Still impressive though.