Try Out the Xbox One X Early – At Select Microsoft Stores

The Xbox One X is less than a month away, but you’ll have a chance to try out the powerful new console early, as long as you live near a participating Microsoft Store.

Participating venues, like the flagship store in New York will have the console plugged into fancy 4k displays to really show off the new consoles chops.

To see what Microsoft Store locations are participating, click here.

[Source: Microsoft]

Microsoft Opens Up on Mixed Reality on Xbox Platforms-Including Scorpio

So, I know of VR, and even AR, but thanks to Microsoft, I now have to worry about mixed reality (MR?). I’m losing track of all these realities. Whatever the case may be, Microsoft is working on it and they have a plan to bring it to the Xbox.

According to an official Microsoft blog post, the company has grand plans for mixed reality. In the near term, those plans are planted firmly on the PC platform, but they do have designs on taking the technology into gaming.

We’re also excited to share that Windows Mixed Reality experiences will light up on other devices over time, beyond desktop and Microsoft HoloLens. Our plan is to bring mixed reality content to the Xbox One family of devices, including Project Scorpio, in 2018.

So, this could mean practically anything. Will there be an actual Xbox headset? Perhaps.

[Source: Microsoft]

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.

More Xbox Scorpio Details Leaked

Digital Foundry is reporting that they have got their meat hooks on some freshly leaked Xbox Scorpio spec.

The report is tech heavy, and my eyes began to close over when trying to read it, because I’m not a patient man, but the key takeaway has to do with the Scorpio’s ESRAM, or rather,  according to the report, the lack of it.

Okay, so what’s the hullabaloo about the ESRAM black magic? Well, according to a Microsoft whitepaper obtained by Digital Foundry:

“ESRAM remains essential to achieving high performance on both Xbox One and Xbox One S… However, Project Scorpio and PC are not provided with ESRAM. Because developers are not allowed to ship a Project Scorpio-only SKU, optimising for ESRAM remains critical to performance on Microsoft platforms.”

In a nutshell, the RAM on the Scorpio will be faster, and better suited for Ultra HD, but developers are still going to have to stay within the parameters of ESRAM, so that games are compatible across Microsoft platforms.

I feel that this is a possible hindrance and limiting the full potential of what the Scorpio will be capable of achieving. I also wonder how long Microsoft will mandate this limitation. I have a feeling that at some point, they are going to let the developers have at it.

Project Scorpio is set to launch holiday 2017 and has been touted by Microsoft as being the most powerful console to date.

 

Bioware Working on Special Mass Effect Andromeda for the PS4 Pro – No Plans Yet for the Xbox Scorpio

This was lost in the ether before the holidays, but according to game site  Stevivor, Bioware is working on a special version of Mass Effect Andromeda that will make use of the extra horse power found in the PS4 Pro. Not so much for the Xbox Scorpio though.

Bioware producer Michael Gamble told Stevivor that…

“In the world of PS Pro, we do similar things where we say, ‘Okay, what are the strengths of the console, and how can we optimize to make that experience best for players?’ In terms of PS Pro, we’ll probably talk more technical about that in January or February.” 

Bioware is also not planning a Switch version according to Stevivor, which is a bit of a bummer, yet not at all surprising.

Phil Spencer – “I want Scorpio to be at a console price-point”

I like Phil Spencer. When he speaks, I feel that he’s being honest, which is refreshing. This is not a common trait among high level corporate executives. So when he leaks some minuscule details about upcoming projects, my ears perk up.

Phil Spencer and Aaron Greenberg were both interviewed by AusGamers concerning all things gaming at Microsoft.  It’s a great article and I highly recommend that you read it in its entirety.

One part I found particular interesting is on the Scorpio’s price point. There have been rumors swirling that the Scorpio was going to cause quite a dent on the pocket book. Spencer acknowledges this.

Really what it is, is you want a platform that is balanced between memory bandwidth, GPU power, you know, your ability to move memory and [an] amount of memory around in many ways is more inhibiting to the performance of your game than absolute teraflops on any one of the individual pieces, and when we designed Scorpio we really thought about this balanced rig that could come together at a price-point. Like, I want Scorpio to be at a console price-point, I’m not trying to go and compete with a high-end rig. And because we’re building one spec, we’re able to look at the balance between all the components and make sure that it’s something we really hit that matters to consumers and gamers.”

What Phil Spencer wants and what the console will actual cost can be totally different things when the Scorpio actually launches, but at least having a competitive price point is a concern of his.

Developer Insinuates A Big Jump Between Original Xbox One and Scorpio

We’re venturing into massive grains of salt territory here, but rumors and conjecture are fun, so strap in.

Via GamingBolt, Bodgan Iliesiu of Angry Mod Games, which in full disclosure specialize in mobile games, believes that you’re going to see a big difference between games developed specifically for Scorpio versus the original Xbox One.

“…It’s usually easy to pump up the graphics, to take advantage of the extra processing power. If the games are designed for the Xbox One, they’ll look great on Scorpio.”

If it’ll be the other way around, and the games will be pushed to the limits, to look amazing on the Scorpio first, it’ll probably feel like playing on an old laptop, when playing that game on the Xbox One.”

If that’ the actually the case, then the Scorpio sounds like it’ll be pretty impressive, but I don’t think this anything that we didn’t already know.

The proposed specs on the Scorpio are already impressive and if one were to specifically develop and optimize software for those specs, then of course running on anything less will be less than optimal.

Also, I don’t think Microsoft would allow a developer to actually do that as it appears that they are positioning the Scorpio similar to the PS4 Pro. All that can change of course.

With all that said, I wonder how far the Xbox One Scorpio could actually push games technically if compatibility with an original Xbox One was not an issue?

Spencer Hints that Xbox Scorpio Will Have “Premium” Price

So much Nintendo news lately. Here’s a welcomed change up from Microsoft.

According to Xbox boss Phil Spencer, via Gamepur, don’t expect the Xbox Scorpio to be cheap.

“Scorpio will be a premium console. It will cost more than S, obviously, this is how we are building it up. We have not announced the pricing yet, but want to make sure that the investment we are making in the product of Scorpio goes hand in hand with the requirement of high-end consumer and that means a higher price… There is not a single product you see and say ‘this is the product that defines how you are doing in the market’. It really is the repertoire of all products with prices and when we think of Scorpio it is for a high-end consumer who demands the maximum of a console, and the console built to meet that demand.”

I’m not surprised hearing that  Xbox Scorpio will be more expensive than the Xbox One S. We’re also talking about something that is a year away, so the Xbox One S may be less expensive by then anyway.