Xbox Report – GamesCom 2014

halo 5 feat

It’s that time of year again where the post-E3 glow has faded and another mid-summer pep up is needed to remind you to spend your Autumn cash. However before we go in to anything, I feel that, given the fallout from earlier, a glossary is needed for your understanding. So here we go:

Exclusive: A game or DLC that is only available on one console.

Timed Exclusive: A game or DLC that is available on one console for a period of time before being released to other consoles/platforms.

First on Console: A game that may already be out on other platforms but will appear on this console first, before others, with a time not determined.


 

So here is the big news of the day:

Rise of the Tomb Raider, the sequel to the incredibly well received Tomb Raider reboot of 2012 and the definitive Next-Gen editions, will be an Xbox exclusive. You might well have already seen the meltdown that this has caused on social networks and a fairly glib press release from Crystal Dynamics as to their reasons why. The facts are this: Sony’s twenty year relationship with heroine Lara Croft is at an end. The numbers we are assured add up, despite 10 million PS4’s being sold and supposedly outselling the Xbox One 3:1 along with the previous game outselling on PS4 2:1. I’m sure more will come over the coming months to explain what is seen as a very corporate and business based move.

Xbox One - WhiteSecondly is the big news on console packages that are being released. FIFA 15 will come with a console package as will, curiously, Sunset Overdrive with an exclusive white console. These are the standard Xbox One’s compared to the package shipping with Call of Duty Advanced Warfare.

So far, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the new Call of Duty was an Xbox One exclusive. It’s not but the communications certainly feel that way both in magazines and in the press. The timed exclusivity of DLC for Xbox is the only thing about the game that is completely Xbox for the time being. However the new package of a custom skinned Xbox and a digital version of the Day Zero edition along with a custom pad and (this is the big unit shifter) a 1TB (read that TERRABYTE) hard drive. That is actually a pretty sweet package and the single player gameplay footage looked very good. You may have many comparisons already but none of your games have Jason Statham sound-a-likes saying “bastards” after the Golden Gate Bridge is reduced to rubble.

In fact that swear made me note how the trailer for Sunset Overdrive was censored for saying ass. The console package is a strange one for this exclusive as there is an uncertainty about the game, if it is as good as it promises to be and if Xbox are putting way too many eggs in their basket. It looks very colourful, crazy and anarchic. But so did Brink… Remember Brink?

Of course you want to know about Halo and what we learned. Well, not much that we didn’t already know. We got to see some excellent footage running at a slightly weird 60 fps (weird as I’m so used to not seeing that in a Halo game) and that the new Netflix-esque Halo Channel (a newer sibling of Halo Waypoint) will give us exclusive game reward based content, social experiences and a whole lot more, including of course Halo Guardians.

The best news though is that the silence has broken over Quantum Break. Ever the coolest dude on planet earth, Sam Lake graced the stage and presented a time-bending third person action adventure where you can manipulate your world to your advantage in an effort to fix time, which has been broken by a big mean corporate baddy. Think the bullet time mechanics of Max Payne, or the Lucasarts game Fracture or Sierra’s Timeshift, with a story kind of like The Philadelphia Experiement (younger readers may need to search that one) that meets Quantum Leap/Sliders. But it looks pretty cool, even if we aren’t entirely sure why.

Fable Legends gave us a peek into the eye of evil, allowing us to play as THE bad guy, as opposed to playing a guy making evil choices. Forza Horizon 2 looked and played like a glossy Need for Speed Rivals cum Burnout with a bigger car set. Infact they also released the first ever Rolls Royce for a racing game and the new Formula E Renault Spark car for Forza 5 for free download, the latter of which is actually sitting in front of me in reality.

The casual mentions of Grand Theft Auto 5 were there along with a load of exclusive footballers for FIFA 15’s legends in Ultimate Team. Presented by Peter Schmeichel who effortlessly picked himself and his countrymen, the Laudrup brothers. The new mode has the England legends of Sir Bobby Moore and Alan Shearer along with Irish man mountain Roy Keane and Jay-Jay Okocha… Yes, you read that right.

The big kudos has to go to ID@Xbox, the indie game division. Because the line up for that is outstanding. All of these will be first on console (see your glossary) and include such big hitters as Plague Inc. Goat Simulator, Smite, Speed Runners (that should be excellent on consoles) and the fantastic Space Engineers. All of which have lit up steam and YouTube for the past year. There’s also Fruit Ninja Kinect 2, Frontier’s exclusive SteamRide (a Rollercoaster Tycoon/PAIN hybrid) which is an interesting development given the big IP that Frontier currently have that has been touted to grace consoles in future, and the very very quaint and exciting prison RPG The Escapists from Team 17, who will also be giving their back catalogue to the Xbox. Another indie exclusive is the beautiful art platformer Ori and the Blind Forest for which will also come to PC with its Trine/Child of Light-esque visuals and reality warping puzzles. Very pretty.

Down on the floor I got to get a hands on with Call of Duty, Halo 2, Forza Horizon 2, Minecraft Xbox One edition and Dying light along with some lovely demonstration gameplay of everything else. Keep your eyes peeled to TheGameJar and our twitter feeds throughout the week.

We got to see some videos of other games which were certainly interesting but not exclusive. The big story here though is the massive coup, if you want to call it that of snagging Tomb Raider away from what’s seen as its rightful home, new consoles and a great batch of indie games. The console maybe be statistically falling in sales to the PS4 but don’t count out the Xbox One yet. There is life and that life does indeed look very exciting.

[author]

How I Survived The Steam Summer Sale On A Mac

… I didn’t

So in case you didn’t know, I don’t have a PC. Well I have a PC I can use but I am an iMac user. In fact my decision to go to Apple computers was partly because I get too distracted by gaming on a PC to be productive. So how exactly did I manage to succumb to the wallet emptying frenzy of the Steam summer sale?

Well indie gaming played a big part of that. There are also some games that I have in preparation for them to come to Mac. But Steams support of the platform is growing very quickly. So here’s a quick list of what I managed to buy during the sale and a tiny bit before it too.


 

  • the walking dead 203 2Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
  • Amnesia: The Dark Descent
  • Counter-Strike (including source, GO, etc)
  • Endless Space
  • Goat Simulator
  • Kill Fun Yeah (gifted)
  • candles amnesia 1Noir Syndrome
  • Octodad: Dadliest Catch
  • Pixel Piracy
  • Super Meat Boy
  • Tomb Raider
  • The Walking Dead
  • goat simulator trailerThe Walking Dead: Season Two
  • The Witcher: Enhanced Edition
  • The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced

 

For a platform that doesn’t have a lot of gaming, I think that’s a very good haul. Tomb Raider is the only disappointment because I need OSX Mavericks to run it and I really don’t want to upgrade yet. But it was £2? And it stopped me getting the enhanced PS4 edition so I’m ok with that.

But, there were a few PC stragglers that I got too, partly because I’m sure they will come on Mac at some point. Those were Alan Wake/Alan Wake’s American Nightmare and Banished.

So despite having a non-gaming machine I still managed to get eighteen games. EIGHTEEN! If I had a PC you can imagine that I would have gone hambone on the finances.

The steam summer sale every year is met with fear and trepidation for ones financial wellbeing. Let’s be honest as well, the next generation of gaming is unlikely to fully hit us for another three months, maybe longer? So it makes sense to buy a heap load of games that I don’t actually have time to play.

the walking dead season 2 4The Black Friday-esque hysteria that gamers go through every time this happens is great. You can almost feel the shame dripping from the Facebook posts, Twitter updates and the like, of people who have realised they have a problem… I have a problem.

In all honesty I came in to the sale like a fully researched shopper. I wanted three of the games I actually purchased. Only three. Those were The Walking Dead games and Goat Simulator. Because the latter was finally Mac ready and the formers, well I don’t need an excuse to get those.

But I do find it interesting that I’m still buying games that I kind of had no intention of playing just because they looked okay and were at a decent price. A friend of mine text me saying he’d always wanted to play The Witcher because it looked interesting. I now own two of them. Endless Space was a nice looking game in the screenshots and the trailer, so I got it. Super Meat Boy was fun to watch and I imagine immensely frustrating to play. Pixel Piracy may have some sea legs behind it and Octodad has eight of those sea legs.

So looking back… I’ve mugged myself off quite successfully really and that is fantastic for gaming. I might have spent about £35-£45 all in all but I got a lot out of it, despite being a Mac gamer and arguably I got very good games out of it.

tomb raider 2Which is why it is sad that my best and favorite sale purchase didn’t come from Steam but from Xbox Live over the same period. That was Sonic Generations. What an excellently fun game that is!

The thing is with gaming, I find myself looking at co-op games more and more now, especially as more of my friends are separated by distance and family commitments that remote gaming is far more important and we still want to share the joy of a game. I don’t mean the kill all the noobs sharing but the working together sharing. And the increase of games on the Mac and the Steam sale combined really does start to link my PC playing friends and me closer together.

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All I need now is for GOG to hurry up and make the Rollercoaster Tycoon and Heroes of Might and Magic series available for Mac and I’m sorted.

[author]