Microsoft announces backward compatibility for original Xbox games

Microsoft said it will make original Xbox games backward compatible with its Xbox One X and Xbox One S video game consoles.

Microsoft made the announcement at its press event at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). Phil Spencer, head of Xbox at Microsoft, said onstage that Microsoft has 385 games from the Xbox 360 that are compatible with the Xbox One. But he said that the company had heard requests from fans to do more.

So Microsoft will now add games from the original Xbox to its list of games that are now compatble. And if you have gears of War 4, Forza Horizon 2, Minecraft, Halo Wars 2, and others, then you will get Xbox One X upgrades for free.

Source: Venture Beat

Xbox One X Minecraft 4K gets cross-platform multiplayer

Given that Minecraft is going on six years old, you’d be forgiven for thinking that there wasn’t anything left to announce about the indie favorite. You’d be wrong, of course, because Microsoft had not one, but two big things to reveal for Minecraft during its E3 2017 press conference today. This first was that Minecraft will get the 4K treatment … Continue reading
Source: Slash Gear

Microsoft Unveils The Smallest Xbox Ever — The Xbox One X

An anonymous reader quotes The Verge:
After months of speculation, Microsoft is unveiling its “Project Scorpio” games console today, and it’s officially named Xbox One X. Microsoft’s Xbox One X naming comes just days after the company trademarked a mysterious S logo, and started dropping Scorpio hints in its E3 teaser videos. Microsoft is planning to launch the Xbox One X on November 7th worldwide. All existing Xbox One accessories will work on the new Xbox One X, alongside all existing Xbox 360 backwards compatible titles and Xbox One games. Microsoft is even planning to use “super sampling” on the One X to make new games look better even on 1080p TVs. [YouTube] The new console will ship with 6 teraflops of graphical power, more than its main competitor, the PS4 Pro, with 4.2 teraflops. Microsoft is using a custom GPU engine on Scorpio that runs at 1172MHz, a big increase over the Xbox One’s 853MHz and even Sony’s 911MHz found on the PS4 Pro.
Microsoft says the new Xbox One X is the “smallest Xbox ever.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Source: SlashDot

Why Assassin’s Creed: Origins is going to Egypt and revamping the series

Assassin’s Creed wants to be a big deal again. Origins, which Ubisoft announced earlier today, hopes to do that by rethinking many of the franchise’s core mechanics.

Assassin’s Creed: Origins is coming out for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on October 27. The new entry looks to revitalize the open-world franchise after it took 2016 off (at least in gaming, the Assassin’s Creed movie did come out last year). It’s a important series for Ubisoft, selling more than 100 million games so far. But after over a decade of relying on similar mechanics, Assassin’s Creed is trying to shake a few things up.

We got to talk with Assassin’s Creed: Origins producer Julien Laferriere after playing a demo. He explained the franchise’s new direction, its updated combat, expanded role-playing game mechanics, and why it’s going to Egypt.

Above: You can fight with ranged attacks or melee weapons.

Image Credit: Assassin’s Creed: Origins revamps the series with new combat and more RPG stuff

GamesBeat: Egypt was a location people have been speculating about for Assassin’s Creed ever since it became evident that the series would go to many different places. Why finally use that setting this time?

Laferriere: One thing that’s cool about working on this franchise is the fans we have. We love to watch everyone speculate on the forums and talk about where future games might end up. Egypt is a fan favorite, but it’s also something we’ve wanted to do for a long time as well. We wanted to wait for the moment we could do it right.

What you saw in the demo is only a small portion of Egypt. We wanted to do the whole country — the cities, the major landmarks, the pyramids, the Sphinx, the desert, the oasis. We wanted different biomes and different wildlife to encounter. To have the civilization feel alive, we had to do the whole country, we had to do it right, and we had to have some time for that process.

GamesBeat: Why this particular era? I think the year was 49 BCE.

Laferriere: Right, 49 BCE. What’s fun about starting at this point is we have 3,000 years of Egyptian history behind us already. All the major landmarks are there. We wanted to touch on the dichotomy between an ancient tradition and a new world order. It’s a pivotal moment in history, fitting around Cleopatra’s ascension to the throne. We felt like it was an interesting point in time. We could tell the story of an old civilization witnessing a major historical change. It was a good time for storytelling.

GamesBeat: Assassin’s Creed has always blended real historical figures in its story. Are we going to see figures like Cleopatra and Julius Caesar play roles?

Laferriere: Cleopatra is in the game, as are other major figures. You’ll have to wait until later in the campaign to see more of them announced. Likewise, any connection to the present-day story of Assassin’s Creed will be communicated later on.

GamesBeat: The first thing that struck me playing the demo was how different the combat felt. For a long time Assassin’s Creed was very counter-based. Why revamp it now?

Laferriere: I’m happy you noticed that. There’s a lot of work behind it. We rewrote the system from the ground up. The key to that — it was a governing theme to the design of the game. We wanted to give as much freedom as we could to players. The combat system is part of that. First of all, there’s a seamless transition between melee and ranged combat. If you’re more of an archery kind of player, we support that as well. But in melee combat we have more than 150 weapons in the game. Their speed, size, and length all affect the way you play. Not to get too technical, but it’s a hitbox system. Your choice of weapon impacts how you interact with the NPCs (non-player characters). We also reworked the NPC AI, so they’ll attack you all at once. I don’t know if you played in the arena, but that’s a very good example of how the combat system evolved.

Above: Assassin’s Creed goes Egyptian.

Image Credit: UBisoft

GamesBeat: In past games, enemies would seem to wait their turn for you to kill them. The AI seems smarter now.

Laferriere: We wanted to reward players with the learning curve. Once you master the combat system, it feels really good. It keeps improving as you pick up better weapons and different types of weapons. We wanted to cater to that kind of gameplay.

GamesBeat: The new game also has more RPG elements. Your character levels up. You have a skill tree. It almost reminded me of Far Cry. Why bring those sorts of systems to Assassin’s Creed?

Laferriere: We’ve had RPG elements here and there ever since Brotherhood. But we really made the full switch to more of an action-RPG game here. It goes back to what I was telling you about player freedom. It’s a way to create an Assassin’s Creed experience for the play style that you want. The RPG elements suit that pretty well. If you’re more of a stealth-oriented player, you can develop the part of the skill tree with abilities related to stealth.

You might want to craft and upgrade your hidden blade to kill your enemies more quietly. If you’re more of a warrior type, we have weapons with different rarity levels. You can upgrade those parts of the tree as well. It’s really about freedom. That’s the key to this design direction.

GamesBeat: Are you talking about multiplayer plans right now?

Laferriere: We have connected features in the game, but again, we’ll talk about that later on.

GamesBeat: I was playing the game on a Scorpio. I was wondering if you could talk about the advantages you get from that version of the Xbox One?

Laferriere: We always like to have new toys to play with. A new platform is always super exciting. Scorpio enables us to render the game in 4K on capable screens. We have a dynamic resolution system. We’re enabling the full power of the different platforms we’re working on. Scorpio is super cool to develop for. It’s a platform that we already know well. We’re happy to be developing in the Microsoft environment.

Above: The water looks great.

Image Credit: Assassin’s Creed: Origins revamps the series with new combat and more RPG stuff

GamesBeat: One of the abilities that stood out to me was the way you can use your eagle to tag enemies. It was really cool, but I wonder if that could make the game a little too easy. You don’t have to scale buildings to scope things out anymore.

Laferriere: The reason why we have the eagle in the game — first of all, we’re telling an origin story. Having the eagle, relating that to the birth of the eagle vision, that’s all very interesting. But also, because the world is so big, having the eagle gives you a top-down view. With the NPCs we have, all with their own agenda — I don’t know if you saw in the demo, but if you target an NPC with your eagle, it’ll tell you what that NPC is doing. It’s another way of planning your attack, or just exploring the world. “Oh, that farmer’s going home for dinner with his family.” The eagle offers a fresh perspective.

As a gameplay element, one thing that’s cool is it’s linked with all the reachable high points in the game. When you reach the high points yourself, it’ll improve the way the eagle can locate your targets. So when you reach the mid-game, you might have a mid-level eagle. The way you can tag enemies is interesting, but it’s also worth mentioning that you can achieve the same result by aiming with your bow. Your objectives are also revealed if you get closer to your targets. Hopefully players will use the eagle and love the eagle, but there are different ways of getting the result you want.

GamesBeat: One thing that impressed me was the water and how that looked, especially the way the ship breaks through the water.

Laferriere: You have a good eye. We’re super happy to be collaborating with Ubisoft Singapore on that one. The water, like you said, is beautiful. We have full physics with the waves and the way your boat rides them. The sunsets and the reflections on the water are amazing. Also, you can dive underwater in any body of water in the game. There are treasures and loot to discover that way. It adds another layer of gameplay and exploration.

GamesBeat: What’s the scale of the water aspect of the game like? I’m not expecting something like Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, that takes place out on the ocean, but how much of the game world is covered by water?

Laferriere: Water plays an important role in the game. It’s an alternate way of navigating. There are rivers and lakes. It plays a big part. But the deserts and forested areas also play a big role. We have some naval combat in the game that we’ll be talking about later in the campaign.

VentureBeat’s PC Gaming channel is presented by the Intel® Game Dev program. Stay informed about the latest game dev tools and tips. Get the news you can use.

Source: Venture Beat

Assassin’s Creed: Origins refreshes Ubisoft’s flagship series with new combat and loot drops

After months of leaks, Ubisoft finally revealed Assassin’s Creed: Origins during Microsoft’s Electronic Entertainment Expo event in Los Angeles today.

The open-world game is coming October 27 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. After taking a break last year, the Assassin’s Creed series is back with an Egyptian setting. But Ubisoft is counting on more than an interesting location to help relaunch this 100 million game-selling franchise. Assassin’s Creed: Origins has new role-playing game mechanics and combat systems.

We had a chance to play Origins at Ubisoft’s pre-E3 event in Los Angeles. While fans of the franchise will find plenty that’s familiar, some big changes make the experience feel fresh.

Above: Egyptian sunrise.

Image Credit: Assassin’s Creed: Origins revamps the series with new combat and more RPG stuff

Welcome to Egypt

Origins takes place in Egypt in 49 BCE. This is right around when the Egyptian empire began to decline, right before Cleopatra became Pharaoh (she’ll appear in the game, following a series tradition of mixing historical figures with fictional characters made for the series).

You play as Bayek, the last of Medjay, an elite group of Egyptian soldiers. Origins takes place about 1,000 years before the first Assassin’s Creed, which the developer set during the Third Crusade. Origin will focus on the start of the Assassins Brotherhood.

Above: Fighting feels different.

Image Credit: Assassin’s Creed: Origins revamps the series with new combat and more RPG stuff

A new take on combat

As someone who has spent a good amount of time with the series, the new combat stood out as the biggest change. Past Assassin’s Creed games has focused on countering and combos. This made for reactive fighting, since the best strategy was to wait for someone to attack you. You could then time a button press to instantly kill them, and from there you could start a combo chain that could kill everyone else.

It looked nice, but it was dull and easy. You could kill almost everyone just by waiting to counter them, which made the whole “stealth” thing feel unnecessary. Why bother being sneaky if fighting is so easy?

Counters are gone in Origins. Instead, fights are all about blocking, dodging, and attacking. You have both light and heavy attacks, and you’ll be relying on evasive maneuvers to avoid enemies. In a lot of ways, it’s a more basic and simple system. But it makes fighting in Origins feel more dangerous, since you can no longer depend on constant one-hit kills.

Above: It’s not all sand.

Image Credit: Assassin’s Creed: Origins revamps the series with new combat and more RPG stuff

More RPG for Assassin’s Creed

Assassin’s Creed has had some RPG elements for a while, but Origins is really embracing the whole “action RPG” thing. Your character earns experience points and can level up, which lets you unlock new abilities in a skill tree. These can give you new moves, like an attack you can perform in the air, or helpful tools, like a smoke bomb.

Origins also has loot. Enemies can drop weapons and gear of different rarities, all with corresponding colors (blue is rare, purple is more rare, etc.). It’s a system familiar to anyone who has played a game like Diablo III or Destiny.

Above: The water looks great.

Image Credit: Assassin’s Creed: Origins revamps the series with new combat and more RPG stuff

Out on the water

You don’t spend all of your time in the desert. Origins features a large map containing Egyptian landmarks like the pyramids and the city of Alexandria. But you can also explore the Nile River. You can pilot ships and swim both on the surface and under water. And while I didn’t see any Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag-level naval battles, Ubisoft has confirmed that ship combat will be in the game.

But the water can be a dangerous place, since the Nile is filled with crocodiles and hippos. In fact, Egypt in general is teaming with wildlife, including lions and hyenas.

Above: You can fight with ranged attacks or melee weapons.

Image Credit: Assassin’s Creed: Origins revamps the series with new combat and more RPG stuff

More to come

Ubisoft has confirmed that Origins will have a present day component. In the series, an evil organization called Abstergo uses a device called the Animus to access the memories of people’s ancestors. That’s how the game can shift from these historical settings to the present. But Ubisoft has not given any details on what the present day portions of Origins will look like.

We also know that Origins is going to have multiplayer, but we also don’t any details for it. Past Assassin’s Creed multiplayer modes have focused on players trying to blend into their environments while hunting each other.

Above: Shield up.

Image Credit: Assassin’s Creed: Origins revamps the series with new combat and more RPG stuff

Can Creed make the comeback?

A lot of Origins feels similar. You’re still sneaking around, jumping across roofs, and stabbing people from behind. That stuff was always the core of the franchise, and it feels fluid and responsive in Origins. But the new RPG mechanics and combat do help make this new entry feel like a fresh start for the series.

But there are some trouble signs. Character models lack detail, suffering from a little bit of the “dead face’ problem that plagued Mass Effect: Andromeda. But this is still the alpha build, so that issue could get resolved before launch.

I’m also unsure about the eagle companion. You can summon this bird at any time to help you scope out locations and highlight enemies. It’s too convenient. You do have to unlock this ability from the skill tree, so you won’t have it right away, but it removes the incentive for players to scale tall structures and scope their surroundings out for themselves.

But most of what I saw was promising. Egypt look gorgeous, and I’m excited to have more time to explore this digital playground of ships, murder, and history.

VentureBeat’s PC Gaming channel is presented by the Intel® Game Dev program. Stay informed about the latest game dev tools and tips. Get the news you can use.

Source: Venture Beat