Xbox Game Pass -- Microsoft's subscription-based service with a playable library of over 100 games and growing -- will now include a number of in-house exclusives releasing through the service alongside their premium retail release.
What this means is, instead of forking out the premium price for, say, Sea of Thieves, you'll be able to play the full game as part of your Xbox Game Pass subscription alongside other games such as State of Decay 2, Crackdown 3 and more. Microsoft has also pledged to drop new iterations of major franchises like Halo and Gears of War into Xbox Game Pass on the same day as their full launch.
Here's what Phil Spencer has to say about the initiative:
Our fans have also asked for more choice in the subscription offerings available for Xbox Game Pass. As part of today’s library expansion, we are also pleased to announce that we are working closely with our retail partners, such as GameStop, to offer a 6-month Xbox Game Pass subscription card for those fans who look for a variety of ways to purchase and enjoy new games and services. The 6-month Xbox Game Pass subscription card will be available at select retail partners for $59.99 beginning March 20. By working closely with retail partners, Xbox Game Pass will have valuable ambassadors in popular destinations for gamers to discover new and exciting games and enjoy community.
With the addition of more great games, new blockbuster releases and a new subscription offer, we are giving fans more choice and value in how they discover and enjoy games – purchase games for their permanent library or play through Xbox Game Pass for one low price.
We’ve only scratched the surface of the opportunity this new model brings to the industry and what we can deliver to our fans. We firmly believe Xbox Game Pass will be a catalyst to create new opportunities for game developers and publishers to innovate in the way games are developed and delivered, leading to entirely new ways to play.
Xbox Game Pass is only USD$9.95 per month and works across the entire Xbox family of platforms.
From January 31, a closed alpha for the competitive multiplayer bounty hunting game, Hunt: Showdown, will kick off on Steam for select players chosen from a sign up list. And there's still time to register your interest.
During Closed Alpha, the Hunt team will be testing gameplay, balancing, and backend functionality, as well as collecting feedback from the community. Closed Alpha testers will be randomly chosen from the sign-up list, and those chosen will receive an email invite.
Hunt: Showdown is a competitive multiplayer bounty hunting game that mixes PvP with PvE elements in a handcrafted sandbox environment. During each match up to ten players, hunting solo or in teams of two, track and kill gruesome monsters for a bounty—when they aren’t tracking and killing each other in order to steal it. During Hunt’s Closed Alpha phase new content—in the form of new weapons, equipment, traits, and ranks—will be continuously released and tested.
Head over here to sign up for the alpha now, and check out the trailer below if you're not already all over this game, which I have to say is looking pretty promising.
Last week the Australian Open commenced, and to coincide with the beginning of the first grand slam tennis tournament of the year developer Big Ant Studios released AO Tennis. The first high-profile tennis game in quite sometime, and one that aimed to provide a deep and rewarding simulation take on the sport.
So, how does it far? Well...
Outside of the moderately impressive looking Rod Laver Arena and passable player models, it’s mostly terrible.
Where to begin? Well, without going into detail about how player physics and ball momentum feel off and robotic, when they aren’t behaving erratically or seemingly doing their own thing, one simply needs to look at the presentation. Outside of the fact that there’s no real commentary, pre-game or post-game chatter, or any real music (apart from Track 03 of the Generic Menu Music CD utilised on the main menu), there’s something lifeless about AO Tennis.
Delayed due to the little thing that happened over the break, called Spectre and Meltdown. And no we're not talking about a buddy-cop comedy set in the Mass Effect Universe. But, a world-wide CPU hardware security flaw that resulted in just about every PC suffering from some form of performance anxiety. And so we bring you, our full benchmarks of the AusGamers 3000 from 1080p through to UltraWide 1440p. And 4K.
And today, after a few delays, we finally bring you the long-awaited benchmarks. Which were completed and ready to run prior to the holiday break - but then the whole CPU security flaw and mandatory updates thing happened. Where key flaws in CPU hardware design, over several years, led to critical OS updates just this past week that would impact performance in just about every system. And with names like Spectre and Meltdown, you knew they were serious.
Which meant that we then had to re-run all tests this past weekend. As per previous notes from AMD it was expected that the main performance hits for the mandatory updates would be felt on Intel-based systems. Which seems to be true as we saw very little if any change to performance across most games and even productivity benchmarking. The only noticeable difference was a slight performance drop in Assassin’s Creed Origins.
One of last year's biggest, most visually impressive games in Assassin's Creed Origins will be getting its first bout of downloadable content on January 24 for all platforms, while Ubisoft has also revealed details and release dates around more post-release content.
DLC 1 -- The Hidden Ones (January 24):
This story-driven expansion builds upon the growth of the Brotherhood, taking players four years after the events of Assassin’s Creed Origins as they clash with an occupying Roman force in a new region of the world, the Sinai. This expansion will increase the level cap to 45, allowing players to continue to upgrade and customize their character. Players will have access to four new legendary weapons, a new outfit, two new mounts and multiple new weapons as well as two new levels for all crafted gear. The Hidden Ones DLC is available for all season pass owners or can be purchased separately for $13.95AUD on January 23, 2018.
The level cap increase is going to be one of the more popular parts of this additional content as well as an all-new open-world space to explore, and at a budget price with hours of new gameplay, it's not a bad deal at all.
DLC 2 -- The Curse of the Pharaohs (March 6):
This new expansion offers players a completely new storyline to delve into as they travel to Thebes to investigate an ancient curse that is plaguing the region. The Curse of the Pharaohs focuses on Egyptian mythology, pitting players against famous pharaohs and Egyptian beasts as they investigate the cause of the curse that has brought the dead pharaohs back to life. This new piece of content will increase the level cap to 55 and give players access to new outfits and gear, including rare and legendary weapons, all themed around classic Egyptian mythology. The Curse of the Pharaohs DLC will be available for season pass owners or can be purchased separately for $29.95AUD on March 6, 2018.
Additionally (and something I'm personally pretty excited about), the non-combat Discovery Tour by Assassin’s Creed: Ancient Egypt update will be landing next month on February 20:
This new educational mode of the game lets everyone, from players to history-enthusiasts and non-gamers, choose between free roaming the beautiful world of Ancient Egypt to learn more about its history and daily life or embarking on guided tours curated by historians and Egyptologists. People can discover and explore a world free of conflict, time pressure or gameplay constraints, where storyline and quests are not active and the world of Ancient Egypt evolves into a combat-free living museum.
It's a pretty cool concept considering how much research went into creating such a visceral and visually-stunning game-world, and as a history buff, having actual Egyptologists and Historians giving us the guided tours is a new kind of educational tool. This add-on will set you back AUD$29.95, however, you can opt to buy into the Season Pass for AUD$59.95 which gives you a bit of a saving on buying them all separately.
Read our in-depth review here if you still haven't gotten the game, and watch a trailer (pre-release) with some (visual) details on all of the above below. We also have a batch of new screens after the trailer.
Today Blizzard unleashed a batch of new skins for its popular Blizzard-verse MOBA Heroes of the Storm. With the update called Mecha Storm you can probably guess where the team drew its inspiration from. The original Transformers cartoon series from the 1980s, the entire robo-anime genre, figurines with bulky and movable parts.
Turning iconic Blizzard heroes into anime inspired robots isn't as easy as it sounds. As Michael Cuevas, Senior 3D Animator on the Heroes of the Storm team explains.
Transforming a character like Tyrael, the angelic force of power from the Diablo franchise was not as simple turning his wings into shiny pieces of metal. “[Tyrael] was actually more challenging and his look was one of the things that wasn’t a one-to-one transition,” Michael tells me. “The wings on Tyrael are programmatically animated in the engine (via ribbon FX) and there are only two organic wings on Seraphim which behaved completely different. On top of that, there’s a total of six wings on Mecha Tyrael that had to be considered. Iterations ranged from “did absolutely nothing” to “always in the way”. In the end I think we found a good balance.”
Before you begin to post the question as to why, be sure to have a long look in the mirror and come to the same realisation that we did - why not? Yes, we simply took at look in our hardware room and noticed both a Cooler Master MasterLiquid Pro 240 Closed Loop Watercooler and Geforce GTX 1070 Founders Edition just sitting there. So we decided to play cupid.
Over the weekend and running up until 7pm tonight (Tuesday, January 16), we took part in the open beta for Dragon Ball FighterZ and had our asses handed to us, but it was all very, very fun. Check out our impressions.
Releasing on PC, PS4 and Xbox One January 26, Dragon Ball FighterZ is not just a flashy, gorgeous fighting game recreation of the Dragon Ball anime series, it's already proving much, much more. Here's a snippet from our impressions:
I spent a lot of time in the Tutorial portion of the game -- an area you physically need to walk to with your cute Chibi DBZ avatar because the game’s ‘menu’ is basically a little 3D village. If you’ve played Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2, it’s a lot like that, only Chibi in its own right. Within the ‘menu’ hub, there were five locked out areas, with the aforementioned Tutorial section, a Replay area, Versus and a Ranking area. The Tutorial, thankfully, is lengthy and eases you into the game’s actual complexity slowly enough that by the time you’re attempting to summon Shenron, you don’t realise just how far you’ve come.
Controls and attacks are more Street Fighter-like than any other fighting games, but there are specific DBZ mechanics that work super well and helps give the game its own flavour and strategy. The aforementioned summoning of Shenron, for example, requires seven Dragon Balls collected throughout a fight based on combo numbers and a few other variables. Once you’ve collected them, you just need to land a perfect X or Square Super (basically just hitting X or Square and landing enough consecutive hits to pull off the Super), and the famous dragon appears to give you an over-the-top hand -- you can revive an ally, restore your health, gain the ultimate power of even become immortal (for a limited time).
While we all fight the summer heat and count down the days to a cooler Australia, Ubisoft has made the wait for Autumn that much more exciting by revealing all-new downloadable content coming for the very excellent Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, featuring Donkey Kong.
And what's more, is this isn't simply a character addition to the game's roster, it will also feature a new DK-specific story, lengthening the game's campaign mode while serving up the renowned challenge Mario + Rabbids was praised for.
Check out the reveal trailer for the new DLC embedded below.
To Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. The original Dark Souls was first released in 2011 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, so this version is touting "stunning high-definition detail". For the PS4 Pro, Xbox One X, and PC that means an impressive 4K 60 frames-per-second presentation, with even the Nintendo Switch version said to hit 1080p 30 frames-per-second.
Why all the resolution talk? Well, the press release was full of it.
The announcement first came during a surprise Nintendo Direct overnight, which highlighted Dark Souls Remastered as one of the Nintendo Switch console highlights for the first half of 2018.
Planet Coaster is a creator's dream. Not only a competent and fully functional theme park simulator, it also offers players the ability to customise and create just about anything they can imagine. Which has led to a number of jaw-dropping creations, including this one from YouTuber Hin Nya. An immersive and truly impressive 15-minute thrill ride inspired by James Cameron's Aliens.
From the music to the slow methodical building of tension (and cork-screw roller coaster fun times), it even effectively simulates orbital space travel. Very cool. And really, we'd love to see someone spend however many hundreds of millions of dollars it will take to make this a reality.
With 2017 now officially over, thanks to our overlord The Calender, it’s time to look to the future. The near future, and what digital interactive gems it might bring. With so many great games released last year, even without whatever Bethesda has in store for 2018, or Nintendo, this year is looking to be chock full of great games. Here are our picks for what we’re excited to check out.
And of course Red Dead Redemption 2 is in there. How could it not be.
Red Dead Redemption 2
Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One
It’s hard to look past Rockstar’s next entry in its open-world classic Western opus, Red Dead Redemption. A lot is still unknown about its forthcoming sequel, but what we’ve at least seen, and posited, leaves even the driest of desert mouths watering. Frontier America is so ripe for story and open-world pickings -- two of Rockstar’s biggest design assets, sitting alongside this being built from the ground-up for the newer, more powerful consoles. Really, the barebones content we’ve seen so far is not even surface-scratching and although a delay was announced, we know that is only going to be good for the game. The only negative: no PC release announced or even hinted at -- a factor of the original that still brings a tear to the PC faithful (even if there is a way to actually play Red Dead Redemption on Windows 10 PCs). Steve