I’ve already played Tomb Raider twice, even though it’s clearly not a game designed to be played more than once. As a once-and-done narrative-driven AAA release, it’s one of a dying breed. But since it was released on the cusp of a new generation of console systems, publisher Square Enix has tempted me with a third playthrough by showing off the tech upgrades in the “Definitive Edition” re-release for the Xbox One and Playstation 4. If you’re looking for an excuse to re-experience one of the best games of 2013, how about new tress technology? How about new mud, blood, and sweat? How about new equipment physics? How about new, uh, drip maps? Yeah, drip maps. Frankly, I don’t really need an excuse for another playthrough, but this upgrade helps.
The PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One launch sales figures are in, and it’s a dead heat. Black Friday madness is over and the next-gen console makers are crowing over how well their products have sold.
Microsoft says the Xbox One sold through (that’s a measure of how many consumers actually bought an item versus the sales to the retail outlet) over 2 million units worldwide in the 18 days since launch. According ot their data, 1000 Xbox One’s were ordered a minute on Amazon.com during the peak.
Don’t fret Sony warriors! The PlayStation 4 sold terrifically as well. According to their numbers, the PlayStation 4 sold (no word on whether that’s sold through to customers or sold to retailers) 2.1 million units since its launch. Keep in mind that unlike the Xbox One, Sony’s newest console launched in the US and Canada first, followed by other markets after two weeks.
Pop the cork and celebrate, console fanboys! You all win! You can wrestle over Christmas numbers after the New Year.
My high-water mark of pure gaming joy came as a ten year old on Christmas morning unwrapping a Nintendo Entertainment System. Since then I’ve had any number of great gaming moments. So when those Amazon boxes showed up on my porch, one launch day followed by the other, I had a flashback to those gloriously lazy days of my adolescence and early adulthood, of holidays and summer vacations spent playing games all day and staying up half the night.
At the start of this new generation I wanted to try and get back to that youthful exuberance. To spend less time thinking, reading, and posting about games and more time playing them. To ignore my steam backlog for a while, consign my old consoles to the closet, stack up all those unfinished last gen titles, and jump in feet first. I was fortunate to string together a few long weekends and an extended Thanksgiving break to just sit back and play videogames as a kid would. Like I had all the time in the world.
Now, after the jump, I have an hour before bed. Which controller do I grab? Continue reading →
Microsoft cautions consumers against turning on the development mode on their Xbox One retail units. In a statement to Engadget, Microsoft advised against following guides that show how to enable the dev-only mode because the special sequence of button presses and menu prompts will not actually turn the console into a fully usable kit.
Changing the settings in this menu is only intended for developers for Xbox One, and this alone does not turn the console into a development kit. We strongly advise consumers against changing these settings as it could result in their Xbox One becoming unusable. Customers who have put their consoles into this developer setting can revert by restoring factory defaults under Settings / System, select Restore Factory Defaults.
The instructions to enable the hidden mode of operation were originally published by GameTuts and were quickly propagated throughout the web. Microsoft had announced the ability to turn any retail Xbox One into a development unit via a special software download in July.
This post is the second is a series that examines this year’s console launches through the eyes of the Twitterverse. For more on the project, see the description in the previous post.
As of the evening of the 24th of November, I have dutifully collected 4,168,778 English language tweets about the PS4 and the Xbox One. A few minor technical glitches aside, this represents 348 consecutive hours of tweets that include words and hash tags relevant to the new consoles.
After the jump, find out whether Swedish soccer legend Zlatan Ibrahimovic and One Direction member Louis Tomlinson play the same system…
Late Thursday night a fleet of black and green armored cars branded with the words “Xbox One” set upon Times Square; LaFerrari super cars emitting a green neon glow sped up and down the streets of Manhattan; and hordes of people dressed as zombies shambled across the Brooklyn Bridge. Forty miles away I was tucked in bed asleep as my preorder wended its way from an Amazon warehouse to my door.
I approached the launch of the Playstation 4, my first day one console, like a kid. I was filled with excitement and anticipation for my new toy. The letdown I had was probably inevitable. I’m not ten years old anymore. So with the imminent arrival of the Xbox One, my second day one console, I tempered my expectations. I’d try and come at this one like a reasonable adult.
After the jump, a Panopitcon in every living room. Continue reading →
Unlike Sony’s PlayStation 4 launch event gala, which was held in New York City, Microsoft’s Xbox One launch celebration has been global. Unfortunately for internet bragging rights, that means the “first official retail owner” title is a bit murky. Of course, we all know that Johnny Chiu was crowned the first official buyer of the PlayStation 4, but who owns that right for the Xbox One? Is it Dan Livingstone of New Zealand? Microsoft’s Phil Harrison seems to think so. But what about Andre Weingarten? He’s one of the folks that purchased an Xbox One at Target a week early. Target admitted that it was a mistake, but about 150 units were sold to lucky buyers then, with a few ending up on eBay. They’re technically the first Xbox Ones “sold” at retail.
Microsoft held a New York City launch event as well. Wait a minute! That guy visiting the line looks mighty familiar.
Unlike the PlayStation 4, which already has a healthy group of folks streaming their next-gen gaming, Twitch broadcast streaming will not work on the Xbox One until sometime in 2014. In the announcement, Microsoft did not explain the reason for the delay, but did want gamers to know that using the Twitch app on Xbox One could net them some achievements.
We know the ability to instantly broadcast gameplay is something the gaming community is excited about, and we are too. We are working to ensure the initial Twitch on Xbox One broadcasting experience meets the expectations of the Twitch community, so while this feature won’t be available right away, we’ll let you know as soon as it is ready.
I’m sure people are excited to use the Xbox One Twitch app to watch PlayStation 4 gamers play their console exclusives.
How much of an achievement hunter are you? Do you really need to see a neat row of 100% progress on your achievement page? Does the addition of DLC with new achievements cause you pain because the increase in possible points sets your stats back to only 75% or 80% complete? The Xbox One may kill you. The Console has an all-new achievement system that gives publishers and developers greater freedom for achievement creation, along with a new interface to track your progress.
The new achievement page is a thing of horrible beauty. Large screenshots of the moment you achieved something sit on a grid showing the total progress. Looking at that image almost makes me twitch with greed. I want to get them all and fill the ring to 100%. I don’t want to even play Ryse, but that image is awfully compelling.
Insidiously, administrators can set achievements on anything. Play a demo? Have an achievement! Look at an advertisement? Achievement! Achievements for non-game apps don’t come with points – for now. Heck, the just-announced Machinma app will have achievements for watching videos.
The Machinima experience on Xbox One will also offer gamers the opportunity to earn unique media achievements created by gamers, for gamers, taking inspiration from the original game achievements on the Xbox platform. Remember, media achievements will not affect gamerscore. Can’t get enough of the videos on the Machinima App? Watch 1,000 videos and get the “TV Rots Your Brain” achievement!
Download-only Xbox Live games will have 1000 points worth of achievements on the Xbox One. The longstanding rule on the Xbox 360 has been that games featured only as a downloadable title through the Xbox Live Marketplace were limited to 400 points of achievements, while games sold through retail channels were allowed 1000 points. There had been indications that this policy was changing for the next gen console. PopCap tweeted that Peggle 2 would have 1000 points of achievements, and the achievement list for Halo: Spartan Assault showed 1000 points. After some speculation by fans, Microsoft confirmed that all games on the Xbox One will have the same achievement score potential.
“On Xbox One, games are games. All games follow the same policies for achievements and Gamerscore.”
Good news, gamers! Your Peggles, your Castle Crashers, and your State of Decays are just as good as Halo!
Microsoft has opened a hotel based on their next-gen console. The Xbox One Hotel in Paris, France has Xbox One themed decorations, cocktails, rooms, and even the restaurant menu has Microsoft-approved meals. It’s like sleeping in a green and silver explosion of marketing drivel! The hotel is only open for the month of November, so hurry! You might miss out on the upscale accomodations.
Call of Duty: Ghosts is out now on the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. (Read Tom’s review here.) Exclusive DLC periods aside, they’re essentially identical. Control the soldier-killing dog through stealth sections, have a shoot-out in space, level up your multiplayer character. On the next-gen consoles, it’s another matter. Ghosts is rendered and output from Sony’s PlayStation 4 at 1080p, but only rendered at 720p and upscaled to 1080p on Microsoft’s Xbox One. There’s been a lot of speculation about what this means for future games in the next generation, but most of it has been answered with pure hokum dictated by the console manufacturers, as in this IGN interview with Mark Rubin of Infinity Ward.
“There’s no maliciousness, there’s no specific reason why one’s 720p, one’s 1080p. That’s just the way the optimisation came out to. To keep a smooth frame rate we needed to be 720p on Xbox One. That being said, it is being upscaled to 1080p, so it is outputting 1080p on your TV, and for the most part the game does look really good. Some people actually think the textures look a little bit nicer maybe on Xbox than they do on PS4.”
We’re getting closer to the truth in this Metro interview, but Mark Rubin puts his game face on and remains steadfast. He does let slip that he can’t tell journalists which console is more powerful because of non-disclosure agreements, but he can say that he disagrees with the idea that they’re equal:
GC: So when John Carmack and Shinji Mikami say the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are almost identical, is that something you could agree with?
MR: Hmm… I would say that’s a bit inaccurate but I wouldn’t be able to tell you any detail of why that’s inaccurate.
GC: For diplomatic reasons?
Battlefield 4 has a similar issue. It’s rendered at 900p and upscaled to 1080p on the PS4, but rendered at 720p and output at 1080p on the Xbox One.
Microsoft’s Xbox One will have more robust media capabilities than Sony’s PlayStation 4 at launch. In response to the dire news from Sony yesterday, Microsoft told Polygon that the Xbox One console can play audio CDs, and that they are working on getting the console DLNA-certified to support media streaming. The console will not support ripping files from audio CDs or direct MP3 playback, but the system can act as a Play To receiver allowing playback via supported devices like Windows 7 or 8, or a Windows Phone.
Microsoft noted that a monthly subscription to Xbox Music could supply an unlimited stream of songs through the console, mirroring Sony’s suggestion to use their Music Unlimited service. For now, Microsoft’s console looks like it may have the upper hand on playing music via CDs and network streaming.
Remember how the botched messaging and double-speak from Microsoft regarding the Xbox One after the unveiling and the disasterous E3 showing caused a lot of confusion? Microsoft worked hard to counteract all of that with clear updates via Xbox Wire detailing the policy changes known collectively as the “Xbox 180.” Unfortunately, it appears the Xbox PR machine is stumbling again with a chain of new errors.
After the jump, let’s rubberneck at the slow-motion wreck! Continue reading →
Microsoft’s Major Nelson announced that Kinect Sports Rivals Preseason will be available for free to early adopters of the Xbox One console. It’s an “early access” version of the Kinect Sports Rivals game from Rare that was originally supposed to launch with the console, but has been delayed until 2014. The Preseason version of the game will allow players to wiggle, jump, and bounce around their living rooms to earn points, unlock special cosmetic items for the full game, and get early bragging rights on multiplayer challenges.
In keeping with the Halloween week scares, Major Nelson added this frightening bit of news.
“Enjoy an all-new track by rising musical group Youngblood Hawke. They recorded ‘Collide’ just for ‘Kinect Sports Rivals.'”
Scary! Kinect Sports Rivals Preseason will be available from November 22nd until March 2014.