Xbox Mega Bits: May 2020

Welcome to the first installment of Xbox Mega Bits! Your monthly look at the latest games, news, and events in the world of Xbox. I’ve been a fan of Xbox since I first played Halo: Combat Evolved back in 2001 and I’m excited to dig deeper into the Xbox community with this new monthly series. From the most diverse lineup of 1st party titles, to the revolutionary ways in which they have changed the way we play games, Xbox is an exciting company to watch lately and has been strategically positioning themselves to do some incredible things as we rocket towards the next generation of gaming.

Each month I’ll be covering the latest news and rumors, discussing upcoming releases, checking out the latest Game Pass offerings, and highlighting the amazing folks who are a part of the Xbox community. On that note, if you have a question that you’d like me to answer on a future episode of Xbox Mega Bits, leave it for me on our message line at 763-308-5099. I’d love for you to be a part of the show.

This show was born out of my love of Xbox, but don’t worry, this won’t be 15 minutes of me groveling at the feet of Phil Spencer. On Xbox Mega Bits I’ll be covering the good, the bad, and the ugly side of Xbox. *cough*Kinect*cough* Because as much as I love this community, an opinion is only worthwhile if it is truly honest and unbiased. Sorry kids, no console war bullshit here.

With that said, welcome to episode one of Xbox Mega Bits. Let’s jump in.

Xbox 20/20 Kicks Off With Inside Xbox

Throughout the year, Microsoft plans on showing off their upcoming games and hardware plans as part of their recently announced Xbox 20/20 initiative. These monthly showcases kicked off this month with an episode of Inside Xbox which showcased some of the games coming to the Xbox Series X from some of their smaller 3rd party partners.

They showed off a number of exciting looking titles, many of which are console exclusives including Call of the Sea, the Ascent, Scorn, Second Extinction, and The Medium which comes from Blair Witch and Layers of Fear developer, Bloober Team. It also features the composer of the Silent Hill series so this one immediately goes to the top of my must play list when it launches.

While some people expressed disappointment in the lack of higher profile announcements, I find it encouraging to see that the lineup of 1st party AAA releases will be complimented by some interesting looking smaller titles. Microsoft is expected to show some more on what the hardware can do during their June showcase, and then in July they plan on unveiling what games their 1st party studios have been working on, including their marque title, Halo Infinite.

Game Pass Is A Monster Hit

Microsoft hasn’t been too keen to share sales numbers in recent years, most likely due to the fact they’re paled in comparison to the PS4, but also because of their shift in priorities to focusing on services as opposed to hardware sales. Well it seems that they aren’t shying away from sharing some recent positive numbers that show that their Game Pass service has been a tremendous success.

As of April, Game Pass has surpassed 10 million subscribers. It’s an impressive number, especially when you consider that it’s roughly 5 times as many subscribers as the similar PlayStation Now service, despite there being about twice as many PlayStation 4’s sold as there are Xbox One’s. My guess is that this is largely due to the fact that Game Pass subscribers not only get access to every first party Xbox title at launch, but an impressive number of smaller 3rd party games on day one.

It’s great news for Microsoft as they prepare to launch the next Xbox console and it suggests to me that they should lean heavily into Game Pass in the years to come. Don’t be surprised to see a 3 or 6 month subscription to Game Pass Ultimate bundled with every Xbox Series X.

Epic Shows Off Unreal Engine 5

During a video presentation shown as part of Geoff Keighley’s Summer Game Fest, Epic Games gave a tech demo of what next gen games could possibly look like and it looked pretty darn impressive. While the demo was running on a PlayStation 5, Epic Games stated that the engine will run just as well on high end PCs and the upcoming Xbox Series X.

While it’s exciting to see the graphical power that it’s capable of and think about what that might mean for the Xbox Game Studios titles that run off of Unreal Engine (such as Gears of War), it’s important to note that this was only a brief tech demo and not an actual game in development, and that the engine won’t release until next year, so it’s likely that we won’t actually see any games that look like this running on Unreal Engine 5 for several more years.

Minecraft Announces Huge Numbers

Minecraft developer Mojang revealed some mighty big numbers as part of their 11th anniversary celebration, showing that the 2.5 billion dollars that Microsoft spent on the studio a few years ago was money well spent. To date, Minecraft has sold over 200 million copies with a staggering 126 million players logging on each month. These numbers are mind blowing and cement it’s place in history as one of the biggest video games of all time.

They also announced a slight name change to Mojang Studios to represent the multiple studios that work under the Mojang umbrella. Their next big release, Minecraft Dungeons is available as of this week wherever you play games and as a part of the Xbox Game Pass service. I’ve only gotten a small taste of the game so far but I think it’s safe to say that Mojang has another hit on their hands.

Series X Enters Production

Finally, according to French website Xboxygen, production has already begun on Xbox Series X consoles. A translation by VG247 states that Microsoft has begun production in France with the hopes of avoiding the mistakes of the past and having the Series X be available in more countries than the Xbox One did when it launches later this year.

With Covid-19 still wreaking havoc across the world, there have been fears about whether or not next gen consoles would be able to make their 2020 release dates or whether supplies would be limited. I’m slightly optimistic that with production beginning roughly six months in advance of launch that maybe we won’t need to worry about not being able to get a hold of the console on launch day. Fingers crossed!

Human Fall Flat

On every episode of Xbox Mega Bits, I’ll be highlighting a game that I’ve recently checked out on Game Pass, and if you have a suggestion for a game I should check out, let me know in the comments!

Imagine a game where you play as one of those tall balloons with the wavy arms you see outside of car dealers, or as a person whose bones are completely made out of jello, that will give you an idea of what it’s like to play Human Fall Flat.

This is a game that I’ve been aware of, having passed it by on the storefront and seeing it discussed online, but I didn’t feel any temptation to play it until my daughter recently started asking about it. Human Fall Flat is a puzzle platformer in which your character tries to make it from one end of a course to another while solving puzzles and physics based challenges along the way, and it is one of most frustrating and also oddly entertaining co-op games I’ve played in awhile.

The trick about this game is that you control a ragdoll avatar who walks and jumps around like he’s on his third round of jaegerbombs. Through the first level I was constantly frustrated by my inability to control him in any precise way, I would flop and flail my way around, trying to complete the somewhat intricate objectives. Your character can’t die, no matter how much punishment you put him through, and if you fall off of a ledge, you’ll drop from the sky in basically the exact spot you fell from.

As I made my way through the level I stacked boxes, swung over ledges, catapulted myself over walls, and smashed through barriers. After an hour or so I started to get the hang of the controls a bit, though it never felt “right”, I was just barely able to get my floppy friend to move where he needed to go.

If I was playing this solo, I would’ve probably turned it off after 15 minutes, fortunately this game has splitscreen co-op and playing with my daughter is where I discovered the enjoyment with Human Fall Flat. Solving the puzzles together takes a bit of the frustration away and turns each objective into a slapstick comedy.

We laughed hysterically as we crushed each other under boulders, slammed each others heads in doorways, and picked each other up to toss off the edge of the world. I think we had just as much fun goofing off in the world as we did trying to finish a level. But when we did manage to complete our first level after what seemed like forever, Samantha jumped up and yelled with more excitement than I’ve maybe ever seen out of her over a video game. That alone makes this one a winner.

If you’re playing solo or you get frustrated easily, it would be tough to recommend Human Fall Flat. But if you have a child who wants to play and can just relax and embrace the chaos, this game can be a hell of a lot of fun. You may just want to do some meditation first to find your calm.

One last thing this week, I want to give a special shout out to Xbox Pope. If you’re unfamiliar with his work, he does special photoshopped console and controller designs on Twitter and he recently did a fantastic Mega Dads design for the Xbox Series X console and controller. He’s an incredibly talented guy and we appreciate the awesome looking design he did for Mega Dads. Make sure you follow him on Twitter and check out his amazing work. And let me know when pre-orders open up for this beauty.

Thank you so much for checking out the first installment of Xbox Mega Bits. I’m thrilled to be a part of it and can’t wait to watch this series grow and evolve over the months. Don’t forget to send your questions to us at our message line at 763-308-5099, we would love to answer them on an upcoming episode. Also, please hit me up with any feedback or suggestions you might have, and don’t forget to check out PlayStation Mega Bits and Nintendo Mega Bits which both debut this week.

We’ll see you next month for another brand new Xbox Mega Bits!

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