Xbox Mega Bits: July 2020

By John Wahl

Welcome to another installment of Xbox Mega Bits! You’re monthly deep dive covering everything in the world of Xbox. Each month we take a look at the latest news, rumors, releases, and events in the world of Xbox. As always, we would love to hear your feedback on the show, which you can leave in the comments section, and we you can call our Mega Dads Hotline at 763-308-5099 to leave a question for us to read on a future episode of Mega Bits.

Last week Microsoft held their Xbox Games Showcase, it was 60 minutes packed full of non stop gaming, once and for all laying to rest the headline that Xbox doesn’t have enough 1st party games in their lineup. There were so many games that it’ll be impossible to get to everything today, but we’ll hit on as many of the highlights as we can. So without further ado, let’s jump in.

Master Chief is Back

The curtain was pulled back on the most anticipated upcoming Xbox game when they showed of 8 minutes of Halo Infinite gameplay during the Xbox Games Showcase. And depending on where you looked online the reactions varied from joy and exuberance to disappointment and anger. The footage showed a game that was evolving with new, open world gameplay, while also feeling closer to the original game than any sequel has before.

The biggest point of contention were the graphics, with many being upset that the game wasn’t aiming for a highly graphical bar. For myself, I thought the game looked fine visually, but obviously didn’t knock my socks off. Raw graphical power isn’t something the series has ever been known for though, with an emphasis being on the game running smoothly whether you were playing solo, online, or splitscreen.

Much more needs to be seen from Halo Infinite before we know if 343 will recapture the magic of the original trilogy, but I’m optimistic from this first glance that the team is moving in the right direction. My hope is that in the months leading up to release, they give us frequent and detailed updates on what to expect from the game.

Something for Everyone

The rest of the games shown represent what is probably the biggest and most diverse lineup of 1st party titles available anywhere. Whether you like shooters, platformers, racing, strategy, horror, or RPGs, there was something there for every player.

My personal highlights included The Medium, a horror game from developer Bloober Team which will take advantage of the SSD in the Series X to delivery parallel worlds seamlessly with little to no loading. It looks like the Silent Hill game that I’ve been waiting years to play and is one of my most anticipated games of 2020.

Psychonauts 2 looks fantastic and is taking advantage of the extra resources of now being a 1st party title. The trailer featured an original song by Jack Black and recent interviews state that Doublefine is going back and adding boss fights that had been cut originally due to budget limitations. The only downside being that the game has been pushed to 2021 to add those back in.

The star of the show for me though was the absolutely gorgeous Everwild from Rare. This game demonstrates to me why I will always value incredible art design over pure, graphical power. We still don’t know exactly what this game is, but this new trailer showcased a game that seems to be more about being one with nature and helping creatures rather than blowing them to bits, which I am very much here for.

Game Pass is the Future

The single most incredible thing about the Xbox Games Showcase, more than any single title, is the fact that every single game they showed during that hour will be coming to Xbox Game Pass on day one. I’ve been singing the praises of Game Pass for ages now, but this showcase cements this program as a system seller. Game Pass is their killer app. Even if you didn’t like many of the games shown, you’ll get access to all of the ones that did look interesting to you for a low monthly price, and you can try the others if you like, you never know when you might discover something new that you’ll love!

It’s clear now why Microsoft is putting so much of their time and energy behind pushing this service as opposed to selling “X” number of boxes. people across the industry agree that Game Pass is the best value in gaming, and with programs like Xbox All Access and xCloud, more and more gamers will be able to become Game Pass subscribers. I truly believe that services like Game Pass are the future of gaming and it’s smart for Xbox to be a pioneer in the space and build that audience now.

xCloud coming to Game Pass

Speaking of Game Pass, Microsoft announced prior to the showcase that their upcoming streaming service xCloud will be launching in August and will be included with Game Pass Ultimate for no additional cost. Their strategy of making xCloud a supplementary feature to Game Pass as opposed to a stand alone service like Stadia seems smart considering how much it will vary from user to user depending on your internet service.

I’ve tested out xCloud a bit in the beta program and came away impressed. It won’t be the way that I play most of my games, but as an option for when I’m travelling or on the go, it worked great and is a fantastic added value. I think the biggest benefit of the program will be for people who don’t own an Xbox console but will be able to access the Game Pass library of games from their phone or tablet.

Is Gold Going Away?

One last bit of Game Pass news, although this falls a bit into the rumor category as well. Microsoft has recently stopped selling 12 month subscriptions to it’s Xbox Live Gold memberships which gives users two free monthly games and access to online play. The rumor is that they might be doing away with Gold membership entirely and rolling up it’s benefits into the Game Pass Ultimate package. Considering the popularity of Game Pass this seems like a wise move and would simplify the offerings for consumers. My guess is that we’ll see this announcement during their August presentation.

Soul Calibur VI

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!

Soul Calibur is a series that I loved when I was younger. From the original Soul Blade on the PS1 to it’s fantastic sequel Soul Calibur on the Dreamcast, I have fond memories of those games. So when I saw that the latest entry in the series was on Game Pass it seemed like a no brainer for a good bit of nostalgia!

After scrolling through countless patch notes and terms of service agreements, I selected one of the game modes that has you creating your own character to play in story mode. It’s a fairly decent character creator and after 10 minutes I had a pretty cool looking fighter. I then was tossed into the story which had me clicking through long storytelling sequences that featured static character profiles and pretty awful voice acting. Okay….. can I punch stuff now? Nope.

The next part of the story introduced my character and had me conversating with another poorly voiced, static character, only this time I had to select through some dialogue options. What the heck is going on? Why am I not fighting a giant lizard yet? After suffering through this for awhile, I backed out to the main menu and select the main story mode which has you playing as Kilik, one of my favorites from the original game. Here we go, bring on the action.

Actually this mode is just as bloated with terrible story sequences, maps, and menus. I spammed on the X button to skip through the dialogue so that I could get to the fighting part of this fighting game. Finally, I found myself in an actual match! It felt pretty similar to the games that I remember and I made short work of my opponent, hardly taking a scratch in the process. I set down my controller and thought. “Huh, okay then.”

Turns out I’m not much of a Soul Calibur fan anymore.

One last thing this month, as we enter the final month of Summer many of us are looking ahead to the Fall and trying to figure out what exactly we’re going to do about sending our kids back to school. Here in Minnesota we don’t yet know what the plan is for the state and even when we do find out, we don’t know if we’re going to feel comfortable sending our kids back to school under those conditions.

The reason I bring this up is to ask you all to do your part and wear a mask whenever you leave the house. Despite what some people try and tell you, it is proven to keep you and others safer. Wearing a mask isn’t about your freedom, it isn’t about the government, it isn’t a conspiracy and it isn’t scientifically debatable. It’s about not dying. Plain and simple. We are all sick and tired of this and god damn it I want to go to E3 next year. So please wear a mask.

Thank you so much for checking out Xbox Mega Bits. 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 all new episodes of PlayStation Mega Bits and Nintendo Mega Bits dropping this week.

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

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