Xbox Mega Bits: August 2020

By John Wahl

Welcome to another installment of Xbox Mega Bits! You’re monthly deep dive covering everything 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 don’t forget to subscribe to all of our Mega Dads programming by finding Mega Dads Live on your favorite podcast service.

It’s been a big month for Xbox news. Some of it great, some of it quite disappointing. Unlike some console launches of the past, the months leading up to the launch of Series X have been anything but boring, and there’s a lot of news to tackle this month. So without further ado, let’s jump in.

Halo Infinite Delayed to 2021

After reports of 343 Industries struggling with wrapping up development of Halo Infinite with everybody working from home, and the mixed response the recent gameplay debut, they made the difficult decision to delay the release of the game until sometime in 2021. While the delay will no doubt disappoint fans and hurt the launch of the upcoming Series X, this is the right call to make and is what’s best for the sake of the game.

There is a lot riding on the success of Halo Infinite, especially considering their strategy of using it as a Halo platform that they would updated for years to come instead of new sequels. Xbox can’t afford another launch like the Master Chief Collection, which took years to get into proper working order.

There are also rumors that they may decide to forgo launching the game on the Xbox One, despite their previous statements regarding all 1st party games launching across all platforms for the first couple of years. Ultimately they should do what is best for the game, even though they will undoubtedly get some flack for it.

Series X to Launch in November

During the announcement of the Halo Infinite delay, Microsoft also announced that the upcoming Series X hardware would be available this November, putting to rest the rumors that it may launch in September or October. No specific date was given for the launch but there are a few clues as to when it might be.

Some of the new Xbox controllers have made their way into the wild, showing up at some retailers in cases marked “do not display before November 3rd” which could suggest a possible Series X release date. Another clue though came with the recent announcement of a release date for Yakuza: Like a Dragon. That release stated that the game would be available on November 13th for the Xbox One, PS4, and PC, and states that the game will also “be available on the Xbox Series X console on day 1 of it’s release”, suggesting a launch date after the 13th.

Whatever date it ends up launching on, it looks like we’ll be gaming on the world’s most powerful console sometime before Turkey Day.

Microsoft Flight Simulator Takes Off to Rave Reviews

For the past several years Xbox has struggled to release games that hit the same critical success as Sony’s 1st party offerings, something that has become a frequently used bullet point for PlayStation fanboys when they criticize Xbox. 2020 looks to be different though for Microsoft Games Studios with not one, but two of the best reviewed games of the year. Like Ori and the Will of the Wisps before it, Microsoft Flight Simulator launched this month to near universal acclaim and has been the talk of the gaming world as players explore the planet from high above the clouds.

The game is the latest in the historic series, and has wannabe pilots taking flight from all across the globe to discover an amazingly detailed and photo realistic world. The game uses cloud computing and satellite imagery to recreate almost every single building on the planet. You can even fly over TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis and read the Best Buy advertisements on the giant screens inside.

The biggest question mark surrounding this game is when we’ll see the previously announced console version. With the delay of Halo Infinite, this would be an impressive feather in the cap of the Series X if they were able to have it ready by launch day. I’ll have my seat in it’s upright position whenever that day comes, ready to take the virtual trip that Covid-19 has denied me all year.

Apple Slams the Door on xCloud

xCloud is officially launching this September when it becomes part of the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate service, but it will only be appearing on Android devices as Apple has refused to authorize the service for download in their app store. What it boils down to is Apple’s refusal to allow a service which offers access to games that Apple cannot itself individually review. The move has drawn heavy criticism and call for them to ease up on their restrictive policies.

This isn’t the only controversy Apple has found itself in lately as they are also facing a recent antitrust investigation from the US Justice Department and have faced criticism for cutting off Unreal Engine support for thousands of game developers as retaliation against Epic for their dispute over Apple’s high app store fees which they take from each purchase.

For their part, Microsoft has issued a statement in support of reinstating Unreal Engine support for game developers using iOS, arguing that the move will greatly harm those who have and are currently developing games using that engine.

Leaked Xbox Series S Specs

Tom Warren of The Verge recently tweeted out some leaked specs that seem to show just how powerful the yet to announced Xbox Series S might be. The device looks to be targeting 1440p resolution at 60 frames per second, with the ability to emulate 4k resolution in much the same way the PlayStation Pro does today. It looks to use the same CPU as the Series X, but with a less powerful GPU featuring 4 teraflops instead of the 12 of the Series X. It also states that the Series S will be an all digital console, allowing for a much lower price at retail.

What this boils down to for consumers is that you’ll get a cheaper entry point into next gen gaming, with the power of the console landing somewhere above the current Xbox One X. The rumored August reveal of the Series S seems to have been pushed back to September though, as we’re quickly running out of August, unless Microsoft decides to drop an announcement during this weekend’s Gamescom event.

The Touryst

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!

The Touryst is one of those games that I’ve been aware of, but wasn’t sure what exactly it was. Now that it’s on Game Pass I finally had a chance to check it out for myself and see if it’s as good as all of the positive buzz would have me believe.

First things first, we have to address the art style. It’s probably what first draws people to this game and is one of it’s stand out features. The game hits on the nostalgia of the 8-bit era without relying on the somewhat overused old school art style that so many indie games use. Everything is blocky in an almost Minecraft way, but with a bit more detail. It has a clean, polished look that is very attractive and the sound effects are beautifully retro.

The game follows a bright shirted vacationer who looks not unlike Tom Selleck in his prime. You arrive at an island and uncover a series of tombs with deadly challenges and puzzles hidden within. They’re fairly simple in the first couple of hours of the game, not challenging your wit too extensively. There are also tasks to perform outside of the tombs as well for the various other people you meet. Things like collecting fruit to make a smoothie or finding ways to liven up a beach party.

So far it seems like a very casual type of game that you can play on a lazy weekend afternoon and not have to sweat too much. The visual and audio atheistic are fun and the puzzles are just engaging enough to keep me moving forward. I’m curious to see where the story goes in the later hours and would easily recommend it to Game Pass customers looking for a fun, retro time.

One last thing this month. The Xbox community is full of incredible people, but I wanted to give a special shout out to one of them this month. Luke Lohr (also known as the Insipid Ghost) is the host of the Xbox Expansion Pass podcast. I’ve known Luke for many years, and I’m increasingly impressed by the quality of programming that he creates on his show.

Every week he delivers the best Xbox focused podcast on the internet, and has featured top notch guests in recent weeks including IGN’s Ryan McCaffrey, Obsidian Entertainment’s Adam Brennecke, and most recently Luis Antonio, the creator of the upcoming game 12 Minutes. I’m not just saying it because we’re friends, he’s legitimately one of the most talented indie podcasters around.

You can listen to new episodes of XEP every Sunday and subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts.

Thank you so much for checking out Xbox Mega Bits. make sure to subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts, and please hit me up with any feedback or suggestions you might have in the comments or by finding us on Twitter or Facebook, 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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