Xbox Mega Bits: September 2020

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.

The Xbox brand has been gaining tremendous momentum heading into the launch of Next Gen consoles. With clear, consumer friendly policies, big studio acquisitions, and being able to tout both the most powerful and the most affordable Next Gen consoles, Xbox seems poised to make a big splash this November. Seeing the years of course correcting and hard work from Phil Spencer and company finally come together is fantastic. The games industry is better when all platforms are firing on all cylinders, and right now now matter where you play, you’ve got a lot to be happy about.

There’s a lot to talk about this month, so without any more delay… let’s jump in.

Microsoft Purchases Bethesda

Microsoft dropped a bombshell of an announcement recently when they announced that they had acquired publisher Bethesda Softworks for 7.5 billion dollars. The creators of such series as Fallout, The Elder Scrolls, and Wolfenstein, Bethesda was one of the biggest 3rd party publishers in gaming and their becoming a part of the Xbox family shifts the gaming landscape significantly.

The immediate impact that it will have comes in the form of their back catalog of games coming to Xbox Game Pass, with Doom Eternal already showing up this past week. Moving forward, we don’t yet know if Microsoft will want to use these titles to further entice people to join Game Pass as Xbox exclusives, or if they’ll find it more beneficial to also release them on the PlayStation 5. Either way, Game Pass members will get all of these games on day one at no additional cost, which is a huge get.

Pre-orders Begin For Series X/S

Hoping to avoid the issues that Sony had with PlayStation 5 pre-orders, Microsoft scheduled their Xbox Series X/S pre-orders for 8am pacific time last Tuesday, and for the most part things went slightly better than they had the week before. Some retailer websites (such as Target) couldn’t handle the slew of traffic and I’ve heard of problems trying to sign up for Xbox All Access during the rush, but I was still able to get a pre-order from Amazon without too much stress.

Pre-ordering new consoles is always a rocky process and the worst part of the move to new hardware, but xbox is promising more pre-orders will open as we get closer to launch and hopefully everybody will be able to get a console on day one if they want one.

Memory Expansion Comes at a Steep Cost

We knew that upgrading our internal storage on next gen consoles would be expensive, but I don’t think I was ready for the sticker shock of what we got this past week. Microsoft announced the price of a 1TB Seagate SSD for the Series X/S would retail for $219.99. While this may be in line with what high end SSD storage goes for on PC, it doesn’t make it any easier to swallow for console players who are used to a cheaper cost for upgrades and accessories.

The good news is that you can still use your old USB hard drives on the Series X for backwards compatible games and cold storage, but if you want to take advantage of next gen features such as super fast loading and quick resume, you’ll have to move the file over to the SSD before playing.

Xbox Game Pass Jumps to 15 Million Users

Along with the announcement that Microsoft had acquired Bethesda, they also announced that Game Pass subscriptions had reached 15 million this month. This is an impressive number considering that they had just announced back in April that they had reached 10 million subscribers.

There is no doubt some correlation to the ongoing Covid pandemic and folks looking for a more budget friendly way to play a lot of games, but it also speaks to the increasingly impressive number of titles launching on the service this year and the recent launch of xCloud, which is available for no additional cost to Game Pass Ultimate subscribers.

Xbox Series X Hands On

Many people in the gaming press have had their hands on the Series X hardware for the past week or so, and on Monday they were able to publish their hands on impressions of some of the hardware’s features. Specifically they were able to discuss backwards compatibility, quick loading, and quick resume, and everything I’ve heard sounds very exciting so far.

Jeff Grub at Venture Beat had some encouraging impressions on the console, including some load time comparisons that saw backwards compatible titles loading at a fraction of the time it took on an Xbox One, even though none of these titles have received any Series X optimization. They just automatically run considerably better on the new hardware. The new quick resume feature also appears to be a game changer, with the ability to jump back and forth between multiple games in the matter of a few seconds.

Jeff also says that the new Xbox controller is an improvement on the already best in class Xbox One controller, adding a new share button and generally feeling a lot better in your hands. We’re less than 6 weeks from the launch of the Series X/S and it sounds like we’re in for one beast of a machine

Night in the Woods

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!

This month I decided to bend the rules and recommend a game that I’m not currently playing on Game Pass, but played when it originally released and I think you should definitely check it out. Night in the Woods is the story of Mae, a young woman (or… cat) who has returned to her hometown to live with her parents after dropping out of school. Upon returning she hooks up with her old group of friends and discovers that the town she knew has changed in many ways.

As you uncover the secrets of Possum Springs you’ll take part in mini games such as a rhythm based game during band practice, or a silly (but intense) knife fight. Night in the Woods is definitely less about compelling gameplay though, and more about the great writing and characters that you’ll meet. It’s funny, heartwarming, and you won’t soon forget characters like Gregg, Angus, and Bea.

Don’t let the simple art style and animal characters fool you, Night in the Woods has something to say and it does it very well. If you’re a fan of games with great storytelling, I highly recommend you add this to your download list.

One last thing this week, as we approach the release of the new Xbox consoles and the PlayStation 5, the console war rhetoric and smack talking has reached a new high (or low). People from both fanbases are taking shots at one another to try and show that their console of choice is superior, and to be honest it’s fairly childish and pathetic.

I’ve never talked smack because I thought I had a better refrigerator than somebody else, and I’ve never witnessed an eReader flame war between fans of the Kindle and the Nook. So why must video game players resort to such petty and sad behavior? Why must you insult one consumer electronics device to prove your superiority?

Maybe it’s the fact that I’m older now and I don’t have time for such juvenile antics, but I think when you jump onto Reddit or the YouTube comments section to declare that Xbox is garbage or that PlayStation is trash, all you’re doing is showing people how immature and sad you are. Just enjoy the things that you enjoy, and don’t worry about what anybody else is enjoying.

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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