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.
We are now less than two weeks until the launch of the next generation of Xbox consoles and I couldn’t possibly be more excited. Years of build up and setting up the pieces has led to this, and while the Covid crisis has thrown a wrench into some of those plans, we’re still going to have an amazing console and tons of great games coming this fall. I’m still waiting to see if the Amazon gods will be smiling down on me come November 10th, but either way I’m pumped for the launch and we have plenty to discuss before then.
So without any further delay… let’s jump in.
Gears 5 Getting Next Gen Content
With the Halo Infinite delay, Microsoft is heavily betting on people being excited to play some of their enhanced back catalog titles. Gears 5 is the headliner at launch and is getting the full treatment including double the framerate, higher resolution textures, super fast load times, and ray-traced global illumination. All of those buzzwords come down to the fact that the game is going to look and run incredibly well when you boot it up on the Series X.
The Coalition isn’t just giving the game a visual upgrade thought, as we’re also going to get an exciting bit of story based DLC called “Hivebusters” in December. This new bit of content is said to be roughly 4 hours long and will follow a group of characters that were introduced in the Gears 5 “Escape” mode. It’s great that we’ll have brand new story content to dive into this year, and if you’re planning on replaying the regular Gears 5 campaign, they’re adding the ability to switch out the character model of Marcus Fenix with one portrayed by actor Dave Bautista. Because why not.
Xbox Gets a New App
Xbox has updated their mobile app and it’s a slick and functional upgrade that adds some cool new features. Players now have the ability to quickly manage their game libraries, downloading new titles and uninstalling games right from their phones. You can also now access your captured screenshots and videos more easily to share on social media or save to your phone. I’ve always thought that Xbox had the best setup for getting to all of those cool photo mode pictures that you’ve taken, and the new app makes it even easier.
The most exciting new feature though is definitely the addition of Remote Play to the Xbox platform. Now you can access your library of games on any phone or tablet and stream them wherever you go. As an iOS user who has been disappointed in the lack of xCloud support on Apple devices, this sounds like a great alternative that will allow me to get in some Forza Horizon in bed. Sadly, I haven’t been able to use the service as I’ve been unable to connect, but judging from the positive word of mouth I’m hearing, I think my technical issues are isolated and may be due to user error.
Microsoft and Gamestop Form an Unlikely Partnership
In a surprise announcement, Microsoft and Gamestop announced a strategic partnership which would seem to benefit both companies. In the press release, it states that Microsoft would provide Gamestop with their cloud based infrastructure for it’s back end sales systems and that in stores, associates would begin using Microsoft Surface tablets.
The more interesting news came later when it was made clear that Gamestop would benefit by receiving a portion of all downstream revenue from any Xbox device sold at their stores. Meaning that they would make money off of any digital games sales (incuding DLC) purchased on an Xbox console sold by them. Gamestop has notoriously struggled to find ways to adapt to an audience that is increasingly purchasing their games digitally, and this deal may offer them an avenue to stay in business. My guess is that if you shop at a Gamestop this holiday season they will most likely be pushing many customers to the Xbox consoles to take full advantage of the deal.
Bethesda Games Likely to be Exclusive
In a recent interview with Kotaku, Phil Spencer gave some further clues that you won’t be playing the next Doom or Elder Scrolls games on your PlayStation 5. When asked about how Microsoft can recoup their 7.5 billion dollar investment without putting their games on the sure to be hugely popular PS5, Spencer said “I don’t have to go ship those games on any other platform other than the platforms that we support in order to kind of make that deal work for us.”
And it seems that the lack of a concrete yes or no answer comes down to legality. Spencer explained in another interview, this time with Gamereactor, that the deal isn’t expected to be finalized until next year and that he cannot discuss specifics until then. “I’m not sitting down with Todd Howard and Robert Altman and planning their future. Because I’m currently not allowed to do that, that would be illegal.” So while this doesn’t definitely shut the door on those games being cross platform, it absolutely seems more closed than before.
Could VR Be Coming to Xbox?
A beta is set to begin soon for VR support of Xbox’s smash hit Microsoft Flight Simulator, and while we know a Series X version is due to arrive next year, there some clues that VR support may be coming with it to consoles. In a post coming from a Flight Simulator forum, user Cygnifick claims that he came across several references to both PC VR and Scarlett VR found within the code.
As you no doubt remember, Scarlett was the code name for the new family of Xbox consoles, and it’s appearance in the game code seems to indicate that VR support for the console version was at least considered at one point. Head of Xbox Phil Spencer has never definitively ruled out VR support eventually landing on Xbox, but has stated that it wasn’t a priority for them considering VR’s lack of mainstream success, especially in the console space. It would be interesting though to see what form VR support would take if they did eventually decide to move forward with it.
The Xbox Refridgerator is Real
Microsoft has brilliantly embraced some of the memes that have been created this year poking fun at themselves. One of the first of these were the comments that the Series X resembled a refrigerator when it was first revealed. Well they’ve gone and made the joke a reality by sending certain celebrities and influencers actual working Series X refrigerators. Snoop Dogg was the first to post images online that he had received one of the gigantic promotional items, and was later followed by YouTuber iJustine. This has got to be one of the silliest (and biggest) promo gags in gaming history and I kind of wish I had one just to see the look on my wife’s face when she saw it in the kitchen.
Rainbow Six: Siege
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!
Rainbow Six: Siege is a prime example of the philosophy that if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. This has been the case many times this generation with games that launched unsuccessfully, and maybe none has had a better turn around than Siege. The game received generally favorable reviews when it first launched 5 years ago, but there were plenty of criticisms about the lack of content and sales were lackluster. It would have been easy to see developer Ubisoft brush the game under the rug after 6 months and reboot the franchise a couple of years later, but instead they stuck to their plans and released a stream of constant updates and improvements that lead to it now being one of their most successful games, surpassing 60 million players earlier this year.
In Rainbow Six Siege players will play as either a defender or an aggressor. If you’re defending you must reinforce your location by setting up barricades, traps, and other measures to keep the opposing team out. If you’re on offense you need to find a way to stealthily (or not so much) breach those defenses and take out all of your opponents. since the game has released, Ubisoft has released dozens of characters to play as, each with their own code names and unique skills and abilities. Looking through the character screen and you can see the comparisons some have made to G.I.Joe. It’s a great premise with a ton of variety.
The biggest draw for most people playing this game is the 5v5 multiplayer, but as someone who almost exclusively enjoys playing single player games I was curious if this had anything for me. It turns out that there are some fun options for solo players in the form of several training missions for you to perform and try to perfect. The simulations are unique and interesting, having you infiltrate everything from residential homes to airliners. I seemed to have the most luck and fun when I was on offense, but there’s also great satisfaction in trying to set up the best defenses when playing the other side. I think I just might need more time with that mode to get better at planning that out.
I spent a few hours with the game, and while I feel like this is primarily going to be an experience for those who want to jump online with friends, as a Game Pass experience I think you can have a good amount of fun for a weekend or so trying to get 3 stars on all of the training courses. The game can seem a little intimidating at first, but if you’re a fan of tactical shooters you should definitely give a shot.
As we’re now less than two away from the Series X/S, there are many of you who are no doubt suffering from a case of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) if you were unable to get yourself a pre-order. I myself don’t yet know if my pre-order will be arriving on launch day or not. But I wanted to try and ease your pain a little bit by saying that unless you’re the kind of person who has to have the latest and greatest tech the moment it’s out, you shouldn’t sweat too much about having a next gen console.
Other than a few small exceptions, there aren’t really very many games coming out for the Series X or the PlayStation 5 that won’t also be available on the current generation consoles. That’s not to say there are no reasons to be excited for next gen, but more than any generation before there aren’t really big must play exclusives that you can only play on the new boxes. So if you didn’t get your pre-order and can’t find one on launch day, go play Assassin’s Creed, Miles Morales, and Cyberpunk on your Xbox One or PlayStation 4. They will be awesome games regardless.
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We’ll see you next month for another brand new Xbox Mega Bits!