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 day has finally come and the next generation of Xbox has arrived in glorious fashion. After a little bit of drama I was able to get my Series X shortly after launch day and have been trying tons of games on it, both brand new titles optimized for next gen hardware as well as backwards compatible games that take advantage of the new power for faster load times, improved framerates, and auto HDR. You can hear most of my impressions of the individual games on the upcoming episode of Mega Dads Live, but for now we’ll focus on the big stories and news coming out of launch week.
With that said, let’s jump in.
A Record Breaking Launch
The launch of the Xbox Series X/S will go down as the biggest launch in Xbox history according to the company. A recent statement says that Microsoft sold more new consoles in the first 24 hours of sales than any generation before. While Microsoft stopped reporting specific hardware numbers years ago, we know that they sold at least 1 million new consoles during that period as that was what they had reported selling of the Xbox One, which was their previous best selling console launch at that point.
A big part of this successful launch is no doubt due to the large number of territories in which it launched. The new Xbox Series debuted in 37 markets, compared to just 13 with the Xbox One. One other impressive bit of news from the launch is that about 70% of the new consoles sold have an active Game Pass account attached to them. Obviously Game Pass is a major part of their strategy and focus for the future, and those are encouraging numbers right off the bat. I also imagine that the percentage will grow even higher once they have big new exclusives on the service such as Halo Infinite and Starfield.
A Halo Sized Hole in Launch Day
Speaking of Halo Infinite, the unfortunate delay of the game was not only felt in their launch lineup, but it is also resulting in a rather bizarre amount of marketing surrounding a game that isn’t out. Not only is Master Chief featured prominently on the Series X packaging, but you can also see him on all sorts of food and beverage products from Chips Ahoy! cookies to Monster Energy drinks. There are also a slew of new toys and merchandise on store shelves which shows just how big of a marketing push Microsoft was putting behind the game and how it’s impossible to pump the brakes on those things when a delay happens at the 11th hour.
There is some indication though that we may be getting some Halo Infinite news in the not too distant future. 343 Industries confirmed that while they won’t be making an appearance at the upcoming Game Awards, they are planning on a “high level update” on the status of the game in the next few weeks. Hopefully that means that things are moving in the right direction on the troubled development. Fingers crossed that by this time next year we’re playing an amazing new Halo game.
Xbox App Coming to Smart TVs
Microsoft has made it clear for awhile now that the future of Xbox goes well beyond a piece of hardware that sits underneath your television, and the next step in that evolution seems to coming soon. In an interview with The Verge, Xbox head Phil Spencer stated that we should be seeing a dedicated Xbox app on smart televisions in the near future. Spencer stated that “I think you’re going to see that in the next 12 months.”
Xbox players can already stream their games using xCloud to any Android device, and they recently introduced Remote Play on both Android and iOS. Having an app easily accessible on millions of televisions would be a great convenience and it shows that Microsoft is really focused on the future and making their games available to as many people as possible, no matter how or where they play.
Call of the Sea Coming Soon
After so many delays in the Xbox games lineup, I was very happy to see that one of my most anticipated Xbox exclusives has received a release date, and it’s coming in just a few short weeks. Call of the Sea is a narrative adventure game from new developer Out of the Blue and published by Raw Fury. Set on a mysterious island in the 1930’s, you’ll play as Norah, a woman in search of her husband’s missing expedition. The game which stars Cissy Jones seems like a must play for people like myself who are big fans of games like Firewatch and What Remains of Edith Finch. Call of the Sea will arrive on December 8th and will be available on Xbox Game Pass.
Cyberpunk 2077 Series X Footage Shown
The next generation update for Cyberpunk 2077 sadly won’t be available at the game’s launch on December 10th, but for those of us who are looking forward to the game we shouldn’t be too disappointed as CD Projekt Red recently showed off some gameplay footage of the title running on an Xbox One and it looks like the game will run (and look) just fine on last gen hardware or via backwards compatibility until the fancy new update arrives.
The world they’ve created looks bright, vibrant, and loaded with an incredible amount of detail. It’s a bummer that those of us playing on console won’t be able to see the optimized version of the game until next year, but the developers have done a fantastic job of ensuring that the older tech handles the game admirably.
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!
Tetris Effect Connected
Some video games are timeless. Games like Ms Pac-Man and Super Mario Bros transcend gaming and become a part of the larger popular culture. Tetris is one of those iconic classics and the latest iteration of the game might be the best it’s ever been. Tetris Effect Connected takes that familiar formula of dropping blocks and turns it into a magical musical light show that is an audio/visual marvel. The thumping electronic music changes as you play and complements the visuals in perfect harmony. It brought me back to being a teen and going to laser Pink Floyd at the planetarium.
From a gameplay standpoint it’s pretty familiar territory, line up blocks to remove lines across the board, etc, etc. One cool new feature is that you build up a “Zone” meter which when it fills you can activate to freeze everything in a kind of suspended animation, allowing you to get as many Tetris’ as you can before time resumes and you rack up a ton of points. This version of the game also introduces both a competitive and cooperative mode so you can play along with your friends.
Tetris Effect was a cool novelty when I tried it on PSVR last year, but something about playing it in a more traditional way with the high end visuals is really clicking more with me. It’s a great game for when you have a little bit of free time to kill, and is probably an amazing experience with a handful of shrooms. Not that I would know anything about that or condone such behavior. Just sayin.
Novembers marks the 15th anniversary of the release of the Xbox 360. The 2nd generation of Xbox and one of my favorite consoles of all time, the 360 didn’t have the smoothest of sailing, suffering from widespread console failures in the early years known as the “Red Ring of Death” but despite having suffered that heartbreak multiple times, the nearly unmatched library of games on the 360 still elevates it to all time great status.
Exclusive games such as Left 4 Dead, Mass Effect, Bioshock, Halo 3, Gears of War, and Crackdown were all classics, and it was home to a load of multiplatform games that generally ran better on the 360. To this day I probably owned more games on the Xbox 360 than any other console. Innovations such as their achievement system and their revolutionary Xbox Live service all added up to a console which in many ways paved the way for what gaming looks like today. Maybe this holiday might be a good time to revisit some of those classics on my Series X since most of them are available via backwards compatibility.
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Happy Thanksgiving to you all and we’ll see you next month for another brand new Xbox Mega Bits!