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.
As is often the case in the early months of the year, things have been a little quiet in Xbox land so far. But as we await some concrete details with regards to release dates for their slate of 2021 games though, there is plenty of news about programs, features, and accessories coming to Xbox.
With that said, let’s jump in.
xCloud Expanding To More Users
Microsoft is hoping to make their streaming service xCloud a major pillar of their strategy to bring Xbox and Game Pass to millions of new players and now it looks like the service is taking another big step to reach a new audience. Microsoft is reportedly testing xCloud through a web browser internally right now, with a public preview said to be coming very soon.
Right now xCloud is only available to Android users, but this move would open the service to millions of new customers. Using either the Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge web browser, gamers would have access to all of the Game Pass titles which support cloud gaming.
Accessing xCloud through a web browser will also open up the service to be used on iOS devices such as iPhones and iPads in much the same way that Google Stadia does. I still plan on doing most of my gaming on my 4K tv while sitting on the couch, but this will be a great alternative for those moments when I’m away from home and have a craving for some Sea of Thieves.
New Official Xbox Headset Revealed
Microsoft announced that an all new Xbox wireless headset is coming on March 16th and it looks to be both a high quality and affordable option. The $99 headset features a lightweight frame and large leather ear cups so you’ll be comfortable during long game sessions.
other features include rotating ear cup dials to adjust the volume and game/audio chat, support for Dolby Atmos, DTS, and Windows Sonic, and an improved microphone and voice isolation to reduce background noise during online chat. If you’re in the market for a new headset, it’ll be worth looking at this one before shelling out for a much more expensive model.
New FPS Feature Coming to Series X/S
Xbox continues to show how much it cares not only about making their back catalog of games available to players, but making those games better than ever with features like the newly announced FPS Boost functionality. This new feature is designed to boost the frame rates of backwards compatible games by as much as 4x on the Series X or S consoles, breathing new life into older titles.
Developers won’t have to do a thing to use this feature but Microsoft still needs to get their approval before adding this feature to their games. As of right now, the first games to support the feature are Far Cry 4, New Super Lucky’s Tale, Sniper Elite 4, UFC 4, and Watch Dogs 2. New Super Lucky’s Tale in particular is running at an impressive 120fps with FPS Boost enabled.
Players will see an indicator in the corner of the screen when a game uses this features, much in the way that Quick Resume or Auto HDR works, and hopefully we’ll see a wide range of games being added to the list of supported titles soon.
Xbox is Making Accessibility a Priority
Xbox has been making great strides lately in making their games accessible to all those gamers out there with different needs with products like the Xbox Adaptive Controller, and now they seem to be putting an even bigger focus on accessibility with a new program designed to evaluate upcoming games.
In an Xbox blog post they stated “Developers now have the option to send Microsoft their Xbox or PC title and have it analyzed and validated against the recommendations provided in the Xbox Accessibility Guidelines”. This new initiative will allow game makers an avenue to receive feedback from players with disabilities and help them to understand what parts of their games might be challenging or inaccessible to certain audiences.
Accessibility has been getting more attention lately and it’s great to see the issue getting even more time devoted to it to ensure that everybody can enjoy the games that they love no matter what challenges they face.
Sea of Thieves Continues to Reach New Heights
Similarly to games like No Man’s Sky and Rainbow Six: Seige, Sea of Thieves is becoming the poster child for what can happen when you stick with a solid premise for a game and build upon it after launch. The game continues to grow and in January, developer Rare announced that the game had it’s biggest month ever, three and a half years after launch.
The game reached it’s highest mark ever for monthly active users as well as the highest concurrent users since right after launch. Rare has built up the development team to it’s biggest size ever and they are churning out new content and improvements on a regular basis, with their new Season schedule offering players loads of incentives and unlockables. I don’t play as often as I’d like to, but every time that I return I have a blast, especially with some friends on board, and I’m glad that the game has been a success and continues to be supported.
Bethesda Event Upcoming?
Rumors continue to circulate that there may be an Xbox event in March devoted to Bethesda now that Microsoft’s acquisition of the company seems to be rapidly coming to a conclusion. There are many topics which players are eagerly awaiting news on, including if or when PS5 exclusive games Deathloop and Ghostwire Tokyo will make their way to Xbox, what king of exclusivity their other lineup of games will have, and when we might expect more details on their highly anticipated next game, Starfield. If there is indeed an upcoming event for the acclaimed developer, we’ll have the full breakdown on the next Xbox Mega Bits.
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!
Yooka Laylee and the Impossible Lair
If you’re in the mood for some colorful and fun platforming action, than you need look no further than Yooka Laylee and the Impossible Lair from developer Playtonic Games. Made up of former developers from Rare, you can feel the trademark charm that made games like Banjo Kazooie so great emanating from Yooka Laylee. The visuals are bright and colorful, the controls are tight, and the music is classic Rare.
The side-scroller puts you in the roll of Yooka the chameleon and Laylee the bat as you jump, roll, and smash your way through enemies on your way to defeat the dastardly Capitol B. I played through the first few levels and had a fun enough time that I’ll be leaving it on the hard drive to jump back in from time to time. If you’re a fan of platformers or Nintendo style games you’ll definitely want to give this a whirl.
One last thing this month…
As Covid 19 continues to devastate the country and the world, I’m expecting 2021 to continue the trend of seeing a lot of video games being delayed. Don’t be surprised if we see many of our most highly anticipated titles such as God of War: Ragnarok, Microsoft Flight Simulator, Final Fantasy 16, and Gotham Knights get pushed back. And while this is frustrating if you’ve been waiting for these games, keep in mind that the safety of the developers should always come before hitting a release date and that there are a lot more important things to be worried and upset over than game delays.
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!