Xbox Mega Bits: March 2021

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.

Well, I think I jinxed things last month when I said that it was light on Xbox news because Microsoft has been bombarding us all month long with huge news for Xbox fans. I can honestly say that this has been the most exciting time to be an Xbox fan that I can recall, with Phil Spencer and company hitting on all cylinders and expanding the Xbox community in incredible ways. There’s so much to talk about we had better not waste any more time. Let’s jump in.

Bethesda Officially Joins Xbox

The ink has dried and Bethesda is officially a part of the Xbox family as of this month. Microsoft celebrated the news with a fantastic livestream in which Phil Spencer and company sat down with Bethesda’s Todd Howard, Pete Hines, and others to discuss the new partnership and what it means going forward. The stream included some great (and candid) conversations about what it means to be joining Xbox and spoke with many of the teams currently hard at work on their next games.

The news that so many wanted to hear during the event was whether or not Bethesda’s lineup of games would be exclusive to the Xbox ecosystem, and Phil Spencer gave us an answer… kind of. Spencer stated that “This is about delivering great exclusive games for you that ship on platforms where Xbox Game Pass exists.” He also stated though, that there are existing contracts for some upcoming games that they will honor, meaning some titles will appear on other platforms, but most will be exclusive to Xbox, PC, and xCloud. Having this huge lineup of games available on Game Pass is going to be huge in growing that service.

Game Pass goes Supernova

And speaking of Game Pass, Xbox has been blowing the doors off of the service all month long with huge announcement after huge announcement. During the Bethesda stream they announced that 20 of the their biggest games including Skyrim, Fallout, Wolfenstein, and Prey would be available right away for players to download. But the tsunami of Bethesda titles was only the beginning of what has been an insane amount of game announcements.

Microsoft announced a slew of new games coming soon to the service, including Undertale, Star Wars Squadrons, Nier: Automata, Octopath Traveller, and most surprisingly the upcoming Square Enix shooter, Outriders. That game in particular is a big deal because it’s the first big 3rd party title to be launching day one on Game Pass at the same time as it’s launching for full price on other platforms. It will be interesting to follow this story to see both how having a built in install base helps the game, and how many people decide to play the game on Xbox now that it’s included.

Twitch Gaming/ ID @ Xbox event Brings Loads of Indies

ID@Xbox held an event on Twitch last week highlighting a number of upcoming indie games and speaking with the developers. With so many AAA games getting pushed into next year, it feels like more than ever indie games are going to fill a necessary void for gamers. And while the live stream might have been a bit on the long side, there was a lot of great information and plenty of games to get excited for, including over 20 which are launching on Xbox Game Pass on day one.

Highlights included: Nobody Saves the World (Drinkbox Studios), Art of Rally (Funselektor Labs Inc), Craftopia (Pocketpair), Moonglow Bay (Coatsink Software) and Narita Boy (Team 17). It also featured new looks at some games we’ve been looking forward to for awhile like The Ascent (Curve Digital) and S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 (GSC Game World). While we didn’t get many concrete release dates like I had hoped for, it’s good to know that there are so many great games on tap for later this year.

Xbox Live is Dead, Long Live Xbox Network

In a somewhat surprise announcement, Microsoft announced that their online services would no longer be known as Xbox Live which it has been called since it’s inception 18 years ago, and would now be known as the Xbox Network. The move doesn’t seem to be changing anything with regards to how the service works or what is being offered, but instead is meant to clarify Xbox’s services. It may seem odd to get rid of something with such well known branding, but in the end I guess it’s not about what the service is called as much as what it offers to players. The move is set to go into effect later this summer.

New Halo Infinite Details

343 Industries continues to be transparent with monthly updates on the progress of the highly anticipated Halo Infinite. The most recent posting included all sorts of information on everything from gameplay and the world design, to what we can expect with regards to audio for the game.

Developers spoke about the open world nature of the game and how players will be able to approach missions in different ways by approaching locations from different directions and by bringing in vehicles from different areas of the map. You’ll also apparently be able to knock enemies off of the ring completely, which sounds like could be quite fun. It also features a day/night cycle and seamless transitions between gameplay and cutscenes in much the same way that games like God of War of Uncharted have done in the past. They also shown off some impressive new screenshots that show how far the game has come in terms of visuals and revealed that the game will feature spatial audio with support for Dolby Atmos and Windows Sonic. All of the updates have me optimistic that they’ll have everything in good order by the time the game releases later this year.

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!

Prey

With a whole slew of Bethesda games hitting Game Pass, it’s a great time to be catching up on some games that might have slipped you by when they originally released. For me, that game was Prey. I don’t recall much talk about this first person horror game when it first came out, but in the ensuing years it’s garnered quite the reputation as one of the most underrated games of the generation. So with it appearing on Game Pass, and taking advantage of the FPS Boost feature of the Series X, I checked it out.

The first thing to say is that the game makes a pretty damn good first impression.It’s a got a great visual style and the reveal that happens shortly into the game had me hooked on the premise, wanting to know more. The further I dug I found a tense adventure that feels almost like the love child of Bioshock and Dead Space. As you explore an abandoned space station you’ll come across terrible creatures called Mimics which can take on the appearance of any inanimate object. So any coffee cup or office chair could be a nasty creature ready to eat your face. It makes every room you enter incredibly tense as your paranoid mind tries to weed them out.

I’m still early in my play through, but I can already tell that for fans of games like first person adventures or horror titles, this is a game you’ll want to give time to if it slipped past you originally. And it’s further proof that having Bethesda under their belt is going to be a huge boon for Xbox.

Between all of the Bethesda games hitting Game Pass and all of the exciting indie games hitting recently, I feel like for the first time in awhile that there are way more games to play than I have time for. I love gaming and I like to play as many titles as I can, but it just seems impossible to keep up lately. That’s why I appreciate for than ever when games are on the shorter side of things. I recently finished It Takes Two in less than a week and Adios (while flawed) came in at a brisk 90 minutes. Obviously not all games are designed to be finished so quickly, but I appreciate when a game doesn’t try and over stuff itself for the sake of a padded playtime. I will gladly take less 100 hour epics and more 5 hour weekend getaways.

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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