Consoles meet PC, PC, meet Consoles?

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Today is a bit of a weird day for Sony’s PlayStation 4, Microsoft Xbox One and the traditional PC (and Mac). Out of nowhere the two console manufacturers announced some sort of PC related support. Sony’s was a small nugget but Microsoft’s announcements may make certain individuals think twice before picking up the Xbox One.

  • PS4 System Software 3.50 Will Support Remote Play for PC and Mac via PS.Blog
  • Forza Motorsport 6: Apex will debut on Windows Store for free this Spring via Xbox Wire
  • Future Forza Motorsport titles will be debuting on Xbox and Windows 10 via IGN
  • Gears of War: Ultimate Edition now available on Windows Store via Xbox Wire
  • Quantum Break will also be available on Windows Store via Xbox Wire

Sony’s little piece of news is a “nice to have”. I own a Vita and never bothered with Remote Play for a myriad of reasons that I won’t get into today. Making it available for PC makes the feature a little more attractive but I doubt I will be using it outside of curiosity.

Now Microsoft’s flurry of news, on the other hand, is setting a significant precedent. Gears of War, Forza Motorsport and Quantum Break — big first party Microsoft franchises — will be making their way to Windows 10 sooner or later. Fable and Killer Instinct were already previously announced for Windows 10 which only leaves Halo as the sole outlier. Will Halo 5 eventually make its debut on Windows 10? Will subsequent Halo games follow suit? It would make a whole lot of sense for Halo Wars 2 — a real time strategy game — to make its debut on Xbox and Windows 10 (with full keyboard and mouse support for the latter).

I have to stress the fact that I’m mentioning Windows 10 or Windows Store and not PC because there’s no guarantee or inkling that any of these Microsoft published titles are heading to other digital storefronts such as Steam. Microsoft is trying to entice people into their ecosystem through compelling software and they’re making a very good case for it with this latest effort.

The Windows Store has its limitations though courtesy of the Universal Windows Platform. They’ve sandboxed the executable to prevent things from hooking into it nullifying hacks and mods in the process. If you only care about the game Microsoft is selling then these limitations are moot. If mods are your thing then these games might as well have stayed on the Xbox One.

I’m in the former camp. I don’t care about mods or hacks (I’ll elaborate more on this at a later date). I just want to run my PC games at 1080p60 and I’m happy but I realize not everyone will be pleased with the closed nature of the Microsoft ecosystem.

Looking at this news and considering the fact that I’ve been configuring a new PC for the past couple of weeks, I don’t know how much playtime my Xbox One will receive in the future. I have Quantum Break on the way but that’s because I got it for cheap and my current PC isn’t up to snuff. I understand Microsoft’s position though. I’m not upset over their shift from hardware boundaries to software boundaries. It makes sense to expose their titles to the wider audience. There are over 110 million Windows 10 users out there compared to the 19 million on the Xbox One. If you’re a business man and you were faced with those numbers, you would be foolish not to make this shift. Not every single one of those 110 million users are running capable PCs but even a fifth of those will already exceed the Xbox One’s sales to date.

 

Did I Ask For This?

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Microsoft’s Gamescom press conference was alright. They showed more footage of Quantum Break, the first gameplay of Platinum Games’ Scalebound and announced Halo Wars 2 was coming Fall 2016. There wasn’t much in the way of mind blowing exclusives but it was worth the check in. I just don’t know if Halo Wars 2 was the best way to end the conference.

Hot Takes!

  • Quantum Break looks neat and if you’re going to feature the actors behind Cedric and Carcetti from The Wire, it’s bound to be pretty good right? I just hope they don’t lose the silly FMV shows like Alan Wake’s Night Springs.
  • The Scalebound demonstration didn’t start as inviting as I thought it would but by the end of it, I bought into Platinum Games’ monster fighting action game. Is it an action RPG? I saw damage numbers.
  • Halo 5: Guardians continues to look neat because of Warzone. I don’t understand why they’re trying to manufacture hype around the competitive “E-Sports” Halo scene though. I never see it mentioned outside of Microsoft’s press events.
  • They keep showing more and more Rise of Tomb Raider and I like what I see but this staggered release between the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One makes me extra cautious.
  • Just Cause 3 looks bonkers and that’s probably best term to use to describe it. At this point I’m going to forgo Just Cause 2 and wait for the sequel to arrive and play that.
  • Forza Motorsport 6 sounds like a substantial upgrade in the details department and if I were in the mood for a driving game, I’d consider picking this one up.

And that was Microsoft’s Gamescom 2015 press conference and what I took away from it. Halo Wars 2 doesn’t do anything for me but I’m interested in seeing it in action. Maybe it will be awesome on PC and it’ll convince me to try a Creative Assembly RTS for the first time.

I didn’t ask for it but I’m glad Microsoft put on a good show.

 

Xbox One Launches on Nov. 22

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xbox-one-logoNot much fanfare from Microsoft for their release date. The post revealed the date, the fact that they’ve hit “full production” and a minor specifications bump for the CPU.

The release date and “full production” news was expected but that spec bump bit there? That’s a bit odd to mention. I don’t mind the spec bump but the piece meal outing of the GPU and CPU clockspeed bumps make the entire Xbox One product appear haphazardly assembled. But that’s besides the point. Microsoft improved their console and that’s the important thing.

There also rumors of them improving their offerings to both European and North American customers. It looks like European consumers who pre-ordered the Xbox One Day One Edition will be offered FIFA 14 or Forza Motorsport 5.

But what about us North Americans? There are rumors that we’ll receive a free game as well. I doubt it will be FIFA 14 but Forza Motorsport 5 is a safe bet. How about the inclusion of NBA Live 14? I’m sure EA would love to get that in a few more hands.

So what do I think of the November 22nd launch date? I think it’s the right move to come after Sony who are undoubtedly coming in with “the momentum of a runaway freight train”. If Microsoft were to launch before Sony, any momentum they will muster up will be stifled by the PlayStation 4. With this later launch date? Their momentum is in their own hands.

E3 2013 Day 0 Impressions

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e3-logoDay one of E3 2013 is done. Time for some impressions, some cheers and some jeers. I’ll collect some trailers and other media tomorrow but for now it’s just text!

Microsoft’s Press Conference

Microsoft promised games and delivered on that promise. They started with Metal Gear Solid 5 and ended with an incredible in-game demonstration of TitanFall. In-between the two were a flurry of exclusives.

Microsoft confirmed a gameplay recording and streaming feature for the Xbox One along with Xbox Live! Gold features such as Gold membership sharing on one console and a PS Plus-esque free game offer. All of these features sound great, if I were to pay for Xbox Live! Gold. I refuse to pay for online multiplayer.

As expected, the Xbox One will debut this November for $499.99. I’m surprised there wasn’t a different lower priced SKU or a subsidized offering but there’s still lots of time to announce the latter.

If we’re strictly looking at the games being offered, I am in for an Xbox One. Three exclusives including Forza MotorSport 5, TitanFall (PC as well but I rather play with controller) and the next Halo game in 2014 are enough to push me towards an early purchase.

I mentioned the highlights but there were many announced Xbox One titles that just didn’t show well. However, when I consider it was a 90 minute presentation, it was decently paced. In the end, I was able to grab a trio or so of games that I would purchase an Xbox One for.

Overall Grade: B

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