Checkpoint: Xbox One X Edition

posted in: Editorials & Features | 0

The Xbox One X is a fine name. I like it more than Xbox Scorpio or any 4K variant people were pitching leading up to the reveal. 

It’s a nice looking console as well; sleek and small. The fact that it’s smaller than the Xbox One S is impressive. I would like it white though. 

$499.99 USD is a lot of money. I don’t know what the official CAD pricing will be but apparently it will be $599.99 CAD which is favorable to Canadians. I won’t be buying one though. I will be trading in my Xbox One S or PlayStation 4 Slim for an Xbox One X and that’s the only way I would get the “world’s most powerful console”. 

So why would I get one? Besides the fact that I’m a crazy person, it would be the easiest way for my brother and I to play Forza Motorsport 7. I would also like to continue maintaining the best way to play Xbox 360 games. 

I finished Nier: Automata. I wished I liked it more than I did. With that done, I started Firewatch on PC which is surprisingly touching. I keep wanting to stop and play it with the girlfriend but I keep wanting to dive deeper with it.

Microsoft Tears Down Multiplayer Walls

posted in: Game News | 0

Microsoft is tearing down the Xbox Live! wall and allowing other networks — including PC and other game consoles — to play with their player base.

I cannot imagine this being an initiative if the Xbox One was in a dominant position. Nevertheless, the end result is that games like Rocket League will have access to larger pools of players. This technically isn’t the first time that we’ve seen cross-network multiplayer but it is the first time we’re seeing it outside of an MMORPG.

Unfortunately without a game specific account, it’s not going to be possible for players of Rocket League on the PlayStation 4 to pair with players on Xbox One. In Rocket League’s case, this will enable an Xbox One party to go up against a PlayStation 4 party.

Baby steps.

With this initiative in place, I can see a game like Battlefield 5 with EA’s Origin ID allowing cross platform parties. I can see a future where Ubisoft leverages their uPlay ID to allow the agents on different networks to pair up as well. We’ll see how this will all shake up in the not so distant future.

Consoles meet PC, PC, meet Consoles?

posted in: Game News | 0

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.


LTTP: Ori and the Blind Forest (X1)

posted in: Reviews | 0

I knew of Moon Studios’ Ori and the Blind Forest was a beautiful and challenging game with a “Metroidvania” structure. I knew all of those facts before playing it and yet I was still surprised by it.

I was sold on Ori by the few early trailers I gleaned from the Microsoft’s tradeshow appearances. The trailers showed a wonderfully animated action adventure game not unlike Dust: An Elysian Tale. What the trailers failed to convey was the game’s cohesion. After the first ten minutes or so, it was apparent there was high level craftsmanship at work here. The different pieces — like the music, the visuals and the game mechanics — complimented each other perfectly.

I was introduced to Ori and his adopted mother, Naru, through a warm and fuzzy opening. It didn’t take long for that warmth to turn grim as the surrounding forest suddenly withered away many lives along the way including Naru’s. Ori wasn’t alone for long though. With the help of a mysterious spirit named Sein, Ori embarked on a journey to restore the forest and the surrounding lands to their former glory.

The story was told through beautiful cutscenes and never overstayed their welcome. I found Ori’s tale heartwarming like Disney’s The Lion King which isn’t surprising when the creators went out of their way to specifically name that movie as a source of inspiration.

Similar to The Lion King video game, Ori was a game that was more challenging than its visual aesthetic would indicate. It wasn’t an a pleasant stroll through a forest. I had well over 200 deaths by the end of the game but not a single moment of frustration. There were challenging platforming segments that would not be out of place in Super Meat Boy. And like with Super Meat Boy, Ori curbed frustration with liberal checkpointing and super quick game reloads.

In Ori, the developers gave me the ability to create checkpoints (or Soul Links as they’re called) at any safe spot. Hurdle a few obstacles, create a checkpoint. Hurdle a few more, create another. It was like they gave me the ability to quick save and load but with the checks and balances to not screw myself over.

The only spots where they didn’t allow checkpointing were the infamous escape sequences where I was given what I would call platforming exams. I was forced to cobble together all that I learned up to that point into one minute long uninterrupted escape sequence. They were tough and I racked up a large number of deaths but they didn’t feel cheap. I learned after each death and essentially employed trial and error through all three “exams”.

Despite the challenge, I still took the time to smell the roses along the way. I relished every new section and soaked in the detailed multi-layer backgrounds. I loved the music and how it carried a common theme throughout its numerous tracks. I was fixated with details on the levels themselves, keeping an eye out for secrets but also nifty touches like how the water reacted with Ori. Don’t ask me why but I was very impressed by the water in this game.

Before I wrap this all up, I want to give the music more love. It was the perfect fit for this game and it’s the piece that tied the entire package together. No matter what the situation was, the notes were there on cue. It punctuated each of those escape sequences with an elated relief and accomplishment. And it cushioned sadder moments with slower but familiar tones. I simply adored it all.

I imagine Ori and the Blind Forest as the logical succession of Super Nintendo side scrolling action adventure games that were so prevalent then. The developers over at Moon Studios drew inspiration from notable sources but they made something refreshing and wholly their own. Having just finished Axiom Verge, I thought I would burn out on a similarly structured game like Ori but that wasn’t the case at all. In fact, where I felt a little genre fatigue by the end of Axiom Verge: I felt revitalized with Ori. What an exceptional game. It’s just a shame that I couldn’t go back to find those two remaining collectibles.

I love it

Ratings Guide

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