#121: What Happened at Microsoft’s X019 event?

TODAY: I feel a disturbance in the force, as if a new Star Wars game just launched — Pokémon panic as Switch users fear for their save game data — Microsoft won’t let Sony outclass them next generation

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Microsoft’s X019 round-up

Microsoft’s X019 event is underway, and they’ve already made a number of big announcements: New games, even more Xbox Game Pass goodies and a even new game pad.

xCloud heads to PC in 2020

Microsoft’s game streaming service xCloud will be available on PC as well as mobiles next year, and will be input agnostic – meaning you can even use DualShock 4 controllers for it! They’re also adding 50 new titles to the service, which definitely makes Google Stadia’s measly 12 launch titles look a bit sorry.

Xbox Game Pass for PC, and a DPM X019 Exclusive wireless controller

A bunch of new games are being added to Xbox Game Pass for PC, including Age of Empires II Definitive Edition, Hearts of Iron IV and The Talos Principle. More games will be added all the time, so Microsoft is clearly serious about applying the Netflix model to videogames.

Xbox Game Pass for PC, and a DPM X019 Exclusive wireless controller

To mark the occasion, Microsoft has also made a special DPM X019 Exclusive design for the Xbox Wireless game pad. It features a camouflage pattern dotted with various iconic London landmarks including the London Eye, Tower Bridge and wacky skyscraper The Gherkin.

X019 game trailers and reveals

Halo: Reach finally has a release date for PC: December 3rd. It’s the first part of the Master Chief Collection, which will be launched bit by bit as the ports are completed. Rare’s Everwild appears to focus on the nature and wildlife of a fantasy world, while Minecraft Dungeons offers a blocky, more family-friendly take on the ARPG.

Grounded (Obsidian Entertainment, PC/Xbox One) – “The world is a vast, beautiful, and dangerous place – especially when you have been shrunken to the size of an ant. Explore, build, and survive together in this first person, multiplayer, survival-adventure. Can you thrive alongside the hordes of giant insects, fighting to survive the perils of the backyard?”

Wasteland 3 (inXile Entertainment, PC/PlayStation 4/Xbox One) – “In Wasteland 3 the fate of Arizona depends on the fate of Colorado. You’re a Desert Ranger, fighting a losing battle to keep your beloved Arizona alive, when the self-proclaimed Patriarch of Colorado radios, promising aid if you’ll do a job he can only entrust to an outsider—rescue his land from the ambitions of his three bloodthirsty children.”

Bleeding Edge (Ninja Theory, PC/Xbox One) – “Grab your team and tear it up in Bleeding Edge, an electrifying online brawler where every fighter comes mechanically enhanced for mayhem!” It’s a multiplayer Battleborn-like game from Ninja Theory, with a focus on melee combat and with a firm March 2020 release date.

Tell Me Why (DONTNOD, PC/Xbox One) – “Tell Me Why is the latest narrative adventure game from DONTNOD Entertainment, the studio behind the beloved franchise, Life is Strange. In this intimate thriller, twins Tyler and Alyson use their special bond to unravel mysteries of their loving but troubled childhood. Set in beautiful small-town Alaska, Tell Me Why features true-to-life characters, mature themes and gripping choices.”

Microsoft Flight Simulator (Asobo Studio, PC/Xbox One) – “Coming 2020, Microsoft Flight Simulator is the next generation of one of the most beloved simulation franchises. From light planes to wide-body jets, fly highly detailed and stunning aircraft in an incredibly realistic world. Create your flight plan and fly anywhere on the planet. Enjoy flying.”

Age of Empires 4 (Relic Entertainment, PC/Xbox One) – “The acclaimed RTS franchise returns with Age of Empires 4. Experience the epic, historical battles that shaped the modern world.” We get a big tease for the next big instalment in the real-time Age of Empires dynasty that’s being developed by Relic Entertainment, the creators behind Company of Heroes and Dawn of War.”

Time For A Quick Daily Quiz?

Which is these is NOT a playable protagonist in a Star Wars videogame?

  • Mara Jade
  • Dash Rendar
  • Ace Azzameen
  • Zarien Kheev

The answer will be revealed at the end of this issue!

News Bits

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order review round-up

EA has finally managed to launch a Star Wars game instead of cancelling it! Respawn Entertainment’s eagerly anticipated single-player action-adventure Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is finally here, and spoken the critics have:

  • Gamers Heroes (Score 100/100) – ”Much like what Arkham Asylum did for Batman games, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order sets the new standard for Star Wars titles. Not only is it a great Star Wars game, it is also the best game of the year.”
  • Gaming Trend (Score 95/100) – ”Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is an absolute masterpiece. Well paced, written, and executed, the game is Respawn’s best thus far.”
  • IGN (Score 9/10) – ”Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order makes up for a lot of lost time with a fantastic single-player action-adventure that marks the return of the playable Jedi.”
  • Press Start Australia (Score 9/10) – ”Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is the Star Wars game fans have been waiting for. It brings together a strong story, addictive combat and an earnest dedication to recreating that Star Wars magic to offer one of the best Star Wars games in over a decade.”
  • Game Informer (Score 8.75/10) – ”Respawn Entertainment’s maiden voyage with Star Wars is largely a success, but it’s a little rough around the edges.”
  • TheSixthAxis (Score 8/10) – ”Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is exactly the kind of single player game we had originally hoped to see when EA and Disney joined forces. Even if you strip away the license, you’re left with a super satisfying mix or combat, story, and exploration, deftly crafted by a studio best known for spearheading an entirely different genre.”
  • Guardian (Score 4/5) – ”In relaunching a much-loved and much-missed Star Wars genre, Fallen Order does exactly what it set out to. It reaches the bar, but then stops, with a set of characters and adventures that are not particularly intriguing or fresh, but certainly feel like they come from that very particularly galaxy, far, far away.”
  • Gamespot (Score 8/10) – ”It’s true that Fallen Order borrows liberally from other action games, but those elements work together with Respawn’s combat and environment design, and a story that finds humanity in the Force and in its characters, to hone in on what makes the world of Star Wars worthy of revisiting again and again. Even with some rough edges, Fallen Order represents one of the most compelling game additions to the Star Wars franchise in years.”
  • GamesRadar+ (Score 4/5) – ”Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order might take ideas liberally from others, but the result is an endearing adventure that ranks as EA’s best Star Wars effort yet.”
  • USgamer (Score 3.5/5) – ”Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order comes painfully close to being the best action game of the year, but it ultimately falls short due to pacing problems and a host of technical issues. Still, this is the first step into a larger world for a franchise that has persistently struggled since its acquisition by EA.”

Fortnite invaded by Imperial Stormtroopers in Star Wars crossover

Do you play Fortnite but dream of dressing up in white plastic armour and get blasted by a wholesome Jedi whelp or some wisecracking smuggler? Then the forthcoming Star Wars crossover was made for you! You can buy an Imperial Stormtrooper skin right now and until November 17th. If you’ve already bought Respawn Entertainment’s Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, then you can grab it for free!

Daily Fact

The original bloody design for Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty

Remember holding up patrolling guards to get them to cough up their dog tags? Remember eeeeeeasing your finger carefully off the button to avoid blowing their heads off? Remember that weird sense of surprise, shock and guilt when you messed up and popped a bullet in their head anyway? Well, Metal Gear Solid 2 was supposed to feature considerably more bloody failure for you to feel bad about.

The original game design required you to save dozens of hostages before Metal Gear Arsenal was activated, or be forced to wade through piles of dead bodies if you failed. This never made it into the game, but hey – at least we got musical pots and pans! If you shoot the pots and pans in the kitchen, they play different musical notes.

Daily News

Nintendo Switch SD card ‘wipe glitch’ NOT Pokémon Sword and Shield’s fault

Switch owners are reporting a nasty error that appears to wipe the SD card plugged into the console, which means installed games, screenshots and – more importantly – save game data might be lost. Fortunately, the operative word here is appears.

Angry fans eager to find stuff to blame on Game Freak first suspected the eShop version of Pokémon Sword & Shield was at fault, but it turned out to be a longstanding issue with the Switch’s ExFAT SD card driver instead.

Custom homebrew’ers affected, not standard Switch users

Since the first reports of the bug coincided with the launch of Pokémon Sword & Shield, it looked like the game might be at fault, but intrepid sleuths soon discovered that the cards aren’t actually wiped – and that only a particular subset of Switch users are at risk.

While Nintendo’s official ExFAT SD card driver is the root cause of the problem, it seems to mostly affect users who install homebrew and pirate software. Save game data is usually stored on the Switch’s internal memory, but if you use modified system software to run unsigned code and store save games on that SD card, well, you might be in for a nasty surprise.

Microsoft ‘won’t repeat Xbox One mistakes’ with Project Scarlett

“More expensive and less powerful.” That’s how Xbox boss Phil Spencer characterizes the Xbox One at launch, but Microsoft won’t be caught with their pants down when the time comes to launch Project Scarlett.

“I would say a learning from the Xbox One generation is we will not be out of position on power or price,” Spencer told The Verge at the X019 event. “If you remember the beginning of this generation we were a hundred dollars more expensive and yes, we were less powerful. And we started Project Scarlett with this leadership team in place with a goal of having market success.”

Exact technical specs are still a closely guarded secret

The Xbox One was still an improvement on the Xbox 360, which managed to launch ahead of PlayStation 3, but eventually succumbed to the dreaded Red Ring of Death, which resulted in tens of thousands of consoles returned to Microsoft, a product recall and a class-action lawsuit. Ouch.

“So we’re going all in. We’re all-in on Project Scarlett and I want to compete, and I want to compete in the right ways which is why we’re focused on cross-play and backward compatibility,” he continued. Project Scarlett still doesn’t have a name and there’s no release date yet either, but PlayStation 5 is supposed to launch in late 2020, and Microsoft probably don’t want to be late for that party.

Under The Radar

Creating a buzz in Bee Simulator

(VARSAV Game Studios S.A. – PC, Xbox One, PS4, Switch)

Bee Simulator introduces you to the daily interactions and adventures that bees experience in their everyday life. From collecting pollen from flowers to fighting off wasps and defending your hive, you’ll learn what it takes to make it as a successful honey bee in the big wide world.

Starting off with an educational introduction, it’s clear that Bee Simulator is intended for a younger audience, interested in the natural world. Developer, VARSAV Game Studios, have chosen to omit serious violence in order to make this as child-friendly as possible, while varying the gameplay throughout to keep players occupied. That said, if you’re looking for a bit of a challenge, you can always play on Hard mode.

Playing as the aptly named ‘Beescuit’, you’ll be unleashed into a super-sized version of a familiar world. While you’ll be engaging in fun activities such as eating human sweets, fighting other insects, and sniffing out tasty pollen, the world around you also feels surprisingly realistic.

Inspired by Central Park in New York, you’ll be able to interact with other animals and insects, humans and plants as you learn more about the average bee’s life and how integral they are to keeping our world ticking over nicely. It’s here that you’ll also learn how much of a threat humans are to the bee species.

Bee Simulator features three modes: a single-player story, exploration and a split-screen mode that enables you to either work cooperatively with a friend, or go head-to-head competitively. Having played through some of the story mode, we were impressed to see elements from a number of different genres very early on.

Chasing other bees will have you zooming through rings to keep up using your ‘Beetro’ speed boost ability. You may also find yourself confronted by an unfriendly wasp, in which case you’ll have to engage in a rhythmic battle to defeat it. Tapping buttons at the correct moment will power up your bee for an attack and consecutive successful attacks will deplete the enemies’ health.

Don’t worry, bee happy

As you’d expect of a bee, you’ll have to collect pollen and deliver it back to the hive in order to produce honey. Touching flowers surrounded by golden orbs will enable you to retrieve pollen. On some occasions you may also be required to collect specific flowers for their individual properties. Each colour of flower depicts its rarity, with purple flowers being the most valuable and white flowers being the most common.

While searching for flowers, you’ll be able to activate Bee Vision, making it easier to search for the rarer flowers to maximise your time away from the hive. Filling your individual honey pot doesn’t take too long, so you’ll have to make regular trips back to the hive to drop off. The game mentions that bees can have different jobs including Scouts and Guards. Scouts are tasked with objectives such as searching for a new location for a hive, whereas guards act as security.

There is plenty to do in the world, with various types of challenges available, depending on the kind of activities you prefer. Knowledge points can be earned by completing challenges that you’ll come across while completing the main quest.

Similarly to the flowers, these challenges are categorised by colours with blue signalling the opportunity for your bee to race, pink representing a dance, green for gathering pollen, orange for stinging bullies and red for fighting. Discovering new animals will also add them to your glossary and reward you with a few bonus points.

Bee Simulator is a chirpy little title, balancing educational tidbits with a relaxing vibe. Seeing the world from a bee’s perspective makes for an interesting experience, highlighting issues that you may not have considered before. Crawling around on top of delicious cakes and trying to sting people is also pretty fun!

Bee Simulator is available on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. The PC version of the game is currently available through the Epic Games Store, with a later launch on Steam scheduled for the end of 2020.

News Bits

Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection delayed by a month

Sorry, Mega Man fans, but you’ll have to wait a little longer: The Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection was scheduled to launch on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Switch on January 21st, but it has been delayed for a month, until February 25th. Mega Man series producer Kazuhiro Tsuchiya apologized profusely, and expressed his appreciation for your patience – his team needs just a little more time.

Switch selling like hotcakes in the US

The Switch still has a way to go before catching up to PlayStation 4, but they’re definitely making good speed: The Switch was the best-selling console in the US according to NPD’s October report. That makes the Switch the best-selling platform so far this year, but the PlayStation 4 still ranks as the third fastest-selling console in history, behind the Wii and the PlayStation 2.

Quiz Answer - Did You Get It Right?

Which is these is NOT a playable protagonist in a Star Wars videogame?

Answer: Zarien Kheev!

There’s finally a new singleplayer Star Wars game, whisking you away on yet another adventure in a galaxy far far away with some weird space wizard with a funny name. What’s the name of the new guy again? Can’t remember, but it’s definitely not Zarien Kheev, since that’s the villain from Star Wars: Lethal alliance for DS and PSP!

The main character in that game was Rianna Saren, who stands out for being not just a female lead, but also an alien. She’s not the only Star Wars heroine on the list, though: Mara Jade is a major character in the no-longer-canon Expanded Universe, a former Imperial assassin who ended up as Luke Skywalkers wife. Oh, and she was the main character in the Mysteries of the Sith expansion for the first Jedi Knight game! Dash Rendar is a Han Solo-wannabe from Shadows of the Empire, while the even more bizarrely named Ace Azzameen was the hero of X-Wing: Alliance.

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