Halo 5: Guardians is a bigger effort than Halo 4. That applies to the content and scope of the game, as well as the technology in what’s now a brand new and more powerful engine. Certainly there are some core elements carried over from prior games, but we’ve invested a huge effort in retooling our tech to take full advantage of the Xbox One’s hardware and ecosystem to create worlds and experiences worthy of next-gen.
Microsoft to Sell Kinect-less Xbox One Units in June (!)
The genesis of Microsoft’s policy on the Xbox One/Kinect 2.0 pairing began with the company announcing the console wouldn’t even function without the peripheral. Fan feedback — vehement feedback — had MS back down from that divisive decision.
But Microsoft would not relent completely, stating that the Kinect was such an integral part of their Xbox strategy, they would never sell Xbox One units without bundling the extraneous motion sensor. Well, folks, never say never, huh?
The new chief of Xbox, Phil Spencer, says that while the Kinect remains locked into their vision for the future of Xbox (“It’s an important differentiator for us”), Microsoft is responding to fans who wish to experience Xbox One only through a wireless controller.
Thusly, beginning June 9th, you’ll be able to find Xbox One units minus the Kinect on store shelves in North America and Europe, priced at $399 (or £349/399 Euros).
For me, this has been the make-or-break factor keeping me from jumping on Xbox’s next-generation. I haven’t the slightest interest in Kinect; it has potential, but we haven’t really gotten past the “swatting at air” phase of the technology. Until then, I’d like my primary form of interaction to be what’s worked since the NES: a controller.
How about you kindly gamers out there? Will you finally jump on the Xbone bandwagon now that Kinect is separate?
Dying Light Runs All the Way to February 2015
Developer Techland’s open-world, free-running survival horror, Dying Light, has suffered a delay, pushing the game’s release way the hell away to February 2015.
Having already given us a dose of zombie bashing action in Dead Island, Techland is diligent on expanding on that title’s concepts in Dying Light. Familiar to fans of that uneven but still fun game are a disaster-strewn open-world, a heavy focus on melee combat featuring DIY weaponry, and, of course, a shitload of the mortally-challenged coming at you.
However, Dying Light's signature mechanic — the ability to seamlessly traverse your environment by scaling buildings, hopping obstacles, and other assorted parkour heroics — is exactly why Techland is taking extra time on the game's brewing cycle.
"We believe the Natural Movement element of our game will change what you expect from the genre, and we don’t want to sacrifice any of its potential by releasing too early," said the game’s staff on their official site. “This quality-focused thinking underlines all our development choices and we hope you share our belief that the gameplay must always come first.”
It’s probably no small feat the studio is planning to launch Dying Light on five different platforms between the current and last generations (oh, yes, friends; the current-gen is now last-gen and the next-gen is now current. Can you dig it?).
I think this one is truly, truly promising. I find myself more in support of delaying the game to get it right than I am impatient I won’t get to club some zombies with ridiculous goddamn weapons earlier. Dead Island had great ingredients, but the final, rushed dish left most with a rotten taste in their mouth. We’ll see if Techland perfected their recipe… *sigh* in 2015.
Fan art or potential Last of Us 2 concept art? It’s actually fan art done by the game’s concept artist! Which means… well, it means it’s still fan art. Hopefully the fact that it’s an exceptional piece of artwork will distract you from the pit of despair that’s opened within you.
Sir Marek Okon is the artiste behind what he refers to as an “homage to one of the best games I’ve ever played.” He even has a cool background story to accompany the image of an older (and much more musical) Ellie.
Our favorite post-apocalypter has become somewhat of a myth thanks to far-reaching rumors of a girl immune to the fungal infection that’s wiped out our population. Because of this, a woman at the verge of hope and desperation hunts Ellie down, seeking a cure for her own loved ones.
Still braver and wiser beyond her years. Marek Okon’s fanart is incredible — I’d play it. pic.twitter.com/LhuQiWQiJb— Neil Druckmann (@Neil_Druckmann)May 6, 2014
Pretty mighty stamp of approval when the game’s creator gives the thumbs up to your concept.
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (November 4th, 2014)
Here’s actual in-engine shots of Sledgehammer’s “next-gen focused” Call of Duty — the first title apart of Acti’s three-year dev cycle proposed for all forthcoming games in the series.
And it looks… mighty interesting, it turns out. If there were ever a formula in desperate, desperate need of new ingredients, the seven-year-old archetype introduced in the original Modern Warfare would be the first candidate.
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Screens Straight from the Future
What if Private Military Contractors turned against us? Scarier thought: what if Kevin Spacey turned against us? I shudder to think.
But we might just find out in Sledgehammer Games’ surprisingly evocative take on Activision’s yearly trip to the bank. Black Ops II took us to the near future, now the series looks to go even further, presenting us with a battlefield of exo-suit wearing soldiers of fortune fighting for corporations instead of governments. It’s like a Heinlein novel come alive, but with more Spacey.
Sledgehammer promises the exo-suits aren’t some cheap gimmick, either; they fundamentally change how you move and fight — from increasing your speed to giving the ability to scale lateral surfaces and outright jump obstacles like a disciple of Matty Damon’s character from Elysium.
You might say to yourself, “So they’ve essentially created a sci-fi shooter where you have upped maneuverability and, hey-o, there’s some mechs thrown into the mix.” Maybe that sounds familiar to you Xbox Oners out there.
Still, my excitement for this stretched-thin property is piqued by the mere fact they’re actually taking risks with the formula. Take a look at Ghosts. It’s fear of change led to a phenomenally boring entry all too easy to want to forget about. Plus a “next-gen first” build of Call of Duty is exactly what Advanced Warfare's predecessor did not feel like in the remotest.
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is strapped into a November 4th, 2014 release. Exact consoles haven’t been locked down, though Activision confirmed forthcoming DLC will continue appearing on Xbox consoles first.
Ubisoft “Had No Choice” But to Delay Watch Dogs
One of the most anticipated and hyped up titles in recent memory gained itself a spot of infamy when publisher Ubisoft and the game’s Montreal based development team decided to miss Watch Dogs' November 2013 release date, instead delaying it a whole six months.
Tony Key, Ubi’s marketing executive, says it was a bitch of a decision to make, and the blow-back was almost immediate. “On the day we announced that, I think our stock dropped 40 percent or some ridiculous number,” Key admitted to the [a]list daily.
The company wasn’t comfortable with the product last November and, despite it being an untested IP, Ubisoft has funneled a huge amount of time, resources, and money into the project, all in the attempt to have Watch Dogs make a name for itself early in the new console cycle.
"We’re a long-term company, with a long-term vision, and Watch Dogs for us is a long-term play,” said Key. “We had no choice. We knew it was the right thing to do, but it doesn’t make it hurt any less.”
Watch Dogs' delay assured that the game would not ride the waves caused by the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One's media eye-snatching releases, but Key says the move inadvertently led to even more industry wide attention than Ubisoft planned for; preorders, Key says, are up.
Though Watch Dogs has become one of the many poster children for the next-gen wave, the PS3, Xbox 360, PC, and the Wii U (eventually) will all see Aiden Pierce’s tale of Wi-Fi revenge. Watch Dogs releases May 27th, 2014.
Here’s hopin’ the push was worth it. Delays, after all, have given us gold such as the original Batman: Arkham Asylum. On the flipside, delays have also cursed us with games like Aliens: Colonial Marines and Duke Nukem Forever. Perhaps game development can be likened to cooking burgers — you want to heat the paddy until it’s evenly cooked through, but you have to be really mindful that you don’t leave the meat sitting on the grill for ten fucking years. Game devs, take heart.