I have long considered Xbox Game Pass to be the best value in gaming and in my mind it’s not particularly close – and that was BEFORE Xbox dropped this Game Pass trailer at The Game Awards showcasing what’s coming soon to the service.
Morkredd, Cyber Shadow, Neoverse, Killer Queen Black, Medium, Among Us (PC only), Yakuza 3, 4, 5, and 6.
Oh, and a little game called Skyrim.
Game Pass is currently available on promo with three months for $1 for new subscribers. No better time to jump in than now.
Pandemic time might make it seem like it’s been longer, but it was just May of this year that John Wick Hex released on PS4 – and that’s now joined by a release on Switch, Steam, and Xbox One.
The strategy title is a unique take on the John Wick character, with players having to carefully manage time in order to make it through encounters unscathed. It’s hard to really explain, but check out this behind the scenes featurette for more.
Here’s the press release:
John Wick Hex Releases Today on Xbox One, Nintendo Switch & Steam
Grab the thrilling tactical-action game from Good Shepherd Entertainment, Lionsgate & Bithell Games for 30% off on select platforms for a limited time!
AMSTERDAM & LOS ANGELES — Dec. 4, 2020 — Publisher Good Shepherd Entertainment, global content leader Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF.A, LGF.B) and independent developer Bithell Games have launched John Wick Hex today on Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and Steam. This fast-paced, action-driven strategy game is available for $19.99, but you can get the Steam and Nintendo Switch versions for 30% off from now through December 11!
Created in close cooperation with the creative teams behind the acclaimed films, John Wick Hex captures the look and feel of the series’ signature gun fu combat with unique time-based tactical gameplay that blurs the line between strategy and action. Think and strike like the legendary hitman himself, choosing every action and making quick decisions in the heat of battle. Everything you do has its own risks/rewards and changes the situation at hand, so plan your moves carefully, grab new weapons and ammo as they fall from your foes, and make the most of every second.
Experience an original story set prior to the events of the films that expands on the John Wick universe. Become the Baba Yaga on a mission to rescue Winston and Charon from a dangerous new adversary seeking hisbirthright.
The world-class voice talents of Ian McShane and Lance Reddick, reprising their iconic roles from the films, and voice acting legend Troy Baker as the game’s eponymous villain,“Hex.”
Progress through the main campaign to unlock new weapons, suit options and locations.
Explore the criminal underworld of the films, brought to life with unique 3D graphic noir artwork and an original score from renowned composer Austin Wintory.
Building on their work from the original PC title, Bithell Games (Thomas Was Alone, Subsurface Circular) has collaborated with Ant Workshop to reimagine John Wick Hex for consoles and redesign it for controllers. Wick’s every move and skills will be available at your thumb tips as quick as the man himself.
John Wick Hex is also available on PlayStation®4 and the Epic Games Store. A special physical retail version of the game is available globally thanks to distribution partner U&I Entertainment. For more info, visit JohnWickHex.com, and follow @mikeBithell and @GoodShepherdEnt on Twitter.
About Good Shepherd Entertainment Good Shepherd Entertainment publishes video games from independent artists worldwide and operates a proprietary investment platform for a growing global network of qualified investors seeking risk- mitigated participation in the $130B video game industry. Originally established in the Netherlands in 2011, operating under the name Gambitious, the Company became a full-featured publisher in 2014. Good Shepherd Entertainment is backed by some of the industry’s most notable names, including Devolver Digital, Croteam and Perfect World, all successful companies in independent game development and publishing. www.GoodShepherd.games
About Bithell Games Bithell Games is a team focused on creating entertaining, innovative games which tell mature stories. Their original titles span multiple platforms and include the BAFTA-winning Thomas Was Alone, Volume, The Solitaire Conspiracy and the award-nominated Circular anthology series (Subsurface Circular, Quarantine Circular).
About Lionsgate Combining the STARZ premium global subscription platform with world-class motion picture and television studio operations, Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF.A, LGF.B) brings a unique and varied portfolio of entertainment to consumers around the world. Its film, television, subscription, interactive game and location-based entertainment businesses are backed by a 17,000-title library and one of the largest collections of film and television franchises. A digital age company driven by its entrepreneurial culture and commitment to innovation, the Lionsgate brand is synonymous with bold, original, relatable entertainment for the audiences it serves worldwide.
About Ant Workshop Ants — tiny, strong, focussed, good at working with others to achieve their goals and often with a nasty bite. Some of these characteristics (not so much the bitey ones) are also shared by Ant Workshop, a small independent game developer and work-for-hire studio based in Edinburgh, Scotland.
NHL 94 Rewind hit EA Sports NHL 21 earlier this year as an awesome pre-order bonus, and now it’s available to everyone as part of the ‘Past Meets Present’ campaign. The game is available in a bundle with NHL 21 for $64.99 USD or solo for $9.99 USD, and is part of EA Play’s lineup of games. Xbox Owners with Game Pass Ultimate can find it as part of their Game Pass lineup as well, thanks to the inclusion of EA Play with that service.
‘Past Meets Present’ also brings the Reverse Retro jerseys to the game and introduces a HUT campaign based on players who influenced modern-day stars, with 80s and 90s Icons like Mario, Gretzky, and even Kirk McLean for your Canucks fans out there.
For more on the ‘Past Meets Present’ campaign, check out EA’s page on it here.
Here’s the press release:
RESPECT THE PAST, EMBRACE THE FUTURE AS EA SPORTS NHL® 21, ADIDAS AND NHL® REVEAL ‘PAST MEETS PRESENT’ CAMPAIGN
Hockey Has Frozen in Time as NHL 21 Offers a Reintroduction to NHL 94, Reverse Retro Jerseys In-Game and a Specialized 80s-90s Focused HUT Campaign
December 3, 2020 – Earlier this year, EA SPORTS NHL® 21 harkened back to the past with NHL 94 Rewind, a throwback to the fan-favorite classic NHL 94, that was made available as a pre-order bonus for NHL 21. Now, the team at EA SPORTS is continuing to bring hockey’s past forward by teaming up with adidas and the National Hockey League for the exclusive Past Meets Present campaign that reintroduces NHL 94 Rewind as part of a holiday bundle, debuts the recently revealed Reverse Retro jerseys in-gameand launches a special 80s and 90s focused HUT campaign with Icons who influenced modern-day NHL stars.
During the Past Meets Present campaign, NHL 21 will feature Reverse Retro jerseys for all 31 NHL teams, putting the specially-crafted adidas jerseys into the game beginning today. Players can don the Kachina Coyotes sweaters, Nordique-inspired Avalanche jerseys and many more, paying homage to past styles while dazzling with the modern-day arsenal of superstar-inspired moves introduced in NHL 21 this year.
For any players that missed out on NHL 94 Rewind as a pre-order bonus, the beloved classic is now available once again through a holiday bundle, which includes both NHL 21 and NHL 94 Rewind for $64.99 USD. Players who already own NHL 21 will be able to purchase NHL 94 Rewind in-game for $9.99 USD. EA Play members will also have access to one of the greatest hockey video games of all time with NHL 94 Rewind now available on The Play List. NHL 94 Rewind features today’s teams and today’s rosters with controls and graphics from 1994.
The Past Meets Present campaign reaches Hockey Ultimate Team (HUT) in the form of HUT Icons – a dozen influential players from the 80s and 90s that helped inspire today’s game. Notable HUT Icons include Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Phil Housley, Grant Fuhr and more. See how today’s superstars stack up against the HUT Icons in one of NHL 21’s most beloved modes beginning tomorrow, December 4.
A full breakdown of the Past Meets Present campaign can be found here.
EA SPORTS NHL® 21 is available worldwide on PlayStation®4 and Xbox One. To learn more about all the new features and modes included in NHL® 21, visit https://www.ea.com/games/nhl/nhl-21.
EA Play is a game membership service that gives you more from your favorite games, with exclusive rewards, member-only content and access to a library of top titles. You can learn more about EA Play here.
I’m sold on the Xbox Series X every time I boot it up. From hitting the button on the controller to being on the dash in about two seconds is still – weeks after getting my hands on the hardware – miraculous every single time.
There are all kinds of other benefits, of course. The games look better, even my old games, and load times are incredibly quick. I mean ‘no more checking Twitter’ kinds of fast, but I think it’s that near-instantaneous start-up that really sells me on the console.
Maybe that’s down to my specific circumstances as a dad of several kids, the youngest being three. My gaming time is sporadic – I might just get settled down to dive into the latest Destiny 2 expansion or my Yakuza: Like a Dragon adventure when *boom* someone wants my attention and I have to abandon it for a bit.
Gaming on a time budget was painful on the old consoles, with their long start-ups (outside the Switch, which isn’t that bad at all) and extended loading times in the games themselves. When you have 15 minutes to play something, you don’t want to waste a minute starting up the console and another minute or two loading into whatever game you’ve picked out. With the Series X, however, short gaming sessions are a lot more productive. I can get into a game and be playing in the time it used to take to start up the console – it’s, if you’ll pardon the awful pun, game-changing.
Also game-changing – literally – is Microsoft’s commitment to backwards compatibility. Not only did I log into my Series X day one with 1,159 games in my library ready to be played, but the majority of them look and run better than they did on past consoles – even the Xbox One X. The resolution and framerate upgrades were expected given the work the backwards compatibility team has put in on past hardware, and it was nice to see the improvements in games that had special attention paid to them, like Gears 5, but it was Auto-HDR, a newcomer to the feature set, that really impressed me.
HDR has been around since the 90’s, but it wasn’t until 2015 or so that it broke into what I’d call widespread adoption. Every Xbox console generation except the Series line predates that break in the adoption curve, so games from those gens didn’t support that expanded range – but now they do thanks to Auto-HDR. Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved on a good HDR television is amazing, for example, and that game came out in 2003. How does it work? I have no idea, but it really freshens up those older games – especially ones with a lot of vivid colours in their palette.
OK before I just ramble on the whole time, here’s my Xbox Series X review.
Following up on the recent release of Xbox One X and Xbox Series X (via backwards compatibility) gameplay footage of Cyberpunk 2077, the hotly-anticipated open-world action-adventure/roleplaying title from CD Projekt Red, now we have footage from the PS4 Pro and PS5 (again in compatibility mode) to take a look at.
Here’s the two videos.
Cyberpunk 2077 is slated to release on December 10th, 2020 on PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Stadia. While it will be playable on Xbox Series S|X and PS5 via backwards compatibility, CD Projekt Red has promised a free upgrade to a full next-gen version will be available at a later date.
The Falconeer continually reminds me of Sea Of Thieves, and it’s not just the stylized graphics or environments dominated by water – it’s something about the pace of the game.
This is a game I can fire up when I’m stressed after a bad day and just soar around the skies taking it all in. The game’s art style, like Sea of Thieves, just has something in it that works for me. The bright colours, the rolling waves, the gorgeous skies – it’s soothing to turn the HUD off and just take a low flight over the ocean, seeing whales jump out of the water and other random events, and not worry about anything for a bit.
When you’re decompressed and ready for more, the game offers up a combat system that’s reminiscent of Crimson Skies – only on the back of a giant falcon. Whatever bird you’re riding – the game offers up a few with different stats – has an energy bar that can be used to gain altitude, fly faster, do tight turns, or pull off evasive barrel rolls. When depleted that bar can be refilled by diving, which creates a balancing act between using it for gaining height and having enough left to use for your defensive moves.
There are also some environmental objects to keep an eye out for, including waterspouts that will give your bird a free ride to the upper atmosphere, lightning storms to recharge your guns, and jet streams that help you transit the long distances between settlements faster.
I could just fly around this world for hours…
The story – a sprawling tale that will have you questioning what’s really going on in this world – is told over several chapters, and there are some difficulty spikes that will necessitate grinding out some side missions for money to upgrade both your bird, using potions that add abilities like more health or faster regeneration, or your weaponry. Early on there’s some skill check battles that will make sure you know how to dodge incoming fire or keep a lock on your enemy as you battle in a WWII style furball of tightly-circling combatants, but for the most part it’s simply a matter of ‘my guns are doing enough damage, I need new guns’ damage checks.
Falconeer’s story throws you through several factions as you switch falconeers at key points to give you some perspective on the other cultures at play in the world. It’s an interesting approach that allows for some of the twists and betrayals to really hit home for those who are paying attention and not simply waiting until they can go fly again.
For as fun as combat is, and I didn’t namecheck the legendary Crimson Skies without good reason, I had just as much fun in The Falconeer simply roaming the skies taking it all in. This is a world with personality, and I still want to see what else it has to offer.
I played on both the Xbox One X and Xbox Series X, and while the new console has a decided edge in load times it was a great experience on both. The game offers up 4K resolution at 60 fps on the Series X, and upscaled 4K at 60 fps on the One X. The Series X also offers up an upscaled 4K at 120 fps mode that is incredibly smooth if you have the monitor or TV to take advantage of it.
What I Loved:
Super relaxing feel to the non-combat moments
Great photo mode
What I liked:
‘play at your own pace’ style allows players to explore when they want, for as long as they want
Bird/weapon upgrades are kept simple – no need to read pages of stats to figure things out
A game you can jump back into just to explore
Story beats that really work thanks to seeing every side of the conflict
What I Disliked:
Difficulty spikes that force you to grind out cash
Could have used more mission variety
What I Hated:
The Falconeer is available now on Xbox consoles and PC for $38.99 Canadian. Reviewed on Xbox One X and Xbox Series X using code provided for review.
Marvel’s Avengers was pegged as a Destiny-like loot game ahead of its release, a notion supported by all the pre-release marketing, but that sells the game criminally short.
Don’t get me wrong, there is that whole Games As A Service aspect to Avengers and when you hit the ‘endgame’ here, you’ll jump into the many missions available to you to grind out levels and loot to improve your character. Before that though, there’s a great campaign that deserved a lot more focus than their marketing gave it.
As Kamala Khan – Ms. Marvel if we’re using our made-up names, a character I was aware of but not familiar with going into the game, players will help pull the Avengers back together and you’ll play as Black Widow, Captain America, Hulk, Thor, and Iron Man during the game’s 15-ish hour story mode as she tracks them down and recruits them back into the team.
Khan, played perfectly by Sandra Saad, is a delight as she transforms from squealing fangirl who is awestruck by the Avengers into a hero in her own right. The transformation is handled better than other ‘ordinary person to hero’ evolutions, if only because there’s no ‘flip the switch’ moment where she goes from normal to perfection.
Khan doubts herself through most of the game. She makes mistakes, and she gains experience and understanding. She never totally loses her fangirl adoration of the Avengers roster, but it becomes tempered by understanding they’re regular people who make mistakes, disagree, and even fight. I won’t spoil the ups and downs of the plot, but for comic fans it’s worth playing and probably justifies the price of admission on its own.
Get done with the story, though – or jump in early if you don’t mind some late-game spoilers, and the rest of the game expands into the endgame form via the Avengers Initiative. Jump into any of the dozen-plus missions available – with more added regularly and changes made to the modifiers on existing missions to keep them fresh – and take on enemies to gather loot and accessories to increase your character’s power.
Playing with up to three friends or allowing the AI to fill those roles, gamers can choose to be Black Widow, Captain America, Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, or Ms. Marvel with the caveat that there can be only one of each hero in the game. The combat is quick and frantic, with a mix of melee and ranged combat that’s a ton of fun for both button mashers and combo artists. There’s a full selection of stuns, knockbacks, shield breakers, launchers, air juggles, and other beat-em-up staples that players can take advantage of but mashing on the buttons can work for the lower challenge levels.
Each character comes with a ‘battle pass’ to fill by completing daily and weekly challenges, unlocking new emotes, takedowns, outfits, and the game’s currency. All six of the starter characters receive their battle pass for free, allowing gamers to pile up currency in advance of the addition of new characters as downloadable content (DLC).
All DLC for the game will be free – new regions, new adventures, new enemies, and even new characters. The new characters will have a battle pass associated with them, costing 1,000 of the game’s currency to unlock. Completing the battle pass returns that 1,000 plus another 400 more, so there should be no need to spend money on future battle pass additions. The game also has skins to purchase, but I haven’t seen one that tempted me to spend any of the currency I’ve gathered – if they hope to finance future development with outfit sales, they need to do a better job on that front.
Marvel’s Avengers is a must-buy for comic fans, and has a real shot at being one of the most complete beat-em-ups released this year – even if nobody thought that’s what kind of game it was going to be. The endgame needs some fleshing out, but it’s more than enough to keep you busy until it’s been rounded into shape. The game is available now on PC, PS4, and Xbox One. PS4 and Xbox One versions offer free upgrades to the next-gen, though it’s not yet known if game progress will carry over.
For months now Microsoft and the team at Xbox have been taking a ton of flak over their cross-gen stance, and that’s putting it mildly. Everything from “it’ll hold back games” to “there’s no next-gen excitement” has been tossed at the wall like monkeys throwing crap at the zoo…and for what?
For it to be OK when Sony announces, at the 11th hour, that their approach is exactly the same and that games like Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Horizon Forbidden West, games that people were praising as ‘finally a truly next-gen experience’ unfettered by the lowly hardware that preceded them, are in fact cross-gen? You’re just moving goalposts to make sure ‘your’ team is still ok.
Let’s not pretend this is a one-off either. Remember the confusion that surrounded the ‘console launch exclusive’ terminology? It seems pretty clear – it’s exclusive at launch and won’t be later, aka a timed exclusive. That set off the ‘concern‘ though. What did it mean? How long was it exclusive? Why didn’t they tell us – at this Xbox event – that it was coming to PS4 later?
Now check out today. Final Fantasy XVI gets announced as a console exclusive and people are – to put it mildly – stunned. Why would Square Enix do that, especially after cutting a deal with Microsoft to finally put out a slew of Final Fantasy games on Xbox Game Pass?
Well the answer is money, but also that it’s not actually an exclusive. It’s a timed exclusive, a revelation shared in a later trailer – but not at the showcase. Moving goalposts…
I don’t blame any company for not mentioning the game will be out on another platform in the future, or even at the same time – but there’s a world of difference between omission and untruth, and saying that something’s an exclusive when it’s not is pretty clearly the latter.
But this isn’t really about them, it’s about the fans that enable it.
If you just spent three months crowing on Twitter about how Sony was going to destroy Microsoft because of cross-gen games, shut up and eat that crow…and remember this next time.
If you ranted about Xbox ‘lies’ over timed exclusives, or that they bought timed exclusives in the first place, keep in mind that Final Fantasy XVI, Deathloop, Ghostwire Tokyo, Kena, Oddworld, Demon’s Souls, and Godfall – all billed as ‘console exclusives’ are – in fact – timed exclusives. Shut up and eat that crow…and remember this next time.
If you said Game Pass ‘devalued’ games and wasn’t ‘sustainable’ but think PS Plus Collection is a great addition, maybe – you guessed it – shut up and eat that crow…and remember this next time.
It’s not like Sony fans are the only ones that need to work on their memory though – remember how power didn’t matter (Xbox One launch) then it did (Xbox One X launch) and now it maybe does with the Series X? Hey guys, shut up and eat that crow…and remember this next time.
Maybe try being happy with what you have and what you are getting, not what the other guy’s not getting. And hold these companies to a higher standard, not a double standard.
After months of waiting on Sony and Microsoft to see who would blink first and finally reveal their next-gen console launch plans and pricing, a late-night leak forced Microsoft’s hand and pushed their reveal plans forward a week.
Hot on the heels of a leak by Brad Sams that detailed the Xbox Series S, the lower-powered option in Microsoft’s next-gen plans, the Xbox Twitter account released the full pricing details for the console. Hitting Canadian shelves at $379, the Series S is a digital-only console – no disk drive included to play physical games.
The Series S is also the smallest console Microsoft has ever built, smaller than even this generation’s Xbox One S model, but it packs a lot of power in a small frame. Games will be rendered on the Series S at 1080p or 1440p, and it’s targeted at people with older TVs or who play on a monitor, though it will also upscale to 4K for those with a 4K TV. Though it targets a lower resolution, it supports all the other next-gen bells and whistles – raytracing, low latency output, up to 120 fps framerates, and faster load times thanks to the built-in SSD.
The following day, Microsoft unloaded the second salvo in what it had planned for a big day of reveals – the Xbox One X pricing and release date for both consoles. The Series S bigger brother will cost gamers $599 Canadian when the two options hit shelves November 10th and will have Assassin’s Creed Valhalla – running at 4K 60 fps – and Gears Tactics among the launch day titles.
They also announced the expansion of Xbox All-Access from a US-only program to one that will run in 12 countries, including Canada. The program allows gamers to pick up a new console on a payment plan much like those used for mobile phones. The two-year plans include the console – gamers can pick either the Series S or the Series X – and two years of Game Pass Ultimate, for a monthly fee for $24.99 USD (approximately $33 Canadian) for the Series S or $34.99 USD (roughly $46 Canadian) for the Series X. It’s unclear what Canadian pricing will wind up being, but the US pricing represents a savings of $20 total over the two-year span. It’s worth noting that Canadians are already getting a currency conversion break on the Series X which should be about $60 more expensive dollar-to-dollar,
Microsoft wasn’t quite done yet, also announcing that EA’s subscription service EA Play – formerly EA Access – would also be getting rolled into Xbox Game Pass at no additional charge. The EA service allows gamers 10 hour demos of new titles, 10% discounts on purchasing games, and an extensive selection of older titles (just shy of 90 at last count) in the EA Vault they can download and play anytime they want.
All in all, it’s a little disappointing that Microsoft couldn’t carry out their plan of revealing this all in one event, but at long last, the wait is over…almost. We still don’t know what Sony’s next-gen plans are, but I’d expect to hear that very, very soon.
If you want to try out some games, and I mean a LOT of games, then check out the Xbox Summer Game Event, which brings the summer heat – which we’ve been missing to this point here in Alberta – with over 60 demos of upcoming games.