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Xbox One update boosts Party Chat and lets you buy Xbox 360 games

For Microsoft and Sony, the start of a new month means it’s time to share new software updates. Sony’s already had its turn, announcing that Remote Play will soon make its way to PC and Mac, and now Microsoft has confirmed it’s deploying a patch with a number of frequently requested features.

 

Xbox One update boosts Party Chat and lets you buy Xbox 360 games

Xbox One update boosts Party Chat and lets you buy Xbox 360 games

One of the most notable additions is improved access to Xbox 360 games. Microsoft has allowed Xbox One gamers to play older titles on their console for a few months now, but finding and launching them can be a pain. With the new update, older-generation games will be listed in a similar way to digital Xbox One titles, making them easier to buy and download to your console.

Party Chat has been given a nice little overhaul too. It can now be used during Twitch broadcasts and there’s now the ability to listen to conversations through your headset and speakers at the same time. The Party Chat limit has been expanded from 12 to 16 people, which is either a blessing or a curse depending on what type of games you play.

Xbox One update boosts Party Chat and lets you buy Xbox 360 games

Xbox One update boosts Party Chat and lets you buy Xbox 360 games

Microsoft has also listened to gamers who are frustrated with having to jump between apps to check on their achievements. They’ll now be loaded into the Xbox One guide and videos will now be playable from your Activity Feed. On top of that, Microsoft is scrapping the hard 30 second limit on Game DVR recording and adding a number of new recording lengths. Footage can now be saved in 15 second, 30 second, 45 second, 1 minute, 3 minute or 5 minute clips.

If you’re a member of Microsoft’s Xbox One Preview program, you can download the update today. Everyone else will have to wait for it roll out over the next few weeks.

Kinect Is Not Dead, Microsoft Says

“We are absolutely continuing to support Kinect.”

Microsoft did not talk about its motion-sensing Xbox peripheral Kinect during the company’s E3 briefing this week or at all during the show itself. Some fans might be wondering how committed Microsoft is to the technology considering it didn’t take any time to talk about it at the year’s biggest gaming show.

But now, Xbox executive Aaron Greenberg has spoken out to assure fans that Kinect is here to stay.

“We are absolutely continuing to support Kinect,” Greenberg told GameSpot this week at E3.

He went on to say that Microsoft is “innovating with Kinect in a different way,” pointing out that there are features included with the new Xbox One user interface that will leverage Kinect. One of these is Cortana, Microsoft’s Siri-like digital assistant, that will be available on Xbox One sometime in the future.

“So we’re continuing to support Kinect where it makes sense,” Greenberg added.

When the Xbox One launched in November 2013, all Xbox One bundles came with Kinect. But this changed a year later, when Microsoft released a Kinect-free bundle and offered the camera as an optional add-on. Greenberg stressed that consumers having a choice is an important part of the overall Xbox One strategy.

“We really want Kinect to be a choice for customers. For me, I love it; I turn my Xbox One with Kinect; I use it for entertainment; I use it to do screenshots and all that,” he said. “I like to be able to have my hands on the controller and use voice commands. But, frankly, a lot of people also want a better value and don’t want to have to pay for it. So we’re not going to force people to do that. We give people the choice.”

You can watch our full interview with Greenberg below.

Remember Me and Life Is Strange Dev Announces Vampyr

Dontnod, the French developer which previously released Remember Me and Life Is Strange has announced its next game at E3 2015, Vampyr, a role-playing game for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC that will use Unreal Engine 4.

Vampyr is set in set in an early 20th century Britain, which is thrown into chaos by a lethal Spanish Flu, and vampires that haunt the streets at night. Player will take on the role of Jonathan E. Reid, a military surgeon that becomes a vampire when he returns home from the war.

During the game, players will explore London, accept missions, and eventually have to decide who they’ll feed on.

“Absolutely all characters in the game are potential victims of your vampiric lust,” the developer said in a release. “Carefully study the habits of your next victim, his or her relationships with other characters, and set up your strategy to feed, unnoticed: seduce them, change their daily habits, or make sure they end up alone in a dark street.”

Vampyr’s combat includes, melee, shooting mechanics, and supernatural vampire abilities that’ll help you take on different species of vampire creatures as well as vampire hunters. Player will also be able to create their own weapons using a deep crafting system and materials looted from defeated enemies.

Vampyr will be published by Focus Home Interactive in 2017.

Draft the Ultimate Team in FIFA 16

Draft the Ultimate Team in FIFA 16

Draft the Ultimate Team in FIFA 16

 As with several of EA’s other sports franchises, FIFA’s Ultimate Team mode has become one of the most popular game modes available. Whether you’re a hardcore, stat-obsessed fan or someone who’s looking for a group-friendly way of enjoying of the series, it’s a fantastic way to interact with the sport. With FIFA 16, in an effort to build on Ultimate Team’s popularity and draw new fans in the process, EA has doubled down with the FUT Draft.

Fans of “the other football” are perhaps familiar with Madden NFL 16’s newest mode, called Draft Champions. And despite the name change, this mode is a pretty accurate picture of what you can expect from the latest FIFA. Initially, FUT tests the player’s ability to build a team of players who play a similar scheme; once they’ve drafted a team of the best players available (based on FUT trading cards), they’ll have the option of setting them against CPU-controlled teams with a random set of FUT cards, or challenging other human-controlled squads online.

FIFA players are faced with interesting team building challenges: Do you grab the best, highest-rated player in a given position, for instance… or focus on maximizing team chemistry? The objective is to win four matches in a row; if successful, you’ll earn the title of champion and reap the FUT rewards.

Unlike Madden’s Draft Champions, FUT Draft requires players to choose a captain early in the process. This selection will be your team’s best player, though that itself is subjective: You’ll get the opportunity to choose between five superstar options. The choices are randomized, and different each and every time you play.

FUT Draft and Draft Champions take place within the Ultimate Team universe, and both modes give players with an opportunity to compete with the best players, without having to earn them by virtue of pack purchases. Among various other gameplay advances, FIFA 16’s Career Mode features a new training system to help upgrade your young players, along with improvements to the various management features.

FUT Draft showcases some excellent mechanics as you attempt to win four matches in a row with your hand-picked squad. You can check it out now in FIFA 16, available for Xbox One, Xbox 360, and Windows PC.

Xbox App on Windows 10: Social Updates Available Today in Beta

Xbox App on Windows 10: Social Updates Available Today in Beta

Xbox App on Windows 10: Social Updates Available Today in Beta

At Team Xbox, we want to make it easy to connect with your friends on any device where you play games. This week, we’re excited to start previewing two more ways to expand your social gaming network and share your gaming content with your friends on Xbox Live.

  • Facebook friend finder: a top requested fan feature, we’re bringing two of your favorite social networks together—Facebook and Xbox Live—and making it easier than ever to find more people to play games and have fun with.

In the Windows 10 Xbox beta app (available in the Windows 10 Store here), look for the Facebook icon in the Suggested Friends area or Settings. Click it to link your Facebook account to your Xbox Live account and start seeing suggestions for friends on Facebook who you can add on Xbox Live. As your friends link their Facebook accounts to their Xbox Live accounts, you’ll see increasing numbers of Facebook friend suggestions, so be sure to spread the word!

  • Record your voice in your Game DVR clips on your PC: Windows Insider Program and Xbox beta app participants can now plug in a headset and narrate their Windows 10 game clips with their own voice using Game bar and Game DVR hotkeys.

 To turn microphone recording on or off for a gaming session, just press Win + Alt + M. Want to turn microphone recording on for all gaming sessions? Go to Game bar > Settings > Audio or Xbox beta app > Settings > Game DVR > Audio. And if you like personalizing your Game DVR hotkeys and want to customize the microphone recording hotkey, do it here: Game bar > Settings > Shortcuts or Xbox beta app > Settings > Game DVR > Keyboard shortcuts.

Share your Windows 10 Store game clips with voice over commentary to your friends on Xbox Live through the Xbox app or any social network or sharing option on your PC.

Also lighting up in the Xbox beta app today are improvements in the way that gamers can find games and redeem codes. Our goal with these changes is to enable quicker and more relevant access to content.

  • The Store link in the Xbox beta app will now bring you to the Xbox Store—a launching point for browsing and searching for both Windows 10 and Xbox One games. The new interface allows you to see more products at a glance and brings you the latest crop of most popular Windows 10 and Xbox One games, sales and specials, plus your Deals with Gold and Games with Gold games.
  • In the Xbox One section of the redesigned Xbox Store, gamers will enjoy a persistent search box, reducing clicks between searches. Also, when you type in the name or a description of the Xbox One content that you are searching for, the search box will suggest some top matching search results.
  • Once you’ve found the content you are looking for, fans will enjoy quicker and more contextual actions. Own the content already? Click the ‘play on console’ button and kick off a game streaming session. Don’t own the content? Just click on the ‘buy’ button to purchase.
  • Redeeming codes gets easier too! Just like on Xbox One, when codes are sent to you in a message, simply click ‘redeem code’ to redeem. The ‘Redeem a code’ link in the Xbox One section of Xbox Store allows you to enter-25 digit codes right in the app as well.

Check out these new social features arriving in the Windows 10 Xbox beta app today and let us know what you think. Stay tuned for more updates coming to the beta app each month.

See you on Xbox Live!

Windows 10 coming to Xbox One in November with new UI

 

Microsoft announced at Gamescom today that the Xbox One’s Windows 10 rollout will take place in November. We’ve known that the upgrade was coming for a while, alongside DirectX 12 support, but Microsoft had previously declined to put a date on it. The new Windows 10 launch will debut alongside a new UI that apparently diverges from the Windows 8-style layouts that Microsoft has used since the Xbox One launched in 2013. Other new improvements include a new OneGuide design, a Store makeover, and support for Universal apps created with Windows 10.

If you like Cortana, you’ll also have the option to enable her on the Xbox one, and the new universal platform really could go a long way to transforming what the console is capable of. Cortana will also allow you to talk to the console if you have a Kinect, though it’s not clear how many Xbox One owners actually do. Given the way Microsoft’s sales spiked after it killed the mandatory Kinect bundle and began shipping other versions of the console, it’s likely that less than 50% of buyers actually bothered to shell out cash for a glorified paperweight. Finally, of course, there’s the new Chatpad, the Xbox 360 backward compatibility (hopefully in much better shape than it was a few months ago, when Eurogamer tested it), and full DVR support coming to the platform.

New Windows 10 Xbox One

All of these features are welcome additions to the Xbox One’s core functionality, and we’ve previously praised the idea of universal applications running on the platform. Microsoft is poised to create a level of integrated functionality between the Xbox One and the PC ecosystem that Sony can’t match, with game streaming both to and from the Xbox One (though the former isn’t formally announced yet). What’s less clear is whether this will result in meaningfully improved sales for the Xbox One itself.

Right now, Sony continues to dominate this generation of game consoles, with recent data suggesting that the Japanese company has sold more PS4’s than Wii U’s and Xbox One’s combined. While the Xbox One continues to outpace the Wii U as far as sales are concerned, uptake simply hasn’t matched Sony, with some data suggesting that the PlayStation 4 is outselling the Xbox One by as much as 2:1. I agree with my colleague, Grant, that this discrepancy isn’t adequately explained by the performance difference between the two — while the Xbox One is slower than the PS4, it’s simply not slow enough to explain a difference this massive. Instead, the gap is likely due to the Xbox One’s disastrous debut. If Microsoft had offered a substantial performance advantage over Sony and a $100 price increase to go along with it, then the Xbox One might not have floundered. Instead, the company tried to kill the aspects of the game industry that consumers wanted, saddled the platform with Kinect 2.0 (which no one asked for), and generally blew its foot off.

Microsoft, to its credit, has done a 180-degree turn from these disastrous policies and is well on its way to creating new and innovative experiences around the platform, even if features like DirectX 12 aren’t actually expected to deliver much performance improvement. The reason for that is simple: The Xbox One already has a low-overhead API, and so the gains we see from shifting to a second may be much smaller than what we’ll see on the PC later this year and into 2016. That’s not a knock on DX12 — just a realistic statement that we shouldn’t expect the API to deliver enormous improvements, particularly if the game hasn’t been optimized for DX12 from the ground up. Still, over time, we could see some significant improvements over time, as games adapt to the new DirectX variant.

 



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