Hello again everyone, and welcome back to the new improved NAG Online and the newest and not-so-improved [correction: now (hastily) improved. Ed] instalment of This Week In Gaming. This time around we have a ton of Microsoft news with all kinds of gaming-related Windows 10 stuff and how well it’s going to get along with the Xbox, then we have Rovio diversifying their business, as well as a big announcement from The Elder Scrolls Online. Ubisoft also has a new platformer, Fable Legends has a feature we’ve never seen before and Microsoft sneaks back in again to tell us about a brand new piece of hardware that may rival the Oculus Rift. All that juicy gossip, highlights from the week and a whole lot of videos, coming at you after the jump.
There’s a ton of Xbox and Windows 10 news this week, so let’s get that out of the way first.
The bombshells come via Phil Spencer, mostly during the course of a major press conference earlier this week. According to Spencer, Microsoft’s vision is to have Xbox and Windows form a “symbiotic” relationship, i.e. mutually beneficial.
How do they plan to do this? One idea is with cross-platform streaming. In the words of Phil, “I look at the opportunity to make Windows gaming and Xbox gaming kind of symbiotic with one another. And try to grow the number of people that are connected and the amount of content that’s available on both platforms–[I feel is] a huge opportunity. I don’t feel that there’s some kind of financial motivation for me to keep things off of PC. At the Microsoft level, clearly that’s not true. And in the Xbox side, I want Xbox gamers to be proud that Windows is a Microsoft product and Xbox is a Microsoft product. So I think we’ll be able to thread the needle and do both.”
Hmmm, wait a minute – that’s not the quote about streaming. That’s just the appetiser before the main. Let’s try this one instead, courtesy of Xbox exec Mike Ybarra: “We’re actively investigating [streaming] right now. “Right now in the labs it’s 720p/30fps. We’re looking at 1080p/30fps, 1080p/60fps and that is where a lot of what’s your home network – is it wired? – will come in to effect.
“So really it will largely depend on the scenario in which someone’s trying to play that. But we’re investigating to make sure that we can give the optimal experience based on what the scenario is for the consumer.
“We haven’t tested every single game so I can’t give you a definitive answer, but certainly our goal is to be as low latency as possible. Especially for frames per second because any kind of additional latency there, we’ll hear [about] it loud and clear.”
He does add that Kinect titles won’t work, which I’m sure is a massive disappointment for everybody involved. What do you all make of this? Awesome feature or waste of time?
Hang on, Microsoft isn’t done yet. Another huge announcement this week was the HoloLens, an “augmented reality” headset computer chock full of sensors and processors.
Using a translucent lens ala Google Glass, the headset allows you to view graphics overlaid on your environment – hence augmented reality, as opposed to virtual. On the bright side, you don’t get the dose of crippling nausea you might with an Oculus Rift.
Microsoft admit this is still a work-in-progress, but insist it’s a big part of their future plans – particularly this new vision they have for Windows.
I just want the “new vision” to not look like a damn tablet layout. Have a look at the device in action:
Here’s something a little different – Angry Birds studio Rovio is publishing a book. Not a franchise tie-in or other merchandise effort either, as far as I can tell it’s just a crappy young adult novel like any other.
I could tell you about it – but frankly I’m not sure you’d care. It’s called Storm Sisters, it features a gaggle of adolescent pirate girls and is presumably marketed to the same bunch who read Twilight. A money-maker in the making perhaps, but I expect the NAG readership to have more diverse taste.
The Elder Scrolls Online didn’t really do all that well, much like The Old Republic before it. It seems when it comes to subscription-based MMORPGs, people either pay for World of Warcraft or they won’t pay at all.
Bethesda has however announced this week that the title will be going free-to-play in June, and perhaps even more significantly, will be landing on PS4 and Xbox One in June.
They’re promising continued updates to gameplay, but premium DLC will also be a thing, as well as the ability to purchase in-game currency with real money.
It reads to me like a bit of a last-ditch effort to turn the little MMORPG that couldn’t into one of those titles that people will be playing for the next decade, but I’m just not sure it’s going to work.
After the success of Child of Light, it looks like Ubisoft is dabbling in low-cost platformers once again, announcing another title with an interesting angle this week – Grow Home.
Players will be controlling BUD, a Botanical Utility Droid whose job it is to grow a massive beanstalk and oxygenate his home world.
It’s a physics-based title, which means player’s will have to control BUD’s arms in order to climb up the giant plant. I couldn’t help having nightmarish flashbacks to QWOP AND CLOP, although I imagine it’ll be a fair bit easier.
Here’s the punchline though – the game arrives in less than two weeks, on the fourth of Feb. Check out this teaser trailer so long:
Fable Legends will be coming to both PC and Xbox One “at the same time’, and will make use of Windows 10’s snazzy cross-platform multiplayer, allowing players on console and PC to play together.
Of course, the downside to that is that the game will only run on Windows 10 – 7 and even 8 are out of the running on this one. To boot, it’ll support the very promising DirectX 12, which is claiming big numbers like 50-70% increases in performance.