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Enlist Now for the HaloFest Livestream, November 8-11 - Wed, 22 Oct 2014 09:00:00 Z
On Nov. 11, the next step in the Halo journey begins with the release of Halo: The Master Chief Collection and Halo: Nightfall. In the days prior, Microsoft and 343 Industries invite fans to join the celebration as they broadcast special sneak peeks, interviews and exclusive gameplay to the world on Xbox Live, and Twitch – including the first look at the Halo 5: Guardians Multiplayer Beta and the world premiere of the first episode of Halo: Nightfall.

HaloFest: A Celebration Fit for a Spartan
Halo: The Master Chief Collection is Microsoft and 343 Industries’ tribute to longtime fans, the culmination of more than 13 years of storytelling, adventure and gameplay. For the first HaloFest, 343 built a living museum of Halo history, but this time, the history is encapsulated in its purest form, the Master Chief’s epic saga. So this year, in celebration of those memories and the future that lies ahead, Halo will take over the Avalon Theatre in Los Angeles on Nov. 10, the day before Halo: The Master Chief Collection arrives worldwide. 

Fans all over the world are invited to join the festivities via a live broadcast on Xbox Live, and Twitch, beginning at 8 p.m. PT. Tune in to the HaloFest Livestream to see:

  • First look at Halo 5: Guardians. Fans will have a chance to experience the Halo 5: Guardians Multiplayer Beta before its release on Dec. 29. An exhibition match between eSports pros will provide a first glimpse at the future of Halo multiplayer gameplay.
  • World premiere of Halo: Nightfall. The evolution of Halo storytelling continues with the debut of Halo: Nightfall. Watch the first episode of this original live-action digital series, which introduces Agent Locke – a pivotal new character in Halo 5: Guardians. Halo: Nightfall is the result of an unprecedented collaboration with industry talents like Ridley Scott and Sergio Mimica-Gezzan, who worked hand-in-hand with 343 Industries to raise the bar for live-action storytelling in the Halo universe.
  • Interviews with 343 Industries and more. Hear from Head of 343 Industries Bonnie Ross, Franchise Development Director Frank O’Connor, Executive Producer Dan Ayoub, Executive Producer Josh Holmes and others as they talk about the past, present and future of the Halo universe. Additionally, get the latest details on Halo: Nightfall directly from 343 Executive Producer Kiki Wolfkill, the cast and production team, and hear from celebrity Halo fans walking the green carpet at the Avalon Theatre.
  • The global Halo Tournament. On Nov. 8-9, the Halo: The Master Chief Collection Launch Invitational, presented by ESL, will feature 32 of the biggest names in eSports going toe-to-toe in Halo 2: Anniversary multiplayer for $50,000 in prizes and the chance to be the first to play the Halo 5: Guardians Multiplayer Beta. The competition will take place at ESL’s Southern California headquarters, and all coverage will be streamed at on Nov. 8-9, with additional highlights airing during the HaloFest live broadcast on Nov. 10.

Halo: Nightfall Trailer Debuts Today
Can’t wait for HaloFest? Check out the new Halo: Nightfall trailer above for a sneak peek at the live-action series. Led by world class talent, including executive producer Ridley Scott, Scott Free TV President David Zucker, and award-winning director Sergio Mimica-Gezzan, Halo: Nightfall will take full advantage of Xbox One’s rich interactivity, connecting the games and the series in innovative new ways.

The next chapter in your
Halo journey begins soon, and you can get ready by pre-ordering and pre-downloading Halo: The Master Chief Collection today. Be sure to tune in, beginning with the tournament on Nov. 8-9, followed by the HaloFest broadcast at 8 p.m. PT on Nov. 10! Enlist today.

Five Reasons We're Excited for Fantasia: Music Evolved - Tue, 21 Oct 2014 17:30:00 Z
One of the most enjoyable things about showing friends your Xbox One is giving them a look at something they've never seen before. Fantasia: Music Evolved is that never-before-seen thing. It's a bright, colorful, musical, multiplayer, rhythm party game experience we're really excited for. And here's why:

It's a unique Kinect experience.

Fantasia: Music Evolved is a completely new way to play a video game. Using the power of Kinect, players embody the character and spirit of the Sorcerer's Apprentice from the 1940 Disney classic Fantasia. Believe us when we say you've never experienced a game quite like this before.

The set list is freaking amazing.

Pop icons like Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj, and Lorde join up with indie sensations Fun, Kimbra, and The Flaming Lips... who meet up with classical gods Mozart, Tchaikovsky, and Bach. And that only scratches the surface. If this game's soundtrack was your phone's playlist, you would have the best taste ever.

A new party game... finally!

It's been a while since a new party game IP has come around, and we're really excited about it. When it comes to music-based party games, Fantasia: Music Evolved developer Harmonix's track record is flawless. They pretty much defined the genre, so it's exciting to see a new game from this team.

Even the hub worlds are awesome.

The hub realms in Fantasia: Music Evolved are where the story happens. As you play more songs and explore new areas, you transform the hub realms from drab, lifeless zones into vibrant, music-filled environments. The art and color and music combine to make some incredible audio visual art onscreen.

As soon as you play it, you'll get it.

We can keep telling you how awesome Fantasia: Music Evolved is, and we can even show you video of it – but because this game is so unique and tactile, you really have to play it to fully appreciate its beauty and depth. Five out of five rhythm game doctors recommend doing so as soon as possible.

Fantasia: Music Evolved hits Xbox One and Xbox 360 on October 21, just in time for any and all holiday parties you might have!

Sunset Overdrive Launch Trailer and “Week of Explosions” Ignite the Awesomepocalypse - Tue, 21 Oct 2014 10:00:00 Z
BOOM. Are you ready? The Awesomepocalypse is nigh and the mutant-infested open world of Sunset Overdrive is almost here, with hyper-agility, over-the-top weaponry and factions to boot.

Xbox and Insomniac Games invite you to dive in deep with a launch trailer that was released today, giving fans a final sneak peek at the game that rewrites the rules of traditional shooters and delivers an explosive, irreverent, stylish, and totally unique adventure exclusively to Xbox One starting Oct. 28:

Eager to whet your appetite with more explosive
Sunset Overdrive videos? Stop, drop and scroll down for a video and full details on the “Week of Explosions” kicking off today.

Xbox and YouTube Stars Celebrate Launch with “Week of Explosions”

Have you ever seen a crazy explosion in a video game and thought, “wouldn’t it be cool to see that in real life?”

Well, Xbox and Insomniac Games fans, daydream no longer. The Xbox marketing team drank a little too much Overcharge Delirium XT, and are teaming up with Discovery Digital Networks’
SourceFed, SourceFedNERD, RatedRR and The Vloggity to launch “Week of Explosions”: a series of videos featuring your favorite YouTube stars exploding a variety of real-life objects inspired by Sunset Overdrive, from cans of Overcharge to TNTeddies to a massive Fizzie parade balloon or a full-size Mutant Transportation Vehicle filled with terrifying mutants. Check out the first one here:

The best part? You get to choose what you’d like to see blown up for the grand finale of “Week of Explosions” on Oct. 28. Just go to and tell us your pick (#BlowUpFizzie or #BlowUpMutants). The first 100,000 fans who vote will receive a limited edition in-game outfit:

  • Granny’s Revenge outfit: What’s in the basket, Red Riding Hood? Oh, a fire-spewing shotgun? I think you’ll make it to Granny’s just fine. This ain’t no fairy tale – this is Sunset Overdrive. So, slap on this outfit and trek into those woods.

Follow along all week as we make stuff go “boom” with regular video updates on YouTube:

Here’s the full schedule for “Week of Explosions”:

  • Tuesday, Oct. 21: "SourceFedPLAYS… with Explosions!” – a special target practice competition with exploding cans of Overcharge, featuring RatedRR’s Richard Ryan and SourceFed hosts Sam, Matt and Joe.
  • Wednesday, Oct. 22: “Boom Cloud” – Richard and the top two finalists from the shoot-off rig up some Det Cord to create a real-life mushroom cloud explosion that spells “BOOM,” just like the game.
  • Sunday, Oct. 26: “Teddy Bear Rain” – the remaining two hosts face off in a head-to-head shoot-off, this time targeting explosive TNTeddies. The first person to hit all five targets will trigger the explosion of a giant pile of TNTeddies – and give a whole new meaning to “make it rain.”
  • Tuesday, Oct. 28: “Grand Finale Explosion” – which unfortunate object will meet its spectacularly explosive demise – the Fizzie parade balloon or the Mutant Transportation Vehicle? Tune in to RatedRR to find out…

What are you waiting for? Head over to and start voting!

Oh, and lest we forget to mention…please don’t try this at home! Your doctor probably won’t be very happy…

ESL Gaming Launches Today on Xbox One - Tue, 21 Oct 2014 09:00:00 Z
Today, we’re bringing you the competitive gaming you’ve been asking for with the launch of ESL Gaming on Xbox One.

ESL is the largest independent eSports brand in the world, running online competitions globally and filling sport stadiums for live events. Watching eSports on a console has never been easier, because with ESL on Xbox One you can directly find tournaments within the app, sign up without a second screen and open a match via the “My Matches” section. Within your match sheet you can see your opponent’s gamer picture and gamertag, contact them directly to exchange details on how to find each other in-game and enter the results directly within the app. You can even read news on Xbox topics like featured tournaments and games.

Sign up for a tournament through the ESL app on Xbox One to kick start your pro gaming career. Begin with ESL Open tournaments to gain experience, then try competing in the ESL Major tournaments with the chance to earn prizes. Keep your eyes peeled for the ESL Pro competitions and qualifiers and you could become the next eSports legend.

Whether you’re participating in eSports or just watching, there’s something for you in ESL Gaming for Xbox One. Grab ESL Gaming in the Apps section of the Xbox One Store* today!

*ESL is available to Xbox One owners in the United States, Canada, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Turkey

Xbox One Digital TV Tuner Launches in UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain - Tue, 21 Oct 2014 00:01:00 Z
With today’s launch of our easy-to-install Digital TV Tuner, Xbox One owners in the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain can now view free-to-air HD TV directly through their Xbox One. The tuner enables:

  • TV Listings in OneGuide: Navigate TV listings using the controller or with Kinect voice* to quickly navigate directly to that channel’s listings. Listings are available in both full screen and mini guide. OneGuide also enables users to favorite channels for a more personalized viewing experience.
  • TV Viewing in Snap Mode: Simultaneous TV and gaming in Snap mode. Receive game invitations and notifications while watching TV. Alternatively, watch TV on the side with the main screen for games or other applications – great for filling in time while waiting for a multiplayer match!
  • Pause, rewind and fast-forward Live TV: Pause your favorite show while you get up to take a break.
  • OneGuide on SmartGlass: SmartGlass can stream TV over your home network straight to your tablet or phone*, enabling you to instantly access OneGuide listings and tune channels on your TV. This is ideal for settling living room arguments with simultaneous options – gaming on the main screen and TV viewing on your SmartGlass device.
  • TV On Demand: TV listings in OneGuide will indicate which shows are available on demand from video apps.

The Xbox One Digital TV Tuner is available for £24.99 or €29.99 only from the Microsoft store.

*Kinect required for Voice-enabled features
*Available on iOS and Windows devices; coming soon to Android.  

Xbox One November System Update: New TV, Personalization and SmartGlass Features Now in Preview - Mon, 20 Oct 2014 17:45:00 Z
We’re bringing you new and exciting ways to watch TV and interact with the Xbox Live gaming community in this month’s Xbox One system update preview. Today, we will begin rolling out a ton of new features to members of the Xbox One preview program. We’ve got the full breakdown of features listed for you right here.

Show Who You Are
Some of the most requested features being released this month include the ability to customize your Xbox One background and showcase and share some of your favorite achievements and game clips.
  • Custom Backgrounds – The #1 fan-requested feature is making its initial debut for preview members. For the first time, each account on your Xbox One can have a customized background.  You can choose a custom color or achievement art as your background on Xbox One, with more customization options coming down the road.
  • Gamer Profile – You can now share your location and bio as part of your profile. You can set these options on your Xbox One console and use Xbox One SmartGlass to browse to other people’s profiles and check out their showcase items. Additionally, you can now select a set of showcase items that are displayed when other gamers look at your profile on an Xbox One console. You can use Xbox One SmartGlass or Xbox One console to add or remove up to six game clips or achievements that will be displayed in a carousel format.
  • Tweet about your Favorite Game Clips – You can now share your favorite Xbox One game clips with your followers on Twitter. Use the Share button on any game clip you have created and select Twitter to compose the Tweet. 

A New Way to Watch TV
– With new Live TV and Twitter integration, you can discover new shows to love and see what people are saying on Twitter about shows in real-time.
  • Live TV Trending – Starting today for preview members in the U.S., Canada and the UK, a new tab will be available in OneGuide that displays the top 20 most watched TV shows, with the list filtered down to the shows that are currently available to you based on your OneGuide settings. The Live TV Trending list is updated by the minute, so you can easily discover shows that are popular with other viewers. The Trending tab in OneGuide is updated to display Twitter - Live TV trending first and Xbox – Live TV Trending second. You can tune to a specific show by pressing the A button.
  • Twitter TV Trending – New this month in preview, you can see what Live TV is trending based on shows with the most conversations taking place on Twitter. Twitter TV Trending will initially be available to preview members in the U.S.
  • Xbox TV Trending – The Trending tab in OneGuide is updated to display Twitter trending first and Xbox – Live TV Trending second. Xbox – Live TV Trending is based on the number of Xbox One owners currently watching that show in each country, pulled from anonymous data collected at a national level.
  • Tweets in MiniGuide – See the actual tweets for the Live TV shows in real time and quickly find the Twitter #hashtag to join the conversation.
  • Recents and Favorites in MiniGuide – MiniGuide has been updated to include your favorite TV channels in a combined Recents and Favorites area and MiniGuide can now be activated via voice by saying “Xbox Select – MiniGuide” while watching TV.

Store improvements and SmartGlass updates
We are also excited to roll out these cool features:
  • Store improvements The Store pages on Xbox One have been improved to enable you to more quickly browse and find content. The navigation buttons were moved to the far left so you can find them easier. You can also more quickly find game add-ons, perform store specific searches and recommendations are more prominently displayed. Finally, store categories have been standardized so you can easily see the top items in each query at a glance.
  • Friends’ Game Activity on SmartGlass – You can now see a list of your friends that have played a given game within the Xbox One SmartGlass experience.
  • Games with Gold & Deals with Gold on SmartGlass – For gamers with an Xbox Live Gold subscription, you can browse “Free Games with Gold” and discounted content with Gold and initiate download of the content to your Xbox One console from your mobile device.
  • SmartGlass Store Improvements We added a new section for Apps to make it easier to find and download apps for your Xbox One, as well as adding a Coming Soon filter for Games and Add Ons to make it easier to see upcoming Xbox One releases sorted by anticipated release date.

Internet Explorer updates
– There are a few improvements Internet Explorer available this month:
  • Snap IE – From the Address Bar in Internet Explorer, you can now easily snap from a full screen experience and move Internet Explorer into snap mode.
  • Featured sites – Now, Internet Explorer will show a number when something is newly-added to featured sites. Newly-added sites will also display a badge until you launch them or seven days have passed since the site was added to the Featured list. 

Updates to the Preview dashboard app –
We’re gamifying the Preview dashboard. Here are some new features we are adding:
  • My Stats – If you are in the Preview program, you will now earn points for providing feedback, including points for completing Quests, Surveys, Quick Poll questions, and rating the update. These will be shared in the Preview dashboard under My Stats. The more points you get, the more you level up, and the more rewards you’ll earn. Keep checking back for special bonus point opportunities.
  • Leaderboard – We’re also adding a leaderboard that shows how you stack up against your friends based on the points you have earned. If you don’t have friends in the Preview program, we’ll show how you stack up against others in the program. Keep checking back – more things are coming to the My Stats page soon.

These new features and updates are rolling out to all Xbox One preview program members starting today and will launch for everyone in November.

Halo: The Master Chief Collection Now Available for Pre-order and Pre-download - Fri, 17 Oct 2014 09:58:00 Z
Thirteen years ago, Xbox made gaming history with the release of Halo: Combat Evolved. Then, ten years ago, Halo 2 changed the face of gaming forever. To date, more than 60 million copies of Halo games have been sold worldwide, driving over 6 billion hours of gameplay by fans connected to Xbox Live.

Now, on November 11, the seminal first-person shooter saga gets the deluxe Xbox One treatment with the release of
Halo: The Master Chief Collection. Celebrating three generations of the franchise and giving both new and longtime Halo fans the chance to experience all of the action on one consoles, this will kick off a new era in the Halo universe.  

Starting today, you can
pre-order and pre-download The Master Chief Collection on Xbox Live. Let’s take a closer look at what this $59.99 package gets you.

The Entire Master Chief Saga
Halo: The Master Chief Collection includes all of the critically acclaimed adventures of the Master Chief, from the original Halo: Combat Evolved: Anniversary, to Halo 2: Anniversary, and on to Halo 3 and Halo 4. You can even play a selection of the most treasured campaign levels across all four games using curated playlists – and once you’ve finished the fight, you can dive into the online fray on over 100 multiplayer maps, including six completely remastered favorites from Halo 2.

Halo 2: Anniversary
– In commemoration of Halo 2’s 10th anniversary, it’s received the special edition treatment in the form of dazzling HD graphics, all-new audio, smooth 60 fps gameplay, and nearly a full hour of brand-new cinematics. In addition to being able to find new terminals and flip on new skulls for some added challenge, you can instantly switch between the remastered Halo 2: Anniversary visuals and sound and the classic Halo 2 graphics and audio. 

Halo: Nightfall
– The inaugural installment of the episodic series from Executive Producer Ridley Scott and Scott Free Production will debut day-and-date with The Master Chief Collection – and you’ll be one of the first to see it. Giving players a look into the backstory of Agent Locke, who plays a key role in the events of Halo 5: Guardians, the five episodes of “Halo: Nightfall” will help to usher in a new era in the Halo universe.

Halo 5: Guardians Multiplayer Beta
– Jump into the long-awaited Halo 5 multiplayer maps before anyone else, during an exclusive three-week beta period that runs from December 29, 2014 through January 18, 2015. By taking part in the event, you’ll get the chance to help shape the face of Halo’s multiplayer future!

As one of the most innovative and beloved names in multiplayer gaming,
Halo is enjoyed by millions of players around the globe. Since its launch in 2001, it has been synonymous with the Xbox brand. Halo: The Master Chief Collection is a grand love letter to all those fans – a nostalgic look back at the series’ storied past, as well as a bridge to the future, to Halo 5: Guardians and beyond. Whether you’re a card-carrying Halo super-fan or a brand-new Xbox One gamer, there has never been a better way to play Halo than The Master Chief Collection. Pre-order your copy today, and experience the adventures of Master Chief on November 11, and through the holiday season with the Halo 5: Guardians Multiplayer Beta.

Here’s how pre-order and pre-download works. When a title becomes available for digital pre-order in the Xbox Store, select “Pre-purchase” to buy and download the game. You will be charged the full amount upon transaction and may use any supported payment method, including an existing Microsoft account balance or credit card. The game will download, along with any updates issued before the release date, so the game is up-to-date and ready to play. Then, when the game is officially released to the Xbox Store, timed with local launch availability, simply go to the game in My Games & Apps, go to your pre-pinned tile, or say “Xbox, go to
Halo: The Master Chief Collection” to start playing. Titles will be available after midnight local time on the release date in your corresponding country, though some countries with multiple time zones will align to one release time.

Similar to other digital downloads, you will need a consistent Internet connection to download a pre-ordered game and your Xbox One will need to be turned on or in connected standby (Instant On) mode. Of course, you can check the download progress at any time in your download queue, My Games & Apps, or on the game details page. And if you have multiple games loading simultaneously, you can prioritize titles, pause, and resume downloads in your queue.

Now that you’ve got all the intel you need, you can
head over to the Xbox Store to grab Halo: The Master Chief Collection and begin downloading one of the year’s biggest Xbox One games. We’ll see you on the battlefield!

Go Behind The Scenes As Sunset Overdrive’s Over The Top Weapons Are Brought To Life - Fri, 17 Oct 2014 09:00:00 Z
Xbox and the team at Insomniac Games are bringing out the big guns with Sunset Overdrive, aiming to make carnage fun for gamers again. Where conventional shooter games are all about gloomy realism and plodding cover mechanics, Sunset Overdrive dunks itself in irreverence and high-velocity action.

One of the more entertaining features of the game are
Sunset Overdrive’s wild weapons. From guns that launch tiny revolver-toting drone helicopters to traps that release homicidal garden gnomes, Sunset Overdrive is all about exploding the rules.

In the new interactive site Walter’s Workshop, the game’s unreal mayhem is brought to real life and eager gamers can select a real life replica Sunset Overdrive weapon, choose a target or enemy, and watch the explosions ensue. Fans can also replay the action in super-slow-motion and view 360-degree panorama models of each of the weapons.

Among the weapons brought to life are the TNTeddy, a grenade launcher style weapon that fires Teddy bears strapped with dynamite; the Roman Candle, a handgun that shoots fireworks from a hacksaw; the Pyro Geyser, which spews 12-ft. flames into unsuspecting foes; and then there’s the Hack N Slay, a set of giant spinning blades mounted to a patio table.

Users simply click on a big red FIRE button and see everything from an upright piano to a mindless mutant get obliterated on their computer screen or mobile device.

Check it out here:

After you get a taste of the madness, check out this behind the scenes video which shows how they brought the mayhem to life and be sure to grab
Sunset Overdrive when it hits stores on Oct. 28. 

Halo: The Master Chief Collection: We are Golden - Fri, 17 Oct 2014 06:00:00 Z
Hey there Halo fans!

It’s been a long, crazy, exciting road, and we’re finally getting close to launch of Halo: The Master Chief Collection in November.  I wanted to personally share some big status updates with you. Let’s start with the biggest:

Halo: The Master Chief Collection has gone GOLD!

This is a massive milestone for the team and also means that the game is available for Pre-Order and Pre-Download right now!.  I couldn’t be more excited to start having fans grab this game online so everyone can hit the ground running on release day! The team has been working incredibly hard to make this happen, so we’re all eager for you to play this labor of love.

One of the questions we get asked most is about worldwide release plans.  The reality of worldwide sales and retail processes always makes simultaneous launches challenging.  Some fans expressed disappointment in our original planned release date of November 11 in North America and November 14 in several other territories around the world. We heard you loud and clear, and I am happy to announce that Halo: The Master Chief Collection will be released on November 11 for the majority of our fans around world!

There are still a few countries that will see a slight delay due to public holidays. In Europe, Belgium will release on November 12 and France will release on November 14 as part of their typical Friday release schedule.  Our fans in Japan will see a release of November 13.  Given the social aspects of the experience, we were really happy to get it as close to a simultaneous worldwide release as possible so that we can all celebrate on November 11 and start playing together.

This is literally going to be the biggest Halo experience so far

That is to say, the sheer size and scope of the content. To recap, Halo: The Master Chief Collection contains four complete Halo games, every multiplayer map ever released (including DLC from console and PC) across each game, a complete remaster of Halo 2 with all-new audio and Blur’s mind-blowing cinematics, and all of this is tied together with (and enhanced by) a revolutionary user interface.

From the start, our philosophy has been to give Halo fans the best possible experience and not compromise the quality or features of the collection.  The result is that Halo: The Master Chief Collection will take up almost all of the usable space of a single Blu-ray (45 GB), and we will also issue a content update at launch that is estimated to be 20 GB.  You’ll be able to start playing Campaign and more as the content is installing, with some features and multiplayer content being added via the update. Yes, the update is large, but we weren’t about to cut corners to save disc space.  This ensures that you are getting every bit of Halo goodness we can fit in.  Our work is not done, however, as we continue to tune, tweak and optimize the online experience to ensure a smooth multiplayer launch. This will continue right up until launch day.

One caveat we wanted to share is that Spartan Ops, our episodic co-op experience from Halo 4, will now release in December.  In the meantime, we’re making some technical enhancements to that experience to make sure it’s smoother and even better than before. All ten episodes will be available at the same time, so we’re working to make an event out of it with our Community teams.

26 more sleeps!

Lastly, I’d like to extend my heartfelt thanks to you, our fans. Development of a game is always hard, but Halo: The Master Chief Collection has been the most challenging of my career. No team has really attempted a project like this, and the number of moving pieces has been staggering. The development team at 343 Industries has been working hard alongside our partners to make this happen and, at every step, you have been there for us. Whether it’s with encouraging words at events, or via messages on Twitter, I can tell you that your feedback is crucial and fuels our drive to make Halo: The Master Chief Collection the best it can be.

I’d like to thank you all for your continued enthusiasm, excitement and support for this game. See you on Xbox Live!



Halo: Spartan Strike Comes to Windows 8 Devices and Steam this December - Thu, 16 Oct 2014 06:00:00 Z
Microsoft Studios and 343 Industries, in conjunction with Vanguard Games, is excited to announce Halo: Spartan Strike – an all-new Halo top-down shooter – coming to Windows 8 devices and Steam on December 12, 2014 as a digital download for $5.99 ERP 1.

Halo: Spartan Strike
includes a compelling new story, improved touch controls, updated graphics and an all-new score from award-winning composer Tom Salta. In addition to weekly challenges where fans can take the top position in leaderboards to showcase their skills, playing Halo: Spartan Strike will earn Xbox achievements that unlocks content for the upcoming Halo: The Master Chief Collection, which will launch exclusively on Xbox One this November. 2

Set during the events of
Halo 2, Halo: Spartan Strike tells a new chapter in the Halo universe. You play as a Spartan in a real-world, classified ONI simulation that starts on New Mombasa in 2552 and will take you through jungles, cities and more. Using your Spartan skills, an all-new arsenal of weapons, abilities and vehicles, including the iconic Warthog, you must lead UNSC troops through 30 challenging missions and prevent Earth from being overtaken by hordes of Covenant and Promethean enemies.

Halo: Spartan Strike
delivers a full, epic adventure with thrilling battles and unparalleled visuals for mobile devices. No matter where you are or what platform you use, Halo: Spartan Strike will provide the definitive pick-up-and-play Halo experience to both experienced veterans and new recruits.

Some of the key features included in
Halo: Spartan Strike are:

  • Crush your enemies using the iconic Warthog jeep, or sweep them from the battlefield using the all-new Kestrel VTOL.
  • Use all-new weapons (Suppressor, Scatter Shot, Binary Rifle and Incineration Cannon) and armor abilities (Proximity Mine, Bubble Shield, Teleport, Shock Chain and Airstrike) to dominate on the battlefield.
  • Face off against new Promethean enemies; deadly mechanical warriors who seek mankind’s annihilation.
  • Experience an all-new story that will take you from New Mombasa on Earth to the enigmatic Gamma Halo located at the edge of charted space.
  • Take control! For this top-down shooter, you can choose between keyboard and mouse, USB Xbox controller, or touch-based virtual joystick.
  • Earn achievements in Halo: Spartan Strike to unlock an exclusive emblem, nameplate, and avatar in Halo: The Master Chief Collection on Xbox One (sold separately). 2

1 Windows 8/8.1 Phone and Windows 8/8.1. Steam versions sold separately. Estimated retail price. Actual retail prices may vary

Only available on Windows 8/8.1 and Windows Phone 8/8.1

Xbox One System Update: New Friends, Snap and TV Features on Xbox One - Wed, 15 Oct 2014 16:00:00 Z
We’re excited to roll out updated features this month that take advantage on the multitasking capabilities of Xbox One and connect with your friends in better ways than before thanks to your feedback.

New Snap and Friends functions –
Stay in the game and in touch with your friends at the same time with improved Snap, SmartGlass and Achievements functions.
  • Snap Updates – We’ve updated the Snap Center to include quick access to many of the things our fans wanted faster access to when playing a game – Friends, Messages, Game DVR, clock, and battery indicator – as well as making it easier to close and open new snap apps when playing a game. A double tap of the Xbox button on your controller will bring up a menu that allows you to open a new app in snap mode, close the current snapped app, or switch focus between your game and your running snapped app. Additionally, two apps have been optimized for Snap mode:
    • Friends Snap App – Access your friends list without leaving the game. Quickly check your friends list to see who's online right now and take actions like send message, invite or join.
    • Messages Snap App – You’ll be able to open, read and respond to messages in Snap mode, and messages will now be displayed in a threaded conversation view.
  • Achievements App – Updated to enable sharing of achievements you've unlocked with captions, see a list of friends who have unlocked specific achievements, and an updated achievements Snap landing page that that shows Achievements on recently played games, when a gamer is not actively playing a game.
  • Friends section – The new Friends section enables you to see at a glance what’s going on with your friends. You can stay up-to-date with their current activities, the most popular games your friends are playing, and a Gamerscore leaderboard to see who has improved their Gamerscore over the last 30 days.
  • New SmartGlass features – You can now see a list of your top games in your profile. You can also see a list of your friend’s most popular games in the Friend's section of SmartGlass.

Improvements for TV and video – We’re excited to roll out updates that will make your viewing experience better than ever on Xbox One, whether you want to watch TV or use SmartGlass as a universal remote.

  • Media Player DLNA and MKV support – The latest version of the Media Player app will now have support for DLNA streaming. With this update, you will be able to easily access and play music, watch photo slideshows or movies stored on home media servers and devices that support the DLNA server protocols. Additionally, you will now be able to playback MKV files stored on a USB device or a device on your home network that supports DLNA streaming.
  • Live TV MiniGuide – For markets where OneGuide is available, a new MiniGuide on the bottom of the screen will display details about the TV content that is currently playing. You can quickly change channels, see what’s on other channels, and tune to the previous channel or other recent channels.  While watching TV, you can also launch Miniguide using voice, by saying “Xbox Select – MiniGuide”
  • OneGuide in 11 new countries – Live TV listings and schedules will be made available to customers on Xbox One and SmartGlass for Belgium, Chile, Columbia, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Portugal, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland and Russia in the next few days. 
  • Internet TV Apps – Apps with live TV channels can now include their TV listings within OneGuide.  In addition, other Xbox TV features such as channel changing using speech and Miniguide will work with these apps. These features are enabled automatically the first time you sign into a supported app. The first app to support this feature will be Zattoo with an upcoming content update for their app. The Zattoo app is available in Germany, Switzerland, Spain and Denmark.
  • Universal Remote Control in SmartGlass – If you are in one of those 11 countries that are getting OneGuide TV listings, you will also be able use your mobile device to control your Xbox, TV, and/or Cable/Satellite box.
  • Live TV initial setup experience – This update will enable you to select “On start, go to TV” for your Xbox One console.  Additionally, you will be shown a one-time message highlighting this new capability, if you had previously setup Live TV or have not yet set “On start, go to TV” under Settings – Power & startup.
  • Live TV Cable & Satellite Box auto-detection – In select markets the Live TV Setup experience is being improved by attempting to automatically detect the set-top box connected to the HDMI-In port on your Xbox One.

New accessory and “hide” features –
We are also excited to roll out a few other cool features this month:

  • Updated Devices & Accessories page – To access the new page, go inside Settings, where you can Find, Assign, and Update Xbox One accessories.  You can now more easily “assign” accessories to specific users, such as assigning a headset to a specific gamer.
    • Firmware updates – You can update the firmware for an individual device.
    • Find my Controller – You can also more easily find (or identify) a controller by making it vibrate.
  • Hide Games and Apps on your console – You can now hide items in the “Ready to install” list under My Games and Apps. This is a per-console setting and items will reappear in the list if they are installed again from the Xbox Store. To access the shortcut to temporarily show “hidden” items, press X while holding down both triggers and it will show all hidden items until you exit My Games and Apps.

Password resets just got better
– We’re making it easier and more secure to reset your password and add protection to your accounts. Coming later this month, if you haven’t set up your security information already, we’ll ask you to provide an alternate email address or cell phone number to use if you ever need your password reset. You’ll only need to set this up once per account, and you won’t need it every time you sign in. To set up your account security go to and get more information at

Thanks for all your feedback on ways to make Xbox One the best place for your gaming and entertainment. We have more planned for next month so stay tuned for details!

How to Snag the Best Achievements in Project Spark - Wed, 15 Oct 2014 08:00:00 Z
Project Spark may be a free digital download, but that doesn't mean you're missing out on any of those sweet, sweet Achievements. This game is going to make you work for them, but don’t worry, we've got some tips on how you can make the most out of Project Spark, and boost that Gamerscore in the process.

Right out the gate, let's start with the two toughest ones in the bunch:

Crossroads Souls (10G) – Beat Crossroads Adventure without taking damage.
Unstoppable: Crossroads (10G) – Complete Crossroads five times without dying.
For both of these Achievements, you're going to want to max your character up to level 20. We recommend Scarlett the Ranger, who can destroy enemies at a distance and use a distracting decoy. Also consider the downloadable character Avalon the Druid. Her healing powers can turn the tables on your enemies. Make sure you set the game to easy (unless you really want this Achievement to be hard!), and place your Boss Arena as close to your village as possible. Don't let any extra goblins or zombies wander in and make your life harder.

There are a number of tier-based collections Achievements in
Project Spark, culminating in:

Fortune and Glory (25G) – Collect 5,000 Coins in Crossroads
Not to worry: You can make this a lot easier on yourself. First off, choose a river setting and put down as many bridges as possible, so you can reap a lot of coins. When you save up 10, use a blue object and choose the wishing well diversion. Choosing Gift of Wealth and a cash reward will help you scoop up max cash.

Not all the Achievements in
Project Spark will test your skills and patience. Here are a few you can snag to rack up some quick Gamerscore boosts:

Ninjas? (5G) – Tint all clothing pieces black.
You can change your character’s clothing in pretty much whatever way you want. An all-black look will earn you 5G, and make you look all dark and brooding.

Whose line is it? (5G) –
Edit your own Crossroads dialogue.
When speaking to a non-player character in your Crossroads game, hit RB to edit the text to whatever you want. Boom: Achievement for making that dude say something dumb about his butt, or quote lines from your favorite Will Ferrell comedy!

Project Spark
also features downloadable content, and it comes with additional Achievements. If you want to use Avalon for Champions Quest, you'll also get the chance to snag this sweet cheevo:

Blast from the past (25G) – Complete Avalon’s Wellspring in Champions Quest: Void Storm
When you play Champions Quest Episode 1, level 1-5 as Avalon, you'll get the opportunity to access a hidden area behind a waterfall. After defeating the enemies and triggering the Wellspring, you'll earn yourself a sweet 25 Gamerscore.

There are a ton of Achievements to earn in
Project Spark – some from playing the Champion Quests, and some from making your own games. We bet you guys will create awesome ways to earn these Achievements quickly, and we can't wait to see you sharing those levels with other players. Project Spark launched October 7 on Xbox One and Windows 8.1.

Xbox One Assassin’s Creed Bundle Offers Two Free Games - Wed, 15 Oct 2014 06:00:00 Z
Post updated with amended availability – 10/15/14, 8:30 a.m. PDT. 

The holidays are kicking into high gear for fans interested in Xbox One and today we’re excited to share another great option to purchase Xbox One at an incredible value. In partnership with Ubisoft, we’re thrilled to offer two new exclusive Xbox One bundles, featuring what is shaping up to be the biggest, most intense 
Assassin’s Creed game to date: Assassin’s Creed Unity. Available worldwide* at select retailers on Sunday, November 2***, both the Xbox One Assassin’s Creed Bundle ($399 USD ERP) and Xbox One Assassin’s Creed Bundle with Kinect ($499 USD ERP) also include the critically acclaimed Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.

These two blockbuster titles in one package enable fans to dive into the Caribbean and the Golden Age of Pirates before stepping into the life of Arno, an entirely new breed of Assassin in an epic campaign set at the height of the French Revolution – all on Xbox One.

“This holiday we’re focused on offering fans the best games, with unprecedented choice and value,” said Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president, Microsoft. “We’ve lined up an incredible set of bundles to support the launch of some of the most anticipated game launches of the year, including
Assassin’s Creed Unity, Sunset Overdrive, and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. Combined with our award-winning games line-up this holiday, it’s an incredible time to play on Xbox One. Over the next two months, we look forward to celebrating with fans every week as we launch new games, new bundles, and a few surprises for Xbox One.”

Assassin’s Creed franchise has sold more than 77 million copies over its lifetime, and is one of the top-selling Xbox franchises. Built on a foundation of critically acclaimed titles, it has established a loyal following of players that are huge fans of the storyline and history, which has spurred projects beyond gaming like short films, comic books, animated series, novels, fashion and art. 

Encased in special edition
Assassin’s Creed Unity packaging, the Xbox One Assassin’s Creed Bundle will include a standard Xbox One console, wireless controller and chat headset, one month Xbox Live Gold membership and a digital download code for the highly anticipated Assassin’s Creed Unity**, which will be available for pre-download and ready to play on November 11. For fans looking to experience everything Kinect has to offer, the Xbox One Assassin’s Creed Bundle with Kinect will also include a standard Xbox One Kinect sensor and a copy of Dance Central Spotlight.

Fans that purchase either of the
Assassin’s Creed bundles will also be able to explore the Caribbean at the dawn of the 18th Century and enjoy the Golden Age of Pirates with a bonus copy of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag on Xbox One.

Whether you’re the biggest
Assassin’s Creed fanatic or have some catching up to do with the Assassin’s Creed franchise, this bundle is a great way for Assassin’s Creed fans to pick up Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and Assassin’s Creed Unity in one bundle, leaping forward to next gen for an amazing value price. There has never been a better time to be an Xbox One owner, or fan of the Assassin’s Creed franchise.

This holiday, Xbox offers the best place to play, with the best games, a variety of choices and best deals for fans. In addition to the Xbox One
Assassin’s Creed Bundles, we have several other bundle options available featuring critically acclaimed games like Sunset Overdrive and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare at great prices. Beyond that, we’re bringing the best line-up of games to our fans this holiday with titles like Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Dance Central Spotlight, FIFA 15, Forza Horizon 2, Killer Instinct, Ori and the Blind Forest and Project Spark. We’re excited to deliver exceptional value and choice for our fans in an effort to help make Xbox One the best place to play this holiday.

*With the exception of Japan
**Assassin’s Creed Unity will be available for pre-download, along with any updates issued before the game’s release date, so the game is up-to-date and ready to play. Assassin’s Creed Unity will be available after midnight local time on the release date in your corresponding country, though some countries with multiple time zones will align to one release time.
***Available on Tuesday, November 4 in EMEA.

C-C-C-COMBO! Killer Instinct is Back and Better than Ever with the Launch of Season 2 on Xbox One - Tue, 14 Oct 2014 10:00:00 Z
Microsoft Studios and the development team at Iron Galaxy are excited to announce the global launch of Killer Instinct: Season 2 on Wednesday, Oct. 15, exclusively on Xbox One. Season 2 delivers a slew of new features, customizations and content for both multiplayer and single player fighting action.

“The Rise of Ultratech” Starts Now

This season, Ultratech, the shadowy corporation that hosts the Killer Instinct tournaments, steps into the light. ARIA, Ultratech’s enigmatic CEO, unleashes some of their most powerful creations into the fray, including two highly-requested classic characters from the original Killer Instinct arcade games. But that’s not all Ultratech is up to – their drive for perfection in all things has resulted in a new, streamlined interface and improved visual fidelity across the entire game.

As with Season 1, players can download the full game for free and play a free rotating character each week. As soon as you start it up, you can play all game modes, even online multiplayer matches against the entire
Killer Instinct community, with the free character. If you already have Killer Instinct: Season 1 downloaded, you’re ahead of the game and the Season 2 feature updates will download to your profile automatically.

Improvements to
Killer Instinct: Season 2 make it easier for new players to challenge opponents and customize their characters, but that classic experience is still intact – mastering the whole lineup of combos is a challenging task that takes time and practice. Take advantage of the acclaimed Dojo mode to master the secrets of combat.

In addition to the same action-packed experience fans loved in the first season, the team is adding several key enhancements for
Season 2:

Eight New Characters – Both Original and Returning:
Longtime fans of the franchise will be happy to see that TJ Combo and Maya are joined by the cybernetic dinosaur Riptor and the blazing human effigy Cinder as playable characters this season. Along with the returning classics, all-new characters are coming to Killer Instinct: Season 2, including an ancient Babylonian sorcerer, an avenging ghost, a battle-hardened war golem, and more.

Sleek New Interface:
Ultratech’s influence this season extends even to the interface, making navigating and interacting with the game more intuitive. Faster character access, better stat tracking, and a new experience system makes the entire experience of Killer Instinct even better.

New Moves and Rebalance:
The entire Season 1 cast has been rebalanced for Season 2, adding new techniques and abilities to their already formidable arsenals of moves. With the arrival of an entirely new set of combatants to go against, these new toys will certainly come in handy.

Enhanced Combo System:
The new “aerial recapture” option gives select characters the ability to catch an opponent in the air and slam them back to the ground to continue their combo. Juggling air attacks has been increased, but the addition of Air Breakers and Air Counter-Breakers mean that there’s always two-way interaction in a combo for both players.

New Progression System:
The ranking and leveling system for Season 2 now allows the fiercest fighters to earn costumes, accessories and other badges of honor faster than before. Now, all individual characters will have levels in addition to the overall player level. Every mode you play contributes to both character and player level, and “Fight Challenges” help players rack up experience points (XP) every time they complete a rank.

This launch week, all fans will have access TJ Combo as the free playable character. TJ Combo is a fantastic choice for new and experienced players with his great combos, fluid movement and real sense of power right from the start.

Also joining the roster this week is
Maya, the badass monster hunter that wields the ancient daggers, “Temperance” and “Vengeance.” Her fast-paced blade-juggling combat style lets her power up her daggers the more they’re blocked, leading to increasingly devastating attacks and mix-ups against her opponents.

How can you get in on the action? As in the first season, fans will have access to two bundled offerings, including the Combo Breaker Pack and the mega-packed Ultra Edition.

Killer Instinct: Season 2
– Ultra Edition ($39.99/£34.99/€39.99)
The Ultra Edition includes all eight Season 2 fighters, starting with the release of TJ Combo and Maya on launch day with the remaining six Season 2 fighters rolling out on a monthly basis starting in November. Fans receive 16 accessory sets and 8 exclusive costumes designed by Kevin Bayliss, art director for the original Killer Instinct arcade games, in addition to Killer Instinct 2 Classic (ESRB: M “Mature”), a perfect port of the 1996 arcade game with full multiplayer support over Xbox Live and 1000 Gamerscore to earn. Even more, owners of the Season 2 Ultra Edition will get initial access to characters and customization items before they’re available to Combo Breaker Pack owners or for individual sale starting in November.

Killer Instinct: Season 2
– Combo Breaker Pack ($19.99/£16.99/€19.99)
Purchase all eight fighters up front at a significant discount over the individual character price. Play TJ Combo and Maya immediately on launch day, with the remaining six Season 2 fighters rolling out on a monthly basis.

Killer Instinct: Season 2 Characters a-la-carte ($4.99/£3.99/€4.99)
Individual characters from the Season 2 roster will be available for purchase after they have been released for both the Ultra Edition and Combo Breaker Pack. Characters will appear on a regular schedule for you to purchase, starting with TJ Combo and Maya.

Properly psyched yet? Get your nerves ready and prepare for even more C-C-C-COMBO BREAKERS, people!

Watch All the Vines You Could Ever Want Starting Today on Xbox One - Tue, 14 Oct 2014 09:00:00 Z
Starting today, you can entertain yourself with hours of short, looping videos on the big screen with the addition of the Vine app on Xbox One. Available to Xbox Live members*, Vine on Xbox One provides a spectacular Vine viewing experience for your TV that brings you one of the world’s most used video apps alongside your favorite games and entertainment.

This is the first Vine viewing experience built specifically for the TV, giving you access to funny, quirky, artistic, creative Vines directly in your living room. Now you can watch and explore the world of short, looping videos, and Xbox One makes them easy to enjoy using Kinect voice or gesture control to play, pause and search through the next or previous Vine. You can watch popular Vines, explore channels like Art, Music & Dance, and Comedy, view playlists, and more. In addition, the app can be snapped next to your games, TV or other entertainment apps, making it possible to watch Vines alongside your favorite games or whatever you’re watching.

Check out the Vine experience today by visiting the Xbox Store and downloading Vine onto your Xbox One.

* Vine is available in Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, France, Hong Kong, Hungary, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, United Kingdom and United States.

Microsoft Stores Announce Exclusive Pre-Order Items and Bonus for Xbox Live Rewards Members - Mon, 13 Oct 2014 09:00:00 Z
If you haven’t already started counting down the days until Sunset Overdrive and Halo: The Master Chief Collection, we’re giving you even more ways to get pumped. Starting today, Xbox Live Rewards members will earn 15,000 rewards credits, yes that’s $15, for each Xbox One or Xbox 360 game pre-ordered and shipped through this holiday.

Microsoft Stores currently offers anyone who pre-orders a game a $10 gift card in Store or $10 on Xbox Live when ordered on In addition, they have exclusive content and swag with
Halo: Master Chief Collection and Sunset Overdrive pre-orders.

When you pre-order
Halo: The Master Chief Collection through the Microsoft Store, you will receive a “My Other Car is a Warthog” throwback license plate frame, a Master Chief window decal and an exclusive “Boom” Skull that unlocks 2x explosion physics for the Halo 2: Anniversary campaign.

Sunset Overdrive pre-orders through Microsoft Store, you’ll get exclusive melee weapons Acordes de la Muerte and The Hangover as an added bonus to the Day One Edition. You can also get your hands on an exclusive white controller holder with the pre-order of the Xbox One Special Edition Sunset Overdrive Bundle.

More details on how to join and get access to exclusive offers can be found
here. The Xbox Live Rewards holiday bonus offer is valid on up to three game titles pre-ordered at So order Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare for yourself and Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham as a holiday gift, and get 30,000 credits to redeem on games, map packs, season passes, movies, TV shows and more. Xbox Live Rewards members will receive 15,000 rewards credits, 5,000 credits more than non-Rewards members receive, for each game pre-ordered on both Xbox One and Xbox 360. Just make sure to use the same email when you order that’s associated with your Xbox Live account.

And if you haven’t made the switch to Xbox One yet, Microsoft Stores also allow you to trade in your Xbox 360 or PS3 and receive $100 towards your Xbox One console purchase. And you can trade in games every day; more details about the trade-in program here.

Want in on Evolve’s Big Alpha? We’ve Got You Covered - Fri, 10 Oct 2014 10:30:00 Z
We already love Evolve, and have previously raved about it in our E3 and Comic-Con previews – but now that we’ve gotten the chance to play it multiple times, we’re starting to realize how awesome Evolve is as a deeper experience. That’s why we’re so excited to share today’s announcement that not only will Evolve’s “Big Alpha” be launching 24 hours early exclusively on Xbox One beginning October 30, but that you will have a great chance to get in to play the game for yourself.

The first step is heading over to the official Evolve “Big Alpha” on Xbox One registration page to fill out all of your various details, including your email address and date of birth. Once you’re done with that, all you need to do is drop the following codes into their corresponding fields:

Referral Code: Xbox4VOne

Registration Code: 44549-09164-02289

All done? Great! You can keep refreshing your inbox until your “Big Alpha” code shows up (sometime before the 30th), but your time would be much better spent reading about our time with Evolve at PAX last month.

While Evolve obviously draws comparisons to developer Turtle Rock Studios’ other multiplayer treat, Left 4 Dead, we’ve found that Evolve feels more like some other class-based shooters. Part of what made Left 4 Dead an accessible multiplayer game was that you didn’t have to spend time customizing full loadouts and character skill trees, something that can be a sticking point for people who aren’t really into multiplayer games. But Turtle Rock has shown that it knows how to get players into games quickly.

The barrier to entry in Left 4 Dead was low – and Evolve takes that streamlined idea, then expands on it with multiple character classes. Each character is fully loaded with unique skills and weapons, and players have the freedom to pick and choose. The idea is that players can select whomever they want, without getting stuck in a situation where only one character type is left, (so, in other words, you never get stuck having to play that guy).

The tone in Evolve feels very different from most multiplayer games. Because it’s team-based – but with so few players – it creates a more intimate feeling. You’re not fighting off hordes of undead; you’re looking for one beast. You’re not competing against a whole team of players across the Internet; you’re part of a more focused challenge. And the rounds are shorter than most multiplayer games we see, keeping everything fast-paced, and giving you more freedom for your social gaming sessions.

Much like Left 4 Dead, you’ll also know exactly why you lost in Evolve. Whether you strayed too far and got taken out by an alien crocodile, or just couldn’t stop the Kraken from messing up your generator, there’s a lesson to be learned in each loss – and you come back better, smarter, and stronger. As your team adapts and learns, you’ll find yourself working together better, chaining your combos, and sticking close. It feels really good to come back after a loss, and wreck some monster that thought he could fool you twice.

When it’s your turn to be the monster, Evolve shows its true longevity. Playing as the monster is like a cathartic palate cleanser, a change of pace that helps to keep the entire experience fresh and vibrant. If you’re playing with the same group of friends, you take turns as the monster, keeping the experience fresh and challenging – and that’s with just one type of monster. Turtle Rock Studios confirmed that Evolve will feature three playable monsters at launch, with the potential for more downloadable content over time.

As of now, we’ve only seen a fraction of what Evolve has to offer. But our demo alone was so addicting, so engrossing, and so awesomely badass that we’re itching to play it again when the “Big Alpha” rolls around at the end of the month. See you on the battlefield!

The Awesomepocalypse is Nigh! Sunset Overdrive Goes Gold and is Available for Pre-Order and Pre-Download Starting Today - Thu, 09 Oct 2014 12:00:00 Z
Set your countdown clocks and brace yourself for the Awesomepocalypse – Sunset Overdrive has officially gone gold! Insomniac Games and Microsoft Studios are excited to usher in a vibrant and insane end of days starting Oct. 28.

Starting today, fans have the opportunity to pre-order and pre-download the
Sunset Overdrive Day One Edition and the Sunset Overdrive Day One Digital Deluxe Edition on Xbox Live and receive two bonus weapons to make the Awesomepocalypse that much more awesome. Fans will get the following OD slaying bonuses in the form of:

Day One Bonus Items

  • Nothin’ but the Hits – An overcharged version of the High Fidelity gun that launches limited edition, priceless, multi-colored vinyls that do increased damage.
  • It’s Me! Fizzie! – Fizzie is more popular than you because he has a great marketing budget. So, why not dress up as him and get in on some of that fame?
  • Hardcore! Hammer – You ponder buying the Day One Edition of Sunset Overdrive. A spot check reveals that if you do, you can equip a mighty hammer made from a bat and spiked dumb-bells. You buy the Day One Edition of Sunset Overdrive.

Additional Pre-Order Bonus Items on Xbox Live

  • Acordes de la Muerte – Give me a “K!” Give me an “I!” Give me a “Guitar-with-melting-candles-on-it melee weapon that can bash in the skulls of my vilified enemies!” What’s that spell? Errr…
  • The Hangover – Show how much you like to party with this melee weapon made out of beer cans and an electrified pitchfork. One thing led to the other, right?

Fans can also choose to pre-order the Day One Digital Deluxe Edition ($79.99 USD ERP) of
Sunset Overdrive, which includes the game’s Season Pass. Also available separately for $19.99, the Season Pass guarantees lots of OD wrecking fun with three additional post-launch Game Add-ons and some great added bonuses you can use at launch, including:


  • If variety is the spice of life then these six exclusive outfits for Sunset Overdrive are going to probably overpower your original meal with flavor, unfortunately. But, hey! They look great! So, deck yourself out in the Bomber Ninja, Disco Champion, Goth Lolita, Never Get Cold, Road Queen, and Red Monkey Lightning Outfits.


  • Smite – Sometimes you just need a little help from above. Slap on this Epic Amp and watch as your enemies puff into a cloud of smoke courtesy of those ethereal forces who probably have better things to do than help you knock off a few foes. But, let’s not complain.
  • XP Mod – A tough lesson to learn is that experience isn’t given – it is earned. It’s also increased with this Weapon Amp that will level up your weapon faster. Bet you wish you knew that for most of life, huh?


  • Kaboom! – Out of the many uses for balloons, misting a group of mutants is probably our favorite. With the Kaboom! Trap you can do just that. Wait for the creepy clown to produce a nice bundle for you and then fire away! A nice explosion is your reward for putting up with the clown.
  • Death by Decibel – We know a lot of people brag about their speaker system “blowing people away,” but our Death by Decibel Trap will literally do just that. Any enemy that gets near it will be blasted away thanks to the glorious power of rock music.

Also, Insomniac Games and Best Buy are hosting the “First to Play” event at the Best Buy Torrance, Calif. Store, where fans are invited to play Sunset Overdrive including Chaos Squad, meet the Insomniac Games team and win prizes such as an Xbox One console! Tune into the Xbox Channel on Twitch on Saturday, Oct. 11 from 2:30-3:45 p.m. PDT to watch a live stream of the event and the first hour of campaign gameplay in Sunset Overdrive. Or if you live near the greater Los Angeles area, check out the event in person at Best Buy in Torrance, Calif. from 2-4 p.m. PDT.

Developed by Insomniac Games,
Sunset Overdrive is a stylized open-world shooter filled with overpowered weapons, crazed mutants and a sprawling city full of carnage. Set in a futuristic metropolis called Sunset City, Sunset Overdrive transforms the mutant apocalypse into your tactical playground, immersing you in an action-packed experience as you grind, vault and wall-run across the city while using a devastating, unconventional arsenal. With hyper-agility, unique weapons, and customizable special abilities, Sunset Overdrive rewrites the rules of traditional shooters and delivers an explosive, irreverent, stylish, and totally unique adventure exclusively to Xbox One this fall.

Pre-Download Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Starting Today - Thu, 09 Oct 2014 08:20:00 Z
Today, one of the most anticipated titles of the year is available for pre-order and pre-download on Xbox One. You can be among the first to use cutting-edge exoskeleton abilities and an advanced arsenal of weapons by pre-ordering and pre-downloading Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and powering up your exoskeleton early, starting on Nov. 3.

To celebrate the launch of the game, the following Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare game bundles are available for pre-order globally, starting today, through the Xbox Store on the console or online at
  • Xbox One Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Day Zero Edition, available starting today for $59.99 includes the standard game, Day Zero early access, double XP on Nov. 3, two custom weapons, and the Advanced Arsenal custom bullet brass exoskeleton and EM1 Quantum directed energy weapon.
  • Xbox One Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Digital Pro Edition, available starting today for $99.99 includes the standard game, Season Pass, Atlas Gorge bonus multiplayer map, Atlas Digital Content Pack, Day Zero Early Access, double XP on Nov. 3, Two Day Zero custom weapons, and the Advanced Arsenal.

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
is set to deliver a new era of Call of Duty and brings a new vision to the blockbuster franchise. Developed by Sledgehammer Games and published by Activision Publishing Inc., Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare boasts true next generation visuals and jolts players forward in a ground breaking experience that’s ripped-from-the-headline-of-tomorrow, envisioning a future where both technology and tactics have evolved to create a new era of combat for the franchise. Based on plausible tech and extensive research, the narrative begins in the year 2054. The Atlas Corporation, a private military corporation (PMC), has emerged with the power to rescue humanity after a global attack on its military and infrastructure. Empowering players with an advanced arsenal with new weaponry, vehicles and high-tech gear, players can join the ranks of a highly-trained, specialized unit committed to restoring order.

Here’s how pre-order and pre-download works. When a title becomes available for digital pre-order in the Xbox Store, select “Pre-purchase” to buy and download the game. You will be charged the full amount upon transaction and may use any supported payment method, including an existing Microsoft account balance or credit card. The game will download, along with any updates issued before the release date, so the game is up-to-date and ready to play. Then, when the game is officially released to the Xbox Store, timed with local launch availability, simply go to the game in My Games & Apps, go to your pre-pinned tile, or say “Xbox, go to Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare” to start playing. Titles will be available after midnight local time on the release date in your corresponding country, though some countries with multiple time zones will align to one release time.

Similar to other digital downloads, you will need a consistent Internet connection to download a pre-ordered game and your Xbox One will need to be turned on or in connected standby (Instant On) mode. Of course, you can check the download progress at any time in your download queue, My Games & Apps, or on the game details page. And if you have multiple games loading simultaneously, you can prioritize titles, pause, and resume downloads in your queue.

Minecraft: Diary of a Total Newbie, Part 2 – Plus Doctor Who DLC Update - Wed, 08 Oct 2014 14:00:00 Z
This is the second part of our two-part Minecraft: Diary of a Total Newbie feature. If you haven’t yet, check out the first part of our writer’s initial foray into the vast, wild world of Minecraft: Xbox One Edition, then come back and see what happens when he leaves the confines of the tutorial, and sets off to make a world all his own. When you’re ready to dive in for yourself, be sure to grab one of the many awesome add-ons (including the just-released Doctor Who skin pack) available for the game. Now then, it’s time to hear from the newbie! 

: Barely five minutes into my brand-new world, I've discovered a rich vein of coal underneath the mountain upon which I plan to build my lavish estate. It goes deep – seriously deep. Suddenly, I remember the passage of time, just as night is beginning to fall. I hastily build a wall and door to keep the zombies out of my new mine. I break through into an underground cavern soon after, remembering to explore for exits. I wall those up, too. I'm encased in a stone womb, and it feels good.

: Having exhausted the vein of coal, I'm considering just building my lavish estate down here. We don't needs the light, do we Precious?

: I forgot about food. As part of that whole virtual-world thing, your character needs to stay well-fed. Otherwise, hunger pangs start depleting your health quickly. Fortunately, there are all kinds of farm animals roaming in my new world (albeit of the un-barbecued variety). Unfortunately, I've walled them all out of my mountain hall. Time to go forage.

: As my mountain sits near a fairly large body of water, I figure I'll build myself a boat and go sailing. My first boat crashes almost immediately into the shore and disintegrates into its component parts. I throw down a crafting table and build another – plus a few extras – and take to the water.

: It doesn't take long for me to realize there's a lot more variety to Minecraft's environments than I'd realized. Just to the north is a snowy area, dense with pine trees. Beyond is a small archipelago of tiny mountain islands, topped with huge spreading trees. The far shore of whatever body of water this is looks shockingly distant. I opt to check out the nearby islands.

: Yeah, those trees I mentioned? Mushrooms. Ginormous mushrooms. Apparently, I can use them to make stew. I never really liked the taste of mushrooms, so instead, I check out some promising caves on the largest of the islands. One goes deep enough that I finally find my first vein of iron ore. Iron pickaxes for everybody! And just like that, I'm hooked on the mining part of Minecraft. I dig down to the bedrock of the world, building wooden stairways to allow me to travel quickly back to the surface. I encounter more coal and iron, some diamonds (yes!), a single lonely emerald, and a bunch of Redstone. This last one is most interesting: Redstone is a source of power in the game, and can be used to make mechanical devices like pistons, powered mine carts, and even musical instruments. I decide to take my haul back to my mountaintop home, and get back to building.

: With my pack filled with a wide variety of new supplies, I explore a bunch of new recipes at the crafting table. Turns out, many basic creations can be further refined into more aesthetically pleasing blocks. For example, rock is known as cobblestone when it's initially mined. But refine it in a furnace, and it becomes stone. You can then take the stone to the crafting table and make stone bricks or stone slabs, then use those to make things like stone brick stairs or chiseled stone bricks. It's glass that catches my eye: Heat sand, and it becomes glass blocks; combine glass blocks at the crafting table, and you get thin panes of glass. This gives me ideas. I start to build.

: My estate is now three stories of intricately crafted wood, stone, and glass. It sits atop a vast plateau flattened and extended to my exacting specifications, with picturesque oaks and birch trees that I've planted and trimmed for maximum visual appeal. An orderly garden welcomes visitors, neatly divided with cobblestone fences. Beneath is floor upon floor of dungeons – er, I mean, basements. Nearby is an island floating in the air, simply because it pleases me. I exert my will upon the world, and none can stop me. I am a god-king, ruling all of creation from my crystal palace.

: Oh crap, a Creeper. Turns out, glass doesn't stand up very well to explosions. Looks like I'll have to rebuild. But that's OK. I've got some ideas...

Ready for some of your own adventures not unlike this one? Pick up your own copy of
Minecraft: Xbox One Edition already, and see what all the fuss is about! And if you’re a Doctor Who fan, you can also check out the just-released Doctor Who skin pack on Xbox One for just $2.99/ €2.85/£1.99 and bring some of the most-loved and most feared characters (including the First, Fourth, Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors, Amy Pond, Clara Oswald, Rose Tyler, Zygons, The Master, Weeping Angels, the Daleks and their evil creator Davros) in the series’ 50-year history into your creations.

Warlock Revealed as the Final Halo 2 Map Being Re-Imagined for Halo: The Master Chief Collection - Wed, 08 Oct 2014 09:00:00 Z
First it was Wizard in Halo: Combat Evolved. Then it was remade in Halo 2 as Warlock, and again as Magus in Halo: Reach. Now, the fan favorite arena will find a home in Halo: The Master Chief Collection as Warlord - the last of the six classic Halo 2: Anniversary multiplayer maps being re-imagined for the game, joining Ascension, Coagulation, Zanzibar, Sanctuary and Lockout.

Set amid the ruins of an ancient Forerunner dungeon on Delta Halo, Warlock was renowned for hosting close-quarters firefights across its stony ramps and platforms, as well as teleporters that allowed players to instantly warp back and forth across the map to escape gunfights or launch deadly ambushes.

"Warlock was my pet project due to fond memories of internal Bungie playtests where we had intense, epic shotgun CTF matches,” said Max Hoberman, president of Certain Affinity and the multiplayer lead designer on the original Halo 2. “There’s really nothing else quite like this map in the Halo sandbox – a small arena 4-way symmetric base map – and we felt that it would be a great complement to the other re-imagined maps.”

Of course, Halo 2: Anniversary’s Warlord also includes a few new updates.

Warlord will be familiar to fans, but there are also some fun tweaks that I think players will appreciate, including additional cover, new skill jumps, and a new weapon in the center,” said Hoberman.

Warlord and the other five re-imagined Halo 2: Anniversary multiplayer maps will be available in Halo: The Master Chief Collection, launching November 11, 2014.

Halo: The Master Chief Collection lets players experience the Master Chief’s complete story for the first time on one console (including an entirely re-mastered version of Halo 2’s campaign) and wage war across more than 100 multiplayer and Spartan Ops maps. Halo: The Master Chief Collection also includes access to Halo: Nightfall, the live-action digital series executive produced by legendary Hollywood director Ridley Scott, and the upcoming Halo 5: Guardians Multiplayer Beta.

What will You Create? Project Spark Launches Online and at Retail - Mon, 06 Oct 2014 17:00:00 Z
After a six-month beta, Project Spark (ESRB- E10+) has now launched with a host of new content and a retail disc offering.  More than 1 milion Project Spark creators have already logged 4 million hours making 70,000 game levels that fans can dive into on day one. New content comes online every day so there’s is always fresh content to check out regardless of your genre preference or skill level.

Project Spark
is an experience like no other that aims to democratize game making by giving everyone easy-to-use tools to create, play and share their own creations with others. You can instantly play tens of thousands of user-made games, remix a pre-made game, or hop right in and make your own game with tools including 3D sculpting and a visual programming language similar to what the pros use, made accessible to all.

roject Spark is free-to-play and is available for download now via the Xbox One and Windows 8.1 stores. Add-on content can be unlocked by using in-game credits earned during play, or by purchasing tokens to buy add-ons immediately. Fans will see a host of new content available on launch day including sci-fi skin, adventure mode, champion features, creation enhancements, and multiplayer mode to inspire all new gameplay.

Those brand new to
Project Spark might want to check out the Starter Pack retail disc that includes $85 worth of downloadable content for $39.99 (USD). The package includes the Project Spark base game download, “Champions Quest: Void Storm” adventure,” First Contact” sci-fi theme pack, Sir Haakon the Knight playable champion, “Arctic Glaciers” winter landscape, “Massive World Builders Pack” expansion, “Yeti’s Rage” content pack, and a one month “Spark Premium” membership.

Project Spark
isn’t “finished” at launch -- it’s an ever-evolving service shaped by the community. Several features and changes were applied during beta due to direct responses from fans, and post-release the community will be even more involved in shaping the future of Project Spark. We can’t wait to hear what you think, and play what you create.

Guns Are Scarce, but Goosebumps Are Plentiful in Alien: Isolation - Mon, 06 Oct 2014 17:00:00 Z
Unless you’ve been locked away on a derelict spaceship, you’re probably aware that Alien: Isolation isn’t another pulse rifle-packing, Xenomorph-blasting shooter. Instead, Creative Assembly’s crack at the property that spawned the tagline “In space, no one can hear you scream” is returning the series to its Ridley Scott-respecting roots. For players, this means cowering in a corner, clutching a motion tracker, and praying for dear life that the titular Alien doesn’t discover them.

And yes, that’s “Alien,” as in a singular, terrifying threat that’s determined to remove your squishy innards before dangling them in front of you like a length of sausage links. With just a single space monster on the loose and no military hardware to unleash on the evil E.T., you may wonder how Isolation plans on pacing its story-driven campaign and balancing its survival-focused gameplay. With those very questions in mind, we woke Lead Designer Gary Napper from hyper-sleep for some answers as we draw closer to the game’s October 7 release for Xbox One and Xbox 360.

Xbox Wire: Not being a shooter – or even an action game – Isolation is a pretty drastic departure from previous Alien titles. How would you describe its moment-to-moment gameplay? Is it a strict survival-horror experience?

Gary Napper: I describe the game as... well, we were calling it a survivor horror game, but more people started calling it a stealth survival game, because they found themselves hiding more often than not. Now, you can actually play it fairly guns-blazing and making a lot of noise, but you’ll make the game very difficult for yourself. But the pacing of the game has been set out in a really kind of linear story way. So there are moments of massive tension and then you get a bit of downtime. But again, because of the nature of the game, you are never quite sure if you’re safe. So the most you can hope for is,  “I have a couple seconds to build something and heal myself and move on.” We kind of play with the tension a bit. It’s quite nice.

Xbox Wire: It seems challenging to sustain that sort of pacing and tension for a long period of time. How much play time can fans expect from Isolation’s campaign?

Gary Napper: It’s around 15 hours long, but it can be massively longer or slightly shorter, depending on how often you see the Alien or how you play it. Because it acts systematic, you are not sure where the Alien is going be at any time. So sometimes, you can get through entire areas of the game without even seeing it. So it’s quite cool like that.

Xbox Wire: With the game being that long and having only one Alien, did you utilize audio and atmospheric tricks to sell and sustain the tension?

Gary Napper: Yeah, it’s kind of a mix between getting atmosphere from the backdrop sounds – so the moans and groans of the space station – and then layering in things that sound like they could be the Alien... things that make you jump, or stuff you’re not quite sure about.

Xbox Wire: Will players have access to any traditional weapons? Does the game ever turn into a run-and-gun shooter at any point?

Gary Napper: There are no pulse rifles or heavy weaponry whatsoever. It has to feel like... well, imagine you’re shut inside a shopping mall. You may get into a security office, and you might find a pistol with a few rounds, or you might find a baton or something like that. It is that sort of weaponry – it’s whatever you find. It’s not military hardware by any stretch of the imagination.

Xbox Wire: So what is in the player’s arsenal?

Gary Napper: We’ve got Molotov cocktails, we have noisemakers, there is a pipe bomb, you can use a flare... the whole thing is about exploring the environment and finding things to build, and then figuring out whether you want to use them or hold them until the Alien arrives.

Xbox Wire: And these items are built with a crafting system?

Gary Napper: Yeah, it’s a fairly simple system, but the way we went about it was to say, “If you were stuck in a location like that with the Alien, what would we be able to build?” So there are no high-tech devices or anything like that... it’s literally building something that you can weld together that makes a noise when you throw it. A Molotov cocktail, basic explosives, smoke bombs, and things like that. It’s just anything that feels like it’s not too high-tech.

Xbox Wire: Given the primitive arsenal, how important is that iconic motion tracker?

Gary Napper: It is absolutely vital. For me, the definition of the Alien experience is cowering in a corner, staring at this little green screen, and looking at a dot and just hearing it go “boop, boop, boop, boop,” knowing the creature is getting closer. There are some moments in the game where we have an objective marker on the motion tracker, so it kind of points you where to go next. I found it amazing that when we put it in the game, you had this dot telling you where you needed to go, and then there was the dot for the Alien. And when those two dots are in the same place, your heart sinks. I was like, “I’m looking at two dots on the screen, and I’m terrified.” I just knew that the whole atmosphere came together, and it all felt right. So yeah, it’s really kind of low-tech, where you have to bring it out and hold it for it to work. You have to aim it to get any kind of accurate reading – and in some areas, it doesn’t quite work, and it flickers. But it’s really good fun to use!

Xbox Wire: In terms of crafting this type of survival-horror experience, has the Xbox One hardware enabled you guys to do anything that maybe wasn’t possible last generation?

Gary Napper: Massively, [when it comes to] things like radiocity – the reflective light on surfaces and things – and the fidelity and the environment. The art team had a ball playing with all of those, and cranking the dials up and seeing how high they could get them. We have some amazing, breathtaking moments where you just turn around the corridor and it’s almost like classic Alien... having a heavy fog in the air and a strobe light flashing on that fog, and making that shadow in the distance, and so on. When it all comes together, it’s absolutely amazing!

Xbox Wire: Sounds absolutely terrifying. Thanks, Gary!

Forza Horizon 2 Mobil 1 Car Pack - Mon, 06 Oct 2014 15:30:00 Z
Forza Horizon 2 has launched for Xbox One and players from all over the world are now enjoying the wide-open roads of southern Europe. Forza Horizon 2 for Xbox One includes exclusive features like dynamic weather, instant online multiplayer, and amazing Drivatar opponents. In fact, if you played Forza Motorsport 5 but haven’t yet tried Forza Horizon 2, your personal Drivatar may already be racing down the Mediterranean coast. Nearly 3 million Drivatars, all trained in Forza Motorsport 5, are already racing against fans and each other in Forza Horizon 2 right now.

Today, we are announcing the details on the first Car Pack for Forza Horizon 2 on Xbox One. The Mobil 1 Car Pack features six amazing cars to race, customize, and collect in the game. Whether you are looking for something rough and tumble, or an exquisite work of art, this pack has got something for you. In fact, the cars from the Mobil 1 Car Pack sound just as good as they look. From the rasping, burbling Jaguar F-Type R to the screaming 16v VW Scirocco, this pack features delights for the ears and eyes alike.

All the cars in the Mobil 1 Car Pack will be available on Tuesday, October 7, for $5.Players who own the Forza Horizon 2 Car Pass will be able to download the Mobil 1 Car Pack for free. This month, we are including a free additional car to the pack – the thunderous 1988 BMW M5 – which will be available to all Forza Horizon 2 players at no additional cost. Once purchased, all cars from the Mobil 1 Car Pack will be immediately available in Forza Horizon 2 at no additional in-game cost.

2015 Jaguar F-Type R Coupe
Jaguar’s new king of the hill represents a full commitment to performance. To wit: The F-Type R Coupe features the most horsepower in any Jaguar ever built, the most rigid chassis ever, and a visceral driving experience that harkens back to the vigor of the Jags of the late 1960s. Hydro-formed aluminum makes the body stiff yet lightweight; a direct injected, supercharged V-8 delivers astounding power, and torque that is transferred to the road surface with precision. Give the growl from the F-Type R’s exhaust a listen and you’ll know that this is a beast you’ll love to tame.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT
The term high-performance SUV represents an anomaly. Why would you take something that is designed to be off-road capable and make it something fun to take to the track? The answer: Because you can. One drive in the new Grand Cherokee SRT will not only make you stop asking such silly questions, it will have you singing this powerful vehicle’s praises. After all, what’s not to like about upwards of 450 horsepower, incredible Hemi-powered torque, and a specially designed chassis that will have you quickly forgetting you are driving an SUV at all. Sure the SRT version of the Grand Cherokee is all-wheel-drive, and it can tow big things, but if that’s why you bought it you’re missing the point. This is a track day car for the whole family to enjoy.

2013 Renault Clio RS 200
You want a snappy hot hatch with an extra pair of doors to throw around? Renault has got you covered in the Clio RS 200. The RS 200 features ample torque way down low from a quickly spooling turbo and just enough stiffness to make any apex look inviting. That, and a whole lot of distinctive Renault lines, come together in this alluring five-door. Flared fenders, vivacious curves, and nearly 200 bhp – hence the “200” in “RS 200” – are packaged neatly and raring to go. This car may be designed to run about town, but what it really wants to do is straighten out any curve it encounters.

1988 Volkswagen Scirocco 16v
The third-generation Scirocco brought a new level of performance to the Giugiaro-designed two-plus-two. Adding to the strong base of the excellent chassis shared with the original hot hatch, the Volkswagen GTI, the Scirocco now sported a few extra valves per cylinder. The resultant 124 horsepower made the Scirocco 16V the most powerful VW ever and with an RPM redline that rivaled the highest-revving Ferrari V8’s of the era, it was a screamer. To accentuate the role, VW dressed the body with a full kit including fender flares and a functional rear window-splitting spoiler. Sixteen-valve engines were all the rage in the late 1980s, but VW’s 1.8-liter engine was particularly advanced. Volkswagen ran with 10.0:1 compression, hydraulic lifters, sodium-filled exhaust valves, and oil injectors to keep the pistons cool. With the heart to run against the best the other German marques offered at twice the price, the Scirocco 16V did not disappoint.

1957 Maserati 300 S
For some, the Maserati 300 S is what motorsports in the 1950s was all about. As the main challenger to the Ferraris of the era in the World Sportscar Championships, the 300 S saw the talents of legendary drivers like Juan-Manuel Fangio, Carroll Shelby, and Stirling Moss employed behind the wheel. The four-speed manual gear box and 3.0-liter, 260 horsepower engine is capable of a top speed of 175 mph and a 0-60 time of around 4.2 seconds. The 300 S is expensive but, with classic looks and great performance, you probably won’t mind.

1988 BMW M5
In the 1980s, you might have been forgiven for thinking that BMWs were simply status symbols for affluent yuppies. But by 1984 (or, in North America, 1988), that had all changed with the introduction of the M5. Even today, the second 5-Series tuned by BMW’s M-Division (the first was the E12-series M535i of the late 1970s) makes a formidable first impression. With all of the trim blacked-out (including the window surrounds), and particularly when painted a deep black, “sinister” and “purposeful” are accurate descriptions. More important than how it looks is how it drives, and that story starts under the hood. BMW plucked the high-performance M88 inline six cylinder from its stable of high-performance engines. The twin-cam M88 was developed for the M1 supercar, and in the M5 it produces 286 horsepower out of 3.5 liters with the help of six individual throttle bodies for incredible throttle response (and a wonderful intake roar). It’s a motor that thrives on revs, with peak power right around redline, so keep your momentum up at the exits—a technique assisted by the M5’s improved anti-roll bars and a trick self-leveling suspension system. While the M5 founded a dynasty of mid-size Bavarian super-sport sedans that have gotten successively more powerful, the original M5 has a unique charm that will shine through and clearly demonstrate why the original is in some ways still the best.




Plex coming to Xbox with all its Video Goodness, NHL Brings You Extreme Hockey - Mon, 06 Oct 2014 09:00:00 Z
Post updated with amended availability – 10/6/14 1:25 p.m. PDT

It’s a big apps week on Xbox for videophiles, movie buffs, and hockey fans.

First, we’re launching an app on Xbox One that we’re extremely excited about and Xbox owners have been asking for. Its official, Plex will be on Xbox this week! Xbox One is the first major gaming platform Plex is available on and allows Xbox Live members to enjoy movies, TV shows and other videos from their personal library on the big screen, regardless of where the files are stored. And we’re thrilled to announce that Plex is also coming to Xbox 360 soon.

The Plex app automatically grabs the associated cover art and other metadata to make your media library look beautiful. Available to Plex Pass premium subscribers, Plex for Xbox offers customized categories, like genre or cast, based on your viewing habits and helps you rediscover content that hasn’t been viewed in a while. In addition, the app offers an “On Deck” feature that lets you keep track of shows you’re currently watching, easily continue where you left off and suggest next episodes. You can even search through videos with ease and speed using Kinect voice and gesture control. Plex will be available in all Xbox One markets except China and Hong Kong.  

Get ready for hockey season with the NHL on Xbox One

The NHL on Xbox One brings you live, out-of-market regular season games and replays with a subscription to NHL GameCenter LIVE. That means you can catch up on past seasons and get yourself psyched for the upcoming hockey season kicking off this month. With the app on Xbox One, you can keep track of your favorite teams through a personalized experience and catch highlights from around the league. You can also use Kinect voice and gesture control to search through content with ease. NHL will be available in all Xbox One markets except China, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden.

Both apps are available this week in the Apps store on Xbox One. Stay tuned, there’s more on the way.

Doctor Who Arrives Today on Minecraft for Xbox 360 - Fri, 03 Oct 2014 06:00:00 Z
As announced last month, characters from the hit BBC science fiction television series Doctor Who are now available for Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition. This first skin pack offers a wide selection of some of the most-loved and most-feared characters in the series’ 50-year history, such as:

  • The First Doctor
  • The Fourth Doctor
  • The Sixth Doctor
  • The Ninth Doctor
  • The Eleventh Doctor
  • The Twelfth Doctor
  • The War Doctor
  • Clara Oswald
  • Rory Williams
  • Weeping Angel
  • Snowman
  • Smiler

  • This is just a sample of the full roster, and will take Minecraft and Doctor Who fans on terrific and tie-clad adventures in whatever imaginative worlds they’ve created. The skin pack is available now for $2.99/€2.85/£1.99, and we’ll have more to share on Doctor Who in Minecraft: Xbox One Edition soon.

    The 5 Must-have Marvel Super Heroes in Disney Infinity - Thu, 02 Oct 2014 12:22:00 Z
    Picking a favorite figure among the 16 that have launched alongside the all-new Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes (available for both Xbox One and Xbox 360) is a task on par with squeezing the Hulk into a pair of skinny jeans. So, rather than selecting just one must-have Marvel icon, we chose five – still no easy feat.

    After fighting Frost Giants, Symbiote-infected foes, and Sakaaran soldiers from behind the likes of Thor, Spider-Man, Star-Lord – and all their Play Set-compatible pals – we've decided that the following quintet of crime-fighters are the coolest... so far.

    Captain America
    While zipping around Marvel's Manhattan as air-catching characters such as Iron Man and Spidey is an absolute blast, the star-spangled Avenger is our go-to do-gooder when it comes time to clean up the Big Apple's crime-choked streets. Whether ricocheting his shield off multiple evildoers from afar or giving a single, up-close foe a face full of patriotic pain, his combat abilities are unmatched.

    After playing through the Spider-Man Play Set with the webslinger and his spandex-clad crew, we thought we'd give Venom a go. Turns out, it really is good to be bad. On top of rivaling the speed, strength, and web-based powers of Spidey, the Symbiote-fueled foe sports a special move that sends out an army of infected tendrils to do his dirty work.

    Don't let Groot's lack of guns and gear fool you; from crushing melee moves to devastating ranged attacks, his lethal limbs pack as much power as any shiny, S.H.I.E.L.D.-engineered gadget. While all his attacks are, er, rooted in his ability to use his branches creatively, our favorite sees them snake beneath the surface before popping up to surprise a target.

    As lethal with her blade as she is accurate with her pistol, this assassin-turned-Guardian gets our vote for most versatile on the battlefield. Coupled with her unmatched athletic ability and speed, Gamora's ranged and up-close skills allow her to pepper baddies from afar with projectiles, before rushing in to finish the job.

    Rocket Raccoon
    The fan-favorite Guardian of the Galaxy begins with just a single gun, but quickly ramps up to become a pint-sized weapon of dual-wielding destruction. His two hand-cannons benefit from a variety of slick upgrades, but the coolest way to unleash the pair is from atop Groot's shoulders – seriously, it's worth recruiting a co-op player to form this two-Guardian turret!

    Having sunk dozens of hours into Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes with each of its 16 figures, we’re confident in saying that there isn't a single one we wouldn't want by our side on the front lines. Thanks to the game's overhauled combat and new skill trees, the characters not only look and feel like their comic book counterparts, they can also be personalized and progressed to fit particular play styles. Still, if you're on a budget or simply unsure of which ones to add to your collection first, we suggest starting with the aforementioned five. See you in the Toy Box!

    Behind the Shadow of Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor - Thu, 02 Oct 2014 11:00:00 Z
    If you've been following the development of Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor – and really, you should be, because it looks awesome – you probably remember that Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment recently revealed the identity of the mysterious wraith who raises protagonist Talion from the dead and gives him awesome wraithly powers. Turns out, the wraith is the shade of a pretty significant elf named Celebrimbor.

    Why should you care, you ask? Well:

    He Was Kind of a Big Deal

    Though not a lot is known about Celebrimbor's early years, we know that he eventually became a jewelsmith in Middle-earth. His work was so good that he rose to a top of the guild of elven jewelsmiths, and then eventually took over as Lord of Ost-in-Edhil. That city doesn't play much of a role in the most familiar Middle-earth works, but it was a significant appointment: He took over for Galadriel and Celeborn, who headed for Lórien, where they appear often in The Lord of the Rings.

    He Made the Elfstone (or at Least an Elfstone)

    In the Lord of the Rings films, Arwen gives Aragorn the Evenstar, a sweet necklace with a white stone. But in the books, it's a green stone, and it comes from Galadriel: the Elfstone, or Elessar. It's such a significant gift that Aragorn eventually takes "Elessar" as his name once he becomes king. And Celebrimbor made it – or at least, a version of it. Accounts differ; some say Celebrimbor made a copy of someone else's. Regardless, the version we know of seems to have come from this guy.

    He Made the Doors of Durin, Too

    Unlike certain other elves (looking at you, Legolas), Celebrimbor never had a problem with dwarves. In fact, he became so friendly with the dwarves of Khazad-dûm (later known as Moria), that he helped them build the doors to their house. Yep, the ones the Fellowship of the Ring enter Moria through, pursued by the Watcher in the Water. It's a pretty sweet gate – and a pretty central point in The Fellowship of the Ring. We have Celebrimbor to thank for that.

    And, Oh Yeah, He Also Made the Rings of Power

    Whoops. Um, about that. See, Celebrimbor didn't really know who he was working with on this particular project. Head baddie Sauron had disguised himself as Annatar, an emissary from the gods who totally wanted to help the elves make the best jewelry. Celebrimbor and his guildmates bought the story, and went ahead and made a bunch of rings for men and dwarves. But Celebrimbor had a hunch that something was up: In secret, while Sauron was off forging his own super-ring, he went and made three special rings of his own, just for the elves, with none of Sauron's influence – and he sent them away for safekeeping.

    He Ended Up as a Flag

    This did not, as you might imagine, turn out particularly well for Celebrimbor. Sauron got wind of this illicit ring-making, and decided the most polite response was to pretty much exterminate the elves. Celebrimbor was captured in the course of this attempted extermination, and forced under torture to reveal the location of the rings made for the dwarves and men. But he was enough of a badass not to give up the location of the three rings he'd saved for the elves. So, he was killed. Painfully. And then his body was hung up on a pole to serve as a banner for Sauron's army. Ouch.

    And after that? Well, you'll need to check out Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor, which hit Xbox One on September 30, to get the rest of the story.

    The Top 5 Cars to Pick Up First in Forza Horizon 2 - Thu, 02 Oct 2014 09:00:00 Z
    If you’re anything like us here at Xbox Wire, you’re super psyched about Forza Horizon 2’s huge variety of cars to drive. With one of the largest car lists of any racing game this year, there’s plenty to choose from. Below, you’ll find five quick recommendations for cars that are both fun to drive, don’t require tons of work to get the most out of them (e.g., you won’t need to spend a long time in the garage on customizations to maximize performance), and look frickin’ awesome, too.

    Now, as soon as you start
    Forza Horizon 2, you’re presented with three cars to choose from as your starting ride. You do get to pick from the BMW Z4, the Pontiac GTO, and the Toyota Supra. What you choose here is really down to driving style: If you prefer imports and their drift style, go with the Supra; if you want muscle and acceleration, take the GTO; and if you’d like cornering with good mid-range performance, go for the BMW. None of these cars will remain your primary ride for too long, so don’t sweat it.

    Now, once you’ve got a little bit of cash, it’s time to choose from some of the other options. Here are our top five (somewhat) affordable cars to purchase at the outset, to help you prepare for whatever challenges
    Forza Horizon 2 throws at you.

    1) Chevrolet Camaro IROC-Z (Class C, 9,000 credits)

    I know what you’re thinking: Do I really want to drive the car that the high school bully from every ‘80s movie drove? The answer is: Yes. You will bully your way into a lot of horsepower per weight, great off-the-line speed, and surprisingly decent handling at medium-high speeds with this American classic. On top of that, it only costs 9,000 credits, and it’s one of the easiest cars to customize, so you get some nice bang for your buck from it for the entire game. So embrace your inner badass, and sweep the leg out from the competition with your first purchase.

    2) Vauxhall Astra VX12 (Class B, 32,000 credits)

    This little number can haul serious ass for its size. Add to that its tight handling and super-responsive drifting capabilities, and you have the perfect car for that hairpin-filled city course. Or, go into the garage and mess with the shocks and ride height, and you’ve got yourself a versatile off-roadster. It’s all possible in this tiny package – and the best part is that you’ll never have trouble finding a parking spot.

    3) Chevrolet Corvette Stingray (Class A, 65,000 credits)

    As in the real world, the Corvette is one of the best cars for the money you’ll find anywhere. While the 65,000 credit price point might seem high when you first start out, you can earn that money in no time, and the Corvette is worth absolutely every penny. Fantastic top end, acceleration, and power combine with excellent braking and handling to provide a package that’s a blast to drive – and can blast your competition as well. You might be tempted to hold out for the Corvette ZR-1 instead of the Stingray, but at the ZR-1’s higher price point and class, there are probably better options to go with instead.

    4) Local Motors Rally Fighter (Class A, 75,000 credits)

    This is the best car in the game for off-roading and rally races, period. The Rally Fighter may look a little strange, but the high ride height and the surprisingly good speed make it a killer – especially if you sink some money into a better engine and aspiration system. Intimidate your opponents without breaking the bank, and be assured that you’ll leave all the other pickups, SUVs, and trucks in your dust! The Local Motors Rally Fighter is also available for free via Forza Rewards for Tier 5 players and above.

    5) McLaren P1 (Class S1, 192,500 credits)

    Yeah, the McLaren is expensive... but for the price, though, it’s the best bang-for-the-buck option at the top of the
    Forza Horizon 2 chain, and with the right customizations, it can easily compete with the S2-class Hypercars. Plus, it’s got a combination electric and gasoline engine to put you at the top of the technologically awesome heap. This thing handles like a dream, and you can easily hit corners at high speeds without losing the back end. The McLaren P1 is also available for free via Forza Rewards for Tier 6 players.

    BONUS: Ferrari Dino 246 GT (Class D, 60,000 credits)

    The Dino is one of the most beautiful cars ever made – and the top-handling roadster of its era, bar none. While
    Forza Horizon 2 features the very limited-edition 1969 model, the Dino has been atop collectors’ lists worldwide, regardless of year. The guys at Turn 10 Studios got that classic Ferrari engine sound exactly right with this car, and it’s a blast to drive when you’re just touring around. At only 60,000 credits, you’d be crazy not to add this beauty to your garage.

    You can have all this and more in the brand-new
    Forza Horizon 2. So what are you waiting for? Grab your copy for Xbox One, and get this sweet car collection started.

    5 Reasons We’re Excited for Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor - Wed, 01 Oct 2014 12:00:00 Z
    Monolith Productions’ upcoming Lord of the Rings universe game, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, may look like a familiar sort of experience – but you’ve never played an action game quite like this one. Here are five reason why we’re itching to jump into this very unique take on Middle-earth.

    You Can Collect Goblins Like Trading Cards

    The Wraith powers in Shadow of Mordor are a really cool addition to the game. By dominating certain enemies, you can take control of them, and use them as a sort of personal army or mercenary service. Even cooler: Dominated enemies can level up and rank up naturally in the world, which lends a strong monster-hunting/role-playing element to the game.

    Watch Your Back – Enemies Come for Revenge

    The nemesis system in Shadow of Mordor features some of the most impressive long-term character A.I. that we’ve seen. Your actions in the world shape the characters around you. Injure someone, but not kill him? He might hunt you down across the map to exact his revenge.

    Brand-new Characters and Familiar Faces Combine

    Many of the characters in Shadow of Mordor, like the ranger Talion and the Queen Marwen, are new to the universe – but you’ll also see some returning characters. It wouldn’t be a Middle-earth game without the likes of Sauron and Gollum, both of whom make appearances in Shadow of Mordor.

    Chaining Combos and Executions Are Brutal and Awesome

    Talion is no pushover. As a badass ranger, you go toe-to-toe with goblins, and orcs, and all manners of fearsome beasts and warriors. But Talion gets a lot stronger when he uses his Wrath powers in conjunction with his sword and bow.

    The World Keeps Going... Even When You Die

    You’re pretty much immortal in Shadow of Mordor, thanks to that Wraith all up inside of you. But that doesn’t mean the world just stops and waits for you to wake back up after you get stabbed and kicked off a bridge; while you’re making your way back to the earthly realm, the world marches on. Armies shift power, people die, and other characters level up. Everything is always in motion in Mordor.

    Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
    launched on Xbox One on September 30, and features all the goblin-slaying and orc army infighting that you could ever wish for.

    Forza Horizon 2 Walks the Line Between Racer and Cruiser - Wed, 01 Oct 2014 10:00:00 Z
    Unlike most driving titles, Forza Horizon 2 isn’t just about eking every last ounce of speed from your ride. Sure, you can do that if you want, using the game’s deep and intricate mechanical customization system – but if you’d prefer to grab a factory model and just cruise the countryside, you can do that, too. Forza Horizon 2 is a driving game that plays at your pace. It’s set in an open world so large and so beautifully realized that you’ll find yourself looking forward to the transition time in-between missions, just so you can admire the scenery as you drive.

    Forza Horizon 2
    is unique, in that it allows you to earn points toward your next level simply by driving well, regardless of whether you’re racing or not. Driving fast and threading the needle between two cars on the freeway – even if they’re civilian cars driven by A.I. – still earns you points. Or, you could smash your way through a fence and tear up a wheat field or vineyard in your big, honking Hummer; that also gets you points.

    Of course, if you’d rather play
    Forza Horizon 2 as a straight-up racer, you can do that, too. Set in France and Italy, the game features a huge variety of race tracks over city streets, open fields, and foothills. Time trials, traditional races, off-road events, trick challenges, you name it – it’s all available for the more competitive among you. And yes: You can still level up by driving like a badass in the races, too.

    And if you’d rather live somewhere in-between those two, you can take advantage of the game’s Match Races, in which you can dynamically challenge any Drivatar (computer-controlled opponents who drive based on the characteristics of your friends and real people from Xbox Live) to a head-to-head showdown instantly, as soon as you pull up behind them. Since
    Forza Horizon 2 not only populates your world with plenty of Drivatars in killer (and not-so-killer) cars, and since it rates all of them dynamically based on how they’ve performed in their own games, you can easily assess what the proper challenge is, and just go crazy like the mad street racer you’ve always wished you could be.

    Don’t forget that these modes are also available to play with your friends. Going online in Forza Horizon 2 is as easy as pressing a button – no lobbies and no waiting. If you want to just play around the countryside in Online Free Roam, you can do that. Or, if you want to race in a white-knuckle heat with your buddies, go for it. Plus, you’ve got two dedicated multiplayer “playground” modes (Infected and King), as well as the ability to enter into the game’s special “Bucket List” challenges (like doing 15 jumps in 90 seconds) with a friend. Heck, you can even spend your days driving around, searching for new hills to climb and cliffs to drive off.

    The point is,
    Forza Horizon 2 brings an entirely unique driving experience to your Xbox One – an experience that you get to customize on the fly, as you play. So, what’s not to like? Get out there and get racing!

    Xbox Celebrates Forza Horizon 2 Release with Lamborghini, Boys & Girls Club and Hot Wheels - Wed, 01 Oct 2014 09:30:00 Z
    Yesterday, Xbox released the newest addition to the award-winning Forza franchise – Forza Horizon 2. To celebrate, Xbox teamed up with Lamborghini and Hot Wheels to host “Kids into Car Lovers Day,” an event designed to foster youth creativity and car passion, at the Santa Monica Boys & Girls Club – the first event of its kind for three of the world’s most iconic and recognizable consumer brands.

    With the rise of ride-sharing services, smartphones and other technologies, young people are driving less than ever, and the days when kids tacked their favorite supercar onto a wall poster are quickly fading into the rear view. To reignite car passion, Xbox hosted the first-ever “Forza Design Challenge,” inviting several hundred kids from across 10 Boys & Girls Clubs to create their most imaginative custom paint jobs for the Lamborghini Huracán. Three lucky winners were chosen to see their design brought to life in
    Forza Horizon 2, which were unveiled at Kids into Car Lovers Day. The winning designs will be available to all Forza Horizon 2 owners as free downloadable liveries in the future.

    Also during the event, the kids got a chance to play
    Forza Horizon 2 and see how the winning designs would be featured in the game. Capping off the event, a parade of flashy Lamborghini vehicles arrived to deliver Hot Wheels toys “Santa Claus”-style to the kids!

    Check out the video and photos to learn more about Kids into Car Lovers Day and why fostering youth creativity and car passion is important to the future of automotive culture and gaming. 

    Minecraft: Xbox One Edition Reaches Retail Stores November 18 - Tue, 30 Sep 2014 13:25:00 Z
    Know any budding creators who haven’t upgraded to Minecraft: Xbox One Edition yet? If so, we’ll help you cross one item off your holiday shopping list. Following the digital debut of Minecraft: Xbox One Edition earlier this month, we’re excited to announce the smash hit game will also hit store shelves beginning on Nov. 18 for $19.99 USD.

    fans can easily transfer their Xbox 360 creations and most of their downloadable content to the Xbox One Edition and play in up to 36 times larger worlds. And, with the widest range of downloadable content on console, players will never run out of new worlds to explore with four player split-screen on one console or up to eight players over Xbox Live. It’s Minecraft any way you please this holiday— whether buying the disc, downloading directly onto your Xbox One, or grabbing a digital download code or gift card from participating retailers. And to all you veteran Minecrafters who've already been playing Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition, don't forget you can digitally upgrade for $4.99.*

    The $4.99 USD upgrade offer is only eligible for the digital version of Minecraft: Xbox One Edition; players must own the retail disc or digital version of Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition and connect to Xbox Live with their account when playing the digital version. For more information, visit

    Forza Horizon 2 Has Arrived – Plus New Details on Forza Hub! - Tue, 30 Sep 2014 10:30:00 Z
    Forza fans, the wait is officially over! Starting today, you can pick up or download your copy of Forza Horizon 2 and race through the massive wide-open world of southern Europe in more than 200 of the world’s greatest cars.

    Also, starting today you have a new way to explore the
    Forza universe. Forza Hub has arrived. Available now as a free download exclusively for Xbox One, Forza Hub is your all-in-one app for everything happening in the world of Forza. Here we’ll give you a brief rundown of what you can expect from Forza Hub.

    You can download Forza Hub for free from the Xbox One Store. Once you have it on your system, you’ll be able to access a ton of
    Forza news, community announcements, redeem your monthly Forza Rewards, and even launch events in Forza Motorsport 5 and Forza Horizon 2 on Xbox One. Here’s how the individual sections of Forza Hub break down:

    Welcome to Forza Hub

    Each time you log in to Forza Hub, the first screen you see will be the Welcome section. This is where you’ll find the latest happenings in the
    Forza world – from new contest announcements to details on the latest DLC releases and much more. In addition to the news, the Welcome Screen will also let you know whether or not you have new Forza Rewards to redeem, which you can redeem directly from within Forza Hub.

    My Forza

    Access the My Forza section of Forza Hub to check out eligible Rewards across all participating
    Forza games. In the My Forza section, you ‘ll see your current Forza Score and Forza Tier Level (which you can expand for more detail), the nearest achievement you can complete in any Forza game, as well as the details on which Forza Rewards you can currently redeem. If you’ve already redeemed this month’s rewards, My Forza will also tell you when you’ll next be able to redeem new Forza Rewards.

    If you’re looking for tips on how to add to your Forza Score and increase your Forza Tier Level (and thus be eligible for better monthly Forza Rewards), we’ve got you covered. With just a click, you can get tips on the quickest way to increase your score across any and all participating
    Forza games. In addition, you can also see how you stack up against you friends by using the “Friends Compare” feature on the “My Forza” page.

    News and Events

    Forza Hub delivers your community-related content in a big way. Head over to the “News & Events” section for the latest custom
    Forza content, delivered directly from the Forza Community Team. Check out our long-running weekly columns like “Heavy Metal Affliction” and “Rear View Mirror” or get caught up with everything happening in the Forza universe with our weekly wrap, the “Week in Review.” Community spotlights, up-to-the-minute news flashes, if it’s new in Forza you can find it here.

    Forza Hub is a new way to stay connected to the world of
    Forza on your Xbox One. In addition to being the best place to check your Forza Rewards status and redeem your rewards, we’ll be updating the app on a regular basis with content and news from the world of Forza. Download it today!

    Forza Horizon 2: What's a Drivatar, and Why Should I Care? - Tue, 30 Sep 2014 10:12:00 Z
    If you've been keeping an eye on the gorgeous-looking Forza Horizon 2, you've no doubt seen mention of something called Drivatars. If you're new to the Forza world, this term may seem strange and unfamiliar. Fear not! We are here to explain the whole concept for you.

    And it's worth understanding. See, the original
    Forza Motorsport ditched the traditional method of managing computer-controlled competitors' behavior. Whereas other racing games use a standard and time-tested form of artificial intelligence, Forza actually learns from the driving behavior of actual players.

    The data it learns from watching you play is saved as a driving avatar – a Drivatar. Since the first
    Forza Motorsport on the original Xbox, the feature has evolved, and starting with last year's Forza Motorsport 5 debut on the Xbox One, your Drivatar moved to the cloud, ready to be called upon to race other players. It's not online play, and it's not a straight recording of you driving a particular track – it's something much more complex and interesting.

    Under the Hood

    The original Drivatar system was born out of Microsoft's research studio in Cambridge, UK, which sought a way to use machine learning to emulate real player behavior in computer-controlled opponents. The system took data from human players, applied it to the course (and course conditions), and then fed that information through a virtual controller using the full physics engine to create lifelike opponents. This resulted in A.I. that was markedly different from opponents in other racing games.

    Forza Motorsport 5, the Drivatar system changed radically to take advantage of cloud computing on Xbox Live. With the power of the Xbox One and the ability to process opponent A.I. in the cloud, opponents learned how to drive by observing their creators and the system gained complexity by studying the overall population using techniques more akin to “big data”. Furthermore, the game could track and share data from every single player with an Internet-connected console.

    So what does all this mean? Well, consider pretty much any other racing game. When you get into a race, you tend to see other cars all behaving pretty similarly: They'll slow down in about the same spots, make their turns in about the same way, and follow pretty much the same line through the race. In some games, the only differences you see are based solely on the physical characteristics of the individual cars. Now, to be fair, most developers introduce a bit more variety in order to create an illusion of personality in different drivers. But even this becomes somewhat predictable in its minor randomness, as you sink more and more hours into a given game.

    Not so with
    Forza. Instead of a whole pack of cars all following pretty much the same line, you see noticeable differences in driving styles. Some opponents will brake earlier, some later; some will corner more sharply to set up for a future turn, others will try to maintain speed with wider turns; some may even use your car to bounce off of in tight turns. The Drivatars of advanced drivers, use real racing tactics and even setup strategies multiple corners in advance.

    On the Track – Or Off

    At first glance, the differences may be subtle, but switch from another game to
    Forza and you'll notice a certain undeniable, indefinable realness to the competition, especially early in a race when cars are grouped together. Even better, whether your Forza-loving friends are online or not, you'll occasionally see their Drivatars pop up as opponents in your own races. Having your opponents personalized in such a way makes a substantial difference in the sense of competition; you don't just want to win this race, you want to crush your friend. And as an added bonus, while your friends are all having fun racing against your virtual self, your Drivatar is earning you credits for car upgrades.

    This whole system is coming to
    Forza Horizon 2, with some special tweaks for the go-anywhere off-road setting. While racing lines and careful cornering still matter, the ability to take off-road shortcuts means that overall style plays a bigger role. Where a Forza Motorsport 5 Drivatar would strive to emulate things like apex approach and braking precision, Forza Horizon 2 is more concerned with elements like aggression and willingness to take shortcuts. In fact, implemented Drivatars had an unexpected benefit for the Forza Horizon 2 team: They actually started finding their own cross-country shortcuts.

    This kind of A.I.-level finesse may be hard to quantify, but it has an undeniable effect, making racing in
    Forza feel more life-like than in any other racing series. But you don't have to take our word for it; you can download the Forza Horizon 2 demo and see for yourself right now!

    VH1 Brings You the Drama on Xbox One - Tue, 30 Sep 2014 09:00:05 Z
    It was an eventful summer with lots of great new entertainment apps arriving on Xbox One, and Xbox is keeping the apps coming as we move into the fall.

    Launching today on Xbox One, VH1 allows Xbox Live members in the U.S. to check out VH1 shows anytime. Available with a subscription from a participating cable provider, VH1 on Xbox One offers full episodes, sneak peeks, show extras, exclusive content, and more.

    You can navigate the VH1 app with voice and gesture controls using Kinect, with the Xbox One controller, or with the Xbox One media remote. VH1 looks amazing in full screen, or you can snap the app next to a game so you can play and watch at the same time. And like all entertainment apps on Xbox One, VH1 is available for free in the Xbox Live App Store.

    Download the app and check it out today!

    5 Reasons We’re Excited for Forza Horizon 2 - Mon, 29 Sep 2014 12:00:00 Z
    The Forza series is the pinnacle of racing – combining fast-paced and action-heavy driving with gorgeous cars and scenery. All that gets even better in Forza Horizon 2. There’s only one short day left before its release, and if you’re not excited yet, here are a few reasons why you should be.

    So Much More Road to Drive On

    Forza Horizon 2
    ’s amazing southern European setting is bigger, prettier, and more fun than ever. From cities, to cliff-side roads, to rural Italian farmland, there’s no end to the variety in Forza Horizon 2’s environments.

    Or, Hey, Forget the Road!

    Tired of sticking to the pavement? Take a sharp left and crash through a fence, barrel through a field, and come smashing out of another fence in front of your opponent. You’re not limited to the tracks in 
    Forza Horizon 2, and you’ll find plenty of shortcuts and secrets to explore in the world.

    There Are More Cars Than You Can Ever Possibly Drive in Real-life

    Over 200 of the hottest, fastest, shiniest cars make Forza Horizon 2 the most robust racing game of this console generation. Gorgeous luxury cars like the Pagani Huayra and the Lamborghini Huracán face off against the Local Motors Rally Fighter and the 2015 Ford Mustang GT, and many more.

    School Your Friends, Instantly

    It’s super easy to race against your friends in 
    Forza Horizon 2, and you can instantly switch between online and offline play, with no lobbies and no waiting. You can form clubs with up to 1,000 racers, and compete against your friends’ Drivatars when you’re playing solo. In Forza Horizon 2, you always know how much better (or worse) you are than your buddies.

    Already a Forza Fan? Have a Free Awesome Car!

    Forza Rewards system in Forza Horizon 2 rewards those players who have racked up points in previous Forza titles. The first time you load up the game, you’ll be presented with an awesome vehicle, depending on your current Forza ranking. Unlocking cars before you even play the game? Man, they’re making this too easy!

    Forza Horizon 2
    races onto your Xbox One on Sept. 30, so get your racing gloves and your driving goggles and we’ll see you on the road.

    Create, Ride, Destroy, Scream - Here's What to Expect from ScreamRide - Mon, 29 Sep 2014 11:00:00 Z
    During this Summer's gamescom 2014 Xbox Briefing, ScreamRide's reveal stood out, even though it wasn't exactly clear what kind of game we were looking at. Is it a simulation? An action title? Recently, I met up with Executive Producer Jorg Neumann, who shared much more on ScreamRide, including a look at the tools used to construct roller coasters that defy reality and what happens when your friends start riding them.

    "Unprecedented levels of destruction?" OK, ScreamRide, now you have my attention. The screaming begins this Spring on Xbox One and Xbox 360.

    Xbox One Launches in China - Mon, 29 Sep 2014 06:40:00 Z
    This is a monumental day for us at Xbox and marks the first day of our journey in China as today, Xbox One officially launched in China, becoming the first video game console to do so in 14 years.

    Now available at more than 4,000 retail locations in 37 cities throughout the People’s Republic of China, gamers and families throughout the country now have access to some of the best games and entertainment experiences spanning racing, sports, fitness, dance and adventure with music, karaoke, entertainment, social and more app experiences to come.

    It has been rewarding to see new fans lining up at stores, connecting to Xbox Live for the first time, and enjoying the first wave of games available.

    Gaming stars Caomei, Weixiao and fans engage in an Xbox One “PK” (challenge)

    To capstone Xbox One’s first day, some of the most iconic buildings of the Shanghai skyline – including the Oriental Pearl Tower – were awash in Xbox Green.

    “This milestone is significant for both our partnership with China and our global expansion plan. Every new market launch is unique and we’re grateful to our fans for their patience and enthusiasm,” said Phil Spencer, head of Xbox. “We will continue to work closely with our partner BesTV to bring exciting games, entertainment and app experiences to delight gamers across China.”

    Our launch in China cements our global expansion into new markets, which continues to build upon the most successful launch in Xbox history. With the launch in China, Xbox One is now available in 41 markets.

    Microsoft Store in Stores staff interacting with fans before openings in the morning

    Long lines of fans queuing at Microsoft Store in Stores at Suning Lenovo Bridge and Dazhong Zhongta before openings, looking forward to launch of Xbox One in China

    Gaming stars Caomei, Weixiao and fans engage in an Xbox One “PK” (challenge)

    Microsoft Store in Stores staff introducing Xbox One to customers

    Meeting Assassin’s Creed: Rogue’s Bad-boy Protagonist - Fri, 26 Sep 2014 14:00:00 Z
    The first thing that struck us during our latest Assassin’s Creed: Rogue demo wasn’t a blade or a bullet, but the Xbox 360 title’s breathtaking beauty. Unfolding from the deck of protagonist Shay Patrick Cormac’s ship, our hands-on session was filled with the sort of postcard-perfect imagery usually seen in vacation pamphlets. From Rogue’s snow-capped mountains and colonies of penguins to its icy waters and sky-illuminating northern lights, the gorgeous environment easily had us forgetting that this “last-gen” offering wasn’t being powered by the Xbox One.

    While the eye-popping surroundings nearly lulled us into thinking we were enjoying a vacation cruise, the enemy ships blasting us with broadsides quickly shattered that illusion. Thankfully, Rogue’s fresh approach to the franchise – putting players behind an assassin-turned-Templar antihero – introduces plenty of new tools and toys to the series’ already-ample arsenal. Because Shay has gone to the dark side, so to speak, he, as Producer Karl von der Luhe put it, “has access to advanced weapons that the Assassins could only dream of.”

    We got to test out a couple of these Templar-engineered bad boys on the French fleet that interrupted our relaxing ocean voyage. From behind the new Puckle gun – a free-aiming machine gun perfect for targeting weak points – we were able to make Swiss cheese of enemy vessels before finishing them off with larger payloads. On top of taking the starch out of bigger crafts, the hull-peppering rifle can also sink small ships and schooners with a barrage of well-placed projectiles.

    As much fun as it was turning enemy ships to toothpicks, it was a literal blast igniting them with oil barrels. Another new Rogue-specific weapon, the volatile drums can be dropped overboard to leave a fiery path in your wake, to both deter distant pursuers and consume closer threats in flames. If oil barrels and Puckle gun ammo are in short supply, however, players can exploit the sea’s natural dangers to deal with aggressive enemies; cutting through icy waters – with an upgraded boat – can cause ship-flipping waves, while icebergs function as temporary cover points.

    While our demo took place primarily on the high seas, von der Luhe ensured us that players would also enjoy “quite the tool set” on land as well. On top of the old throat-slitting standbys, armchair assassins are armed with a new air rifle and enhanced eagle vision. The former – which, incidentally, can be outfitted with a grenade launcher – is perfect for silent, ranged kills... while the latter allows the ex-assassin to detect his former allies when they’re close.

    We had an absolute blast sending our attackers to the bottom of the ocean, but it’s Rogue’s story, setting, and mysterious protagonist that’s got us running out to have our hoods dry-cleaned. Unraveling between the history-shaping events of Assassin’s Creed III and the epic pirate-themed Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, Rogue takes place in the 1750s, during the French and Indian War. In the morally ambiguous boots of Shay, players dip into this conflict in three richly-realized, open-world locations – a gang-controlled New York, the icy North Atlantic Sea, and the winding Appalachian River valley.

    Perhaps even more intriguing than seeing the Kenway saga come to a close in never-before-seen lands (and seas) during a brand new time period, though, is the prospect of doing so behind a protagonist that’s supposedly turned his back on the Assassin Order. According to von der Luhe, there are many more layers to the “dark and troubled character” than just a good guy gone bad: “It’s not a case of him being evil and wanting to be a Templar; he genuinely believes what the Templar Order is doing is better than what the Assassin Order is doing.”

    We can’t wait to play as – and maybe even sympathize with – Shay when Assassin’s Creed: Rogue stabs us in the back on November 11, on Xbox 360. Until we can navigate his moral compass, though, we’ll be content to focus our spyglass on those playful penguins and pretty northern lights.

    Having Fun with Minecraft: Xbox One Edition’s Animals - Fri, 26 Sep 2014 13:00:00 Z
    Minecraft is awesome, because it allows you to do pretty much whatever you want. And when it comes to animals, there are a ton of options that go well beyond just breeding them and using them to collect resources. You should definitely try these out in the brand-spanking-new Minecraft: Xbox One Edition.

    Create a moat of cats to keep the Creepers at bay.
    Unlike everyone on the Internet, Creepers hate cats. So, they’ll super-hate dozens of them patrolling your home like meowing security guards.

    Build an army of tamed wolves, so that they can take care of those nasty spiders... because you’re not going near those things.
    It’s cool, we know you’re not afraid of spiders. They just squick you out; it doesn’t make you a wimp. Those wolves will chomp them all to bits, though, so don’t fret.

    Use dyes and crossbreeding to get all 16 colors of sheep, then meticulously
    organize them into color-coded pens like a weird, living, bleating painter’s easel. Make sure you don’t forget teal. Teal sheep are in this season.

    Create an enormous supervillain-style aquarium in your base and fill it with squid, because squid are the only water animals in the game.
    You can put horses in there, too, but they don’t turn into seahorses... they just drown.

    Get two ocelots, and bring them around to everyone’s nice towns and restaurants and let them run amok.
    Salvador Dali did that all the time, and that dude was awesome.

    Do what
    this guy did: build an endless meat fountain that drops a bunch of cows and pigs, making them splatter on the ground. The five-second rule doesn’t apply in Minecraft; all that hot floor meat is still good!

    Recreate the dystopian allegorical farm from the 1945 George Orwell novel Animal Farm, and pontificate about the dangers of Stalinism.
    Relive the epic arguments between Napoleon and Snowball! Witness the tragedy of Boxer’s inaction!

    is whatever you want to make of it. And with Minecraft: Xbox One Edition, you’ll be able to get as crazy as you please on your favorite console.

    Sharpen Your Style (and Skills) with Assassin’s Creed: Unity’s Character Customization - Fri, 26 Sep 2014 12:00:00 Z
    Before diving into a demonstration of Assassin’s Creed: Unity’s in-depth character customization, Lead Game Designer Benjamin Plich stated that the main pillar of the system is to “effect gameplay.” Accessorizing your assassin isn’t new to the series, but cloaking your killer in gear that makes him look good – while simultaneously buffing his abilities – is a fresh feature that fans have been begging for.

    While all players will rewrite history from behind the hidden blades of protagonist Arno Dorian, Ubisoft Montreal wants each Templar-hating hero to be different. To achieve this goal, they’re encouraging veteran assassins, as well as the Order’s newest recruits, to personalize and progress their characters in ways previous Assassin’s Creed entries only hinted at.

    First and foremost, players are welcome to outfit their Arno in the latest – well, latest French Revolution-era – fashion. You’ve got to look good when overthrowing a super-secret organization, after all. More than just sporting slicker threads than those stuffy Templars, though, cosmetically tweaking Arno directly ties into upping his skills and abilities.

    Featuring over 200 individual items (not counting color variations), Arno’s costume is broken into five categories: hoods, chest pieces, forearms, waist, and legs. Each piece is then rated in four areas: deadly, resilient, unseen, and agile, which determine an item’s worth to a particular play style. Unseen and agile measure stealth and navigation, respectively, while resilient rates armor; deadly, of course, looks at an item’s ability to shorten the life expectancy of your enemies.  As he showcased a screen consumed by cool garb to potentially outfit Arno in, Plich called out some specific examples, such as the Prowler Coat. As its name so aptly implies, this assassin attire is the perfect complement to a shadow-stalking playthrough.

    Gear can also be mixed-and-matched, allowing players to craft whatever kind of assassin they like. Outfits are given an overall rating, so it’s also easy to determine if your personalized protagonist prefers to kill silently, violently, or somewhere in-between. As Plich pointed out, however, equipping Arno in the gear of your choice is only the beginning. Skills and weapons can also be tweaked to your Templar-killing heart’s desire. The former are rated in the same four categories as gear; the latter, however, is measured by a quartet of different, self-explanatory attributes: damage, speed, parry, and range.

    When coupled with the staggering amount of costume combinations, the ability to arm yourself with various combos of over 85 weapons should ensure that no two assassins look – or play – alike. The aforementioned skills further differentiate your hooded hero from the blade-baring pack. While the developer guarded details like a dark Templar secret, he did reveal that some skills have been tailored to co-op play; Communal Sense, for example, lets players share their eagle vision ability with each other, while activating the Disguise skill camouflages everyone in their party.

    Players can fully upgrade their skills during a single playthrough, experiencing what Plich referred to as “emulating Arno’s story from novice to master assassin.” Additionally, skills – as well as gear and weapons – are found in all corners of Unity’s enormous map; whether sticking to the critical path, tackling side-quests, or joining friends for an impromptu heist mission, players are continuously awarded with the means to pimp their protagonist.

    From its Xbox One-fueled visual presentation and unique approach to co-op, to its scary-real historical setting and ambitious storytelling, Assassin’s Creed: Unity is shaping up to be the franchise’s most full-featured entry. With gameplay-shaping character customization added to that list, it may also turn out to be the best Creed yet. Either way, we look forward to finding out when we dress to kill on November 11.

    Red Bull Brings Live Adrenaline Rush to Xbox 360 with Fierce Biking Competition - Fri, 26 Sep 2014 08:00:00 Z
    On Sunday, Sept. 28, expect the unexpected to unfold live with Red Bull Rampage on Xbox 360 in the U.S. Available through the Red Bull TV app, Red Bull Rampage draws mountain bikers to Virgin, Utah to compete and test all around bike skills in a fierce competition.

    Red Bull Rampage began in 2001 as a challenge to mountain bikers to prove who had the best freeride skills across natural terrain. In 2008, Red Bull Rampage: The Evolution brought the event to a new location and took athletes and the sport to new heights, generating not just champions, but moments that became legend.

    The feats that have taken place on these series of cliffs outside of Virgin, Utah have catapulted athletes into the record books. In 2014, in the spirit of progression and always moving forward, the event is going in a new direction – literally – off the back cliffs of the previous course. Often the fodder for speculation on what mysterious ridges lay in the shadows, now the whole world will find out what happens when the best 40 mountain bikers in the world traverse this never-before-used course.

    Looking for an adrenaline rush before the live event? Check out the free Red Bull TV app for other Red Bull Rampage content on Xbox 360, including full event coverage from 2012 and 2013, and a wide selection of the best mountain biking videos on the planet.

    Sound Familiar? The Voices of Destiny - Thu, 25 Sep 2014 15:00:00 Z
    As you dig into the world of Destiny, you're going to discover that there's a lot of story going on. And that means there's a lot of talking going on. Fortunately, Bungie hasn't skimped on the talent in this regard, drafting some top-tier stars to voice the characters you’ll meet as you play the game. Here are eight of the most recognizable actors lending their voices to Destiny.

    Peter Dinklage
    : Ghost

    Your Ghost – the artificially intelligent construct that serves as Guardians' support and companion – is the voice you're going to hear most often in the game. It comes courtesy of Peter Dinklage, who has been wowing audiences as Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones. He also recently appeared as Dr. Bolivar Trask in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Also, he was Miles Finch in Elf. Destiny isn't his first video game role, but it's the first not adapted from a film he starred in (specifically, Ice Age: Continental Drift and The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian).

    Bill Nighy
    : The Speaker

    Not to be confused with Bill Nye the Science Guy, Bill Nighy is a celebrated character actor who's made appearances in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and Shaun of the Dead, to name but a few. He was also the face behind Davy Jones' tentacles in the Pirates of the Caribbean films. Aside from games based on movies he's been in, Nighy has also contributed his voice to the eventually-coming-to-consoles Elder Scrolls Online. In Destiny, he plays the Speaker, the voice of (and advocate for) the Traveler.

    Lauren Cohan
    : The Stranger

    You know her face as Maggie in The Walking Dead, you know her voice as Juliana in Archer, and Lauren Cohan can be seen in a variety of other well-known TV series – including The Vampire Diaries and Supernatural. Destiny is her first video game role; she plays the mysterious Stranger, who follows your character around... mysteriously.

    Nathan Fillion
    : Cayde-6, Hunter Vanguard

    Ol' Captain Tightpants can't seem to keep himself out of space. Known among discerning viewers as Malcolm Reynolds in the criminally short-lived Firefly, Nathan Fillion currently stars in ABC's police comedy-drama Castle. In Destiny, he takes on the role of the Vanguard of the Hunter class, a sort of guild leader. This isn't the first time he's been heard in a Bungie game: Fillion also appeared in Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST, and Halo Reach.

    Gina Torres
    : Ikora Rey, Warlock Vanguard

    Fillion isn't the only Firefly alum to appear in the game: His first mate makes an appearance too, also as a Vanguard. Gina Torres played Zoe Washburne in Firefly, and appeared more recently as Bella Crawford in Hannibal and Jessica Pearson in Suits. Though she's lent her voice to a handful of games in the past, her portrayal of the Warlock Vanguard here is arguably her biggest in-game role.

    Lance Reddick
    : Commander Zavala, Titan Vanguard

    Rounding out the Vanguard contingent is Lance Reddick, marking his first video game role as the Titans' big cheese. Though we haven't heard him in games before, we've seen him in some pretty serious TV roles. He was Cedric Daniels in the legendary drama The Wire, Matthew Abaddon in Lost, and Phillip Broyles in Fringe.

    Peter Stormare
    : Arach Jalaal, Dead Orbit Merchant

    Peter Stormare is a character actor who chewed up the scenery as Satan in the very underrated Constantine. He's played small roles in films like Fargo, The Big Lebowski, and Armageddon, and has lent his voice to a handful of video games – including the Mercenaries series and The Elder Scrolls Online. In Destiny, he takes on the role of a merchant for one of the game's factions.

    Claudia Black
    : Tess Everis, Special Orders

    Claudia Black has played a number of significant roles, both in-person and in games. You've seen her face in sci-fi series like Farscape and Stargate SG-1, and heard her voice in games like Crysis, Mass Effect 3, and Gears of War 3 – but her biggest role may be as Morrigan in the Dragon Age series. Here, she plays a merchant who deals in unique items not found anywhere else.

    Want to see if you recognize any other voices? Be our guest; Destiny is currently available for both Xbox One and Xbox 360.

    Minecraft: Diary of a Total Newbie, Part 1 - Thu, 25 Sep 2014 11:00:00 Z
    I've always been curious about Minecraft. I have kind of an addictive personality when it comes to big, open games – and this one seemed like it was tailor-made to wrap me in its clutches and never, ever let go. On top of that, it looked like a good challenge to learn: all that building, all that crafting, all those wide-open, fully customizable spaces...the world was my oyster.

    Not to mention the game has practically followed me everywhere, appearing inevitably on any platform I have in front of me, occasionally intruding in the most unlikely places: a friend's smart phone in a bar, an otherwise gaming-adverse acquaintance – even my own preteen nephews were building crazy.

    So, when Minecraft: Xbox One Edition arrived at the start of September, I could no longer resist. I grabbed my virtual pick and started on my journey to see what my imagination was really made of. What follows is my actual experience with my first six hours of Minecraft. Be warned: It's not always pretty.

    : Oh, thank heavens – a tutorial. I won't lie to you: Even though I like a good challenge, part of the reason I've been holding off on this game is that I assumed it must have a very steep learning curve. I should have realized that nothing so popular could be as difficult as I was imagining. The tutorial is definitely useful... especially for someone like me, who's coming in to this pretty blind. But I could probably have figured out most of what I needed to know just from onscreen prompts: mine that; use this; craft the other thing. First order of business is gathering some raw materials to build a shelter. Apparently, bad stuff happens at night.

    : I just created a mini-tsunami by mining all the sand around my picturesque tutorial pond. I broke through a wall, and the water came pouring through. With the world being so blocky, it's easy to forget that some sorts of physics do apply, at least to an extent.

    : I am already starting to get why everyone and their nephew plays this game. I think part of the attraction here is that it's very, very difficult to screw up irreparably. Accidentally mine something you didn't want? Just put it back! Put something in the wrong place? Dig it up, and put it somewhere else. Even mini-tsunamis can be repaired by walling up the water again. The only expense comes from a bit of wear on your tools, and it's extraordinarily easy to replace them: With a few simple ingredients you can build a crafting table pretty much anywhere, and as long as you've got wood and stone nearby, you can build a near-infinite supply of long-lasting tools.

    : Built my first shelter of wood and stone. Then I discovered, while mining the stone, that it's a lot easier to dig into the ground for shelter. Then I discovered I could just keep digging. Send help.

    : Hmm, what's that sound? Is that a cow, or something?

    : Not a cow. Turns out the world of Minecraft is populated by some nasty creatures, especially at night: zombies, spiders, skeleton archers... and the now-legendary Creeper, which explodes if you get too close, vaporizing anything nearby. What sounded like a cow turned out to be a zombie, moaning and lurching toward me no matter where I ran. Fortunately, the sun was just about to come up; the shambler followed me into the sunlight, and promptly burst into flames. Satisfying!

    : Nearly two hours in, and I keep learning new things in the tutorial clearing. I keep thinking of things I can do to my cave, making little tweaks and refinements. Also, I'm trying to see how deep I can dig (for science!). My pick and shovel have both broken, but I'm so deep that I don't want to make the effort to climb back up to my crafting table, so I'm making do with materials on-hand. I'm not entirely sure how it's possible to use a block of dirt to mine more blocks of dirt, but I am OK with this.

    : I finally forced myself to explore the nearby village. Oh man, this game is even deeper than I thought! I can make potions? I can trade with villagers? There's farming? Animal breeding? Enchanting? Smithing? This is perhaps the biggest surprise so far: This isn't just a game about mining stuff and building stuff, it's something like a virtual world simulator.

    : I can't imagine that anyone in this village will be happy with me stealing all their stuff. But it's just so easy to hack away at everything. Free bed! Free mine cart! Free anvil! Though these things look like they're being destroyed while you "mine" them, they're actually just being transformed into easily pocketable materials.

    : Note to self: Verify that fire resistance potion is still in effect before hacking down a wall holding back molten lava. This is my first experience with death – and like everything else in Minecraft, it's surprisingly user-friendly. You revive back at your original spawn point, or else in the bed you've most recently slept in. Make it back to where you died, and you'll find everything you were carrying, ready to be picked up again. Well... unless some of it has been buried under molten lava, anyway.

    : So, I'm not saying I released an apparently endless flow of lava onto the farmlands or anything. I'm just saying: free barbecue!

    : I think I've gotten familiar enough with the game at this point to create my own world. It's a nice touch that you can pick out texture packs for your creation. In addition to the default pack, the game offers many cool add-ons, including : Candy, Cartoon, City, Fantasy, Natural, and Plastic – as well as packs inspired by Halo, Marvel, Mass Effect, and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (many of which have pre-made worlds ready for trying out, if you don't feel like creating your own). I try out Natural first, which is an upgrade from the original graphics, but still very retro; everything now looks 16-bit instead of 8-bit!

    What’s up next? Find out soon, in the second part of this two-part feature! And in the meantime, grab your very own copy of Minecraft: Xbox One Edition. If you’re already hooked on the Xbox 360 version, you can upgrade for a mere $4.99!

    Two Classics Back Up Chariot in October’s Games with Gold - Thu, 25 Sep 2014 09:00:00 Z
    For October, Xbox One-owning Gold subscribers get a very special, completely free release of the all-new Chariot, an indie platformer with a colorful, spirited theme. Xbox 360 Gold subscribers, in turn, get the classic Battlefield: Bad Company 2, a first-person shooter chock-full of personality. To top it all off, Xbox 360’s Games with Gold offering also includes Darksiders II, the sequel to the critically acclaimed Darksiders action-role-playing game. As usual, all games are available only for a limited time, as part of the ongoing Games with Gold program – so jump in!

    * Chariot ($14.99 ERP): Available from October 1-31 on Xbox One

    Battlefield: Bad Company 2 ($19.99 ERP): Available from October 1-15 on Xbox 360

    Darksiders II ($39.99 ERP): Available from October 16-31 on Xbox 360

    Chariot, the newest ID@Xbox game from Canadian developers Frima, is a couch co-op platformer that can be played alone or with a friend. Players take the role of the brave Princess or her faithful Fiancé as they maneuver the departed king’s coffin-on-wheels through 25 levels set in five vibrant underground environments, with his majesty’s ghost giving them a piece of his mind every step of the way. Filled to the brim with emergent physics-based gameplay, Chariot offers hours of exciting exploration, fast-paced ride sequences and mountains upon mountains of loot!

    Battlefield: Bad Company 2, brings the award-winning Battlefield gameplay to the forefront of Xbox 360 console with best-in-class vehicular combat and unexpected "Battlefield moments." Vehicles like the ATV and a transport helicopter allow for all-new multiplayer tactics on the Battlefield. You can compete in four-player teams in two squad-only game modes, fighting together to unlock exclusive awards and achievements. Battles are set across expansive maps, each with a different tactical focus. The game also sees the return of the B Company squad in a more mature single-player campaign.

    Finally, Xbox 360 players get a chance to play one of the platform’s most underrated games: Darksiders II, which continues the series’ emphasis on huge environments, exploration, and a deep and rewarding story. Combine that with fantastic voice acting, impressive visuals, and a huge variety of procedurally generated loot (not to mention character-building options), and you’ll quickly find yourself enraptured by Darksiders II’s depth and top-notch game design. Did we mention you get to play as Death himself? Yeah.

    October should be a banner month for Xbox Live Gold subscribers, with plenty of gameplay variety to sink their teeth into. Check out the full details on our Games with Gold program, and make sure you get in on the action while you can!

    Games with Gold titles are available as free downloads for a limited time, for qualifying paid Xbox Live Gold members in all markets where Xbox Live is available. Some regions may offer different titles depending on market availability. See Major Nelson’s blog for additional details.

    Reinventing a Franchise with Skylanders: Trap Team - Wed, 24 Sep 2014 15:00:00 Z
    So far, Activision’s Skylanders games have been all about bringing toys to life. Put a toy on the included Portal of Power accessory, and boom – you’re now playing with that character in the game. With Skylanders: Trap Team, however, the developers at Toys for Bob wanted to take a step in the opposite direction: take something from the game and bring it into a toy. When you track down an escaped villain and defeat him in battle, you have the option to capture him in a physical “trap.” The villain lives inside the Traptanium Portal... but instead of being a bad guy, he instead works for the titular Skylanders, and you can play as him using his special abilities in the fight for good.

    “The Traptanium Portal allows us to reverse the magic and bring digital characters into the physical world,” said Toys for Bob Chief of Staff Alex Ness. When Portal Masters capture villains, you can hear the villains traveling from the game into the real world, and from inside the trap itself when placed in the Traptanium Portal. “For kids, it’s a magical experience, and is just as exciting to players as it was the first time they saw a Skylander being placed on the Portal of Power and then appearing in the game,” Ness said.

    Originally, the team looked into representing trapped characters with video images, but quickly quickly discovered that audio was much more magical than video. “To actually hear the villain not only going into the trap but talking directly to you from the Traptanium Portal made you believe he was truly inside the trap,” Ness explained. The key, then, became coming up with all the different personalities for these villains, who wanted them to be “interesting and funny and weird and cool,” and to stand out from just your average, generic bad guy.

    “Figuring that stuff out is a lot of fun, and the job is made a lot easier because our character concept and modeling teams are so good at what they do,” Ness said. “They built a character who is pretty much a broccoli wizard, for example. It’s not hard to inject personality into a broccoli wizard.”

    Ness cited, among other things, the Ivan Reitman classic Ghostbusters as an inspiration for the team. “When the idea first surfaced, we loved the whole notion of having a little guy inside something,” he said. “Plus I like to randomly sing out, ‘Bustin’ makes me feel good!’ every once in a while from my desk, and I like to think that inspires everyone who sits nearby.”

    Skylanders: Trap Team
    debuts on October 5 for the Xbox One and Xbox 360, so get ready to trap some bad guys!

    Power Changes Everything in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare - Wed, 24 Sep 2014 14:35:00 Z
    The Call of Duty game fans have been asking for is almost upon us. On November 4, Activision and Sledgehammer Games’ Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare on Xbox One and Xbox 360 will once again redefine the first-person shooter. It’s a fight for the future, in an era that Call of Duty players have never seen before.

    The just-released “Power Changes Everything” trailer features Advanced Warfare star Kevin Spacey detailing exactly what sorts of ass you’ll be kicking in this eagerly anticipated installment, and shows off everything from jet packs, to enemy mechs, to the game’s new Exo Survival four-player co-op game mode (seen here for the first time).

    Check it out below – and make sure you pre-order your copy of Advanced Warfare to get a free upgrade to the Day Zero Edition, which includes early access, exclusive in-game items, and a set double-experience-point boost.

    November 4 can’t get here fast enough!

    8 Awesomely Retro Gadgets in Alien: Isolation - Wed, 24 Sep 2014 11:30:00 Z
    One of the most impressive things about Alien: Isolation is its set design. Since the game takes place shortly after the events of the first Alien film, the designers opted to populate the game with technology more in-line with the 1979 classic than its sequels from 1986 and beyond. The result: a wonderfully retro-futuristic period piece loaded with CRT monitors, beige plastic, and beveled edges. So many beveled edges!

    Here are eight of our favorite retro designs.

    Motion Tracker

    If you've seen Aliens – and if you haven't, what's wrong with you? – you’ll remember the pulse-pounding feeling of the motion tracker’s ping! That film takes place years after the events of Alien: Isolation, though, and technology moves fast. So Isolation's developers reverse-engineered the motion tracker into a form better-suited to the game's setting: chunky, monochrome, and so big that Ripley can't ready a weapon while it's equipped. That ping is every bit as terrifying, though.

    Save Station

    You've been eluding the titular alien for what feels like hours, and you can't help but feel like the odds are building against you. You're thinking it would be a pretty good idea to save your progress. But hold up there, champ: In a delightfully cruel move, the designers abandoned modern convention of autosaves and checkpoints, in favor of an old-school save-point system. You have to track one down... and then insert your key card... and then wait for a nerve-wracking countdown to complete – hoping, all the while, the alien doesn't wander by.

    PC Terminals

    For those of us of a certain age, the green monochrome screen brings back painful memories of screeching modems and MS-DOS. In Isolation, they serve a greater purpose: They offer background information, provide periodic clues, and occasionally activate elements in the environment. Note the clearly battered casing on these things, a minor detail that offers an extra bit of realism.

    Boom Box

    Ah, yes, the envy of every early-'80s grade-school student: the boom box. This one comes equipped with separate woofers and tweeters, what appears to be not one but two equalizers, and a logo for "Generic Electric." In-game, you can flip one of these on to listen to some smooth tunes. But you probably don't want to stick around; that alien has some very sharp ears.

    Tape Recorder

    features a collection of audio logs that offer background to the events preceding the abandonment of the Sevastopol, the space station that serves as the setting for most of the game. Those logs come recorded on some spectacularly old-school tech: not just a tape recorder, but a reel-to-reel tape recorder.

    Random Computer Console

    Computing in the far future requires one hell of a lot of random screens, apparently. These consoles are sprinkled throughout the game, and the vast majority of them don't really do anything. Well, except look awesome.

    Rewire System

    Duo-tone screen? Check. Big honkin' buttons? Check. Atari 2600 fonts? Oh yeah, baby! The Rewire System interface is a mastery of retro design. And this one actually serves a significant purpose: Periodically, Ripley uses these terminals to reroute power, in order to minimize threats, unlock pathways, or just turn the lights on.

    Incandescent Bulb

    Perhaps the most hilariously unlikely bit of technology in the entire game.

    Alien: Isolation
    hits Xbox One and Xbox 360 on October 7. Be afraid!

    Royal Artillery comes to World of Tanks: Xbox 360 Edition - Tue, 23 Sep 2014 11:10:00 Z
    The latest update for World of Tanks: Xbox 360 Edition arrives today with some of the heaviest hitters rolling onto the field of battle! Get 9 new British SPGs including the iconic Crusader, ConquerorGC, Bishop and Sexton II. Also being introduced to the game is a host of German medium tanks, including the Leopard PTA, Leopard 1, and the VVK 30.02 D. Two new maps will join the play rotation – Redshire and Siegfried Line.

    If you’re looking for an extra challenge, try the new in-match operations feature that will task you with various in-game objectives. You’ll earn rewards like experience bonuses, silver and consumables as you pull off each operation and fully test your skills in the heat of battle!

    The update, now live globally, will be available as a free download for all Xbox Live Gold members, with a free seven-day trial for all other Xbox Live account holders. For more information, check out

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