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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.

Minecraft
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 xbox.com/en-US/games/minecraft-xbox-one-edition

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.

With
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!


The 
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!

Minecraft
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.

00:02
: 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.

00:16
: 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.

00:18
: 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.

00:25
: 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.

00:40
: Hmm, what's that sound? Is that a cow, or something?

00:41
: 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!

01:51
: 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.

02:10
: 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.

02:24
: 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.

02:29
: 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.

02:31
: So, I'm not saying I released an apparently endless flow of lava onto the farmlands or anything. I'm just saying: free barbecue!

02:54
: 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


Isolation
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 www.worldoftanksxbox360edition.com

Cancel Your Plans: Comedy Central's Now on Xbox One - Tue, 23 Sep 2014 09:15:00 Z
Want Comedy Central full episodes? Here you go. With Comedy Central on Xbox One, Xbox Live members in the U.S. can watch current shows the day after they air, including the latest from “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” “The Colbert Report,” “Tosh.0,” “@midnight” and more. As if that weren't enough, you can check out hours of stand-up specials, digital shorts and extras.



Binge-Watching Is Delicious
If you're anything like us, you're psyched that ”South Park” and “Key & Peele” are returning with new episodes on Wednesday, Sept. 24 (tune in, starting at 10/9c). There's no better way to celebrate than by starting a “South Park” marathon and watching all of last season. You can also get caught up with all three seasons of “Key & Peele” -- nooice. Don't stop there, though, as there are full seasons of other returning shows and curated playlists to keep your eyes happy.  

Gone, But Not Forgotten
Toss those DVDs. This is the best way to watch the classic shows that continue to define comedy, like the complete “Chappelle's Show.” Who knows, you may just discover an old new favorite.



Go On, You High Achiever
Be rewarded for something worthwhile: watching TV. The more time you spend tuning in, the more you can achieve. Getting started is easy -- just download the app to unlock your first achievement. Want more? Sign in with your TV provider to get the most content (and another achievement). It's free with your TV subscription.

There's so much to watch. What are you waiting for?


Fueled by Car Passion: A Young Racer’s Epic Road Trip - Mon, 22 Sep 2014 10:00:00 Z
Mario Bonfante Jr. is always up for a challenge. So when Turn 10 Studios invited him on a road trip to check out Forza Horizon 2 at their studio in Redmond, WA, Mario suited up. He slid into a modified 1998 BMW M3 E36, gripped his custom shifters and hit the open road to chase down his favorite racing franchise.

A fiercely competitive race driver who refused to give up his dreams when his career was cut short in a tragic accident eight years ago, Mario’s story is the kind that inspires Turn 10 Studios to create groundbreaking and passion-fueled 
Forza experiences.

Join Mario on his journey as he goes off-roading in his BMW, meets the Turn 10 team, shares how 
Forza helped him re-acclimate to driving after his accident, and gets an exciting first-hand look at the fun, freedom and action-packed driving that define Forza Horizon 2.

Featuring all-new 
Forza Horizon 2 gameplay, this video highlights the myriad of exciting new features fans will enjoy starting on Sept. 30, including the game’s massive, living open world, endless free-roaming fun, deep online social experiences and diverse collection of more than 200 of the world’s greatest cars. 

To see part 1 of Mario’s story, visit: 
http://news.xbox.com/2014/08/games-mario-bonfante-forza-motorsport

Can’t wait to hit the open road in Forza Horizon 2? Be sure to check out the Xbox One demo available now on Xbox Live! In addition, the game is now available for pre-order at your local retailer and for pre-order/pre-download in the Xbox Store.


No Humans Were Harmed in the Making of Sunset Overdrive’s Live Action Trailer - Mon, 22 Sep 2014 09:00:00 Z
Some of you may have heard that Insomniac Games and Xbox have been filming a live action trailer to promote the upcoming Xbox One exclusive, Sunset Overdrive. Over the past several months, the team put together an extensive production crew, drafted an array of storyboards and scripts, and created realistic costumes, props and backdrops to replicate the colorful scenery from the game.

Insomniac Games and Xbox’s end-goal was to bring the humorous and over-the-top elements of 
Sunset Overdrive’s Awesomepocalypse to life, showcasing the games’ unconventional weapons, ferocious mutants and tongue-in-cheek satire. However, Sunset Overdrive proved to be too crazy and insane for anything real-life.

Also, check out the interactive version of the behind-the-scenes video (complete with additional content, surprises and Easter Eggs), and learn why creating a live action trailer for a game as crazy and action-packed as Sunset Overdrive may not have been the best idea. Some games are just too big for that.


Forza Horizon 2 Comes to Life in the #ForzaFuel Road Trip - Mon, 22 Sep 2014 07:00:00 Z
Racing helicopters, Twitch streaming live from Cannes, road tripping across the French Alps and racing cars on one of the world’s most secluded and secret mountain race tracks. Xbox has been turning the incredible roads featured in Forza Horizon 2 into a four-day, real-life road trip through Southern Europe.

#ForzaFuel was a social campaign that brought together the best of
Forza Horizon 2 and the passion of fans at home. Pitting eight teams of gaming and motorsports personalities head-to-head in a series of epic challenges inspired by the game, the teams and their fans competed to be crowned #ForzaFuel champions.

Check out each of the four challenges below!

Day 1 – Get to the Choppa


Setting off from Genoa, Italy, the teams turned up the heat with a head-to-head race against a helicopter in Bologna, with racing legend Tanner Foust setting the bar high. Watch the video to see which team came out on top. The fans also got involved, sharing their selfies with the hashtag #SupercarSelfies to earn #ForzaFuel for their teams.

Day 2 – Slip Streaming

After an incredible Alpine ascent, we put the gamers to the test, taking the Lamborghini Huracán on the Amalfi Coast in the
Forza Horizon 2 demo, aiming to get the best time. Check out the Twitch stream to see which gamer posted the best time. Fans at home contributed to the team score by downloading the demo and sharing their speed laps.

Day 3 – Speed Dating


The teams drove their supercars through the historic streets of Monte Carlo and Cannes in an epic convoy on the way to the third challenge – Speed Dating. Putting their chemistry to the test, the teams aimed to get their fastest combined time of a real-life lap on a track in Grand Sambuc by the drivers and an in-game lap on the
Forza Horizon 2 demo. The team members at home provided the soundtrack, sharing the tunes to keep their team captain’s pedal to the floor.

Day 4 – I HEART DIRT


Hearts were racing in the final challenge, which saw the teams ride shotgun in a rally track outside Barcelona, aiming to keep their heart rate slow whilst flying around a high-speed dirt track. Team members at home earned their #ForzaFuel by sharing the in-game cars that they’d like the keys for.

After a week of earning #ForzaFuel, our teams were neck and neck at the top of the leaderboard. But it was #TeamFear – FearCrads and Tom Onslow-Colewatch in the Aston Martin Vantage S – and their supporters at home who snatched both the pole position and the ultimate prize cache for fans at home.

Fans who participated will receive one exclusive #ForzaFuel livery each for both
Forza Motorsport 5 and Forza Horizon 2 and be entered for a chance to receive prizes such as an Xbox One, a copy of Forza Horizon 2, a Microsoft Surface Pro 3, a GoPro and other prizes.

Visit xbox.com/ForzaFuel to relive the ultimate real-life
Forza road trip. Now it's time to leave your limits and take on the stunning roads featured in #ForzaFuel. Forza Horizon 2 releases starting Sept. 30.

A Closer Look at Titanfall’s Third Downloadable Map Pack - Fri, 19 Sep 2014 14:03:00 Z
Good news, Titanfall fans! Full details on the third downloadable map pack – IMC Rising – are now available, and your pilots and Titans will have three very different maps to choose from. Developer Respawn Entertainment may have saved the best for last with these. Check out where you’ll be blowing each other up next!


Zone 18 – The Robotics Lab

Zone 18 is a unique addition to Titanfall. You’ll notice that most of the roofs are the same height, forcing players to deviate from the strategy of getting to the highest ground. The decommissioned Hammond robotics factory is designed to force players into meeting each other; it’s more open and spacious than most other maps, making it the perfect field for Titans.


Backwater – The Bootlegging Colony

When you hear these moonshiners, you might think of the Appalachian Mountains, but the rice paddies of Backwater give the map more of an Asian feel. Expect a lot of elevation changes on this map, meaning lots of high points to gain the upper ground. But watch out for the large underground grain storage facilities, where pilots can escape and move between hardpoints. Hardcore Titanfall fans will recognize the map as part of the first concept art shown for the game!


Sand Trap – Desert Wasteland

The rolling dunes of Sand Trap are a playground for Titans, giving them ample space to wage battle. And buried in the sand in the center of the map is an old bunker, where pilots can take refuge from the Titans above, and fight each other. Trenches along the sides of the map provide quick wall-running pathways for pilots to move around on. But watch out: All that unrefined oil at the bottom of the trenches means instant death for anyone who misses a jump.

The IMC Rising DLC pack arrives later this year for Titanfall on Xbox One and Xbox 360. Get ready to call for a drop, Titanfall fans!

Leave Your Limits with Forza Horizon 2’s New Live Action Trailer - Fri, 19 Sep 2014 09:00:00 Z
For the launch of Forza Horizon 2, Xbox and twofifteenmccann developed a live-action trailer titled “Leave Your Limits,” which truly embodies the spirit of the game.

The trailer begins in the playfully nostalgic world of an electric slot car track. The all-new 2014 Lamborghini Huracán – which will appear exclusively in Forza Horizon 2 this fall – leads the charge of cars breaking free from the track and driving hard through the coastline, vineyards, and towns of southern Europe. The Italian song featured in the spot, Adriano Celentano’s “Prisencolinensinainciusol,” helps to bring the fun and freedom of the game to life.

twofifteenmccann partnered with director Adam Berg of Smuggler and MPC to lead the production which was filmed on location on of the some of the world’s most famous driving roads.

“I loved setting up these two worlds for Forza,” said Berg. “We started in the narrow slot car landscape with its tilt/shift look, then we broke free from the expected boundaries in an explosion of dust and concrete, and drove through Italy with a 2014 Lamborghini Huracán. Not a bad way to spend a few days.”

Can't wait to hit the open road? Be sure to check out the Xbox One demo available now on Xbox Live. Forza Horizon 2 arrives beginning Sept. 30 and is available now for pre-order at your local retailer and for pre-order and pre-download from the Xbox Store.


Buy Final Fantasy Type-0 HD for Xbox One and Get the Final Fantasy XV Demo - Thu, 18 Sep 2014 16:45:00 Z
Square-Enix is going all in with Final Fantasy at this year’s Tokyo Game Show. For starters: It’s just been announced that Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, which North American Xbox One gamers will be able to get their hands on for the first time ever, is set for a March 17, 2015 release date, in a $59.95 retail package.

But, just in case the allure of a brand-new (well, to North America, anyway) Final Fantasy game in glorious HD isn’t enough for you, Type-0 comes with a voucher code for a playable demo of the highly-anticipated Final Fantasy XV.

Titled Final Fantasy XV -EPISODE DUSCAE-, the demo will get players acquainted with the game’s opening areas, though the story flow is a bit different than the final product, so as to create a unique demo experience (something that Square-Enix is, incidentally, very good at).

And if, for some reason, you’re just not hyped enough for Final Fantasy XV yet, check out the brand-new trailer above that debuted at Tokyo Game Show.  It sure does it look pretty!


Pre-Download Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor & Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition Starting Today - Thu, 18 Sep 2014 14:00:00 Z
As we continue to roll out our digital pre-order and pre-download program, we are excited to announce that two more titles are available for pre-load starting today. First, there’s the action-packed original story set between the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings saga, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, which puts player in the boots of a ranger named Talion who must use his wraith-like powers to avenge the death of his family. The second game, the gritty undercover cop drama Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition, brings 2012’s sleeper hit into this generation with gorgeous upgraded visuals, gameplay improvements and rebuilt audio, plus the inclusion of all extra downloadable content. 

To celebrate the launch of these games, the following Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition game bundles are available for pre-order globally, starting today, through the Xbox Store on the console or online at store.xbox.com:

  • Xbox One Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor Pre-Order, available starting today for $59.99, includes the standard game, plus Dark Ranger Skin and “Test of Power” Challenge Mode.
  • Xbox One Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition Pre-Order, available starting today for $59.99.



Here’s how it 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 Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition” or “Xbox, go to Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor” 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. For example, in the United States, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition will be available for play at 12:01 a.m. PT on its release day.

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.

Assassin’s Creed: Unity Gets a New Co-op Trailer - Thu, 18 Sep 2014 13:01:00 Z
Yes, Assassin’s Creed: Unity – the next chapter in Ubisoft’s acclaimed action-adventure saga – is coming to Xbox One on November 11. And this time out, new protagonist Arno Dorian can draft some assistance on his quest for vengeance in French Revolution-era Paris. Up to four players can band together to tackle many of Unity’s story-based missions as a team, as this brand-new trailer beautifully demonstrates.

Now, as you’ll see, these guys aren’t exactly subtle – they seem to favor the “kick in the door and skewer everyone” approach. Nevertheless, you and your online friends can opt for a wide range of approaches in Unity’s multiplayer, whether you prefer to stick to the shadows or go right for the face. Either way, it looks like a bloody good time. But enough from us; check out the new Assassin’s Creed: Unity trailer for yourself!

A Closer Look at Ori and the Blind Forest’s Emotional Prologue - Thu, 18 Sep 2014 08:00:00 Z
Ever since it was unveiled at E3 earlier this year, Moon Studios’ Ori and the Blind Forest has been one the most talked-about Xbox One games of 2014. Fans have been eager to learn more, so the team unveiled the “Prologue” and “Sunken Glades” levels of Ori and the Blind Forest at the Tokyo Games Show and took us deeper into the powerful narrative woven throughout the game.

In the prologue to
Ori and the Blind Forest, we learn Ori was separated from the Spirit Tree during a great storm.  The gentle and nurturing Naru finds and rescues the orphan, and we quickly see a parent/child bond develop as the pair spend sunny days in the Forest of Nibel and feast on the bounty of nature’s harvest.  Late one night, Ori awakes to a great sound echoing through the forest. It is the Spirit Tree calling out to Ori, but when Ori does not answer, the tree erupts with light and its power soon fades. Without the life energy of the great tree, the forest soon begins to die.

We won’t spoil the rest of the powerful prologue here, as you can watch the video above for yourself. Ultimately, our unlikely hero must journey to find his courage, and confront a dark nemesis to save his home. 

Coming to Xbox One and PC later this year
, Ori and the Blind Forest is a visually stunning action-platformer that features intensely challenging gameplay through a vast non-linear world. Above all, it’s a deeply emotional story about love and sacrifice, and the hope that exists in us all. If the prologue is any indication, this is going to be one memorable experience.

Meet Killer Instinct Season 2’s Maya and Her Deadly Daggers - Thu, 18 Sep 2014 06:00:00 Z
At Tokyo Game Show this week, Killer Instinct fans will get hands-on for the first time with Season 2’s Maya, the badass monster hunter wielding the ancient daggers “Temperance” and “Vengeance.” Maya is the second character to be revealed for Season 2, with TJ Combo from the original Killer Instinct confirmed at E3 last June.  You can check out Maya in action and a tease of the next character in the video above. 

First seen back in the day in
Killer Instinct 2, Maya’s fast-paced “blade juggling” combat style lets her power up her daggers the more they’re blocked, leading to increasingly devastating attacks and mixups against her opponents.  You’ll need to be careful when playing her though -- if she loses a blade, her powers are diminished until she can recover it.

Of course, if you don’t just happen to be at TGS in Japan this week, you won’t have to wait long to get your hands on
Killer Instinct: Season 2 for Xbox One.  The game officially launches on Oct. 15, but Microsoft Studios and Iron Galaxy are giving fans a special way to get in on the action early. 

Here’s the rundown: On September 23, the same day that
Killer Instinct: Season 1 arrives on retail disc ($19.99/£16.99/€19.99), we’re also opening up pre-purchase of the Killer Instinct: Season 2 Ultra Edition for fans who can’t wait to get their fight on. Pre-purchasing the Season 2 Ultra Edition gets you instant access to TJ Combo, plus the full version of Killer Instinct 2 Classic, 3 weeks before the official launch of Season 2.

Once October 15
arrives, Season 2 will officially launch with a completely revamped interface and eight new fighters, starting with TJ Combo and Maya at launch and a character per month after that. As always, the base game is a free download via Xbox Live. Additional Season 2 fighters will roll out on a monthly basis and can be purchased individually for $4.99/£3.99/€4.99.

In the same manner as
Season 1, Killer Instinct: Season 2 for Xbox One will feature two value bundles for purchase:

Killer Instinct: Season 2 – Ultra Edition
($39.99/£34.99/€39.99)
  • Eight fighters, starting with TJ Combo and Maya on October 15,, with a new fighter arriving each month.
  • Alternate costumes and accessory packs for the Season 2 characters, featuring costumes designed by Kevin Bayliss, Art Director for the original Killer Instinct arcade games
  • Killer Instinct 2 Classic, a perfect port of the 1996 arcade game with full multiplayer support over Xbox Live and 1000 Gamerscore to earn
  • Ultra Edition buyers this season will get early access to characters and customization items before the Combo Breaker Pack or individual purchasers

Killer Instinct: Season 2 – Combo Breaker Pack (
$19.99/£16.99/€19.99)
  • Eight fighters, starting with TJ Combo and Maya on October 15, with a new fighter arriving each month.

For more info on the game, its characters, regional tournaments, and basically everything
Killer Instinct-related, you can always visit the Official Killer Instinct Forums. See you in the arena!


D4 and the Evolution of the Noir Adventure Game - Wed, 17 Sep 2014 20:00:00 Z
Japanese mystery games tend to sit somewhere on a rather vast spectrum, ranging from the profoundly serious to the patently absurd. The work of Hidetaka Suehiro – known to his fans as Swery65 – occupies a very specific part of that spectrum, with a smart, surrealist tone all his own. Swery65 is directing the upcoming Xbox One title D4, which launches on September 19 as a $14.99 digital download for Xbox One. And don’t worry: Swery65’s signature sense of humor (as seen in 2010 cult classic Deadly Premonition) is on full display here. We had the chance to chat with the director before he spends the coming days showing off D4 at the Tokyo Game Show.

D4
stars the young, eccentric, and hip David Young, whose wife was killed two years prior, and whose killer hasn't yet been brought to justice. David, for his part, possesses the special ability to re-experience moments from the past, simply by touching mementos – such as, say, a strappy, summery high-heeled shoe. When David's crazy roommate attacks him (with a live mouse inside her mouth) in one of the game’s early scenes, David starts to reminisce about the time when she “suddenly” moved in, and wisps nostalgic about how she would often bring him dinner.

D4
can be played using either a controller or Kinect – and the Kinect integration fits in very nicely with the game’s tone. When you choose this control method, looking around the room is handled with wide swipe gestures; if you want to examine an object, you merely perform a grabbing gesture with your hand. When facing off against the crazy roommate, you use quick hand movements to dodge and deflect various kitchenware that she hurls your way. At one point, when she climbs onto the kitchen table, you can grab her shoulders quickly and pull her down. It’s weird stuff, made all the weirder by the fact that you’re doing it yourself.

With Tokyo Game Show going on this week, we had a chance to sit down with Swery65 to chat about
D4.



Xbox Wire: How would you say the tone of D4 differs from that of your previous work?

Swery65:
D4 stands out as the game with the most refined art style, when compared with the other games I have worked on in the past. However, the overarching “dreamy” atmosphere is pretty much as-expected, and that has been kept unchanged on purpose, since I presume there are many people out there who are expecting that from me.

Xbox Wire: You're using the Kinect in very creative ways with D4. What's been most exciting about this technology, and what aspects have worked best with the game?

Swery65:
“Replicating senses” and “Empathy” have been key themes to the project since its beginning, and the Kinect has been very useful in realizing those. The player is able to move his or her hands around as if they are actually touching the in-game world, and can effortlessly get immersed in the world. Of course, the game can be played from beginning to end with the standard controller – but if you own an Xbox One, I implore you to give the Kinect experience a shot.

Xbox Wire: D4 has a very specific cel-shaded visual style. Why did you choose this visual direction?

Swery65:
D4 has an episodic structure, so if the fans really like what they see, the series could continue for a pretty long time. If that happens, when a new player wants to start from the very first episode, I wanted to make sure they didn’t feel like they were getting into something old or outdated. Those were the points I had in mind while I was iterating on the development of the style we have today.

Xbox Wire: The episodic approach to content has been becoming more common for games in recent years. Were you inspired by other successful titles, such as Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead?

Swery65:
I do, of course, play the games from Telltale Games. But at the beginning, I was purely enjoying them from the point-of-view of a player. However, after the various things happened that resulted in our decision to go episodic with D4, I went back to revisit the games from the beginning, this time from a game designer’s point-of-view. At that point, I discovered a lot of clever hooks and techniques being used that I didn’t notice when I had my regular “gamer” hat on. I took in and digested those different points, and have applied them to D4 as a “Swery take” on the ideas.

Xbox Wire: How would you describe D4's protagonist? Does he remind you of anyone you know, in particular?

Swery65:
David Young, is, in a nutshell, a “man of humanity.” He has a bright past and a family he cared about, overshadowed by a tragedy. He has strengths and weaknesses, as well as likes and dislikes. He has common sense, but isn’t the perfect embodiment of good.

He can laugh, he can get upset, and he can cry – all during the pursuit of his “life goal.”

His approach toward this “life goal” is indeed very unique – but his struggle with life, his longing for happiness, and the way he is struck down by the harsh realities of life are all representative of who I am, and is also a reflection of all of you who will play the game. I wanted to create a personality that embodies all of those characteristics, and turn David Young into not an idol to adore, but a person to sympathize with.

Xbox Wire: What inspirations did you look to for the game, including its time travel aspects?

Swery65:
The initial inspiration was really simple. I’m sure everyone has, at some point in their lives, thought about that one day in the past. “If I didn’t make that one decision on that one day, would I have turned out differently? Would I be the same person that I am now?” I believe that these kinds of imaginative explorations – starting from a point in the past and stretching out into the present – is something that only humans are capable of. Nobody taught us to do that, but it’s something everyone has experienced. Tackling themes like this, that are so close to the core, is very challenging and natural at the same time, for me.

Xbox Wire: Does the title reference Kenji Eno's D series at all? Were you friends with Mr. Eno?

Swery65:
Unfortunately, D4 has nothing to do with the D series. I apologize to everyone who was expecting something interesting there. However, as the third Swery original, D4 was created from scratch and loaded with hot passion. I’m sure you’ll like it, so please try it out. I Love You All!

As one can gather from the title (which stands for “Dark Dreams Don't Die” and also serves as a reference to the fourth dimension),
D4 is far from a “normal” adventure game. The game’s cel-shaded graphics would seem more at home in nearly any other genre, and the game is full of bizarre moments – such as hitting a baseball into an enemy while aboard an airplane, using a leg belonging to a mannequin named Sukey, for instance – that make it a far cry from more mainstream adventure mystery fare like L.A. Noire and Fables: The Wolf Among Us Another cult classic for Swery65? We wouldn’t bet against it.

Happy Wars Hits 8 Million Downloads on Xbox 360; Shares X1 Updates - Wed, 17 Sep 2014 19:00:00 Z
At TGS this week, we’re showing off a new build of Happy Wars for Xbox One, the hit free-to-play online multiplayer action game created by Tokyo-based indie developer Toylogic, Inc. More than 8 million players have downloaded Happy Wars on Xbox 360, and we’re excited to bring the same gameplay fans love to the new Xbox One version later this year, along with some cool new updates.

Happy Wars
for Xbox One takes advantage of the next generation console’s power to enhance the graphic fidelity and introduces a new split-screen feature that allows four players to battle together on a single console. One important update is that, unfortunately, cross-platform functionality will no longer be a supported feature for the game, as previously announced. While it was a tough decision, the studio team re-prioritized engineering efforts to deliver the best possible Happy Wars experience on Xbox One – and we think fans will be very happy with the end result. 

Happy Wars
for Xbox One will feature a story-driven campaign mode and action-packed multiplayer battles for up to 30 players. Enter the fray as one of the six player character classes – Warrior, Mage, Cleric, Berserker, Zephyr, or Engineer, each with different tactical strengths. Work together as a team to take down your enemies and conquer their castle.

Happy Wars
is a free-to-play title, but there are various items you can purchase using in-game currency called Happy Tickets, including accessories and equipment for your characters. Additionally, with Xbox Live, it’s easy to bring your existing Xbox 360 progress over to your Xbox One.

Happy Wars
will launch later this year as a digital download through the Xbox One Marketplace. Xbox Live members can enjoy the single player mode without an Xbox Live Gold membership. However, to experience the Happy Wars Xbox One multiplayer features an Xbox Live Gold membership is required. Just like the 360 version of Happy Wars, we’ll be updating the Xbox One version and providing lots of new events and items even after launch.

We’ll see you on the battlefield later this year!


Age of Empires: Castle Siege Launches today! - Wed, 17 Sep 2014 12:00:00 Z
Are you an Empire-Building Prodigy? A Siege Genius? A Tactical Mastermind? Then Join the Siege. New to Windows 8.1 for PC and tablets and Windows Phone 8 and 8.1, Age of Empires: Castle Siege is a free to play game that brings all the strategy and combat Age of Empires is known for to touch based screens. Choose from one of several civilizations, expand your castle into a massive city, and defend your walls against marauding empires and, when your newly trained army is ready, lay siege to other castles built by online opponents. If you have multiple Windows 8 devices, no problem! Your game progress is always saved to your gamertag. Download today and battle friends across platforms – any Windows 8.1 PC, tablet or Windows Phone 8 or 8.1 can join the siege.

The Guardians of the Galaxy Game You Never Knew Existed - Wed, 17 Sep 2014 11:47:00 Z
Faithful “Guardians of the Galaxy” fans, disappointed that their favorite summer blockbuster didn’t get a dedicated tie-in console game, will want to take a closer look at the upcoming Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes (2.0 Edition). In addition to launching with Avengers- and Spider-Man-themed Play Sets, the toys-to-life follow-up also support a standalone “Guardians of the Galaxy” adventure on day one.

Bundled with sweet-looking Star-Lord and Gamora sculpts, the six-to-eight hour, story-driven campaign can be tackled with the capable pair of cosmic antiheroes or their sold-separately pals Groot, Rocket Raccoon, and Drax the Destroyer. The film’s setting, storyline, and secondary characters figure prominently into the Play Set (Cosmo the dog is a freaking mission-giver!), but our recent demo – featuring all five characters – was squarely focused on showcasing the Sakaaran-slaying quintet’s superpowers and special abilities.

Beginning in an arena-like outdoor environment, our presentation started with Star-Lord – decked out in his trademark flowing trench coat, and clutching dual-pistols – taking on bad guys and enemy turrets. Coupled with the mobility afforded by his afterburner boots, Star-Lord’s ranged sharpshooting skills made quick work of the on-foot foes. The entrenched cannons, however, posed more of a problem... until the player running our demo swapped Star-Lord out for the melee-focused Gamora. Sporting her signature sword and the agility of an Olympic gymnast, the green-skinned brawler bounced from one turret to the next, leaving little more than smoking scrap and twisted metal in her wake.

While we would have been perfectly content to follow Gamora through the entire game, there was still a trio of Guardians to unleash on Ronan the Accuser’s minions. With Groot taking his spot on the
Disney Infinity base, we witnessed another skilled melee fighter in action. Where Gamora was perfect for up-close encounters, though, the tree-limbed hero could use his bare hands... errr, branches to beat up baddies from afar. From enemy soldiers to flying drop ships, it seemed that nothing was beyond his reach. His coolest ability, though, was one that saw his lethal limbs target distant enemies before snaking underground and popping up beneath them for surprise attacks.

After literally uprooting much of the landscape from behind Groot’s special ability, the player placed fan-favorite Rocket Raccoon on the base. Sporting two machine guns – and plenty of personality – the half-pint hero unleashed hot lead and snarky attitude in equal measure. The adorable ass-kicker was doing just fine on his own, but the player decided to steal some of his spotlight by showing off one of the title’s team-up discs. Placed on the base like any other power disc, the plastic wafer temporarily spawned Yondu into the scene. Armed with his death-dealing homing arrow, the computer-controlled blue baddie helped Rocket clear the area before disappearing into thin air (a cooldown meter in the top left corner of the screen let us know when he was ready for round two).

Thanks to Rocket’s enthusiasm for eliminating every enemy onscreen, there was little for Drax to do when he stepped up to the portal-like peripheral. Despite the lack of dagger fodder, however, the tattooed muscleman still had some tricks to perform. Upon entering the more vertical living quarters of planet Knowhere, the bulging behemoth began displaying his awesome ability to scale buildings. Working much like the Hulk’s fists in the
Avengers Play Set, Drax’s twin blades can be used to ascend flat, vertical surfaces. Of course, we’re guessing he’s also pretty damn good at doing other things with those dual daggers when not driving them into concrete.

That same sentiment applies to the other four characters, too, as we only got a teasing taste of what they’re capable of individually and as co-op teams. Thanks to power discs, special abilities, character-specific attacks, and a new skill tree system, the Guardians are armed to the teeth with moves, gear, and other goodies that fans of the film will surely appreciate. In fact, one such surprise – hinted at by Senior Producer John Vignocchi – is a special move that will see Groot and Raccoon teaming up, just as they did in the film, to form a living turret of sorts.

When not letting the Guardians loose in their standalone Play Set, they can be unleashed into the creativity-fueled Toy Box or assembled to tackle “Escape from the Kyln,” a dedicated dungeon-crawler accessed via the bundled game disc. Toss in the fact that the five detail-drenched figures are some of the prettiest to ever set foot on the base, and it looks like gamers and toy collectors alike will have plenty of reasons to get down like baby Groot when
Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes (2.0 Edition) hits Xbox One and Xbox 360 on September 23.




Xbox One Controller + Cable for Windows Brings the Console Experience to PC - Tue, 16 Sep 2014 17:25:00 Z
We have good news for all of the controller-loving PC gamers out there: Soon, you’ll have a new option for bringing the comfort and precision of a controller to your computer with the Xbox One Controller + Cable for Windows.

Arriving in November 2014, the Windows 7 and Windows 8-compatible controller brings the feel of the Xbox One to your PC. The Xbox One Controller + Cable is the culmination of over 200 prototypes; featuring over 40 awesome innovations, it’s the best PC controller Microsoft has ever produced.

The Xbox One Controller + Cable for Windows is simple to use, plugging into any available USB slot and updating automatically. Want to switch it over to your Xbox One for some console gaming? No problem! The controller works on your Xbox One as well, either wirelessly or with the cable, making it more versatile than third-party PC controllers.

You can grab the Xbox One Controller + Cable for Windows this holiday season, at most major retailers or your local Microsoft Store.


6 Great Features of Xbox Live Rewards - Tue, 16 Sep 2014 08:00:00 Z
The Xbox Live Rewards program has gotten even better, offering Xbox gamers the chance to turn their passion into profit. Longtime Xbox gamers may have used and enjoyed the service during the Xbox 360 days, but we’d love to get all of our fans – old and new – in on the action. Check out the breakdown on just what makes the program so darned cool.

1) It’s easy to use (you’re practically doing it already!)

One of the nice things about the Xbox Live Rewards Program is that it rewards you for doing the stuff you’re already doing on your Xbox One and Xbox 360. Namely: playing games, watching movies, and using apps. It’s the easiest and most fun way to earn credit for games!

2) Payouts are automatic

When your Xbox Live Rewards account reaches 5,000 Rewards Credits, they’ll be converted to your local currency, and added to your Xbox Live account. No hassle! You can request a payout earlier, too – but you never have to worry about whether you’ll get your credit.

3) You can spend your rewards on anything in the Xbox Store

Rewards Credits are converted to local currency that can be spent on anything in the Xbox Store. You’re not limited to a catalog of knickknacks that you don’t want, either: You can spend your funds on anything, including the newest hottest games.

4) There are always new ways to get Rewards Credits

As new features, new games, and new apps come out, the ways you can earn Rewards Credits can change and evolve, too. Get rewarded for trying out the cool new Xbox features you’d already want to test drive! You can currently earn 1,000 Rewards Credits for playing a featured Games with Gold title for 10 hours or more, or 2,000 Rewards Credits for purchasing an eligible game add-on for participating Games with Gold titles. And we’ll keep finding new ways for you to rack up those Rewards Credits!

5) Double down with MyVIP

Every dollar you spend in the Xbox Store counts towards VIP Stars. The higher your VIP Stars rank, the more Rewards Credits you’ll earn. And Xbox Live Gold members get double the kickback, earning up to 10 percent back on Xbox Store purchases. More gaming, more rewards!

6) You can get full stats for your personal XBL Rewards progress

The My Rewards page features updates on your Punch cards, your stats, and how many credits you need to reach the next tier level. It’s an awesome tool for keeping tabs on your progress, and seeing how close you are to reaching that next level.

You don’t even need Xbox Live Gold to get started (though it’s one of the easy ways to earn Rewards Credits!). Anyone can participate – just head over to our Xbox Live Rewards website  to get started today!

Eight Free Downloadable Cars Coming to Forza Horizon 2 at Launch - Tue, 16 Sep 2014 07:00:00 Z
Forza Horizon 2 is just weeks away and, soon, Forza fans the world over will be exploring the wide-open high-speed highways and breakneck back roads of southern Europe. By now, you’re probably aware that Forza Horizon 2 will ship with more than 200 amazing cars, all built from the ground up on Xbox One. Forza has always been about bringing fans the best content, whether that’s world debut cars like Roll-Royce Wraith or track add-ons like Long Beach, Road America, and the Nürburgring.

As is the case with all Forza games, we’ll constantly be updating Forza Horizon 2 with fresh new content. Beginning on Sept. 30 to coincide with the release of Forza Horizon 2, we’ll be launching a brand new pack for the game: the Forza Horizon 2 Launch Bonus Car Pack. This car pack will feature eight cars representing the awesome variety that can be found in the Forza Horizon 2 car roster – from rough-and-tumble trucks like the 1956 Ford F-100 to the raw power represented by the 2015 Ford Mustang GT. The Launch Bonus Pack will include three never-before-seen vehicles in the Forza franchise: the 2003 Ford Focus RS, the 1997 Land Rover Defender 90, and the 1993 Clio Williams. Best of all, all eight of the cars featured in the Launch Bonus Car Pack will be available to all Forza Horizon 2 players at launch for no additional cost.

Here’s the full list of cars in the Launch Bonus Car Pack:


  • 2003 Ford Focus RS
  • 1997 Land Rover Defender 90
  • 1993 Clio Williams
  • 2015 Ford Mustang GT
  • 1987 Buick Regal GNX
  • 2012 Cadillac Escalade ESV
  • 1968 Abarth 595 esseesse
  • 1956 Ford F-100

In addition to the Launch Bonus Car Pack, today we’re also announcing the details for Forza Horizon 2 VIP membership (discounted for current Forza Motorpsort 5 VIPs) and the Forza Horizon 2 Car Pass. As in Forza Motorsport 5, each purchased add-on car can be added to your in-game garage one time for free – without additional in-game credits.

VIP Membership

Forza Horizon 2
VIP Membership (regular $19.99; 50 percent off or $9.99 for Forza Motorsport 5 VIP members) is like a backstage pass at the Horizon Festival, giving you access to cool content you can only get here. VIP members will receive exclusive benefits in Forza Horizon 2, including the VIP Car Pack, featuring five cars (four of which are brand new to the Forza franchise). These five cars include the 2012 Lamborghini Urus, 2014 Tesla Model S, 1967 Ferrari 330 P4, 1949 Mercury Coupe, and the 2013 Donkervoort D8 GTO. VIP membership also awards with 2x player in-game reward acceleration, access to exclusive multiplayer events, in-game gifts from the Forza community team, and special in-game recognition. Current Forza Motorsport 5 VIPs receive a $10 discount on digital purchases of Forza Horizon 2 VIP membership or any Forza Horizon 2 digital offer that includes VIP membership. (Note that this discount only applies to digital offers of Forza Horizon 2.)


Car Pass
The Forza Horizon 2 Car Pass ($24.99) gets you access to six monthly pack add-ons beginning in October, with each pack featuring five amazing cars. That’s six monthly car packs for the price of five! Plus, Car Pass owners will receive an exclusive bonus car for free: the 2010 Noble M600. That’s 31 cars to collect, race, and customize in Forza Horizon 2! Look for more details on the first monthly car pack for Forza Horizon 2 coming soon!


Demo/Pre-Download Available Now
We’ve saved the best for last: the Forza Horizon 2 demo for Xbox One is here! Starting today you can download the demo for the game on Xbox Live and get a tantalizing taste for the game we’ll all be playing starting on Sept. 30. In addition the game is now available for pre-order at your local retailer and for pre-order/pre-download in the Xbox Store.

 



Minecraft to Join Microsoft - Mon, 15 Sep 2014 06:00:00 Z
Today is an incredibly exciting day for our team as Mojang and the Minecraft franchise join MicrosoftMinecraft is one of the most popular video games of all time, with more than 100 million downloads, on PC alone, from players since its launch in 2009. Minecraft inspires millions to create together, connects people across the globe, and is a community that is among the most active and passionate in the world.

Our relationship with Mojang began when we initially talked to the team about bringing Minecraft to the console. Minecraft quickly became the top online game on Xbox Live, with over two billion hours played on Xbox 360 in the last two years. That working relationship set the ground work for other opportunities. We’ve long seen the incredible potential of Minecraft.

At Microsoft, we believe in the power of content to unite people. Minecraft adds diversity to our game portfolio and helps us reach new gamers across multiple platforms. Gaming is the top activity across devices and we see great potential to continue to grow the Minecraft community and nurture the franchise. That is why we plan to continue to make Minecraft available across platforms – including iOS, Android and PlayStation, in addition to Xbox and PC.

The Minecraft community is passionate and diverse, ranging across all ages and demographics. We respect the brand and independent spirit that has made Minecraft great, and we’ll carry on the tradition of innovation to move the franchise forward. Our investments in cloud, Xbox Live and mobile technology will enable players to benefit from richer and faster worlds, more powerful development tools, and more opportunities to connect with the Minecraft community.

We’re excited to confirm that MINECON will continue next year. We’ll look to create even more ways for the vibrant community of YouTuber’s, innovators, bloggers and players to connect with each other – both in person and online. We will have much more to share in the coming months.

The Minecraft team’s unique vision, creative energy and innovative mindset make them a perfect fit alongside our other global studios. Microsoft Studios includes 343 Industries, Turn 10 Studios, and Lionhead Studios just to name a few. These industry-leading game studios within Microsoft that have had great success with beloved games and massively popular franchises like Halo, Forza, and Fable. We’re excited to welcome Mojang to the Microsoft family and we are thrilled to support the success and longevity of Minecraft for years to come.

Phil
@XboxP3

 



Destiny's Endgame Is Just the Beginning - Fri, 12 Sep 2014 18:00:00 Z
Bungie’s brand-new Destiny includes quite a bit of content beyond its multi-planet campaign. To wit: Raids are six-player missions that open up when players hit level 20. There are no waypoints to tell you where to go and what to do; they're also friends-only, with no matchmaking, meaning that you’ll need to gather five friends who own the game, and sync your schedules in order to play them. They’ll have you struggling your way through the most challenging dungeons, fighting the biggest bosses – and they reward you with the best loot and upgrades the game has to offer. They are very challenging, and demand communication and cooperation from the entire team.

This endgame content fits into a sequence of experiences that Bungie orchestrated from the start. It begins as players see the end of the game’s story, which serves to align the motivations of the players with the motivations of their characters. “I think what players will find is that the game unfolds and transforms over time,” said Executive Producer Patrick O’Kelley. “In the first hour, it might feel like a familiar shooter. Then, players will start to see other players in the world. They will undertake cooperative and competitive activities without really worrying about it. Or they might keep on a solo journey but partake in public events. Eventually, they’ll go to the Tower and learn some of the mechanics to improve their character. They’ll make decisions about character customization and ability customization.”

Players are encouraged to log in every day to see what's happening in Destiny’s Featured Activities pane, and then head to the tower to get their bounties for the day. Bounties allow players to create a parallel progression for what they’re doing for a day. Nightfall activities come both daily and weekly, and provide extremely exotic rewards for those who are capable of making their way through them.

"Twenty hours in, I think that players will find that they’ve evolved to playing a whole different kind of game than the shooter that started them off,” O’Kelley continued. “They’ll find that they’re immersed in a different world, and are deep into the history of their characters. They’ll have built a community of other players. And, without realizing it, they’ll have learned some sophisticated mechanics that enable them to gear up and dive into a six-player cooperative raid, in pursuit of high-level exotic weapons and armor.”

So remember: When you hit the end of Destiny’s campaign, you’ve only just gotten warmed up. So pick up your copy on Xbox One or Xbox 360, and get cracking, because there’s a lot to do here!



All the Ways to Kill your Enemies in Destiny... Without a Gun - Fri, 12 Sep 2014 15:00:00 Z
The variety of guns in Destiny is ridiculous, providing more ways to fill an enemy with bullets than you could ever realistically need (but, hey, we’ll take it!). But here’s the thing: Guns are just one way you can destroy foes in Destiny. Check out these other awesome ways to bring the pain.

Grenades: Think Fast!

Aside from your trusty gun, every class in Destiny comes with a variety of grenades. There are some traditional grenades and incendiary grenades, and even sticky grenades. But that’s just scratching the surface; many of the grenades in Destiny are far beyond the normal scope of handheld explosives.

The Voidwalker subclass comes with a Vortex grenade, which does what you might expect: It creates a big energy tornado that pulls in nearby enemies, damaging everyone caught up in it.

The swarm grenade – a specialty of the Gunslinger subclass – sends out a burst of drones that hone in on enemies, and unload. Your co-op buddy can follow up with a lightning grenade, sticking it to any surface and watching as everyone in the room gets zapped with 10,000 volts!

Use Your Fists

Melee means a lot more in Destiny than simply cracking someone’s skull open with the butt of your rifle. Each subclass has its own unique melee move.

For the traditionalist, the Striker subclass lets you punch bad guys right in the face, while the Bladedancer can slice and dice his foes with his blade. For those that prefer more style, the Gunslinger comes with a handy throwing knife... which can of course be upgraded to deal incendiary damage. Ouch!

Speaking of burning, Scorch – the go-to move for the Sunsinger subclass – toasts enemies with a blast of fire. And finally, the Defender’s Disintegrate move does exactly what it says it’s going to do, and gives you a shield boost in the process.

Super Abilities

Not every subclass’ super ability in Destiny can destroy foes. Some subclasses, like the Sunsinger and Defender, have support abilities. But for most players, your super ability will be a devastating force that wrecks fools.

The Voidwalker’s Nova Bomb move is one of the standout ways to turn enemies into dust. Hurl a bolt of void energy, and it explodes in a blast that disintegrates any unfortunate souls caught in its radius.

Arc Blade charges the Bladedancer’s sword with Arc Light, letting you obliterate enemies around you with the awesome might of a lightning charged super death sword. Or, if you’re more into the bombastic approach, the Striker’s Fist of Havoc might be more to your taste. Punch the ground, and send everyone nearby blasting back with deadly force.

Run ‘em Down

Destiny features a number of vehicles you can hop into that will not only let you traverse the planets faster, but can also be used for some vehicular alien-slaughter.

The first time you jump into a Sparrow, you’re going to want to just run into every idiot who gets in your way. Go for it! Skidding around a turn and wasting one of the Fallen is a special kind of satisfying.

But if you like your rides beefier, Destiny features two larger assault vehicles. The Interceptor is a hefty, cannon-firing all-terrain vehicle with a wicked boost. Try boosting into a turret or a group of enemies, and watch them fly.

Still not big enough? Fine – hop into the Goliath, a big ol’ tank that does all the things you’d want from a tank, including running over everyone who is dumb enough to stand in front of it.

Destiny is about you making your own story and saving the universe your way. Pick up your copy today for Xbox One or Xbox 360, and discover your own favorite ways to put evil alien marauders in their place.



Introducing the Xbox 360 Holiday Lineup - Fri, 12 Sep 2014 08:00:00 Z
Just when you thought the Xbox 360 couldn’t get any better, we’ve got a holiday lineup that features new low prices, amazing bundles, a hard drive upgrade and even a special edition console. Xbox 360 is the best value in games and entertainment this holiday season. Now’s a great time to get an Xbox 360 for yourself or give one as a gift to that special gamer in your life.

“Coming into its ninth holiday shopping season, Xbox 360 continues to deliver amazing games and entertainment experiences to consumers,” noted Mike Nichols, CVP of Marketing for Xbox. “These new bundles for holiday shoppers, new lower price points and new special edition blue console are sure to delight gamers young and old this holiday.”

Starting next week, you’ll have access to some of our best holiday bundles ever. For starters, our 500GB Holiday Value Bundle comes with two of the best first-person shooters on the platform, Call of Duty: Ghosts and Call of Duty: Black Ops II. You also get one month of Xbox Live Gold access, and a newly upgraded 500GB hard drive. All for $50 less, just $249!



In addition, as you may have seen, if you decide to buy your Xbox 360 at Walmart in the U.S., we’ve got a special edition version of this amazing bundle. The Xbox 360 Special Edition Blue Bundle also includes an iconic blue console and controller, decked out with arctic blue accents. It includes everything mentioned in the bundle above, for the same low price of $249. This will be available at Walmart starting on October 7.


Or, if you’re in the mood or something a bit more physical, you can get your whole body in the game! Our 4GB Xbox 360 Kinect Bundle showcases three games – Kinect Adventures, Kinect Sports, and Forza Horizon – along with one month of Xbox Live Gold access. This bundle also starts at $249, and will be available at Target in the U.S.



Many of these offerings are shipping outside the US as well. Please check your local retailer for pricing and availability.

And there’s more! To add to our current library of over 5,200 Xbox 360 titles, this year’s biggest blockbuster franchises are also headed to Xbox 360.

As you can see, there has never been a better time to buy an Xbox 360. So pay a visit your local retailer or head to our online retail portal to get one for yourself!

Destiny: You Got Your MMO in My FPS! - Thu, 11 Sep 2014 11:00:00 Z
Destiny is something new. Developer Bungie has infused the fast-paced console first-person-shooter action it helped to make famous with elements traditionally reserved for role-playing games, especially the massively multiplayer online variety. It's a neat trick.

But don't panic, shooter fans! These MMORPG elements are nothing to be afraid of. In fact, you just might find that they make the FPS experience that much more interesting. To help ease the transition, we've put together a primer on Destiny's MMO-ish qualities, and how they impact gameplay. For example:

Character Creation

The first thing you'll need to do when booting up Destiny is create your character. You pick a race (Human, the ethereal Awoken, or the robotic Exo) and a gender, then customize your character's appearance as much – or as little – as you desire. But if that sort of thing isn't your bag, don't worry; the choices here are purely cosmetic.

Less cosmetic is the choice of class – Hunter, Titan, or Warlock – but even here, the differences are subtle. Remember, Destiny is indeed a shooter at its core, which means that every class is going to be doing a lot of shooting. You can check out our class guide from the beta to see exactly what each class does, but if you're a shooter fan who wants to get on with it already, just choose the Titan class and move on.

Experience Points and Leveling

Shortly after you begin your enemy-slaying career, you'll notice another RPG-like development: You've gone up a level! But hold up there, champ; don't worry that you're going to have to allocate points to your charisma trait or anything. Leveling in Destiny generally just means that you're now more of a badass. Your core abilities are better, meaning you can take on tougher enemies. You also get access to better gear that makes you even more of a badass. And you'll find yourself able to enter areas you couldn't get to before – at least, not without getting slaughtered the minute you wandered in. So, it's all good.

Now, as you reach higher levels, you get the opportunity to pick a different subclass (read: specialty), and you can then take on certain types of missions that you couldn't before. By this time, you'll have enough experience with the game to know whether those are the sorts of things you'd like to pursue. If not, that's totally cool. Destiny is all about playing the way you want to play.

Custom Equipment

In that vein, you also get way more flexibility when it comes to your gear than in your standard shooter. Not only do you get to choose from a staggering array of base weapons; you can also customize and upgrade them to suit your particular playing style. You also have your choice of armor, which not only offers protection, but can also boost other abilities. Plus, as you swap out your duds, you'll see those changes immediately reflected in your character (most of the game takes place behind the barrel of a gun, but when you visit the Tower – Destiny's hub – you get a third-person view of your customized character).

The process of procuring new gear and upgrading it is one of the central draws in RPGs, and it's just as powerful here. And how do you go about procuring such things? You can find some new gear (and gear upgrades) in the game maps, which encourages exploration. Other pieces of equipment are only found at vendors in the Tower, and can be purchased with Glimmer (Destiny’s currency) collected from fallen enemies and awarded for completing missions.

Don't feel like tweaking every little detail about your appearance? Then don't! You can just check out whether a new bit of gear is better with the handy Compare function, equip it if so, and move on.

Quests

And as for those missions: Sure, they can be considered "quests," and you even occasionally get them from non-player characters in the game world. But when it comes right down to it, these missions are simply tweaks on familiar shooter formulas.

Consider Strike missions, which are often described as "dungeons." These are really just co-op missions where you team up with friends to clear out specific areas. Then we have Raids, six-player missions which appear late in the game and require serious planning and strategy. These bear resemblances to co-op campaign levels in more traditional shooters. You'll also find Bounties and Nightfall Missions, both of which are akin to the sorts of challenges we've seen for years in FPS games.

Sure, some missions you'll come across in Patrol mode might have you hunting down specific items or something – but hey, you were going to check that cave out anyway, right?

Socializing

Destiny is an always-connected multiplayer experience. To that end, you're given a small suite of actions to help you communicate with other players. These are called "emotes" in MMORPG-land, and here they allow your character to point, wave, sit... or, uh, dance.

But look, this isn't the Bizarro-world version of Footloose or anything; no one's going to force you to dance. Just keep your thumb off the D-pad and you'll be fine. You can get your own dance on (or not – it's up to you!) right now: Destiny is currently available for both Xbox One and Xbox 360.



Start Forza Horizon 2 with Several Exciting Cars Earned through Forza Rewards - Thu, 11 Sep 2014 06:00:00 Z
As a way of saying “thank you” to all the passionate fans who have continued to be a part of the Forza experience over the years, Turn 10 Studios today announced that fans will be eligible to receive several Forza Horizon 2 cars through Forza Rewards, the loyalty program where players can earn in-game content just for playing Forza games.

Whether they’re an experienced Forza Faithful or a first time driver, all Forza players have a chance to add up to five in-game cars to their Forza Horizon 2 garage the first time they log in to the game. These five in-game (not DLC) cars include the 2011 BMW 1 Series M Coupe, the 2013 Viper GTS, the 2015 Lamborghini Huracán LP 610-4, the 2014 Local Motors Rally Fighter, and the 2013 McLaren P1.

Players start earning Forza Rewards practically the moment they start playing a Forza game. Whether it’s new cars to add to their garage, or a stack of in-game credits for players to spend how they like, each month Forza fans will always receive something new.

Starting from Forza Motorsport 2 on the Xbox 360, through Forza Motorsport 5 and now Forza Horizon 2 on Xbox One, players automatically earn points by doing specific things in a game. In Forza Motorsport 5, for example, players earn points based on the number of cars they own, the number of miles they’ve driven in the game, and so on.

The more points players earn, the higher their Rewards Tier Level will be. Your Rewards Tier Level determines what awards are available to players at the start of each month. The higher the Rewards Tier Level, the bigger the reward they’ll receive each month.

Earning free in-game content each month is great but it’s just the start of the story. The first time players log in to Forza Horizon 2, they’ll earn a special one-time gift via Forza Rewards. This gift-car reward will depend on their current Forza Rewards Tier Level, and they’ll have to be at least Tier 2 to earn a reward.

Here’s how the rewards break down by Rewards Tier Level:

  • Tier Level 2 – 2011 BMW 1 Series M Coupe
  • Tier Level 3 2013 Viper GTS
  • Tier Level 4 2015 Lamborghini Huracán LP 610-4
  • Tier Level 5 2014 Local Motors Rally Fighter
  • Tier Level 6 2013 McLaren P1

Once you have logged in to the game, you will receive a special message in Forza Horizon 2 and be able to add these awesome cars to your Forza Horizon 2 garage. Note that these Tier Rewards are cumulative. For example, if you are Rewards Tier Level 3 the first time you log in to Horizon 2, you will earn both the 2011 BMW 1 Series M Coupe and the 2013 Viper GTS. If you have maxed out your Rewards Tier Level at Tier 6, you will receive all five of the bonus cars.

With just a few weeks to go before the launch of Forza Horizon 2, there’s still time for fans to increase their Rewards Tier Level to ensure that they get the best reward they can. To get a full breakdown of how players have been progressing in all participating Forza games and to learn more details on Forza Rewards, visit http://rewards.forzamotorsport.net.

Forza Horizon 2 Launch Trailer Now Available

In addition to sharing details on Forza Rewards, Turn 10 Studios and Playground Games today also premiered a heart-pounding launch trailer showcasing the game’s massive wide-open world racing experience and ultimate celebration of speed, style and action-packed driving.

The Forza Horizon 2 launch trailer highlights the game’s beautiful southern European setting and thrilling, action-packed racing. Featuring many of the more than 200 cars that are available at launch, the trailer brings to life the freedom and fun that defines Forza Horizon 2: http://youtu.be/YQFiWpp5Y5w.


Inside the Design of Xbox One Limited Edition Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Bundle - Wed, 10 Sep 2014 17:00:00 Z
A few weeks ago, as one of our gamescom announcements, we revealed the upcoming Xbox One Limited Edition Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Bundle. In addition to getting one of the year’s hottest games, fans who get the bundle will receive a beautiful limited edition Xbox One console. Featuring a massive 1TB hard drive, the console is emblazoned with Sentinel Task Force iconography inspired directly from the game. As you’ll see in the video above, the wireless controller looks like an artifact from the technologically-advanced battlegrounds of the future.

The version of the game you’ll get with Limited Edition Bundle is special, too. The Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Day Zero Edition will give you early access to the game and double XP on November 3 (which happens to be the day the bundle is available), as well as two in-game weapons. Finally, the bundle will also include the Digital Edition Personalization Pack, a Limited Edition in-game exoskeleton and the Advanced Arsenal, which includes a bullet brass exoskeleton and the EM1 Quantum directed energy custom weapon.

It’s always nice to take a closer look at the design process behind these types of bundles, so check out the video to see what went into the creation of the Xbox Limited Edition Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Bundle!  

 



FIFA 15 Available for Pre-Order and Pre-Download on Xbox One - Wed, 10 Sep 2014 14:20:00 Z
After crying tears of joy or defeat while watching their favorite teams hit the pitch in Brazil last June, football (or, depending on where you hail from, soccer, futbol, futebol, le foot, or footy) fans around the world are looking for their next football fix. Now they can once again feel the emotion and intensity of the world’s greatest sport by playing FIFA 15, which is available for digital pre-order and pre-download starting today.

FIFA 15 brings football to life in stunning detail so you can experience the excitement of the sport like never before. You can witness the intensity of crowds chanting and cheering like on match day, and listen to commentators guide you through the story of the game with dynamic match presentation. For the first time ever, all 22 players on the pitch are connected with emotional intelligence – now players will react to opponents and teammates within the context, and relative to the narrative of the match. Next generation visuals put you on living pitches with grass that wears and tears as the match progresses. Authentic player visuals make players lean, athletic, and true to their real-life appearance. Player control heightens the responsiveness of movement, giving athletes more control and personality on the ball, and making man-to-man battles more rewarding than ever before.

To celebrate the launch of the game, the following two FIFA 15 game bundles are available for pre-order globally, starting today, through the Xbox Store on the console or online at store.xbox.com:

  • Xbox One FIFA 15 Pre-Order Edition, available starting today for $59.99, includes the standard game, plus 1 FUT gold pack per week, for 15 weeks.
  • Xbox One FIFA 15 Ultimate Team Edition, available starting today for $69.99, includes the standard game, plus 1 FUT gold pack per week, for 40 weeks.

As an added bonus, you can get 10 percent off your purchase and an exclusive trial five days before the release date, if you sign up for EA Access before you pre-order
FIFA 15.

Here’s how it 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
FIFA 15” 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. For example, in the United States, FIFA 15 will be available for play at 12:01 AM PT on its release day.

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. 




Humanity's Last Stand: The Mythic World of Destiny - Tue, 09 Sep 2014 15:29:35 Z
Not much of mankind remains – on Earth or anywhere else – at the outset of Bungie’s epic role-playing game/first-person shooter Destiny. But it wasn’t always that way; before the events of the game, humanity was ensconced in a Golden Age. Great cities spanned the surfaces of the moon and Mars, and even the inhospitable Venus was terraformed and made into a biological wonderland.

But man’s success was not entirely his own accomplishment. An ineffable entity called the Traveler was responsible for the terraforming of the formerly lifeless planets, and for some of the technological progress that allowed humans to travel to and colonize them. The Traveler wasn’t well understood – and isn’t at the outset of Destiny, either. What humanity does know about the Traveler is that it was benevolent and helpful... but also had enemies.

Those enemies brought humanity’s Golden Age to a crashing halt sometime before Destiny begins, obliterating the entire populations of Mars, Venus, and even the moon. Then this hostile force, known to humans only as “the darkness,” descended on Earth, too. It ravaged the whole of the planetary surface. Nearly everyone was wiped out.

But the Traveler assisted humanity one final time. People believe that it used the last of its power to put a stop to the invasion, hovering low over the surface of Earth and providing a safe haven in one small area, while the rest of the surface was devastated. In this small area, the last remnants of mankind came together and built a settlement. This settlement eventually grew into the City – the last place on Earth where people could live in safety.

It’s in the City that Destiny’s story begins. You play a Guardian, one of the City’s protectors, but also an adventurer into the great wilderness that surrounds it. That wilderness is populated with all manner of unknown nasties – forces outside of human knowledge, and powerful enough to drive the Traveler into its current state. But you won’t just be carving out more land for mankind on Earth. Your missions will eventually take you to the stars, to humanity’s old strongholds on the moon, back to Mars, and even to Venus, where torrential rains caused flooding that swallowed up many of the great structures that people built there.

But it’s not all bad news: The Traveler lends the Guardians – you included – some of its power. Titans, Hunters, and Warlocks (the three core character classes of Destiny) each represent a different aspect of the Traveler’s power. You’ll be able to use this power, and some advanced technology, to pull off some amazing feats in combat. Most importantly, you’ll discover, through exploration and teamwork, what led to the collapse of the Golden Age... and who the enemy you’re facing really is.

Sound like a good time? Pick up Bungie’s Destiny – available now on Xbox One and Xbox 360 – and join humanity’s epic struggle!



Sunset Overdrive Season Pass Unleashes New Gameplay, Weapons and Exclusive Content - Tue, 09 Sep 2014 09:00:00 Z
Microsoft and Insomniac Games are excited to announce even more explosive action and mutant-infested mayhem for fans with the Sunset Overdrive Season Pass, available for purchase on Xbox Live and participating retailers at release.

Packed with exclusive content, the Sunset Overdrive Season Pass includes the first three complete Game Add-ons for Sunset Overdrive, as well as six character outfits, two Amps and two Traps available exclusively to Season Pass purchasers as soon as the game is released.

The Sunset Overdrive Season Pass grants you:

  • Two campaign Game Add-ons that each deliver new locations to explore, stories to experience, and bosses to battle. Each of these Add-ons also includes new weapons, new Amps, a new Trap, new character outfits as well as new challenges and Chaos Squad* objectives!
  • The Weapons Pack Game Add-on, which includes four deadly new weapons to augment your arsenal!
  • BONUS - six character outfits, two Amps and two Traps to use as soon as the game is released


In total, the Season Pass delivers a massive amount of adventure and destruction: eight new devastating weapons, four deadly traps to deploy in Chaos Squad, four new Amps to unleash over-the-top mayhem, and 10 unique outfits for your character – all for $19.99 U.S. ERP, a savings of more than 20 percent compared to purchasing the three Game Add-ons individually.

*Sunset Overdrive game required, sold separately.  Chaos Squad objectives and Traps require Xbox Live Gold membership, sold separately.  Retail prices may vary. 

 

 

 

 

 

 




Final Forza Horizon 2 Car Reveal – Check Out the Full List and Final Car Poster - Tue, 09 Sep 2014 08:00:00 Z
This week we’re excited to reveal the final additions to the full car list of Forza Horizon 2 that will be available at launch. This final reveal brings us to a total of 210 cars that have been built specifically for the next generation in Forza Horizon 2 – all of which you can see in the final car poster, showcasing the breadth and depth of cars in the game. All of the cars announced this week exude their own sense of style and charisma. The Land Rover Defender 90 is as rugged it gets. The form of the 2015 Mustang GT was designed for global appeal. The Lamborghini Veneno practically redefines extreme car design.

There is not much longer to wait until all these rides will be at your fingertips to leave your mark on the roads and countryside of
Forza Horizon 2, available starting Sept. 30. Let’s dive in to this week’s reveals:



1968 Lancia Fulvia Coupé Rallye 1.6 HF
Sophistication and deliberately understated styling are the hallmarks of this highly desirable special version of the Lancia Fulvia. Lancia brought this homologated version — the Fanalone, referencing the Fulvia’s large driving lights—to enable Lancia’s entry into the World Rally Championship. Front-wheel drive and a healthy punch of more than 100 hp gave the Fulvia excellent performance. Sharp steering and excellent braking made it a natural candidate for rally competition. Under the direction of Cesare Fiorio, Lancia came to dominate rally in the late 1960s and early 1970s. You can tell a Rallye edition from its lesser brethren by its fiberglass fender flares and Campagnolo rims. If you look at the dash you will also see an oil temp gauge and adjustable redline on the tachometer. The Fulvia’s light weight gave it an advantage and this special model was further lightened by replacing the back seat with a shelf and installing lightweight bucket seats. Among Lancia Fulvia aficionados, the Rallye 1.6 is the crown jewel.

1993 Renault Clio Williams
Among hot hatches, the Renault Clio Williams holds accreditation by many motor journalists as one of the very best ever built. To accommodate homologation requirements, 2,500 Clio Williams needed to be produced. They were so popular 1,300 more were built and quickly sold out. More is better when it comes to the availability of this little hot hatch and Renault followed with the Williams 2 and 3 getting more than 12,000 models on the road before production finally ceased. Despite these numbers, finding an original street version is a rare thing, since many were used to replace damaged rally cars and others were broken for parts to keep rally versions in competition. The punch this tike packs is from a 2.0-liter straight four, stuffed under the diminutive bonnet with a bespoke four-into-one manifold, a stroked crank and other internal goodies. The Clio Williams is a car that will get a lot of looks from those who know it, and those who don’t will snap their necks when they hear it buzz past them. 

1997 Land Rover Defender 90
Few vehicles are built with the ruggedness in mind of the Land Rover Defender. For decades, a Land Rover might have been the only vehicle that some people ever saw. That’s because for decades the Land Rover Series I and Series II were the only vehicles that dared to access the interiors of certain countries whose roads are little more than trails. Over the years not much has changed in the design of the Land Rover. Its mission is simple: devour any terrain thrown at it and keep the occupants reliably safe. The biggest change for the 1997 model was the introduction of the name Defender. Under the chassis, two live axles and full-time four-wheel drive give the Defender rock-crawling, river-fording, and mountain climbing abilities that are unmatched. For 1997, the last year the Defender was available in the U.S., you will find a potent V8 under the hood, accompanied by a four-speed automatic transmission. On the streets the Defender is no sprinter, but toss this Rover in the weeds and it will always come out on top.

2015 Ford Mustang GT
It’s been fifty years since this American automotive icon was introduced and effectively changed the domestic car market. The Mustang has been many things to many people and, through its many evolutions, it has been many things unto itself. Since the introduction of the more classically shaped Mustang in 2005, a rebirth of the Mustang took place. Now, ten years later, with a search for global-viability factoring in to the Mustang’s redesign, we still see the classic form but with some tweaks that distinguish this ‘Stang as something new. Under this new skin nearly every inch of the 2015 Mustang has been reengineered for efficiency, reliability, and performance. Under its aluminum hood, in between aluminum fenders that together offer 200 pounds of weight savings, the new V8 (in GT models) brings more than 400 ponies under the command of your right foot. Rear-wheel drive is a precious commodity the Mustang has always cornered the market with, and the new Mustang is happy as ever to light up the rear wheels, get tail-happy, or just delight you with its tendency for oversteer. Most of all though, this is a Mustang, and the passion that lights in the soul of Mustang lovers is reason enough to make it a favorite.

1984 Honda Civic CRX Mugen
The partnership between Honda and Mugen began with the CRX. It was an inevitable collaboration given that Mugen was formed by Hirotoshi Honda – the son of Honda founder Soichiro Honda – and veteran racer Masao Kimura. The CRX, or CR-X as it is called in Japan, carried an aggressive effort to establish Mugen in the United States. At the time, any Honda dealer could order and sell Mugen parts, and a select few became Mugen Performance Centers. The program only lasted three years, but yielded a handful of uprated Mugen CRXs and many street-tuned Hondas. Dressed in the Mugen body kit, the CRX’s short, stout lines are tastefully enhanced without complicating them. A trademark feature of the Mugen CRX is the twin-pipe muffler or “Silencer Set.” With nearly 120 horsepower, a limited slip differential, and weighing in at a mere 1,800 pounds, the Mugen CRX is a thrill to drive and inspired a new generation of Honda tuners. Mugen has gone on to contribute to Honda’s racing success in Formula One and sports car racing, but it all started here with the CRX.

Here are the remaining cars revealed for inclusion in the final
Forza Horizon 2 car list:

  1. 2003 Ferrari Challenge Stradale
  2. 1970 Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1
  3. 1987 Ferrari F40
  4. 1966 Ford GT40 Mk II
  5. 2004 Maserati MC12
  6. 1987 Buick Regal GNX
  7. 1960 Chevrolet Corvette
  8. 2009 Lotus 2-Eleven
  9. 1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am
  10. 2012 Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4
  11. 1987 RUF CTR Yellowbird
  12. 1956 Ford F-100
  13. 2012 Cadillac Escalade ESV
  14. 2013 Ford Shelby GT500
  15. 1968 Abarth 595 esseesse
  16. 2003 Ford Focus RS
  17. 2013 Lamborghini Veneno




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